- The SuperRaisers
- Wild Ride
- Fatal Collision
- Ukiah Sweets
- Little Dog
- HumCo Marijuana
- Ed Notes
- Yesterday's Catch
- Cannabis Interviews
- Holiday Concert
- Unhappy Endings
- Salvation Army
- Moore's Defeat
- Miss Nondisclosure
- Darkest Hour
- Social Security
- Jerusalem Veto
- Year Review
- Service Awards
THE SUPERVISORS, in a move that would pay them almost three times as much as the average private sector Mendo working person, voted 4-1 Monday to raise their annual salaries from $61,200 to a startling $85,500, starting next year.
Fourth District Supervisor Dan Gjerde was slightly more restrained. He thought he and his colleagues should get $73,960, the percentage increase awarded the five elected department heads.
COMMENTS ON MSP were immediate and suitably outraged:
James Murphy — I guess that they have a cost of living that is over 6 times higher than anyone else. Greedy is a word I can use to describe it. But I'm sure others could think of a few more.
RW Sanders — Apparently you need more money in order to ignore the homeless problem. Yes, that will help your conscience feel better won't it, supervisors? Will that extra 25 grand ease your conscience and make it easier to pay your karmic debt? I sure hope so, because that just proves you have no morals and ethics. So sad.
Stephen Dunlap — what a system, they decide their own pay ? - I'll bet the folks at Safeway would like that program, or my employees, or Bob Markel
Judy Beach Carr — That is a huge increase, compared to normal percentages. What is the basis for such an action request?
Cheryl Morse — Best time to give yourself a hefty raise? When no one is looking.
Dawn Ferreira — the only raise they deserve is a swift kick in the ass!!
Cindy Ellis — Nobody should get to vote their own pay raise...case in point. Outrageous
Shad Scalvini — If I got to vote for my own pay raise it would be yes every time too.
Carol Mathews Perry — How can you make it so they do not vote for there own raises? Or just a percentage every few years at a set rate.
Terri Beer — Really, take care of the city first! May be the plumbing problems in town!! Just saying.....
Jimmy Burns — Who the hell gets a 24 thousand dollar raise?
Russell Maidrand — Each member makes 61,000$ no wonder the county is broke.
Donald Pittman — Why not nothing. Can't they live on what they get. If not find another job.
Linda Schwede — Really, I would be able to deal with that.
Virginia Somers — Oh come on, it's hard work sitting on your fat ass and flapping your lips
Wallace Baker Sr — Must be nice. they give themselves a raises. While most of us get paycuts. Wth
Steve Horton — They need the same answer everyone gets when asking the government for a salary "increase" . . ."Sorry, we don't have the funding for that."
Ann Meadlin — Why not 2% like Social Security?
Crystal Prairie — WHAT THE ABSOLUTE F%^&
Nancy Preston — Too much!
Erica Ann-Marie — Complete madness.
Lea Hartsock — Ridiculous
Elaine Barnes — Wow!!!Nice raise!
Louie Reynolds — Oh hell no.
Anne Bobincheck — Absurd!!
Bobby Brumback — They're not Congress. How can this be?! They barely approve a 2% for county employees, and don't hesitate to give themselves 24K a year?! This will not sit well...
Nancy Meagher — And Social Security is handing out a whopping 2% increase? Where are funds for homeless shelters, mentally ill? No wonder politicians are held in such low regard.....
Bruce Fournier — You would think that they actually live on the coast! Did the people at the county that actually work get a comparable raise?
Liliyanna Grace Warren — #newblood vote them out impeachment.
Charles Morgan Kinghorn — Unbelievable... not really. They got the power and they got your money!!
Mark Taylor — Recall everyone of these crooks
Ted Perrault — Outrageous , self -serving greed
Ron Kalil — Just like Congress, wtf
Jeff Anderson — Wish I could get a $24,300 pay raise
Angie Johnson — UNFUCKINBELIEVABLE. ..
* * *
After the topic was introduced the Board engaged in a lengthy whine about all the hours they put in, all the comments they have to listen to, complimenting each other on the great job they do.
Supervisor McCowen said the $85,500 was “fairly easy to justify.”
CEO Angelo cited the Board’s “Great Accomplishments,” giving as an example the “courage” it took to undo the County’s major screw up of privatizing mental health and turning it over to Ortner which the Grand Jury told them was a major error and a gift to a company where the man they appointed to award the contract previous worked, alleging that they are now “light years ahead of where we were,” never mind that they get no reports on mental health, and haven’t ever required any.
Angelo admitted that the October fires will create a major deficit next year due to reduced property assessments and revenues, but it didn’t matter — give everybody a raise.
They didn’t even bother to consider the fig leaf of a grand jury recommendation or a pay raise panel as previous board’s have done.
They made no analysis of other releated increases, such as pension and other benefits and how much more that will cost.
At least former Fifth District Supervisor David Colfax made no bones that the main reason he ran for supervisor primarily to get himself and his colleagues big pay raises. These people actually think they deserve them for the public good and because they’ve done such a great job.
Supervisor Carre Brown whined that she occasionally goes over her County meal allowance and has to pay out of pocket for the rest of her meal at the many meetings she attends for no particular reason. Supervisor Gjerde one-upped Brown, saying he pays for his own meals for the last six months and he doesn’t use his County phone.
Ross Liberty, who is said to be considering a run for the Board himself next year, was the only member of the public who spoke. Now that he might be in line for the job, he said it was naïve of him to oppose pay raises in the past. He proceeded to kiss the Board’s ass, adding, “You’re better off overpaying than underpaying.”
Sheriff Allman joined the self-congratulation and hairshirt burnishing by noting that the room was empty “but we’ll all pay hell tomorrow in the paper,” adding that the huge raises were just “a little bump” which will create competition for the job. “It’s tough to talk about your own salary,” said Allman, “It’s very uncomfortable. Citizens will damn you and damn me for saying this.” … “We need to attract the best people.” Allman, who fancies himself as a “people’s cop," congratulated the Board for “putting up with the BS” that they occasionally hear from the public, aka “the rat race.” Laughably, he even claimed that the Board “makes sure department heads are doing their job” when they don’t even require ordinary monthly departmental reporting (although they’ve talked about it a few times).
Supervisor Croskey joined in brilliantly noting that “all work should be compensated,” rattling off the toil of attending meetings and traveling, studying, taking phone calls, contacting and connecting with people.
Supervisor Gjerde noted that if they got raises comparable to the elected department heads, the new salary would be about $73k, adding, “But it looks greedy no matter what.”
McCowen said, “We are underpaid. We approve the budget and set policy for the county, which manages a $300 million budget. We grapple with complex policy issues. We put in much more than full time.”
Hamburg said he was “disappointed that no one else is here. This will be headlines tomorrow. It’s a difficult decision…” etc.
THE SUPES will get their obscene raise. What's stopping them? They're indifferent to public opinion, such as it is, although judging from local comment lines public opinion is almost unanimously opposed. The raises are on top of a lush package of fringe benefits and will radically increase the Supes' sweet retirement packages.
WE WATCH County government closely, and we can honestly say that based on their weekly performances, these supervisors are not entitled to raises at all, let alone the lavish increases they have awarded themselves. We've always thought the salaries of public employees should be pegged to the annual take home pay of the county's private sector workers. Which, short of revolution, won't happen, but this kind of in-house government taking advantage is why millions of Americans view government as an occupying army. The raises are truly shameful, but among the shameless…”
DON'S WILD RIDE
On December 17, 2017, at approximately 11:05 AM, a 1994 Jeep Wrangler was traveling southbound on US-101, north of Valley Drive, in the unincorporated area of Laytonville in Mendocino County. For reasons still under investigation, the driver (name withheld pending next of kin notification) of the Jeep made an unsafe turn to the left causing the Jeep to travel across the center dividing section of US-101 into the oncoming lanes of traffic. The Jeep continued traveling in a southeasterly direction onto the northbound roadway shoulder and down a descending grass covered embankment, subsequently colliding into a tree. The driver of the Jeep sustained fatal injuries as a result of the collision.
There were no passengers in the Jeep at the time of the collision and no other vehicles were involved. It is unknown at this time if drugs or alcohol were a factor in this collision. This collision is still under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.
The CHP would like to thank Laytonville Fire Department, Laytonville Cal-Fire and Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance.
(California Highway Patrol, Garberville Office)
A MENDOCINO COUNTY HISTORY PHOTO
Merry Christmas From Ukiah Sweets
The staff at John and Louisa Magulas’ candy store and restaurant, known as Ukiah Sweets, were in decorating mode when this photograph from the early 1920s was taken. The business was once located in the Marks Building on the southwest corner of Perkins and State streets, where the Ukiah Brewing Company is today. Local business historian Ed Bold said Ukiah Sweets was in business from February 1919 until October 1920. In 1921, the Poulos family opened The Maple Confectionary at this location, later changing the name to the now-familiar The Maple Cafe, which remained in this building until 1970.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I'm a basic dog. I do what I do, I yam what I yam, as Popeye put it. I never complain, never explain, that's my motto. Take me or leave me.”
HUMCO COMMISSION PASSES ON MJ RESTRICTIONS
by Daniel Mintz
Approaching a decision-making point on a new marijuana regulation ordinance, Humboldt County’s Planning Commission has rejected a restrictive environmentally superior alternative and declined to define a cap on permit numbers.
The commission weighed the pros and cons of key regulatory proposals at its December 14 meeting.
Planning Director John Ford told commissioners that the new commercial marijuana production ordinance’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) assumes that 1,000 permit applications for new grows will stem from the ordinance.
The up to 15,000 grows that already exist form a “baseline” or current condition, he continued, which regulation will improve. Ford explained that a ban on new permit applications is most effective way to reduce additional impacts and an environmentally superior project alternative with a new permit ban is included in the EIR.
But commissioners were uncertain whether banning new permits would work as intended, saying that new growers would choose to cultivate outside of regulation.
Commissioner Ben Shepherd said blocking new growers from the permit process gives the existing black market a bureaucratic advantage.
“It leaves the market entirely to those people who were out there illegally operating and excludes people who chose to wait until the new opportunities arrive,” he continued. “And so I can’t support an option that would punish people for obeying the law.”
Commissioner Brian Mitchell agreed and said a more reasonable approach would be to restrict the locations where new grows can be set up.
Commissioner Noah Levy said he doesn’t support the environmentally superior alternative despite being an environmentalist. “I think there’s too much else at stake in terms of allowing this industry to thrive,” he continued. “And the newly-permitted projects, individually, will be the least environmentally harmful.”
Other commissioners agreed and most voted to not recommend the new permit ban.
Commissioners had more of a struggle with another restriction proposal – to cap the county’s total number of both new and existing cultivation permits.
A planning staff proposal to do so included a 5,000-permit cap. To gauge the effects of permitting, the county’s 12 watersheds would be monitored under the proposal. Permit allocations in specific watersheds would be adjusted up or down based on the results.
There is uncertainty about the outcomes of the new regulatory process, however.
Ford said that the watershed monitoring will ensure that the regulatory process is improving environmental conditions as expected.
The cap is “intended to be a point at which there is an analysis to make sure that what we expect to happen, will happen,” he continued.
Board Chair Bob Morris questioned that, saying, “We have not a clue what’s gonna happen so I don’t know how we can have expectations based on the limited amount of data that we have now.”
Discussion ensued on whether the proposed 5,000-permit cap is the correct number.
Shepherd said the number is “too arbitrary” and “we’re just shooting in the dark.”
Morris commented on the balance between reducing impacts of the industry and accommodating those who want to legally participate.
“I’m concerned that the 5,000 is too limiting and there’s just too many people that are gonna be left out there in never-never land,” he said, adding that he’d be likely to “reluctantly go for this” if the cap was raised to 8,000 permits.
Commissioners made motions on the permit cap that were altered and then withdrawn. There was apparent support for the general idea of a cap based on watershed-by-watershed analysis, however.
Ford advanced a less defined proposal – that the condition of watersheds be monitored and a cap and distribution of permits be adopted if necessary by the Board of Supervisors.
In a straw vote, most commissioners supported that.
The hearing was continued to January 11, when the commission will make its final recommendations on the ordinance. Ford said a final draft of the ordinance will then proceed to the Board of Supervisors in early February.
PERSONNEL NOTE. Gregory Sims, PhD, has been appointed a visiting scholar by Stanford University, meaning full access to university facilities, especially the library and its vast special collections. Dr. Sims makes his local home in Philo.
A LOCAL WONDERS: “Am I the only one who is aware of the leash laws in this County? People are blaming drivers for hitting dogs on the roads and nowhere is anyone realizing that the owners who don't contain their dogs are at fault! Aargh.”
INTERESTING historical piece from Mr. Lemos of Mendocino’s Kelly House about the intrepid women who carried the mail from Rockport to Gualala during World War Two.
“…. Sisters Toni and Lu Robinson had recently moved to the North Coast to live with their parents in the old Pullen House south of Little River. They were hired by USPS to drive the mail and, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
ANDERSON VALLEY’S JAN WALKER is certainly in the tradition of the Robinson sisters. Try Jan’s schedule, I dare you. From her home in Yorkville, Jan picks up the mail in Cloverdale, drives it back to Boonville and Philo, over Greenwood Road to Manchester and Point Arena where she delivers all the way up the hill to PA’s old Air Force radar station, then back to Cloverdale and from Cloverdale finally home to her home in Yorkville. Six days a week for 31 years (since 1987) without so much as a fender bender!
THINGS WE LIKE: The lights left on all night in Boonville’s Methodist Church, lending all of us the beautifully illuminated stained glass windows gracing one of The Valley’s oldest structures. And the jolly young man who presides over the Seabass Winery’s Boonville tasting room where farm produce from the winery’s Talmage mothership is occasionally offered for sale….
PUT ON YER bonaroos, Anderson Valley, the New York Times will be in town for a week beginning this Friday
EVEN WITHOUT the erosion of rental housing by AirBnB and other pirates of the booming transient housing industry, the Anderson Valley, like every other area of Mendocino County, was woefully short of rentals, and much of what was available was only minimally habitable by civilized standards. Fort Bragg has just green-lighted another Cypress Village, the town’s low-cost units at the south end of town. Cypress is a model of what can be done to create genuinely affordable homes. With all the money now floating around the Anderson Valley, perhaps the Anderson Valley Housing Association can round enough of it up to build a Cypress Village of our own. There are plenty of likely building sites certainly.
RECOMMENDED VISIT: Next time you’re in Fort Bragg, take a look at Cypress Village next door to the Fort Bragg Police Department. It’s a model of what government can do if there’s the political will to do it.
LONDON BREED as San Francisco's mayor with the sudden death of Ed Lee is likely to be a lateral move in political terms, characterized by the kind of inert drift the city that used to know how became accustomed to with Lee. The major problems of affordable housing shortages and more and more of the walking wounded living on the streets won't be addressed other than rhetorically. Breed is a windy liberal with zero to show for her decade in office.
THE POST-MORTEMS for Lee don't mention that he was an ineffectual mayor. Nice man from all accounts, but if being nice is the political standard in SF these days why not Grandma Smuckers, or a giant talking huggy bear? But then, as our proud land continues its inexorable slide into what's shaping up as unpredictable forms of collapse, maybe at this point cities are ungovernable. Frisco became comprehensively worse under Lee; the thousands of damaged people living on the streets became a lot more prevalent, and even began pitching tent city drug bazaars downtown. Although The City spends $310 million annually on what The City claims is fewer than ten thousand thanatoids, the true rub is that the beneficiaries of most of this money are the helping pros, machine Democrats who resist any reform that imperils their funding and their cush no-questions-asked jobs. Same-same here in Mendocino County, of course.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING, nay must viewing of the best documentary since "Making A Murderer." Remember the CIA's murder of Frank Olson back in '53 (I think it was), a scientist involved in the agency's lsd experiments? The great filmmaker Errol Morris tells the appalling story of Olson's acid-hastened murder in Wormwood, via NetFlix. (Tinfoil hat alert: If you even suspect the government is talking to you through your tooth fillings or is systematically poisoning you with contrails, this truly excellent film is not for you.)
MR. AVA, “Anybody from the county ever, ‘Off the record,’ communicate to you about this stuff? Or do the County elites merely relegate the AVA or its readers/commenters to a group of irrelevant anarchist, crazy people, and old hippies. As always, Laz.”
WE ENJOY what you might consider a surprising number of back channels, but critics of the Supervisors, to name the most egregious local civic offenders, are simply ignored because they can be ignored. Used to be the large circulation Press Democrat would pick up stories from their little Mendo media brothers and sisters and, because of the size of the PD and its influence in the County lo these many years ago, occasional reforms would result. The PD is barely read in the County these days, leaving its job to the UDJ, what’s left of the Willits News, the upstart Willits Weekly and, natch, the mighty AVA. All media, though, are in flux. I daresay many more people these days keep up with the Kardashians than pay the slightest attention to the functioning of the local government which daily impacts their distracted lives. Our paper-paper is treading water, but our on-line paper keeps pace with the loss of old school newspaper readers. Most people get what they know of the great world outside from television, hence Trump. In Mendo? The AVA is the default, turn-to media. Yeah, we’re pretty much relegated, but I’m proud to say that Supervisor Dan Hamburg, for instance, go out of their way to boast, “I never read the AVA.” They do, though, and if it’s true that one is known by his enemies, the AVA has all the right ones. Do not lose heart Laz, my son! Criticism has a drip effect, and us drips are felt, believe me.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 18, 2017
SONO CARRIGG, Willits. Parole violation. (Frequent Flyer)
PABLO GUTIERREZ-PEREZ, Santa Rosa/Redwood Valley. DUI with priors causing bodily injury, loaded firearm in vehicle, receiving stolen property, concealed weapon in vehicle.
ELIZABETH HOLM, Ukiah. Domestic battery, disobeying court order, resisting.
ANGIE JOAQUIN, Covelo. Failure to appear.
CODY JOHNSON, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation.
ZIOMARA MARTINEZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
KEVIN SANTOS-ZURITA, Cloverdale/Boonville. DUI, no license.
KRISTEN TIRK, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
DUSTIN WOOD, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
by Juan José Millás, translated by Louis S.Bedrock
In the table next to mine someone has just said, “I’m afraid.”
I pretend to concentrate on the newspaper but move my head a few millimeters to place my right ear in line with the conversation. The person who is afraid is a woman of thirty plus a few years who has just left her children at a public school in the suburbs. I’ve run into her before — and her friend, whose children go to the same school. The two women are unemployed and often discuss the difficulties of getting back into the work force after the interruption caused by the arrival of their children. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to ascertain what kind of professional formation they have although I suspect that they are college graduates because of the way they express themselves.
Afraid of what, her friend asks. Of everything and of nothing, she says. Later, after a few moments of silence, she adds that many days she awakes with a feeling of oppression in her chest that doesn’t go away until she goes back to bed. She says that the malaise is also present in her stomach, as if it was traversing the cavities of her body.
She says that it is the result of fear and that, for her, everything causes fear — from turning on the television or radio to plugging in the coffee maker or leafing through the newspaper. The news has begun to provoke panic: the bad news — note the redundancy, she points out, that she used to read as if it were occurring far away and that now is practically around the corner. She says that every time the phone rings, she thinks about a catastrophe and when someone rings her doorbell she hides under the bed.
With this, two fire trucks escorted by several police cars stop a few meters from the cafeteria and everyone runs out to see what’s happening.
The world is a dangerous place.
PEBBLES TRIPPET NOTES: Cannabis Interviews, 10pm, Sun Dec 17. Revelations, NBC ch 11. Some may not know about this TV show, airing Sunday evening and reairing Dec 31. Christine Ni is an Emmy winning producer. Bay Area Revelations: Cannabis Rush series.
A READER WRITES:
Glouster: O, let me kiss that hand!
Lear: Let me wipe it first. It reeks of mortality.
(King Lear, Act IV, scene 6.)
Last Tuesday afternoon, there was blood and red debris in my urine.
It happened again on Wednesday.
Thursday, I saw my urologist. He discovered what appears to be a cyst in my right kidney. Or a tumor.
Or a very small bowling ball.
This week, I will go for a CT scan. Next week, more probes and tests.
I am a five year cancer survivor and have been in similar situations before.
Once I was told that what appeared to be liver cancer had metastacized into my lungs and I had two or three months to live. That diagnosis proved false. Another time, after my prostate gland had been removed, I was told the cancer had spread outside the “envelope” and that I would need several months of radiation therapy.
This new existential crisis has unsettled me. If this is the final crisis, who will take care of my cat? What should I do with the car and the house? To which of my friends shall I bequeath my $5,000 McIntosh integrated amplifier? Should I tell any of my friends about the crisis—or my lawyer who has power of attorney?
Since my first real run in with cancer, surgery, and radiation, I’ve tried to be grateful for each day and live each day as if it were my last. If this crisis is not the final crisis, perhaps the next one will be. Whenever it comes, it will eventually come; and it will come too soon.
How does one prepare himself? Can anyone prepare himself?
You cross my path, Death, with your enormous cloak
of yellow morning glory.
You stare at me. From time immemorial,
you know me and I know you.
Slowly, very slowly, in the very slow
beauty of autumn.
If this is the moment, give me your
hand, O Death, so I may enter
The Golden Kingdom of the Shadows with you.
(“Me cruzas, Muerte” by José Ángel Valente)
I don’t believe in a “Golden Kingdom of Shadows”.
I’m going upstairs to my gym to spend fifteen minutes on the stationary bike and another fifteen minutes on the rowing machine.
GREEN FIELDS HOLIDAY CONCERT THIS FRIDAY!
Gloriana presents our annual Green Fields holiday concert on December 22! Doors open at 8:30, show starts at 9:00. $7 for one person, $10 for two. 18 and up only, so bring your ID. Food and drinks available. Ugly sweater contest, 12 secret wrapped prizes, photos with Santa and more!
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
In the initial phase of America’s drug problem, the junkies would eventually die off, burn out or simply starve and the addiction was held in check. Today with quicker responses and Narcan in hand the problem can be held in check, although in doing so it is growing in leaps and bounds and spreading like wildfire, at least here in central NJ. Our financial system which is being given the same course of treatment, is surely headed for the same end result, explosion of unintended consequences.
In the end, greed at the top combined with sloth at the bottom will mix with despair apathy in the middle and I just cannot see how a Happy Ending is in the cards
Back in 1891, Capt. McGee of the Salvation Army put a kettle outside the Salvation Army soup kitchen. That act, a truly Northern California Christmas tradition, has become an iconic, worldwide symbol of the holiday season. But it’s more than that. It helps feed and nurture countless individuals in our community. When one drops a donation in the pot, he or she can be assured that 80 to 90 percent of that donation goes back to the community.
During our recent fire disaster, the Salvation Army served thousands of meals every day to first responders, fire victims and locals in need.
THIS TRUMP THING, or as it had been known previously for nearly 250 years up until now. The U.S. Presidency. Republicans have had to come to terms this past week with Doug Jones’s victory in the race for the Senate seat from Alabama. Mr Ray Moore, the Republican incumbent, was once popular there, and had received the backing of President Donald Trump. But accusations of sexual impropriety against nine, then mostly teenage women, took their toll (Mr Moore denies the allegations). Mr Jones threaded a difficult needle. Black voters turned out in droves and Mr Jones won 96% of their votes. He also appears to have flipped some white suburbanites. White evangelicals — Mr Moore’s core supporters — comprised a smaller share of the turnout than usual. Some of them stayed home, or even voted for Mr Jones, despite vehemently disagreeing with his pro-choice position on abortion. The result leaves Mr Trump’s party with a single-seat majority in the Senate. If the president found it difficult to pass legislation this year, it is about to get tougher.
— Steve Sparks
SPEAKING OF UNLIKELY AGENTS, that one of the more significant battlefield wins recently was achieved by a former Miss America, Gretchen Carlson, is tough for those who’d prefer their feminist victories to come from women with better feminist credentials. It was Carlson’s good fortune that her new book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back, came out two weeks after the first round of charges against Harvey Weinstein surfaced, reminding the world that she’d been the one to light the fuse that started the conflagration. Carlson’s 2016 sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox chairman Roger Ailes netted her a $20 million settlement, an apology from Fox, and Ailes’s head on a platter, handed to her by Rupert Murdoch fils. (Murdoch père then tendered Ailes a $40 million parting gift; Ailes died the following year.) Unfortunately you won’t learn any of this from Be Fierce — you don’t get $20 million without a nondisclosure agreement.
— Laura Kipnis
THE DARKEST HOURS
by James Kunstler
The Tax “Reform” bill working its way painfully out the digestive system of congress like a sigmoid fistula, ought be re-named the US Asset-stripping Assistance Act of 2017, because that’s what is about to splatter the faces of the waiting public, most of whom won’t have a personal lobbyist / tax lawyer by their sides holding a protective tarpulin during the climactic colonic burst of legislation.
Sssshhhh…. The media has not groked this, but the economy is actually collapsing, and the nova-like expansion of the stock markets is exactly the sort of action you might expect in a system getting ready to blow. Meanwhile, the more visible rise of the laughable scam known as crypto-currency, is like the plume of smoke coming out of Vesuvius around 79 AD — an amusing curiosity to the citizens of Pompeii below, going about their normal activities, eating pizza, buying slaves, making love — before hellfire rained down on them.
Whatever the corporate tax rate might be, it won’t be enough to rescue the Ponzi scheme that governing has become, with its implacable costs of empire. So the real aim here is to keep up appearances at all costs just a little while longer while the table scraps of a four-hundred-year-long New World banquet get tossed to the hogs of Wall Street and their accomplices. The catch is that even hogs busy fattening up don’t have a clue about their imminent slaughter.
The centerpiece of the swindle, as usual, is control fraud on the grand scale. Control fraud is the mis-use of authority in applying Three-Card-Monte principles to financial accounting practice, so that a credulous, trustful public will be too bamboozled to see the money drain from their bank accounts and the ground shift under their feet until the moment of freefall. Control fraud is at work in the corporate C-suites, of course, because that is its natural habitat — remember that silver-haired CEO swine from Wells Fargo who got off scot-free with a life-time supply of acorns after scamming his account-holders — but their errand boys and girls in congress have been superbly groomed, pampered, fed, and trained to break trail and cover for them.
The country has gotten used to thinking that the game of pretend is exactly the same as what is actually going on in the world. The now-seminal phrase coined by Karl Rove, “we make our own reality,” is as comforting these days to Republicans from Idaho as it is to hairy, “intersectional” professors of post-structural gender studies in the bluest ivory towers of the Ivy League. Nobody in this Republic really wants to get his-hers-zhe’s-they’s reality on.
Ah, but reality wants to do its thing regardless of our wishes, hopes, and pretenses, and you can kind of see how these moves taken in the dark waning hours of 2017 will play out in the quickening weeks of 2018. Long about March or April, something’s got to give. Other players around the world are surely eager to assist shoving this mad bull of a polity towards the critical state it deserves to enter, though we are doing quite enough on our own to put ourselves at ground zero of financial and political implosion.
The addiction metaphor does apply to America. We are simply addicted to our own bullshit. But like all floundering addicts, we have to hit bottom before anything like clarity returns to our daily doings. When that does happen, it will be as far from intoxicating as you can imagine. The smoldering wreckage of The World’s Highest Standing of Living will be visible in a 360-degree panorama. A lot of familiar faces will be among the suddenly missing. But we’re already prepped for this by the sexual purges of the season. One day, the reassuring figure of ole Garrison Keillor is there to remind you of the exquisite taste of Midwestern sweet corn on an August night; and the next morning, you’re up to your eyeballs in the colonic explosion of unintended consequences engineered by the least reassuring cast of characters ever assembled under one capitol dome.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
(1) Social Security was always called the “third rail” of politics, i.e., to touch it was to risk a fatal jolt of electricity. But Paul Ryan went on record last week as saying once the tax ‘reform’ bill is passed that he’ll turn his attention to Social Security and Medicare in 2018. Ryan intends to cut those programs to pay for tax cuts to the top 1% and to please his owners, the Koch bros, whose goal for decades has been to kill FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society. The Koch bros see both programs as “communism” as defined by their late father, Fred Koch, who left them a fortune and also founded the John Birch Society whose goals the Kochs intend to implement via puppets like Ryan. The Kochs and their network of wealthy donors ponied up $890M to win the 2016 election and they will spend like that until they die and/or we stop them by voting DEM. Spending by this cabal of plutocrats dwarfs the puny spending of George Soros, et al.
(2) Here we go again. Social Security is not a government welfare program. It is not paid from the general revenue. It has no effect on the deficit. But the greedy wingnuts want you to believe that cutting Social Security will reduce the deficit. They have been spreading that lie for many years, because they will get richer if you believe it. And for some reason, most of us believe it. Besides, these sociopaths can’t cut Social Security. What they want to do is privatize it so that they can rake off the investment fees. That would be about 10% of the transactions. The Social Security Administration charges about 1% for the same service. No wonder these savages are slavering to get their hands on the money.
US OUTNUMBERED 14 TO 1 AS IT VETOES UN VOTE ON STATUS OF JERUSALEM
Nikki Haley furious over resolution, describing it as an “insult” and saying the US “won’t be told where it can put its embassy.”
MENDO GIVES OUT SERVICE AWARDS