- SoCal Fire
- Rain Dance
- Redwood Classic
- Private Sports
- Dragons Win
- Homeless Freezing
- Little Dog
- Cliff Fall
- Dalton Primechair
- Nero Radio
- Coyote Howl
- Allman's Retreat
- Yesterday's Catch
- Skunkweed Setbacks
- What Happened
- Basic Biology
- Much Ado
- Henhouse Painting
- John Reed
- Presidential Twitter
- Vietnam Documentary
SANTA PAULA, Calif. (AP) — Ferocious winds in Southern California whipped up an explosive wildfire that prompted evacuation orders for nearly 8,000 homes, authorities said.
The blaze broke out Monday and grew wildly to more than 48 square miles (124 sq. kilometers) in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn't burned in decades, Ventura County Fire Sgt. Eric Buschow said. At least 150 structures have burned so far, fire officials said. There was no immediate word whether the structures were homes or businesses. More than 27,000 people have been evacuated and one firefighter was injured. There was no word on the extent of the injuries. The winds were pushing it toward Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles. Many of the evacuated homes were in that city. However, evacuation orders were expanded to houses in Ventura, which is 12 miles (19 kilometers) southwest and has 106,000 residents.
"The fire growth is just absolutely exponential," Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. "All that firefighters can do when we have winds like this is get out ahead, evacuate people, and protect structures."
Thomas Aquinas College, a school with about 350 students, has also been evacuated, with students going to their own homes or to those of faculty and staff, the college said in a statement. One person was killed in an auto accident associated with the fire, officials said. They gave no further details. Winds exceeding 40 mph and gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area and are expected to continue, the National Weather Service said. Fire officials said the winds increased overnight.
Firefighters from neighboring Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties were pouring in to help. Nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura county area were without power, Southern California Edison said on Twitter. All schools in the Ventura Unified School District will be closed on Tuesday.
THE ABSENCE of big rains is beginning to be worrisome. November came and went with less than a couple of inches, and December is sunny and clear with the frigid nights of early spring. The sandbar at the mouth of the Navarro has silted closed again, still awaiting the serious downpours to blast it open. Rain dances are in order. (But remember: The Secret to a Successful Rain Dance: Timing!)
KAITLIN ESPINOZA, student tournament director for the Redwood Classic, sends along the crucial Classic info:
All Tourney Team:
#32 Alejandro Soto - Anderson Valley
#10 Sammo Franco - Covelo
#32 Jordan Pearsons - Cloverdale
#23 George Navarro - Hoopa
#20 Cache Fields - Pinewood
#21 Adison Cramer - Argonaut
#23 Lucas Harris - Woodside Priory
#5 Miles Amos - Stuart Hall
#3 Alex Byrd - Stuart Hall
#11 Kwentyn Wiggins - Branson
MVP - #10 Viktor Rajkmovic - Branson
AV LOST the first game to Fort Bragg with a final score of 37-36. Into the consolation bracket they played Tulelake and won with a final score of 57-41. At 10:30 on Saturday morning AV played Round Valley, they lost 67-59. During that game, Alejandro Soto broke a school record and tied for most points at Redwood Classic in a single game with 51 points.
Kaitlin then signed off and more informal Classic comment commenced.
NEVER BET AGAINST BOONVILLE, NEVER! Boonville High School, student population 150, lost by one point last night to Fort Bragg High School, student population 539. As previously stated, and no insult intended, Boonville can't shoot, but boy o boy o can Boonville play D. Boonville plays a tenacious, man-to-man, full-court, old school defense via which the Boonville boys drive bigger, much more skilled teams absolutely nuts. Imagine a giant squid in your puss from the time you in-bound the ball. That's the Boonville basketball experience. Fort Bragg squeaked out a 37-36 victory, and they were very lucky to drive back into the fog with a win.
THE USUAL MISMATCHES characterized the 60th annual Redwood Classic and, as usual, two Bay Area teams, heavy on recruits, played for the championship, one of which was Branson of Ross in Marin County, a community with the highest per capita income in the country, and the alma mater of the famous chef, Julia Child, when the school was for girls only at a time when the ruling class kept its daughters as far from the rabble as possible, although in 1967 the girls started running off with rock and roll musicians and other undesirables, but at least the hairy beasts had money, and then Branson went coed and began fielding sports teams which were initially so bad people burst into tears at their mere appearance, embarrassing the wealthy school’s donors who began giving athletically talented non-readers scholarships and presto! magico! Branson was a sports powerhouse, almost annually retreating from a weekend of Boonville slumming with yet another big trophy. In their first game of this year’s tournament Branson 65, Tomales 12, which is the annual way it goes.
TOURNEY TIME brings out the nostalgia in the Anderson family, two of whom were all-tourney back in the day, Zack Anderson and Robert Mailer Anderson, as the latter comments, "I was all-tourney at the Classic, and it is top ten of AVHS sports memories for me. If only Eddie Huron, Lyle Wilhite, Nick Lee, Chato Mendoza, Mike Arevelo and Mike Jones would have passed me the ball more. Send me in, I’m hot, coach!" (The coach was JR Collins.)
PRIVATE SCHOOLS SHOULD HAVE THEIR OWN LEAGUE
What a surprise. Cardinal Newman vs. Marin Catholic for the NCS football championship. Even less surprising? Newman and Marin Catholic dominated every team it played in their respective leagues this year (except Rancho Cotate which came close to Newman but still didn’t win.)
When will the powers that be in high school sports admit that private schools have an overwhelming advantage over public schools and should play in their own leagues and have their own divisions for sectional and state championship playoffs? This is a statewide reality, not just the North Bay’s.
Why should public schools have to stand by defeated while clearly superior and talent-laden private school programs dominate the leagues and playoffs at practically every sport, both boys and girls? The evidence shouts out for private schools and public schools to be in different leagues and in different playoff brackets. Anyone who says otherwise has not been paying attention to high school sports for the last 20 years or is in denial.
SPEAKING OF SPORTS, the 2017 World Series Champion Sonoma Dragons, with Anderson Valley’s very own Al Green roaming center field, has racked up another national Old Guys Baseball championship. Al, best known locally for his 100 Point Pinot, got a crucial RBI single against the Puget Sound Mariners as the Dragons crushed the old salts from the far north.
* * *
DRAGONS WIN 60+ WORLD SERIES
by Allen Green
The Dragons are the senior baseball team formerly known as the Greenwood Ridge Dragons, managed by Allan Green from Philo. Most of the players come from Mendocino, Sonoma and surrounding counties. With an influx of new recruits, the Dragons looked impressive on paper heading towards Phoenix, Arizona for the Men’s Senior Baseball League World Series in November. They played that way for the first two games. In the first game Vic Viegas threw three perfect innings against the Paladins from New Mexico and the Dragons cruised, 13-5. In game two, Brad Baker and Pat Carroll limited the Chicago Fire to three runs in a 7-3 Dragons win.
Against the Arkansas Diamonds in game three, the wheels came off in the first inning. The Dragons spotted Arkansas seven runs, never got untracked and were shut out by the humbling score of 14-0. In the fourth game Stan Holloway helped right the ship with seven strong innings against the Puget Sound Mariners, Dragons bats woke up, and they won going away, 10-3.
Rick Arbogast needed only 54 pitches to shut out the SoCal Dodgers over six innings as the Dragons jumped out to a 10-0 lead. But the Dodgers made it close, coming back to score eight runs in the eighth inning before Rich Epidendio came in to end the threat. The Dragons wrapped up the #1 playoff seed with a 13-7 win over the Red Deere Legends, from Alberta, Canada.
The semifinal game was a rematch with Arkansas. The Dragons gradually built a 4-1 lead as Brad Baker limited the Diamonds to two hits over five innings. Arkansas rallied in the sixth, however, scoring four times. Vic Viegas came in to shut them down, but with two outs in the bottom of the eighth the Dragons were still down 5-4. Dale Skinner started a rally with a single; Rob Goldstein hit a fly ball to right that landed squarely on the foul line for a double, with Skinner stopping at third. In the clutch at bat of the week, Terry Fail worked the count to 3-2, fouled off three tough pitches, then stroked a base hit in front of the charging Arkansas centerfielder to plate Skinner and Goldstein with the tying and go-ahead runs.
With the Dragons clinging to their one-run lead in the ninth inning, second baseman Tom Kunst raced into centerfield to make a miraculous catch of a pop fly to thwart the Diamonds comeback attempt.
After that dramatic victory, the championship game against the Chicago Fire at the Oakland A’s stadium in Mesa turned out to be anticlimactic. Rick Arbogast kept the Fire well in check, and the Dragons feasted on tired Chicago pitchers, scoring 17 runs in the first four innings. Leading the onslaught was Mike Wilgus, who crushed four doubles and drove in six runs. The final score was Dragons 17, Chicago 3, and just like that, thirteen Dragons were in line for their first World Series rings!
* * *
(photos by Bob Stoddard)
Co-MVP Mike Wilgus, shown here scoring against the Chicago Fire, blasted four doubles and drove in six runs in the championship game.
Centerfielder Allan Green hits an RBI single against the Puget Sound Mariners.
With the Dragons clinging to a precarious one-run lead in the ninth inning of the semifinal game against the Arkansas Diamonds, Tom Kunst raced from his position at second base to snare this pop fly, knifing between converging shortstop Jim Yamada and centerfielder Allan Green.
FROM THE ESSENTIAL MENDOSPORTSPLUS
Homeless Freezing On Fort Bragg Streets ...
And There Still Looking For Shelter Help
Talk about a debacle - this was just posted by the City of Fort Bragg. They're still looking for help - this should have been posted in September or October, not December. The Hospitality House has run the Emergency Weather Shelter for 11 fricking YEARS and they are acting as if this is their first. Something is very, very wrong here.
The shelter was supposed to open November 15th - three weeks ago.
The Hospitality House made a last minute "business decision" NOT to run it this year (just before it was supposed to open) because they wanted $137,000 to run it but the County only offered them $50,000.
Outraged public sentiment had them reverse course - as the homeless alternately have had to weather November deluges & freezing temperatures due to their inactions.
Basically, all they had to do was find a new location for the unsheltered to gather so they could be taken to the shelter that alternates between faith-based structures.
They acted as if it was a "big deal" - and threw them into a hissy fit they still have yet to recover from. The shelter needs a new operator - the Hospitality House is going to kill someone thanks to these inactions.
Here are Fort Bragg rainfall totals when the EWS should have been opened:
- November 15 - 0.08"
- November 16 - 0.79"
- November 17 - 0.30"
- November 20 - 0.30"
- November 21 - 0.63"
- November 24 - 0.13"
- November 26 - 0.60"
- November 27 - 1.00"
- December 03 - 0.31"
And of course, last night the "emergency" shelter should have been open as the temps dipped down to freezing - 32.2F to be exact.
What we don't understand is - last June 12th when Mendocino County approved $105, 039 for the Hospitality House, the contract contains provisions FOR the "Emergency Weather Shelter." That $100K provided last summer, we have to assume, is in addition to the $50K the County coughed up for the Emergency Weather Shelter.
As everyone is painfully aware, it's all about MONEY with Hospitality House - they could care less about anything else.
SKRAG SAYS, “Another thing. Cats are discreet. You'll never see us behaving in a vulgar manner in public. You might hear us, but you won't see us.
AN UNIDENTIFIED MAN DIED after falling from a cliff Monday morning near Inglenook north of Fort Bragg. He was among a group of people renting a nearby vacation home. Persons with him on the precipice overlooking the Pacific said he lost his balance and fell. He was recovered and pronounced dead shortly before noon.
FOR SALE, like new Primechair 4-wheeler, Dalton Model. Best offer. Call 895-3016, Boonville
KZYX IS TOUTING its fire coverage, but I thought it was not particularly informative, with updates placed after an hour of banjo music, or whatever other audio filler was occupying the station’s frequency. I got the feeling that if an earthquake had severed the Northcoast from the rest of the California land mass, we’d have to wait for the tunes to die down before we knew why there was six feet of salt water in downtown Boonville. The first day of a catastrophe on the unprecedented scale of the Big Fires, the phones should have been open the entire morning for hard information, and available to on-site persons to call in. This periodic listener didn’t have the patience to wait an hour or so for updates, which he inevitably got from other sources. I’ve heard even inland AM stations put their cowboy love yawps on hold for more timely news than we got from Mendo Public Radio. MendoSportsPlus was quite good for breaking news updates during the fires. On KZYX, only Sarah Reith’s longer interviews with emergency personnel and fire vics were consistently informative.
WHEN A GROUP of coyotes sound off for about 30 seconds in the evening, have they caught prey? If not, what triggers the outburst? Tom Stienstra, the Chron’s fine nature writer answers, “The louder the howl, the bigger the prize, often a fawn.”
CAPTAIN FATHOM WRITES: “Enclosed find the $20 we borrowed. Clean and sober after a month ‘rest’ at Tom Allman’s retreat.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 4, 2017
JAMES BELDEN IV, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
NATHANIEL CHIM, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.
ERAINA DAVIS, Covelo. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, receiving stolen property.
TRACY DEETZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery, disorderly conduct-alcohol, protective order violation, resisting.
HEATHER DEWOLF, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
LLUAN FUENTES, Ukiah. County parole violation.
GERALD FULLER, Ukiah. Unauthorized entry of dwelling without owner consent.
STEVEN GREEN, Upper Lake/Ukiah. Suspended license.
SCOTT HANSEN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.
ARTHUR HOBBS, Boonville. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
AARON KOSKI, Fort Bragg. Vandalism, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
DONNIE MILLER, Potter Valley. Controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
WAYNE PARK, Willits. Second degree robbery, unlawful possession of tear gas, damage-destruction of wireless device.
JACQUELINE POLLARD, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, failure to appear, probation revocation.
AROMA OR STINK? HUMCO PLANNERS TACKLE MJ ODOR ISSUES
by Daniel Mintz
To address odor complaints and avoid lawsuits against the county, Humboldt’s Planning Commission is recommending that new setback standards be required for outdoor commercial marijuana production, even for grows that have already been approved.
In a close vote at a November 30 hearing, a majority of commissioners favored retroactive application of new standards for outdoor marijuana grows within 600 feet of community planning area boundaries, municipal spheres of influence and tribal areas.
Under the commission majority’s recommendation, outdoor grows in those areas would have to be moved 600 feet away from nearby residences or into enclosed structures.
The 600-foot standard was reduced from an original proposal of 1,000 feet.
Recognizing that the Garberville/Redway community planning area is uniquely sympathetic to the marijuana industry, commissioners excluded it from the list of areas subject to the new standards.
The recommendation applies to production sites that have been approved as well as those in the process of being approved. All have been advanced under the county’s current commercial marijuana ordinance, which sets 300-foot setbacks from nearby residences and 30-foot setbacks from property lines.
The new and expanded setbacks are part of the draft of a new ordinance. And during a public comment session, marijuana producers and their advocates warned that changing rules midstream will erode trust in the county’s regulatory process.
“Our farmers that are seeking or have already received permits are developing and implementing plans based on (the current ordinance) and to have the looming possibility of additional criteria in the future is unsettling to say the least,” said Natalynne DeLapp of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance.
The new standards emerged in response to complaints – and lawsuit threats – from public officials and residents of areas such as Fortuna, where county-approved grows skirt municipal areas.
Commission Chair Bob Morris noted the controversy over odor complaints and the potential for lawsuits. “Are we going down the road where there’s just going to be litigation after litigation?” he asked. “I don’t know – but it looks to me that we may be headed that way if we don’t do something.”
Asked for advice, County Counsel Jeffrey Blanck said the impact of odor is subjective, throwing “another variable into the mix -- of ‘this one stinks and this one doesn’t.’”
He added, “A lot of the complaints that have made it to county counsel’s office and then to planning were based on the fact that they just didn’t like marijuana grows … they just didn’t want that industry next door.”
Commissioner Kevin McKinney, who is a developer, said changing conditions are regularly applied to approved subdivisions. He used the example of updated handicapped ramp designs.
In a 4-3 vote, commissioners supported the new setback recommendations.
Also at during the hearing, commissioners agreed to remove school bus stop setback requirements, as school district officials have said the location of rural area bus stops continually change.
Most commissioners also supported setting Dec. 31, 2019 as a cut-off date for accepting permit applications for pre-existing grows. They added a clause to discourage later submittal of applications by reducing the amount of grow area by 50 percent for applications submitted after the window’s first year.
The draft of the new ordinance also expands the size standard for small-scale, artisanal grows from 3,000 square feet to 5,000 feet but commissioners unanimously voted to recommend adherence to the smaller size.
The county’s incentive program for re-locating existing grows from problematic areas to preferred locations is also included in the new ordinance. In a close vote, commissioners agreed to recommend acceptance of re-location applications to Dec. 31, 2018 and to end the program after that.
Another hearing on the new ordinance is set for this week, on Dec. 7.
THE LIT-PHILBRICK DIALOGUE
In his Letters to the Editor of 29 November, Mr. Philbrick asks many, 9, questions. I would like to try and answer one of them: "What has happened to this country?" It is hard to know where to start.
One could argue that, unlike as Lincoln stated in the Gettysburg Address, there has never been a government "of the people, by the people and for the people", but putting that (considered radical by many) idea aside, it seems clear that both Democrats and Republicans in the D.C. swamp are creating and manifesting a government that is of (big) business, by (big) business and for (big) business and have totally abdicated their responsibility to the citizenry. Failure to protect and inform us about one of the most addictive and deadly drugs known, tobacco, and failure to meaningfully punish those businesses that perpetrated the fraud which only benefited some (big) businesses, is but one example.
Conspiracy theories abound. One of few that resonates with me is that there has been a seemingly successful attempt to divide and dumb down the American electorate; that all the facebook/twittersnapchat/instagram/television to which most are exposed, reprograms our brains (I trust not yours, nor mine, Mr. Philbrick) so that we become addicted to distraction, allergic to contemplation and therefore incapable of the reasoning required to distinguish truth from bullpoop. I cannot remember the source of the quote (was it J. Schumpeter?) to the effect that it was capitalism that destroyed communism and it will be capitalism that destroys democracy.
PS. Although we radically disagree about President Trump's motives and methods, one of us believing that he is a malignant narcissist and the other believing that he has the welfare of the citizens of these blessed United States at heart, we both should show respect for the office and use his title when referring to our president.
PPS. It'll Cost Ya To Argue
We bought some property in 2016, paid the supplemental tax bill. On 1 December, we received the 2017-2018 tax bill appraising the property at 2% above what we had paid; this included a notice that, if we disagreed with the assessment, we could protest during the period between July 2, 2017 and November 30, 2017. When I phoned to ask about the 2% increase and the time line, I was informed by the helpful person who answered the phone, but could not answer my questions, that, should I wish to "disagree" with the assessment, a $55 fee was required. When asked whether the fee applied if the county was in error, the response was "yes."
My road, Greenwood Road, is a disgrace, there is no county fire department, sheriff response time is quite long, the schools are distant; it was my choice to live in a rural setting, but, golly gee, any contact with the county government costs a ludicrous amount of money for the services (not) provided.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
So as a woman I have to say that while I find it appalling how many men have taken unfair advantage of women and engaged in sexual assault or harassment, it shouldn’t all be laid at the feet of men. When I say that women need to bear some responsibility for what happens I often get disgusted looks and comments from other women. It seems that the only allowable position to take is to believe all women and consider all men to be brutes and rapists at heart.
So here’s what I believe for what it’s worth. I think that heterosexual men are biologically driven to pursue women. It’s the way they are made. It doesn’t mean that they can’t learn to control themselves properly or learn that no means no but there is basic biology here.
Women don’t get a free pass though. They need to recognize that their dress, behavior etc. puts out signals to men. I’m not blaming rape victims or 10 year olds raped by their step-fathers here but I’m talking about women walking around with clothing that leaves little to the imagination. I’m talking about women who put themselves in dubious places such as visiting a man’s hotel room or other places where they will be alone with him. I’m also talking about women who flirt and then are angered by the response. Or those who feel it is acceptable to cop a feel etc but would be angry if a man did the same to them; Garrison Keillor alluded to this in his statement. Why is it ok for a woman to do this to a man and assume it’s acceptable behavior?
I also don’t feel that we need to believe everything any woman says at this point in terms of alleged abuse. Just as we erred by rejecting what Anita Hill had to say about Clarence Thomas way back, we may be swinging too far in the other direction by regarding any allegation made by a woman as truth.
I think that Mayim Bialik was correct in her essay which she got trashed for. I think that VP Pence is correct in his belief in not spending time alone with a woman who isn’t his wife. None of this means that a woman cannot achieve in her career etc. It just recognizes the innate biological differences between men and women. It does seem though as at least among the liberal crowd I know, saying such things gets me practically tarred and feathered.
by James Kunstler
“Contact with Russians.” Grown men and women, doubling and re-doubling down on a political fantasy, repeat this prayer hour after hour on the cable channels and Web waves as if trying to exorcise a nation possessed by the unholy hosts of Hell. But such vicars of the news as Wolf Blitzer, Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd, and Dean Baquet (of The New York Times) only shove the country closer to a cliff of constitutional crisis.
To a certain class of people — a class that includes a lot of Intellectuals-Yet-Idiots, as Nassim Taleb has dubbed them — President Donald Trump is a figure of supernatural malignity who must be ousted at all costs. I did not vote for Donald Trump and I do not admire him; but I rather resent the dishonesty that is being marshaled against him, especially the mis-use of judicial procedure and the mendacious propagandizing of the nation in service to that end.
This is what it comes down to: General Mike Flynn, designated National Security Advisor, conferred with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak after the 2016 election about two pressing matters: a vote in the UN orchestrated against Israel, and sanctions imposed against Russia by outgoing President Obama on December 28, two weeks before the inauguration. Both these matters could be viewed as bits of mischief designed deliberately to create foreign policy problems for the incoming administration.
Flynn’s discussions with Ambassador Kislyak amounted to what are called “back channel talks.” These informal, probing communications occur all the time and everywhere in American foreign policy, especially the transitional months every four or eight years when a new president comes in. They are necessarily secret because they concern issues of high sensitivity. Every incoming presidential staff in my lifetime (going back to Dwight Eisenhower) has conducted back-channel talks with foreign diplomats in order to directly assess where things stand, minus public posturing and bloviating.
And so that is what Mike Flynn did, as incoming National Security Advisor, after an eight-year run of worsening relations with Russia under Obama that Trump publicly pledged to improve. And now he’s been charged with lying to the FBI about it. Which raises some enormous and troubling questions well beyond the simple charge, questions that suggest a US government at war against itself.
For instance, why exactly might Mike Flynn lie about his discussions with Kislyak? That ought to be self-evident as per what I said above: back channel talks are necessarily secret. But why not let Vice-president Pence or the FBI in on it? As for Pence, not all government officials are in-the-loop for back channel talks for the excellent reason that the fewer people involved the less chance of the talks becoming un-secret.
And the FBI? Why, in December of 2016, might Trump and his aides consider the FBI to be an unreliable agency? Because they knew that officials in the FBI under Director James Comey had politicized the agency in favor of his opponent in the election; that the agency had misbehaved in the Clinton e-mail investigation, the meeting at the Phoenix airport between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and the Christopher Steele Russian intel file affair. We don’t know whether, at that point, Trump and his staff knew about the FBI’s conduct in the Uranium One deal. But there was plenty of evidence that the permanent bureaucracy of Washington wanted to use a politicized FBI against Trump in any way that it could to get rid of him.
And over the weekend, news comes out that Peter Strzok, the top FBI official assigned to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of collusion between Russia and Trump officials, had been removed from the probe after exchanging anti-Trump and pro-Hillary Clinton text messages with his mistress, who was an FBI lawyer working for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. This information was concealed from the congressional oversight committee that had formally subpoenaed emails from the FBI all year long, only to be stonewalled by the agency.
So, now the committee is threatening contempt citations against the current FBI Director, Christopher Fry and Rod Rosenstein, his deputy.
Why should President Trump not fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller now? Mueller was James Comey’s mentor at the FBI when Mueller was director. Is there not a train of association and dishonesty that implicates criminal activity by the FBI itself? And if and when Trump does this, and pardons Mike Flynn for the non-crime of back channel negotiation, should a new special prosecutor be appointed by the Attorney General to investigate the activities of the FBI through 2016 and 2017? And after all that, will the Deep State find some other way to go apeshit?
Keep your hats on for this.
(Support Kuntsler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
by Manuel Vicent (translated by Louis S. Bedrock)
While Leonardo da Vinci was painting the small panel with the image of Salvator Mundi in his studio on the Via Ghibellina, dozens of chickens were clucking around him. The artists of Quattrocento painted with tempera and they needed a lot of egg yolks to bind their pigments.
This small walnut panel, like La Giocanda and all the Madonnas with Child, was created in an actual henhouse and was probably commissioned by the Medici, his best clients, for the chapel of a palace; there, the image of the Savior would attend to the appeals for pardon of Lorenzo the Magnificent after he had stabbed someone.
The figure of Salvator Mundi adopts the gesture of blessing or commanding with his hand by forming a pincer with the thumb, the pinky, and the ring finger. The index finger remains erect as a phallic symbol, which was a secret sign among homosexual Florentine painters. That pincer was the energy connection through which intelligence moves from the action of the hand to the brain of the primate.
Over time, while it remains on the altar, the religious painting absorbs the prayers of the faithful, and the entire burden of fears, miracles, and hopes settles upon the sacred image like a veil. And so it was with Salvator Mundi, painted as an elegant North European youth, absolutely human, almost profane.
But one day this panel was removed from the altar and began to absorb other passions. It passed through royal parlors, through the bedrooms of lovers, through bourgeois mansions; it endured the humiliation of restorers; it disappeared and resurfaced in thrift shops only to be tossed around by speculation.
Ultimately it has wound up back on the altar—this time the altar of Christie’s, and there it has received an offering of 372 million €.
This amount of money is a prayer spawned by a cultural heritage deeper than faith, which is greed.
QUITE SIMPLY, Republican politicians need campaign donations from oil companies and other big corporations to win elections. To maintain their power they must keep the cash flowing. That means keeping rich donors happy by cutting corporate taxes and obstructing climate policies. To achieve that, Republican politicians reject scientific evidence and expert opinion, lie to their voters, and rely on right-wing media echo chamber propaganda and tribalism to keep their supporters voting against their own best interests.
— Dana Nuccitelli, in the Guardian
A CENTURY AFTER ‘TEN DAYS’
THIS TRUMP THING
by Turkey Vulture
…or as it had been known previously for nearly 250 years up until now - The U.S. Presidency… Donald Trump tweeted that Theresa May, the British prime minister, should focus on Islamic terrorism in Britain rather than criticizing him. Mrs May’s spokesperson had condemned the president for retweeting inflammatory videos posted by ‘Britain First,’ a British far-right group. Mr Trump is the first American president to circulate materials from extremists - no surprise there…
Donald Trump retweeted three inflammatory videos from a British far-right group. He is once again using Twitter to weigh in on contentious religious-tinged political issues in the UK. In the past, he's attacked London Mayor Sadiq Khan for mishandling a militant attack just hours after it occurred. He misattributed a rise in crime in England and Wales to the "spread of radical Islamic terror". He supported claims that large parts of Birmingham, England’s second largest city, were a no-go area for the police due to the Muslim strongholds there. Not true at all - I’ve recently been there and had a open razor shave and haircut in the heart of the overwhelmingly Muslim district of Balsall Heath and yet I was not beheaded. They even gave me a cup of Kurdistani tea! I also had a meal at a Pakistani restaurant and managed to get out alive and well following a warm welcome and some delicious Balti food…
For the president, directing attention toward the UK seems to serve a domestic political purpose. He cites events and opinions there as a warning to Americans of what could happen in the US if they do not heed his policy prescriptions on immigration and border security. The Muslim ban, the US-Mexico wall, increased deportations, the sharp reductions on refugee resettlement - it's all part of the president's "national security" package.
I would suggest that one would expect to see these latest actions on virulent anti-Muslim hate sites, not on the Twitter feed of the president of the United States.
THE VIETNAM WAR—PBS: A LAMENT
by Chuck Dunbar
I love my country
as it dies
in war and pain
before my eyes.
I walk the streets
where disrespect has been
the sins of politics
the politics of sin
the heartlessness that darkens my soul
— Laura Nyro, Christmas in My Soul (1970—as the war went on…)
Awhile back I finished watching The Vietnam War, the PBS documentary by Ken Burns and Lyn Novick, a project that took a decade to complete. (I watched this video on DVD; I understand it can also be streamed via PBS.) It's a powerful, thoughtful work of film journalism, staying with me and haunting me for a good while after viewing. Here are a few observations and impressions I'll share with readers.
As an old man now, I lived through the Vietnam War period (I'm not a veteran--I was a conscientious objector--and graduated high school in 1965, as America's war efforts steadily mounted), it was strange and unsettling to go back all those years. But it felt right, and it was worth it. It was a wrenching experience, though, at times an agony to watch; several times I had to take a break between viewing episodes to settle my emotions before going on. I remembered many events that had dimmed in memory, and learned much that was new to me.
The tone of the documentary, properly so, is somber, solemn. The best description of this work (noted in one critical review) is this: a lament. A work of grief—-a lament—-that fits just right for me. As one watches, episode by episode, the weight of the war, and of the terrible consequences for all involved, becomes heavier and heavier. One feels deep sadness and sorrow as the story of the war proceeds. For me, though, sorrow and sadness were insufficient emotions; they were joined by anger—-for the sheer treachery and waste and destruction and heartbreak and shame that marked our efforts, from beginning to end. Indeed, “the sins of politics, the politics of sin” that Laura Nyro sang of are starkly portrayed in The Vietnam War in the words and actions of the main principals: Kennedy, Johnson, McNamara, and the sinister team of Nixon and Kissinger.
Though so much of the Vietnam War experience in America evoked passionate arguments between supporters and protestors, The Vietnam War is not a polemic, nor a left wing critique of the war. It is a deliberately even-handed approach, as Burns has noted. My own view is that this many-sided presentation of the facts and events of the war still makes the case--overwhelmingly--against the war. The essential facts and events of the war simply speak for themselves. There's no need, I'd say, 50 years and more on, for more argument. Our war efforts in Vietnam were a failure--a tragedy of errors, bad judgments and hubris. The war was a terrible American mistake. It was a horror, and it was not winnable. Accordingly, at great cost to America and at much greater cost to Vietnam, we lost the war. Maybe I'm dead wrong, but I really don't think, all these years past, that many would argue much with that statement.
Highlighted in The Vietnam War are many issues we citizens can learn from, some that relate directly to today's politics, and to the current American military interventions and threats of new ones. One central issue concerns the role of our free, independent press in the critical reporting of the war. It's commonly known, and clearly shown by Burns and Novick, that the American mainstream press contributed mightily in alerting the country that the war was going badly, that our civilian and military leaders were guiding us down a treacherous path. Among the serious problems with the war noted by these reporters were the overly optimistic reports of the war's progress by military leaders, and the under-reporting and sheer lies about the many civilian casualties caused by American attacks. The critical reporting of the war, by Neil Sheehan, David Halberstam and Seymour Hersh, among many other skilled, committed reporters, was a stellar moment in the history of American journalism.
Neil Sheehan, who had been reporting in Vietnam since 1962, appears many times in interviews in this documentary. He was a central player in the unveiling and printing of the secretly-kept Pentagon Papers in the New York Times. Sheehan, years after the war ended, wrote A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, the story of Army Lt. Colonel John Paul Vann, also cited in this documentary. Vann was a prominent and vocal internal critic of the American conduct of the war. He believed the South Vietnamese government was a corrupt, incompetent ally, and he argued the American military had not adequately adapted to fighting a war of insurgency and that the civilian population was being maltreated and alienated. Vann was an unstoppable force of nature; he openly shared critical information about the American war effort with American journalists like Sheehan and Halberstam. Sadly, Vann died in a war-related helicopter crash in Vietnam in 1972.
Sheehan, in one interview from The Vietnam War, speaks about My Lai and civilian casualties in general: “It was different because (at My Lai) they were killing Vietnamese point-blank with rifles and grenades. They were murdering them directly. They weren't doing it with bombs and artillery. Nobody would've said a word, because it was going on all the time.”
Halberstam wrote the masterful, exceptionally detailed book, The Best and the Brightest (a bitterly ironic title) about the elite intellectuals of the Kennedy administration, and later the Johnson administration--McGeorge Bundy, Robert McNamara, Walt Rostow, and others--who helped guide America into the war. They were men of high academic achievement with superior IQ's, but who, finally, possessed little wisdom and little knowledge of the culture and history of Vietnam. Some might call them educated fools, and in the harsh judgment of history maybe they deserve that. Hersh was the reporter who broke the story of the American war atrocities in My Lai, covered in some detail in the documentary.
As Burns has done in previous war documentaries, he grounds this one by focusing on individual experiences. It's a powerful, affecting approach. Interviews are interspersed throughout the documentary, with American soldiers and medical staff, American government officials, the families of American soldiers, American war protestors, American news correspondents, American prisoners of war, and numerous North Vietnamese, Viet Cong and South Vietnamese soldiers, as well as other Vietnamese citizens. Their diverse stories and views are vivid and riveting, often very moving, bringing me to tears a number of times.
A brief example from Baoh Ninh, a former North Vietnamese soldier, interviewed several times in this work: He notes simply that: “Of course a soldier's life is miserable. Even American soldiers were miserable...” And, in a larger scale view: “The Americans thought we were followers of Marx. No, you were wrong—we fought to save this country, so that there would be no more bombing, no more war. There would be no more death, no more destruction...”
And an example from a former United States Marine, John Musgrave, from Missouri, the son of a World War II veteran: He recounts his war and post-war experiences in a number of interviews throughout the work. Musgrave speaks openly about the gut-wrenching fear felt by soldiers in battle. In the war's aftermath, very troubled and dealing with serious physical war wounds, deep depression and PTSD, he comes to the sheer edge of suicide (interrupted and saved from shooting himself only by his 2 dogs' need for attention). Musgrave, after several years spent reconsidering American efforts in Vietnam, joins anti-war demonstrations. “It finally dawned on me, and it was a long, painful process, that I wasn't helping anybody by keeping my mouth shut.” And: “First time in our history, the veterans came home from the war, and said, while the war's still going on, ... 'this war's got to stop!'" And more: “I served my country as honorably when I was in Veterans Against the Vietnam War, as I did when I was a United States Marine.” When Musgrave visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, he tells us that he fell to his knees sobbing and sobbing. “I was so grateful to God that (the memorial) was there.” Musgrave now counsels service veterans in Kansas. His testimony is articulate, grave, sober. As I watched the interviews with this good man, I felt grateful myself that he'd made his way through so much torment to find a place of peace and new purpose.
Here are two striking facets from the documentary's elegiac last episode, which recounts the end of the war and its aftermath, including the plight of South Vietnam after we left the country, veterans' post traumatic stress issues, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial:
NBC News Correspondent David Brinkley NBC News, at Arlington National Cemetery, stands among the graves speaking in a subdued tone, but stating a starkly bitter challenge: “When some future politician for some reason feels the need to drag this country into a war, he might come out here to Arlington—-and stand maybe right over there somewhere (gesturing toward a section of graves)—-to make his announcement and to tell what he has in mind.”
In April 1975, as Saigon falls and the last Americans leave South Vietnam (remember the sorry spectacle of helicopters lifting folks off the roof of the American embassy), the CIA Station Chief in Saigon sends his last message to Washington: “It has been a long war, and we have lost. Those who fail to learn from history are forced to repeat it. Let us hope that we will not have another Vietnam experience, and that we have learned our lesson.”
I was moved in part to write this piece, not for those like me who lived through it all, but for younger folks not so familiar with the war. I believe all citizens should know how far our leaders can stray, especially in matters of war, from decency and truth, honesty and accountability. In fact, if I were king of the country, I would proclaim that all high school civics classes (I hope that civics is still taught in our schools) spend part of their senior year watching and debating this entire 18 hour documentary. My proclamation would extend in perpetuity. What an important experience for students, soon to be adult citizens/voters, to see and understand with utter clarity what war looks like close-up, all that it maims and destroys in its gruesome ways, to soldiers and their families, civilians and countries. Informed citizens can become the conscience of their country when things are at their worst. That is clearly what happened during the Vietnam War, as millions of citizens rose up in protest of the war, as this fine documentary shows at some length.
End Note: A current reflection by a Vietnam veteran regarding civilian casualties in Vietnam:
Letter to the Editor, New York Times
December 1, 2017
To the Editor:
Re “The Truth About the Cost of War” (concerning past and current anti-ISIS American war measures and the resulting civilian casualties) New York Times editorial, November 24, 2017:
“I was in a unit in Vietnam in 1969 that called in air and artillery strikes on 'free fire zones' in III Corps, northwest of Saigon. I asked an Army officer how we knew that the people we fired upon were in the enemy. 'By definition, he said, if we kill them, they are the enemy.' Part of the truth in your editorial isn't that civilian casualties are under-reported but that their deaths in battle are seen as irrelevant.”
Bruce W. Rider