Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Neil Davis: Road Rage

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 13, 2010 at 8:15 am

Ukiah Valley Trail Group

Are there any documented cases of bicycle or pedestrian road rage? I’ve not heard of them. Apparently there’s something about cars that triggers the phenomenon.

When I was in college I took a research methods class and came across a series of studies investigating the “frustration – aggression hypothesis”. As a bicyclist, it tickled my funny bone when I read of researchers negotiating their cars to the front of the line at a red light – when the light turned green they would just sit there and count the seconds until people started to honk. “Wow” I thought, “this sounds like enough fun to make it my career.” I proposed a study that would compare how frustrated we could make drivers by making them wait for bikes, baby strollers, etc. and perhaps compare those responses with something that the drivers would consider a reasonable delay. There were two problems; 1) I couldn’t think of any delay a driver would consider reasonable, and 2) my professor refused out of hand to consider what he apparently considered an insanely dangerous research study. “Fine,” I concluded, “I’ll switch majors”. My career as a research psychologist was over before it started, how frustrating.

The frustration- aggression hypothesis -which like most psychological theories is not accepted by everyone who cares, and no one who doesn’t – is that aggression is a by product of frustration. So if that’s the case, our road raging drivers must have somehow, somewhere – become frustrated.

I started thinking about this when I read some comment about the importance of “play’ in our adult lives. I realized that there is a playful element to riding a bike, even when you’re riding for transportation. Something about gliding along under your own power, more

Michael Moore: I am opposed to the building of the “mosque” two blocks from Ground Zero. I want it built on Ground Zero.

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on September 12, 2010 at 11:24 am


If That ‘Mosque’ ISN’T Built, This Is No Longer America

I am opposed to the building of the “mosque” two blocks from Ground Zero.

I want it built on Ground Zero.

Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice. I believe in an America that says you have the right to worship whatever God you have, wherever you want to worship. And I believe in an America that says to the world that we are a loving and generous people and if a bunch of murderers steal your religion from you and use it as their excuse to kill 3,000 souls, then I want to help you get your religion back. And I want to put it at the spot where it was stolen from you.

There’s been so much that’s been said about this manufactured controversy, I really don’t want to waste any time on this day of remembrance talking about it. But I hate bigotry and I hate liars, and so in case you missed any of the truth that’s been lost in this, let me point out a few facts:

1. I love the Burlington Coat Factory. I’ve gotten some great winter coats there at a very reasonable price. Muslims have been holding their daily prayers there since 2009. No one ever complained about that. This is not going to be a “mosque,” it’s going to be a community center. It will have the same prayer room in it that’s already there. more

The New-Old Fascist History

In Books on September 12, 2010 at 9:54 am

Thanks to Herb

In 2006 I published U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn’t Tell You. The book’s introduction informs the reader that it is not a textbook but rather a supplement written to expand and illumine material included in institutionally approved college history textbooks. I was motivated to offer the supplement because as a professor of history, I was appalled at the amount of history omitted in mainstream U.S. history college textbooks not only due to the desire of publishers to produce less costly books but as a result of a massive dumbing down of American culture in recent years. Or as one former history student of mine put it: “I used to be bored when I would watch the news with my dad because it was actually news, but today when I watch the news, it’s fun because it’s about things that really interest me like celebrity gossip, hip hop music, and funny commercials.”

I’m not Howard Zinn, even though my book has sometimes been referred to as “Zinn on steroids.” Dear Howard left us just before the Texas history textbook controversy erupted, and I have no doubt that he’s spinning in his grave in response to it.

If you want to conquer a people–any people, one of the first strategies for doing so is to eliminate or distort their history. While the neo-fascist revisionist “historians” would disagree, the fact is that nineteenth-century public education in the United States devised a specific agenda for removing Native American culture from Native children in this country who were forced (often kidnapped and then forced) to attend non-Native schools. Likewise, it was not until the 1960s that African American culture was taught in white schools in America because from the white perspective, the only history worth knowing was white history. more

Geezer Watch: Jerry Lee Still Shakin’

In Dave Smith on September 11, 2010 at 9:08 pm


Please indulge me. This man’s music, along with Chuck Berry and Elvis, shook many of us out of our high school stupors into a whole new world of freedom and fun-lovin’ craziness. In performance he would often kick the piano bench clear across the stage, and pound the keyboard with the heel of his boot. Many days at lunchtime I would walk a block to Bill’s Breeze-In from Miami Senior High School, order a burger and fries, drop a nickle in the jukebox, and play Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. “Hey, Bill, turn it up!”…

See also Million Dollar Quartet on Broadway

Janie Sheppard: Update on Coyote Dam Meeting 9/9/10

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island on September 10, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Mendocino County

Last night representatives from the local water agencies met to hear a presentation by the Corps of Engineers on its plans for the Coyote Dam at Lake Mendocino.  The public was invited.  Bill and I attended, as did Fifth District Candidate for Supervisor, Dan Hamburg.

Below I report the gist of the meeting.

Local water agencies want to increase the capacity of Lake Mendocino to provide a more dependable source of water, presumably for irrigation.  This year, the Corps has raised the level of the lake to the point where some land-based recreation has disappeared, or is unusable.

A significant portion of the lake is now occupied by sediment, thereby decreasing its capacity to hold water.  Dredging, however, is not a viable option for reasons of expense, stirring up the mercury buried in the sediment, and huge logistical problems in removing the sediment.

Safety issues must be addressed first.   The spillway is undersized, there is some seepage, and the ever-present seismic issue isn’t going away.

Raising the dam remains the most obvious solution, but only after identifying and solving the safety issues.  But, studies addressing safety and the feasibility of raising the dam remain low-priority in terms of allocating the very limited Corps budget.

A proposed “solution” to the money and priority issues is to demonstrate unified local and downstream support for completing the studies and raising the dam.  more

Todd Walton: Poor People

In Guest Posts on September 10, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Under The Table

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

On my way out to water the garden, the living room radio tuned to our local public radio station, I hope I didn’t hear what I think I just heard, especially since I recently renewed our membership to that radio station. But when I come in from the garden, Marcia confirms that some nincompoop guest on said station did, indeed, say, “You shouldn’t give money to the homeless people in Fort Bragg because they’ll just use it to buy drugs.”

If I had a hundred dollars for every person I’ve heard say that about homeless people, I’d be rich. And if I had a hundred dollars for every person I’ve convinced to think otherwise, I could buy each and every homeless person in Fort Bragg a delicious organic apple. I choose to call the guest of that listener-sponsored radio show a nincompoop because the word describes him precisely. A nincompoop is a simpleton, a shallow thinker, someone who speaks without knowledge. And this nincompoop’s statement is not only false, but also cruel, and his cruel lie makes me so angry I absolutely must refute him.

Henceforth I will address you directly, my dear nincompoop. Here are some ironclad facts for you to consider.

1. Many poor and homeless people are not drug addicts.

2. Many people with homes are drug addicts.

3. The only difference between homeless people and people with homes is that homeless people do not have homes, and people with homes have homes. more

Joe Wildman: At Least Pray for a Hamburg Victory even if you won’t endorse

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island on September 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Potter Valley

I hear too much from voters in the 5th district who are unhappy about the choice for County Supervisor – Dan Hamburg or Wendy Roberts. But it would be foolish for anyone to sit this one out – or, worse – to vote for Ms. Roberts just because there’s something about Dan that’s hard to get over.

Whatever else Wendy Roberts may be, she is first and foremost a guided missile aimed straight at the most basic environmental protections that make Mendocino County a great place to live. She proudly represents herself as an enemy of planning rules that restrain developers’ ambitions. The most right-wing forces in Mendocino County have rallied enthusiastically to her cause and are showering her with campaign cash. That is not because there’s just something about Dan that’s hard for them to get over.

Real estate development interests dominate among Ms. Roberts’ donors, including Paul & Barbara Clark ($500), Kelley Property Associates ($500), and the California Real Estate PAC out of Sacramento ($500), which says it gives money to candidates to “help promote the cause of housing and private property rights.”

Other donors for Wendy Roberts include the chairman emeritus of Mendocino County’s right-wing, John Mayfield ($500). The current and former presidents of the Farm Bureau have given a total of $1,500. Timber-industry supplier Bailey’s of Laytonville gave $1,000. A front for big construction companies, “North Coast Citizens for a Better Economy,” gave $500. Jared Carter, the former lawyer for Pacific Lumber and many developers, hosted a fund-raiser for Ms. Roberts.

Of course these Republican interests support Ms. Roberts. They are not confused about who she is or what she will do on the Board of Supervisors. You shouldn’t be confused either.

Scott Cratty: Ukiah Farmers Market Saturday 9/11/10

In Dave Smith on September 9, 2010 at 10:33 pm


Friends of the Farmers’ Market,

Greetings.  Yet again, we should have a strong, peak season market, produce does not get better or fresher.  A bit about this Saturday’s market below …. but first:

Mark your calendars for this Friday evening’s Ukiah chili cook-off. The event, a benefit for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Ukiah, is from 6-10pm in Alex Thomas Plaza. If you have not been before this is the year to check it out … otherwise you will miss your chance to try the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market entry. It is being prepared by market favorites the Owen Family Farm and features their all-natural, Hopland pastured lamb.  This should be a great lamb and black bean chili that also features an array of local farm inputs such as Cinnamon Bear Farm peppers, Covelo Organics tomatoes, Creekside Farm garlic, Olivino olive oil, and Redtail Farms onions.  Take your friends with you and help promote the market by voting for the best chili.  When you try the chili you can get a coupon good for 10% off at the Owen Family Farm booth on Saturday September 11.

Back to the Saturday market.  Although Aqua-Rodeo oysters will have the week off, we will still have an amazingly robust meat section.   In addition to the Owen Family, I expect Heahl Creek Ranches lamb, Bar-Bell Cattle beef, Magruder Ranch pork and beef, Fish Peddler fish, John Ford Ranch beef, Inland Organics pork and Mendocino Organics chicken. more

Maggie Norton: Yoga for every body — Yoga’s familiar and unexpected benefits

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 9, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Yoga Mendocino

Free Yoga Day This Saturday (See below)

Yoga is not about perfect poses, a perfect body, or some notion of an ideal life. However a regular yoga practice not only helps us to feel physically stronger, more flexible and more in touch with our bodies but also has more subtle, and perhaps often unexpected, benefits. Yoga makes a difference to how we feel mentally and physically, which is why an estimated 15.8 million people practice yoga in the USA today. According to at least one recent study (in 2008), 4.1  percent of the U.S. adult population, or about 9.4  million American non-practitioners, say they will definitely begin yoga within the next year.

Yoga practice can improve your physical strength, flexibility, and balance, ease stiffness, and relieve pain, as well as improve the quality of daily life in other ways.  Yoga practitioners often discover, to their delight, that what they do on their yoga mat spills over into the rest of their week. Yoga increases our mental focus and concentration, our self esteem, and sense of well-being and inner calm. These often unforeseen improvements in mood and attitude can lead to better relationships with work colleagues, friends and family…as well as with oneself. We also find that we are better able to cope with life’s many challenges. more

When unions mattered, prosperity was shared

In Around the web on September 9, 2010 at 10:31 pm

From E. J. Dionne, Jr.
Washington Post

Watching the great civil rights march on television in August 1963, I couldn’t help but notice that hundreds of people carried signs with a strange legend at the top: “UAW Says.” UAW was saying “Segregation Disunites the United States,” and many other things insisting on equality.

This “UAW” was a very odd word to my 11-year-old self, and I asked my dad who or what “U-awe,” as I pronounced it, was. The letters, he explained, stood for United Auto Workers.

It was some years later when I learned about the heroic battles of the UAW, not only on behalf of those who worked in the great car plants but also for social and racial justice across our society. Walter Reuther, the gallant and resolutely practical egalitarian who led the union for many years, was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s close allies.

Remembering that moment is bittersweet on a Labor Day when so many Americans are unemployed, wages are stagnant or dropping, and the labor movement itself is in stark decline.

Only 12.3 percent of American wage and salary workers belong to unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from a peak of about one-third of the work force in 1955. A movement historically associated with the brawny workers in auto, steel, rubber, construction, rail and the ports now represents more employees in the public sector (7.9 million) than in the private sector (7.4 million). Even worse than the falling membership numbers is the extent to which the ethos animating organized labor is increasingly foreign to American culture. The union movement has always been attached to a set of values — solidarity being the most important, more

Janie Sheppard: Take Action! Water agencies to discuss possible dam raising tonight, 6pm, Thursday 9/9/10

In !ACTION CENTER! on September 9, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Mendocino County

Tonight there will be a meeting to discuss raising the Coyote Dam.  As you have likely noticed, the raised water level has already led to some recreational facilities being under water.  As of Tuesday evening these recreational facilities remained under water. Raising the dam will put more recreation facilities under water and so far there is no consideration being given to the users of these facilties.  The planners need to hear from us, the land-based users.

A major constraint in relocating land-based recreation is the present boundaries.  There simply is not enough room for more water and all the recreation that we have there now, should the dam be raised and the boundaries not extended.

If recreational users (mountain bike riders, hikers, campers, horse people, picnickers, wild flower enthusiasts, and other land-based recreation’ers) are to have a voice and have their concerns addressed, now is the time.

Please come to the meeting tonight:  6 pm, Ukiah Valley Conference Center, 200 S. School Street, Ukiah.

I know this is short notice, but it’s all the notice I had as well.  See the UDJ story below.

Water agencies to discuss possible dam raising


American Income Inequality is the Cause of our Crisis

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on September 8, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Thanks to Gail Jonas

[Local context: Supporters of Wendy Roberts, seeing this chart, will nod, raise their wine glasses, and chuckle "What's the problem?" -DS]

Plutarch, writing almost 2,000 years ago, told us that “an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”

The chart shows the course of income imbalance over the last 93 years in the U.S. If it showed the course of net worth imbalance, it would be much more dramatic. If it showed data for the top tenth of one percent– not just the top ten percent– it would be extraordinarily dramatic.

Inter alia, the chart shows that both the Great Depression of the ’30s and the present crisis were immediately preceded by great buildups in inequality. When ordinary people lack the wealth to buy things– houses for example–the system crashes.

There’s also a lot of data that show that economic equality conduces, quite literally, to the health of society. The correlation between equality and most measures of well-being is stronger than the correlation between wealth and well-being. See Richard G. Wilkinson & Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level (2009). For a good review of that book, see David Runciman in the London Review of Books, Oct. 22, 2009 here.

Still, the rich consistently try to destroy egalitarianism, because for their segment, inequality is fine. It means increasingly desperate people more

Jim Houle: Iraqi Freedom is Over

In James Houle on September 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Redwood Valley

“Operation Iraqi Freedom is over” President Obama announced from behind his desk on Tuesday night, August 31st. A strange choice of words to announce our “victory” in defeating Sada-am Hussein and Al Qaeda. “The future we are trying to build for our nation may seem beyond our reach”, he inserted at the start, as if unsure whether his speech was about Iraq finally being relieved of our help or about Obama’s heavy burdens here at home. “Our troops are the steel in our ship of state . . . they give us confidence that our course is true”. This also seemed most strange, for it would seem more fitting that support for our constitution or our unity as a nation would be the source of our resolve. It sounds like some tin pot dictator bragging that military ‘might makes me right’. He then called ex-President Bush a patriot: “no one can doubt his support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security”. Is this the same Bush who loved his country so much that he lied to get support for a war he claimed would remove weapons of mass destruction before Sadaam could give them to Al Qaeda? “There were patriots who supported the war and patriots who opposed it” Obama explained: So are we all, all honorable men.

“A war to disarm a state became a fight against an insurgency and terrorism and sectarian warfare threatened to tear Iraq apart”. But if the talk of WMDs was a lie, then how did we disarm them? We have been busy ever since trying to rebuild and re-arm their conventional army. Also, the word insurgency suggests something unconnected to the US mission – yet in this case the insurgency was the effort of Iraqi patriots of many stripes to drive the foreign occupiers from their land. All very puzzling. more

Rosalind Peterson: New report out on Geoengineering

In Around the web on September 8, 2010 at 11:18 am

Redwood Valley

U.S. Congressional Research Service
Geoengineering Governance and Technology
CRS Report Released on:  August 16, 2010
Prepared for Members of the U.S. Congress

Please see this website for more information:

See Sections:

Note Health Effects from Lack of Sunlight + Increasing Cloud Cover

The funding for Geoengineering projects is expected from the U.S. House Bill 2454 Passed in 2009 and the companion Climate/Energy Bill that may pass in 2010 or early January 2011, before this current session of congress ends.  Draft copy available on Senator Kerry’s Website. See Section:

Please note that there have been three U.S. House of Representatives Hearings on Geoengineering.  The first was on November 5, 2009, the second and third hearings were in February and March 2010. A U.S. House Science & Technology Committee Geoengineering Final Report is due out in September 2010.

It should be noted that the hearings did not include scientists from fields (like marine biology, EPA, U.S.D.A., Forest Service, etc.,) or anyone who would question or oppose these issues-some concerns were raised.  more

Gene Logsdon: The Egg Hunter

In Around the web on September 7, 2010 at 9:45 pm


As a child one of my responsibilities was hunting eggs that the hens sometimes laid in various barns and sheds all over the farmstead rather than in the nest boxes in their coop. That was fun— like hunting Easter eggs every day. Sometimes a hen would set on a secret nest of eggs that I failed to find and in a little while, out into the barnyard might come a bunch of chicks.

I am still an egg hunter and it is still fun. The idea of having to hunt for one’s breakfast sounds strange in these days, even primitive. It would be interesting to know how many others still do it. (Any idea?) Although most of the wildness has been bred out of the domestic hen (except bantam breeds), she will, if given the opportunity, occasionally start laying eggs in what she thinks are hidden places in barns or sheds outside the chicken coop. One hen starts a nest, but often others will use it too. It is up to the flock caretaker to match wits with them and find the eggs before they get too old or a raccoon or opossum gets them.

Over the years, our hens have used the same “secret” places over and over again, but switch from one to the other when someone or something keeps removing eggs from the nest that they are currently favoring. The two feed boxes in the cow stalls often become nest boxes now that we have no cows. Another favorite spot is the horse manger now that we have no horses. Still a third is in a narrow space between the sheep hay feeder and the barn wall. Occasionally a really independent old biddy will take a notion to make a nest up in the hay mow. This year’s favorite hideout is a pile of hay I put in the machine shed “temporarily” when rain was threatening…

Story here.

Charles Martin: Response to Jim Houle on the Harris Quarry Asphalt Plant

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island on September 7, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Mendocino County

[Charles Martin is a retired biodynamic/organic farmer from Comptche, now living in the Golden Rule Mobile Village, and one of the most interesting characters in Mendo Island... land of many, many interesting characters. See my interview here. -DS]

Comments on James Houle’s article here and the concerns raised by Ron Epstein over air pollution from the PROPOSED Harris Quarry Asphalt Plant.

Ron Epstein is not raising fears over our asphalt road surfaces; as J. Houle’s article’s “Headline” implies; he is concerned about the polluting effects of a 300 ton/hour continuous mix asphalt plant operating at 350 degree F which is a legitimate concern.

While Ron innocently referred to the original DEIR, little has changed in the “Revised Project Description” of 2010 with regard to Air Quality, in relation to the Asphalt Plant; the removal of the Cement Plant from the project does remove the effects of that operational function.

The same concerns of pollution from the Asphalt Plant contamination remain.

Let me state, I am a mechanical engineer who among other tasks was responsible for Environmental, Safety, & Health for 14 manufacturing plants located throughout the US.


Neil Davis: Hiking ‘The U’

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 7, 2010 at 6:54 am


Hiking to “The U” on the western hills of Ukiah has been a rite of passage for generations. I’ve heard teachers brought entire classes up the steep “trails” (in actuality, they are firebreaks) and I dragged my mountain bike up there shortly after moving here. Back in the day, no one seemed to mind if we went up there. That is no longer true. “The U” is on private property, and the owners do not want us trespassing.

Recently I’ve received numerous emails asking, “How do I get to ‘the U’? I can’t find the trail”. I’m not always so fast on the uptake, so it took me a little while to realize why so many people were asking. I believe it is because we at the Ukiah Valley Trail Group (UVTG) recently completed the new “City View” trail off of Low Gap Park and at about the same time, the fire break that ascends to the venerable “U” was re-graded making it more visible from the valley floor. Apparently people are mistaking the firebreak for the new City View Trail.  So to be clear, let it be known first, the big cut on the hill that leads to “The U” is not City View trail; second, there is no trail to “The U”, and third, you cannot legally go to “The U” without prior permission from the land owner.

I apologize if I sound a little strident, but as trail advocates and users, it is very important that we respect private property rights. We have some great public trails that are close to our homes here in the Ukiah valley, we just don’t have enough of them. We have some places where we can potentially build new trails on public property, and the UVTG is working to do just that.


Janie Sheppard: Mendocino County Essence Exhibit

In Around Mendo Island on September 7, 2010 at 6:40 am

Mendocino County

Last Saturday evening was the opening of a new exhibit featuring 4 Mendo artists: Ukiah’s own Laura Fogg, and three Willits artists, photographer Steve Eberhard, painter Garry Colson, and ceramicist Bonnie Belt.

Art appreciators poured in to see the latest works by these four remarkable artists. Fogg’s newest quilt is a study in human movement, as depicted in this detail.

Eberhard’s photo portraits of Willits residents are remarkable. My fave is the rodeo rider’s expression as he is dismounted from the bull.

Bonnie Belt’s latest ceramics have an organic topographic appeal.

Gary Colson’s landscapes are studies in soft focus and color.

To see more pictures from the exhibit and the artists click on this link.

The exhibit of these quintessentially Mendo artists runs through September 26th. Hours for the Willits Center for the Arts, 71 East Commercial Street, are Thursday and Friday 4 – 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday noon to 3 p.m. Phone number is 707-459-1726 and the website is here.

Game On

In Around the web on September 7, 2010 at 6:38 am

The Daily Dish

Yesterday’s speech by the president, if you missed it, was a barn-stormer. Yes, it’s the same old, same old pattern: he allows the opposition not just to vent and criticize (as they should) but to control the discourse for months, to drown out every other sound, to vent and crow and vilify and intimidate the cable news weenies into quivering puppies in need of crate-training. And then he comes back with a speech like that one.

I can’t for the life of me see how the Democrats retain the House under these economic conditions, but that cannot and does not mean that what Obama has done in his first year and a half is a failure. On the contrary. On almost all the substantive stuff, he has in my view done the right and responsible and sane thing within the almost impossible constraints he was presented with. And given the legacy he inherited, what he has done is simply not enough to perform an economic or political or cultural miracle. That’s the brutal truth and we have to face it. And if Americans thought they were voting for a savior, rather than a pragmatic president, they were deluding themselves.

When the economy imploded in the fall of 2008, there was simply precious little room for fiscal maneuver after the largely Republican-led spending and borrowing spree of the previous decade. The stimulus prevented the world falling into an economic abyss – just – but it was never going to get us out of the ditch we’re in. Don Peck’s brilliant cover-story is worth re-reading again on that score. And it was good to hear the president state this yesterday: more

Why Teachers Drink

In Around the web on September 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm



He’s black, he’s President, and he’s smarter than you. Get over it.

In Around the web on September 6, 2010 at 9:55 am


Top 10 Racist Limbaugh Quotes

We never anticipated the popularity of this article, nor the controversy that it would cause.  But all we can say is, “Thank you, Rush, for being you.” Before we get into the Top 10 Racist Limbaugh Quotes of All-Time, here are some of Limbaugh’s most recent racist statements.


Limbaugh Says Steinbrenner Was A “Cracker Who Made African-Americans Millionaires”

Limbaugh: Obama & Oprah Are Only Successful Because They’re Black

AUDIO: Limbaugh Calls Gov. Paterson A “Massa”

Limbaugh Calls Obama “Uppity”

Limbaugh Says Kennedy “Had Negroes Serve Him Booze”

Limbaugh: Black Frame Of Mind Is Terrible, Tiger’s Women Not Helping



Labor Day: Put America Back to Work

In Around the web on September 6, 2010 at 9:27 am

Thanks to Gail Jonas

The Democrats are running scared and triaging their Congressional majorities for salvageable seats, according to the Sunday New York Times lead story. The President may be confined to quarters, but they are going to impress Michele Obama, last seen by photo yesterday with two really nice heads of fennel fresh from the White House garden, into campaign work.

Let’s hope that the Democrats don’t send her out to talk about victory gardens. Combined with her husband’s “be patient” counsel after the bad unemployment news last week, I’d almost feel obliged to start building a Hooverville by the Washington Monument, or at least toss around a medicine ball by the White House in remembrance of one of America’s greatest humanitarians and technocrats who saved Europe from starving after the First World War, but couldn’t bring himself to save his own people from the ravages of the Great Depression.

The present occupant of the White House is no Hoover, I guess, though I do reserve the right to second-guess myself another time.  After all, the President has avoided telling us that prosperity is just around the corner, which nobody believed in 1932 and no one believes now. Yet his approach to our grave economic situation seems almost as passive and bloodless as was Hoover’s. more

In defense of Alan Simpson (Catfood Commission)

In Social Security on September 5, 2010 at 9:01 pm


The President’s Deficit Commission is designed to be as anti-democratic and un-transparent as possible.  Its work is done in total secrecy.  It is filled with behind-the-scenes political and corporate operatives who steadfastly refuse to talk to the public about what they’re doing.  Its recommendations will be released in December, right after the election, to ensure that its proposals are shielded from public anger.  And the House has passed a non-binding resolution calling for an up-or-down/no-amendments vote on the Commission’s recommendations, long considered the key tactic to ensuring its enactment.  The whole point of the Commission is that the steps which Washington wants to take — particularly cuts in popular social programs, such as Social Security — can occur only if they are removed as far as possible from democratic accountability.  As the economist James Galbraith put it when testifying before the Commission in July:

Your proceedings are clouded by illegitimacy. . . . First, most of your meetings are secret, apart from two open sessions before this one, which were plainly for show. more

I can save the world better than you, nyah nyah!

In Around the web on September 5, 2010 at 8:41 am

[click on video after starting for full screen]

More Transition videos here

Casaubon’s Book blog

[Peak Oil writers dispute their approaches to our coming dilemmas... -DS]

[...] When you turn your head to the realities we are facing – a lot fewer resources, more people, a less stable climate, a less stable economy, environmental degradation, the stories aren’t that different. All of us reject the idea of cartoon apocalypse. All of us reject the idea of techno-optimism. All of us live in the grey middle space of the future.

And at some level, all of us are consumed with the need to imagine that space and that future. I think all of us would probably agree that a future we can’t imagine is the scariest possible place. Even the dark places of a society in decline are less disturbing than knowing that the stories you’ve been told about progress and techno-optimism are false, but not knowing what lies ahead, living in a world where all the maps of beyond just say “here be dragons.”

I do not, however, want to emerge from this with a lyrical praise of our common ground, a sense that the differences don’t matter. more

Flying the Flag; Faking the News

In Around the web on September 4, 2010 at 9:45 am


Edward Bernays, the American nephew of Sigmund Freud, is said to have invented modern propaganda. During the First World War, he was one of a group of influential liberals who mounted a secret government campaign to persuade reluctant Americans to send an army to the bloodbath in Europe. In his book, “Propaganda,” published in 1928, Bernays wrote that the “intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses was an important element in democratic society” and that the manipulators “constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country.” Instead of propaganda, he coined the euphemism “public relations.”

The American tobacco industry hired Bernays to convince women they should smoke in public. By associating smoking with women’s liberation, he made cigarettes “torches of freedom.” In 1954, he conjured a communist menace in Guatemala as an excuse for overthrowing the democratically-elected government, whose social reforms were threatening the United Fruit company’s monopoly of the banana trade. He called it a “liberation.”

Bernays was no rabid right winger. He was an elitist liberal who believed that “engineering public consent” was for the greater good. This was achieved by the creation of “false realities,” which then became “news events.” Here are examples of how it is done these days:


Todd Walton: Men In Dresses

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 4, 2010 at 9:29 am


If I be not in a state of Grace, I pray God place me in it;
If I be in it, I pray God keep me so.
~Jean D’Arc

Various accounts of the life of Joan of Arc, or as they say in French, Jean d’Arc, suggest that when she first heard voices urging her to wrest control of the badly beaten French armies and lead them to victory over the occupying forces of the British, she wasn’t sure if the voices were those of angels or self-delusion. I know how she feels. A week ago I woke to a voice saying loud and clear, “Men in dresses,” and for hours thereafter, visions of men wearing dresses came fast and furious.

I saw the capitol mall in Washington D.C. filled with millions of men in dresses, not kilts or robes or even skirts, but full-blown dresses made originally for women but now worn proudly and purposefully by men. Please understand: these millions of men were not dressed up as women. They were not wearing makeup. They were not trying to imitate women. They wore sensible shoes. They were merely men, the vast majority of them heterosexual, in dresses.


Jimmy Breslin on the National Mood

In Around the web on September 3, 2010 at 5:48 pm


There are these sudden loud noises in the hotel kitchen, one, two, three, probably a tray falling, and then there is so much screaming and a hand holding a gun high in the air and Robert Kennedy, who had walked into the gun, is on the floor with his eyes seeing nothing. On this June night in 1968 he has just won a Presidential primary and suddenly he is fit only for a gravedigger’s dirt.

It happens this way when the claws of madness swipe through the sky. In 1919 Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called it for all time, and crashingly so today, when he wrote, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

And now in New York they are turning an empty lot of the old World Trade Center and a mosque that isn’t built and probably never will be, into national fear. Omaha fights the mosque in Manhattan! Some foamer named Jones says he burns the Koran, and he actually is treated as news. All day on television yesterday you had the aimless babbles of this Beck, who looks like he eats Bibles.

They all come with the double barrels of a Low IQ and High Color Fear let loose on cable stations and e-mail, of which yesterday you read in disbelief.

Let me tell you what a life spent running after news like this has left me remembering. more

Will Parrish: Who Really Rules Mendo Wine Country?

In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on September 3, 2010 at 9:30 am


The North Coast wine industry is a sprawling, multi-billion dollar enterprise.  It encompasses  hundreds of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Marin, Lake, and Solano counties; commands millions of acre feet of the area’s ever-more scarce water resources; and frequently operates on a scale so industrial that at least one Sonoma County vineyard developer has shared heavy machinery with trans-Alaska oil pipeline builders (all the better to scalp the trees and vegetation from small mountains).  In addition to vineyards, the industry’s main ingredients range from a barrage of tasting rooms — those upscale-rustic environs omnipresent in downtown areas from Sonoma to Napa to Philo — to manufacturing services such as crushing, processing, bottling, labeling, storage, and shipping.

These activities are capital-intensive. For those with enough pre-existing wealth to shoulder the heavy up-front costs, the profits can be enormous.  Thus, as as the Redwood Empire has turned to the Red Wine Empire, with wine grapes supplanting timber as the kingpin of area agribusiness, ownership of the industry has grown increasingly concentrated.  Most vineyard acreage in the region is ruled by a small collection of massive multi-national corporate conglomerates, which typically boast annual revenues greater than a billion dollars.

Yes, that’s billion with a “B.”

To hear the patriarchs of the wine industry tell it, by contrast, the typical area wine-making operation is a “bucolic,” family-owned business (“bucolic” being the most well-worn adjective in the NorCal wine industry lexicon).  All these monocrop wine-grape plantations wrapping around mountains and running endlessly along ludicrously expensive tracts of land in the area’s hyper-inflated real estate market, we are led to believe, are actually locally-owned mom-and-pop ops, guided by ancient oenoligical traditions and steeped in small-town neighborly values.

The Mendocino County wine-growing enterprise, in particular, thrives on this subterfuge.  The front-page of the Mendocino Wine-Grape and Wine Commission’s web site touts the “multi-generational hands-on family farmers and winemakers” that ostensibly characterize the local industry.  Heidi Dickerson, paid aide to Wine Country Congressman Mike Thompson, writes a weekly column for the Ukiah Daily Journal in which she studiously avoids mention of the monolithic corporate underpinnings of the companies she profiles.

In reality, while there remain some area vineyards that arguably fit the Wine Commission web site characterization, a huge portion of Mendo’s vineyard acreage is owned by corporate conglomerates that belong to the billion-dollar-a-year set.  Most of the other wine-grape plantations are remotely controlled by decidedly non-local corporations with revenues of at least $50 million a year.

Take one of the wine industry’s biggest vertically integrated multi-national firms: Constellation Brands.  With revenue of roughly $4.7 billion in 2009, the scope of Constellation’s economic activity is greater than many of the member states of the United Nations. An integrated wine, beer, and spirits firm, it is both the largest wine company in the world in terms of sales by volume and the largest importer of beer to the United States.  It owns several large vineyards here in Mendo, along with an even larger number in Sonoma and Napa.

Constellation Brands, in short, is about as opposite from a “multi-generational family farmer and winemaker” as Lockheed-Martin.

Yet, the “History” section of the company’s web site features the story of how its Clos du Bois vineyard division founder Frank Woods’ children selected the name of the vineyard. The web site of one of of Constellation’s many enormous subdivisions, Robert Mondavi Winery Corporation, leads off with the phrase “Robert Mondavi started in his family’s wine business…” before extolling at great length the philanthropic deeds of Mondavi and his wife on behalf of the small rural town where they used to live in Napa Valley.  Nowhere is there any indication that Robert Mondavi Corporation or Constellation Brands is a multi-billion dollar multi-national.

Over the years, wine industry robber-baron Jess Jackson has gone to perhaps the most absurd lengths of all to garb his company in a rustic wine-maker mystique.  The company no longer refers to itself as Kendall-Jackson, but rather as Jackson Family Wines.  In 1992, Jackson even elbowed his way into the position of inaugural president of the trade organization Family Winemakers of California (FWC).  That’s in spite of the fact that the organization was created the year before for the expressed purpose of promoting the “little guy’s point of view.”  A representative of Kendall-Jackson remains on the FWC board of directors to this day.

“Little Guy” Jackson landed in the upper half of Fortune magazine’s 2003 ranking of the world’s 500 richest people, with personal wealth of $1.8 billion.  Needless to say, he owns a prominent wine-grape estate in Philo, Mendocino County.

Unfortunately, with regard to the impact of these companies on the local economy and ecology, there is frequently little difference between mega-firms like Constellation Brands and smaller-scale outfits like, say, Beckstoffer Vineyards, a Napa County-based outfit that has been buying acreage all over southern Mendo in recent years, or Alder Springs Vineyards in Laytonville, which clear-cut 133 acres of oak forest to fill with new vines and trellises in 2002, causing a massive steelhead trout die-off in the Ten Mile Creek watershed due to resulting erosion.

In any case, relatively “local” vineyard operations such as these are usually only a degree removed from massive concentrations of corporate wealth.  Beckstoffer, though his company is nominally “independent,” is one of the top 20 owners of vineyard acreage in California. Alder Springs owner Stuart Bewley raised the capital for his current vineyard by selling his previous one, California Cooler, Inc., to the $3 billion Brown-Forman Corporation for $72 million in 1984 dollars.

More to the point, the profits generated by local vineyards accrue almost entirely to the wine industry big boys.  Merely seven global wine conglomerates purchase the vast majority of wine grapes grown in the United States.  The majority of these are grown in California.  These companies produce 82 percent of all wine sold throughout the country.   The majority of these enormous companies are integrated with other units of Big Alcohol; namely, spirits and beer.

The upshot? Regardless of who runs the actual grape production side, it’s the large multi-nationals that ultimately reap the benefits of the local wine-growing economy – just as with virtually every other sector of America’s agribusiness enterprise – at the expense of, well, just about everyone and everything else.  That is, especially if you count the future generations who will reap the greatest consequences of wildlife habitat destroyed, forests clear-cut, water stolen and diverted, pesticides laden, and alternative futures foreclosed.

Mendocino County has a thriving economic localization and food sovereignty movement. AVA publisher Bruce Anderson has aptly called it “the most interesting thing going” in this area.  If this movement takes its own stated goals seriously, it will inevitably have to confront the concentrated power of the local wine business (not to mention, coming soon, the consolidated marijuana industry).  Nearly 17,000 acres of Mendocino County’s best agricultural land is currently committed to wine-grape production.  Most of that is controlled by enormous financial interests that seemingly could care less about the well-being of Planet Earth, much less Mendocino County.  As long as such a circumstance exists, the possibility that Mendo Island will ever truly be a localized economy will remain a distant dream.

As Wendall Berry has written regarding the corporate agribusiness model in general, “To put the bounty and health of our land, our only commonwealth, into the hands of people who do not live on it and share its fate will always be an error.  Whatever determines the fortune of the land determines also the fortune of the people.  If history has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that.”

In the coming weeks, I will publish a series of investigative pieces on the North Coast wine industry.  My aim is not only to inspire a greater number of people in Mendocino County to radically rethink the role of the “local” wine industry, but also to begin the process of compelling more organized opposition to it.

The second part of the series, coming next week, will feature short profiles of the eight largest corporations that own vineyard tracts in Mendocino County, in order from largest to smallest.  In precisely the sense that Berry means, these are some of the main companies that currently determine the fortune of Mendocino County, or lack thereof.  After that, I will present a history-from-below of the destructive effects the corporate wine industry has wrought on local bioregions, small farms, and people.  Finally, I will overview several particularly egregious local vineyard projects currently in development — all the while presenting an analysis of the actual consequences that have resulted from tethering North Coast economies to the concentrated global wine trade.

Contact Will Parrish at wparrish[a]

Stop Subsidizing Unhealthy Diets

In Around the web on September 3, 2010 at 8:54 am


The large, industrial growers of corn floated a trial balloon recently (July 20) in an attempt to justify continued taxpayer subsidies that have totaled $73.8 billion since 1995 for the ubiquitous crop. What stirred them up was that even hard-core subsidy defenders in Congress have begun talking about the need to give commodity subsidies a haircut in light of the worsening federal deficit. (The fact that 74 percent of the payments by the US Department of Agriculture go to the largest and wealthiest 10 percent of farm operations makes continuing the lavish subsidies even harder to justify.)

It’s not easy to follow the tortured logic of the National Corn Growers Association, but here it is:

There are numerous factors that make this access to cheap and abundant food possible including a wildly productive agricultural core that produces key crops like wheat, corn, and soybeans. These staple crops provide the very foundation of the “real” food pyramid. These are crops that we have learned to grow fairly predictably on a large scale even when Mother Nature hits us with challenging weather. In the worst-case scenario when weather, insects or disease reduces the size of these crops we have a certain amount in reserve.

However, with a growing emphasis on more fruits and vegetable in our diet, there are also those calling for more and more taxpayers’ dollars more

Local Political Dustup: Anna Taylor takes on Wendy Roberts vs. Janie Sheppard (Updated)

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on September 2, 2010 at 9:07 am


Janie Sheppard writes a Ukiah Blog post: Wendy Roberts — The Company She Keeps accusing Roberts of illegally leaving her campaign signs up after the election on a supporter’s property in the Russian River Estates, stuffing mail boxes with her propaganda, also illegal, and accepting money and support from the conservative ruling class while pretending she is a liberal. Anna Taylor posts it on the local listservs.

Roberts, writing defensively without naming the very credible Janie Sheppard, responds:

This post from Anna Taylor, Dan Hamburg’s spokeswoman, requires a response. It originally came from one of his supporters in Russian River Estates:

1. I have supporters in Russian River Estates as a result both of personal friendships and campaign outreach.
2. The owner of the property at the entrance to RRE kindly offered to let me post a sign on his property. We were late in removing the small sign placed there during the primary, but did so a few weeks ago. I replaced it when the 90-day window for signs arrived and have now placed a larger sign there.
3. I do not apologize, for one moment, either for my personal voting decisions or for having a broad base of support in my campaign for this non-partisan position. more

Fresh Organic Tomato Soup

In Around the web on September 2, 2010 at 7:11 am


This soup is so redolent with tomato flavor that you will wonder what the canned version has to do with tomatoes at all. It’s best made with the oversized deep red tomatoes that come in at the end of summer. To set it off properly, a dollop of bright green pesto or a crumble of fresh white goat cheese is just the ticket.

Makes about 4 servings

·½ cup organic olive oil
·1 large organic onion peeled and thinly sliced
·6 large organic heirloom tomatoes (about 3 pounds), cut into thin wedges
·Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
·Pesto, crumbled fresh chèvre, or olive oil, for garnish (optional)

1. Put the olive oil and onions in in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat and cook stirring regularly with a wooden spatula or spoon, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes

2. Add the tomatoes, cover the pan, and when the soup is boiling, reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the tomatoes are very tender and beginning to disintegrate, about 10 minutes.

3. Purée the soup with an immersion blender or, if no immersion blender is available, transfer the soup in small batches to a standard blender. more

Michael Shuman: What’s the cost-effective way to create jobs?

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on September 1, 2010 at 10:23 pm

[Local small businesses are resilient and profitable. Why are we wasting billions of stimulus dollars on larger corporations? Michael has a better idea. He says: "We are about to see a massive move to localization... but how will we fund it?" This is a passionate, entertaining, and hopeful presentation. You may remember Michael visiting Ukiah a couple of times, debating the empty chair that the Mall supporters would not occupy, helping with our successful fight to stop the Masonite Monster Mall. This is the next step.  Who is going to step up and champion this locally? -DS]

Michael H. Shuman is Director for Research and Economic Development for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur and is one of the nation’s leading experts on community economics and the advantages of small-scale businesses in an era of globalization. In his talk today, Shuman will present a idea of a stimulus package in local stock exchange. The key goals are to transform local businesses in small-stock companies and to create modest, intrastate electronic exchanges. With these simple and sensible legal reforms it could correct this market failure and bring literally trillions of new investment dollars into our communities.

Book Review: Walking Your Blues Away — Thom Hartmann

In !ACTION CENTER!, Dave Smith on September 1, 2010 at 9:30 pm


[See my previous review here. This is a very important book, so I'm drawing attention to it again. Here are some other random reviews... DS]

“Just as a person with a severe hemispheric imbalance can be badly disconnected from emotions such as empathy, and thus sanction or even encourage actions such as mass murder that is war, so too can an entire society. In the opinion of some researchers, societies that are hemispherically unbalanced are more likely to be patriarchal, hierarchal, and violent, whereas societies that are hemispherically balanced are more likely to be egalitarian and democratic, and employ violence only in self-defense.” – From the book

Remember the caricatures of stage hypnotists brandishing a swinging pocket watch while intoning “Look into my eyes…” ? Well, according to author Thom Hartmann, this type of hypnosis was actually a bona fide psychiatric therapy in the late 1700′s and early 1800′s. In fact, Franz Anton Mesmer (“mesmerize”) was the first person to develop a system of bilateral cross-hemispheric stimulation by waving his fingers side to side while a patient followed with their eyes. Mesmer discovered that his system was quite effective in resolving non-organic physical and psychological problems. That is, psychosomatic conditions or issues rooted in emotional trauma. more


In Around the web on September 1, 2010 at 8:35 am

Via Energy Bulletin

Across my native USA, I whenever neighbours or townspeople lobby for more bus and rail services, pundits and politicians usually sputter something like this:

Trains and buses are a waste of taxpayers’ money. There’s no reason for them to exist. Look at the ones we have now – they’re mostly empty.

Anyone who’s ridden a bus or train recently knows that’s not even remotely true. Buses and trains are often filled to capacity, here and in America – I’m writing this from a tight squeeze in a packed double-decker. Even if those critics were right, however, they never apply that same logic to cars, for they never say:

Asphalt is a waste of taxpayers’ money, and so are highway overpasses, parking garages, car parks, traffic signals, streetlights, traffic cops and auto company bailouts. Look at the cars we have now – they’re mostly empty…

Story here


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