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COMMUNITY AND A HOSPITAL BOARD MEMBER CALLS FOR EDWARDS & STURGEON TO BE REPLACED
by Malcolm Macdonald
The audience for a closed session of Mendocino Coast Hospital's Board of Directors usually consists of Marianne McGee from Mendocino TV and yours truly. On Thursday, November 9th, fifteen or more non-press members of the public, along with a half dozen hospital staffers, waited in the lobby while the MCDH Board met for an hour and forty-five minutes. The subject at hand, another job performance review for Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wade Sturgeon. The report out of closed session amounted to this: A continuance to Tuesday, November 14th, when the board will consider more information.
Sturgeon has come under heavy criticism throughout the year. The November 8th edition of the AVA contains a scathing rebuke of Sturgeon and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bob Edwards by an employee who worked directly under Sturgeon. That employee as well as a number of other MCDH employees have filed harassment complaints against Sturgeon. A former Chief of Human Resources officer has filed a federal lawsuit, citing the False Claims Act, against CEO Edwards, CFO Sturgeon, MCDH Board President Steve Lund, and the hospital itself. See this writer's October 25th AVA piece for more details on the federal lawsuit.
At the conclusion of the meeting board member Peter Glusker called for an agenda item (presumably at the next MCDH Board meeting, December 7th) to consider the termination of CEO Edwards, for cause. The causes Dr. Glusker cited included the harassment of employees and ordering employees to not answer questions from the public.
In the public comments section immediately preceding Dr. Glusker's remarks, a long time coastal nurse practitioner questioned the direction the hospital is going under its current administrative leadership. Another person asked which board members were up for election in 2018 so he could vote against them. At that point board member Kitty Bruning, whose term is up at the end of 2018, emotionally stated that she would never run again for a seat on the MCDH Board.
While the nurse practitioner has attended hospital related meetings off and on in a fairly regular fashion, particularly since the potential for closure of the obstetrics (OB) department came up well over a year ago, the other comment begs the question, 'Why haven't you been paying close enough attention to know which MCDH Board members will be up for election next year?' His blanket statement, “so I can vote against all of you,” also displays a lack of knowledge in that Dr. Glusker, the lone consistent critic of Edwards and Sturgeon, is among those board members whose term will be up in 2018.
To pick on a single member of the public is a bit unfair because that man has at least attended a couple of MCDH Board meetings of late and his remarks seemed to come from a level of impassioned caring about the hospital's fate.
However, there was a distinct whiff of self-importance in the air. One could almost hear the hooves clomping down the MCDH halls toward the meeting room; the hooves beneath the riders from Mendocino Coast liberalism, coming to the rescue.
Astute readers might ask where were these concerned citizens at the beginning of this year when people like the former Human Resources Chief, the Risk Quality Manager, and Dr. Glusker were already sounding the alarm. Those concerned about a potential closing of OB were paying attention, but seemingly only to that issue while ignoring the deeper rooted questions about the administrative leadership of CEO Edwards and CFO Sturgeon.
Of course, better late than never. The longest public statement was made by Richard Miller (apparently no relation to board member Dr. Kevin Miller). In the lobby, while the closed session went on inside the hospital's Redwoods Room, Richard Miller passed around copies of a three page document. It detailed a lengthy list of concerns from a group of citizens Miller said he represented. Most of the bullet points Miller presented had already been addressed by Dr. Glusker at MCDH Board or Finance Committee meetings, written about in the AVA, or broadcast by Mendocino TV and summarized on their website.
Richard Miller's re-iterations included: The CFO reporting a fiscal year end bottom line of approximately $400,000 in the black while auditors noted a $700,000 loss for the year ending June 30th (Dr. Glusker had pointed this out a couple months back). The Director of Quality Care resigning because administration (Edwards and Sturgeon) was preventing her from properly carrying out her duties (all this was alluded to in March AVA articles and specifically stated in the AVA of June 21st).
To his credit, Richard Miller did capture the mood of many of the people who work at MCDH, “Employees frequently report they are not listened to or heard… Top leadership has apparently created or allowed a hostile work environment and demonstrated a lack of emotional intelligence.”
Miller brought up the federal lawsuit filed by the former HR Chief, but didn't bother to spell the person's surname correctly. Nevertheless, Miller's three page handout reached the same conclusion that members of the press have been promoting since the beginning of this year, if not before, the MCDH Board must rid itself of its current CEO and CFO.
If that does occur, the riders of the rescue range had also better be prepared to promote two viable candidates to replace Ms. Bruning and Dr. Glusker on the MCDH Board in November of 2018.
DAVE NIXON of Covelo's venerable Presbyterian Church has informed the outside world that the venerable structure in central Covelo has been destroyed by fire. Erected in 1884, the "fire started shortly before 1:30 AM. The fire is suspicious and will be investigated. The local volunteer fire department and Cal-Fire controlled the fire and kept it from spreading to nearby homes. The local firefighters, only five, did a… fantastic job in containing the fire to just the Church. They used 20,000 gallons of water and no one was injured."
THE FIRES; A CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
Mendocino County Sheriff highlights emergency response to fire
by Ariel Carmona, Jr.
Even though data continues to be collected and analyzed on the cause of the recent Mendocino Lake Complex Fire, Sheriff Allman went over the events of the first 12 hours of the emergency during a press conference Thursday at the County Board of Supervisors chambers in Ukiah.
“It’s important to understand the first 12 hours of the fire is when lives and the vast majority of structures were lost,” Allman said adding within the first four hours is when the greatest amount of damage and tragic events occurred on Sunday Oct. 8 into early morning the following day.
Two CalFire deputy chiefs, including Scott McLean, the agency’s public information officer from Sacramento and two main fire chiefs in the region Bill Pauli from Potter Valley and Acting Chief Brendan Turner, in Redwood Valley, were among emergency officials who attended the conference in support of the Sheriff’s summary of events.
Allman referred to a map detailing the fire perimeter and burn zone areas as he gave a chronological recap of emergency response.
He said the press conference served as a debriefing of sorts in response to questions from citizens following the fires, including those at a recent citizen forum in Redwood Valley.
The sheriff said he was aware the information he relayed was general and not specific, because CalFire is still conducting an investigation which is not ready to be released. He said the findings once completed will be very accurate and will have more specificity.
According to Allman, there are no public roads leading up to where the fire started, near a vineyard owned by Chief Pauli. In order to gain access, fire engines could not access Power House Road because of downed power lines and trees due to a significant storm.
“The very first time we know a fire fighter put eyes on the fire was on the far side of the fire perimeter,” Allman said. “Four and a half hours after the fire was spotted, approximately nine miles to where the fire started, to where it took out the main critical infrastructure devices that Cal Fire and the county has. One of the main communication devices was destroyed.”
The fact that there was very low relative humidity in the area in the 16 days prior to the emergency was attributed as a very important factor by the county’s assessment.
Allman said the moisture the region usually experiences at night time, was not there for 16 days, leading to “red flag” fire conditions. This was compounded by 50 mile per hour winds which grew to 75 miles per hour from Sunday afternoon into a significant windstorm by nightfall.
Other factors cited contributing to the fire included the County coming off a muti-year drought, fuel conditions including dead trees and vegetation at a highly flammable level, and areas which CalFire said had not burned in more than 60 years.
“There’s a lot of questions regarding why Reverse 911 didn’t happen immediately,” Allman said. “Why some things didn’t happen. Once the fires started, MCSO, CalFire and Ukiah were all taking calls between 11 and midnight.”
Dispatchers were doing something they had never done before, Allman said.
“They’ve never taken this many calls before and certainly if you look at the four county areas, it is the largest fire situation in the state of California. We had dispatchers doing superhuman things of answering the phones, as well as talking to the deputy sheriffs on the road and CalFire engines responding on the scene, they were beyond multitasking.”
Allman added that more confusion ensued as Potter Valley and Redwood Valley locals refer to both locations as “the valley.” And the two main roads at each town are called East and West Road.
Within 30 minutes of the fire dispatch coming in, CalFire dispatched every available CalFire unit with the exception of Covelo because they were aware of the red flag conditions and initial reports Chief Pauli had given them.
Chronology Of Events
Some of the most significant events as relayed by Allman’s report include:
- Within the first hour Sunday, Chief Pauli told CalFire the area west of Potter Valley there was a potential of up to 5,000 acres could burn. At 11:41 p.m., the power for all of Potter Valley north of Main Street was out.
Allman said that was significant because there was a cell tower in Potter Valley that operates using electricity. That initial outage caused many cell phones in Potter Valley to stop functioning.
- At 11:43 p.m. Chief Pauli sought mutual aid from CalFire. At one time Chief Pauli saw fires in at least four locations.
- At 11:50 p.m. approximately, a deputy calls dispatch and he says he hears there is a fire in Potter Valley
Chief Pauli made a decision to contact PG&E to request the power be turned off to the Potter Valley area and that also contributed to the cell phone outage.
- At 12:30 a.m. that Monday, the Sheriff’s office gets the first 911 call that there’s a fire in Redwood Valley, first fire was to the East of the Fisher Lake area.
Allman said while it was deemed an independent fire, it was in the same direction the wind was blowing from the original fire.
“The direction that the wind was going and the fire that was in Redwood Valley would be consistent with the ember going in the same direction as the wind,” he said.
The first call from Potter valley, according to the sheriff’s report, came from a citizen who reported lightning and fire.
“That was our first bit of information,” he added fire units were busy fighting fires and weren’t letting dispatchers know what was going on.
These reports are based on information from CalFire, Redwood Valley, Potter Valley and citizens and deputy sheriffs.
All along, fire departments were staging to protect houses.
“There will be a time where a very critical decision was made of no longer fighting fires and strictly thinking of saving lives, pounding on doors and getting people out,” Allman said.
The Sheriff noted Chief Turner made a very good decision, as his volunteers were arriving, they could see fire to the northeast of their fire station up in the mountains. Redwood Valley fire engines made a decision to stay in Redwood Valley to fight the fire heading toward them at 12:50 a.m. when the fire was seen coming over the ridge west of Potter Valley by about four and a half miles. Chief Pauli was in his truck and he paced the fire at 15 mph.
“When you consider a fire that in one hour can go 15 miles that’s certainly very significant,” Allman said, adding decisions were being made as to whether to put firefighters in front of the fire at that time.
- 1:15 a.m. Sgt. Whittaker was in Potter Valley. Allman said fire officials were not aware at the time the fire had crossed into the Redwood Valley area. Sgt. Whittaker’s reverse 911 request was for the general area on the northwest part of Potter Valley. Fire officials were at first going to Potter Valley but then went to Redwood Valley. With the fire crossing roads, CHP started to set up road blocks.
Cal Fire continued working with local agencies. Evacuations on the East Road, West Road, Tomki areas began. Fisher Lake is where there were more than 40 houses where not a single house survived and where there were fatalities.
- At around 1:30 a deputy sheriff took a video driving south ordering evacuations south of the Redwood Valley area and he started telling residents to move towards Highway 101.
Fire engines were leaving the Tomki Road area because it was too hot, it was not possible to drive vehicles on the public road heading north.
The emergency operations center was soon to be up and running.
“At 1:30 a.m. we confirmed there were no cell phones that are working in the Potter Valley area. We did have Coyote Valley Tribal police helping with evacuations. One of the interesting things is people were saying there were multiple fires. In my opinion there was one fire that was spotting and continued to grow,” Allman said.
- At 1:45 a.m. is when reverse 911 went into the Redwood Valley area.
For the most part, cell phones were not working because of the power outage. Hard lines were working however, this was right after evacuations on the public address system. CalFire requested mandatory evacuations at 1:30 a.m.
The Tomki area, the north end of East Road and West Road is where the most damage was done and where lives were lost. Mandatory evacuations to the north ensued.
Dispatch learned of the two main fires in Potter Valley and Redwood Valley and on North J Road. At 4 a.m. Monday the regional office of emergency services requested for Mendocino to send 50 deputies to Napa County.
“Mutual aid is touchy at best because everyone had their own disaster to deal with,” Allman said, adding Humboldt County sent mutual aid units.
- At 1:50 a.m. Golden Rule Mobile homes were evacuated. Approximately 90 percent of the vegetation during the fire had happened at this point. The fire consumed rural areas with a lot of locked gates and dirt roads. Pine Mountain was evacuated, parts of which were well inside the burn area where structures burned.
According to Allman, around 6 a.m. something miraculous happened, the winds shifted from northwest to southeast.
Three hours into the fire, government set up shelters and a command post at the Redwood Valley Fire Station was set up.
County officials said they learned a lot of lessons from a disaster where 313 homes were lost, 224 outbuildings were burned and 36,523 acres burned. Nine lives were confirmed lost
“Our community has been changed forever,” Allman said. “We are certainly going to document this as well as possible because if we don’t remember history certainly we are going to repeat history.”
(Courtesy, The Willits News)
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “One of them yelled at me first thing, ‘It's Veteran's Day, you draft-dodging mutt. Stand at attention and salute or we'll find a patriotic dog who will.’ It's always something with these people.”
I KNOW I'm way past my pull date, but I don't recognize many celebs, and the few I do recognize are obviously harbingers of The Last Days. Gore Vidal had it right: "Lack of talent is no longer enough." Maybe this guy is funny, I have no idea, but he's among the latest pervs outted by The New York Times. His mea culpa is a minor masterpiece of evasion and utter lack of meaningful contrition, rife with the cliches from pop psych:
COMEDIAN Louis C.K. released the following statement on Friday following allegations of sexual misconduct in a New York Times report. The statement is unedited except for explicit language which I've re-inserted:
I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.
These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my (penis) without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your (penis) isn't a question. It's a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly. [Asks women if they want to look at his penis? How old is this guy?]
I have been remorseful of my actions. And I've tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I'm aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.
I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn't want to hear it. I didn't think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it.
There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.
I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work.
The hardest regret to live with is what you've done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them. I'd be remiss to exclude the hurt that I've brought on people who I work with and have worked with who's [sic] professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this, including projects currently in production: the cast and crew of Better Things, Baskets, The Cops, One Mississippi, and I Love You Daddy [sic]. I deeply regret that this has brought negative attention to my manager Dave Becky who only tried to mediate a situation that I caused. I've brought anguish and hardship to the people at FX who have given me so much The Orchard who took a chance on my movie and every other entity that has bet on me through the years.
I've brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother.
I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.
Thank you for reading.
* * *
GARY MEDVIGY is both a retired Santa Rosa judge and a reserve Army general. He's also a demagogue. Medvigy was lead speaker at a Veteran's Day lunch in the Rose City. "He said he noticed that when a Coast Guard honor guard presented the American flag at the outset of the luncheon and vocalist Mark Kratz sang the National Anthem, no one present took a knee. Alluding to the socio-political phenomenon of professional football players and other kneeling during the singing or playing of 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' Medvigy said to applause, 'I will never take a knee or tolerate those who do.'"
EXCUSE ME, JUDGE, free expression is supposed to be the point of this here country. His honor moved from that gust of pure wind to the straight-up lie these windbags inevitably recite:
"HE THANKED local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs for hosting the Tribute to our Veterans lunch and offered special acknowledgment to Vietnam War veterans, some of whom, he observed, were wrongly spat upon or in other ways abused by people who opposed that war."
NOPE. NEVER HAPPENED. Please see this book we thought established for all time that nobody once, anywhere in the country, spit on a veteran returned from the War On Vietnam: The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam (1998) by Vietnam veteran and Sociology professor Jerry Lembcke.
* * *
A READER raises an important question we're also looking for an answer to: "The Sheriff’s Office purchased an LRAD (Long range audio device) which might have been used to tell Potter and Redwood valley residents about evacuation orders and imminent fire dangers. But it sat on the shelf as I understand, because the BOS needs to adopt policy/procedure around its use, (which has not yet been put forward by the CEO)."
* * *
GUNNY JOE: A Marine Corps drill instructor is on trial for physically abusing a series of young recruits, sometimes while drunk, and focusing his fury on three Muslim-American military volunteers. The eight-man jury at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, determined that Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix was guilty of hazing and maltreatment of recruits at the Marine Corps' Parris Island, South Carolina, boot camp. The jury of five sergeants and three officers decided Felix punched, kicked and choked military hopefuls…"
UH, back in the Old Corps, this stuff was ho hum. I went through boot camp in 1957, at the time 15 weeks of daily punches, kicks and creative chokes. And, as Meg Courtney might confirm, "totally inappropriate" verbal abuse. All recruits from California were addressed as "California queers sent to sabotage my Marine Corp." Truth to tell, I thought a lot of the insults were funny as hell. One day, Sgt. Wells called us "a bunch of syphilitic misfucks."
THE BEATINGS were much less amusing because, on some occasions, it wasn't clear if they'd stop. Several times, a DI named Magoo had to be pulled off recruits he was beating. I got beat up almost daily the whole way, as did everyone else in my platoon, some guys more than others. I got hit with rifles, fists, locker boxes and, on one occasion, a metal folding chair. And knocked out twice by this little British psycho named Sgt. Haughton who liked to choke out the tall guys by twisting our fatigue collars around our throats until we passed out at his feet.
GUNNERY SGT FELIX is in the grand tradition, although his stuffing a Pakistani kid into an industrial clothes drier and turning it on until the boy renounced Islam, is a departure even by Marine Corps standards. Imagine standing at attention and being forced to instant obedience while these nuts do this stuff to you.
THE BOOT CAMP THEORY was that people who couldn't take it wouldn't be able to endure combat. Myself, I don't think you motivate people by beating the shit out of them, but I guess the Marines still think it's the way to instill discipline and group cohesion. When we got to live ammo at the rifle range, the DI's took a couple of weeks off. They knew there were people in our platoon would shoot them at the first opportunity.
* * *
JUDGE ROY MOORE, the Bible-brandishing Alabama candidate for the Senate, reminds me of what my late comrade, Alexander Cockburn, used to say: "Whenever you see someone on national television talking about morality and citing the Bible, start the countdown. It's only a matter of time before he's caught in the backseat with a prostitute." In Moore's case, he was "dating" a 14-year-old.
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 10, 2017
KENNETH DEWITT JR., Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, parole violation.
HEATHER DEWOLF, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
MICHAEL DONAHE, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
OWEN KENNY IV, Willits. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
JONATHAN MIRAVALLE, Ukiah. Mandatory supervision sentencing.
RICHARD POOLE II, Lower Lake/Fort Bragg. Trespassing, concealed dirk-dagger.
CECELIA REEVES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, vandalism.
DERRICK RIDENOUR, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.
MICHAEL SALCEDO, Exeter/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
SAMUEL SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Consider even now when we have a disaster what do you get. You get an excited bozo in a news station windbreaker trying to stand up in high wind. You don’t get a camera showing how people are acting in grocery stores or how they are handling their personal dramas. What goes on in the ensuing weeks and months afterward? A trip to Puerto Rico could give some answers but news people and humanitarians focusing on basic help going there will have other priorities than looking at the situation scientifically.
What ‘hard choices’ do the people have to face and how do they respond? How does social organization change?
History is written after the fact and while important can’t tell us only some things. It is distorted and while it may be true when not a lie it only represents a particular perspective.
Exploring my questions could be as important as a fifty pound sack of beans after TSHTF.
SPANKING THE MONKEY
by James Kunstler
The hysteria manufacturing business formerly known as the news media is enjoying multiple orgasms this morning in the outing of notoriously vulgar comedian Louis CK for exactly the sort of vulgar behavior offstage that he riffed about onstage. What a surprise. We also learn today that Jeremy Piven, beloved and admired for his role as a bimbo-berating Hollywood agent in the HBO comedy Entourage, is alleged to have groped a starlet in his trailer. Or was he just doggedly staying in character between set-ups? And what was she doing there, anyway? Stopping by to share the everything bagel with jalapeño cream cheese that she picked up at craft services?
I suppose these guys will be joining Kevin Spacey in his new dinner theater in Tampa, since they’ll never work in Hollywood again, and surely they have bills to pay, especially to their lawyers. Hollywood itself, being the vulgar place it has always been, must be nervously awaiting the inevitable next phase of this melodrama: when various actresses, and other women around the biz, are revealed to be sluts who screwed and blew their way to stardom — not to put too fine a point on it. Surely a few ladies out there have misbehaved in the way that ladies can, trading favors for fame and fortune — or do you suppose that never happens? Or only when men force them to? (Anyway, don’t count on hearing about that in The New York Times.)
Then the whole prurient cavalcade of cross-allegation and litigation will be as forgotten as a mass slaughter in Las Vegas, or Texas, or Lower Manhattan, and it will be back to business-as-usual in the news racket: nattering about contacts with Russia, a faraway land that, we’re told, is determined to corrupt the morals of our shining city on a hill.
The metamorphosis of the news business from a dignified and necessary component of the public interest to a gong and geek show is now complete. Some of you may remember that it used to be the task of news organizations to actually gather the news from far and wide. When Walter Cronkite came over the airways on CBS news, he “anchored” the revolving team of reporters in the field: we go to Marvin Kalb in Moscow… Fred Graham in Atlanta… Peter Kalischer in Paris… Lesley Stahl in New York…. Do you know what those people were doing? They were reporting the news on site, because it was important to actually be in the places where events were happening and talking to the people involved in them. And, by the way, do you think Marvin Kalb made contact with Russians? Or perhaps reported on other fellow Americans in contact with Russians? (And that was back in the Cold War, when Russia was run by the wicked Boris and Natasha).
Turn on Anderson Cooper on CNN these days and what do you get: “And now lets turn to our panel for analysis.” Our panel? Analysis? A gang of moonlighting kibitzers with an opinion about what might have actually happened in the world that day, which none of them have been busy actually reporting on. The transformation on the cable networks especially has been insidious. Not so distantly as the days of the Iraq War, CNN checked in every night with Christiane Amanpour, the last of the great foreign correspondents, roving about the Middle East. Do these so-called news organizations even employ any reporters anymore?
I don’t think so. Perhaps the most important story of the decade is the developing meltdown of governance and authority in Saudi Arabia and a Defcon Red level of potential for major war breaking out between them and Iran. How many reporters do the cable networks have in Riyadh today? What’s on CNN’s home page this morning? Boy dies after eating grilled cheese; Why men use masturbation to harass women; and the lead under their “Top Stories” banner: ‘Magnum, P.I.’ actor John Hillerman dies. Maybe you can find a clue in here why the USA has become a reality-optional society. Maybe it’s the American news media that actually has its dick in its hand.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
WE WRITE THE SYMPHONIES BEAUTIFUL & TERRIFYING
by David Yearsley
Back in July Trump boasted from Warsaw that, “we write symphonies”— “We” being the first two letters of “West, the.” The president’s speechwriters seem to have meant this salvo as a thundering musical reference to the unsurpassed cultural achievement of Europe and its superpower progeny across the Atlantic. This errant bit of oratory did the symphony no favors, though as a musical institution it is strong enough to withstand the assault of enemies masquerading as allies.
As Trump would have known had he ever heard a symphony, there is might behind the music. Many are the movements and moments of beauty, but the symphonic reputation is founded on shock and awe, features with obvious appeal to the current US Commander-in-Chief. Symphonies are practically military campaigns in themselves. Like the European armies their structures were based on, symphony orchestras grew bigger in scope and required ever-larger performing forces across the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. Discipline and hierarchy are essential for symphonic success.
Triumphalism is built into the symphony nowhere more dauntingly then in the genre’s standard bearer—his Fifth. It seems doubtful that Samuel Morse and his collaborator Alfred Vail knew the work when they chose the rhythm of its opening motive (short-short-short-long) for the “V” in their code, first used in the American civil war some sixty years after Beethoven penned his theme.
But the metrical congruity between that most famous of musical figures and Morse’s “V” took on the quality of ineluctable truth when the Allies adopted it as their Victory theme in World War II.
The larger course of the symphony’s contest against evil is heard on the strategic level, too. The work moves from the tempestuous C minor of the opening and its celebrated motive to the blaring brass juggernaut of the fourth movement in glorious C Major with its furious closing barrage of seemingly endless “final” chords pounding the listener—and any doubters as to the rightness of the mission—into submission. The work ends in complete victory, not just for the composer over his personal foe, deafness, but also against the forces of darkness.
The Fifth’s fiery bombast resounds in Beethoven’s more overtly, but no more fundamentally militaristic Wellington’s Victory commissioned to mark the signal defeat of Napoleonic forces at the Battle of Vitoria in Spain in 1813. The parallels between the closing charges of both works—parallels unsettling to aesthetes, and the reason Wellington’s Victory is now heard almost exclusively from military bands and at fireworks shows—confirm the martial underpinnings of the symphony. Battle-station discipline is required of an orchestra if it is to carry out the commands of conductor and composer—one in the same person in case of the premieres of both pieces.
Beethoven is the hero.
Even the idealistic choral urgings of Beethoven’s Ninth that “all people become brothers” can make the meek tremble. Many have heard tremendous violence in the thrill and power of that humanitarian music as it rushes from hymn-like composure towards its ecstatic, terrifying goal.
“We write symphonies,” when uttered by any American President could—and probably should—be taken as a threat
Equally as menacing, at least when heard from this perspective, would have been the alternative: “We write cantatas.” There are vast stockpiles of such works written for the church and chamber. Johann Sebastian Bach’s output of some two hundred is slight in comparison to the levels of the proto-industrial production of his contemporaries, including his friend Georg Philipp Telemann, who churned out more than 1,600 of them.
The origins of this musical arms race began with the Lutheran Reformation, whose 500th anniversary passed by largely unnoticed ten days ago. Luther translated the bible into German and introduced the vernacular into the liturgy as a way not only of allowing people to understand religious texts, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to involve them in music making during the service. The congregational singing of hymns was vital to his reforms, and resounds down the ages even to American gospel choirs. After 1517 the common people sang to God in the divine service. The Catholic church took up the idea only in the 1960s.
Within a couple of generations after the Reformation Lutheran churchgoers had hundreds of hymns memorized. Composers charged with commenting in music on the biblical passages read on any given Sunday could use this familiarity in endlessly creative ways, the intent—at least in theory—being to uplift and instruct the faithful much like sermons were meant to do.
Luther himself composed hymns, the most famous of which “Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott” (A Mighty Fortress is Our God), BWV 80. It has often been called the Battle Hymn of the Reformation—and not without reason, given the militaristic imagery of its text and the resolute contours of its melody.
The four verses of Luther’s chorale pervade one of Bach’s best-known cantatas, BWV 80, first performed on Reformation Day, October 31stin Leipzig in the late 1720s or early 1730s, that is, around the time of the Reformation’s bicentennial.
The cantata’s opening chorale fantasia is one of the most complex and triumphant in the composer’s output, indeed, in all of classical music. Bach lays siege to Luther’s melody with an astounding array of ingenuous and complex counterpoint: the first phrase of the chorale serves as fodder for a ripping fugue, but within just a few measures Bach demonstrates that that theme can be overlaid with the second line of the chorale. Like a commander surveying the battlefield terrain, Bach the brilliant musical tactician discovers this musical truth within Luther’s original material. But Bach then bolsters his already-winning position with free counterpoint in the bass-line that urges the choral troops forward. This forward-rushing array culminates when Bach unleashes the opening line of the chorale in long notes in canon with itself in the highest and lowest parts of the orchestra—a pincer movement of genius. Bach stands as a kind of musico-military general directing the Christian formations against the armies of Satan so vividly conjured by Luther’s texts:
A mighty fortress is our God,
A good defense and weapon.
He helps free us from all distress
That now befalls us.
The ancient, evil foe
Earnestly plots against us,
Great power and much deceit.
Are his horrible armaments,
There is nothing like him on earth.
Bach’s eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann increased the militaristic din of this brilliant and blood-curdling movement by enlisting trumpets and drums when he led performances of the work after his father’s death. (This is the version heard on the YouTube clip under the direction of Frans Brüggen.)
The cantata’s next movement duet deploys a smaller commando contingent no less intent on victory. The soprano delivering the second verse of Luther’s chorale with covering fire from a more florid oboe while the bass spouts patriotic slogans about inevitable victory and is cheered on by unison strings. The verse concludes with the resolution that God “must hold the battlefield.” Bach’s terms are the unconditional surrender of the opposing forces.
It’s a good thing Trump doesn’t know just how beautiful and terrifying the canon of Western Music can be.
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His recording of J. S. Bach’s organ trio sonatas is available from Musica Omnia. He can be reached at email@example.com.)
COLIN KAEPERNICK IS NOT YOUR FATHER’S WILLIE HORTON
by Dave Zirin
Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie put all his chips on bigotry to win Tuesday’s election and failed in spectacular fashion. Now, after losing by nine points to Ralph Northam, he will go down in the books as not only a racist but a racist loser. Gillespie had a three pronged attack of ear piercing dog whistles: he would lead the fight against undocumented, Latino, machete-wielding gangs; he would struggle for the preservation of “our” confederate statues (Gillespie was born in New Jersey); and he would stand up to Colin Kaepernick. Yes, Colin Kaepernick. In his last push for votes, Team Gillespie put out flyers showing NFL players kneeling during the anthem to protest racism with the slogan, “You’d never take a knee… so take a stand on election day.” But the “Willie Horton-ization” of NFL dissenters failed spectacularly and it’s worth understanding why.
I spoke to Jared Rizzi who covered the White House from 2010-2017 for Sirius/XM. He said:
"Trump chose to weigh in on the NFL protest issue with the urgency of breaking the glass to get at a fire extinguisher. The context for him injecting himself into the discussion was self serving: and without any policy attached other than vague threats to the NFL. Voters who have been targeted on wedge issues have begun to recognize their emotions are being goosed. Those who oppose the NFL players, or the ham-handedness of Trump’s presentation, emerge more resolved to continue their opposition. The fire is real, but Trump’s extinguisher is a dud."
In other words, if you are already enraged at the sight of NFL players protesting racism during the anthem are you more likely to vote for Ed Gillespie because he shares your hatreds? Probably not. But if you are part of the majority — and poll after poll supports this contention — that opposes the way Trump has approached the NFL dissenters, opposes that the President has threatened their jobs, and opposes the idea that they shouldn’t even have the right to protest — it’s deeply offensive. That doesn’t even include the millions who not only support the players’ right to demonstrate but also support the aims of their demonstrations. If anything, racist flyers such as ones were submitted by a sheriff named Tim Howard in Buffalo, that had images of Kaepernick taking a knee alongside photos of Confederate flags — because who could forget the famed rebel troops from Buffalo — only prove that Kaepernick was correct to protest in the first place.
This was seen starkly in a Politico article earlier this week, written by Michael Kruse, who went into “Trump Country” — depressed, de-industrialized, Johnstown Pennsylvania — to speak to voters who still support Trump while acknowledging that he has done nothing for them. At the end of the piece, Trump supporters without prompting, volunteer their thoughts about what really makes them angry in 2017: not the absence of opportunity, not Trump’s broken promises of industrial revival, but those kneeling NFL players.
One person said, “All my ancestors, Italian, 100 percent Italian, the Irish, Germans, Polish, whatever—they all came over here, settled in places like this, they worked hard and they earned the respect. They earned the success that they got. Some people don’t want to do that. They just want it handed to them.” This is really something: NFL players in their eyes are 21st iterations of the fictional “welfare queens” as if becoming an NFL player doesn’t require monomaniacal hard work – literal blood, sweat, and tears – to achieve. Another person sitting with her husband commented that in their home, they now say that the NFL stands for “Niggers For Life.”
People like this aren’t going to be swayed by the toxicity of racism because that’s already their oxygen. As Rebecca Carroll, Editor of Special Projects at WNYC and critic at large for the LA Times, said to me, “Trump supporters and the far right conservative folks who are taking issue with Kaepernick’s activism still think they can break him into submission. That’s how white supremacy works in service of itself — by believing its power and potency to the very core, in a cellular way. White supremacists will take their supremacy to the grave.”
They couldn’t break Kaepernick. Now his principles are inspiring others to be strong, while those simmering with rage about entitled NFL players are left to stew in their own juices. They do seem to be grateful that Trump has fulfilled at least one campaign promise: he’s given them people to hate.
HOW TO PROTECT THE LAST FISH
“I WAS TOLD to delete a tweet I wrote about Louis CK abusing women before I applied to a high-profile comedy job because the people conducting the hiring process might not like it.”
— Nicole Silverberg, comedian
MONTHS AGO, on Bill Pilgrim’s recommendation, I bought a small volume of poems by Robert Frost, North Boston.
The poems resemble short plays or stories. Many are in iambic pentameter.
The most challenging and most interesting is called “The Fear”.
You can find it, read it, and listen to it here:
Can you decipher the dramatic situation?
What happens at the end of the poem?
I confess that I needed some help from critic Lawrence Perrine to resolve these mysteries. His article on the poem may be accessed here:
BONN PRESS CONFERENCE WILL UNVEIL REPORT ON CALIFORNIA'S DIRTY OIL PRODUCTION
by Dan Bacher
The media has been publishing one glowing report after another on California Governor Jerry Brown’s climate tour of Europe this week as the Brown administration continues to promote fracking, a Big Oil-written cap-and-trade program, the pollution of San Joaquin Valley aquifers with oil wastewater and the environmentally destructive Delta Tunnels.
In his remarks before the Baden-Wurttemberg State Parliament and nearly three hours of wide-ranging debate and dialogue with members of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Governor Brown today “forged closer ties” with European leaders committed to climate action and blasted the "denialists" who continue to reject the scientific consensus on global warming, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office.
"We have to wake up – wake up Europe, wake up America, wake up the whole world to realize we have a common destiny and we are all human beings on this one planet," said Governor Brown in his address to the state parliament of Baden-Wurttemberg, co-founder of the Under2 Coalition. "This is daunting but it's also an opportunity to pull people together."
From Stuttgart, Germany, Brown traveled to Brussels, Belgium, where he joined members of the European Parliament's top climate and environmental committee and the leaders of the Parliament's political parties for more than three hours of debate and discussion on climate change, its impacts, and opportunities for further collaboration.
“During the final hour of the exchange, the Governor confronted several members that used their remarks to openly question the science of climate change,” the Governor’s Office said.
"The truth is that any kind of catalogue of the scientific community indicates that climate change is real, it's having impacts,” said Governor Brown during the discussion with the European Parliament Conference of Presidents. “Even the Trump administration couldn't, with a straight face, curb a report that underscores the very opposite of what you denialists have expressed here. With the denialists getting more attention, the people, instead of growing in their skepticism, are growing in their conviction that climate change and global warming are real matters – and we have to deal with them."
At this critical time for the planet, the Center for Biological Diversity will present a new report on California’s “dirty oil production” at the United Nations climate conference this Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 that shows the “dark side” of California environmental policies that varies greatly with Brown administration press releases and the mostly fawning media coverage of Brown in Europe.
“The Center’s analysis found that the majority of oil produced in California is as climate-damaging as Canadian tar sands crude,” according to a Center media advisory. “The report further details how California’s policies incentivize oil and gas development, stifling the state’s climate progress.”
The press briefing comes two days before Brown begins a series of speeches at the conference.
“Jerry Brown is hailed as America’s de facto climate leader under Trump, but his state’s dirty oil is actually a major contributor to global warming,” said Jean Su, the Center’s associate conservation director. “Brown aggressively promotes fracking and drilling, even as California pumps out some of the world’s most climate-damaging crude. The governor won’t be a real climate hero until he changes course to keep this dangerously dirty oil in the ground.”
The conference will take place at Thursday, Nov. 9, 9:30-10:00 a.m. CET, Press Conference Room 2 in the BULA Zone at the United Nations climate conference in Bonn, Germany. Live Streaming also available at https://unfccc.cloud.streamworld.de/live/
Speakers will include Center for Biological Diversity staff scientist John Fleming and the Center’s associate conservation director and staff attorney Jean Su.
For more information, contact: Jean Su, +1 (415) 770-3187, firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, Big Oil continues to dump millions of dollars into lobbying and campaign contributions every year. In the 2015-2016 Legislative Session alone, the oil industry spent over $36.1 million lobbying in California. This massive spending spree has continued into 2017.
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, spent $2,290,408.89 in the third quarter of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session to promote Big Oil’s agenda in California, topping all over organizations in lobbying expenses.
Chevron dished out the second largest amount of any organization, with $1.1 million spent last quarter.
Big Oil also spent over $10.8 million in lobbying in the second quarter of 2017 to pass AB 398, Governor Brown’s cap-and-trade bill, through the legislature, as well as to lobby against SB 188, legislation to stop new offshore oil drilling off the California.
The San Ramon-based Chevron and subsidiaries topped all other lobbyists in the state in the second quarter with $6,153,952 spent, followed by WSPA with $2,528,751 and the San Antonio-based Tesoro Refining and Marketing Co. LLC with $2,193.489.
“Contamination of our communities needs to stop now,” said Candelaria Vargas of Daily Kos in an action alert. “The oil industry has poured millions of dollars into California politics and has seen results. A statewide scientific study was conducted on the toxicity of fracking near water sources and why this practice should be stopped, but has not had adequate response from our lawmakers. More needs to be done to protect our environment and our public health.”
Background: Big Oil spent $36.1 million lobbying in 2015-16 session
The California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million on lobbying over the two-year period. Based on the oil industry lobbying over the past two quarters, it looks like the industry may set a new spending record this session.
Big Oil spending last session amounted to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day. The $36.1 million surpassed the $34 million spent in the prior session, according to an American Lung Association report. To read the complete report, go to: www.lung.org/…
WSPA was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. As is normally the case, WSPA ranked #1 among all lobbying spenders last session. In the seventh quarter alone, WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials.
Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session. It spent $3 million in 2016 alone, sixth among all lobbyists in the session.
The only bill opposed by the oil industry that made it out of the legislature to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown was Senate Bill 32, legislation that reduces greenhouse gas level to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The reason for the bill’s passage was because billionaire Tom Steyer’s Next Generation Climate Action spent $7.3 million lobbying for the bill in the seventh quarter of the session.
Since the 2007-08 Session, the oil industry has spent over $146 million in lobbying in California when you include the figures for the first two quarters of 2017.
WSPA and Big Oil use their money and power in 5 ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) creating Astroturf groups: 4) working in collaboration with media; and (5) getting appointed to positions on and influencing regulatory panels.
For more information, go to www.dailykos.com/…
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio Armistice Day show tonight!
I'm doing the show by live remote from Juanita's tonight, so if you want to come in person and play your musical instrument(s) on the radio or talk about your project, or read your story, or really nearly whatever, make that next Friday, November 17, when I’ll be in Fort Bragg.*
It’s 325 N. Franklin (next to the Tip Top bar). Just waddle in any time after 9pm (Friday, November 17), head for the lighted room at the back and get my attention away from whatever I’m doing, and that's that.
(If you ever write something you want read aloud on the air, email it to me and I’ll do that. The deadline is always around 5:30 or 6pm the night of the show, so you have a few minutes to get it together for tonight. Just paste it into an email and press send. No pressure. I've got plenty of material to stuff the evening with.) (And I've been saying this a lot lately but it's true again and again: more locally written things for tonight's show than ever. The graph is a steady upward stair-step.)
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio. Every Friday, 9pm to about 4am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, including midnight to 3am 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah. And also there and anywhere else via http://knyo.org or http://TuneIn.com
*(Or contact Bob Young email@example.com and get your own regular airtime on KNYO, to do a show entirely of own quirky devising, and never need to depend on me at all. It's easy and fun.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo):
Kick-Off Party: Friday, Oct. 27th 5-7pm
Come Write In: Saturdays 12-5 (except 11/11)During the month of November, the Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Branch is hosting programs for teens and adults for National Novel Writing Month.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a nonprofit event that encourages kids, teens & and adults to tackle the challenge of writing a novel in November. Launched in 1999, NaNoWriMo inspires its 300,000+ participants with pep talks, a huge and supportive online community, and a host of web-based writing tools.
Get a head start & join us at the Ukiah Branch Library to kick-off NaNoWriMo on Friday, Oct. 27th from 5-7 pm. Get motivated with plot buddies, brainstorming, creative prompts and word sprint challenges along with door prizes.
Every Saturday in November from 12-5 (except 11/11), come write in to our meeting space to write, reflect, engage with other writers in the community, and enjoy FREE COFFEE to stir your creative juices.
If you are interested in the program or want to find out more about NaNoWriMo, please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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District Teens Leadership Council
Saturday, November 25th
3 - 4 pm
Teens are invited to join the library’s Teen Leadership Council (TLC). Teen leaders can volunteer & apply for credit toward community service hours while building their résumés. Teens will have a chance to be heard & make a difference in the community.
District Teens Leaders will gain valued skills & experience:
Collaborating to design our new teen space
Planning & organizing events
Recommending books & other materials for library purchase
Developing leadership & conflict-resolution skills
Contributing to the Ukiah community by expanding teen resources
Come and find out if this is the group for you!
Pizza will be provided.
For more information – please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434
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Clothing Swap Party
On Sunday, December 3rd from 1-4 pm, Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Branch is hosting a Clothing Swap Party!
Donate clothing that is in clean and good condition before our party, and come and find new-to-you clothing at our Clothing Swap. No hats, scarves, socks or undergarments please.
All ages are welcome; there will be live music by Sid and Steve, and food for your enjoyment. This event is sponsored by Mendocino County Library, North Coast Opportunities, the Alex Rorabaugh Recreation Center, Mendocino College Library, and the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.
Donations are not necessary for participation. Questions on where to donate in advance? Contact the Ukiah Library at 707-463-4490.
HEROES AND PATRIOTS KMEC RADIO
Please view the most recent program, Heroes And Patriots, with featured guests, Ron Paul, Libertarian and Ira Helfand, M.D. original air date: Monday, November 6, 2017. Kmud Community Radio aired the show during the station's fall fund drive.
We hope you will listen to this and all archived you tube programs at the link below. Thanks, John and Mary
Heroes and Patriots is a program about national security, intelligence and foreign policy. The show is streamed live each Monday, 1 p.m., P.S.T. on www.kmecradio.org. Like us on Facebook and YouTube at Heroes and Patriots, KMEC Radio, Mendocino Environmental Center.