Sunday, March 30, 2008


The first image is that of Akhenaten, rebel Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. The second, of course, is our own Change Agent, Sen. Barack Obama.

I noticed a similarity in their appearance some time ago, but thought little or nothing of it. Then I found a picture of an Akhenaten statue that triggered this post.

I'm not a great believer in these sorts of things, and yet it's fun to speculate. The Wiki entry on the rebel Pharaoh is more than interesting, and there is a wealth of other information available.

I wonder. If Obama somehow does become president -- certainly a possiblity, but not at all easy -- just what sort of Change would he set in motion, and what would be response of the Establishment?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

OT: In New Mexico

(Post begun March 13) Just returned to California from a whirlwind four day round trip to our place in New Mexico. Hadn't been there since November, and I don't like being away that long.

The house is old adobe, the original two rooms put up in around 1900 or so, the rest added on over the next 50 or 60 years. There are nominally 4 bedrooms, but we only use two of them as such. The other two -- which were divided from what I am pretty sure was once the kitchen -- we use as a library and a work room. The south facing portal was enclosed in the mid fifties or so to become a foyer, a dining area, a new kitchen and a laundry room/pantry. When we bought it in 2005, the house was a wreck, hadn't been lived in for two or three years, uninhabitable really, but to my eye it was salvageable, and the realtor, who'd had it on inventory for over a year, was convinced it could be fixed up real nice (he was from Louisiana) for a mere $15-20,000 or so -- and sold again for a handsome profit.

We didn't want it to sell, though. We were looking for a place in New Mexico to settle in, eventually retire. I was suprised at how many criteria I wanted met: paved roads, city utilities, out of the way (ie: not in Albuquerque or Santa Fe or even any city to speak of) but close enough to the highway for emergency purposes, not in a forest (fire, you know), and with "character" -- but without the overweening (and sometimes overpowering) Santa Fe Style. I must have looked through hundreds of listings, and made personal treks to at least a dozen before settling on this one.

It just "spoke" to me. Sometimes places do.

The realtor said that Toney Anaya had grown up there, and I suppose it's true, though the place seemed a bit fancy for that, given Anaya's description of his childhood in a two room dirt floor adobe casita. He isn't quite as old as some of the additions to the house, and it looks like there have always been pine board floors. But I could be wrong.

And renovations were going to cost a lot more than $15,000. But I was surprised at how much would be done for slightly more than $30,000. In fact, the final cost came in under budget, and how often does that happen in renovations?

The contractor, from Albuquerque, turned out to be quite a character. He grew up in the next town west, when it wasn't even a town, and had gone to high school right down the street. He sort of knew this house from when he was a kid, but he said he didn't remember it all that well. At first, he wanted to re-do the house by "modernizing" everything. When I insisted on maintaining as much of the early day character as possible, he thought I was pretty wack, but went along with it. The subs he hired had a tougher time with some of it, because the house is old and quirky and required some care to keep it together. Yet in the end, I think they did an amazing job, though not perfect.

I was wrassling with the stainless steel kitchen sink they put in -- not very well -- while I was there, and they never did get around to putting in a door with a window in the laundry room, so I wound up buying an old one in California and trucking it out to New Mexico and installing it myself. But they did wonders with the bathroom, and after complaining that they couldn't possibly put a french door in the living room, I went out there one time and there it was, just as I imagined. Of course I found the rain gutter installation was, shall we say, "faulty" when it turned out that most of the guttering on the front of the house was attached to... nothing. Looked nice, though! But it's New Mexico, and you make do without too much whining. Got out the ladder and fixed it. It's what you do.

There are still many -- many -- things to do including decking, pergolas, portals, fixing (or replacing) the garage, adding some electrical circuits and light fixtures, doing some work on the roof, fixing a closet the birds seem to have moved into while no one was living there (ew), and doing something about the skunks (and the cats) that took up residence under the house. Still need a washer and dryer and better heat in parts of the house the main heater doesn't reach (the old one in the living room was replaced with an updated version of the same thing.)

But it's all stuff that can be done at a relatively leisurely pace. As I've said in other venues, we don't don't have teevee or landline phone there. We do get radio stations from Albuquerque and Santa Fe. There is intermittant wireless internet (go figure), and the cell phone works as long as you're near a window or outside (all the neighbors have to stand outside to use their cellphones, too.) The electricity seems to be kind of iffy, goes out pretty regularly. The pipes have a tendency to freeze when they shouldn't (but the previous owner had them replaced with some kind of "freeze proof" plastic, which I'm told means they don't break when the water freezes in them.)

But the sky is amazing, day or night, with the night-sky being literally take-your- breath away gorgeous. Just open the front (or back) door and step outside: "My God! It's full of stars!" That makes up for the lack of any "view" to speak of. Well, we can go down to the end of the street (a couple of hundred feet) and look out over open range to the mountains in the west and to the north. But we do have trees. They suffered in the decade long drought, but they seem to have survived, and there is lots of dappled shade in the summer; lots of wild flowers, too.

On I-40 you enter New Mexico from Arizona through a cleft in a pretty fancy, nay almost baroque, mesa. It's very dramatic. The entrance to the state lets you know, in no uncertain terms, you have arrived Somewhere Else Again.

We first took that route (which parallels Hwy 66) almost 30 years ago and went back again and again and again as if drawn by some magnetic force. Even though it was the height of the real estate boom when we bought, it was, for whatever reason, the time to do it.

Some pics of the renovations in progress:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wright Stuff

I really find the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's religious ranting to be jejune to say the least. Obama's response to the "scrutiny" was measured, responsible, and broad-ranging, and it didn't really get into what the "scrutiny" is all about: A Scary Black Man Hollering Scary Stuff.

Won't somebody think of the children?

Booga booga.

It does seem to have affected Obama's polling, especially in head-to-heads with Grumpy Gramps McCain, and all those who are trying to deny it need to take a step back and come to grips with the reality of White Fear of Black Rage, especially the fear among older whites who lived through a very tumultuous era of what is delicately called Civil Unrest. Riots, in other words. Again and again, all over the country.

This White Fear is easy to re-energize, and the media has been eager to do it. They play the Wright tapes in an endless loop, designed not to provoke dialogue, but to inspire Fear, fear of Black Rage. And it works.

Clinton sits back and lets it happen. After all, those fear-ridden whites are supposedly her base. Meanwhile it comes out that the McCain campaign was responsible for pushing the Wright stuff, and is laughing about how easy it was to do. And it sure lets Grumps get away with some whoppers about Iran and alQ. Win-win, hunh?

Obama has been running a Generational campaign, trying like anything to push the Old Farts off the bus, let them fend for themselves in the wilderness for all he cares, but let them please just shut up and go away. Including Rev Wright. That tack has a tremendous appeal among the young, and there's no reason he shouldn't use it except for the fact that Old Farts vote, in vast numbers, and the aging Boomer cohort is likelier than most to pull the lever.

"Unity" has been Obama's strength, so, in a classic Rovian ploy, the Media-McCain nexus uses it against him by pulling out Wright's ministry and showing the whole wide world what Obama's Spiritual Mentor has been saying, in Church, in front of the Children(!), and wah-lah, Obama's numbers go into a tailspin.

Suddenly, in a head-to-head with McCain, Clinton is surging, and Obama is way behind.

Rev Wright is... scary.

Funny, though. Hagee's anti-Catholic rants, and reverence for Apocalyptic genocide by Jee-suss throughout the evangelical teevee priesthood is considered just fine by the Powers That Be.

Until Americans are ready to take the Power away from them and their devotees and ilk, and cast them into the fiery pit where they long to be, not much Change is gonna happen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Izzat so?

Darth hawked up another of his patented hairballs yesterday as he opined on ABC that he doesn't care what you -- or anyone else -- thinks, he has a Lincolnesque "vision" and you can go fuck yourself.

Blessed man.

The exchange:

Raddatz: Two-thirds of Americans say it’s not worth fighting, and they’re looking at the value gain versus the cost in American lives, certainly, and Iraqi lives.

Cheney: So? [sinister smirk]

Raddatz: So — you don’t care what the American people think?

Cheney: No, I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. Think about what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had paid attention to polls, if they had had polls during the Civil War. He never would have succeeded if he hadn’t had a clear objective, a vision for where he wanted to go, and he was willing to withstand the slings and arrows of the political wars in order to get there. And this President has been very courageous, very consistent, very determined to continue down the course we were on and to achieve our objective.

Of course he just does this to rile up the masses. But the notion that he and his cohort in the White House are somehow Lincolnesqe, persuing a "vision" is just ludicrous.

They're insane.

Simply put.

And the other thing is that he does and says these outrageous things because he knows he can and n o b o d y is gonna do a dambed thing about it. At all.

So why not?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

'Scrutiny' doesn't mean what you think it does

In the haute blogmonde as well as much of the mass and alternative media these days, "scrutiny" is the catchall description of the ridiculous candiate (and candidate supporter) poo-flinging that passes for discussion, debate, and discretion in Modern American Political Life.

American Heritage Dictionary
scru·ti·ny (skrōōt'n-ē) Pronunciation Key
n. pl. scru·ti·nies
  • 1. A close, careful examination or study.
  • 2. Close observation; surveillance.

    [Middle English scrutinie, taking of a formal vote, from Latin scrūtinium, inquiry, search, from scrūtārī, to search, examine, from scrūta, trash.]

  • Hurling insults and invective is not an "examination" or "study", nor does it represent "close observation." Smearing the candidates is not scrutiny.

    Yet that's what goes on hour after hour, day in and day out at some sites, the hate-filled and contemptuous anti-Hillary site Daily Kos setting the "scrutinous" standard these days, and many people are wondering what's the point of this?

    There are plenty of reasons not to vote for or support Hillary, similar reasons not to vote for or support Obama, and unending reasons not to vote for or support McCain during this election cycle. Applying scrutiny to their records and statements suggests strongly that all of them are corporatist/imperialist warmongers. The worst of that lot is McCain, who not only loves his 100 Year War in Iraq, he is devoted to concepts of American exceptionalism and warriorism and expansionism that have got us in to the pickle we're in now.

    Both Hillary and Obama are better, on the record, than that, thank goodness, but neither is so much better that they would actually turn the nation from the path its been on. At least not from their statements and actions to date.

    One of the problems I have had with both the Democratic candidates is that they are both in the Senate, and yet they do not lead on important issues. McCain, also in the Senate, does lead -- even though much of his "leadership" is leading down the wrong path -- and has long been able to promote and push his curious right wing agenda, sell it as "bi-partisan," getting a surprising amount of it enacted or adopted, or at least into the public trough.

    That has long made McCain a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, neither Hillary nor Obama has used their position in the Senate to promote their own agenda of so-called Change. That's not merely a matter of introducing or co-sponsoring legislation. Both have done that. But neither has used their Senatorial platform to promote whatever Change it is they seek, to persuade and browbeat their colleagues, to build support, to challenge convention, etc. They've used their presidential campaigns, almost exclusively, for that.

    In the FISA controversy, for example, Chris Dodd, then a presidential campaigner, too, went back to the Senate, took a leadership role, and said he would stand athwart the body if the Senate was about to pass a telecom immunity bill. Of course, in the end he didn't do it (Senatorial courtesy and all that), but his threat -- and the fact that he left the campaign trail to make it -- was enough to push the notion that the telecom immunity provisions of FISA "reform" were simply wrong, and the fact that he did it, just said so in the Senatorial forum, and threatened to block Business as Usual, may have helped inject a little bit of spine into the House members who have now repeatedly rejected Bush and his threats over the legislation.

    Have either Hillary or Obama done anything comparable?

    Well, maybe they need to.

    That's what real "scrutiny" is about. I'm not hurling invective or flinging poo. I'm pointing out that neither of the major Democratic candidates have used their positions in the Senate for leadership on the important issues of the day, and they need to do it if either one of them expects to be president one day.

    Monday, March 17, 2008


    The frantic maneuvering of the Fed and the Treasury these days is as sure a sign as we need that the economy is going into a tailspin. The objective is to protect the rich at all costs, at the direct expense of everyone else in fact, with no succor to the poor and middle classes whatsoever.

    It's gonna get nasty, and if the recent past is any guide, there will be no uprising, little outcry, and the reordering of wealth will be accomplished with almost no resistance at all. This is the real legacy of the Reagan Revolution, a completely passive, nonresistant, compliant population which identifies with those who wield their wealth and power over them.

    Lucky us.

    Welcome to the Middle Ages.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Puritans Arise!

    This Spitzer business would be funny if it weren't so stupid and sad. Once again, the country is being thrown into hysterics over other people's sex lives. Once againg, the only thing that matters to nearly everyone who opines on the matter is that Mr. Spitzer's sex life be denounced and that Mr. Spitzer be forced from office therefore.

    It's Clinton's Cock on steroids, again.

    Now I've been in New Mexico the last few days, where I don't have any teevee at all, and my only news is over the radio (generally NPR) or over the internets on those few occasions when the wireless works. So my perception of Hysteria in this latest Sex Scandal du jour is based on what I've heard and briefly read.

    Americans' tendency to Puritanism and Hysteria, often at the same time, is well-known but rarely discussed. We take it for granted that other people's sex lives are the appropriate venue for discovering and declaring Morality Most Pure, and that Public Figures who violate the Puritan's Moral (Sex) Code can be (depending) subject to hysterical calls for denunciation and removal from office.

    These denunciations and calls for removal can sometimes be most shrill from the target's own friends and/or colleagues.

    While this particular outbreak of Puritan Moralist Hysteria is centered on Eliot Spitzer's sex life (which prurience is "justified" by the fact that He Broke The Law), the tendency to moralize and denounce can be much broader based than that.

    For example, my local newspaper ran a big front page story about the mayor a while back. She was "accused" of spending money on travel. The whole point of the story was to make it appear that there was something corrupt and unethical about the mayor's trips to various countries and to various conferences. Over five years, she'd spent over $150,000 in taxpayers' money for these trips. Outrageous!

    A close friend, who follows these things carefully, started calling and at first questioning the mayor's ethics then denouncing her for her profligracy. I said, "You know you're repeating the smears that were in the paper? Have you looked into the issue beyond what was in the paper? Her travel expenses are relatively modest, and her destinations have been completely in line with the obligations of her job. The only reason it's an issue at all is because it's in the paper."

    Yet he could not be dissuaded initially. It "looked wrong" -- therefore the paper was doing a "service" and we should be grateful. But there was nothing wrong at all, it just something to stir the pot, and he was falling into that trap. It took weeks for him to realize that the paper had an agenda -- get rid of the mayor. By then, though, the damage had been done, and even now, he's suspicious of her.

    So it goes. If a politician is targeted by Powers That Be, for any reason, doubts can be sewn, traps set, violations of this or that law or Moral Code can be found, and smears and denunciations can be generated. This can often lead to pressure to leave office, either by resignation in disgrace or through impeachment, which is sometimes followed through on. It's like pushing a button.


    In the case of Spitzer, many of the commenters yesterday were pointing out how much he is "loathed" in New York by just about everyone. Therefore he "deserves" it.


    Friday, March 7, 2008

    The American Magazine

    [Note: This is an experiment to see how a books-on-line resource translates directly or indirectly to the blog. Hmm. Interesting.]

    Wednesday, March 5, 2008


    Well. Isn't that the shits.

    Obama took Vermont. At least there's that. That's 12 In A Row! And Hillary takes the Big States. Well, most of them. And the delagate hunt continues.

    Those who are pushing the notion that one or the other of them should drop out or declare Victory are missing the point. Both of them are remarkably to the right of any form of Liberalism or Progressivism I'm aware of. Neither is likely to significantly change Bushevik policies, though either of them would mitigate some of the worst Bushevik abuses. Neither would restore the Constitution. The idea of doing so at this point is radically laughable and Left WingNutty. It's just not going to happen.

    So I'm not really into either Hillary or Obama. I will grant that they represent an improvement over the Busheviks, but apart from that, I don't see much to recommend either one.

    And I see nothing at all to recommend that crazy old coot, McCain.

    A lot of Americans are looking at the choice before them and saying "Enh."

    Got other things to do. If this is The Most Important Election In History, why do we have such.... mediocre choices?

    Sunday, March 2, 2008


    They're going to cave. The House of Representatives is going to cave on telecom amnesty.

    As mentioned here and elsewhere, the Problem the House has with the orders from the White House to provide telecom amnesty forthwith is not the orders themselves. No, the Problem is that the White House, as it did with the Senate, tried to circumvent normal procedures, and that is a big, fat No-No!

    So. Like the Senate, the House has dug in its heels and refused to comply with the commands from the White House toot-sweet. Of course they will comply in the by and bye, just as the Senate did, but they will get there in their own sweet time. No tin pot dictator in the White House is going to tell them when to do something. Ha! Never!

    (Except at summer break, but that's different.)

    But it's not about Principle. It's not -- absolutely not -- about defending the Constitution or the Rule of Law or anything other than the House asserting its perogatives to debate and consider on its own terms.

    They will cave. That's what they do, and with a more than sufficient number of Blue Dogs to align with the Rs for this measure -- as they have with so many others in the past -- when the reveal comes, it will be fast and ugly.

    Ain't politics grand?

    OT: The Plumbing

    [Note: I started this post a while back but got side tracked, as is so often the case these days... there is much more to come some day]

    Well. After all the trauma, the plumbing and wall-restoration is essentially complete. A few minor details -- finding some tiles to replace the ones broken in the bathroom, some escutcheons for the pipes under the sinks, etc. -- and that part's done.

    For the time being, the Floors are on hold, carpets and rugs will do just fine to cover a multitude of horrors.

    Things have settled down to a more or less acceptable routine, the inspectors are satisfied, and breath can be caught. For now, anyway.