THE FOLLOWING have been described by CareerCast as the worst jobs, with newspaper reporter being the absolute worst job. CareerCast does not elaborate other than to state that reporters make an average of $36,000 a year. That’s what they make, if that much, at chain-owned, outback papers in places like Mendocino County, but at large-circulation papers reporters can make a lot more if they’re Guild (union) reporters. Press Democrat staffers, for instance, used to do pretty well, upwards of $70,000 a year, and they were Guild. As newspapers die, the salaries they pay fade, too. Lumberjack is a tough, dangerous, seasonal job that can pay well while the work lasts. It’s non-union and compensation, at least for the fallers we know, is by the board foot, so the more trees a lumberjack drops the more money he makes. Military pay depends on time in service, but an Army private starts at around $18,000 with room, board, medical, all paid for. And there’s always a chance you can get killed, as there is in lumberjacking, working on oilrigs, night clerking at 7-11. But for an unskilled dude with zero employment prospects there are worse options than “enlisted military personnel.” Actor? Most of them moonlight as waiters, don’t they? There are certainly lots of theatric food servers around. The rest of the jobs on this list are probably on here because the work is hard and the pay not very good in proportion to the effort the tasks require. Whatever roofers make it isn’t enough. Stewardesses not only work hard they’ve got to put up with drunks and rude, demanding passengers. Any honest assessment of contemporary employment would begin with the premise that most of it is hard slogging for less and less money.
1. Newspaper reporter. 2. Lumberjack . 3. Enlisted Military Personnel . 4. Actor . 5. Oil Rig Worker 6. Dairy Farmer . 7. Meter Reader . 8. Mail Carrier . 9. Roofer . 10. Waitress in the Sky or stewardess.
FORMER CONGRESSMAN DON CLAUSEN is 90. Clausen, a bring home the pork Republican moderate, at least moderate by today’s rabid standards, was the Northcoast’s Congressman from 1962 until 1982 when he was defeated by Doug Bosco running as an anti-nuke liberal. One line from the PD’s story on Clausen casually libeled Oscar Klee, the volatile Mendocino County populist who also run for Congress: “Oscar Klee, a Mendocino County accountant convicted of failing to file personal income tax returns.” In fact, Klee, like Norm Vroman, was hauled off for failing to convince the courts that nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Americans have to pay income tax. That argument, backed by not filing income tax returns, never fails to get its proponent a one-way ticket to federal prison.
KLEE WAS AN INTERESTING figure. Quick to anger, the former logger turned attorney who’d lost an arm in a woods accident, would famously go off at meetings of the Board of Supervisors where he represented the Fort Bragg area. He was also a principal in the famous War of the Warrants. That one saw rival political factions in the County putting out arrest warrants for each other.
SILENCIO! “The day will come when man will have to fight noise as inexorably as cholera and the plague. There is likely no place on earth untouched by modern noise. Even far from paved roads in the Amazon rainforest you can still hear the drone of distant outboard motors on dugout canoes and from the wrist of a native guide the hourly beep of a digital watch. The question is no longer whether noise will be present, but how often it will intrude and for how long… In my experience, a silence longer than 15 minutes is now extremely rare in the United States and long gone in Europe. Most places do not have quiet at all; instead, one or more noise sources prevail round the clock. Even in wilderness areas and our national parks, the average noise-free interval has shrunk to less than five minutes during daylight hours.” — Gordon Hempton
MENDOCINO FURNITURE MAKERS hosts its 15th Annual Fine Woodworking Show Mendocino, April 15, 2013.
Mendocino Coast Furnituremakers proudly present their 15th Annual Fine Woodworking Show. This exhibition shall be held at the Oddfellows Hall on the corner of Kasten and Ukiah Streets in Mendocino CA. Running from July 3rd to 28th, 10Am to 5 PM. Northern California is home to one of the most vibrant artisan traditions in the country. Craftspeople are drawn to the beauty of the region, and the artistic tradition that abounds. Woodworkers in particular come from all over the world to attend the Fine Furniture Woodworking Program at the College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg, just north of Mendocino. The school introduces its students to traditional handwork and that focuses on designs that emphasize the natural qualities of wood. Many of the craftspeople in this show have trained in other professions and then turned their hands to woodwork for the joy and satisfaction of the craft. They bring their love of wood and a passion for fine design to everything that they do. Showing will be singular objects of precision and personality, pieces that are a joy to live with each day. A member of the group will be on hand to discuss the work each day. Artists are available by appointment to discuss commissioned work. 300 dpi images available upon request... Mendocino Coast Furnituremakers 15th annual Fine Woodworking Show Odd Fellows Hall , Corner of Kasten and Ukiah Street , Mendocino, California 95460 707 937-2486 Dates: July 3 to July 28, 2013 10am-5pm Opening Reception: Saturday, July 13th 5- 8 pm MCF is a professional group formed in 1998 to promote the work of fine woodworkers on the Mendocino coast. This annual show features a wide range of woodworking and will feature studio furniture, decorative carving, and sculpture. For more information about MCF, see us on the WEB at www.mendocinofurniture.com
SPIKE SAYS NO CUTS TO MEDICARE:
Below is a message that Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-2) asked us to pass along in response to the petition “Hands Off Social Security, Medicare andMedicaid Benefits!” — Tom Wodetzki
* * *
Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I received your petition and am happy to let you know I agree with you, and vigorously oppose efforts to cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits. Earlier this spring, I spoke on the floor of the House to oppose the Republican budget resolution for its devastating impacts to America’s seniors. Click here to view my speech on the House Floor:
While there is much in the President’s 2014 budget to admire, I strongly oppose chained CPI, and I will vote against these benefit cuts should they come before the House. In addition, I joined with 106 other House Democrats in writing to President Barack Obama in February of this year to express our opposition to chained CPI. Click here for my official statement:
I appreciate your thoughts on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits, and I will remain committed to fighting for a strong and secure middle class. To keep informed of this work, please click here to visit my website and sign up for my newsletter:
Sincerely, Jared Huffman Member of Congress
DISAGREEMENT OVER WHETHER HUMBOLDT COUNTY BOY SCOUTS DISCRIMINATE
By Daniel Mintz
Humboldt County supervisors are backing a state Senate bill that would deny the Boy Scouts of America and other youth groups their tax-exempt status if they exclude members and leaders based on sexual orientation or gender.
But when the Board of Supervisors considered supporting the bill at its April 23 meeting, there were differing interpretations on how relevant the discrimination issues are to local Boy Scout groups.
Senate Bill 323 aims to remove the tax-exempt status of youth groups if they have discriminatory policies. Although the proposed law mentions a variety of youth groups and types of discrimination, it’s generally recognized as being directed at the Boy Scouts, whose policies include exclusion of gay youths as members and of gay troop leaders.
Boy Scouts of America is proposing to rescind its exclusion of gay members but is keeping its ban on gay troop leaders in place.
Supervisor Mark Lovelace’s request to send a letter of support for the bill to Senator Ricardo Lara, its sponsor, was pulled from the consent agenda by Supervisor Rex Bohn.
The support letter states that “the practice of excluding youth simply due to who they are should not be tolerated, much less rewarded with special tax exemptions.”
Bohn said he agrees but stressed that the discrimination issues don’t apply locally. He said he’s talked with Eureka Mayor Frank Jager and other longtime scout leaders, eagle scouts and “quite a few people involved with scouting” and was told that discrimination is a non-issue here.
“There has never been a case of discrimination, both from a leader or someone partaking in the Boy Scouts,” said Bohn. “Frank had told me there have been some individuals that have been involved but there’s never been a question of this.”
Supervisor Virginia Bass also said the bill’s intent doesn’t apply to local Boy Scout groups and assumptions that it does would be an “unintended consequence.”
The potential for bad PR was also noted by Supervisor Estelle Fennell. “It is very difficult when people who behave in a non-discriminatory fashion are victimized, in a way, by the actions of others,” she said, adding that she hopes publicity on the bill “doesn’t have any untoward effect on our own local Boy Scouts and the good work that they do.”
After a public comment session where speakers recommended supporting the bill, Bohn suggested changing the wording of the letter to state that local Boy Scout troops don’t practice discrimination.
The Reverend Carlotta Vallerga of the United Church of Christ in Eureka had spoken during the public comment period and returned to the podium to warn against failing to acknowledge the presence of discrimination.
She said that “while the Boy Scouts here are maybe more open,” their troops are still part of the national Boy Scouts organization. Openly gay youths can’t become eagle scouts, she continued, and as she talked, she became more emphatic.
“We’re not that open – let’s get real, it’s not true,” Vallerga continued. “I’ve been a part of (Boy) Scouts, I know it’s not true here so we really need to address the issue.”
Lovelace also challenged what had been said. “I think that the openness that’s being talked about is essentially a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” he said. “The Boy Scouts still have to act under the national policy, which is to deny membership to openly gay youths and to openly gay adult leaders.”
He added, “I do know, myself, of one young man who had difficulty in his involvement in the Boy Scouts because of that.”
Supervisors unanimously approved the letter without changing its wording.
THE OCEAN PROTECTION COALITION (OPC) will show Gasland, the award-winning documentary film about fracking in the Fort Bragg Library Meeting Room on Saturday, May 11, from 12 noon until 2 p.m. There will be a discussion after the film. The film investigates hydraulic fracturing or fracking, the Halliburton-developed technology of drilling for oil and natural gas. Fracking is supposedly unlocking what the gas and oil companies are calling a “Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” Fracking is a highly controversial drilling technology. It involves pumping toxic fracking chemicals, sand and water under very high pressure from eight to eleven thousand feet underground. The fluids and sand are pumped at a high enough pressure to fracture the ground below and free natural gas deposits. There are more than 596 chemicals in the mix, many of which are toxic. Just what these chemicals are is not revealed to the public, because they are protected as by oil companies as “trade secrets” A number of bills have been introduced into the California state legislature. They call for an independent study of the process, disclosure of the chemicals used and mandating a permitting process that requires a 30-day notice to all adjacent property owners of intent to frack. A bill by Senator Fran Pavley, introduced before the State Senate, calls for a complete statewide moratorium on fracking if an independent study is not completed by 2015. For more information: David Gurney, OPC Chair 961-1339
BRADLEY MANNING IS OFF LIMITS At SF Gay Pride Parade, But Corporate Sleaze Is Embraced
A Seemingly Trivial Controversy Reveals Quite A Bit About Pervasive Political Values
by Glenn Greenwald
News reports yesterday indicated that Bradley Manning, widely known to be gay, had been selected to be one of the Grand Marshals of the annual San Francisco gay pride parade, named by the LGBT Pride Celebration Committee. When the predictable backlash instantly ensued, the president of the Board of SF Pride, Lisa L Williams, quickly capitulated, issuing a cowardly, imperious statement that has to be read to be believed.
Williams proclaimed that “Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year's San Francisco Pride celebration” and termed his selection “a mistake.” She blamed it all on a “staff person” who prematurely made the announcement based on a preliminary vote, and she assures us all that the culprit “has been disciplined": disciplined. She then accuses Manning of “actions which placed in harms way [sic] the lives of our men and women in uniform": a substance-free falsehood originally spread by top US military officials which has since been decisively and extensively debunked, even by some government officials (indeed, it's the US government itself, not Manning, that is guilty of “actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform"). And then, in my favorite part of her statement, Williams decreed to all organization members that “even the hint of support” for Manning's action - even the hint - “will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride.” Will not be tolerated.
I originally had no intention of writing about this episode, but the more I discovered about it, the more revealing it became. So let's just consider a few of the points raised by all of this.
First, while even a hint of support for Manning will not be tolerated, there is a long roster of large corporations serving as the event's sponsors who are welcomed with open arms. The list is here. It includes AT&T and Verizon, the telecom giants that enabled the illegal warrantless eavesdropping on US citizens by the Bush administration and its NSA, only to get retroactively immunized from Congress and thus shielded from all criminal and civil liability (including a lawsuit brought in San Francisco against those corporations by their customers who were illegally spied on). Last month, AT&T was fined by OSHA for failing to protect one of its employees who was attacked, was found by the FCC last year to have overcharged customers by secretly switching them to plans they didn't want, and is now being sued by the US government for “allegedly bill[ing] the government improperly for services designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing who place calls by typing messages over the web.”
The list of SF Pride sponsors also includes Bank of America, now being sued for $1 billion by the US government for allegedly engaging in a systematic scheme of mortgage fraud which the US Attorney called “spectacularly brazen in scope.” Just last month, the same SF Pride sponsor received a record fine for ignoring a court order and instead trying to collect mortgage payments from bankrupt homeowners to which it was not entitled. Earlier this month, SF-Pride-sponsoring Bank of America paid $2.4 billion to settle shareholder allegations that Bank executives “failed to disclose information about losses at Merrill Lynch and bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch employees before the brokerage was acquired by Bank of America in January 2009 for $18.5 billion.”
Another beloved SF Pride sponsor, Wells Fargo, is also being “sued by the US for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over claims the bank made reckless mortgage loans that caused losses for a federal insurance program when they defaulted.” Last year, Wells Fargo was fined $3.1 million by a federal judge for engaging in conduct that court called “highly reprehensible” relating to its persecution of a struggling homeowner. In 2011, the bank was fined by the US government “for allegedly pushing borrowers with good credit into expensive mortgages and falsifying loan applications.”
Also in Good Standing with the SF Pride board: Clear Channel, the media outlet owned by Bain Capital that broadcasts the radio programs of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck; a pension fund is suing this SF Pride sponsor for making cheap, below-market loans to its struggling parent company. The health care giant Kaiser Permanente, another proud SF Pride sponsor, is currently under investigation by California officials for alleged massive privacy violations in the form of recklessly disclosing 300,000 patient records, and was previously targeted with criminal and civil charges, which it settled, for dumping a homeless patient, still in a hospital gown, on skid row.
So apparently, the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young and powerless Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine, but instantly disappear for large corporations and banks that hand over cash. What we really see here is how the largest and most corrupt corporations own not just the government but also the culture. Even at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, once an iconic symbol of cultural dissent and disregard for stifling pieties, nothing can happen that might offend AT&T and the Bank of America. The minute something even a bit deviant takes place (as defined by standards imposed by America's political and corporate class), even the SF Gay Pride Parade must scamper, capitulate, apologize, and take an oath of fealty to their orthodoxies (we adore the military, the state, and your laws). And, as usual, the largest corporate factions are completely exempt from the strictures and standards applied to the marginalized and powerless. Thus, while Bradley Manning is persona non grata at SF Pride, illegal eavesdropping telecoms, scheming banks, and hedge-fund purveryors of the nation's worst right-wing agitprop are more than welcome.
Second, the authoritarian, state-and-military-revering mentality pervading Williams' statement is striking. It isn't just the imperious decree that “even a hint of support” for Manning “will not be tolerated,” though that is certainly creepy. Nor is it the weird announcement that the wrongdoer “has been disciplined.” Even worse is the mindless embrace of the baseless claims of US military officials (that Manning “placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform") along with the supremely authoritarian view that any actions barred by the state are, ipso facto, ignoble and wrong. Conduct can be illegal and yet still be noble and commendable: see, for instance, Daniel Ellsberg, or most of the leaders of the civil rights movement in the US. Indeed, acts of civil disobedience and conscience by people who risk their own interests to battle injustices are often the most commendable acts. Equating illegal behavior with ignominious behavior is the defining mentality of an authoritarian - and is particularly notable coming from what was once viewed as a bastion of liberal dissent.
But the more one learns about the parties involved here, the less surprising it becomes. According to her biography, Williams “organized satellite offices for the Obama campaign” and also works for various Democratic politicians. It was President Obama, of course, who so notoriously decreed Bradley Manning guilty in public before his trial by military officers serving under Obama even began, and whose administration was found by the UN's top torture investigator to have abused him and is now so harshly prosecuting him. It's anything but surprising that a person who was a loyal Obama campaign aide finds Bradley Manning anathema while adoring big corporations and banks (which funded the Obama campaign and who, in the case of telecoms, Obama voted to immunize).
What we see here is how even many of the most liberal precincts in America are now the leading spokespeople for and loyalists to state power as a result of their loyalty to President Obama. Thus do we have the President of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade sounding exactly like the Chairman of the Joints Chief, or Sarah Palin, or gay war-loving neocons, in depicting any meaningful opposition to the National Security State as the supreme sin. I'd be willing to bet large amounts of money that Williams has never condemned the Obama administration's abuse of Manning in detention or its dangerously radical prosecution of him for “aiding the enemy". I have no doubt that the people who did all of that would be showered with gratitude by Parade officials if they attended. In so many liberal precincts in the Age of Obama - even now including the SF Gay Pride parade - the federal government, its military, and its federal prosecutors are to be revered and celebrated but not criticized; only those who oppose them are villains.
Third, when I wrote several weeks ago about the remarkable shift in public opinion on gay equality, I noted that this development is less significant than it seems because the cause of gay equality poses no real threat to elite factions or to how political and economic power in the US are distributed. If anything, it bolsters those power structures because it completely and harmlessly assimilates a previously excluded group into existing institutions and thus incentivizes them to accommodate those institutions and adopt their mindset. This event illustrates exactly what I meant.
While some of the nation's most corrupt corporations are welcome to fly their flag over the parade, consider what Manning - for whom “even a hint of support will not be tolerated” - actually did. His leak revealed all sorts of corruption, deceit and illegality on the part of the world's most powerful corporations. They led to numerous journalism awards for WikiLeaks. Even Bill Keller, the former Executive Editor of the New York Times who is a harsh WikiLeaks critic, credited those leaks with helping to spark the Arab Spring, the greatest democratic revolution the world has seen in decades. Multiple media accounts describe how the cables documenting atrocities committed by US troops in Iraq prevented the Malaki government from allowing US troops to stay beyond the agreed-to deadline: i.e., helped end the Iraq war by thwarting Obama's attempts to prolong it. For all of that, Manning was selected by Guardian readers as the 2012 Person of the Year, while former Army Lt. (and 2009 SF Parade Marshal) Dan Choi said yesterday:
As we move forward as a country, we need truth in order to gain justice, you can't have justice without the whole truth . . . So what [Manning] did as a gay American, as a gay soldier, he stood for integrity, I am proud of him.”
But none of those vital benefits matter to authoritarians. That's because authoritarians, by definition, believe in the overarching Goodness of institutions of power, and believe the only bad acts come from those who challenge or subvert that power. Bad acts aren't committed by the National Security State or Surveillance State; they are only committed by those who oppose them. If a person's actions threaten power factions or are deemed prohibited by them, then Good Authoritarians will reflexively view the person as evil and will be eager to publicly disassociate themselves from such individuals. Or, as Williams put it, “even the hint of support” for Manning “will not be tolerated,” and those who deviate from this decree will be “disciplined.”
Even the SF Gay Pride Parade is now owned by and beholden to the nation's largest corporations, subject to their dictates. Those who run the event are functionaries of, loyalists to, the nation's most powerful political officials. That's how this parade was so seamlessly transformed from orthodoxy-challenging, individualistic and creative cultural icon into yet another pile of obedient apparatchiks that spout banal slogans doled out by the state while viciously scorning those who challenge them. Yes, there will undoubtedly still be exotically-dressed drag queens, lesbian motorcycle clubs, and groups proudly defined by their unusual sexual proclivities participating in the parade, but they'll be marching under a Bank of America banner and behind flag-waving fans of the National Security State, the US President, and the political party that dominates American politics and its political and military institutions. Yet another edgy, interesting, creative, independent event has been degraded and neutered into a meek and subservient ritual that must pay homage to the nation's most powerful entities and at all costs avoid offending them in any way.
It's hardly surprising that someone who so boldly and courageously opposes the US war machine is demonized and scorned this way. Daniel Ellsberg was subjected to the same attacks before he was transformed many years later into a liberal hero (though Ellsberg had the good fortune to be persecuted by a Republican rather than Democratic President and thus, even back then, had some substantial support; come to think of it, Ellsberg lives in San Francisco: would expressions of support for him be tolerated?). But the fact that such lock-step, heel-clicking, military-mimicking behavior is now coming from the SF Gay Pride Parade of all places is indeed noteworthy: it reflects just how pervasive this authoritarian rot has become.
Corporate corruption and sleaze — For a bit more on the dominance of corporate sleaze and corruption in our political culture, see the first few paragraphs of this extraordinary Politico article on a new book about DC culture, and this Washington Post article detailing the supreme annual convergence of political, media and corporate sleaze called “the White House Correspondents' Dinner,” to be held this weekend.
(Courtesy, The Guardian of London)
In the AVA of April 17th, you wrote:
“Our government does bad things, and bear with me here Building 7 nuts, but it hasn’t descended to blowing up random groups of Americans.”
That depends whom you consider Americans. David Koresh and The Branch Davidians were Americans. Wilson Goode, the Philadelphia police, and perhaps a few Feds blew up peaceful Osage Street near where I used to live in Philadelphia. MOVE was a bunch of scumbags, but most of the people on Osage Street were middle class homeowners. Cotton Mather, Andrew Jackson, and George Custer’s troops butchered thousands of Indians: Were they “Americans”? Jackson made a lot of money selling Indian real estate. And what about all the strikers that have been shot by Federal troops? Or does it only count when they’re “blown up”?
I’m not a nut. And I consider you a friend. Neither Alex Jones nor “Truthers” speak for me. However, I have many reasons for doubting the official story and believing the US government did blow up the three World Trade Center Buildings in NYC and The Pentagon.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msQxUbei4Q4 As this video segment shows, the WTC buildings didn’t collapse: they were pulverized. They turned into powder. I’ve looked at these images again and again and cannot conceive of anything causing this total destruction except explosives inside the buildings.
- The revision of the intercept rules just before the incidents of 11 September 2001. When golfer Payne Stewart’s plane veered off course after a tragic problem with the air system killed all aboard his plane, no fewer than six F-16s intercepted and followed his plane before it crashed. Cheney changed the rules so that only the Secretary of Defense could authorize interceptions.
- The list of suspects was released suspiciously quickly. Officials claimed they found a passport of one of the hijackers amid the debis of the collapsed buildings. Later this list was discredited and many names on it were found to be there erroneously.
- I cannot believe any aircraft at any time could get within 50 miles of the Pentagon.
- PNAC issued a document a year earlier claiming that another Pearl Harbor was necessary to spur Americans to support massive defense spending.
- Normally, after an air disaster, the parts of the planes are recovered and reassembled to try to understand what exactly transpired. In this case, forensic evidence was destroyed and shipped overseas by Mayor Giuliani and other officials.
You and Mr. Scaramela and many others may disagree with me and that does not make you “nuts.” But I’m not one either.
Respectfully, Louis S. Bedrock, New Roselle, New Jersey
MENDOCINO COUNTY CONTINUES EXPLORATION OF THE FEASIBILITY OF AN EXCLUSIVE OPERATING AREA (EOA) FOR AMBULANCE SERVICES
April 26, 2013 — Dear Mendocino County EMS Stakeholders and Community Members: Thank you for your participation in the community meetings held last week throughout the County. We were pleased to have nearly 200 participants overall, at six meetings covering the five Supervisorial Districts. Each meeting provided its own insight into community concerns and EMS issues. We heard you when you expressed concern about retaining volunteers, and not to negatively impact successful community-based ambulances or implement a system that could increase costs and downgrade service. We recognize that in order to have strong EMS systems, they must be supported by the communities they serve. We also recognize that not every community has the same needs or expectations, and that any potential solution needs to address the unique needs of individual communities. We hope that those who attended can also understand the perspective of other communities in the County; that some areas do have significant issues that need to be addressed and the County has an obligation to do so. Your input, feedback, suggestions, and concerns are noted by our team and will be incorporated into the study. Many questions regarded certain key areas, so we prepared a response to these “Frequently Asked Questions,” which is posted on our website.
We expect to have a draft report in May, 2013. We do not yet have a specific date set for the Board of Supervisors to determine whether to pursue an EOA or other specific options to sustain EMS. This is still the beginning of the process, and we anticipate many more discussions with stakeholders and more research on the issues. Please watch for more information by visiting the project website at: http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/administration/EMS.htm Carmel J. Angelo, Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Keller, Partner County of Mendocino Fitch & Associates, LLC
AS OTHERS SEE US
The Consequences of Runaway Executive Power
By Ralph Nader
In watching the massive media coverage and the reaction to the brutal bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the wise poem “To A Louse…” composed in 1785 by the Scottish poet Robert Burns came to me:
“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!”
“And would some Power the small gift give us
To see ourselves as others see us!”
What must the “ithers” in the Middle East theatre of the American Empire think of a great city in total lockdown from an attack by primitive explosives when Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and Yemenis experience far greater casualties and terror attacks several times a week? Including what they believe are terror attacks by US drones, soldiers, aircraft and artillery that have directly killed many thousands of innocent children, women and men in their homes, during funeral processions and wedding parties, or while they’re working in their fields.
Here’s what they are thinking: that America is very vulnerable and ready to shake itself upside down to rid itself and protect itself from any terror attacks. The Bush regime, after 9/11, sacrificed US soldiers and millions of innocents in the broader Middle East, drained our economy to ignore the necessities of saving lives and health here at home, and metastasized al-Qaeda into numerous countries, spilling havoc into Iraq and now Syria. We have paid a tremendous price in blowback, because of Mr. Bush’s rush to war.
Why is the reaction to the events in Boston viewed by some as bizarre? Our president said, “We will finish the race.” Do we really think that the attackers are doing this to disrupt our pleasure in foot racing?
The attackers, be they suicide bombers over there or domestic bombers here, are motivated by their hatred of our invasions, our daily bombings, our occupations, our immersion in tribal preferences leading to divide-and-rule sectarian wars. Studies, such as those by the University of Chicago Professor Robert Pape, and former adviser to Barack Obama and Ron Paul during the 2008 presidential campaign, conclude that entry into paradise is not the motivation for these suicide bombers. What drives them is their despair and their desire to expel the foreign invaders from their homeland.
Another “ithers’ — admittedly a smaller number — must see a giant country going berserk with media, speculation, rumors, accusations, and random mobilizations of military equipment. There are enough of these younger people who must say to themselves, Maybe it is worth giving up their lives for a place in history — to make a nation be fearful because of their rulers’ staggering overreaction.
Why give these contorted young minds, frustrated by what they perceive as US attacks on their religion or their ethnic group in their home countries, such incentives?
Massive overreactions by the mass media (have you seen CNN’s frenzied, nonstop quest for every bit of trivia and speculation hour after hour?) crowds out coverage of far greater preventable loss of life and safety in our country. Other commentators have covered the lesser-known yet huge explosion at the fertilizer factory in West, Texas, that destroyed far more property and took more human lives than the Boston Marathon assault. But, the dangerous fertilizer plant was corporate criminal negligence, or worse.
Every day in the US there are preventable tragedies that receive no media coverage because they aren’t part of the “war on terror,” which has been crowding out stories that would have led to corrective actions to leave this country safer from the corporate predators within its borders.
Individually, many Americans intuitively understand the consequences of neglecting problems in our own country to engage in lawless wars and military adventures. Unfortunately, Americans collectively sing the song “que será, será” or “whatever will be, will be” because the big boys in Washington and Wall Street will always make the decisions. Be assured that they will often be stupidly harmful to our country in the long-run, and not just to millions of defenseless people abroad who have become victims of the collective punishment or random ravages of our massive push-button weapon systems.
In an impressive collection of excerpts titled Against the Beast, a Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire edited by John Nichols; the eminent historian Chalmers Johnson had this to say:
“…where US-supported repression has created hopeless conditions, to US-supported economic policies that have led to unimaginable misery, blowback reintroduces us to a world of cause and effect.”
At a first-ever Senate hearing earlier this week on the use of armed drones away from battlefields, initiated by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and arrogantly boycotted by the imperial Obama Administration, Farea al-Muslimi, a young Yemeni from a village just attacked by a US drone strike, gave witness.
Al-Muslimi said, “When they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time. What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.”
As President Obama told the Israelis about the Palestinians, “Put yourselves in their shoes.”
In country after country, the terrifying whine of 24/7 hovering drones and the knowledge that special US killing teams can drop from the skies at any time, creates a state of terror.
A brute-force foreign policy waging war can never effectively wage peace or sensibly engage in early conflict prevention or resolution. An illegal brute-force policy aligns itself with repressive regimes that crush their own people with American weapons and American political/diplomatic cover.
Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, who has been in these countries and spoken with these villagers, says that our government has created unnecessary enemies and banked lots of revenge among these people over the past ten years. “This is going to boomerang back around to us,” he fears, adding that we’re creating “a whole new generation of enemies that have an actual grievance against us…have an actual score to settle.” Killing innocent men, women and children creates blowback that lasts for generations.
From these overseas regions, the message from the bombing at the Boston Marathon is that, until now, the high-tech buttons were only being pushed by the drone operators against them. After Boston they can see that other low-tech buttons can now be pushed inside the US against defenseless gatherings of innocent people.
For our national security, the American people must recover control of our runaway, unilateral presidency that has torn itself away from constitutional accountabilities and continues to be hijacked by ideologues who ignore our Founding Fathers’ wisdom regarding the separation of powers and avoiding foreign entanglements that become costly, deadly and endless quagmires.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.)
GOVERNOR PERRY DISGUSTED by cartoon depicting explosion —
This recent editorial cartoon that depicts Texas Gov. Rick Perry boasting about business booming in his state and then shows an explosion, that was featured in Thursday's edition of The Sacramento Bee newspaper, in Sacramento, Calif. Perry sent a letter to the Bee expressing his “disgust and disappointment” and demanding an immediate apology on behalf of the Texas town where 14 people died in a fertilizer plant blast last week. The cartoonist, Jack Ohman, defended his cartoon by saying the lack of government regulations in Texas was a fair topic for criticism. — Will Weissert (Courtesy, Associated Press)
TSARNAEV'S CONFESSION ALREADY HAS PROBLEMS
The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings acknowledged to the FBI his role in the attacks but did so before he was advised of his constitutional right to keep quiet and seek a lawyer, US officials said Wednesday. Once Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was read his rights on Monday, he immediately stopped talking, according to four officials of both political parties who were briefed on the interrogation but insisted on anonymity because the briefing was private. After roughly 16 hours of questioning, investigators were surprised when a magistrate judge and a representative from the US Attorney's office entered the hospital room and read Tsarnaev his rights, the four officials and one law enforcement official said. Investigators had planned to keep questioning him.
It is unclear whether any of this will matter in court since the FBI says Tsarnaev confessed to a witness and US officials said Wednesday that physical evidence, including a 9mm handgun and pieces of a remote-control device commonly used in toys, was recovered from the scene. But the debate over whether suspected terrorists should be read their Miranda rights has become a major sticking point in the debate over how best to fight terrorism. Many Republicans, in particular, believe Miranda warnings are designed to build court cases, and only hinder intelligence gathering. Christina DiIorio Sterling, a spokeswoman for US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, said in an email, “This remains an ongoing investigation and we don't have any further comment.” Before being advised of his rights, the 19-year-old suspect told authorities that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, only recently had recruited him to be part of the attack, two US officials said.
The CIA, however, named Tamerlan to a terrorist database 18 months ago, officials said Wednesday, an acknowledgment that will undoubtedly prompt congressional inquiry about whether investigators took warnings from Russian intelligence officials seriously enough. The US officials who discussed the terrorist database and other details of the investigation are in addition to those who discussed the Miranda warning. They were close to the investigation and insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case with reporters. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom authorities have described as the driving force behind the plot, was killed in a shootout with police. Dzhokhar is recovering in a hospital from injuries suffered during a getaway attempt.
Authorities had previously said Dzhokhar exchanged gunfire with them for more than an hour Friday night before they captured him inside a boat covered by a tarp in a suburban Boston neighborhood backyard. But two US officials said Wednesday that he was unarmed when captured, raising questions about the gunfire and how he was injured. More than 4,000 mourners at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology paid tribute to a campus police officer who authorities say was gunned down by the bombing suspects. Among the speakers in Cambridge, just outside Boston, was Vice President Joe Biden, who condemned the bombing suspects as “two twisted, perverted, cowardly, knockoff jihadis.” Investigators have said the brothers appeared to have been radicalized through jihadist materials on the Internet and have found no evidence tying them to a terrorist group.
Dzhokhar told the FBI that they were angry about the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Muslims there, officials said. Dzhokhar's public defender had no comment on the matter Wednesday. His father has called him a “true angel,” and an aunt has insisted he's not guilty. Investigators have found pieces of remote-control equipment among the debris and were analyzing them, officials said. One official described the detonator as “close-controlled,” meaning it had to be triggered within several blocks of the bombs. That evidence could be key to the court case. And an FBI affidavit said one of the brothers told a carjacking victim during their getaway attempt, “Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that.” Officials also recovered a 9mm handgun believed to have been used by Tamerlan from the site of a Thursday night gunbattle that injured a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer, two US officials said.
The officials told the AP that no gun was found in the boat. Boston police Commissioner Ed Davis said earlier that shots were fired from inside the boat. Asked whether the suspect had a gun in the boat, Davis said, “I'm not going to talk about that.” Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, did respond to the report. “Within half a mile of where this person was captured, a police officer was shot. And I know who shot him.” Schwartz said. “And there were three bombs that went off, and I know where those bombs came from. ... To me, it does not change anything. This guy was captured alive and will survive. True or not true, it doesn't change anything for me.” The suspects’ parents, Anzor Tsarnaev and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, plan to fly to the US from Russia on Thursday, the father was quoted as telling the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. The family has said it wants to take Tamerlan's body back to Russia.
In Russia, US investigators traveled to the predominantly Muslim province of Dagestan and were in contact with the brothers' parents, hoping to gain more information. Investigators are looking into whether Tamerlan, who spent six months in Russia's turbulent Caucasus region in 2012, was influenced by the religious extremists who have waged an insurgency against Russian forces in the area for years. The brothers have roots in Dagestan and neighboring Chechnya but had lived in the US for about a decade. While in the US, the brothers received welfare benefits. The Office of Health and Human Services in Massachusetts confirmed a Boston Herald report Wednesday that Tamerlan, his wife and daughter had received welfare benefits up until last year, when he became ineligible based on family income. The state also says Tamerlan and his brother received welfare benefits as children through their parents while the family lived in Massachusetts. Neither was receiving benefits at the time of the bombing.
At MIT, bagpipes wailed as students, faculty and staff members and throngs of law enforcement officials paid their respects to MIT police Officer Sean Collier, who was ambushed in his cruiser three days after the bombing. Biden told the Collier family that no child should die before his or her parents, but that, in time, the grief will lose some of its sting. “The moment will come when the memory of Sean is triggered and you know it's going to be OK,” Biden said. “When the first instinct is to get a smile on your lips before a tear to your eye.” The vice president also sounded a defiant note. “The purpose of terror is to instill fear,” he said. “You saw none of it here in Boston. Boston, you sent a powerful message to the world.” In another milestone in Boston's recovery, the area around the marathon finish line was reopened to the public, with fresh cement still drying on the repaired sidewalk. Delivery trucks made their way down Boylston Street under a heavy police presence, though some damaged stores were still closed. “I don't think there's going to be a sense of normalcy for a while,” Tom Champoux, who works nearby, said as he pointed to the boarded-up windows. “There are scars here that will be with us for a long time.” — Rodrique Ngowi, Lara Jakes and Matt Apuzzo (Courtesy, Associated Press)