THE FABULOUS IRONY OF AMERICAN PATRIOTISM
July 4 2013
by Jeff Costello
Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it. — G.B. Shaw
Patriotism is as fierce as a fever, pitiless as the grave, blind as a stone, and irrational as a headless hen. — Ambrose Bierce
Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind. — Albert Einstein
Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about. — Mark Twain
Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious. — Oscar Wilde
Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. — Samuel Johnson
In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary, patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first. — Ambrose Bierce
It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind. — Voltaire
Kill for Peace. — The Fugs
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If the British had nuclear bombs in 1776, would we be eating hot dogs, drinking beer, setting off firecrackers and waving the stars and stripes today? Just wondering.
Front page of the Denver Post: a picture of fireworks going off in front of the capitol building with the headline, “Celebrating.” And I think, celebrating what? Our independence from England, remember? The colonies throwing off the occupying oppressor. Oh, isn’t it rich, as Stephen Sondheim wrote in Send In The Clowns? Imagine, the very idea. We worship in the past, ideas that are criminal today. Because we are the oppressor now but our innate goodness and exceptionalism are without question. (Just ask those great patriots, W. Bush and Sarah Palin.) Surely this is how the British saw things in 1776. They were merely looking after their interests here, weren’t they?
And these days… Oh the interests, the many and far-flung “interests” of the USA. And all those bad people, where our interests lie… The nerve of them to question our motivations. Which boil down to: we want all your good stuff and we don’t mind killing you to prove it.
One hears much about rape within the military. Pundits wring their hands and wonder, What’s the matter? Why are male soldiers abusing female soldiers? It isn’t obvious? One need only look at recruitment advertising, which promises young men they’ll be glorious heroes, vanquishing all those bad people everywhere. The feelings of entitlement that go with this sort of thing are natural for the young, dumb and full of, okay, patriotic urges. If you’re entitled to kill, you’re certainly entitled to sexual gratification. Maybe the military should get off its high moral horse and have squads of patriotic prostitutes, hard core professionals, on duty at all times.
As a school kid in the 50s, for whatever reason, I didn’t buy the Pledge of Allegiance, although I hadn’t the vocabulary to explain why. Now I would say, “How Nazi is that?” Pretty much, I think. Same with the Lord’s Prayer. Remember that? I would mumble, “Howard be thy name…” We opened the school day with nationalistic and Christian propaganda. I suppose it must have worked with a lot of kids, because we see results now and it doesn’t seem to have turned out all that well.
MORE THAN $10,000 of stolen goods has been recovered by Fort Bragg police and two alleged thieves taken into custody. Joseph Anthony Fitch, 30, and Eric Christopher Seale, 37, also charged with meth possession, were arrested last Tuesday. Police say Fitch's family told police they thought Fitch was robbing houses in Fort Bragg, and Fitch implicated Seale in whose apartment many stolen items were subsequently discovered.
A 29-YEAR-OLD HOMELESS MAN WAS FOUND DEAD beneath the North Cliff Hotel on Thursday morning. The area at the mouth of the Noyo River has functioned as a homeless camp for some time. The young man, not yet identified, went to sleep with his girlfriend on Wednesday night. She woke up, he didn't.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Banks can borrow money at .75% interest, mortgage loans are currently around 4% and Students are charged 6.8% on student loans. What's wrong with this picture? Why aren't people demonstrating? Why do the people in this country take such abuse and not fight back as people do in other countries?
OUTSIDE MAGAZINE in its June 30th edition proudly declares that Eureka is one of the best places to raise adventurous kids. It names the “towering redwoods on one side and plunging ocean cliffs on the other…” The redwoods, yes… But, plunging ocean cliffs in Eureka? A further read exposes the confusion: The magazine lists a number of amazing places to visit in the area including a “unique pygmy forest,” Jughandle State Reserve,
and the Devil’s Punch Bowl in Russian Gulch State Park.
All, of course in Mendocino about a three hour drive from Eureka. Humboldt: a great place to live… because it’s really not that far from Mendocino… (—Kym Kemp)
THE COUNTY BUDGET for fiscal year 2013-14 is preliminarily set at about $224 million, which includes a $2.9 million carryover from the fiscal year ending this month. It also includes about $57 million of anticipated revenue for the County's general fund (the rest going to state and federal programs over which the county has little fiscal control). CEO Carmel Angelo told Tiffany Revelle of the Ukiah Daily Journal last week, “Over the past three-plus years, we've gone from a $7-million shortfall to a $7-million reserve; we've saved this county $14 million. We certainly have avoided the (fiscal) cliff … and there's been a lot of work on all fronts.” Final budget hearings begin September 9th.
COUNTY REVENUES REMAIN FLAT, however, while the County’s “structural deficit” stemming primarily from ongoing debt repayments for the formerly mismanaged Teeter Plan and the underfunded pension, plus continuously escalating healthcare costs and general inflation. Most of the improved budget picture stems from the large reduction in line staff over recent years combined with a 10% wage reduction. With an apparently better budget picture, county employees (in eight separate bargaining units, about two thirds of which are SEIU members) are expected to demand some kind of restoration of pay/benefits in ongoing negotiations.
THE STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATIOIN has begun mailing out another round of tax bills for their controversial “fire prevention fee” fire parcel tax — alphabetically, county by county. According to the Howard Jarvis Tax Haters League, they didn’t get their lawsuit filed with the state until last March. That lawsuit claims that the parcel “fee” is actually a tax which was imposed illegally by not going through the voters via Proposition 218 rules. The Howard Jarvis people don’t expect a decision any time soon — “Please be patient as lawsuits typically take a long time” — so they advise that property owners pay their $150 tax (perhaps $35 less if your parcel with a “habitable structure” is on land that is within an existing fire protection district). Most of Mendocino County outside the incorporated cities is subject to the tax, including all of Anderson Valley (although the slightly lower $115 tax will apply to most Anderson Valley homeowners in the Anderson Valley Community Services District).
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has repeal of the fee on its Legislative agenda: “Repeal of State Responsibility Area (SRA) fire prevention fees (pursuant to ABX1 29; Chaptered by the Secretary of State; Chapter 8, Statutes of 2011/12 First Extraordinary Session) imposing fire prevention fees within State Responsibility Areas (SRA) served by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.” But so far nothing has come of this item. Legislation to repeal or change the fee has been introduced in the state Legislature but hasn't been passed out of any committee.
For more information go to the Jarvis group’s website: http://firetaxprotest.org/
Or the state’s tax board fire prevention fee website: http://www.firepreventionfee.org/
STATE ASSEMBLYMAN WES CHESBRO will be term-limited out of office as of December 1, 2014. He has milked the taxpayers of California for 16 years since first being elected out of obscurity as the wine industry’s state senator in 1998, succeeding wine industry state senator Mike Thompson when Thompson was elected to represent the wine industry in the House of Representatives in Washington DC. Chesbro, who was born in Glendale then came north with the northcoast hippie invasion in the 1970s, has a degree in “Organizational Behavior” from the University of San Francisco. Then he “attended” Humboldt State classes in “natural resources.” According to his own website Chesbro’s complete “professional experience” is: “Director, Arcata Community Recycling Center, 1971-1972.” Under “organizations” Chesbro lists: Member, California Integrated Waste Management Board, 1990-1998, 2007-2008; Founding Member, California Integrated Waste Management Board, 1990-1998 ; Vice Chair, Western States Recycling Coalition, 1995-1997; Member, Board of Directors, County Supervisors Association of California, 1988-1990 ; Member, Humboldt County Child Welfare Advisory Board, 1986-1990; Member, Humboldt Health Planning Council, 1985-1990 ; Member, Humboldt Transit Authority Board, 1982-1990; Member, Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention, Humboldt County, 1983-1990 ; Member, Board of Directors, Redwood Natural History Association, 1986-1990; Member, Redwood Empire Division, League of California Cities, 1978 ; Member, Northcoast Environmental Center, 1971-1974; Co-Founder, Arcata Community Recycling Center, 1971 ; Member, Multiple Sclerosis Society; Co-Founder, Northcoast Environmental Center ; Member, Board of Directors, Open Door Community Health Systems Centers ; Member, United Methodist Church.”
It would be hard to find a less distinguished background for a politician since most of these “memberships” are in positions nobody else applied for. Chesbro leveraged his Arcata Recycling experience to get elected to the Arcata City Council in 1974, then somehow got elected Humboldt County Supervisor in 1980, lasting there until 1990.
Upon assuming his senate office in 1998, Chesbro proposed a bill that would benefit one (1) person — Francis Ford Coppola — by describing “certain” wine-selling restaurants so narrowly that a sharp reporter at the Sacramento Bee noticed that Chesbro’s Bill would have applied only to Coppola (a big Chesbro campaign contributor) and his small wine/restaurant chain. When the Bee published their story, Chesbro quickly withdrew the Coppola bill in insufficient disgrace. Chesbro spent eight years as state senator, then after being term-limited out he was appointed by his Democratic Party pals to the state’s Integrated Waste Management Board where he did nothing but attend a few meetings for over $100k a year until former assemblyperson Patti Berg was term limited out as this area’s assemblyperson. Chesbro immediately ran for that office with the backing of Party Boss Mike Thompson and won automatically in a district that would elect Charles Manson if Manson could somehow get the endorsement of Mike Thompson.
LAST MONTH ARCATA RESIDENT HEZEKIAH ALLEN announced that he intended to run as a Democrat for Chesbro’s assembly seat. We don’t know the young Mr. Allen that well, but simply on the strength that his announcement that he intended to run does not mention wine, he’s already made it clear that he’d be an improvement over Chesbro.
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Hezekiah Allen Officially Announces Candidacy for Assembly District 2
June 6, 2013 - 7:57pm
Non-Profit Executive and Small Businessman with Local Roots Running to Create Jobs and Serve as a Strong Voice for Small Towns and Rural Communities
(Arcata, CA)— Today, Hezekiah Allen, a non-profit executive and small businessman announced he will be a candidate for State Assembly District 2 in the June 2014 primary. Allen, a Democrat, is campaigning to replace Assemblymember Wes Chesbro, who will be termed out in 2014.
“The people of our District are innovative, hardworking, and independent. They have a unique perspective and unique values, and deserve a strong voice in Sacramento,” says Allen. “Our next Assemblymember must be a leader who understands the District and listens to different perspectives, who can bring people together and serve as a strong voice for the North Coast’s small towns and rural communities in Sacramento. I am that leader.”
Allen is running on a platform of creating good jobs for the North Coast, natural resource and environmental stewardship, and reinvesting in education.
“I will lead our District toward a time when we don’t have to choose between a prosperous economy and a healthy environment,” says Allen. “I’ll invest in the recovery of natural resources, restoring fisheries and forests and the jobs they sustain. I’ll reduce unnecessary regulations, to empower businesses and farmers to create jobs and get goods to market. And I’ll invest in our schools, increase local control of education, and expand vocational programs, so students can be prepared for successful careers.”
Born and raised in rural Humboldt County, Allen says he has a commitment to the community and its people that is deeper than any ideology.
“I want to represent the people of this District, not any political agenda, not any big moneyed special interests,” says Allen. “I want to ensure that those of us who live in some of California’s most rural places are not forgotten as distant conversations in Sacramento continue to shape the way we live and work.”
Allen lives in Arcata and serves as Executive Director of the Mattole Restoration Council, an organization committed to watershed restoration-based economic development.
Under Allen’s leadership, the Council was a finalist for the International Riverprize, one of the world’s most prestigious environmental awards. The organization also won an award from the Governor of California for bringing communities together to create jobs and protect the environment.
As a Humboldt County General Plan Update Working Group facilitator, Allen is currently building consensus and promoting public participation around land use policies that will affect us for generations.
And as a Boardmember of the Institute of Sustainable Forestry, Executive Committee Member of the California Northern Region Land Trust Council, and advisor to the North Coast Environmental Center, Allen is working to help these organizations develop long term strategic plans to ensure their success.
Allen also runs a local small business that provides land use, water storage, fuel reduction, and forest management consultation and services, and works as a facilitator, helping opposing parties resolve their conflicts.
California’s 2nd State Assembly District covers the state’s North Coast. It stretches from the California-Oregon border down through northern and coastal Sonoma County. It is one of the most rural districts in the state. The District includes all of Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties, and approximately 40% of Sonoma County, including the cities of Cloverdale and Healdsburg, the town of Windsor, and the northern portion of the city of Santa Rosa.
The primary election is set for June 2014. The top two vote getters will then head to the general election in November 2014.
MARI RODIN of the Ukiah City Council is leaving the Council for a government blah-blah job in Monterey County. Bowing out with Mendo-Typical solipsistic effusion, Rodin said her “work with the city has been a gift that changed my life, shaped my thinking, expanded my appreciation of local government” and similar arias to ME ME ME ME ME.
IN FACT, she leaves the city a cool mil in debt, administratively top-heavy and an estranged public muttering that the city has been destabilized by the self-serving crackpots.
JOHN SAKOWICZ WRITES: The City of Ukiah has noticed a Special Meeting on July 10, which will be a closed session with City Manager Jane Chambers and all department heads, presumably to talk about labor contract negotiations. Let us hope this will be the time that the City Council begins to deal with its $1 million structural deficit by cutting some of the 18 positions that were funded, in whole or in part, by the now-dissolved RDA.
CALIFORNIA PRISONERS SET TO HUNGER STRIKE JULY 8
Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
Who: Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
What: California Prisoners Begin 3rd Peaceful Hunger Strike and Work Actions
When: Monday, July 8, 2013, 11am
Where: Elihu Harris CA State Office Building, 1515 Clay St, Oakland.
Oakland—Family members, advocates, and lawyers will announce their support for the peaceful hunger strike and job actions beginning today throughout the California prisons starting on Monday July 8. Prisoners have been clear since January that they are willing to starve themselves unless the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) agrees to negotiate honestly about their demands.
On June 20, prisoners being held in solitary confinement at the notorious Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit describe their actions:
“The principal prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement does hereby present public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement will resume today, consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms).
Our decision does not come lightly. For the past (2) years we’ve patiently kept an open dialogue with state officials, attempting to hold them to their promise to implement meaningful reforms, responsive to our demands. For the past seven months we have repeatedly pointed out CDCR’s failure to honor their word—and we have explained in detail the ways in which they’ve acted in bad faith and what they need to do to avoid the resumption of our protest action.
On June 19, 2013, we participated in a mediation session ordered by the Judge in our class action lawsuit, which unfortunately did not result in CDCR officials agreeing to settle the case on acceptable terms. While the mediation process will likely continue, it is clear to us that we must be prepared to renew our political non-violent protest on July 8th to stop torture in the SHUs and Ad-Segs of CDCR.
Thus we are presently out of alternative options for achieving the long overdue reform to this system and, specifically, an end to state-sanctioned torture, and now we have to put our lives on the line via indefinite hunger strike to force CDCR to do what’s right.
We are certain that we will prevail…. the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement?
The world is watching!”
While the CDCR has claimed to have made reforms to its SHU system—how a prisoner ends up in the solitary units, for how long, and how they can go about getting released into the general population—prisoners’ rights advocates and family members point out that the CDCR has potentially broadened the use of solitary confinement, and that conditions in the SHUs continue to constitute grave human rights violations. The California prison system currently holds over 10,000 prisoners in solitary confinement units, with dozens having spent more than 20 years each in isolation. Conditions in Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU sparked massive waves of hunger strikes in 2011 that saw the participation of 12,000 prisoners in at least a third of California’s 33 prisons.
For more information visit: https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/