Thursday, January 31, 2008


The Nation's endorsement (and other campaign stuff)

The Nation, which at this point is probably the chief in-print spokesentity for the left, has settled on a candidate, however, I'm posting the first three paragraphs of the editorial for its description of the situation facing progressives this election. It's very salient and eloquent.
It's gotten to that time in the primary contest where lines are drawn, camps are solidified and conversations around dinner tables grow heated. My friend Dan recently put it this way: "You start talking about the candidates, and next thing you know someone's crying!" The excellent (and uncommitted) blogger Digby recently decided to shut down her comments section because the posts had grown so toxic. The recent uptick in acrimony is largely due to the narrowing of the field. While once the energy was spread over many camps, it is now, with the exits of Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards, concentrated on just two, leaving progressives in a fierce debate over whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would make the better nominee, and President.

According to polling data as well as my conversations with friends and colleagues, progressives are evenly split or undecided between the two. This is, to me, somewhat astonishing (about which more in a moment), but it also means that at a time when other subgroups within the Democratic coalition are leaning heavily toward one candidate or the other, progressives are at a moment of maximum leverage.

Insofar as the issues discussed during a presidential campaign are circumscribed by the taboos and pieties of the political and media establishments, they tend to be dispiriting for those of us on the left. Neither front-runner is calling for the nation to renounce its decades-old imperial posture or to end the prison-industrial complex; neither is saying that America's suburbs and car culture are not sustainable modes of living in an era of expensive oil and global warming or pointing out that the "war on drugs" has been a moral disaster and strategic failure, with casualties borne most violently and destructively by society's most marginalized and--a word you won't be hearing from either candidate--oppressed. And yet, this election is far more encouraging (dare I say hopeful?) than any in recent memory. The policy agenda for the Democratic front-runners is significantly further to the left on the war, climate change and healthcare than that of John Kerry in 2004. The ideological implosion of conservatism, the failures of the Bush Administration and, perhaps most important, the shifts in public opinion in a leftward direction on war, the economy, civil liberties and civil rights are all coming together at the same time, providing progressives with the rare and historic opportunity to elect a President with a progressive majority and an actual mandate for progressive change.

The next couple of paragraphs criticize their choice, before the piece moves into a very detailed explanation for the endorsement. One of the better reads on the contest to date.

Addendum: Here are the endorsements of the San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters.

Second addendum: SEIU is switching its endorsement from Edwards to Obama. Love this line from the article:
But is it too late? Union members have been receiving Edwards endorsement materials for weeks. But really, nobody except media dorks and political groupies pay attention to a campaign until, uh, about now.
Third addendum: By request, the Superfriends. Amusing, but a lot of trouble for very little. Plus, nobody under 40 or over 50 is bound to get what there is to get.

Fourth addendum: I don't have a link, but on the idiot box our favorite hippie says she'd rather face a Clinton administration then let McCain win.

Update: Here it is.

By the way, the debate tonight was a sleep fest. Both candidates have their ground games going into Tuesday and they didn't want to screw anything up by offending anybody or pissing each other off. She got one sound byte about it taking one Clinton to clean up the last Bush's mess, and it'll take another to clean the second Bush's mess. Obama earned some sound byte coverage with his "right on day one" line regarding the Iraq war. Clinton probably should have shut up about the war, but instead she tried to explain her vote which led Wolf Blitzer to ask her if she was trying to say she was naive about the President's intentions back then.

But nobody drew any blood.

Fifth addendum: Geeze, having cable is going to do things to my head. I was switching back and forth for post-game reporting between the cable stations and landed on a Fox News round table with Brit Hume hosting commentary from Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer, and Morton Kondracke, only the latter of which is arguably to the left of Genghis Kahn. They were lamenting what seems to be the inevitable coronation of McCain with Krauthammer grimacing as if in pain as he said, "you have Schwarzenegger, Giuliani, and McCain all in a photo-shoot in a solar panel factory talking about global warming, which is bound to give conservative triple heartburn."

I never thought of solar panels as being an inherently liberal technology, but to hearKrauthammer describe it, things could only have been worse if they met in a Volvo or brie factory. Why can't the conservatives win this time? The consensus: they need Reagan back.

Funny thing is that immediately following the Democratic candidate debate while CNN and MSNBC were analyzing the highlights, Fox News was covering some crime story. I guess they're a bit sore that the Democrats refused to accept their invitations to debate, but they're only reinforcing the reasoning behind the boycott.

Sixth addendum: Al Franken is beating Norm Coleman in a Minnesota Senate race poll.

Seventh addendum: The Times-Standard endorses Obama.

Eighth addendum: In it's first endorsement of a presidential candidate since 1972 (when it endorsed Nixon) the LA Times is supporting Obama. It's endorsing McCain for the Republican primary.


Humboldt Watershed Council Press Release re bid on Great Redwood Forest

From Mark Lovelace:

Release January 31, 2008

Alliance of Timber Industry Investors and Conservation Interests Intend to Bid on Great Redwood Forest. Coalition's Proposal Focuses on Permanent Sustainable Timber Operation and Protection in Humboldt County.

(January 31, 2008, Humboldt County, California) - An alliance of community groups, conservation organizations and private investors formally expressed interest in acquiring more than 200,000 acres of redwood forest, the Scotia sawmill and other assets. The coalition's proposal would create a sustainable timber operation, which would preserve jobs by guaranteeing the forest is always kept in working timber management, and would ensure permanent protection for the remaining old-growth.

In court filings yesterday, the Indentured Trustee for the Noteholders, the largest secured creditor group in the bankruptcy proceedings, proposed a restructuring plan for Scotia Pacific that included an auction of the timberlands and other assets. In a letter sent to the Indentured Trustee earlier in the week, the alliance expressed interest in purchasing the timberlands, mill and other assets.

If the coalition's proposal comes to fruition it would ensure that 197,000 acres of redwood forests will be permanently kept in sustainable timber management, which provides a permanent source of jobs for the local community, and resolves a long-running environmental dispute by protecting the remaining old-growth and environmentally significant habitat.

"Our goal is to recover the job base by recovering the resource base," said David Simpson of the Community Forest Team.

The coalition's proposal, while dependent on an open and public auction occurring, would aim to:

a.. Place 197,000 acres under permanent protection through an enforceable conservation easement that ensures the forests are managed in an environmentally sustainable way while providing a continuous supply of timber to mills in Northern California

b.. Set aside the most ecologically important habitat, including old-growth forests, in publicly protected wildlife areas

c.. Maintain the operations of the Scotia sawmill

d.. Support the current local economy by keeping the forests in sustainable timber management in perpetuity regardless of future ownership

e.. Position Humboldt County to take advantage of future economic opportunities, such as the emerging carbon market

f.. Extend key elements of the existing temporary Habitat Conservation Plan into perpetuity through the easement

­The alliance is a unique combination of experienced and well-capitalized timberland investors and mill operators, globally significant financial institutions, non-profit conservation organizations and community interest groups that combine four powerful elements:

a.. timber industry experience and private financial capacity required for a transaction of this scale,

b.. wood products industry operating expertise and financing capacity

c.. conservation and scientific expertise to ensure that the lands are managed appropriately and the most sensitive are protected; and

d.. community stakeholders to represent the community's position in decisions for the long-term future of its local forests.

"Our goal, as partners in the alliance, is to focus our operational and financial resources on the Scotia sawmill," said Tim Fazio, managing partner of Atlas Holdings. "We believe that this mill, coupled with sustainably managed timberlands, can be a viable enterprise and a source of employment and economic stability for the region."

"Our proposal of a permanent working forest means permanent work for the community," said John Tomlin, managing member of Conservation Forestry. "The local mill operations are critical to a viable, permanent working forest."

"Our coalition has the financial capacity, timber management expertise, conservation interest and local community participation to offer the best solution for the community, local workers and for conservation," said George Yandell, North Coast project director for The Nature Conservancy's California chapter.

"The Murphy family was a good steward of these lands for years before financial pressures forced a sale," reflected Simpson. "We want to ensure that the jobs and the land are cared for regardless of future market pressures or changes of ownership. We are proposing a permanent working forest that provides a permanent supply of timber for local mills and local jobs. We want what is best for the long-term viability of the community, the local timber industry and for the
long-term health of the forests. We have found investors whose interests are compatible with our own."

Though unique, the make up of the coalition is modeled on previous partnerships of conservation interests and private timber investments that have successfully conserved huge tracts of forests, while developing sustainable timber harvesting practices that support local jobs and help ensure a healthy timber industry in the future.

"The Great Redwood Forest," which includes the long-disputed Headwaters Forest, represents fully 10 percent of the redwoods left on Earth, is home to numerous threatened or endangered species and comprises nearly half the watershed of Humboldt Bay.


Jordan Peavey, The Nature Conservancy, 415-281-0492,

David Simpson, Community Forestry Team, 707-629-3670,

Jennifer Benito, Save-the-Redwoods League, 415-362-2352 x314,

Zach Sufrin, Atlas Holdings, 203-622-9138,

Eloise Hale, Bank of America, 980-387-0013,

Art Harwood, Redwood Forest Foundation Inc., 707-984-6181,

What followed was a description of each involved group, which I'll post in the comments section.

Addendum: Meanwhile, PALCO has finally gotten around to submitting its bankruptcy plan, and the Governor weighs in.

Photo comes from the Nature Conservancy site.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


A couple of reasons to support Obama

I don't want to push my endorsements too heavily, but I thought these two items might be of interest to Sohum activists.

This account is from a poster at Daily Kos who called both campaigns. The Clinton campaign hadn't returned his call, but he had a 20 minute conversation with an Obama rep.
We talked about Obama's opposition to the Iraq war from the start. We talked about ethics reform in the senate. And we also talked about the torch being passed from the Kennedy's to Obama. I asked about medical marijuana and this staffer laid out that Obama would not raid medical marijuana patients because "resources are wasted going after the sick." This is an important issue to me as I am a medical marijuana patient for chronic back pain.
Hillary Clinton has made the same pledge. However, I suspect it would be difficult to pin either down on whether he or she would support removal of marijuana from Congressional categorization as lacking medicinal value, or at least a law which allows states to legalize the stuff for medicinal purposes free of federal enforcement of its own laws.

The second is more salient to me. He has the backing of Guantanamo attorneys based upon some very real assistance in preserving habeas corpus.

Back in October, John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General and Dean of Franklin Pierce Law School, changed his registration to vote in the New Hampshire Democratic primary and endorsed Barack Obama. Hutson, a life-long Republican, had grown increasingly frustrated with the Bush administration's treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

"We fight wars to uphold the rule of law," he said in 2004, "but then we don't uphold the rule of law in our conduct of the war." Hutson eventually becoming a key leader among former military officials pushing back against Bush policies on Guantanamo Bay and torture, worried about the precedent it would set for future conflicts.

"We are running the risk," Hutson said in announcing his endorsement of Barack Obama, "of historians looking back on the first few years of the 21st century and saying 'That's where America came off the rails, that's where we began to be the next former world power.'" Obama, Hutson argued, would be the candidate best able to bring about the changes we need.

And then on Monday, more than eighty attorneys volunteering their time on behalf of detainees at Guantanamo Bay collectively endorsed Obama for President:

The writ of habeas corpus dates to the Magna Carta, and was enshrined by the Founders in our Constitution. The Administration's attack on habeas corpus rights is dangerous and wrong. America needs a President who will not triangulate this issue. We need a President who will restore the rule of law, demonstrate our commitment to human rights, and repair our reputation in the world community. Based on our work with him, we are convinced that Senator Obama can do this because he truly feels these issues "in his bones."
It's not exactly a popular political stand, or at least it wasn't at the time.

Addendum: In this week's Sohum Independent, Ray Raphael makes his case for Obama. In short, he believes that a Clinton candidacy will galvanize the currently fractured Republican opposition and even if she scratches out a win, will pretty much paralyze any progressive agenda if Congress remains close. The Republican hatred for the Clintons is borderline irrational as pundits like Tucker Carlson and Bill Bennett admit to (Carlson when she was running for Senate: "I have to believe she will lose despite the polls, though it's more theological than rational.").

Two points however. One, while the House might be close this year, the Democrats may firm up their Senate majority. Of the 10 vulnerable seats this year, nine of them are currently Republican.

Secondly, Obama is still off message. With all the lofty potential from the Kennedy endorsements and the huge crowds he's drawing, he's taking too much of his time attacking Clinton. I was listening to NPR this morning, and Clinton employed a bit of rhetorical judo which she'll use tonight if Obama is as aggressive as in the last debate. When asked to respond to some attack of his, she said, "that's audacious, but not very hopeful." It's telling that I don't even remember the substance of Obama's attack.

Point is, the Clintons are brilliant. If they get by Obama, they will probably take McCain apart. What happens once she's in office, well, they've had eight years to think about how they were stymied for 6 years in the 1990s.

Second addendum: Obama was rated "the most liberal Senator of 2007" by the National Journal.


Bonnie Burgess - KHSU Volunteer of the Week

Former Sohum resident and KMUD programmer Bonnie Burgess was honored by her new station KHSU and briefly interviewed by the Eye. Her show Go for Baroque airs at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesdays.

The interview begins with her show's description:
Go for Baroque features Western European music from the Baroque time period which is, roughly, the years 1600 to 1750. I cheat a bit and often play music from the late 1700s, which is officially the Classical era. That way I can include music by the sons of J.S. Bach and even occasionally Mozart and early Beethoven. Those guys were so heavily influenced by the Baroque composers that their sound doesn’t give my listeners “musical whiplash.”
I miss her on Thursday nights, though we have some excellent classical programmers in Fred and Margaret who've taken her place. I just remembered that I posted about her KMUD show once previously.


The SF Bay Guardian and I agree on our Feb. 5 election endorsements

On everything except Cynthia McKinney. That's pretty rare.


60th anniversary of Mahatmas Gandhi's death

The photo is from a tribute site. His granddaughter spread his ashes today.

Here are some of his quotes.

The following is from the site linked at the top.
[Purushottam Gandhi writing from Rajkot asked Gandhiji three questions : (1) What is the difference between the so-called atheism of the jains and the theism of the Gita? (2) If God is not doer, who dispenses grace? Is prayer anything more than the expression of a person’s wishes? (3) What do you mean when you say the Truth is God? To him Gandhiji replied as follows:]

I do not think there is any contradiction between the Jain and the Vedic doctrine. They are only different ways of looking at a same thing. The God of Hinduism is doer as well as non-doer. God pervades the universe and is therefore a doer, but He is a non-doer inasmuch as action does not affect Him, and He has not to enjoy the fruit of action. The universe is not the result of any karma (action) of God in the sense in which you use that word. Therefore there is no discrepancy in the Gita verses quoted by you. Remember that the Gita is a poem. God neither says nor does anything. He did not say anything to Arjuna. The conversation between the Lord and Arjuna is imaginary. I do not think there was any such conversation between the Krishna and the Arjuna of history. There is nothing improper or untruthful in the setting of the Gita. There was a custom of casting religious books into such a shape, and we cannot find a fault with any cultured individual even today who employs such a vehicle for his ideas. The Jains put it logically, unpoetically and dryly and said that there is no Creator of the universe. There is nothing wrong in saying so. However, mankind cannot live by logic alone, but needs poetry. Therefore even the Jain rationalists found it necessary to have temples images and similar aids for the spirit of man, which are ruled out by mere logic.


Edwards is dropping out

He was broke, and obviously floundering since he couldn't manage more than third place in his home state. It's a bummer, because he was the best of the three candidates - the only one speaking to issues of class (actually, the only serious candidate to do so since Jesse Jackson in 1988) and the only one with anything resembling specific proposals.

Obviously both of the remaining campaigns will be hassling him for an endorsement. According to this CNN article:
"The cynics will say that with Edwards out of the race, a lot of the white working-class people who voted for him will now vote for Hillary Clinton; they'll see it in racial terms," said Time magazine journalist Joe Klein. "On the other hand, you could just as easily say that with Edwards out of the race, those people who are more interested in change who were part of his constituency, will go vote for Obama." He added, "I don't think he endorses Hillary Clinton. The question is whether or not he endorses Barack Obama."
The photo comes from his campaign site.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Another local blog

Lost Coast Musings, with the slogan "little things matter." The blogger's name is "Tara" (I'm wondering if I know her). Does it qualify as a Sohum blog? You decide.

There are only a few posts so far - some nice writing about daily life and photos, and an endorsement of Obama.

Welcome to the Humboldt blogosphere Tara.


Reggae lease trial update

Cristina Bauss was at the proceedings today and provided a story on tonight's news. You can listen at the KMUD site. Apparently it was another day's grilling of Tom Dimmick. I've already heard several different versions, and I'm not even going to attempt to reconcile them.

My understanding is that Tom's attorney will be cross-examining him tomorrow. If they finish cross, redirect, and recross tomorrow, I believe Cristina said that Susan Matilla and Carol are due to follow. I guess Bragg is saving his friendly witnesses for last. Of course, Bragg can call the witnesses in any order he wishes.

There are some accounts provided by spectators who've posted in the Red Lion thread below.

Addendum: Bob has some photos from the proceedings.


What kind of an omen is an egret?

A white egret has been wandering around across the street from my office window all morning, moving back and forth from the side of southbound offramp to the Osprey grounds. It's a pretty thing. I don't know why it's hanging around.

Can it be some kind of omen? If so, of what?

From A. Venenifica's blog:
The Heron or Egret is symbolic in many cultures.

In Egypt the Heron is honored as the creator of light. A double headed Heron in Egypt is symbolic of prosperity.

In China the Heron is a symbol of strength, purity, and long life.

In Africa, the Heron was thought to communicate with the Gods.

Most Native American tribes took note of the heron’s inquisitiveness, curiosity and determination. As such this set the heron as a symbol of wisdom in that this creature seemed to have good judgement skills.

Specifically, the Iroquois tribe held the blue heron as a very good omen, a very lucky sign. They recongnized the heron as an expert fisher/hunter. As such, they believed that sighting a heron before a hunt was a sign that the hunt would be a good one.

As a water creature the heron is also a symbol of going with the flow, and working with the elements of Mother nature rather than struggling against her.
The photo comes from

Monday, January 28, 2008


Ted Kennedy vs. Bill Clinton

By all accounts Senator Kennedy does not plan to be a passive supporter of Obama. He's going out on tour. He will be campaigning for Obama in Arizona, California and New Mexico. The Kennedy's have some respect with Hispanic communities and they're popular in the west, but I think his value to Obama is something else entirely. I think Kennedy is going to be Obama's anti-Clinton, to brawl with Clinton while Obama keeps his halo on and talks transcendence. He wasn't in best form last week (though you certainly wouldn't guess it from the results).

It was evident already today when Kennedy said that Obama would be "ready on day 1," stealing Hillary Clinton's line which she used while tearing up in New Hampshire among other times - a reference to suggest that Obama is unprepared and hasn't really thought about his presidency.

Or maybe not. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I'd love to see Kennedy and Clinton in a rhetorical brawl. That'd be something to watch!

Photo comes from this NY Times article.

Addendum: Meanwhile, Tom Hayden endorses Obama.

And for the record, my wife, my mother, and aunt still intend to vote for Edwards. My father forgot to switch from Green registration. He's not inclined to vote for Nader or McKinney, but doesn't know anything about the other candidates. Wasn't Elaine Brown running?

Second addendum: More on the endorsements war. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius who put to sleep any viewers who were still awake after the SOTU has endorsed Obama. And an Arizona Hispanic superdelegate Rep. Raul Grijalva switched his support from Edwards to Obama (because "Obama is the future") shortly before Obama and his Kennedy entourage are to show up for a brief tour of Arizona.

However, Clinton landed a surprising (maybe not so surprising) endorsement from Maxine Waters, probably one of the most left wing members of congress excepting maybe Conyers and Lee, who both support Obama.

Third addendum: There are whispers of a Bill Richardson endorsement for Obama. From WAPO:
And he said he likes Obama, telling a story about how Obama saved him during one of last year's Democratic debates:

"I had just been asked a question -- I don't remember which one -- and Obama was sitting right next to me. Then the moderator went across the room, I think to Chris Dodd, so I thought I was home free for a while. I wasn't going to listen to the next question. I was about to say something to Obama when the moderator turned to me and said, 'So, Gov. Richardson, what do you think of that?' But I wasn't paying any attention! I was about to say, 'Could you repeat the question? I wasn't listening.' But I wasn't about to say I wasn't listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, 'Katrina. Katrina.' The question was on Katrina! So I said, 'On Katrina, my policy . . .' Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, 'Obama, that was good of you to do that.'"

So instead of voting for the guy you'd like to have a beer with, you can vote for the guy who you'd rather have sat next to in the back of your high school English class.


Red Lion in the Winter

I wasn't there, and there are some accounts in the thread below. This one was posted by Margaret, and it is somewhat different from another account I heard tonight, though not drastically so. In fact, I think most of the differences are in the nuances.

In any case, I am posting the only first hand account I have in print. I will add some items later after I've sorted them out. I wasn't taking notes in my conversation tonight.

Bob Doran was there and not in disguise. He said he couldn't stay all day but he was there quite late.

The start was rocky, not sure why. Tom's lawyer basically said they still weren't ready due to the scrambled documents and depositions they hadn't gotten. Bragg offered to pay sanctions on the scrambled documents and said the board members in question had been and still were available for deposing, Tom's lawyer decided he didn't need them. There was some mention of the document scrambling being a retaliatory measure since the other side did the same but it was all pretty low key. The judge put a cap on how much time the Mateel would actually pay for.

Tom's lawyer gave a very long and tedious opening statement, even the judge got tired and asked if it would end soon. A break happened and all future witnesses except Carol were asked to leave.

Tom took the stand. It was long and painful like a tooth extraction. He said he'd gone through 2 lawyers and then relied on PB to negotiate for him. The first tooth was the necessity of PP producing. First they went through the background. The 2004, probably a typo, contract in which the MCC is not mentioned. Later contracts which also did not involve the MCC or any guarantees of who would produce, except other large festivals were planned and PP would have first rights of production refusal.

Then the MCC became part of it but he never actually talked to any representatives. First it was because he hated Taunya, in Spring 2005, and wouldn't sit down anywhere with her. Oh, except for their breakfast meeting in fall 2006 where she told him she was concerned about Carol's performance. He continued to sign contracts with the MCC without talking to them because he thought Carol was their representative. Carol was the only person competent to produce Reggae, at least for 6 years, well maybe 5, and if/when she quit he could rely on those staff who had always worked for the MCC. Well, actually the contract says if Carol couldn't/wouldn't do it he needed written notification. There was no provision for his approval of said other producer.

Now Bragg is in the process of extracting the second tooth. Up until they knew how expensive the move would be the MCC was involved in no contracts. Even after they were it was PP who was entrusted with determining the work to be done and the MCC was bumped from that committee. Once again because Carol was representing their interests. And basically Tom was making all decisions based on info from PB. All improvements to be returned to MCC if lease ended. I think we can see where this is going but I don't know that for a fact.

Brief side track by Bragg. There is a clause stating that the MCC is responsible for insuring that the producer does not violate any legal or permit rules.

Dropped for lack of foundation but can be revisited with other witnesses I think.

Tom's lawyer objected to 99% of the questions, the judge sustained 2 but allowed 1 to be reframed.

Okay, now the account I heard suggested that the opening salvos weren't really low key, but maybe it was in the content of the discussions rather than the tone. In any case, my source's understanding was that Tom's attorney had decided that he didn't need the depositions, but that they would actually be taken after hours during the trial.

Why did Bill Bragg waive the opening statement? Well, if trial briefs are filed they are redundant, so unless you have something new to say since you finished the brief, there is really no point. But if the other side doesn't waive opening, I usually opt to at least respond to points of concern. Either Bill sees it differently, or he felt that his brief had adequately addressed everything.

I hear that Boots was very upset about having to wait around and was planning to drive back to the city and come up each day charging Tom for his 22 cents per mile until he's finally called. I don't know if he was just blowing off steam, but I wonder why he had to be called up for today when the Mateel will be calling its witnesses for the next couple of days.

Addendum: Nothing on KMUD news tonight! What's up?

But the first 5 minutes of Politically Correct Week in Review was, very spontaneous and... postmodern? It's listed as "Monday Night Talk."


SOTU notes

In between cleaning up dishes and breaking up kid fights, I'm listening. So far I haven't heard of any new initiatives, which is par for the course in a president's last year. A few...

Oops. It just ended. More later.


Okay, well, the pundits are underwhelmed because it was as Olberman said "a litany of oldies but not goodies." They kind of repeated what he said, talked about the 5 deaths in Iraq, then Chris Matthews changed the subject to Kennedy/Obama and said something about that being the "real state of the union."

No, I don't know what he meant either.

Margaret Carlson says the president treated it as "the night to get through."

None of the presidential candidates of either party approached the President afterward.

Hillary Clinton sat next to Joe Biden, which is cocking eyebrows.

More to come...


For their response, the Democrats have put up Kathy Sebelius, governor of Kansas. I think they must have been looking for bland. I'm trying to stay awake.


Cliff Clendenen Sohum event coming up

Date and time: Saturday, February 9, from 3 to 5 p.m.
Location: Miranda, Stevens Hall (the Grange Hall up School Rd opposite Miranda VFD)

Directions: Take the Miranda exit from either North or South. Go over the river to stop sign at Avenue of the Giants. Turn left. Go into Miranda, past the post office and Cafe and turn right on School road, before the high school. Stevens Hall ( The Grange) is up about a block on the right across from the the firedepartment. It has a sign in front that says Stevens Hall and parking in front.

All are welcome to attend whether you are committed to Clif or not.

The campaign is planning additional events, including one at the Weott Community Center and another on March 21 at Beginnings.

Events are being planned for the northern portion of the district as well including April 13 at the Fortuna Riverlodge. Southern Humboldt residents are encouraged to join the campaign in those events to help bridge some of the historical gaps between the communities.

More details on all events as they become available.

Note: while I am supporting Clif, this blog is equal opportunity when it comes to announcing events. Any candidate who wants his/her events noticed here please send me an e-mail with the details.


Toni Morrison

She's endorsing whom she hopes will be the second black president.

Addendum: A new website -

Second addendum: In the celeb endorsements department, McCain just recently landed Silvester Stallone, who he said is going over to Huckabees office to take care of Chuck Norris.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Senators Obama and Clinton to return to DC to support the FISA filibuster

Good news as far as I'm concerned.

Addendum: From Daily Kos:
Here is the contact information for the group of Senators we particularly need to influence today in order to defeat the vote for cloture on the version of the FISA bill that includes retroactive immunity.

These Democratic Senators voted last week with Republicans to table the version of the FISA bill that excluded telcom amnesty. One of them, Sen. Rockefeller, has already said he'll vote no on cloture on this bill. That means we need to convince three other Democrats on this list to vote against cloture:

  • Bayh (202) 224-5623
  • Carper (202) 224-2441
  • Inouye (202) 224-3934
  • Johnson (202) 224-5842
  • Landrieu (202)224-5824
  • McCaskill (202) 224-6154
  • Mikulski (202) 224-4654
  • Nelson (FL) (202) 224-5274
  • Nelson (NE) (202) 224-6551
  • Pryor (202) 224-2353
  • Salazar (202) 224-5852

In addition, remember to call or e-mail your own Senators. You can also use the tools created by CREDO and EFF if you prefer.

Update: Cloture defeated. The filibuster lives! Liveblogging from DKos:
Update: We flipped Bayh. Good job.
Update 2: And McCaskill. And Landrieu.
Update 3: Turning into a rout, folks. The Democrats showed up in force today. Republicans will be lucky to get much more than 50 votes. - smintheus
Update 4: Harvest of shame time: After Democrats locked up more than 40 'nays' to block cloture (yay!), Mary Landrieu changed her vote from 'nay' to 'aye'. Yes, you read that right, she changed her damned vote. - smintheus
Update 5: Cloture defeated by a vote of 48 ayes to 45 nays! Debate continues on the FISA bill. Take a bow, this is a tremendous victory and a big humiliation for Bush and his Republican enablers. - smintheus
Update 6: Now the Senate is proceeding to the second cloture vote, this time to vote on a bill to extend the current temporary FISA bill for 30 days beyond its expiration date on Feb. 5. Republicans are trying to block cloture on this bill. McConnell was blubbering on the floor that the bill is no good because Bush has threatened to veto it. He doesn't seem to realize that there are a lot of Dems who'd like to call Bush's bluff: If Bush vetoes the extension, then it shows he doesn't think the FISA bill is essential - or else he cares more about giving telecoms amnesty than he does about protecting America. - smintheus
Update 7: The second cloture vote fails as well (by the same margin, 48 'aye', 45 'nay'). So we're back to debating the original bill. - smintheus


I will be on the local news at 11

The back of my head anyway. My son's in full view however. We were at the chess event in Arcata. A friend saw us on the 6:00 news.

We may also be in tomorrow's Times Standard.

It's the first time I've been in the Arcata Community Center. Nice facility, although my son thought the bathroom was "scary" because everything was invisible light automated.

Thanks to Jacoby Creek School and the Arcata Chess Club, especially Brad (didn't catch his last name) who engaged a daunting task of trying to create a chess teaching plan with multi-skill level kids. It was a little chaotic at first, but once the grown-up volunteers and parents understood the program everyone bore down and I think most of the kids got a lot out of it.

In contrast to my childhood, I'd estimate that a fourth of the participants were girls. The ratio would have been higher if I hadn't brought four boys.

Some of the younger kids opted out of the blitz tournament afterwards (speed chess can be a little too much pressure on them). Fortunately there was a great playground outside and... snow!

The drive home was a bit of a challenge, though gorgeous while we had daylight. I had four kids in the car who weren't nervous about the conditions as I, and I had to quiet them down a few times. By the time we reached Scotia the road was covered with snow. By Redcrest it was all rain. Kind of an odd little pocket of weather today, because it wasn't snowing in Eureka when we left.

At about the Miranda exit the kids started playing a game where they all stared at each other in silence, the loser being the first to make a noise. I kicked myself for not suggesting that game back in Eureka.

We got home to a warm house safely. My wife, who is on a remodeling tear, had torn away some of the gaudy wood wall paneling to reveal a pea soup colored wall paper with flowers and a kind of Currier and Ives version of abstract art in pattern. She actually likes it. For me it lacks context. Maybe if we buy an old plastic bread box and a Formica table with tin strip trim.

Update: Yep. That was my head. And my kid.

Addendum: We are also in this morning's Times Standard.


For those asking, I've already posted my endorsements

I wanted to get them up before too many people submitted their absentee ballots, but I know that some are just starting to think about next week's election. Here are my thoughts.

I will also post Jared's picks when I get them.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Breaking: CNN immediately projected Obama a "strong winner" in South Carolina

They're blabbing about what that means. Clinton may not even come in second.

More as it comes in and if my flu-ridden 3-year-old lets me type.

Addendum: Racial breakdown from the exit polling:


Obama won 49 percent of White voters under the age of 29 but just 16 percent of White over the age of 60.

It was one of the fastest calls in CNN network history. That suggests a very big win. Clinton knew it, which is probably why she is having her "victory party" in Tennessee.

Addendum: It looks like Obama has broken 50 percent, routed Clinton in almost all of the SC counties, and may have beaten her by as much 25 percent.

Also, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg will be endorsing Obama in a NYT editorial tomorrow.

The nation turns its lonely eyes to Ted.

Second addendum: From Kennedy Schlossberg's Op-ed piece, she's not couching her endorsement in nuances. It's entitled: A President like my Father.
OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals. ...

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960. ...

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.
He's got the momentum - however much infrastructure he'll be facing for the biggest Super Tuesday in history.

Third addendum: John Nichols of the Nation thinks Clinton should lock her husband in the basement for the next month or two.

Fourth addendum: Another entry into the bandwagon department, the SF Chronicle (notorious for defaulting to machine candidates) is now endorsing Obama.

And here's a prediction. If Obama really does pull out a win, he will nominate a woman for V.P. - Claire McCaskill. They're meeting for photo-op in Kansas City on Tuesday.

Fifth addendum: CNN reports that Senator Ted Kennedy is endorsing Obama. Oddly enough, it was leaked by the Clinton campaign, probably to avoid a blitz of the Monday news cycle.

Sixth addendum: Obama's coalition is formidable, but unless he makes some serious headway into the Latino communities, the Hispanic vote may be Clinton's ace-in-the-hole. The Clintons are scrambling to spin SC into a "Jesse Jackson" box and make Obama the "black candidate." The Kennedy endorsements make for a good counter, but Obama knows he's going to need more. He made some explicit references to Hispanics in his speech and he's got a ground game running in that direction. But he needs some photo-ops.

Oh, and how does Attorney General Edwards sound?

And did you know that Lieberman is stumping for McCain? Looks like McCain suffered a misstep. Probably minor, but it's the type of thing that makes its way into opponents' hit ads.

Seventh addendum: From the Memphis Flyer, Hillary Clinton campaigning in the State of Denial:
After a perceptible pause, she began awkwardly: "I was honored to run in South Carolina... and it was very close...."

Oh, and Rev. Al Sharpton tells Bill Clinton to "shut up."


Chess Lover's Carnival tomorrow

I'll be there with four kids from Beginnings. Unfortunately my car's full, but there are other local kids who want to go. If you're kid is interested and you have space in a car, please contact me.

Chess Lover's Carnival
Winter 2008
January 27, 1:00 - 3:15 PM

Arcata Community Center
321 Community Park Way
Arcata, CA

INVITATION: This family event is geared for kids from Kindergarten through HIgh School who enjoy chess. Adults who want to help, compete, or learn some chess with the kids are also encouraged to participate. Beginners and experienced players will all be accommodated. Expect a motivating environment, interesting challenges, and a variety of resources from which to learn chess tactics and strategies for openings, middle games, and end games.

PRIZES: Chess sets, chess clocks, and other prizes will be awarded for participation or performance of teams/schools, families, and individuals.

CHALLENGE TABLES: Various puzzles, quizzes, timed exercises, and one-on-one challenges await participants at each Challenge Table, where points will be awarded.

RESOURCE TABLES: Printed material, exercises, tutors, and practice boards will be available at Resource Tables. Parents are encouraged to take part with younger and inexperienced children to help them learn chess basics at the Resource Tables.

REGISTRATION: Register at the door. For a discount, pre-register by Saturday, Jan 26 by notifying us of your intent to come. Send an email to, or phone (707) 825-8793, with the following information: Name, Grade, School, and Contact Info (email or phone number).

Fees will be collected at final registration upon arrival at the tournament.

ENTRY FEE: The cost is $10.00 per participant ($5.00 if pre-registered) or $25.00 per family ($15.00 if pre-registered). Parents can pay and compete for family prizes and school team prizes, or they can come free to learn and help their kids at the Resource Tables.

OPTIONAL "INVERTED BLITZ TOURNAMENT": After the carnival, a short blitz tournament will take place from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Stronger players will be time handicapped, giving inexperienced players better odds of winning. The action will be fast and furious, fitting eight rounds in the ninety minute period. The tournament will be free for anyone bringing a digital chess clock; otherwise, it will cost $2.00. Trophies will be awarded, mostly to the younger participants, thanks to the generosity of Robert Snyder.

GENERAL INFO: A limited selection of snacks will be provided at reasonable costs. Contact Brad Morin at or 825-8793 with questions. This event is sponsered by Jacoby Creek School, Arcata Chess Club, and Arcata Recreation Department.

Friday, January 25, 2008


A Voice speaks to Mitt Romney

Right from Field of Dreams, Mitt Romney maybe got a little help from the Prophet Joseph Smith last night?

But it sounds like he was ignoring the voice and doing just the opposite.

I once heard that BYU, which prohibits facial hair on its students, removed a portrait of Joseph Smith with a beard to conform with school rules. I've never researched the accuracy, although there is definitely such a dress code.

Shame on me for making an issue of Romney's religion. Bad Eric! Bad!

Photo comes from the Daily Conservative.

Addendum: Natasha Chart of MYDD asks:
Why have none of our elite pundits seen fit to talk about how broad-minded it's been of black and female voters to mark their ballots for white guys in all past presidential elections?


On a lighter note

On my way to and from Eureka yesterday I was admiring the new separating wall on 101 between Fortuna and CR. The first time I visited my wife's family in Connecticut, about 15 years ago now, I was dazzled by the old cobblestone overpasses on the Anne Hutchinson Parkway. They had an aesthetic character which gives the communities there a feel of history absent in the drab gray featureless surfaces of our more recently constructed overpasses and elevated highways.

So they've made a new effort with this wall. It looks like it's made of stones. But if you notice, the drainage holes seem to bore right through the "rocks" which doesn't make sense. And while it's hard to tell as you're driving by at 65 miles per hour, there seems to be a repetitious pattern. (Please don't look too closely when you drive by. This blog already being blamed for a community's inability to get along. I don't want to be blamed for a car accident as well.)

It looks like a pattern on the forms as the cement was poured in, and later painted, but maybe I'm wrong. I suspect real stones would be a very expensive prospect. But at least Caltrans is making an effort.

Carson Park Ranger will probably bristle at the suggestion, but I've always thought the overpasses could be prettied up with murals.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


The Mateel response to the settlement process breakdown and what comes next

I've received information from the Mateel which is based upon information received from attorney Bill Bragg.

From the Mateel's perspective it was Tom Dimmick's attorney Jeff Knowles who sank the negotiations. He informed Mr. Bragg that his client could not agree to the third party escrow agent handling and disbursing the proceeds of the ticket sales. According to Mr. Bragg this had been agreed upon previously and it was understood that it would be essential to the agreement. People Productions' attorney had drafted the written guideline for the settlement which included that provision.

According to Mr. Bragg, when he confronted Mr. Knowles on the issue (prior to the Mateel meeting), the latter told him that Carol's attorney does not speak for his and that any agreement with the Mateel was premature in any case until Tom and Carol reached an agreement between them.

Those of you who heard Mr. Bragg's presentation at the Mateel meeting may remember that he referenced "one attorney" who was setting the negotiations backwards. I suspect this is what he was talking about.

This perspective obviously differs sharply from the account in the Dimmick Ranch statement I posted earlier in the week. I post, you decide. Except that most of you weren't there, so we can't say what the parties had agreed upon prior to the meeting.

In any case, it's all academic now. The trial is set for Monday at the Red Lion Inn in Eureka. I've also been corrected in that it is an actual trial even though a professional arbitrator is handling it. There will be a court reporter and at present the attorneys seem to agree that the decision will be appealable. It begins on Monday at 9:00 a.m. and the seats will be available on a first come first serve basis. The trial is booked for next week and three days out of the following week if necessary.

Monday could very well mark the beginning of the end of the Sohum community as we know it, whatever the results. I mean that in the sense that I don't see this ever completely "healing." Something has died here. I'm not going to point fingers myself. I don't know what happened. But the warrior factions have their way for the moment. This is not a happy day. Justice will not be served here. Truth will not be revealed. There will be a fight and one side will win and one will lose. If that. It will be about money.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.

-Simon and Garfunkel

Addendum: Okay, I ran into a Board member tonight who wanted to clarify that it is not the Mateel's perspective that Knowles sank the negotiations. The member wanted to emphasized that the issues are more complex than that and that it's off base to blame the situation on any one party.

The member was also confused about the 3 million counter-offer figure I'd heard. The member surmised that perhaps it was in reference to a proposal for a percentage of any increases in ticket sales should the county allow it in the future, perhaps the calculation taking the amount closer to the three million figure. Other than that nobody knows what my source was talking about.

Hopefully, after the trial the parties can provide their own narratives about the process - assuming it matters to anybody by then.


Kumbaya again

Obama is trying to get back on message after letting Clinton's tactics fluster him Monday night and Clinton is responding positively to the fire she's come under for her tone of late. Both have withdrawn attack ads they were airing in South Carolina.

Actually, these comments from Obama are remarkable.
Obama minimized any tensions arising from the tit-for-tat with the Clintons, telling reporters during a stop in Beaufort that he did not begrudge Bill Clinton his right to be a forceful advocate for his wife. "I don't feel the candidates are being bloodied up," Obama said. "This is good practice for me so, you know, when I take on these Republicans I'll be accustomed to it."

He brushed off concerns about a loss of black voters in the general election should Clinton win the nomination after an ugly primary -- a worry that many others in the party have alluded to. "Black voters shouldn't blame Senator Clinton for running a vigorous campaign against me," he said. "That should be a source of pride. It means I might win this thing. When I was 20 points down, I was a 'person of good character' and my health-care plan was 'universal.' The fact that we've got this fierce contest indicates I'm doing well, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that."

Obama struck a similar tone when asked about Bill Clinton's role in the campaign. "Let me sort of dispose of the whole issue of President Clinton. I have said this repeatedly. He is entirely justified in wanting to promote his wife's candidacy," Obama said. "I have no problem with that whatsoever. He can be as vigorous an advocate on behalf of her as he would like. The only thing I'm concerned about is when he makes misstatements about my record. That's what I'm seeking to correct."

Would that his handlers had pumped that into him before Monday night.

But we saw pretty much the same thing 10 days ago. It didn't hold up long then. Can it stand the strain of the Super Tuesday stretch? Will Obama keep his cool from now on? Will Clinton put a leash on her husband? Almost on queue as predicted, Clinton wigged out on another reporter. This time most of the media appears to be ignoring it.


The New York Times has endorsed Clinton and McCain.


Meanwhile, I got to see some of the Republican debate tonight. I can see why the Republicans hate the presence of Ron Paul. While they were all gushing over "the troops" while tossing out token criticisms of how the war has been managed (to his credit, McCain actually went after Rumsfeld), on the issue in particular it was almost as if the Democrats had a mole in there. Of course the magic disappeared when he and Huckabee started talking about dismantling the IRS and the Federal Reserve.

Meanwhile, it should come down to McCain and Romney soon enough. Giuliani was about as inarticulate as I've ever seen him, and Huckabee's ship has sailed. He's out of money.


While en route to Eureka today I listened to Michael Medved desperately trying to convince his callers to support McCain. One caller said he is a "greeney." The hardcore conservatives can't quite forgive McCain-Feingold.

Rush Limbaugh meanwhile has it in for McCain. I mean, Clinton and Obama are doing their best to throw the victory to the Republicans this year, but it's going to be a huge challenge. Maybe nobody will win.


Everybody's been thinking that the nominations would be decided on Super Tuesday. But barring some sort of hemorrhage by one of the candidates, according to this AP analysis the race will probably continue for some time afterward.

So if Obama stays close enough and is still within striking distance on February 12, he could sweep the three primaries (DC, Virginia, and Maryland) and be in pretty good shape.

But the Hispanic vote seems to be Clinton's ace in the hole. The UFW endorsement may just have made the difference.


I was touting that Ebenezer Church address in a previous post. Somebody mentioned the mixed response to his gay rights comment, which somewhat mitigates his homophobic religious connections. Actually, I'm impressed with Obama for challenging the black community on its homophobia when he needs its votes the most.


Photo comes from Needlenose.


Prop 215 doesn't protect you at the workplace

The state Supreme Court ruled today that an employer can fire you if you test positive for marijuana use exempted from state prosecution by the Compassionate Use Act.
In a 5-2 decision, the court said Proposition 215, the 1996 state initiative that allowed Californians to use marijuana for medical purposes with a doctor's recommendation, did not protect workers from dismissal for violating federal drug laws.

Prop. 215 was intended only to exempt medical marijuana users and their caregivers from prosecution under state drug laws, the court said.

"We have no reason to conclude the voters intended to speak so broadly, and in a context so far removed from the criminal law, as to require employers to accommodate marijuana use," Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar said in the majority opinion.

Dissenting Justice Joyce Kennard said an employee who uses medication outside work to remedy pain or illness, and whose job performance is not affected, should be protected by state disability laws from arbitrary firing.

The voters who passed Prop. 215 "surely never intended that persons who availed themselves of its provisions would thereby disqualify themselves from employment," said Kennard, joined by Justice Carlos Moreno.


Business organizations had come to RagingWire's defense, noting among other things that companies that hire drug users might forfeit federal contracts.

An employer who hires a medical marijuana user is "arguably being complicit in an activity that's illegal under federal law," RagingWire's lawyer, Robert Pattison, told the court.

I'm really wondering why after 12 years that no case has reached the federal appellate courts on the issue of whether federal law invalidates state medical use laws. So far all the federal courts have decided is that the feds can enforce their own laws within the state.

As to the ruling in question, Kennard brought up state disability laws. Does that prevent an employer from firing someone for Vicodin use? If not, the federal vs. state question was irrelevant anyway.

Here's the actual decision.


Kucinich out

He wants to return to his work in Congress. Hopefully he's going back to help Christopher Dodd fight the FISA bill.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Very sad news

Thanks to Cristina Bauss for bringing my attention to this press statement from the Sheriff's Office.
At about 2:00 yesterday afternoon, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a possible dead body in Shelter Cove. Sheriff’s Deputies responded and confirmed there was a deceased male in a creek. The body was found in extremely steep and rugged terrain. Personnel from the Shelter Cove Volunteer Fire Department, the Whale Gulch Volunteer Fire Department, the Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue Team, and the Sheriff’s Office worked together in the body recovery effort.

The body had been found by Diana Totten, an experienced search and rescue mantracker, who had been searching the area for a man who had been reported missing on January 10, 2008. That missing man, Nicholas Bear Sundstrom, 28 of Shelter Cove, was last seen on December 31, 2007.

The body found yesterday has not been positively identified yet. However, investigators believe it to that of Nicholas Sundstrom. The body recovered yesterday was found about a quarter mile from Mr. Sundstrom’s home. An autopsy will be performed later this week to determine a cause of death. The investigation is continuing and additional information will be released as it becomes available.
My condolences to the family. I hope they find at least some minimal comfort in closure.


Maureen Dowd vs. "the two-headed monster"

Two against one.
If Bill Clinton has to trash his legacy to protect his legacy, so be it. If he has to put a dagger through the heart of hope to give Hillary hope, so be it.

If he has to preside in this state as the former first black president stopping the would-be first black president, so be it.

The Clintons — or “the 2-headed monster,” as the The New York Post dubbed the tag team that clawed out wins in New Hampshire and Nevada — always go where they need to go, no matter the collateral damage. Even if the damage is to themselves and their party.

Bill’s transition from elder statesman, leader of his party and bipartisan ambassador to ward heeler and hatchet man has been seamless — and seamy.


Anybody remember the I Love Lucy episode with the dream sequence in which Fred and Ethel played the two-headed dragon? I searched the Internet for a still photo and maybe the lyrics of the song with no luck. All I remember is:
Two heads aren't better than one
They're not even better than none
No I want it this way, no I want it that way...

Meanwhile, the views of the Obama video of his address at Dr. King's church has topped 400 thousand.

Addendum: Thanks to Shane for going above and beyond the call of duty to land me the Fred/Ethel dragon! It comes from this fan site.

Second addendum: The Clintons are generating a bit of a backlash.
The Clintons cannot compete with the enthusiasm Obama sets off so they must destroy it. Their tactic is disillusionment.

Third addendum: And this from Sam Greider!
The one-two style of Clintons, however, is as informative as low-life street fighters. Mr. Bill punches Obama in the kidney and from the rear. When Obama whirls around to strike back, there stands Mrs. Clinton, looking like a prim Sunday School teacher and citing goody-goody lessons she learned from her 135 years in government.
And a former Clinton supporter and prominent NOW figure is calling Clinton a liar on Obama's record on choice.

I'm getting the feeling the Clintons killed something here, no matter what happens from here on out.


Lost in facts

I've been watching the television series Lost. I think I'm on the third or fourth season, whichever was just released on DVD. It's a fun enough to watch, except that they kill off the most interesting characters and after the first season the plot and character continuities fell apart. They did a great job of building up mysteries, but when they started getting around to explanations it all kind of fell flat for me. I get the feeling that they're really just making it up as they go along.

And first they softened up the hard-edged characters too quickly. When the brunette, "Kate" (who seems to spend half the series getting tied up and gagged) was revealed to be cuddly after all, they introduced a female Hispanic ex-cop to be the loose canon for awhile. Deciding they had too many characters apparently, they killed her off and then aired a Kate flashback episode where she killed her father for..., well, I don't quite get the reason. So she's supposed to be gritty again, only she isn't. You trust her too much now. And you even trust Sawyer the con man to do the right thing now no matter how much dime store psychology they throw at you about how he's really just mean because he's ashamed of himself. Then they tried to make the pretty boy doctor gritty, but even the unshaven look and tattoo just doesn't do it. Now we trust John Locke, so that even in this last episode where he apparently blew up the Dharma Project communication house, we trust him even if Sahid doesn't. And the Korean guy isn't bossy to his wife anymore. The rock star is now obsessed with premonitions of his death rather than heroine. Oh, and now we know that Sahid really did torture people. That's gritty. But he feels really bad about it. So we know we can trust him now. Otherise, they're all just peachy keen.

Okay, the black guy with the son sold them out and killed two people. But he also felt really bad about it, and you can do anything for your son on television. And he's gone anyway.

And "the Others" are a bit of a letdown too. Before they seemed invincible, grabbing the good guys and slipping away with them with some kind of ninja-like invisibility. But when we actually meet them, they're not particularly tough even if they're creepy. If the writers want to convince me that they were capable of plucking a member of a party of good guys right under the latters' noses, they're going to have to flashback again and show me how it was done.

Okay, and I finally saw the Humboldt County episode where Locke ends up on a pot farm commune, when he picked up the hitchhiker in the middle of nowhere. The hitchhiker had "read" that there were some logging jobs in Eureka. And Locke said that he could take the hitchhiker (Shhhh. Don't tell who the hitchiker really is.) "as far as Bridgeville." So where was the hitchhiker coming from? Alderpoint? (note - credit this joke to Hank. Apparently he said it first!).

But last night's episode was even more annoying. The Australian woman had her flashback scene where her mother died in a hospital bed following a car crash. Then mysteriously someone started paying "the bills." As it turns out, her long lost father was also the father of, well, gosh, I won't ruin the surprise. But at least she wasn't saddled with the huge medical bills.

Except, there wouldn't have been any medical bills. She was in Australia. An industrialized country which isn't the United States. Guess what that means. I guess the concept of universal coverage is so alien to our way of thinking, it just doesn't dawn on even the writers of "the best television drama of the year" (according to the SF Chronicle) when their plots venture outside of the geographical scope of their provincialism.

Did I mention that it's a fun watch?

For those of you watching, try not to be too shocked and awed at the end of the series when it turns out they're not on an island at all, but on a little known portion of the Australian or New Zealand shore. None of the characters has ever walked the perimeter of the "island" you see. Gosh, won't that be clever?

The still comes from the official Lost site linked above.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Virtual stumping? Obama's trump card?

Though it's slipping under the headlines, everybody is talking about the video.


In other campaign news, Fred Thompson is out. The speculation is that he will back McCain.


If you want the replay of last night's steel cage match, here it is.


Clinton wins a major California endorsement in the United Farmworkers of America. But then, we saw this coming, right? Obama isn't doing well among Hispanics.

And Clinton retains double-digit leads in California, though there is some movement in his favor and 20 percent undecided. Every 15 percent gets you another chunk of delegates in California, so Obama's goal is to break 30 percent. 45 percent seems a bit much to expect.


Giuliani is making Florida his last stand. His crash and burn is probably the biggest campaign implosion since the Dean scream. I would sympathize, but he's really not a nice guy.


Addendum: John Kerry just came out swinging for Obama implying that the Clintons are "swiftboating" Obama over the Rezko thing. You know, Rezko looks troubling for me, but if that's all they've found over his 11 years of public service then I think he's done pretty well. It's not like his financial director was indicted or anything.

Meanwhile the Factcheck people analyze last night's exchange, including the Rezko thing.

Second addendum: This story is going to trigger some conspiracy theories.


Green voters should reflect on this 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

On the Supreme Court:

John Paul Stevens - 87 years old
Ruth Bader Ginsburg - 74 years old
Stephen Breyer - 69 years old
David Souter - 68 years old.

That's the entirety of the liberal to moderate representation

On the other hand:

John Roberts - 52 years old
Samuel Alito - 57 years old

In a democracy, ideological purity comes at great cost.


Why I hate cable TV - reason number 5839

Okay, tonight I watched my first debate this season. I probably have some thoughts on the debate. There was some substance which I may address if I find the time. It was the most contentious debate I've seen in a long, long time, and after watching it I can tell you that any one of those three aren't going to go lightly if Rove or a Rove clone steps forward for whatever Republican manages the nomination.

I watched some of the post-game babble, and most of it was fairly predictable. Towards the end of the hour CNN aired what I considered to be an extremely patronizing story on the perceived dilemma of black women voters this election - here's the written version. I thought maybe I was manifesting a little hypersensitivity, but then I came across a story about the story - many black women apparently don't appreciate being pegged with oversimplifications.

One such woman on the story completely validated my reaction:
An e-mailer named Tiffany responded sarcastically: "Duh, I'm a black woman and here I am at the voting booth. Duh, since I'm illiterate I'll pull down the lever for someone. Hm... Well, he black so I may vote for him... oh wait she a woman I may vote for her... What Ise gon' do? Oh lordy!"

On a related note, here's an interesting Slate article on the "race card." I'm too tired to comment at the moment, but it's worth the read.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Heard in my living room a few minutes ago

Setting: my six-year-old son and my three-year-old daughter complaining about the fact that we're watching the CNN debate rather than a kid's movie.

My wife: This is about your future.

My three-year-old daughter: I don't want a future!


Tomorrow is the last day to register for the Feb. 5 election

You can pick up forms at just about any government office, including the Post Office.

Obama's people will be tabling at the Arcata Coop today. They can register you.


Garth Epling responds to the Dimmick statement

I feel as though all parties have been working extremely hard to reach a mutually beneficial and just agreement – a compromise that would enable all of us to move forward. So as you can imagine I am deeply saddened to hear that People Productions and Tom Dimmick are no longer interested working toward a settlement agreement, and seem to believe that the legal course of action is preferable.

One of the main points of contention was that the Mateel wants to preserve its ability to put-on a local festival using the ROTR name, during an enjoyable time of year. These details were discussed within the non-competition clause of our settlement agreement and we felt that we were asking for things that were standard industry practices like not producing ROTR within 4 weeks Reggae Rising.

The Mateel’s Executive committee was put in charge of the settlement talks and was clear with PP & TD from the beginning of negotiation that we would be in communication with the whole board of directors.

The Mateel is a community organization and we felt a duty to uphold our promise to our membership that we would not sign an agreement in secret. I can understand how this might frustrate Tom Dimmick and People Productions but that does not remove our commitment to our membership and the community for a transparent process.

The Trial is scheduled to start on Monday, Janurary 28th 9am at the Red Lion in Eureka and will continue through the week - and possibly into the next week if needed. The trial is a public proceeding.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Dimmick Ranch press statement

From Bob's blog:

The Dimmick Ranch and People Productions regret to announce that a settlement has not been reached in the pending litigation of Mateel Community Center versus People Productions, Carol Bruno and Thomas Dimmick over the claims of breach of contract and other assorted issues related to the Reggae on the River and Reggae Rising music festivals.

On December 14, 2007 The Dimmick Ranch and People Productions approached the Mateel Board’s negotiating team and again initiated an offer to engage in shuttle negotiations with the goal of reaching a compromised out-of-court settlement. Three respected community members agreed to volunteer their time to help resolve the complicated dispute prior to the commencement of a costly legal proceeding. An intense negotiation lasted 3 long days and resulted in an agreement “in principle” on the major terms.

The parties had mutually concurred on a self-imposed confidentiality agreement, believing that it was essential to preserve the process whereby competent and rational decisions could be made based solely on a complete understanding of the full context of the agreement and how the terms were reached. All parties had agreed to postpone the week of scheduled depositions and had two days to work together through a couple of relatively smaller open issues and finalize a Memorandum of Understanding detailing the deal points to create the final Settlement Agreement. Due to the holidays and the date of the pending hearing, time was clearly of the essence.

On Monday December 17, 2007 the document was drawn up and given to all parties. The Dimmick Ranch and People Productions contacted their attorneys to discuss what was believed to be a pending settlement. Although the MCC negotiation committee had stated at the beginning of the process that they were fully authorized to make commitments on the terms of an agreement, 11 days later, they finally returned the settlement MOU having made significant, substantive changes to the previously agreed upon deal points, apparently at the behest of MCC Board members that were not at all involved in the negotiation process. The Board had also violated the confidentiality agreement and by December 20, the anonymous contributors on a local southern Humboldt internet blog site were rapidly weighing in on the once delicate and hopeful process that was quickly slipping away.

In an act that only further muddied the settlement waters, the MCC Board then called for a public meeting on January 08, 2008 to discuss the settlement deal points. Most of these deal points had not even been agreed upon by all the parties in the negotiation process. By that time, preparation for the pending hearing could no longer be postponed. The MCC board’s unilateral changes to substantive agreed upon settlement terms, its delays costing valuable time prior to the scheduled hearing, and its failure to honor the commitments of the MCC negotiators have unfortunately combined to completely undermine the once-promising prospects for settlement.

The hearing date for the matter regarding material breach of the Lease Agreement is set to begin January 28, 2008. Although it has always been both People Productions’ and the Dimmick Ranch’s intention to support the Mateel Community Center through the production of the yearly music festival, and numerous offers have been made that would have provided the MCC with a substantial annual income stream, they could not, despite best efforts, reach an agreement to accomplish that aim.

The unfortunate and unnecessary dispute between these parties has caused a great deal of division in our community. The facts surrounding the origin of the claims of contractual breach have never been fully reported or publicly understood. We are confident that testimony and evidence produced through the legal proceeding will illuminate the facts that initiated the turmoil. We are hopeful that through a fair and rational judgment our community might understand the complex issues that led to this dispute and that. as a community, we will resolve to move beyond the division and restore the collective wellbeing.

Dimmick Ranch

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