Press "Enter" to skip to content

Letters (June 1, 2023)

* * *


Dear Editor,

For the past few days I was feeling very low and withdrawn. I felt something was missing, but couldn't put my finger on it. Being 49 years old, I just assumed it was another symptom of menopause, high one minute and low the next (not bad really considering no drugs are involved, although I'm not averse to “illegal” drugs. Funny isn't it? All these legal prescriptions — Ritalin, Prozac, tranquilizers, tobacco — are more harmful than the so-called drugs such as marijuana; yet our government — or big business — profits from the sale of both-in a very big way). Anyway, I finally realized what it was when my husband picked up the mail on Friday, and three AVA's came at once! I was suffering AVA withdrawal! You have no idea how much I depend on your paper, especially your sharp-tongued, razor-wit retorts to imbeciles! Your replies are never disappointing, in fact, my middle son, Phillip (18yrs), enjoys your rebuttals as much as my husband and I do.

Now a question I hope you can answer for me: my husband says he is a communist. He has read Marx and follows his teachings. What is the difference, if any, between a communist, a socialist, and a leftist?

Keep fanning the flames!

As always,

Kathy Schmidt


ED REPLY: Certainly, my dear. Always happy to help out with the finer distinctions, especially after an encouraging pat on the head like you gave me. Ready? Begin.  Marx laid it out so clearly and irrefutably that even college graduates could understand that capitalist societies are organized to serve the few at the expense of the many. A sensible society would of course be organized in a way that its economy had as its first and only purpose human happiness, in other words an economy organized to serve the people who live in it rather than the people who own it, the latter being the economy we suffer here in the United States. Revolutionaries subsequently took Marx’s analysis and tried to put it into practice, but they were murdered or otherwise nullified as soon as the rich learned that the insurgents wanted to divvy up the wealth the insurgents could see through the palace windows. Lenin was the first Marx-inspired revolutionary to pull it off, “it” being the transformation of a society to put its economy to work for the great majority of people, which didn't work out that way, but not for lack of trying. To turn a society on its head requires smarts and determination, which is why it doesn’t happen very often. Lenin’s Russia was on the cusp of industrialization but retarded by a degenerate, priest-ridden monarchy dominated by a parasitic gentry, a ruthless secret police, the usual retro army apparatus, all of it sitting on top of a huge but unschooled population. The Czar had also hanged Lenin’s brother, which was added incentive for the revolution Lenin subsequently engineered. In a context of a rigid and lethal dictatorship, one simply can’t call a public meeting to organize the overthrow of the government. Nor can one run for office on a platform promising the abolition of the ruling class. Check that: You can run for office on that platform but the liberals will howl you down. Leninism, i.e., a cadre of smart, tough people who persuade key sectors of the population to help them forcibly get the rich off their backs, although in a great irony of history Lenin and his Bolsheviks simply walked into an odd power vacuum and took over non-violently. Leninism is really a sort of revolutionary how-to manual. (If there weren’t tenure in this country the barricades would go up tomorrow, and every population center in America would have at least one Lenin.) The kind of government the Marxist-Leninists set up is a perverted, bureaucratic version of what they like to claim is a classless state, but which in practice inserts them in the big black limos formerly enjoyed by the people they have just offed. Lenin himself wasn’t much of a one for the high life but his successors had no trouble making the adjustment to gross privilege. That system, “the dictatorship of the proletariat,” is called communism, although it's a perversion of what Marx had in mind. It isn’t communism although the communist states are generally able to feed, house and educate everyone, an accomplishment beyond capitalist states like ours. The kind of gangster socialism of the Stalinist type survives as an ideal in America in a few Kom-Kults, some of them in the Bay Area, but our Kom-Kults never get bigger because they are wrong, boring, humorless, and fanatic — in short, the political equivalents of the more excitable but irrelevant congregations of Pentecostal Christians, especially the half-dipped ones.

So, the socialism that has a Lenin figure at the top and a bunch of hangers-on dependent on the top guy is modern communism. Castro was just about the only Lenin type left, although the screwball running North Korea is another version of what is generally called communism. Socialism is a more malleable and democratic sharing of the wealth often achieved electorally because it makes sense to give the broad mass of folks a few comforts so they won’t pick up the gun to get them. Socialism can co-exist in an otherwise capitalist society. It has co-existed for many years, more or less, in the Scandinavian countries, and Western Europe including, sort of, England. It usually means a guaranteed social floor of shelter, a livable income whether or not you work, education, health care, pensions, and various other amenities most Americans can only dream about because we have no political party representing the true interests of a majority of our citizen-body. In America, socialism had its best shot at the turn of the century when this country produced its best-ever radicals in Gene Debs, Big Bill Haywood, Mother Jones, and immigrants like Emma Goldman.

They argued for livable lives for all Americans and were framed, defamed, deported, and murdered by capital for their efforts. Today, thanks to a whorish media owned by the rich who use media to promote their stranglehold on an increasingly volatile, anarchistic society, harmless conservative liberals of the Democratic Party type are routinely denounced as socialists and even communists. The average American, a product of a failed system of public education and completely befuddled by media owned by his objective enemies, can no longer make the basic distinctions between communists, socialists, liberals, vegetarians, greens, Al Gore, and anarchists. A “leftist” thus becomes any person expressing an opinion the ruling class thinks will cost it money. "Leftist's" vague flexibility is handy to lazy journalists (99% of those presently employed in the so-called profession) as an all-purpose epithet with which to libel reformers while at the same time ingratiating themselves with the thugs who employ them. Then again a lot of journalists are dumb as stones and sluttish too (cf. MSNBC, Fox News, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, so it’s often a close call where one deficiency leaves off and another begins. Myself, I’m most attracted to anarcho-syndicalist ideas of social organization, but I’d settle for a benign form of socialism which, if adopted, would make America a much happier, much less violent country.

* * *


Dear Ukiah Coop Dear Member/Owner,

We recently discovered a payment card skimming device at Ukiah Natural Foods, on the credit card terminal at register #2. Our member records indicate that you used your payment card to make a purchase at the affected terminal during the time period that the device may have been operating. You may have had your payment information stolen if the suspect(s) who installed the card skimmer gained access before co-op staff found and removed the device.

A skimmer is a scanning device mounted over the existing (legitimate) card scanner. The skimmers are so well- produced that staff and customers can be completely unaware of their presence. When you slide your card through the affected credit card terminal, your card also passes through the skimmer device and your card information is recorded by the skimmer.

If the thieves were able to access information from the device before it was discovered, they may have acquired your information from the magnetic stripe on your payment card, including your name, phone number, card number, card expiration date and CVV. Please keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements for charges you didn’t make and report any suspicious or unauthorized activity to your issuing bank or credit card company immediately.

This incident has been reported to local law enforcement and is under investigation. Going forward, we have added additional steps to our routine checking to ensure that we catch this type of fraud quickly. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes you. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.


Lori Rosenberg, General Manager

Ukiah Natural Foods

* * *


To the Editor:

Mendocino County stinks of broken government. Let me count the ways:

Insider politics.

Handpicked candidates.


Rigged elections.

Hidden deficits.

Inaccurate or incomplete –or totally nonexistent — county financial statements.

Lazy and lavishly overpaid bureaucrats, especially the county executive office and county counsel.

Incompetent and lavishly overpaid bureaucrats, especially the county executive office and county counsel.

Elusive and lavishly overpaid bureaucrats, especially the county executive office and county counsel.

A never-ending parade of expensive outside consultants.

A never-ending parade of expensive outside lawyers.

Too many ad hoc committees, too many plans, too much blah-blah-blah, and too little execution and implementation,

Too many disgruntled, isolated, overtaxed citizens simply shut out of the private club that is county government.

Time to vote for change! Elect Mendocino County’s 1st District supervisorial candidate Carrie Shattuck!

Candidate Trevor “Bullethead” Mockel is a joke.

No resume. No skills. No experience. Never held a job for long. No maturity.

In other words, no nothing.

And his five endorsements from all five sitting members of the Board of Supervisors — endorsements which were all pretty much worded the same and all released simultaneously — is a Brown Act violation and clear evidence of “business as usual” from a broken government.

Vote for change!

John Sakowicz 


* * *



If the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District is planning a spending splurge (“SMART plans spending surge for rail, path projects,” May 22), then it is inconceivable to me why they are not revisiting and insisting on the vital connection directly to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

I believe that this last half-mile is the key to increasing ridership to a sustainable level. No one wants to add that extra time, hassle and long walk to an already time-consuming commute to San Francisco, so it’s quicker and more efficient to drive.

Without a station at the ferry terminal itself, SMART will continue to be the “train to nowhere.”

Michael Alexin

San Rafael

* * *



Art envisions the future.

In 1965 Frank Hebert’s science-fiction novel “Dune” was published and a series of novels continuing the saga followed. Now, almost 60 years later, the second installment of the movie based on the one-time Santa Rosan’s work is due out this November. So this is a story that still has widespread appeal to a large audience.

What may be less well known is that Herbert’s son, Frank, and Kevin Anderson wrote a three-novel prequel to “Dune,” a trilogy titled “Legends of Dune.” This tells the story of how the various political factions of the planet Dune came into being and of the battle throughout the galaxy between humans and “thinking machines.”

I am often surprised at how accurately good science-fiction can predict the future. Now that artificial intelligence is upon us, the potential conflict between humans and “thinking machines” is a topic that is (or should be) of real concern. So if you’re of a mind to have a troubled mind, give “Legends of Dune” a read. It may stimulate your thinking.

Richard Evans


* * *



I am currently confined in "isolation" at the Mendocino County Jail. I am writing this letter to bring to light the inhumane conditions of confinement that this county jail subject inmates to.

The "isolation" cells are maybe 8 feet wide and 11 feet long. There is a camera above the door in the cell and a camera in the back of the cell. We are under observation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are in this cell 23.5 hours a day.

Most of the cells have feces on the walls and ceiling. In my cell there is feces on the walls, ceiling and phone. However, I can't clean the phone without causing damage to the phone. The deputies are aware of the situation as I have earlier let them know as well as grieved it. Most of these cells are infested with ants, spiders, pincher bugs and earwigs.

While housed in "isolation," we are not afforded books. If you don't come with books you will not receive any books to keep you preoccupied. We cannot verbally express our frustration with being left back here indefinitely or they (classification and the brass: sergeants, lieutenants and captains) classify that as "negative behavior," and extend our stay. We cannot express our frustration with peaceful protests in the form of hunger strikes for that too is classified as "negative behavior" and extends our stay.

Yard? They come around 7 AM to ask if we want yard. The yard is only 30 minutes. The process of getting to the yard? They, the deputies — two of them, open the tray slot and cuff us behind the back. Then we have to kneel on our bed. They come in the cell and shackle our ankles. Then one grabs our left elbow and the other the right. Then they physically escort us to a yard. When I say "physically" I mean it feels as though they are attempting to carry/drag us to the yard. Once on the yard we are held against the fence with one shoulder and face to the fence. Then they unshackle our ankles. As they close the gate to the yard we are to remain leaned against the fence. This 30 minute yard feels as though it is only 15 minutes. Then it's the same process in reverse when taken back to our cells.

Showers? Sometimes we don't get offered a shower for three days. When they do run showers they come get us from anywhere between midnight and 3 AM. It's like they wait until we are asleep before they ask us if we want a shower. The shower is filthy. There is even feces in there and it smells of feces and urine.

This county jail has this thing then it calls the "step down program" in which mainly an individual in a "smock" (which is a sort of night gown looking thing) and that is the only piece of clothing they receive. They only give these individuals a "smock blanket" to cover up with at night. They refuse to give these individuals any reading materials, cleaning supplies or hygiene so that they can brush their teeth or wash their hands after they use the restroom.

My neighbor has been on this "step down program" for about two months. Well — he went crazy the other morning and began banging his head on the walls, the door and the window. Over and over again screaming, "Why am I still alive?" (Bam Bam Bam), "until I'm dead!" (Bam Bam Bam!). "Why am I still here?" (Bam Bam Bam). This went on for about 30 minutes before someone let them know that he was over there banging his head on stuff and still it took them another 3-5 minutes to come over here.

Once they brought him back from the "safety cell" (which is yet another inhumane place that this county jail places inmates in as it has feces, urine, blood, boogers, snot, spit etc. in it on the floor and the walls). I can tell you this, they will still leave him on the so-called "step down program" that caused him to go crazy.

This practice of this county jail placing the mentally ill in the super max environment of its lockdown unit (400 wing) and "isolation)" is a violation of their Sixth Amendment due process clause and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. This county jail is not equipped to house mentally ill so they put them in punitive segregation which seems to enhance their mental illness. Take my neighbor for an example.

Tablets. Every other housing unit has access to tablets on which they can do legal research, read books, watch movies and TV shows, listen to music, message their families and friends, and receive letters from them on there as well. "Isolation" is not afforded this and their excuse is that there is no WiFi back here. They won't even give us an alternative, the "windup radio," so those of us back here indefinitely can at least listen to music to help us stay mentally healthy.

I was making little projects to help my mental health in which I was making crosses and dream catchers out of strips of plastic bags that I stretched out and made into string. Practicing my religion. Something that boosted my spirits and morale in this depressing environment. Well, they came into my cell and took those from me and called them "contraband" and wrote me up, effectively restricting me from practicing my religion in this area.

Will the Mendocino County jail ever be held accountable for the wrongs that it commits? Or will they continue to get free reign to do whatever they want when it comes to these inhumane conditions of confinement?


Name Withheld/’An isolation inmate’


* * *



In the history of the world, the wealthy have been the landowners and the rest of us have been taxed and made to pay whatever “rent” the wealthy could get for the “right” to live (sometimes even to work) on their land. Nothing has really changed now, except that the wealthy, who are supposed to pay a fair amount of taxes to our government (like the rest of us), don’t.

It appears that the tax breaks granted by former President Donald Trump added trillions to our national deficit. From my understanding of a report by the Center for American Progress, an independent policy institute, if Trump and former President George W. Bush hadn’t enacted tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations, debt, as a percentage of the economy, would be declining permanently and the rich and their corporations would still be doing fine.

This wealth directly affects the cost and, hence, the required rent to make an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) a “profitable” investment, as the wealthy don’t do anything that doesn’t make a profit or a hedge against paying taxes. There is nothing wrong with that, as that is the basis of how our for-profit economy works.

If wealthy people and large corporations paid their fair amount of taxes, interest rates would be lower and our government would have the means to help offset the cost of constructing “fair-market housing” by giving yearly tax breaks to those owners who built ADUs on their property. They could make them charge less for rent and still have their investment be profitable.

The way to make the cost of building ADUs less would be to have the government subsidize for-profit home manufacturers to build prefabricated housing units that could be easily transported to the site and built under the international building codes instead of more stringent California codes. They could still be “green” and energy efficient. The exteriors could be made to fit into existing neighborhoods.

Doing this correctly requires a government that is getting a fair amount of taxes from us all.

Paul Bartolini

Santa Rosa

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *