Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Political potpourri

I hope I spelled it right.

Anyway, I'll be back in a few hours as today was full of political news at the national level. But I thought you might want to know that President Bush is less popular than Reverend Wright.

Will McCain throw Bush under the bus?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that today is the 5th anniversary of "Mission Accomplished."

More later.


Fox News is suffering the ratings blues. At one point just a few years ago their viewership was larger than all the other cable news networks combined.


Hillary Clinton was on Bill O'Reilly's show tonight. And conservative blog Little Green Footballs really got to the meat and depth of the story.


Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's supporters are upbeat about their chances in light of the Wright controversy. There's no ambiguity. All of the polls show that it hurt Obama badly.


Even The Nation is sick of this campaign.


Addendum: Politico says the superdelegate race is over, but it's a secret.


Political quote of the week from Hardball: "The noise is hurting the Democrats. The news is hurting the Republicans."


A big endorsement for Obama expected in Indiana tomorrow. The piece speculates: Republican Senator Richard Lugar?

Nah! No way.

Second addendum: The big endorsement was super delegate and former DNC chair Joe Andrew who switched support from Clinton to Obama. Not quite as exciting as a Lugar endorsement, but a big one nevertheless.


Guest post from David Bergin re KMUD and Democracy

Democracy: Product or Process?

Bruce Anderson made a rare understatement when he characterized KMUD as a “weak democracy.” My experience over three years on the KMUD board, and as Board Secretary, was that there are many people here (on the board, programmers, members...) who are both ignorant about and deeply afraid of democracy.

Democracy is nothing more or less than process – a certain process – by which groups of people communicate and make mutual decisions. “Most people” (around the world) now think that Democracy is the most fair process for the most people.

Within the “Redwood Community” Anarchy seems to be the preferred mode of operation for many, never mind that idea pretty much went out of fashion a hundred years ago. Not that a great show of process isn’t made; anarchists will go on endlessly over process minutiae.

But the democratic process is not a new wheel in need of invention. It’s been figured out for a long time, and it mostly works. It is not intended to be the most efficient, profitable, or most convenient system. It is supposed to be the most fair.

The democratic process as we know it evolved over millennia; it is rooted in ancient common law, founded on the Magna Carta, refined over 500 years of Parliamentary Procedure, and summarized in Robert’s Rules of Order: an elegant, if dry, document that is logical, rational and practical. There are abridged versions written on what used to be a sixth-grade level, but even these proved too formidable for most of my fellow board members to read, and so most remained deeply suspicious of the unread contents.

One board member actually said, in a board meeting, “But if we have rules [of order], then somebody could study them and figure out how to get an advantage over someone who hadn’t read them.”

Ultimately, the board decided to revoke Robert’s Rules, which meetings had previously run by, and replace them with... nothing. No rules, or at least, unwritten rules. You know (nudge, wink), those rules. The rules that allow a minority to overrule or out-vote a majority. (Yes, I saw that happen repeatedly on key issues.) Rules that allowed whoever had the loudest voice to dominate the discussion. Crucial votes by, for instance, all the programmers, were blocked by an angry mob, and then results were simply... announced.

Most of the time I was on the board we argued endlessly about process and operations details, and almost never actually did anything. Most decisions were to table any issue. When, finally, a difficult decision had to be made, whoever didn’t like the result would throw a tantrum and the board would reverse itself at the next meeting.

The most recent, and disastrous, flip-flopping by the KMUD board was over the Reggae wars. I was not, thank Jah, involved in that fiasco, having long since done my time and fled. But I did, privately, urge some board members that KMUD must remain neutral, and had to maintain the appearance of neutrality. My position was that as long as the event was in dispute and under litigation, KMUD could not support or work with either side against the other. I urged board members to make this publicly clear immediately, with a statement that we looked forward to returning to the festival as soon as the disputes were settled.

Instead, the board first avoided the issue for months, hoping, I suppose, that it would resolve itself. When they finally had to deal with it, they instead made a decision that was perceived by one side to favor the other, and as soon as the predictable shit hit their fan, they immediately reversed their decision, thereby enraging and alienating both sides.

As if shooting itself in both feet wasn’t bad enough, then the station couldn’t help falling on its sword, so to speak, by way of the astonishingly unprofessional handling of Estelle’s departure. This was a personnel issue that was handled like a street brawl. Estelle was probably the most popular and widely respected programmer at the station. She had done an incredible job for a very long time. Anyone that bright and ambitious would be expected to eventually think about moving on to something new and different, or bigger and better.

Estelle could have taken the high road and walked out a winner, using any of the clichés which are customary in these situations. Instead, she went negative, attacking the station publicly. Whatever frictions there may have been between her and management or some board members, there are (or were) well-established grievance procedures, and there should have been – but apparently wasn’t – a constructive review process.

By attacking the station, and framing the issue in terms of Reggae partisanship, Estelle discredited herself and, I would think, alienated a significant part of the very base from which she is running for office. This was, I thought, an astonishing way to begin a campaign.

Ultimately, I think the increasingly obvious problems at KMUD go way beyond personality disputes or process issues. KMUD’s problems merely reflect the “community” it serves, and I think we, as a community, may have outlived our purpose; we may have forgotten our raison d’être. Or we are simply stuck in an imaginary past, in a Camelot for radicals that never was.

Personally, I feel like I’ve outgrown KMUD over the last few years, while the organization continues to, well, spin its wheels in the same old mud. Understand that I say this as a charter member, and a longtime volunteer and major donor. I used to always listen to the station. I even loved listening to the programs I didn’t really like. Now I turn it on less and less, and more and more what I hear is so often boring or even offensive that I usually just turn it off.

KMUD’s bylaws require it to serve the entire community, and KMUD thinks it is the entire community. But I remember going to the Chamber of Commerce dinner where Estelle was honored as Citizen of the Year, and how astonished I was to walk into the Mateel and see it packed with people I had never even seen before – and, except for a couple of other KMUD guys, I was the only man in the room not wearing a suit. Hello, Business Community?

How about the ever-growing Hispanic community increasingly working in those businesses?

Most important to me is the YOUTH community – our kids and presumed heirs. Will they have to pry our cold dead fingers off the control board to get their turn on the air? Actually, I think recently there have been some token efforts to include more youth, especially in the news department. This is great news to me, as I have been pleading for this for years. This effort to recruit and train students to be in and on the radio should be increased tenfold.

Know why? ‘Cause kids are hip, and we’re not. Oh – present company excepted, of course!

But seriously, I think it’s way past time to collectively grow up and move on. Quit living in the past, ‘cause we’re already here in the future. Just ask your kids. If you can get them to take their thumbs off their phones long enough to remove an earphone.

David Bergin

Addendum: Cristina already posted the piece on her blog, and it's already drawn some comments.


KMUD in "overdrive"

They are within $5,000 of their goal as of this morning. Today is the last day. You can pledge online at the site.
You can renew your membership anytime by mailing your check or money order to KMUD, PO Box 135, Redway, CA 95560. You could make a donation online here right now, or call (707) 923-2513 or 1-800-568-3723.

Felix posted some fine photos from the pledge drive in this gallery, check 'em out.

Seems like all the candidates for political office are talking about change. Do you have some you want to get rid of? KMUD will take it!

Here's a fun project: If you have a jar of coins, where you put the pocket change you bring home after shopping, and you're curious how much is in there before donating the contents to KMUD, check out This free calculator will give you an estimate of the total value. Whether you figure out how much is in there or not, we'll gladly take the change and we'll sort it and take it to the bank.

PS: The cell phone booth is one of a number of excellent art projects by Nick Rodrigues. Take a look at his site .

The photo comes from the KMUD site. They got it from here.

Addendum: They are now less than $1500 from their goal as of about 1:00 p.m. I hope that doesn't make the first poster in the thread even more angry than he or she was this morning!


Power outage is over in Garberville

I'm told the power is still out in Redway. The lines were down right at Blue Star Gas this morning. The PG&E folk were working on it when I drove by.

KMUD also reported problems on Pratt Mountain. I don't know if that's been resolved.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


McCain on health care

This one comes from Progressive Media USA.


Those famous Abe Lincoln vs. Frederick Douglas debates

What's particularly ironic is that all three of these Fox News commentators are joking about how dumb this intern was for looking for a Douglass/Lincoln debate video.

My liberal cultural elitism is acting up again. Can't...hold...out....much...longer...


A correction regarding the upcoming election

Hank brings into the mix Elections Code section 8807, which basically says that Roger cannot go to the run-off election. If he comes in first or second but fails to win over 50 percent of the vote it won't matter. The other two candidates will move on to the run-off. No appointment.

This means that Johanna really has to declare a write-in candidacy, potentially splitting the Rodoni vote.


Obama tosses Wright under the bus

Can we get back to the issues now?

Addendum: The New York Times says it's time for McCain to anti up.
It is an injustice, a legacy of the racist threads of this nation’s history, but prominent African-Americans are regularly called upon to explain or repudiate what other black Americans have to say, while white public figures are rarely, if ever, handed that burden.

Senator John McCain has continued to embrace a prominent white supporter, Pastor John Hagee, whose bigotry matches that of Mr. Wright. Mr. McCain has not tried hard enough to stop a race-baiting commercial — complete with video of Mr. Wright — that is being run against Mr. Obama in North Carolina.

Granted, Hagee did not marry McCain and his wife, nor did he baptize McCain's children. So basically, unlike Obama, McCain remains "loyal" purely for politics. What a relief.


Tooby ranch case settles

Friday, not yesterday as I erroneously reported.


The hiatus is over

The race is back on. And it looks like one side got a head start. I received the following e-mail last night.
Today has been a very active day in our small little corner of the political world.

As you probably know, Johanna Rodoni has officially requested the governor to "suspend normal protocol" and immediately appoint her has Roger's successor for the balance of his term.

Additionally, I understand the Supervisor Jill Geist, using Chair's discretion, has also written the Governor, supporting this request, without the action or approval of the rest of the Board of Supervisors.

I also understand that at least 3 other letters in support of Johanna's request have been received by the Governor this day. These have been written by Joe Russ IV, Rob Arkley and Archie "Red" Emerson.

It would appear to me that there is a considerable effort being applied to make this appointment happen, and quickly.

While I really don't have any objections to Johanna being considered to fill Roger's vacant term, I really feel the decision should be made by the Governor using the standard protocol, which allows for a request for applicants, time for submissions of resumes or CV's, time to research and consideration, interviews and a final decision. There doesn't appear to be any overwhelming reason that Humboldt County Board of Supervisors can't wait a few weeks for an appointment to this vacancy. If the appointment was to happen after the June 3rd election, the will of the people could also be considered.

I urge you to write the Governor, copied to others, asking that:

1. The process not be rushed,
2. That normal protocol be followed and
3. To hear the will of the voters on June 3rd before making a decision.

Should either Clendenen or Fennel win a 50+% margin in June, wouldn't it make sense to appoint that person to fill the next 8 months, then taking their rightful seat in January, thereby creating continuity on the Board.

Please address your letters to:

Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor of the State of California
State Capital Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160

Cc: Humboldt County Board of Supervisors
Congressman Mike Thompson
Senator Patricia Wiggins

Assemblymember Patty Berg
Loretta Nickolaus, Humboldt County Administrative Officer

BCC: Bill Thorington,

And or call me at 496-4703 if you have any thoughts.

Bill Thoringon, Manager
Clendenen for Supervisor
707-496-4703 Cell
707-725-4146 Campaign Office
Que sera sera. In the end, it's just politics. Still, Clif's campaign will wait until after the memorial to resume phone banking. I have no word on whether Thursday night's debate is still on.

Here is the TS coverage.

Oddly enough, there's no coverage from the Eureka Reporter.

Addendum: Whew! The letters attached to the TS article make this thread look like a Bible study!

Monday, April 28, 2008



I thought Reverend Wright did pretty well yesterday, but I just watched this morning's press conference.

Obama has one chance, and one chance only. And it may be too late. He's got to shun the man who baptized his children and married him to his wife. Obama will probably lose Indiana and he may very well lose his advantage in North Carolina.

Obama has to announce firmly that Wright is not the man he was drawn to years ago and he has to announce that he has left that church. It's being reported on CNN that long time friends of Rev. Wright think that he's gone wacko. That could give Obama a little wiggle room to suggest that Wright has changed, not him. But he has to do it soon, and he can't couch it in gentle terms. He's got to make a clean break.

If he doesn't, he may still win the nomination, but he'll lose to McCain.

Clinton is running for 2012. I noticed she actually attempted to defend Obama today. But he has to do it himself. He can't just distance himself and says he disagrees. He's got to denounce Wright for his performance this morning.

And Wright has pretty much called Obama a liar. I agree with David Gergin that he has to respond with anger. It can't be an "he and I have intellectual disagreements." He has to... thrown Wright under the bus.


Toturous literalism

The liberal/conservative intellectual war in the realm of Constitutional law hinges on the debate between literalism and the "living document." I've already discussed the debate as it deals with the Second Amendment here and here. Of course I side with the living document side, which I view as counterpart to the "progressive revelation" debate vs. fundamentalism in religion.

In listening to the interviews of Justice Anton Scalia over this day I find that he, someone of serious intellectual heavyweight status (for a conservative), perhaps deliberate mushes together the concepts of textualism and "original intent." The presumption is that the drafters intended for the fundamentalist texualist approach, but that's a huge matter of dispute. In reading the Ninth Amendment and the explanation for it, you can just as easily conclude that the "living document" approach was in fact the "original intent." Often we hear from Scalia and other Constitutional conservatives the refrain that "privacy" is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution because it is not specifically enumerated - the product of a philosophy in which rights originate from the state and contrary to the concept of "natural rights" or those "endowed by our Creator." If it wasn't listed, it wasn't contemplated, and therefor is not secured against the state.

I'll get into th 9th Amendment in another thread. I and Mark Drake did a radio program on the topic a few years back and I think it was one of our better shows.

But Scalia is also an original intent fundamentalist. With regard to the 8th Amendment, his view is that if a punishment was acceptable at the time of the drafters or "Founding Fathers" then it is not prohibited as "cruel and unusual." The concept froze in time in lock step with the sensibilities of society at that moment. Therefor, publicly displaying criminals in a town square or even a public flogging is acceptable under Constitutional law.

There are certainly inconsistencies. Scalia was perfectly happy to hold that the "Founding Fathers" would have accepted aerial surveillance of private property sans a warrant, when really, they would have run away in terror if they actually saw an airplane. The concept is only allowed so much wiggle room.

But Scalia made a comment today (other than telling people who didn't like the Gore v. Bush decision and thought it constituted a coup to "get over it") about torture. He didn't have to get so far as to suggest that water boarding was acceptable to the drafter contemporaries. You don't have to get that far. See, when a suspect is being interrogated he is not being punished. If he's being tortured, he's not being punished. The aim of the torture is to obtain information, not to punish. Therefor, it is not "cruel and unusual punishment," and the Constitution does not prohibit "cruel and unusual" investigation.

Basically, you have more rights and more protection.once you have been convicted of the crime. The presumption of innocence actually negates any rights when it comes to torture because then it can't be interpreted as punishment.

Boggles this bleeding heart libs' mind. But maybe it makes perfect sense to you. Talk to me about it.


Tim Redmond asks: "How many people who complain about government spending ride busses?"

From the SF Bay Guardian:
We joined a small group waiting for a westbound bus at Haight and Divisadero. The sign told us the next bus was coming in five minutes; Michael and Vivian sat on the horribly uncomfortable seats designed to keep homeless people from sleeping on them, and in about 10 minutes along came a 6 Parnassus.


It slowed down enough for us to see that it was standing room only (but nowhere near as bad as the 14 Mission is every day), then pulled away without taking on passengers.

Okay: bus too crowded. Driver decides no more passengers can fit safely aboard. It's called "passing up" a stop, and it happens. Typically there's another, emptier bus just behind. And sure enough, the sign said a 71 Haight/Noriega would be along in three minutes.

Well, seven minutes, actually — and then the same thing happened again: full bus, no stop. At this point there were maybe 30 people at the bus stop, and some had been waiting quite a while and were getting pissed. After a while, along came another 71 ... and passed us up. The corner was getting crowded; people were yelling at the bus, chasing it, running into the street, and trying to climb in the back door when it stopped in traffic. Not exactly safety first.


But there's an issue here that intrigues me: What is Muni supposed to do in this situation? It doesn't seem as if this should be an impossible management problem. A Muni controller could, for example, radio the next five buses on the Haight Street line and tell them each to pass up alternate intersections so everyone gets a chance to ride eventually.

I called Judson True, a nice guy who has the unfortunate job of handling press calls for Muni this week, and he told me Muni does the best it can at line management — that in theory, someone watching the Haight Street line should have radioed in the problem (I think the drivers ought to do that too) and a controller should have been able to shift more buses to that line. I suspect this may have been a screw-up. But one thing that happens when you keep cutting the Muni budget is that the ranks of controllers and line managers — those middle-management "bureaucrats" Matier and Ross and the like always whine about — start to thin out. And this shit happens.

There is a kind of irony to the anti-government ideology when it comes to power. They can mismanage government assets and then shrug it off because they've lowered the expectations of government anyway. And when there is a successfully managed public service, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority or Conrail, there's an intense push to privatize, most likely because someone sees profit to be made.

If government was run like a business, there would be more public sector offerings as alternative revenue. In any case, there's clearly a demand for public transportation. The private sector sure hasn't risen to it.

The photo comes from the San Francisco Sentinel.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Ron Sinoway forwards advice from someone in the know re Roger's interim replacement

Hi Ron:

I spoke with my friend who works for Congress Person Woolsey's office. She said the governor has not filled openings in the state legislature and instead either called special elections or waited for the election cycle. She believes local residents need to start a letter writing campaign requesting either a specific candidate be appointed or no candidate at all.

I also spoke to another friend yesterday who suggested contacting Wes Chesbro. He is a former State Senator running for Assembly.

Governor Schwarzenegger's mailing address is:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )

I would recommend a letter that is both faxed and mailed. I would also recommend the Community back one candidate. Santa Rosa, CA 9540


So whom should we suggest?


Obama on the elitist meme - and Reverend Wright on "different is not deficient"

I don't know how else he could respond to it. He just paid off his student loans a few years ago. His opponents have been loaded all their lives.

I was actually looking for a clip from his Fox interview with Chris Wallace. Mostly more of the same: Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, flag pins, elitism, etc. Oh, and he was asked if he would leave Iraq policy to the military.

I did find the transcript.

Addendum: Um. I've been watching Reverend Wright's address to the NAACP on CNN. The guy is brilliant. A little nutty, but brilliant. The singing points will probably make the news clips.

I have no idea how middle America is going to receive him. This could make or break Obama's campaign.

Second addendum: So, did Wright help Obama or hurt him? We won't know tonight. Both Dick Durbin (Obama super delegate) and some woman I don't know representing Clinton were asked about the potential impact of tonight's speech. Durbin moved right into a canned response about how Obama disagrees with Wright's divisive philosophy. The CNN reporter (Sanchez I believe his name was) interrupted and asked him to comment on tonight's speech. The response? "Well, I didn't really see it all..."

So I expected the Clinton stand rep to tear into Durbin for his weaselly evasiveness. But jumped right it to say "I didn't see it either."

Um, like, did CNN drop the ball by failing to check with them ahead of time? Surely they were asked to comment on tonight's speech, and if they weren't prepared they should have said so.

The truth is, they don't know how the speech is going to be received. They don't want to praise it or condemn it. Even the Republican strategist was very tentative saying that Wright is doing Obama a disservice by staying in the news. But her only substantive criticism was over Rev. Wright's pedagogic culture theories, which may or may not be valid but certainly won't excite anybody like "God damn America."

Now Reverend Wright is somebody besides the Youtube milibites. He may be dead as a campaign issue.

Third addendum: The youtubings are trickling in. First we have a very fiery introduction by Rev. Wendel Anthony, which was notable in its own right.

Here's the a part of Rev. Wright's speech

And another.

Here's a singing clip

And totally off topic, but this is another video produced by the bald guy in the last one. It's O'Reilly vs. Geraldo - chipmonked.


Grape Nuts don't really taste like wild hickory nuts

Don't know what I'm talking about?

Neither does she:

You ever lick a river?

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Whom will the governor appoint?

My prediction that the Governor would wait for June to appoint somebody is proving erroneous. Apparently he's expected to select someone much sooner.

Johanna's name is being thrown around, but I hope they give her a few days before pushing the issue.

Another suggestion tossed about is John Campbell.


Bruce Anderson on local public radio

I just picked up this week's Anderson Valley Advertiser and found this in Bruce's Off the Record column, written in the wake of the KC Meadows flap.
KZYX has always maintained a Kremlin-like, if not Kremlin-quality, secrecy. The paranoia's built-in, mostly because station founder Sean Donovan began KZYX as his private business although he organized it as a nonprofit stuff with his handpicked stooges. Donovan was eventually reimbursed for his work starting up the station out of its always scant resources. The station's autocratic origins have always insulated it ever since from true community control. By contrast, KMUD was breathed into life by the community surrounding it via democratic processes, many public meetings out of which KMUD grew as a reflection of Southern Humboldt County's mostly liberal population. It, too, has grown timid with the years, as has the entire Pacifica Network, and we're right where Ben Franklin predicted we would be 230 years ago, which he said would be foreign wars and despotism, exactly what community radio was founded to combat when the national government was not regarded as the occupying army it is regarded as now.
There's more to the column and I can't speak to the KZYX politics. But while I've not agreed with every turn KMUD has taken over the last few years (yes, I got mixed up in the internal politics until I, with the entire Personnel Committee resigned in protest), I can't say it has become "timid" in terms of democracy. Bruce obviously has not attended the meetings of programmers and members over the past 8 years. There have been the usual factional disputes, problems with fiefdoms of power, dogmatism, self-aggrandizement, ill-conceived methods for forcing programmers to volunteer additional time, and whether KMUD should involve itself in other community disputes (either passively or actively - some viewed last year's move to withdraw from Reggae Rising as a withdrawal from taking sides rather than the reverse). The point is, KMUD is about as democratic as an institution can be and still function. It's democracy is probably part of the reason it is currently having difficulty meeting its fundraising goals, though there are plenty of additional economic factors.

Please comment freely on whether you believe KMUD has become "timid" with regard to democracy. Posts which are about the PP/Mateel dispute and not about KMUD will be deleted.


Animated argument for single payer


Some good facts to know, but I'm not sure what I think of the "prom committee" analogy for rhetorical purposes.


Ed's thoughts on Roger

Just thought I'd bring your attention to Ed Denson's tribute to Roger. They were friends.

Addendum: Cristina also has a nice piece.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Obama can't bowl, but he wants you to know he got game

I'm reminded of the shots of the Kennedy family playing football on the White House lawn. Silly, but silly often works.


Rev. Wright, who'll probably be getting this memo from the Obama camp after an interview in which he attributed Obama's condemnations of his words as those of "a politician," has an interesting personal history. Tom of KGOE has some of the story.

And while you're at the KGOE blog, you can vote in a poll to determine whether Dr. Laura or Stephanie Miller would make the better dominatrix. I don't think Miller's the best dominatrix-type representative for the left. Maureen Dowd could give Dr. Laura a run for the money. Miller's too giddy.


If you're actually interested in listening to Rev. Wright and Bill Moyer in complete context (God forbid anything be put in context!), you can go here.


Tom Sebourn's latest post is actually about Rush Limbaugh's call for riots in Denver. Paging Judge Julius Hoffman! You can read more about Mr. Limbaugh's comments here. Joke or no joke, if a left winger called for riots in any context there would be hell to pay!


I was watching Olberman's show tonight. He had somebody on from Media Matters, didn't catch the name. Apparently Senator McCain suggested that maybe New Orleans ought to be torn down to avoid similar crisis in the future. He later said he didn't remember making the comment. As another example McCain is getting a free ride from the media, there are literally three hits on the Google news. Three.

Media Matters has opened a special website entitled simply "McCain's Free Ride." Lots of resources there, including the "10 media myths of McCain."

Addendum: His highlights. "Hope" beat "Away" 15 to 5.


Brian Sproul passed away last Friday

I guess it does work in threes. I didn't know him, but I'm informed that Brian was a Sohum resident years ago, until he moved to Arcata. Kevin Hoover describes him as a "very colorful character" who added spice to Arcata's culture with his sculptures and personality.

The Arcata Eye website has a brief tribute to him, and more will be published in next week's paper. It's where I got the photograph. I'm expecting to post a little more later on.

I didn't know him personally, so if anybody has anything you want me to include in the main post please let me know.

Addendum: This is from Kevin:
Arcata has lost a true original, one with Southern Humboldt roots –
Brian Sproul, aka Brian Alwine. Some of his old friends in SoHum may
not be aware of his passage.

Brian, sculptor and proprietor of the Horrible Spiders art gallery,
passed away Friday, April 18. Friends fondly remembered him as a man
of extreme imagination whose life was dedicated to spreading
happiness and art.

In the early 1980s, Brian, then known as Brian Alwine, lived (and, as
a drummer, rocked) in Weott, where he was struck by a drunk driver in
1983. He later moved to Arcata and became a prolific sculptor beloved
by many.

A Celebration of One Man's Journey will be held Saturday, May 10 at
5:30 p.m. at the Arcata Veterans Memorial Building. For more
information, call the Arcata Eye at (707) 826-7000.

For more, visit


Mike Thompson the Blue Dog?

He may have to turn in his card based on this study of Congressional Representatives based in the ratings of seven progressive organizations.


For those of you who absolutely can't wait to know, it does not appear that the June election will be called

As we discussed briefly on Ed's radio show last night, the situation seemed analogous to Mendocino County's last District Attorney races when Norm Vroman died just before the election. The court would not allow the results to be reported and a special election was held where additional candidates were allowed file.

I'm not in my office to look up whether it was ultimately passed, but it looks like legislation was proposed in the wake of the Mendo election which would have limited the special election rule to primaries, and it wouldn't apply to a run-off election. But even by the old law, a special election may only be called if there are only two candidates.

I think what's going to happen is that the election simply moves forward as currently set. Roger's name will remain on the ballot. If he wins, he will be replaced under whatever process would have taken place had he died subsequent to winning the election. I don't believe there is any provision to replace him on the ballot at this point. The absentee ballots are just about ready to be sent out. I would assume that if none of the candidates gets 50 percent, and he's in the top two, his name will be placed in the run-off for November.

I'll check the statutes to see if anything new was passed when I get to the office.

I suppose one option Roger's supporters have is to run somebody unofficially to pressure whatever body would ultimately replace him (I'm assuming it's the Board, but I haven't researched that) to appoint that person.

Addendum: somebody posted what appears to be the text of 8026 in the thread below.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


In case you haven't heard - Roger left us tonight

I'm so sorry for Johanna, his family, and his supporters who were holding a fund raiser tonight. He was on his way from his Garberville office when he was killed in a multiple vehicle collision near Rio Dell.

I was at the radio station at the time. We were trying to hold a pledge drive and all of the sudden we were flooded with calls. I didn't hear one negative word about him at the station all night, on the air or off. We held a spontaneous wake. It was Ed Denson's show, and they've been friends since Roger defeated Ed in an election some years ago.

I'm already getting questions about how this will affect June's election. There's plenty of time for all that. I'll look into it and post something later.

Just a reminder to us in a harsh political season, as big as all the political issues are, there are bigger ones.

Addendum: From Clif's campaign

April 24, 2008
Clif Clendenen Extends Condolences to Family of Roger Rodoni

The following is a statement from Clif Clendenen:

"My thoughts, deepest sympathies and prayers go out to Roger Rodoni's family in their time of loss. This is a tragic event not only for Roger's family, friends and supporters but for all of Humboldt County, one which completely precludes any discussion of politics. Accordingly, we are suspending all campaign activities until further notice."

For more information contact:
Bill Thorington, campaign manager
(707) 496-4703
David Jervis, media relations
(707) 498-0260

Thanks to Kim Sallaway for the photo.

Addendum: Thanks to Bunny for correcting my spelling of Johanna.

Heraldo pays his respects.

Rose pays hers.

Nathan Rushton has more details.

Second addendum:

Estelle responds as well.


Estelle Fennell asked her campaign to release the following statement. She will be contacting the Rodoni family privately and is suspending all campaign activities:

"I am deeply shocked and saddened to learn of Roger Rodoni's tragic passing. In rural Humboldt County, neighbors are more important than politics. This is a great tragedy for us all. Out of respect for Roger and his family we are temporarily suspending all campaign activities until further notice. On behalf of myself and my entire campaign, I extend our deepest sympathies to Johanna and all of Roger's family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you."

Third addendum: Ernie's kind words.

Carol and Greg have some as well.

And the Humboldt Mirror.

And Forest Defender.


The Liberal elite may lose all the battles, but they have all the best jokes

Paraphrasing Tom Lehrer.

Anyway, Jon Stewart on Clinton's "f'ing the process."

And Colbert weighs in with his smug North East Coast irony.

And they wonder why normal people cling to their guns!


Joe Blow Report

Another local blog was just brought to my attention.


The very embodiment of cluelessness

Keep thinking I've seen it all this primary season.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Gallegos takes the guns from Code Enforcement

The following article written by Daniel Mintz was sent out on an AEB e-mail, but I don't know which paper he was writing for. Apparently the article was written yesterday. The e-mail heading says the TS, ER and NCJ are (edit) not covering it.

I'm posting the article in its entirety. If and when it turns up in a paper I'll remove the article and replace it with a link. But this is too important to hold back.

Daniel has also done some research into the history of the CEU. (Edit - as the story may be found in this week's Independent, I'm paring it down to key portions. I'm also leaving in the portion where Hendry says that some of the people speaking at the meetings were lying.).
Capping a process that has been ongoing but was quickened by recent controversies, District Attorney Paul Gallegos has notified the county that he’s rescinded the deputy DA status of code enforcement officers.

Collaborations between the county’s two-man Code Enforcement Unit and police has triggered criticism and at a recent community meeting in Garberville and an April 8 Board of Supervisors hearing, it was loud and impassioned. Supervisors responded to it by ordering a 45-day stop to code inspections done under warrants, and Gallegos has informed the county he’s done something he says he’s been trying to do for awhile – remove code officers’ deputy DA status.


“It was suggested that since I do not have authority of the investigators, that I rescind my deputization authority. I said that was a fair request because I thought it was,” Gallegos said in an e-mail exchange. “Accordingly, after that meeting, I notified county counsel that I was rescinding my deputization of County Counsel's Investigators.”


Gallegos said he has tried to change the way things are done and took action after a series of code unit/police encounters with residents of the Elk Ridge and Woods Ranch areas inflamed the issue. “There have been discussions about deputization being done by the Sheriff's office instead of my office because if I am going to deputize them, I want them as my employees,” Gallegos said. “There was delay. Then there was delay. Then there were the incidents in Southern Humboldt.”

Gallegos explained why he took action. “I did not do because I believe they or anyone did anything wrong,” he said. “I am not in a position to say whether they did or did not. Nor should my action be seen as indicating that, if they became my employees, I would not deputize them to allow them to carry firearms. That would depend on the nature of their work and the need for such weapons. It was done because I felt I could not allow the arrangement which I perceived to be ill-conceived, at least as it related to my responsibility and authority, to continue any longer.”


None of the departments involved were asked to respond to it, and Hendry questioned the accuracy of the portrayals. “I think there’s been misconception, to a great extent, on what happened and who was involved,” he said. “Some of the descriptions of what took place didn’t happen the way they were portrayed.”
Also on the topic of the Code Enforcement Unit, here is the agenda for the first task force meeting. I don''t know if the meeting's open to the public.
Code Enforcement Task Force Meeting
April 30, 2008 10:00 A.M.
Humboldt County Library Conference Room 1313 3rd Stree4t Eureka, CA 95501

Roger Rodoni Second District Supervisor
Jill Geist Fifth District Supervisor
Phil Smith-Haynes Asst. County Office Administrator
Bonnie Blackberry Civil Liberties Monitoring Project
Wes Juliana Civil Liberties Monitoring Project
Liz Davidson Civil Liberties Monitoring Project
Dan Taranto At-Large Representative
Jack Berstein At-Large Representative
Robert Vogt At-Large Representative
Staff (as needed for meeting):
Wendy Chaitin Interim County Counsel
Kirk Girard Community Development Services
Brian Cox Div. of Environmental Health
Paul Gallegos District Attorney

Call to Order-Supervisor Rodoni

Welcome and Introductions (Attachment A- Distribution of member contact list)

Purpose of the Code Enforcement Task Force (Attachment B-Copy of April 8th Certified Copy Board Order) As a result of issues heard by the Board of Supervisor’s on April 8, 2008, Task Force Members shall examine the Code Enforcement Manual and other appropriate procedures, and evaluate the coordination with Community Development Services, Environmental Health, County Counsel including the Code Enforcement Unit, and the District Attorney’s Office

Tasks, Finding and Recommendation Due Date – by Friday, May 23rd

Introduction to Code Enforcement – Chaitin/Hendry
Types of Code Enforcement
Building Code
Resource Code
Subdivision Map Act
Solid Waste
Public Health & Safety
Warrant Inspections
How Does One Find Themselves Receiving Attention by CEU?
Inter-Department Coordination and Response
Remedy Courses
Community Development
Code Enforcement Unit
Board of Supervisor’s Nuisance & Abatement Hearings
District Attorney

Summarize Public Input from Board of Supervisor’s April 8th meeting

Respond to Questions submitted by Bonnie Blackberry at April 8th meeting.

Discuss Evaluation process, Recommendation and Report Findings format.

Discuss next meeting topics and date.

Adjourn to -(Tentative)Wednesday, May XX, 2009 at 10:00 AM
More as I get it.

Addendum: The ER has the story this morning.

Second addendum: As noted above, Daniel M.'s story is in the Independent this week.


Jimmy Carter vs. Condoleeza Rice

One of them is lying.


Code Enforcement task force appointees

Heraldo is reporting that the Council selected the "at large" members yesterday.
Dan Taranto, veteran of the owner-builder movement, Fortuna Police Sgt. Jack Bernstein and Robert Vogt, Director of Environmental Services for Pacific Lumber received the most votes from the ten applicants for the three positions.
I don't know whom CLMP has chosen for their three spots. Anybody have that information?


5 1/2 months later, the EPD officers enter a plea of not guilty

I'm not clear as to why the arraignment took so long, and given that there isn't even a status review until August, the trial probably won't be scheduled until next year. I understand the need for the production of discovery, but was there ever a possibility that the officers would plead guilty? If they would have pled not guilty right away, yesterday's court hearing probably wouldn't have made the news, let alone the front page. I'm not sure whom the media attention benefits, if anybody (but the public).

The manslaughter charges stem from the Cheri Moore killing which has been discussed in great detail on this blog and others. I noticed it came up at the Code Enforcement meeting when one of the speakers said something to the effect of "I guess they're bothering us because they don't have any more crazy ladies with flare guns in Eureka." Not an easy time to be a law enforcement officer around here.

I noticed that Greg Rael has joined the defense team. The officers seem to be putting together their own Humboldt Count defense "dream team."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


About yesterday's debate

Cristina reports.

She also posted the dates, times, and places of upcoming debates.


CLMP hosting Second District supervisor candidates debate


The debate will be preceeded by GARBERVILLE TOWN BAND music and refreshments.

The Civil Liberties Monitoring Project (CLMP) has organized a Humboldt County District #2 Supervisor Candidates¹ Night to be moderated by the League of Women Voters, on Wednesday, May 7th, 2008, from 7 to 8:30 pm at the Veterans Memorial Building in Garberville. The public event is cosponsored by the Garberville Veterans Group. It will be aired live on KMUD community radio. Attendees will be able to submit questions to be answered by each candidate.

Doors will open at 6:00 pm when the Garberville Town Band will play Gregg Moore¹s arrangements of town band music from all over the world. Light refreshments will be served.

The debate will start promptly at 7 pm.

Register here to vote for June 3rd election. May 19th is the last day to register for this election.

All three candidates for District #2 Supervisor plan to attend and make a short presentation. Audience members are invited to submit questions that can be addressed by every candidate, and all candidates will have the opportunity to address each question. There will be a table and 3 x 5² cards for you to write your questions down and submit them to the facilitators. The League of Women Voters¹ is a non-advocacy group and they will moderate this meeting.

All concerned citizens are encouraged to attend this community meeting.

Please call our office, 923-4646 with any questions, or check our website:


So much for the efficacy of electronic voting machines

Pennsylvania's elections are almost entirely electronic. No paper trail. No audits. Completely in the hands of private companies with no possibility of checking the results, allegedly because of proprietary considerations.

Nearly an hour ago polls closed in Pennsylvania. Less than one percent of the vote is counted.

Problems were reported with the machines today, resulting in long lines; at least as reported by Peter Collins and Thom Hartman. Mostly in Philadelphia - go figure.

Addendum: The networks are now calling it for Clinton, and the exit polls suggest that the "bitter" comment made a large impact on late deciders. The margin is still in question.

Second addendum: Clinton may win this one big. A third of Philadelphia (Obama's "stronghold") has been counted, and he's only winning there by 10 percent. Most of the rest of the state only has trickles of results coming in, including Pittsburgh where she's expected to blow him out of the water.

This after outspending Clinton 3 to 1 in the state. I don't know that white blue collar voters will vote for an educated black man who is perceived as an elitist. It's looking very good for McCain.

Third addendum: Take the link and scroll down for the map. It tells the story.

Fourth addendum: Someone has e-mailed me pointing out that most of Pittsburgh's votes have been counted and Obama should actually pull closer with what's left. And she also points out that the polls were at double digits a few weeks ago and that he actually gained since the "bitter" comment. Good points.

Fifth addendum: If Obama pulls it out, I bet he courts Ed Rendel for V.P. I saw him in action this week. He should have been running.

Sixth and final addendum: Big night for Hillary Clinton. I don't normally consult the wisdom of Pat Buchanan, but tonight he asked: "Has Obama peaked?" Might be the case.

Obama did eventually take Philadelphia 2 to 1.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Move-on's Obama ad contest

You can rate the candidates here. Hopefully no Nazi comparisons this time. I've watched and rated about ten of them. This one's my favorite so far, but I don't think it's the image the Obama campaign would want to project - especially after the past couple of weeks. In fact, it'd probably be a disaster. But I like it.

Edit: Sorry, it's on auto-video or whatever. And it doesn't even stick to the video I want. Oh well.

Addendum: Okay, I figured it out. But I can't find the other video. And I can't embed any of them. So here's my runner up.

On the other hand, I showed it to my wife. Her response: "Huh?"


Bill Clinton to endorse Obama?

Jason Linkins of Huffington Post dug up this old clip from the 2004 convention, which is probably going to find itself in an Obama ad shortly.

It won't be in time to rebut this ad playing in Pennsylvania.

Here's the current rebuttal, but Obama will do much better with Bill's help.


Heraldo has some interesting videos

From all appearances on the primary video of Heraldo's most recent post, the 420 smoke-in at Arcata Community Park went peaceful despite pre-event concerns. I guess all of those kids have chronic diseases and they needed medicine. I was in the park with my family for a picnic lunch on Saturday and the happy smokers were already congregating, and smoking. Couldn't wait for Sunday I guess. It was actually pretty annoying for us as we just wanted to have a few minutes to let our kids play on the structures. The bigger kids ought to at least leave the playground area to the smaller ones. Most were actually in the field doing their thing.

By the way, the picnic tables at the park were gone and it looks like that area has been dug up for some sort of construction. Anybody know what they're building?

Also in Heraldo's post is an amusing (not for kids) satire speculating on what a business meeting would be like if the participants played by Internet discussion rules. And there's a time-lapse video of a guy who spent a weekend locked in an elevator.

Addendum: The Times-Standard interviewed one Stoner who did not attend yesterday's festivities. I didn't see any other coverage.

The Eureka Reporter has a story however. With photos.


Estelle to meet with SHEL

SHEL Hosts Meeting and Dialogue with Supervisor Candidate Estelle Fennell

Submitted by Amy Conway of SHEL

The Southern Humboldt Economic Localization group (SHEL) will hold its monthly meeting at the Civic Club in Garberville on Wednesday, April 23rd beginning at 7pm. This time, attendees will welcome 2nd District supervisor candidate Estelle Fennell for an evening of dialogue. This will be an opportunity for the Southern Humboldt community to meet Fennell in person, to share desires and concerns with a candidate who says that she has been interested in economic localization for the past several years. On Fennell’s website, she states, “I believe that if we want to see a sustainable future for our district we must take bold action to diversify our economy.” Fennell will elaborate on her position and what her goals are as potential supervisor. SHEL invites all interested citizens to participate in this evening of exchange. SHEL has not endorsed any of the three candidates running for supervisor.

Estelle Fennell, a citizen of Southern Humboldt and familiar to many, has served the local community over the past two decades as a news director and community broadcaster for the Redwood Community Radio station, KMUD. She states on her website that during those years, she “developed a clear understanding of the issues that concern the people of the 2nd district and the county as a whole.” She expresses her commitment to ensuring that the needs of 2nd district citizens are met. As for economic localization, Fennell says that her interest in strengthening the local economy began in part with the appearance of the Willits Economic Localization group (WELL). This group spurred the creation of SHEL and has been recognized as a pioneer in the movement towards localizing economies. Fennell organized and directed a radio forum on economic localization that was broadcasted on five FM stations (KMUD, KZYX, KHSU, KIDE in Hoopa, and KZMR in Grass Valley). She is looking forward to conversation at the SHEL meeting with community members who have an interest in sustainability and local self reliance. More information on Fennell’s campaign issues and her economic and job creation plan can be found on her website

SHEL is looking forward to this meeting and again, encourages all to attend with their ideas and questions. Come make your voice be heard and stand out as a community that matters in Humboldt County. For more info, call 223-0302.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Another local blog

The Middle of the Road appears to be a very thoughtful post by a middle class working father. Looks like he hasn't posted in a while, but maybe a little traffic boost will prime the pump.


Second District Supervisor race straw poll

Don't bother freeping this thing. It's not an indication of anything in terms of election results. I'm just interested in the breakdown of people who come here.


Steak with Roger - Thursday night

Roger Rodoni for Supervisor
Steak Dinner Fundraiser
& Live Auction

Thursday, April 24, 2008 - 6:00 p.m.

Fortuna Veterans Hall
1426 Main Street
Fortuna, California

$25.00 Donation

For tickets call 725-3331


Avoiding the word

We've got inflation. We've got recession. The last time we saw to two together for any length of time was the late 1970s. It did in a presidency. The phenomenon was coined "stagflation."

So why aren't we hearing this term despite soaring food and energy prices combined with the highest unemployment we've seen in years? Check out my Googling hits. Most of them are foreign news sources, and I don't even recognize the American sources which means they're probably too small to have gotten the memo. Call me paranoid, but I suspect it's because in it's desperate need to appease right wingers accusing them of liberal bias, they don't want to report on the economy in such as way that it might evoke associations with Jimmy Carter's economy. Stagflation would have to be explained, and that would be the natural illustration.

It might also be a product of the perennial obsession with the media to avoid reporting in such a way as to reduce confidence in the economy. But it's becoming pretty embarrassing as their experts fall over themselves to spin numbers in such a way as to avoid bad news. They're having a hard enough time getting the word "recession" out of their mouths. "Stagflation" would send them over the top.


ACLU press release re 420 celebration tomorrow

Redwood ACLU Expresses Concern Over Planned
Police Tactics At Redwood Park “4/20 Protest”

At the regular monthly meeting of the Redwood Chapter, ACLU Board of Directors on Tuesday, local civil rights leaders expressed concern over proposed police tactics to be used against nonviolent demonstrators at the annual “4/20 protest” at Redwood Park in Arcata this Sunday.

In particular, Board members were alarmed by media reports quoting Arcata Police Department captain Tom Chapman, who allegedly is planning vehicle barricades around Redwood Park to block access to the public on April 20, even though no permits have been filed to require such an action.

“No one is contesting the reasonable enforcement of parking restrictions, much less preventing drivers from operating vehicles while they’re under the influence,” said Redwood ACLU chair Christina Allbright. “But the planned presence of barricades, command posts and a massive influx of out-of-town law enforcement officers begs the question of what is an appropriate level of response to an essentially nonviolent demonstration.”

This latest escalation of police tactics comes on the heels of the recent filing of the Arcata Police Review Act of 2008 by Redwood ACLU vice chair and Arcata attorney Greg Allen, which would establish an independent civilian-run police review commission for the APD. The official Title and Summary is due back from Arcata’s City Attorney this week, to be followed by signature-gathering efforts aimed at putting the measure on the ballot for Arcata voters in November.

“These recent statements constitute a pre-emptive declaration of war by the APD against peaceful protesters who want to see changes in how our society treats the use of cannabis,” Allen said. “Especially considering the City’s plans to increase sales taxes, how is the cost of this over-reaction justified in terms of benefit to public safety?”

In addition to asking for the presence of Independent Observers at the protest, the Redwood ACLU also voted unanimously to direct one of its Boardmembers, local attorney Peter Martin, to submit a Public Records Act request to the City of Arcata to discover how much the law enforcement actions associated with the “4/20 protest” would cost, including all overtime paid out to APD personnel and any outside police agencies. Boardmembers also wanted to know why restroom facility access was “cordoned off,” as stated in recent media reports.

“This could be a case of entrapment, when you deny access to restroom facilities, and then threaten people with arrest when nature calls,” said Redwood ACLU board member Minerva Williams.

For more information, call the new ACLU Hotline at 707-442-4419.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


China's "New Left"

A friend of mine (and a fellow local blogger) spent some time in the Bayshore Mall recently. He hadn't spent much time there before, but he had some tasks to accomplish. He says, "it brought out all of the uncomfortable elitism in me," and went on to say that what we find in the malls now are like cheap carbon copies of a past time of quality (the statement evoked in me the image from Brazil where brightly colored gruel is served in restaurants with a picture of the food it's supposed to represent). As manufacturing continues to die its slow death in this country, China has picked up on the worst of market system - the marketing of cheap crap where quantity has completely eclipsed quality, with the effect that quality is no longer affordable.

The result in China has been the ascendancy of something resembling a "middle class" where the revolution of decades past has not been defeated, but rather appropriated by capitalism in its most raw form. Companies are fleeing not just the US, but even ironically places like Taiwan because the "Peoples Republic" offers freedom from independent unions, child labor laws, worker safety laws, and environmental regulations. It has increased economic standards of living profoundly, at the expense of much of the rest of the world and the percentage of workers victimized on a scale unmatched by Upton Sinclair's worst nightmare. The dissent is limited because this new market system flourishes under a despotic regime which has shown that it will crack down brutally to guarantee its offerings.

But with all oppression comes resistance. It's comparable to the laws of physics about actions and reactions. And with an increase in affluence comes the time to think and reflect on values and inconsistencies between those values and the underlying reality. Intellectuals.

Somebody e-mailed this link to me. It's a New York Times article of months ago about one such intellectual. Here are some portions to wet your appetite. It's a long article, but the reading time will be well spent. It's about a member of a group of people uniquely positioned to make a profound global difference, and in some ways may represent the best shot at retaining any sort of vitality of the inevitable consolidation of global economy and culture.
Co-editor of China’s leading intellectual journal, Dushu (Reading), and the author of a four-volume history of Chinese thought, Wang, still in his mid-40’s, has emerged as a central figure among a group of writers and academics known collectively as the New Left. New Left intellectuals advocate a “Chinese alternative” to the neoliberal market economy, one that will guarantee the welfare of the country’s 800 million peasants left behind by recent reforms. And unlike much of China’s dissident class, which grew out of the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and consists largely of human rights and pro-democracy activists, Wang and the New Left view the Communist leadership as a likely force for change. Recent events — the purge of party leaders on anticorruption charges late last month and continuing efforts to curb market excesses — suggest that this view is neither utopian nor paradoxical. Though New Leftists have never directed government policy, their concerns are increasingly amplified by the central leadership.

In the last few years, Wang has reflected eloquently and often on what outsiders see as the central paradox of contemporary China: an authoritarian state fostering a free-market economy while espousing socialism. On this first afternoon, he barely paused for small talk before embarking on an analysis of the country’s problems. He described how the Communist Party, though officially dedicated to egalitarianism, had opened its membership to rich businessmen. Many of its local officials, he said, used their arbitrary power to become successful entrepreneurs at the expense of the rural populations they were meant to serve and joined up with real estate speculators to seize collectively owned land from peasants. (According to Chinese officials, 60 percent of land acquisitions are illegal.) The result has been an alliance of elite political and commercial interests, Wang said, that recalls similar alliances in the United States and many East Asian countries.

As he spoke about how market reforms have widened the gap between rich and poor, between rural and urban areas, smartly dressed students browsed through a highbrow collection (Leo Strauss, Jürgen Habermas), checked their e-mail and sipped their mochas. At the privately owned Thinker’s Cafe and the adjoining All Sages bookshop, Wang seemed to be famous. Students greeted him reverentially; the staff was extra attentive. Yet Wang still belongs to a minority. Recoiling from the excesses of Maoism and the failures of the old planned economy, most Chinese intellectuals, even those with no connection to the state, see the market economy as indispensable to China’s modernization and revival. Zhu Xueqin, a history professor at Shanghai University who is one of China’s best-known liberal intellectuals, told me that he wants more, not fewer, market reforms. For him, China’s present instability is caused not by economic forces but by a politically repressive regime that has prevented the emergence of a representative democracy and a constitutional government.

Wang readily acknowledges that China’s efforts at economic reform have not been without great benefits. He applauds the first phase, which lasted from 1978 to 1985, for improving agricultural output and the rural standard of living. It is the central government’s more recent obsession with creating wealth in urban areas — and its decision to hand over political authority to local party bosses, who often explicitly disregard central government directives — that has led, he said, to deep inequalities within China. The embrace of a neoliberal market economy has meant the dismantling of welfare systems, a widening income gap between rich and poor and deepening environmental crises not only in China but in the United States and other developed countries. For Wang, it is the task of intellectuals to remind the state of its old, unfulfilled obligations to peasants and workers.

Despite his invocation of socialist principles, Wang was quick to tell me that he dislikes the New Left label, even though he has used it himself. “Intellectuals reacted against ‘leftism’ in the 80’s, blaming it for all of China’s problems,” he said, “and right-wing radicals use the words ‘New Left’ to discredit us, make us look like remnants from the Maoist days.” Wang also doesn’t care to be identified with the radical intellectuals of the 60’s in America and Europe, to whom the term New Left was originally applied. Many of them, he said, had passion and slogans but very little practical politics, and not surprisingly, more than a few ended up with the neoconservatives, supporting “fantasy projects” like democracy in Iraq.

Wang prefers the term “critical intellectual” for himself and like-minded colleagues, some of whom are also part of China’s nascent activist movement in the countryside, working to alleviate rural poverty and environmental damage. Though broadly left wing, Dushu publishes writing from across the ideological spectrum. Wang’s own work draws on a broad range of Western thinkers, from the French historian Fernand Braudel to the globalization theorist Immanuel Wallerstein. “Intellectual quality is important to me,” Wang said. “I don’t want to run just any left-wing garbage.” The magazine has carried abstract debates on postcolonial theory as well as, he claims, some of the most interesting analyses in China of how the government’s urban-oriented reforms have damaged rural society. There are restrictions on what Dushu can publish, of course, and Wang is frank about them. As with all intellectual journals in mainland China, authors and editors at Dushu have to exercise a degree of self-censorship. Articles cannot directly criticize the leadership or deviate much from the official line on subjects that the Chinese government considers most sensitive — Taiwan or restive Muslim and Buddhist minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet.

Lots more through the link. The phrase "Chinese New Left" has a Wikipedia entry as well.

Photo of Tiananmen Square protest comes from this article, marginally on topic.


South Fork Students shunned?

Apparently the students who went to Sacramento to discuss the educational budget cuts were unable to meet with anybody. They had a meeting set up with somebody, but security slowed them down and they missed their window. Everybody was "too busy" after that.

Listen to the South Fork Student News for details.

I notice that the title of the Redwood Times article was changed on the online version. Thank the Redwood Times for that.


Passover Politics

Passover begins at sundown tonight. I'm going to make several posts about it, but I came across a very interesting Passover post on this English progressive blog - Pickled Politics. It provides a little bit of Jewish/Anglo history.

A taste:
Passover begins today, and lasts for a week. The most important Jewish festival, it commemorates the Jewish Exodus from Egypt which freed them from slavery. Jews have a long connection with England, albeit one that was interrupted when Edward I expelled them in 1290, forcing a few thousand Jews to leave England. Officially they were not allowed to return until 1655; however a small Jewish community was in existence before this date.

After the crushing of the Muslim kingdom of Granada in 1492, the rulers of Portugal and Spain turned their attention to the Jews, who had previously been tolerated in return for their money. Spain ordered the expulsion of all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity in 1492, whilst Portugal did the same in 1497. Many Jews converted in order to stay in the Iberian peninsula, and a number continued to practice Judaism in private. This made them the favoured target of the Spanish Inquisition, who were not allowed to target infidels (i.e. non-Christians), but were permitted to arrest and torture heretics or those who had relapsed into their old, non-Christian faith. When the Portuguese Inquisition was established in 1535, it began to persecute these Judeo-Christians too, leading to a small community of about 70 Jews fleeing to London and establishing themselves there in 1540. They were known as Sephardi Jews (‘Sephardi’ being the medieval Hebrew word for ‘Spanish’), yet were from Portugal.

Despite the absence of an Inquisition (thanks to our Anglo-Saxon-Scandinavian legal system), Jews who had converted to Christianity then relapsed could be executed, and in 1542 a number of them were arrested (though I do not think that nay were executed). Some left England after this, while a number were released after lobbying by the Spanish ambassador and the Queen of Portugal, as the latter needed the Jews to carry on the pepper trade. By Elizabeth I’s time (c.1558), the Jewish community in London number around one hundred, and a few noted doctors had emerged as well as the usual merchants. One, Dr. Lopes, rose to a position in the royal household, but was executed in 1594 after being wrongly accused of plotting to poison Elizabeth.

My kid just woke up. I'll finish this later.


Who is the 12th Cylon?

Friday, April 18, 2008


And in other news, most kids prefer cookies to broccoli!

From the headlines: "Al Qaeda in Iraq is planning suicide attacks against Iraqis in Baghdad "in the near future," the U.S. military warned Friday."

I sense a Pulitzer in the making!


Bill Ayers has a blog

Entitled simply "Bill Ayers." And it's probably getting a lot of traffic these days. Here are his comments about "regrets." Note that he does not explicitly state that he does regret having setting off the bombs, he simply denies the interpretation of his statement which suggests he should have set off more bombs. And he seems to be in denial that by doing so he was trying to terrorize the people he opposed. He still seems to view it as some sort of firm protest, maybe along the lines of monkey wrenching. He does end it with some words which counter-indicate a current terrorist mentality. But he is clearly in denial after 30 years.
The other night, for example, I heard Sean Hannity tell Senator John McCain that I was an unrepentant terrorist who had written an article on September 11, 2001 extolling bombings against the U.S., and even advocating more terrorist bombs. Senator McCain couldn’t believe it, and neither could I.


1. Regrets. I’m often quoted saying that I have “no regrets.” This is not true. For anyone paying attention—and I try to stay wide-awake to the world around me all/ways—life brings misgivings, doubts, uncertainty, loss, regret. I’m sometimes asked if I regret anything I did to oppose the war in Viet Nam, and I say “no, I don’t regret anything I did to try to stop the slaughter of millions of human beings by my own government.” Sometimes I add, “I don’t think I did enough.” This is then elided: he has no regrets for setting bombs and thinks there should be more bombings.


I’ve never advocated terrorism, never participated in it, never defended it.


We begin by releasing our most hopeful dreams and our most radical imaginations: a better world is both possible and necessary. We need to bring our imaginations together and forge an unbreakable human alliance. We need to unite to transform and save ourselves as we fight to change the world and save humanity.
Some expression of remorse for his victims would be nice. But I don't read malevolence into anything he says. I've posted a couple of questions for him. Maybe he'll respond. Judge for yourself.

Addendum: Man! Look at the comments in that thing. Check out the comments in response to his short story! And he leaves them intact. So much for the stereotype of the hard lefty censorship.


Freedom of speech, marijuana, suspensions - trouble at KZYX

KZYX is something of a sister station to KMUD often coordinating news coverage and simulcasting significant events. Apparently they've lost KC Meadows because she expressed her own views of Measure B during a debate in which she was moderating. She had disclosed her bias in favor of Measure B at the beginning. I should mention that while I do not take positions on ballot measures or candidates while airing my own show, I do not read the law as restrictively as some have. A talk show is about the exchange of arguments and as such it is obvious that the nonprofit station itself is not taking a position. I believe that the memos sent out at KMUD a few years back based upon the opinions of some attorney in Oregon was overstated.

But I think Bruce Anderson's implication is that the real objection was that KC Meadows was making some salient points objectionable to many listeners during a pledge drive. If so, that should be a point of concern for KZYX listeners.

Meadows reportedly quit in protest of the suspension. No mention of the incident on her own blog.

Some excerpts from the AVA article:
Mendocino County's marijuana controversy got its best airing yet when free speech made a rare, hour-long appearance at the county's public radio station last Thursday evening. But by Friday morning free speech was in full, limping retreat at the Philo headquarters of Mendocino County Public Radio, and two KZYX staffers had been suspended for having committed the unspeakable act on the air.

What happened?

Thursday's debate had been advertised as "KZYX, Thursday night, April 10, 2007. Media Panel Debate on Measure B. Moderator: K.C. Meadows. Guests: Keith Faulder, Ross Liberty."


Measure B received a thorough airing on Thursday night's program. The discussion was smart, civil and lively. It was adult give and take and interesting radio, public radio as it should be.

Enter the enemies of free speech at, of all places, a radio station that constantly advertises itself as "free speech radio."

In an odd series of events, peculiar even by the turbulent standards of local public radio, the passionate but otherwise unremarkable on-air debate about the pending marijuana ballot measure prompted station management to suspend the show's host, Ukiah Daily Journal editor K.C. Meadows, and to also place program manager Mary Aigner, a long-time employee of Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, on open-ended suspended status.


Meadows and Aigner apparently incurred the hasty wrath of station management when they inserted their views into Thursday's on-air debate between Faulder and an overmatched Ross Liberty.
The article has much more. The KZYX site does not appear to have audio archives. It does report that they raised just under 70 thousand in their pledge drive.

Addendum: Thanks to Fred for the correction. If you go to Meadows' blog you'll find within the screen a scrolling function which takes you to recent posts I didn't notice. Here's the permalink to her comments re KZYX.

Thursday, April 17, 2008



Since the Weathermen have made it into the news of late, I'm working on a post to clarify a lot of misinformation. To begin with, aside from the accidental death of three of its members in an explosion while making bombs, they killed nobody. They always gave plenty of warning, which differentiates them from other terror groups. Make no mistake, I do regard them as a terror group.

In the meantime, I'm posting a quick-review I wrote a couple of years back when I rented the documentary from Netflix. I have to get to the radio station so I don't have time to look it over. I make no promises as to grammar, spelling, etc.
I’m still assimilating this film. I came of age just as the Weathermen era was coming to a close. If you’re skeptical of the power of this film, just read the reviews here and note the swarm of right wingers hitting the “not helpful” button on any review hinting of sympathy. I’m not going to indulge in political discussion, except to point out despite my own jaded leftism that it is a testament to the virtue this country and the strength of due process that these people are not all behind bars, or dead. Granted, the FBI’s desperation led to abuses of the law that made prosecution impossible, but it would have been very easy to ignore due process given the level of crime involved. I say this pointing out that nobody was ever intentionally killed and recognizing that had there been assassinations the judges involved would probably have found their way around the Fourth Amendment to nail them to the wall.

This is a film about righteousness and self-importance, and while the tactics can be roughly compared to modern terror, the state of mind is perhaps a mirror image of a more acceptable post-9/11 state of mind. So much to talk about in a film like this. I wish there were more clips from the Gitlin interview, as I’m certain he had more to say to undermine the thread of denial among these “activists.”

It’s hard to strike a balance here, not wanting to whitewash the full violent significance of these acts and the extreme mindset represented by the badly written incoherent “communiqes” and at the same time not wanting to play into the oversimplifications of those who would equate the Weathermen with Al Qaida. For a group that confounded the FBI for a decade and beyond the first couple of mishaps managed to pull off bombings over and over again without hurting anyone physically, it’s a lesson in the compartmentalization of brilliance. Lastly, in light of the actual context of the Dylan lyrics, one wonders why they chose their name.
More later, including info on Bill Ayers in particular.

I just remembered that I made a post about the Weathermen last year.

Addendum: Here's a link for the documentary, entitled The Weather Underground. It is an excellent documentary and it's available on Netflix.

Oh, and Bill Ayers is one of the ex-members interviewed.

Second addendum: More on Bill Ayers and the context of some of his "I wish we had done more" comment.

Third addendum: Here's a clip from the film. It captures a little bit of the FBI's frustration. The bombs kept going off. During the 1970s, none of them was caught. Not one. In the late 1970s, some of them started to turn themselves in. The FBI, in its frustration, had resorted to some tactics which led to exclusions of evidence which made it nearly impossible to convict. Most of the brains of the group had surrendered by the 1980s. A few of the less, well, gifted, hung on and started a couple of new groups including the one that led to the disastrous Brinks robbery. The film and the DVD extras provide some of the information.

Editing: It appears that the the whole documentary was posted at youtube in 9 parts. This one is the first. If you click on the box after it finishes, it should take you to youtube where you can find the rest.

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