The Consequences of Fighting Over There: #surrendered

The chaos and conflagration in the Middle East has expanded into Yemen this month with another poor country devolving from a barely stable and increasingly polarized state to another war zone.

I don’t think we should be the world’s police, I also don’t think we are serving the people of the region well.  Our schitzophenic domestic politics have effects all over the world and especially the Middle East.  For me, this Syrian refugee’s reaction to a camera is part of our country’s epic and continuing fail.

Inshallah, this 4 y/o girl will be here for many years beyond those of us old enough to read this are gone.  But just think of the scars she and the hundreds of thousands or millions of other survivors will carry into the future.

As I was searching twitter for the hashtag #surrendered, I also found this tweet from late February stating simply “God will provide #surrendered”.

I’m not religious myself, but for those of you who are, doesn’t he need our help down here?  Isn’t it so clear that God, or the Muslim’s, Christians, Jewish vision or our path to the divine is the root of so much of this chaos?

I do believe God will provide, but I also believe that we are active participants.  Once in a while we get an extraordinary chance to share the trauma of another region in a way that might re-adjust our own priorities and help us to empathize with our fellow humans before we all wind up where whereever we will.

Continue reading “The Consequences of Fighting Over There: #surrendered”


Are Arkley Political Donations the Same Thing as HCDCC Political Donations?

Image from Daily Beast’s “The JCN Story: How to Build a Secretive, Right-Wing Judicial Machine” Photo Illustration by Louisa Barnes

Recently the Daily Beast ran an important article on the use of large sums of money to influence judicial elections.  If you haven’t, go check it out (click the picture), it’s more important than this. This post isn’t going anywhere.

Back?  Thanks.

Our local feudal overlord Rob Arkley apparently is one on the leading edge of this ethically-challenged practice of money big money supporting their judicial candidate of choice.   If you can’t buy all the law makers, why not focus on the referees, right?

This of course comes to no surprise to us Humboltians who are regularly subjected to Mr. Arkley’s ideas and his comically right wing financial-based economic views.

It seems then, with evidence like that in this article elections would be fairly easy to win. Point out what side ole’ Rob is voting for, and the 99% will figure the rest out. Simple.

And it is working this way in California and Humboldt. That’s why Democrats win by 25 points in California and Humboldt election. [ This is an aside, but an important one.  This number is 25% and this is a big deal.  I asked Matthew Owen about this – something he has to ignore to consider himself in “the middle” and is reaction was that Governor Brown won by a handful of points – I think he said 54%.  Here is the  truth for Matthew and Republicans – Even the polarizing Governor Brown (compared to down-ticket statewide D/R votes) won by 20 points in CA broadly – and even 60% to Neel Kashkari’s 40%.  In Humboldt Governor Brown won by 30 points! 65% to Neel Kashkari’s 35%.  See “Numbers” way, way, below for more and links.]

So where do Democrats go from here? Republicans are now rightfully defined by Rob Arkley and Rush Limbaugh. Any question and take a look at the Republican’s recent (and late! – CA Secretary of State or any of you who would like to bring this to their attention) where the only line items are in kind rental payments by Mr. Arkley’s Security National.

Where Democrats go will have to be defined by those working to move forward what it is to be a Democrat. Politics, and endorsements are one thing, but there is also something as important and that is how and why we do what we do.

In the end, money in politics will be argued about ad infinitum based on our individual sets of ethics. So, as one reads through the comment zones of the mirrors of the Daily Beast article on the Lost Coast Outpost and the Tuluwat Examiner what one will find is not a defence of Rob’s practices, but an attempt at ethical equivalence.

Rob Arkley? Have you heard of George Soros and Tom Steyer?” Most of us on the left get this, I’m not sure we understand how important this argument is. This is what leads to the pox on both parties mentality which in the end is a win for conservatives and Republicans b/c it leads to even fewer people paying attention and voting. (Paul Weyrich’s goo goo syndrome – “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the election quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”)

But locally, the disingenuous argument is it’s not just George and Tom, but the HCDCC as a similar ethically challenged organization.  Thanks to Tuluwat Examiner commenter “nothanks”  comment zone readers were blessed to have our attention drawn to another one in a string of important statewide articles that bring to attention the practice of the HCDCC to take in up to $34,000 in large donations from labor and then spend similarly large amounts out of the county.

Take a look at this article (click “to another one” a couple of sentences earlier). I’ll express my opinions on this below the fold in the form of an open letter to HCDCC members.

Continue reading “Are Arkley Political Donations the Same Thing as HCDCC Political Donations?”

Supervisor Fennell On Manipulation

Can you get somebody? Can you track somebody down? Can you target them when they are going to work, when they are going on vacation? You know, can you identify possible voters, people who are registered and can you manipulate them the way you do everything else?

      -Supervisor Fennell, broadcast 3/25/15 on KINS’ Talk Shop with Brian Papstein

Many of us already know that Supervisor Fennell’s politics is about manipulation.  This is an unsaid truth.  It’s how an individual can move from being a beloved celebrity in her community via a Democracy Now radio station to advocate for land use from the helm property rights lobby organization to becoming county supervisor as a Democrat.

But it isn’t about manipulating people, what Supervisor Fennell does is manipulate the narrative based on the audience at the time – whether it’s HumCPR, KINS, KMUD, the HCDCC, or the (manipulatable?) voter.  Manipulating the story we knew, but manipulating people?  That’s what she said and when she attempted to correct herself she repeated it.

Obviously, under scrutiny I know Supervisor Fennell would take this back.  However, the baseline that undermines the cynicism, the one that connects Brian Papstein’s and Rob Arkley’s anti-government perspective,  Supervisor Fennell and her specific libertarian SoHum constituent’s anti-system perspective, and yes, even cynics on the left that see the whole political facade as a farce, that baseline is … we are already dealing with a hopelessly corrupt system that requires manipulation, of the voting electorate.  (In other words, it’s the “everyone’s doing it” excuse.)

And we all buy into this quite literally.  You and I pay by watching (and being affected by) the ads.  Supervisor Fennell, Sundberg, Bass and Bohn pay in amounts, more often than not, 2x as great as their opponents to media outlets.  Media outlets such as Brian Papstein’s KINS gladly accept this money, deem the manipulation a good and necessary thing, and the pattern continues.

The quote from KINS’ Talk Shop last Wednesday is below the fold, what they meant of course is not manipulating people, but data.  Data can be manipulated to GOTV (Get Out The Vote) with more and more precision.  That’s what they meant I’m sure, but it’s not what they said.

Continue reading “Supervisor Fennell On Manipulation”

Boston Globe Urges Senator Warren to Run

The editorial came out this weekend and instantly made the Move-On email rounds.

I don’t entirely agree with the tenor of the editorial, if she does run, the motivation should be to win, not to benefits Democrats generally.

But given the context of the first announced Republican candidate, think about the messaging advantage the Republicans will have for this election cycle until each party chooses their nominee.  Each of the what, 10? 13? eventual Republican candidates from Cruz to Huckabee to Walker to Paul will be there to expound on the Republican meme of choice.

And from my perspective this meme of exceptionalism, of Providence of a destiny that is blessed by God, makes us excuse policies – foreign and domestic – that seem to me to be objectively self-centered and cruel.

It’s policies that lead to domestic wealth inequality that is most noticeably demonstrable in our racial disparities.  When these are brought up, most often we get arguments such as Mayor Giuliani’s from Meet the Press last November.

“Ninety-three percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We’re talking about the exception here.”

And although the asymmetry of the conflagration in the Middle East is never seen this way – the Republican candidates will inevitably focus (not that this isn’t also important) on the murder of non-Muslims and when the mayhem of the war over there breaks though our increasingly oppressive (and arguably necessary) police state mentality in the West.

Not a mention of any of our potential culpability.  Not responsibility mind you, but partial culpability.

In both cases, the American African-American experience and the expanding instability in the Middle East non of the Republicans will bring up income disparities and what these might mean.  They’ll also all our exceptionalism which basically means God is on our side which seems to me to be debate stopper.

That will be the media matrix for the next year.  I think we should be aware of it and how that political structure of the 2016 election may alone have grave policy ramifications – setting up the frames of debate from 2016 on.

So while I’d personally love Senator Warren to run, it would be to win, not to shape the debate.  If she doesn’t win, and with no viable candidates with a similar message, it seems we are in for a year of exceptionally right-wing rhetoric in our media.

Oh the joy. (sarcasm)

Proposal: 3 Year Olds at All Republican Campaign Stops

I don’t know if there is a more effective analytical journalist than this wonderful 3 year-old whose mother brought her to the definitely PG-13 Ted Cruz’s pre-campaign campaign stop last week.  (listen carefully and have a Kleenex ready at 44 seconds)

“world on fiwah?”

“The world is on fire.  Yes, YOUR world is on fire.”

No, no it isn’t.” There are problems, they aren’t nearly the problems we had, say, in 1935, 1943, or the existential threats we faced from potential nuclear annihilation after we decided we could drop two atomic bombs on our enemies, and thankfully have been a part of a world that has not used this technology on populations centers since.

We are actually doing pretty well all things considered as long as your source of news isn’t the catastr-o-rama of Glenn Beck’s world.  Problems?  Absolutely, but we here in the U.S. most of us continue to be buffered from the worst of them.  The ones we should be addressing like racial, income and wealth inequality and climate change (wait, maybe the world is on fire?)* are not even on Ted’s radar.

Continue reading “Proposal: 3 Year Olds at All Republican Campaign Stops”

Councilwoman Atkins Struck a Nerve

Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association was moved to write from somewhere about Councilwoman’s Linda Atkin’s My Word last week.  I say “from somewhere” b/c I’m assuming that he does not live in Humboldt given the blurb associated with his piece in the TS yesterday. Here it is…

“Jon Coupal is the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, California’s largest taxpayer advocacy organization, which can be contacted at HJTA has several thousand members residing in Humboldt County.”

Jon Coupal

According to this blurb, Jon is connected to Humboldt b/c he is the spokesperson for all of these members that we are to take his word exist.  You would think the Times Standard would choose an editorial from one of the actual, robust HJTA membership rather than depending on the President to come down and attack as a “screed” an important perspective from one of our elected officials.

It’s more difficult that time will allow to come up with relevant numbers for year-by-year tax revenues in California since, say 1975.  I’d like to compare those to overall revenues and estimates of total property values before judging Jon’s chosen stats.

But it’s pretty clear, stats aside, where Jon is coming from.  You don’t need to go any further than the links in the previous post to get the picture – and it’s in the 460’s.

Continue reading “Councilwoman Atkins Struck a Nerve”

Dear Thadeus, (RE: Campaign Finance)

Dear Thadeus of the NCJ,

John Freakin’ Fullerton, multi-term Eureka School Board member and non-HCDCC endorsable candidate/measure treasure and activist, has informed me that you would like clarification on the HCDCC’s money laundering ways.

Well I’m here to fill you in on the details.  I’m not sure why you didn’t simply ask me yourself.

Before we do, let me add a little more to Councilwoman Atkin’s My Word yesterday, since this is really what this is about.  The opinion piece must have struck a nerve with fellow TOS Star Trek fan Fullerton.  (Hi, John btw.)

Let’s focus for a minute on this sentence from Linda’s article before addressing your and John’s questions.

Their hope is to dismantle all reliable retirement systems, including Social Security, so that you and I will live a frightening old age in poverty, while the execs and corporations rake in the billions.

Our Republican Congress, John F’s former Party, is up to the following according to Michael Phelan of Social Security Works

Remember the Bowles-Simpson plan?

It was the proposal–later rejected–from the co-chairs of the Fiscal Commission, which attempted to cut Social Security and Medicare while also cutting taxes for wealthy Americans. And guess what? Members of Congress are trying to bring it back right now. Just yesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham said he was working with a group of Senators to introduce legislation that would constitute a “mini-Bowles-Simpson.”

But as Mr. Phelan later writes…

The truth is that Social Security has a $2.8 trillion surplus, can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 18 years and approximately 80% of benefits owed after that. And all we need to do is ask the very wealthy to start paying their fair share and we can not only extend the lifespan of the Social Security trust fund, we can expand benefits for millions of Americans.

But wait, one more thing before answering your questions

From Paul Krugman’s NYT column today, Million Dollar Fraudsters

… the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks: one on spending, one on revenue. And that’s actually an understatement. If either budget were to become law, it would leave the federal government several trillion dollars deeper in debt than claimed, and that’s just in the first decade.

These are just two of the types of policy decisions John Fullerton’s former party would like us to ignore while focusing on the ethically-challenged ways of unions and Democrats.

Finally, back to your question below the fold.

Continue reading “Dear Thadeus, (RE: Campaign Finance)”

Linda Atkin’s ‘My Word’ on the Pension Panic

Another great ‘My Word’ for those who missed yesterday’s paper.   Click the link below for the article.

Pension panic? Consider the survey source

Question for the Times Standard – why lump these two great progressive  (see yesterday’s link to Richard Salzman’s article on the BOS) ‘My Words’ in one edition?  I guess these along with the good coverage of the county employee’s demonstration in front of the courthouse yesterday were determined to be best placed all in one day’s newspaper.  (note, sarcasm beginning) Why spread out the good news?

Oh and also, let’s give the third opinion piece on the page to the outrageous claim that somehow the condemned letter by most of the Senate’s Republicans was President Obama’s fault for being, you know, a tyrant. (my word, not his) (sarcasm ends)

Back to Councilwoman Atkin’s opinion piece.

This Sunday’s headline story (“City’s pensions 10th in state,” Times-Standard, March 15, Page A1) was about a report issued by the California Policy Center, a renowned conservative pressure group disguised as a “think tank” that’s out to push the California public into believing that they deserve government services for free and that a secure retirement is only for those with enough income to provide it for themselves. Their hope is to dismantle all reliable retirement systems, including Social Security, so that you and I will live a frightening old age in poverty, while the execs and corporations rake in the billions.


I’ve added the link to the CPC above and also captured a screen grab below.


“The mission of the California Policy Center is to secure a more prosperous future for all Californians.”

uh huh.


More from Ward 2’s Councilwoman…

To understand what’s happened, we have to look at the history of funding for cities in California. With the passage of Proposition 13, all commercial property was protected from being reassessed, sometimes forever. This staggering decrease in revenue to local governments just got worse every year as inflation gobbles up the tax base we used to have for local services. We have more expenses and no way to pay for them except by reducing our staff and eliminating the maintenance of our infrastructure (paving streets, sewer repair, etc.)

Less revenue to cities, criminal manipulation of our economy and the mindset pushed by the California Policy Center that the public employees are to blame and government should be able to function with very little money is way off base. Maybe they want to control who gets the money in our society by convincing California citizens that we should give our tax dollars to the corporations that fund the Policy Center, rather than to our friends and neighbors who work for a living.

The piece is a wonderful and important reminder and offers important context to the conservatives rush to the bottom for our governments and their employees.  Full disclosure, I am one now.

Great ‘My Word’ on 4 of our 5 Current Board of Supervisors

1st and 2nd Districts, do you suppose there is something we can do about this?

There are a bunch of us up here who would love to help with volunteer time.

Here is a link to the post and here are a couple of quotes from today’s opinion  piece in the Times Standard from Richard Salzman.

For anyone who doesn’t remember, HumCPR once sued and County Counsel (including Carolyn Ruth) defended us, the people of Humboldt County. We lost, they won and in the end we had to pay HumCPR’s attorney Allison Jackson $100,000 in taxpayer money. Apparently that wasn’t enough to satisfy Money’s need for revenge.


As if not paying one county employee the going rate due to a personal grudge wasn’t bad enough, the Board has now approved a raise for Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey, who endorsed and campaigned on behalf of each of the Gang of Four in their election bids. Last November when they sought a tax increase through Measure Z, they said the funds would be used for “public safety.” Downey himself was in Vote Yes on Z television commercials. Did you think they meant they’d be hiring additional personnel? Why no, they’re increasing Downey’s pay from nearly $150,000 a year to almost $164,000 a year, along with a matching increase in benefits.

Conservatives and Reagan Democrats.  Please take a hard look at your representatives.  Reduced taxes and government as a bad thing are simply talking points.  The truth is Reagan conservatives love government as much as the next liberal guy, they just want to put people they control in charge of it.  Once that is done, they too realize the need for taxes, they just want to make sure they don’t  have to foot the bill, you, the middle and lower economic classes do.

Measure Z is a perfect example of this.  It was a regressive tax made necessary in part due to cuts in other county funding sources such as development fees.

Hooray for talking points and pulling wool over our eyes. (sarcasm)

Continue reading “Great ‘My Word’ on 4 of our 5 Current Board of Supervisors”

π It’s Nerd Weekend in EuGeeka π

Saturday: 3.14(.)15

Today is 3.14(.)15.  A once in a century day for all math and number lovers to celebrate by – I don’ know, a blog post?

There is a good Op-Ed on this most nerd-erific of topics in the NYT today.  Here is what gets to the heart of pi for me…

“But pi’s infinite randomness can also be seen more as richness. What amazes, then, is the possibility that such profusion can come from a rule so simple: circumference divided by diameter”

 \pi = \frac{C}{d}

Measure the diameter of a circle, multiply by 3.1415 and that is the circumference or the distance around the circle.  Simple.  But that’s where the simplicity ends.  This constant,  π, when calculated precisely to decimal places that have absolutely no value to the world you and I inhabit on a daily basis continues, infinitely.  It’s mind boggling and fun.

Happy π day.


Sunday 3.15.15:  Spock Day at the Eureka Theater.




From Humboldt’s Eureka Theater site

We’ll just come right out and say we’re not quite ready to let Spock go. And we’re guessing we’re not the only ones. Yield to the logic of the situation and come to the Eureka Theater on March 15 to celebrate Vulcan’s favorite son, brought to cinematic life by the late, great Leonard Nimoy. This is a fairly impromptu event, so keep watching this space for details as they develop. But clear your late afternoon and evening–we can promise that you will see James T. Kirk cry during “Amazing Grace,” and see Nimoy pass the torch to Quinto. More than that we cannot say, other than that you will not be sorry if you come early and stay late. [UPDATE: Doors open at 2:30. STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN screens at 5:00 PM, and STAR TREK (2009) at 7:00. Let’s just say fans of the original TV show should be seated by 3:00. Just sayin’.] Admission is five U.S. dollars, though we will accept a Canadian $5 note, if you take the time to Spock it. And fans, be not afraid to break out the Starfleet uniforms, the tricorders, the ears–we’re all friends here.

Stop by on Sunday.  If you don’t have time to stay, feel free to leave a donation for those investing in protecting our beautiful F St. movie theater.


For all those Star Trek TOS fans out there in Humboldt – don’t miss John Hardin’s tough look at us Star Trek fans.  I could go on about what he’s missing, but boy does he skewer many of us fans.


Here is one Star Trek “prediction” John notes came true…

Star Trek correctly predicted that everyone would be single. I believe that Mr. Spock’s parents were the only married couple ever depicted on the show. Other than that, everyone in the show was single. Today, for the first time ever, more American adults are single, than in a committed relationship…

Ouch.  But there’s more, if you are one of the many Humboldt Trekkies make sure to check out this fun and often painfully accurate LYGSBTD Star Trek TOS post.