Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Cannabis harvest underway

A hemp grower says:

"I could use 50 people right now, in the field and in the drying rooms."   


A Southern Oregon field report

Southern Oregon has an unusually good climate for growing both the CBD and THC varieties of the cannabis plant. The CBD plant, called hemp, is visible in fields. The THC-bearing plant is grown in small plots, and the state says it must be done out of public sight.

Mold: A widespread problem this year
The region had the knowledge base of highly skilled people with a decade of experience growing the plant, plus the infrastructure of venders who were scaled up to accommodate the boom. We had the irrigation companies, the security camera experts, the soil amendment people, the fertilizer experts and venders, the people to stock and sell drip tapes, hanging nets, dehumidifying machines, and tote boxes by the tens of thousands.

The untypically wet two weeks at the beginning of September created a region-wide mold problem. The nearly mature buds got wet, stayed wet, and were so dense that they did not dry out promptly. 

This photo is an example of mold, the brown part showing in this hemp bud. The worker is holding small scissors he is using to trim out mold spots before it goes into the drying room.

Although in some harvesting methods--called bio-mass--the entire plant is harvested, but the more labor intensive system of hand cutting and drying creates a more valuable product. Workers cut the bud covered tops and branches and lay them into tote boxes which are then transported to a drying room to be hung and air dried.

First, a healthy field of hemp, the openly grown CBD field.

A healthy hemp field

A close up of a bud-covered top:

A CBD top

Harvesting a THC bearing plant. Since the Oregon marijuana regulators limit the number of THC bearing plants that can be grown, the plants are planted earlier and grown for size and high THC. 

Cutting the candles:

Harvesting THC plants

The worker cuts the stalks, called colas or candles:

Using stout clippers

Then the candles are hanged in a drying room. Fans move the air around. De-humidifiers operate 24-7.  

Note the tags which separate and label the ares on the hanging racks. Each variety of THC plant has slightly different qualities, like wine varieties. They are given names by the plant breeders: "Bubble Gum," "Lemon," "Wi-Fi," "Classic O.G." and hundreds of others.

Hanging on plastic nets

Here is how one version of a drying rack looks, and then a twelve second video of an accomplished hanger of candles:

Meanwhile, many local stores are doing unprecedented volumes in items like plastic garbage bags and tote boxes to serve the harvest drying period. The candles are brought from field to drying loosely so as not to damage the buds.


Cannabis harvest requires a variety of scissors in different sizes, plus the isopropyl alcohol used to clean them. These next two photos are from two display at Hubbards Hardware in Medford, Oregon's oldest hardware store, one of many stores with huge displays like these. Isopropyl alcohol being sold in gallon and five gallon containers is new to southern Oregon.

Debate Quick Takes

"Look, uh, my son did nothing wrong."

This debate had consequences. 

Biden blew it. 

Sanders looks healthy. 

Warren can stand her ground.

And after the debate, confirmation of who is up and who is down: Biden didn't raise much money, and AOC endorses Sanders.

Quick impressions:

Biden looked weak, embarrassed, and guilty regarding Hunter.

Warren looked evasive on paying for health care, but otherwise scrappy.

Sanders looked like the brave, plain speaking socialist, good as ever.

Buttigieg looked like a fearless young warrior, elevated now into a real contender.

Klobuchar seemed very sensible and electable, if people want calm and Biden is out.

Biden arguably had a strong debate by the end, but it won't matter because first impressions matter and the event started with the most predictable question, addressed to Biden: what say you, Joe, about Hunter Biden and corruption. Click to watch his response to the question:  Click: CNN clip

Anderson Cooper: "If it's not OK for a president's family to be involved in foreign businesses, why is it OK for your son, when you were Vice President?"

Biden was hesitant. His voice was soft. His head was down. He said the matter had already been disposed of. He didn't want to talk about it. He looked ashamed. 

No matter what came after that voters know two things for sure. One is that the issue has been confirmed as one Trump could use to make Biden the 2020 version of "Crooked Hillary." The second is that Joe Biden can't fight. This was a prepared answer. Biden would be a pushover.

Elizabeth Warren looks feisty and able to defend herself and her positions except on health care. Sanders knew what to say--that taxes would go up, sure, but paying for health care would go from the costs embedded in wages and copays into a progressive tax system. Sanders looked frank and clear saying it. Warren was unwilling to say it. Sanders looked good; her non-response made Warren look bad.

The people who most made her look bad were Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. They promoted health care choice, "Medicare for all who want it." The issue elevated them and put them into the position potentially to replace Biden. 

Mayor Pete does not look like the Alfred E. Neuman caricature Donald Trump tried to name him. He does not look or act like a kid. He looks like a serious, clean man and a breath of fresh air for people who want change but don't want revolution. He snapped at Beto, that he didn't need lessons in courage. He called the pullout from Syria a betrayal of our Kurdish allies. He showed he could be trouble for Trump.

Klobuchar looked solid, plain vanilla, sensible to the voters who lost faith in Biden. She has a niche: the normal, reasonable midwestern-nice Democrat who isn't Trump. Let Trump be the center of attention, make it a referendum on Trump. Klobuchar would be repositioned in Biden's absence: the Biden alternative who isn't Pete Buttigieg.

And Bernie Sanders. He can raise $30 million dollars and he can get the endorsement of The Squad. The endorsement of AOC is important because it did not go to Warren. Had it gone to Warren it would have been game-ending for Sanders, a signal that Sanders had had his turn and the heart attack ended his leadership of the Movement. Sanders is in the fight, now clear to the Convention.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Trump frames impeachment: Democratic theft

Impeachment isn't about whether what Trump did was right.

Conservative media meme: Maddow's tears

He has made impeachment about the Democrats

He says they can't get over losing and are trying to steal back the election. 

There is plenty of evidence that Trump wanted Ukraine (and Russia and China and others) to help him get the goods on Joe Biden. He didn't just admit it. He bragged about it.

Trump is a street fighter, a political thug--a very able one. This isn't a debate. It isn't point-counterpoint. Trump is doing the smart thing in a fight you would lose; he is changing what the fight is about.

Trump is making it about the Democrats.
     Look at Joe Biden and his sleazy son Hunter Biden.
     Look treasonous Adam Schiff.
     Look at the witch hunt.
     Look at those lovebird FBI agents.
     Look at the totally exonerating Mueller report the Democrats mischaracterize.
     Look at how the Democrats want to let immigrants in to take over your communities and pack the vote.

Trump: It is about whose team wins
There is a big, underlying theme: that the Democrats are sore losers, that they were ever-so-confident that Hillary would win that they simply cannot accept the fact that the people won--his people, the people who listen to Rush and watch Fox and who are white and Christian and native born and "real" Americans. 

And Democrats lost. Ha!!

The argument that Democrats are attempting to reverse the results of the 2016 election is a powerful defense against the charges against Trump. Did Trump's campaign collude with Russia in 2016, and is he openly doing so now with Ukraine? Who knows, but he is only doing what the Democrats are doing.

Trump: how Democrats steal the 2020 election
After all, he says they flooded the 2016 electorate with illegal voters and are still trying to do it, and they are trying to change the rules regarding the electoral college so they can win big in cities and disenfranchise flyover country. Then they start distracting impeachment hearings for no good reason using Deep State spies, and covering up their own corruption. 

Democrats get the rigged-election meme from within their own Party. Bernie Sanders supporters, too, think the 2016 election was rigged, by "regular" Democrats and against Sanders. Hillary stole the sure-thing election from Sanders, they argue. 

In this frame,Trump is just trying to even the playing field.  That frame does not seem farfetched in the least to Republican readers who take in GOP media or get Trump's tweets and emails.

There can be no smoking gun evidence that convicts Trump in the Senate, because it isn't about Trump. It is about the Democrats.

 Below is an emailed "poll" sent to the tens of millions of people on the Trump email list.

Certified Website of President Donald J. Trump

Official Impeachment Witch Hunt Poll

Monday, October 14, 2019

Bernie or else. Democrats are the enemy.


"Bernie's only real harm will come from the trash talking DNC, DCCC establishmentarians who seem bent on seeing Trump get elected. Killed by 'friendly' fire is more shameful than killed by enemy fire."

         Mike Gardner, on Facebook

Political observer Kevin Stine comments: "Conspiracy-related nonsense."

There is a persistent narrative:
If Bernie doesn't win, then the system must have been rigged, and the Democrats must have done it.

Bernie Sanders will be running to win the Democratic primary nomination. Sanders never worked toward being the consensus candidate, the easy-to-support guy in the middle. His strength was that he was not that guy. Maybe this is the year for him. Or maybe not. 

Democrats should not assume left populist Bernie supporters will unite behind a Democratic candidate other than Bernie. Bernie will say the right things, but his disappointed supporters may well consider it just lip service. A significant portion of his support comes from people who envision the political landscape not on a left-right scale, but on a scale of socialist-capitalist, or system changing vs. system sustaining.

In that world there is only one acceptable candidate, Bernie. The rest are frauds, fakes, adulterators. Mike Gardner put it succinctly on Facebook: "Harsh treatment from corp[orate] dec[ocrats] does more damage" than does criticism from Republicans. Democrats are the real enemy. The muddle the debate and do their damage from the inside.

Kevin Stine
Kevin Stine is a Medford City Councilor and an astute observer of politics. The City Council is a non-partisan office, but Stine is active in Democratic politics where he has a future. Part of his own political brand is to speak frankly: "I don't like blind items. I put my name on things." He responded to the Facebook comment with a quick observation: 

     "Yeah, I see some of this. They are minority of people, but a vocal minority. 

     Joe Biden doing well in the polls means the DNC is propping him up. Elizabeth Warren does well in the polls means the DNC is propping her up. Bernie Sanders not doing well in a poll means that it was a rigged poll, and it's a conspiracy. A bunch of people went to a Bernie rally, so obviously he's going to win. Bernie Sanders getting put third on some CNN image instead of second, means the DNC and corporate media are trying to silence him. Etc. Etc.

     Truth is, the DNC has very little power. They set the debates, and make a few rules regarding non-sponsored DNC debates. The debates have been so inclusive that if you can get 1% you make the first two debates, then 2% you get two more, then 3% you get two more. We're literally going to have a debate with 12 people on the stage, and half of them have absolutely zero possibility of being the nominee. If anything, the DNC isn't exercising what little power it has. At the very least they have the top 6 debate, and then the next 6 debate.

     I highly respect everyone, regardless of who they support, who puts the work in for their candidate. To me, that means the real campaign work such as phone calls, door-knocking, and putting on events. The problems I have are the conspiracy-related nonsense. 

     If someone wants to have negative opinions on Joe Biden, for instance, feel free. I might even jump in! But the DNC didn't push Joe Biden to run (He first ran in 1987!), the DNC isn't smothering some other campaign to support Joe Biden, and Joe Biden didn't get get some Ukrainian official fired because he wanted to stave off potential prosecution of his son."
Doing politics in Medford, Oregon

Kevin Stine is reflective of the opinion of people who work in Party oriented politics. Over the decades, they have maintained the Democratic coalition. Within that coalition there are people motivated by different issues: the environment, reproductive rights, labor unions, etc. and many people in those groups were more oriented toward their issue than they were to the Democratic Party. For those issue people, the Democratic coalition was the means toward getting electoral power.

The Sanders group is different. They are in the Democratic coalition, nominally, but they see their first challenge to be changing the Democratic Party itself, because as they see it, the Party is part of the established power structure, and that itself is the problem. 

Bernie Sanders really is different from Elizabeth Warren.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Bad optics. Lev and Igor arrested.

     "I don't know them. I don't know about them. I don't know what they do. I don't know, maybe they were clients of Rudy, you'll have to ask Rudy. I just don't know."

       Donald Trump, after the arrest of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman

Trump looks like he employs crooks to do corrupt things.

Trump is trying to make this about Biden. "Where is Hunter Biden???" Trump asks in fundraising emails that pour into supporters in-boxes. "Sleepy Joe and his friends sold out America," Trump said at his rally in Minnesota.

Trump knows political street fighting. Trump grabs attention and focuses it on an opponent's weak spot, and he is doing it right now.

Trump and Igor
Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to make this all about Trump. Trump was observed, red-handed, encouraging foreign interference on his behalf in an American election, doing it both personally and with agents and surrogates. It was so apparent that Trump doubled down, said it was perfectly appropriate, and then publicly asked China to do the same. His defense is that he didn't actually narrate his actions and say the words "quid pro quo."

Democrats think they have the goods. They don't. 

If Trump can keep Hunter Biden in the middle of the story Republican voters and officeholders have a fig leaf to argue that they don't actually see what they are seeing. Biden obscures their vision.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman just made Trump's task harder. They got arrested at an airport before boarding a flight to Frankfort with one-way tickets, on charges of soliciting foreign interference with the election. They have been making big campaign contributions to Trump, using money from a secret origin. They are associates--agents, presumably--of Rudy Giuliani, looking for Ukrainian support in finding anti-Biden material.

They had influence in Ukraine because they played up their Trump/Giuliani ties, which makes it difficult for Trump, and impossible for Giuliani, to distance himself. There is a record. 

They were photographed with Rudy Giuliani. 

They were photographed with Donald Trump. 

They were photographed with Donald Junior.

Cliches right out of Central Casting. They are now in the justice system, and are presumed innocent. But they don't look innocent. They look exactly how one would cast corrupt Eastern European gangsters and fixers in a movie about spies and corruption and influence seekers and peddlers. The photograph here of them at the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge with Donald Junior further muddies the water for Trump, making the parallel comparison of adult sons. What-about Don Junior? The drinks, the open shirts, the Polo Lounge: what better cliche location and look to communicate high life loose money corruption?

First glance body language. The actual details and timeline of Ukrainian corruption are complicated, and that benefitsTrump, because if Trump's actions needed explaining then it isn't smoking gun evidence. But Lev and Igor and one way tickets and indictments and loose mouthed Rudy aren't complicated. It has a Sopranos feel. It looks corrupt. 

Click: Washington Post
It wordlessly undermines the Trump fig leaf that he is acting in the national interest.

It looks like he employs Giuliani to hire crooks to carry out something corrupt. It looks like what it is.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Shepard Smith is out. Oh-oh.


"It is my hope that the facts will win the day. That the truth will always matter. That journalism and journalists will thrive.  I'm Shepard Smith, Fox News, New York."

It looks like Fox News is going all in on Trump. A dissident voice is leaving.

But something is odd here. 

The simple truth about Fox News is that it is a business and that Fox advertisers want viewers and the Fox audience wants the Trump view of the world and nothing else.

Therefore, the straightforward explanation is that Fox made Shepard Smith so uncomfortable that he left, or that they told him he had to get into line with the Fox News narrative, "or else," and he wouldn't do it. Their audience has its own set of facts. Fox audience wants to feel outrage at woke liberals, at Democrats, at Hillary and Obama and Pelosi and especially AOC. They want to hear that Trump is their embattled voice. It is a big, influential, profitable audience.

Shepard Smith reported news that contradicted many of those facts. So maybe it is clear and simple--a corporation wants to maintain its brand and audience.

Fox website lead story
But I see signs of turmoil and contradiction, including this morning's lead story on the Fox News website, critical of Trump. Look at it. Amazing--for Fox.

Notice, first, that this story is covered at all on Fox. Next, notice that it could easily have had a very different, normal-Fox frame, for example, "Deep state coup" or it could have introduced the criticism of Trump with its rebuttal, e.g. "Trump calls secret critic 'cowardly lunatic'." 

Maybe this is a turning point. Trump may have simply gone too far. 

He had said aloud what people at Fox needed to be left unsaid if it is to remain true. Trump said Fox "isn't working for us anymore." That was embarrassing for Fox. I watched their news hosts indignantly say they didn't work for Trump.

In August Trump had spilled the beans complaining that Fox "doesn't deliver for us anymore," and his supporters needed to "start looking for a new News Outlet."  This week he noted that Fox reported a poll showing a majority of Americans now favored impeachment and removal. He tweeted of their pollster, "they suck," and that Fox News is "much different than it used to be in the good old days." 

At the Minnesota rally he listed out the names from memory of the "good" people at Fox, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and many more who are less visible. Trump knows his Fox, maybe too well.

Shepard Smith's leaving may signal a turning point, a sign that Fox cannot maintain credibility as anything but the propaganda arm of Trump, and that is a vulnerable position. Judge Napolitano is on their air, saying what Trump did in the phone call to Ukraine is illegal and worthy of impeachment. Trump's changing story--no collusion and then there is nothing whatever wrong with collusion--means some of his congressional supporters are doing careful mumbles. It is just too dangerous to echo a Trump position since it might change on a whim.

Trump just implicated his Vice President, Secretary of State, and Energy Secretary. Trump is now distancing himself from Rudy Giuliani, whose associates were arrested while fleeing the country. It looks weird. 

It is dangerous to be loyal to Trump.

Smith's leaving may mean Fox is all-in for Trump.  I may have this all wrong. Or maybe it means that Fox now recognizes that Trump is just too high a price.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Stand tall. Don't flinch. Hit back.

The lesson of Michael Dukakis. It's showtime for Biden.

     "Shame on me for not effectively dealing with it. . . . I wasn't going to pay any attention to the attacks."

          Michael Dukakis, reflecting on his defeat

Trump attacks. Trump mocks and insults.  He says Biden was stupid and corrupt and that Biden kissed Obama's ass. 

By the election of 1988 it was no longer morning in America. The Reagan administration had aged badly. The GOP had eight years. In the pendulum swings of politics, the Democratic candidate had the advantage. 

Reagan himself seemed addled and spacey, and indeed he cited his own management failure for "Iran-gate." His administration was caught having sold weapons to our enemy, Iran, in order to give money to fund a military overthrow of the Nicaraguan government. It was illegal, against stated policy, and politically indefensible.

Democrats had a strong candidate, Michael Dukakis, a veteran, a Massachusetts governor, a liberal with politics in the sweet spot of the Democratic voter base. In August he led the GOP candidate Vice President George HW Bush by 19 points.

In the November election Dukakis got trounced. 

What happened? Dukakis tried to be presidential. He didn't want to dignify absurd attacks. He tried to be above the fray. Dukakis got insulted and looked weak.The public drew an inference: if a candidate doesn't know what to do when he is attacked, he won't know what to do when America is attacked.

Dukakis's mistake, Biden's opportunity: Continue