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UNSEASONABLY HOT TEMPERATURES along with dry weather is anticipated for the remainder of the week. The hottest daytime temperatures are forecast to occur on Thursday. Cooler weather and a chance for precipitation will return for the weekend. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A foggy 59F this Tuesday morning with .28" of rain from yesterday, much more than I expected. Dry & warm for the rest of the week then cloudy & cooler for the weekend.
In the on again, off again nature of the last 24 hours, my rain gauge has added a .035 inch in accumulated moisture enough to make a measurement in my gauge. This brings my totals since July 1st to 2.45 inches.
They predict the next reasonably serious rains to begin next week. Is your firewood covered? Do you have clean all-weather gear at home? Have you picked the fruit? Is your roof finished? Clear the culverts and grade your driveways, this one's gonna be a beaut!
OUR CURRENT SITUATION
by Adam Gaska
Mendocino County government is obviously in crisis and it looks as if our crisis is deepening. Recently our County Auditor Controller Treasurer Tax Collector and the former County payroll manager both had criminal complaints filed against them by the Mendocino County District Attorney. Their arraignment is this Tuesday morning (October 17) in Mendocino County Superior Court.
I believe in due process and that everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. I do not know all the facts in the case or their merit. I will withhold public judgment of the ACTTC and former payroll manager, patiently waiting for our justice system to decide what is fact, what is fiction, if and who is guilty, then levy whatever punishment is necessary. It does our system a disservice to speculate and poison the well of public opinion, tainting the possible jury pool.
Regardless of the outcome of the recent criminal cases, it seems obvious that County finances haven’t been what they should be for quite some time. Before 2014, County budgets were easy to follow. Then between 2014 and 2017, the format changed and the financial picture became less clear. The Board continued passing budgets without a clear financial picture.
In 2014 the County elected a new Auditor Controller then in 2015 adopted a new software program to upgrade the County’s property tax assessment and tax collection system. The software program integration is still in process, we have another Auditor Controller and in late 2021, the BOS voted to combine the offices of Treasurer Tax Collector and Auditor Controller into one elected office despite protests from both offices. County finances and our financial systems have been in turmoil for almost a decade.
I still have misgivings about the combining of the offices of Auditor Controller and Treasurer Tax Collector. Since the consolidation of Elections and Assessor’s offices, the Assessor’s side of the office has suffered. Consolidating very different functions of County government under one office doesn’t guarantee greater efficiencies if the tasks of each department have no overlap or redundancy. It takes away the power of the electorate to hold office holders accountable and gives that responsibility to the BOS. On the other hand, voters don’t often hold errant officeholders accountable by way of a recall. One way or another, those who serve in these positions must be held accountable. We should tread thoughtfully and carefully into whatever our next steps are.
Finger pointing won’t fix the crisis or move the County in the right direction. We need our elected officials to assume leadership roles, take responsibility for County finances, work together to come up with a plan of corrective action then commit the resources needed to execute. Anyone not willing or able to work together and play their part, should resign or face a recall. If anyone is participating in financial malfeasance, they need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
The Assessor’s office is not promptly reassessing property taxes after sales or new construction. There are many buildings that have been built without permits and are not on the tax rolls. The County needs to prioritize fully staffing the department to get caught up and stay caught up. This may require paying a more competitive wage, offering a hiring bonus and possibly performance bonuses. We should be using whatever technologies or services are available to identify unpermitted buildings, offer them amnesty to come in, get on the tax rolls or face the consequences. If we aren’t properly collecting taxes, we are not collecting the revenues to fund County functions such as the Sheriff's Department, maintaining roads, etc and our community suffers.
The Auditor Controller’s office needs to work with the Executive office and County Departments to develop annual budgets and standardized monthly financial reports to track financial progress throughout the year. With revenues and expenses being closely tracked throughout the year, adjustments can be made to keep costs in line before the end of the Fiscal Year. The Auditor Controller may be in charge of the County’s accounting but this work must be supported by all departments and offices to be as accurate and timely as possible.
The Board of Supervisors must work with the Executive Office to get timely monthly reports from all departments and elected offices. These reports must be made available to the public in the CEO report. Just as there is time allotted for public comment on non-agenda items at the beginning of the meeting, there should also be time allotted for staff reports. When necessary, departments should be required to give reports not just for the benefit of the Board, but in the interest of public transparency as this is our County. The BOS must support staff/departments with whatever training and continuing education is necessary to manage the County efficiently and effectively.
If the County doesn’t have accurate and timely financial information, the BOS can’t make educated decisions which puts us all at risk as we fly blind. We can’t afford to be held hostage by any one department or office. We must work together for the sake of the County.
CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE SECTION 424: “Misappropriation of Public Funds”:
“(a) Each officer of this state, or county, city, or district, and any other person charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement of public moneys, who either: (1) without authority, appropriates any portion to their own use, or use of another; or, (2) loans any portion; makes any profit, or uses for any purpose not authorized by law; or, (3) knowingly keeps a false account, or makes false entry or erasure in any account; or, (4) fraudulently alters, falsifies, conceals, destroys, or obliterates any account; or, (5) willfully refuses to pay over, on demand, any public moneys in their hands, upon presentation of a draft, order, or warrant drawn upon these moneys or, (6) willfully omits to transfer when required by law; or, (7) willfully refuses to pay over to any authorized officer to receive any money imposed by law: Is punishable by California state imprisonment two, three, or four years, and disqualified from holding any office in this state."
MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: By this definition, we see that 1) If convicted Ms. Cubbison would be removed from her elected position. And 2) based on DA Eyster’s complaint back in late August of 2021, that his case could be based not on personal remuneration on Cubbison’s part, but on her refusal to pay Eyster’s travel expense voucher(s). Under this interpretation Eyster might allege that Ms. Cubbison “refused to pay over, on demand, any public moneys in their hands, upon presentation of a draft, order, or warrant drawn upon these moneys…” or “willfully omitted to transfer when required by law” or, “willfully refused to pay over to any authorized officer to receive any money imposed by law” when Eyster complained that Cubbison questioned his travel expenses and associated documentation. At that time Cubbison said she was following County policy, adding that the funds were eventually approved. But Eyster insisted she was “wrong” and therefore not qualified for the position. Further, if this interpretation is correct, Ms. Cubbison’s charges would be unrelated to the charges against Payroll Manager P.J. Kennedy (or perhaps added to).
Based on a quick search, we could not find any prior examples of anyone being charged with refusing to pay funds to any “authorized officer” or similar allegations as per PC 424. So this would be a unique case in California legal history.
THE DA has charged the dual County bean counters, Cubbison and Kennedy, of misappropriation of public funds, while the DA himself has hosted staff — a total of somewhere around 70 people — at annual January dinners at the Broiler Steak House, writing off the bibulous merriment as “training sessions,” nevermind that holiday parties are against County policy. The annual tax-paid merriment at the Broiler went on until Covid.
IN MY EXPERIENCE, the courts, here, there and everywhere, are operated to protect judges from public accountability. Back in the day, we wanted to have a look at Judge Vincent Lechowick’s divorce file. After all, the marital wreckages of everyone else are open to the public. We wanted to see Lechowick’s file because we suspected it contains information that would get Lechowick removed from the bench. We didn’t want to see it simply to enjoy the details of a failed marriage, which is how Lechowick portrayed it.
WE TOOK OUR CASE, compiled by the AVA’s Mark Heimann, to open Lechowick’s file to the State Appellate Court and won. Natch, we were told to go away by the local courts. We won on appeal. Ourvictory was celebrated in legal journals and is now case law; a judge’s marital losses are public record just like everyone else’s. The Appellate Court’s ruling was as clear and as free of legal jargon as one could hope for. Open the file, it said.
BUT THE LECHOWICK CASE was returned to Mendocino County where it predictably disappeared again into a morass of failure to notify Heimann of a hearing on the matter, then the assignment of a rightwing crackpot of a visiting judge named Jamar to hear the request from Heimann to open the files as per the Appellate Court’s decision, and then there was manufactured confusion about challenges to Jamar’s appointment.
LECHOWICK was all for Jamar. We thought all systems were go before we learned that Jamar had called a week prior to the hearing to say he had a cold and couldn’t make it to Ukiah to hear Heimann’s arguments for opening up the Lechowick file.
A JUDGE named Allen filled in. (Local judges routinely duck controversial matters.) Judge Allen got right to the heart of the matter, pointing out that according to the Appellate Court the two sides to the matter — Heimann and Lechowick — would of course have to meet to go through Lechowick’s file to see what was legitimate public info and what wasn’t.
LECHOWICK whined that the Appellate Court hadn’t said what it had said. Lechowick hoped to get the whole matter heard all over again. Mean time, he’d amassed a fat file of stuff on the AVA that the Appellate Court firmly ruled was irrelevant to the question of the validity of the sealing of his divorce file.
JUDGE ALLEN cut Lechowick off in mid-snivel, and as Lechowick began to mumble to himself and nut up, the issue of how many peremptory challenges Heimann had already used arose, and Judge Allen put the whole works over for a couple of months. Which was too bad because Allen, unlike our robes, was a smart, no-nonsense guy from whom we could have anticipated an intelligent, fair culling of the Lechowick file.
IT WENT on and on, and local boys — our judges were all boys then, not that the girls subsequently elevated to these sinecures have improved the quality of the local judicial work product, but the matter of Lechowick’s conveniently sequestered divorce file, with help from the State Judicial Council, whose anonymous administrators appointed the series of substitute judges who kept protecting their fellow robe, the matter disappeared. We couldn’t keep commuting to Ukiah to get stonewalled by the procession of clowns succeeding Judge Allen.
Jacob Brown announces:
Exciting News: I’m Running for 2nd District Supervisor of Mendocino County!
Dear Friends and Family,
I hope this message finds you well. Today, I'm thrilled to share a new chapter in my life – I'm officially running for the position of 2nd District Supervisor in beautiful Mendocino County.
My decision to run stems from a deep commitment to our community and a strong desire to tackle critical issues head-on. Here are the key areas I'll be focusing on during my campaign:
Financial Responsibility: Mendocino County deserves the highest standards of fiscal responsibility. I'm dedicated to addressing the financial challenges that our county faces, including improving reporting and budgeting processes to ensure transparency and accountability.
Affordable Housing: Access to safe and affordable housing is a fundamental right. I am committed to working diligently to expand access to affordable housing options, ensuring that all our residents have a place to call home.
Homelessness Crisis: It's disheartening to see the homelessness crisis affecting our neighbors. I am determined to work tirelessly to find compassionate solutions to provide shelter, support, and a pathway to stability for those experiencing homelessness.
Economic Growth: Mendocino County holds immense potential for economic growth. I am committed to fostering an environment encouraging business growth, job creation, and economic prosperity for all our residents.
I embark on this journey with the knowledge that it's the support and trust of friends and family like you that make a difference. Your encouragement means everything to me, and I'm grateful for your unwavering belief in our vision for a better Mendocino County.
In the coming weeks and months, I will share more about my plans and ways you can get involved. Your input and participation are invaluable, and I'm eager to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Join me on this exciting path towards a stronger, more vibrant Mendocino County.
Stay tuned for updates, events, and opportunities to engage with the campaign. Your support is the driving force behind this movement.
Thank you for being part of this journey!
ED NOTE: The unnamed incumbent 2nd District Supervisor is Maureen Mulheren of Ukiah.
MINIMUM WAGE ELIGIBILITY WORKERS WANTED
If you are looking for a way to grow your career helping others, look no further!
We are hiring Eligibility Specialists I & II in our Employment & Family Assistance Services (EFAS) division.
Starting at $20.56/hr plus benefits, this position will give you the experience and skills to feel great about the work you are doing and build your career here at Mendocino County Department of Social Services.
For more information and assistance with the application process, please call (707) 468-7080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mendocino County Department of Social Services is a great place to build your career. Together, we provide vital support services to our communities through State and Federally funded programs.
If you are ready to apply, click here https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/mendocinoca?page=3
(Mendocino County Social Services)
ms notes: The starting salary for eligibility worker is about the same as the state’s new minimum wage for fast food workers (as of next April).
AV SKATEPARK PROJECT UPDATE:
We received unfortunate news last week: the AVCSD's AV Community Park Development Plan (including skatepark) application for the CalTrans Clean California Local Grant Program was not granted.
(Anderson Valley did, however, receive one of the largest Clean CA grants in the state, with $4.7 million granted to AV School District for development of an all-weather track and field, which will serve as a wonderful resource for the community.)
While disappointing, this setback does not mean a skatepark in Boonville will not happen! The AV Skatepark Project has raised nearly $300,000, and community support and excitement for the project has been tremendous. We'll keep riding the momentum and find funding elsewhere to make this project a reality.
Next steps: We are currently working on reformulating projected costs and will establish new phased fundraising goals. We will then initiate a renewed fundraising campaign in hopes of securing funds through a combination of private donations and grants. Stay tuned!
WELCOME, AMANDA PACHECO
Please join us in welcoming Amanda Pacheco to our team!
Amanda was sworn in today as a Community Services Officer. She will be handing calls for service, taking non-suspect crime reports, and assisting in many other general services.
Amanda is a local and has been living in the Fort Bragg area for the last 23 years. She has a passion for law enforcement and aspires to one day attend the academy and move into a sworn position within the department.
Amanda attributes her passion for law enforcement to her grandfather (Shout out to Tony Coester!) who is a chief investigator with the Butte County District Attorney's Office and has a long-standing career in law enforcement.
We are excited to have Amanda joining our team and if you see her out and about please feel free to introduce yourself and get to know her!
(Fort Bragg Police Presser)
PROMOTE PUBLIC LOOS TOO
Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane brought up the pathetic lack of clean and convenient restrooms in Sonoma County’s park system in the Press Democrat last week. She described a trip to Europe where the situation is just the opposite — an abundance of clean, safe toilet facilities.
I just returned from a seven-day road trip through southern Oregon, and everywhere we went there was an abundance of clean, safe restrooms, so it seems that some states are aware that this is a basic need. What agency in California is able to do something about this dearth of resources for people of all ages?
On the Mendocino Coast, where I live, I contacted state parks and Caltrans regarding placing restrooms at a popular parking area south of Westport at Kibesillah Key. Their response was to install a “helpful” sign informing the public who often use the parking lot for overnight camping that the nearest restroom is at MacKerricher State Park, 11 miles away.
We promote the beautiful California coast with endless glossy travel brochures encouraging visitors to come for the spectacular sights, stay in our campgrounds or hotels, eat at our fine dining restaurants. Shouldn’t we give equal consideration as to their need for clean, safe and convenient restrooms?
A READER WRITES:
“Saw this today. Almost ejected wife out the front window I hit the breaks so hard. Was able to make contact with the owner who appeared to be mid 90s. He said he removed it from the single lane bridge when it was being demolished in the early 50s as he recalled. Said no amount of money could buy it and there was no indecision in his voice. For reference this river is adjacent to the town of Mendocino.”
NO MORE MONEY FOR THE DUMB TRAIN
The Oct. 8 PD editorial maintains the fiction that SMART will reduce traffic on Highway 101. That was not true when SMART was first promoted and remains untrue today, as it will in the future. People working across the Bay are not going to adopt SMART since it ends abruptly in Marin County. The ridership remains people interested in a novelty, and that will leave Highway 101 full of commuters. All of this was predicted when SMART was being proposed, and voters should not agree to any additional funds for this losing agency.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, October 16, 2023
ISABEL AYALA-GALVEZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
JULIE BOND, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
FRANK BRUCE, Clearlake/Ukiah. Concealed dirk-dagger, paraphernalia.
ERIC GARCIA, Redwood Valley. Probation revocation.
BENJAMIN HOFF, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
TYLER HURN, Potter Valley. Protective order violation.
ZACKARY LAWSON, Ukiah. Domestic battery, county parole violation.
JAMES LOWE, Clearlake/Ukiah. Controlled substance, county parole violation.
JUSTICE MENEAR, Ukiah. Controlled substance.
SANJAY MOHAN, Willits. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
MICHAEL OLVERA-CAMPOS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JITENDRAKUMAR PATEL, Clearlake. DUI.
JASON RAMOS, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Paraphernalia, county parole violation.
CASEY RAY, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, county parole violation.
AUBREY THOMAS, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia.
NATHAN TUPPER, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
WHY IS BASEBALL NO LONGER AMERICA’S GAME?
by Harry Enten
Major League Baseball is finally back. Despite a lockout and delay in Opening Day, the players are actually going to take the field. When my father, born in 1927, was my age, Opening Day was one of the biggest events on the sports calendar.
For his son, it’s just another day. It’s not that I don’t like baseball – I do. It’s that baseball is not the sport that stands out above all others in my mind.
My family’s story is part of a larger one about America’s declining interest in baseball and generational replacement.
The sport, which was once the most popular in the country, has a bevy of problems that has landed it, at best, a distant second place in America’s hearts. This is especially true among America’s youth.
Just 11% of adults listed baseball as their favorite sport to watch in a 2021 Washington Post poll. That put it well behind football (34%) and tied with basketball for the second favorite sport. Soccer and “something else” (e.g. esports/competitive video gaming) were closely behind at 7%.
When examining the poll more in-depth, the problem baseball has becomes both more apparent – and even scarier. A mere 7% of those under the age of 30 say baseball is their favorite sport. This ranked fifth behind football (24%), basketball (17%), “something else” (12%) and soccer (10%).
To put baseball’s overall 11% in perspective, there were many more fans of baseball the last time there was a work stoppage in 1994. In an average of Gallup polls that year, 19% of Americans said baseball was their favorite sport.
While the 1994 baseball strike may have hurt the sport’s popularity, the truth is baseball had been on the decline for a while. Baseball hadn’t ranked as America’s favorite sport to watch since 1960, when 34% said it was. Soccer that year came in at less than 0.5%, while football picked up 21% support. By the next poll Gallup did on the subject in 1972, baseball was second to football.
The rise of TV
The fact that 1960 is the last time baseball reigned supreme is notable. The sports landscape has changed dramatically from 62 years ago.
One big reason baseball no longer finds itself the darling of American sports is competition and the dawn of the television age.
The NFL didn’t sign its first league-wide TV contract until 1962; it led to every game being on television and each team receiving a share of the revenue pie. This came around the same time that the AFL – a rival league which would eventually merge with the NFL – started play and signed its own league-wide TV deal.
After this point, this meant that over 20 teams had their contests televised, and the country had universal access to the pro game. Additionally, the Super Bowl would begin in 1967. The NFL, of course, is a sport that benefits tremendously from being seen. Baseball, on the other hand, doesn’t gain as much going from radio to television.
Another sport which is better visually than audibly is basketball. The NBA was less than 15 years old in 1960. There were just eight NBA teams at that point – half the size of either professional baseball or football. The NBA Finals wouldn’t be aired in their entirety nationally until 1970.
The country was years away from a successful professional soccer league in 1960 – let alone the incarnation of the MLS. Now, a soccer fan can watch games from here and those across the Atlantic Ocean – the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, for example – with ease.
As for other sports, there were only six NHL teams compared to the 32 today. And the idea of competitive video gaming was a science fiction fantasy and not at all conceivable.
The increased competition and the use of screens to watch sports came at an inopportune time for baseball.
If bored, Americans can change the channel very quickly. On social media platforms like TikTok, things go by faster than a bullet train. Baseball is anything but fast as far as Americans are concerned.
Check out this 2007 Gallup poll when people who weren’t pro baseball fans were asked why they didn’t like the sport. The two top reasons given were boring/uninteresting (31%) and games being too slow/too long (21%).
When you look at the data from actual games, you get why people might think the sport is either too boring or too slow.
Balls being put into play have shrunk dramatically, and the strikeout rate has skyrocketed. About 100 years ago, there were well more than twice as many hits than strikeouts in baseball. In 1960, there were 1.7 times as many hits than strikeouts. Last year, there were nearly 3,000 more strikeouts than hits.
In most sports besides baseball or football, the game is constantly in action. Unlike in baseball, there’s a real rhythm to when each football play starts up with a moving game and play clock.
Increasingly too, baseball fans need to sit through a game which is taking longer and longer to finish. The length of the average a nine-inning game has gone from two hours and 33 minutes in 1960 to three hours and 10 minutes in 2021. Compare this with a soccer match, which has 90 minutes of play, a 15-minute halftime and some stoppage time – usually two to four minutes.
Additionally, there simply isn’t a sport that requires someone to sit through more minutes with so little action – so often. While NFL game lengths are similar, remember that an MLB team has 162 regular season games per year. The NFL has just 17.
Perhaps, people might be more willing to sit through long games if they cared about the players. Many people have pointed out the fact that baseball doesn’t have any “stars” as a reason why the sport has struggled.
In an era in which fans are increasingly rooting for players over teams, this could be a big problem.
One way we can look at this is through the number of Instagram followers the top athletes in baseball, basketball and football have.
Mike Trout – arguably the best MLB player of the last 50 years alone – has only about two million followers. This trails NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. and his more than 15 million followers. It’s well behind NBA great LeBron James, who has over 100 million followers. International soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has over 420 million followers, though many of those are outside the United States.
The inability to be big on social media is just one reason that baseball is likely struggling with today’s youth.
Beyond social media, there was a time when the greatest baseball stars were household names. Consider a 1945 poll from Gallup asking Americans whether they knew who different stars across various industries were.
More than 90% said they knew who former baseball star Babe Ruth was. The vast majority – 90% of all Americans – not only knew who he was but were able to give a description of what he was famous for. Keep in mind, this poll was taken 10 years after Ruth last suited up to play professional baseball.
Ruth was better known at the time than World War II General George Patton. The same percentage of Americans knew who Ruth was as they did future president and five-star General Dwight Eisenhower, who had just helped lead the Americans to victory in Europe.
Modern polling indicates that there isn’t any modern baseball player who is anywhere near the level of recognition of Ruth. In fact, some data indicates that less than half of Americans even know who Trout is.
The lack of star power just isn’t the case in basketball or football. You have stars like James and the recently retired Tom Brady, who have Ruth-level name identification among the American public. Both sports, not surprisingly, have many more athletes known by at least 50% of the public than baseball.
Is there anything baseball can do to reverse the tide? I don’t know.
Perhaps the better question to ask at this point is whether baseball is merely trading on its legacy. As the Greatest Generation – i.e. my father’s – fades into the memory books, it seems quite plausible that baseball’s spot in the top 2 or 3 favorite sports in America may fade along with it.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I think that a huge problem with human thinking now is that we are having a disconnect of culture. A traditional type of culture is humans who have more clearly defined boundaries and are more respecting of human limits. A narcissistic type of person hates boundaries. Old joke – why did the narcissist cross the road? It was a boundary.
HATE SPEECH IN PUBLIC
These are times that try souls. What is happening recently in towns and cities in America isn’t new. It ia hate speech much of which is antisemitic, anti-AsianAmerican, anti-Hispanic, anti-Indian (American Indian), anti-Muslim and anti-Black hate speech led to the killoing of a 6-year-old girl today in Chicago, Locally public, regularly scheduled Board of Supervisors meetings, city council and school board meetings are being disrforced. Forced to stop by louddmouth hate speakers spouting out nasty, vile, hate-filled rhetoric each week. Either by zoom or by ignoramuses in person.
Donald Trump is behind much of these outrageous, Nativist rants. Such ideation has always lived underneath in the sewers and toilets of right- wing America. For most of my life it has been unacceptable in public; yet, as President Biden recently stated, “…it has never gone away.”
Nothing good ever comes of hate speech. Only violence and occasional pointless tragic deaths of persons who are either too poor, shocked or too put off to counter it. It is simply unAmerican.
Those who do it should be jailed for creating a public disburbance.
Frank H, Baumgardner, III
WHO DO THEY THINK THEY’RE KIDDING?
by James Kunstler
“After 2016, the national security state, the foreign policy establishment, & the gov’t-funded NGO-plex orgs redefined the word “democracy”: it no longer meant a consensus of individuals, it meant a consensus of institutions.” —Mike Benz
The din of war drums beating hasn’t completely drowned out the barrage of lying bullshit issued by US Deep State blobsters in their effort to keep reality at bay from a citizenry gone restive and aggrieved over the seemingly deliberate ruination of our country by the people who run it.
On Thursday, FBI Director Chris Wray and Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas warned Americans that terrorist threats are rising in the US since Hamas attacked Israel, October 7th. Mr. Wray explained: “Here in the U.S., we cannot and do not discount the possibility that Hamas or other foreign terrorist organizations could exploit the conflict to call on their supporters to conduct attacks on our own soil.” We must be especially alert to the “lone wolf” lurking amongst us, he added.
Neither of these officials noted that the rising terror threat here had any relation to the thousands of aliens streaming daily across the US border unvetted, or that the agencies under Homeland Security were helping to distribute them into every corner of America by plane and bus, giving them free cell phones, loaded debit cards, and other rewards for breaking the law.
And that “lone wolf” bit — is it possible that any number of them actually arrived as trained and pre-organized cadres or squads? How would we know? Most of them are military-age young men. Are these unreasonable questions to ask? And if Hamas was so supernaturally successful in secretly planning the mass murder and kidnapping operation of 10/7 from Gaza that the world’s supposedly top intel agencies were blindsided as it rolled out, why should Americans have any confidence that the FBI has a clue what any of those unvetted border-jumping mutts are up to here? Especially since those free phones enable them to find each other and hook-up right from the get-go, without delay. It’s even possible that those phones were preloaded with their comrades’ numbers on speed-dial. Not to mention that illegal migrants have been coming here in huge waves for years, and surely some have been busy ever since setting up networks aimed at making trouble that new arrivals can easily slot into.
Since the FBI has been so preoccupied the duration of the “Joe Biden” regime tracking down every native-born living soul who attended the 1/6/21 riot at the US Capitol, instead of using the agency’s assets to monitor alien networking, you have to wonder why Mr. Wray even bothers to comment on the current situation. He can only embarrass (or incriminate) himself more deeply. One thing for sure is not happening: any effort by Mr. Mayorkas and his 260,000 employees to make the US/Mexico border any less porous. If it hadn’t occurred to them yet, they might consider closing down the US-funded United Nations operation in Central America (with help from several international NGOs) that is running way-stations to transport aliens north to our border in hundred-plus bus fleets at a time, taking every possible advantage to accelerate the flow. I guess we’ll just have to stand by and see what happens.
Speaking of mind-blowing bullshit, emanating from a different pseudopod of the DC blob, former CIA Director Leon Panetta chimed in with Fox News’s Bret Baier last week to declare he still thinks that Hunter Biden’s laptop was a Russian dis-info operation. Mr. Panetta was a co-signer of the notorious letter from 50 other former US Intel bigwigs in October, 2020, a few weeks before the election, organized by former Acting CIA Director Mike Morell to gaslight voters after The New York Post published the existence of the Laptop from Hell and some of its sordid contents tending to incriminate the Biden family for foreign influence-peddling.
As with so many blobsters infesting government and its nether regions, Leon Panetta likes to demonstrate that his contempt for the people of this land is boundless. He can’t possibly believe what he is saying. Everyone from the FBI to The New York Times has declared Hunter’s laptop authentic. Therefore, Leon Panetta is either a fool, a lying scoundrel, or insane. This kind of self-satisfied dishonor is a new thing in the USA, at least at the colossal scale it has achieved the past decade. In 2023 it is the order-of-the-day. In this particular case, it led to putting “Joe Biden,” with his handlers and movers, in a position to destroy the country, and they are getting it done.
Yet, events are still in motion, and decades are happening in days now. We’ll learn this week whether escalation of the war involving Israel and its enemies can be averted without giving Hamas a pass on consequences for its recent murder spree. We’ll learn whether a meaningful opposition against the Party of Chaos can organize around a new House speaker. We’ll learn whether that same assembly can begin the process of laying out a president’s crimes for all in the nation to see, including the sizeable cohort of citizens who relish official lying and being lied to.
UKRAINE, MONDAY, 16 OCTOBER
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Ukraine’s losses are eight times higher than those of Russia during an interview with Chinese media, stating that Kyiv’s counteroffensive has been unsuccessful.
“Since June 4, it [Ukraine’s counteroffensive began] has been continuing. So far there are no results, there are only huge losses,” for Ukraine, Putin said in an interview with the China Media Group this weekend, according to comments published by Russian news agency Tass.
“The losses are simply huge — approximately one to eight as a ratio,” Putin said.
CNBC was unable to verify the claims and Ukraine has not commented, although it’s generally understood that both Russia and Ukraine exaggerate the losses they claim to have inflicted upon each other and death toll figures tend to be very inaccurate during times of war.
In his nightly address, however, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country “cannot be conquered because our people cannot be conquered.”
“Every day, our cities and villages in the border regions with Russia and along the front line are subjected to terrorist attacks by the occupier ... No matter what happens, Ukrainians take care of each other, and the state remains functional,” he said in his nightly address.
ISRAELIS GIRD FOR A DEEPER WAR AMID A CRISIS OF TRUST IN THE GOVERNMENT
With a ground invasion into Gaza imminent, Israelis are grappling with a total breakdown of trust and a collapse of everything they believed in and relied on.
by Isabel Kershner
On the ninth day after Hamas overran more than 20 Israeli pastoral communities and army bases, killing more than 1,300 people and taking 150 hostages back to Gaza, Israel was a country on edge.
Israelis were girding with grim determination for what they widely see as a war of no choice after the attack on Oct. 7 — the deadliest day for Jews in Israel’s 75-year history and, officials say, since the Holocaust. They were awaiting an imminent ground invasion into the Palestinian enclave controlled by Hamas even as tensions escalated on the northern border with Lebanon, threatening a long and devastating conflict on several fronts.
All this is happening amid a total breakdown of trust between the citizens and the state of Israel, and a collapse of everything Israelis believed in and relied on. Initial assessments point to an Israeli intelligence failure before the surprise attack, the failure of a sophisticated border barrier, the military’s slow initial response and a government that seems to have busied itself with the wrong things and now appears largely absent and dysfunctional.
“We have woken to a terrible sobriety about whose hands we put our fate in,” said Dorit Rabinyan, an author in Tel Aviv. “All the time you said to yourself, ‘I am paying half of what I earn in taxes, but it is for security, national security, at least that.’”
“We thought we had military superiority, but there’s a feeling that someone up there forgot why he is there,” she added, referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After months of political and social turmoil over the divisive plans of Mr. Netanyahu’s ultranationalist government to curb the judiciary and undermine the country’s liberal democracy, shocked and grieving Israelis have come together to fight the battle and volunteer on the home front in hopes of eliminating the threat from Hamas on their doorstep and emerging stronger.
But on Sunday, the start of the workweek, the streets of Israel’s major cities were ominously quiet. Supermarkets in Jerusalem had run out of bottled water. Some of the last of the 30,000 residents of Sderot were fleeing the long-suffering city that lies two miles from the Gaza border.
In a country of nine million people, where most Jews serve in the army, everybody appears to know somebody who was caught up in the Hamas massacre or who is now on the front line. “Your hands tremble each time you answer your phone,” Ms. Rabinyan said, for fear of bad tidings.
The military high command has apologized for failing in its mission. Along with the so-called people’s army of conscripts, the military has mobilized 360,000 reservists, some of whom have continued to volunteer into their 50s.
A few months ago, at the height of the antigovernment protests over the judicial overhaul, thousands of reservists were threatening to quit, and many disillusioned Israelis were discussing leaving the country. Now, the few planes still landing in Israel over the past week have been filled with thousands of reserve soldiers returning for duty.
Public fury at the government has been compounded by Mr. Netanyahu’s refusal so far to openly accept any responsibility for the Oct. 7 disaster. He has made brief, televised statements but has not taken reporters’ questions. On Sunday, he met with families of hostages for the first time.
Many Israelis say they have not lost hope, putting faith in themselves, their army and the resilience they have shown in hard times in the past.
“The Israelis are built to function under pressure, though we never had a situation like this one,” said Tzadok Isuk, 74, the manager of a supermarket in Jerusalem where people have been panic-buying in recent days. Some shelves were empty because so many delivery drivers have been drafted into military service.
Mr. Isuk, who has a son in the security forces and two nephews along the Gaza border, said he had fought in all the country’s wars since 1967 but could hardly absorb what had happened. “It doesn’t make sense,” he said as a playlist of mournful Israeli folk songs were piped softly in the background.
Around the country, the atmosphere has been bleak as funeral after funeral has taken place. Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip, continued firing rockets deep into Israel and the military has retaliated, pounding Gaza with punishing airstrikes. Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite organization, has also kept up a steady drumbeat of provocations in the north.
At dusk one day this past week, a ghostly silence had fallen over the center of Nahariya, a normally lively seaside town in Israel near the border with Lebanon. Most of the residents of the villages in the area had left for safer parts of the country.
And in the pastoral farmland along the border with Gaza, rows of tanks and armored vehicles were lined up this weekend in dusty fields among the cotton crops and orchards. The soldiers there said the mission was clear.
“To restore honor to Israel,” said Shai Levy, 37, a tank driver who in civilian life is a rabbi and teacher in a seminary. “The citizens are relying on us to defeat Hamas and remove the threat from Gaza once and for all,” he said, while stationed in a makeshift camp outside the gate of Be’eri, one of the worst-hit villages, where more than 100 people were killed.
“We’ve trained for years for this,” he said.
In Sderot, volunteers showed up to take residents to hotels in other parts of the country even before the authorities began an officially sanctioned evacuation.
Igor Fainstein, 44, an engineer, was trying to persuade his parents to leave on Saturday. A bullet hole was by the entrance of his ground-floor apartment, opposite a bus stop where Hamas gunmen had killed at least seven civilians on their way to a day trip at the Dead Sea.
“We will carry on living,” Mr. Fainstein said, before running for cover as two rockets from Gaza whooshed overhead without warning, followed by two loud explosions.
After the initial days of chaos and fog, the full horror of what happened has unraveled in increasingly gruesome detail over the past week, prolonging the shock and sharpening the trauma.
The front page of Yediot Ahronot, a popular daily, was filled on Sunday with photographs of 26 children being held hostage in Gaza, the oldest age 17 and the youngest 9 months. Other news media is filled with testimonies of atrocities and stories of valor.
Col. Golan Vach, the commander of the national search-and-rescue unit who arrived in Be’eri on the afternoon on Oct. 7, said he had found older people with their heads smashed and the body of a mother shot in the back as she tried to shield her baby. He said the head of the baby was severed from the torso of the burned remains.
In the twisted skeletons of two burned-out army jeeps, the colonel said, soldiers who battled the Hamas terrorists were found dead with their rifle magazines empty.
There is little empathy among Israeli Jews right now for the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, where more than 2,600 people have been killed, according to the Palestinian health officials.
Ms. Rabinyan is the author of the 2014 novel “All the Rivers,” a love story about an Israeli woman and a Palestinian artist based on her real-life romance, and a board member of several left-wing organizations opposing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. But she said she had no room in her heart for the suffering of Palestinian civilians.
She was moving between hospitals and hotels housing survivors of the Hamas attacks, reading stories to children. “I know it’s not noble of me,” she said. “I know there is suffering on the other side, but the other side took hostages and slaughtered so violently, with so much passion, that my compassion is somehow paralyzed.”
For many Israelis, now is the time for fighting — and the reckoning with those responsible for the debacle will come later.
Nahum Barnea, a prominent Israeli commentator, wrote in Yediot Ahronot’s weekend edition, “We are mourning for those who were murdered, but the loss does not end there: It is the state that we lost.”
There is no telling how it will end. But the strong sentiment is that the Israel after Oct. 7 will not be the same as the Israel before.
BIDEN TO VISIT ISRAEL AMID GAZA CRISIS, as Fears Grow of Wider War
The trip is a gamble for the U.S. president, who aims to deter Israel’s enemies with a show of solidarity while seeking to ease the plight of Palestinians under Israeli siege in Gaza.
President Biden plans to visit Israel on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in Israel, setting up a high-stakes trip in which the American leader will try to forestall a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza while also preventing the war between Israel and Hamas from spreading.
The announcement, which Mr. Blinken made early Tuesday after marathon meetings in Tel Aviv with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his war cabinet, came amid heightened expectations of an Israeli invasion of Gaza. An Israeli military official declined to say at a news conference early Tuesday how Mr. Biden’s visit might affect the timing of any Israeli invasion.
A young Palestinian man from East Jerusalem, Soheib Muhammad Abu Amar, is missing and believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas and ferried into Gaza, his family said.
Mr. Abu Amar, 22, is thought to be the only Palestinian who is not a citizen of Israel to be reported missing from the attacks on Oct. 7 and held by Hamas.
U.S. and Israeli officials have agreed to work on developing a plan to get humanitarian aid into Gaza and setting up “safe zones,” a senior State Department official told reporters early Tuesday on the plane of Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.
David Satterfield will start talking to Israeli officials about this in his new role as the special envoy for humanitarian assistance in this war. And U.S. officials hope plans will be enacted before Israel starts its ground invasion, said the official, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic discussions openly.
The top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, Gen. Michael E. Kurilla, arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday to meet with senior Israeli counterparts and “gain a clear understanding of Israel’s defense requirements,” the general’s headquarters said in a statement.
“I’m here to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and am particularly focused on avoiding other parties expanding the conflict,” General Kurilla, the head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, said in the statement.
General Kurilla’s visit comes a day before an expected trip to Israel by President Biden and four days after Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III traveled there in a show of support after surprise attacks by Hamas. The Biden administration has rushed additional munitions to Israel and two aircraft carriers and dozens of additional warplanes to the region in an effort to deter a wider regional war and to carry out possible airstrikes to defend American interests.
SO IN AMERICA when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? The evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.
— Jack Kerouac, On the Road
EARTHQUAKES, an on-line comment: Just wait for the the 9.0, because it’s coming. Let’s call this one a 5.0 for easy math. A 6.0 is 10 times stronger and a 7.0 is 100 times stronger than the 5.0 and so on. See what happens when we hit the nines? It’s logarithmic scale, and if you’re not a victim of the public school system you’ll get it. If you are, the residents of Japan, Alaska and Haiti can tell you all about it on your little glow screen.
LOCAL NEWSPAPERS ARE VANISHING. How Should We Remember Them?
As smaller newspapers shrink or disappear, it’s easy to romanticize the role they played. But one reporter’s memories of the heyday of local journalism reveal a much more complicated reality.…