You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2010.

As of tomorrow, a few more HRC provisions kick in – including the requirement that 80 percent of insurance premiums be spent on health care.  This will lead to two alternatives – lower premiums, or stimulative insurance spending on actual health care.  How effective it will be I can’t say as I know nothing about the enforcement mechanism, and I’m sure that Republicans are going to try to starve it for funds.  But insurance companies which dedicate more than 20 percent to dividends, salaries, and overhead will be in violation of law.

Given that the recession and bailout money have brought insurance companies record profits over the past couple of years, there should be plenty of money to invest in medical infrastructure, that that could mean significant hiring.

Also kicking in are the 50 percent pharmaceutical discounts for seniors caught in the infamous “donut hole” and that will sbe quite visible and very much felt by those on fixed incomes. Some senior advocacy group is already airing radio ads, and a number of people have been stretching out what they have to make it to Jan. 1 when unfortunately most pharmacies will be closed.  But Monday isn’t too far away.

It’s not single payer, but it’s not a kick in the pants either.

Tea Party Nation has it’s own list of hate groups.  In the top five are the Department of Homeland Security and the NAACP.


Who is to blame for Tea Party darling Michelle Bachman’s rightward turn?  Gore Vidal.


According to textbooks being used in Virginia classrooms, many blacks fought for the Confederacy, there were twelve Confederate states, and the US entered World War I in 1916.  The woman who wrote one of the books says she is a “fairly respected writer.”  She found some of the information on the Internet, provided by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Virginia got a good deal on the books, cheaper than other publishers’ offerings.  You get what you pay for.


“Ground Zero Mosque” opponents are boycotting Martin Bieber in response to a satirical article based upon a fictitious interview in which Bieber was satirically quoted as calling Muslims “super cool” and Christians “lame-o-rama.”

The media is reporting on the hoax, but expect to get one of those emails from your gullible conservative cousin.


Fox News was in top form this year, and TPM has collected some of the more entertaining videos.  Meagan Kelly figures very prominently.


A little bit of good economic news for a weary world.  A step in the direction of recovery, or just a Christmas bubble?


Heraldo posted a Seven-O-Heaven commentary which probably applies to political campaigns everywhere.  But it has particular meaning for this past local election.


Just saw a clip on television in which the claim was made that the burrito as we know it today was invented by La Cumbre in the Mission District of San Francisco (one of my favorite taquerias to be sure).  I don’t know if this is true, but from what I’ve been reading it definitely has its roots in the Mission District of California.  Wikipedia has what appears to be a pretty good history.

I just had one of Nacho Mama’s surfing burritos today.  It’s one of my favorite Garberville meals.


Off to bed with the winter edition of Zyzzyva.  Far better than Paris Review or the New Yorker.  Give it a look sometime.

Good nite.


A few years back I posted about a less than productive post-game exchange following a defeat by famed chess grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi at the hands of one of the Polgar sisters.  Well, Korchnoi never liked losing.  He certainly didn’t like losing two opportunities for the world championship against his arch-enemy Anatoly Karpov a few decades back.  He especially doesn’t like losing to women.  Well, a few months before my prior post, he had lost to another woman – Irina Krush.  And as she blogged, the post-game exchange wasn’t any prettier.

The photo was posted on Ms. Krush’s blog, and I assume was taken by her.


Odd thing.  Of the players who are regularly in competition in the U.S. only about 3 percent are women – less than half the world average and much lower than countries such as Russia, Georgia, and lately China.  Women in the U.S. do tend to excel here in other games and sports traditionally male dominated, but for some reason we are way behind in chess.  Most of the very best female players here are immigrants.  Women in the poker at higher rates.  Even boxing.  But not chess.  Any theories?

Got this from Daily Kos.

. . The trainer, Austin James, was instructing Tea Party members on how to “manipulate the medium”. This is what he told them:

“Here’s what I do. I get on Amazon; I type in “Liberal Books”. I go through and I say “one star, one star, one star”. The flipside is you go to a conservative/ libertarian whatever, go to their products and give them five stars. … This is where your kids get information: Rotten Tomatoes, Flixster. These are places where you can rate movies. So when you type in “Movies on Healthcare”, I don’t want Michael Moore’s to come up, so I always give it bad ratings. I spend about 30 minutes a day, just click, click, click, click. … If there’s a place to comment, a place to rate, a place to share information, you have to do it. That’s how you control the online dialogue and give our ideas a fighting chance.”

Yeah?  Well next campaign I’m going to call in a Domino’s delivery to the Republican HQ.  And I might just play door-bell-ditch at Rex Bohn’s house too!

According to the Ukiah Daily Journal, David Eyster, the new District Attorney for Mendocino County, may be dismissing a number of weed cases.

He said there are marijuana farmers who are trying to comply with the law, some who don’t know how to comply.

In cases where growers appear to be trying to comply, according to Eyster, a better practice than the one currently used is to give the growers a deadline by which to “get legal” and refer them to the Sheriff’s Office, which sells zip ties and issues permits for gardens that meet the state’s and the county’s guidelines.


He plans to take on the task of deciding how to charge each case that comes to his office, at least until his staff of prosecutors get used to his expectations, and law enforcement officers have a better idea how he handles crimes in court.

“You have to make sure that you’re just not filing cases that you later are going to dismiss because you got tired of them, but really because that’s what justice requires, and what public safety requires,” Eyster said.

He plans to focus on public safety, meaning crimes with victims, such as violent or serious felonies, drunk driving.

Will there be a “WatchDave” website now?

From the quarterly which I believe to be the most profound political journal in the country.

Dear Dissent Facebook Group Members,

While this may come as a surprise to some of our readers, small quarterly magazines are not traditionally on the vanguard of communication technology. We move slowly, when the zeitgeist demands speed; we fight for the long form, while the culture calls for short and plentiful.

In the summer of 1994, Dissent co-editor Michael Walzer wrote ( about Dissent’s latest technological acquisition: the fax machine. “The machines are fun in the beginning, toys for grownups, though it is only our kids who will ever master them. And it probably makes some people feel important to be besieged with messages the way a city besieged by soldiers is suddenly the key to military victory or defeat. But the fun will become routine and the routine more and more exhausting. And the importance will fade once everyone is similarly besieged. Imagine the men and women of the future with mobile phones and hand-sized fax machines in their pockets and a wrist watch p.c. for their e-mail: never a moment alone. When that happens, I’m calling for a General Strike.”

But what are Dissentniks, both grownups and kids, to do now, fifteen years and an internet revolution later? To whom would we address our strikes—to the international committee of pocket faxes and wrist-watch computers? The political demands of our times do not allow us to strike against technology; instead, we labor to continue doing what Dissent has always done best, while tentatively engaging in the inescapable new.

With that in mind, we ask those who are members of the Dissent Facebook “group” to join our Facebook “page” (click here to join: The “page” will better allow us to share the writing at Dissent, and information about Dissent’s non-virtual events, throughout Facebook’s vast network. Facebook won’t allow us to merge the group and page together, so we’re asking you to make the switch on your own.

Invite your friends to join the page. Share links to the pieces you find essential. But when you need a moment alone—when the routine does become exhausting—log off for a little while, and read in the old, slow way. And if you’re looking for a companion for those offline moments, the print edition of Dissent ( will be waiting there for you.

Ever onward,


There’s going to be a big turnover in the Planning Commission due to expired terms as well as the conservative turn of the Board of Supervisors last fall.  And some of the people who have slammed the county for the extraordinary length of the process are ironically calling upon the county to slow it down even more until they have their commissioners of preference in place.

With the loss of these commissioners, a couple of whom have been on for over a decade, and the losses of Bonnie Neely and Jill Duffy, a great deal of institutional knowledge will be absent from the process.

Thanks to Woods for this link to a Press Democrat article about pot growing and land prices in rural Mendocino County.  I suspect the dynamics aren’t too different here across the county border.

I received an email about my post below in which I mentioned the crowd at Venlo’s.  Apparently my patronage of the business nails me as a newcomer progressive as opposed to an old guard conservative, or something along those lines. “True Eurekans” buy from Partricks.

Two points.  First, I don’t live in Eureka, so I’m neither a neo-Eurekan nor a paleo-Eurekan.

Secondly, I have bought items from both stores.  I don’t eat much candy these days, so I’m not in either establishment frequently.  But I haven’t noticed that any particular demographic favors one over the other.  Venlo’s makes the best hot chocolate I’ve had.  Partrick’s offers items other than chocolate.

It’s candy folks.  They both sell candy.


I don’t know if Christmas shopping is really any measure of economic recovery, but for what it’s worth the stores seemed slammed this year, much more than last.  Unfortunately there was an item I could only get from Target some days ago, and I had to park right next to Fourth Street.  I’ve actually never seen the parking lot there so full, though I really don’t visit the store much.  But everywhere I went was packed.  Venlo’s.  Blue Moon’s.  Abraxas.

My question is, where are they getting the money?  Credit cards aren’t any more plentiful than they were last year, and consumer credit remains down.  The illicit economy is in worst shape than last year.  Are there phantom jobs not making it into the studies?


Fiesta Cafe at Bayside is not my favorite Mexican restaurant (La Costa has that honor, though I keep hearing raves about a restaurant in Orrick which might change my mind), but they do make my favorite chicken mole – the only savory version I’ve found in the county.  Traditionally they have offered a meatball soup with their dinners, but now they offer several soups including the best menudo I’ve had in years.


My son’s skepticism has emerged.  He has believed in Santa Clause because he wants to believe, but I think this year’s the last.  I won’t go into all the questions he’s asked, but I think I was busted at last night’s dinner.  I was explaining to a guest that a couple of my favorite Christmas seasons took place when my parents didn’t have the money for a lot of presents, and my son who had been eating quietly up to that moment said, “then your Mom was obviously Santa!”

I tried to wiggle out of it, but I think the jig’s up.


Are there no poor houses?  Are there no prisons?

On a bizarre note, Sheriff Joe Arpaio who has made national headlines for his extreme approaches to immigration law enforcement, offered some Christmas spirit by having his pre-trial inmates sing Christmas carols to him. The 50 or so contestants are being “held on charges ranging from burglary and DUI to murder.”

The winner of the competition received real turkey for Christmas instead of whatever the prison was serving to those less musically inclined.  The winner?   Jodi Arias who is accused of having brutally killed her boyfriend in a cold jealous rage, who was featured on 48 hours, and has reportedly received numerous marriage offers despite her potential residence on death row.  Too kinky for me!


TPM chronicles the biggest “War on Christmas” battles this year.  And in case you have a conservative loved one looking for a late holiday gift, you can buy him/her a copy of America’s War on Christianity.  See, it’s a rough place to be a Christian.  Among the villains are Jon Stewart, a “socialist” who makes fun of those who think there’s a war on Christians; the Da Vinci Code, and those who want to protect homosexuals from discrimination and violence.


Needs are up, but donations are down.  Normally the practical Christianity expression of Glide Memorial Church gives out 6000 free bags of groceries in SF’s Tenderloin.  This year they could only afford to distribute 5000.  They will be serving 3000 prime rib meals today.

I don’t know where we’ll be next Christmas, but as my son is old enough to forgo Santa Clause, he’s old enough to learn first hand the real point of Christmas and charity.  We’ll be looking for an outlet locally if we aren’t visiting family in the Bay Area, in which I’ll look to Glide or St. Anthony’s for an outlet.  I’m looking for ideas.


My parents took my kids to A.C.T.’s A Christmas Carol this year.  My son has now watched about 4 or 5 versions of the story and is becoming something of a connoisseur.  His favorite film version has George C. Scott in the lead role.

My least favorite is an abomination I saw as a child in the early 70s, which not only attempted to convert the story to a musical (I really don’t think Dickens’ work is appropriate for a musical, and sorry, but that includes Oliver Twist).  It was on television yesterday and brought back the bad memory of a 70s film which tried to be scary, but just fell flat lame (the Ghost of Christmas Future with a skull face – ooooo, scary!).  It didn’t include the day after Christmas scene with Bob Cratchett, and it incorporated scenes in Hell, and lots of blabbering about matters extraneous to the original story.  On top of it, the acting and singing are horrible.

My favorite version was actually the 1930s version I haven’t seen since I was a kid.  Sometimes less is more.


Merry Christmas!


December 2010