Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thoughts before traveling

    I-40 outside of Grants, NM. Mount Taylor (Diné: Tsoodził) in the distance. March, 2008.

I'll be on the road tomorrow and Thursday, heading out to New Mexico to assess the situation. I got a call from a former neighbor a couple of weeks ago saying she hoped I be coming out to NM soon. She wouldn't say, exactly, but there might be a problem. I couldn't leave at the time because the painters were coming to paint the house in California as soon as there was any clear weather, which there was and they did. The weather turned ugly, however, and two of the three mountain ranges I have to cross were tied up in blizzards. Best to wait.

As far as I can tell, tomorrow will begin an fairly extended period of mostly clear weather from Southern California to mid New Mexico so I'll give it a try. The van is good in snow, but I'm not that fond of driving in a blizzard (which I've done a few times.) I've never been very good at driving in snow in any case, not having grown up with the White Stuff. When I was out in New Mexico in December, there was snow one morning, maybe two-three inches, hardly a blizzard, and most of it melted by noon. I went to get some supplies, and the lady at the store, perhaps after noticing my Californina license plates, went on at some length about the snowy conditions the previous week and how drivers who'd never been in anything worse than a slight dusting of snow come out there to the country and think they know how to drive. The wind up in the ditches or overturned on a patch of ice, and she thought they were just stupid. She said, "I remember when we used to get six to eight feet of snow at a time every winter. Now, we're lucky to get a whole foot of snow the whole season."

I gave her a look.

"When was the snowfall ever six or eight feet?" (That can sometimes happen in the Sierras, though rarely in one storm. It'll accumulate that much pretty quick, though.) She sort of muttered, "Oh, eight-ten years ago. Maybe 20. You know. It used to be bad. A lot worse than it is now. Where's your place?" I told her. She said, "Well, it's not so bad there, they plow and stuff, so you're probably OK. I live farther out, and they never clear the roads out there." Turns out where she lives, they're lucky to have electricity. And what they have goes out plenty often.

Parts of rural New Mexico are still very old-fashioned. To put it mildly. Our place is on a paved road, of all things. Electricity. Natural gas. Running water. Even sewer. Telephone and cable if I want it -- I won't have cable, though, so there's no teevee. Nothing comes in over the air. We can play videos and DVDs if we want. And of course there's radio, from Albuquerque and Santa Fe and parts east and west. It's pretty good in New Mexico, unlike some other parts of the country. Variety of formats, stations, and programming, some of it in Spanish, but New Mexico Spanish, which is distinctive, and I'm still learning some of its idioms. Some of the radio broadcasts are in Native languages, primarily Diné (Navajo), but also some of the Pueblo Keresan, Tiwa and other languages as well. And one of our old radios brings in good, clear shortwave stations from all over the place, including China and Europe. Some of it is in English!

UPDATE (02/24/10)

I like the fact that it's "starting" to dawn on some of the hotter legal shots on the Intertubes that the Department of "Justice" is pretty much irredeemably corrupted and politicized. Hm. Seems to have something to do with Careerist Margolis and his history as a "fixer" to smooth over otherwise inconvenient actions -- or as the case may be, lack thereof. Bmaz over at FDL gets into some of it. The sad thing, of course, as always, is that these revelations are given with only a sigh. As if nothing can be done about it except for Documenting the Atrocities.

For History's Sake. I guess. You know. If anyone ever gets around to probing What The Fuck Happened and all. 

Meanwhile, the Pauliacs have been tramping all over the place. One of the Greater Mysteries to me has been the need so many Libertarians and their fellow travelers have to masquerade as something they're not, for example as "Liberals." Even "Hard Left Liberals" the way Markos does.

They're mostly not Liberals at all, nor are they even remotely "Hard Left," but what happens when they put on this act -- and it is an act -- is that their position gets defined as "Left" or "Liberal" in the media and in the eyes of much of the public, even though they are Libertarians (big or little "L" it doesn't matter) who essentially despise the "Left" and all it stands for. World without end, Amen.

There's nothing more despicable in politics than this habit of The Masquerade. Everybody seems to do it -- if they want to be taken "seriously." They pretend to be what they are not, to believe what they don't, to support what they despise. This is apparently how politics is supposed to be done in the Big Boy's Club, and your position in the Club is based on how many of the Rubes you can fool and keep fooled by your little act.

Obama's mask is more than a little tattered these days, but he still maintains a solid "favorable" majority. Trouble is the minority is moving in for the coup de grace, and it could well be sooner than we think.

But on the Tubes, more and more are rightly questioning the "Lefty" cred of such luminaries as Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald, Markos Moulitsas, John Aravosis, Arianna and so on. As well they should. Jane has thrown her lot with the Pauliacs and Grover Norquist. Good luck with that. Glenn is becoming more and more strident and shrill in his antipathy toward anyone who doesn't share his rigidity and absolutism, which he calls "principle," no matter how wrong or dangerous it may be. Markos is just a joke. He was never a "Leftist" and his pose as Master of the Hard Left is absurd.  Aravosis has never been anything but a very staid, proper, and basically Old Line Republican who has been severely disappointed by his colleagues who don't support issues of basic fairness and civil rights on matters of Teh Ghey. And as for Arianna, ha ha ha ha.

The only really consistent Liberal/slightly Leftish predominant presence on the Intertubes has been Digby, and she has been moderating her positions for years so as not to raise the ire of the Big Libertarians whose influence on the Lefty Blogosphere is vastly disproportionate to their numbers.

The irony is that there should be no reason for Libertarians to play this little mind-fuck game, especially if they are sincere in their political ideology. Libertarianism may be puerile and impracticable, but it is an American ideology of longstanding, defensible (sort of) on its merits (such as they are), and there is no need to pretend to hold some other political position or to make believe that somehow Libertarianism and Liberal-Leftism are compatible. 

They aren't. In some respects they are mortal enemies. Just as Libertarianism is incompatible with  what is generally thought of as American Conservatism.

Where I'm headed, New Mexico, is full of Leftists -- the real kind -- Libertarians of all stripes, old line Conservatives, real honest-to-god tribes and tribalism, and plenty of pure addled nonsense from all over the political and social spectrum.

There's a reason Aldous Huxley chose it as the site of the Savage Reservation in "Brave New World." Maybe it's time to review.

So... time to pack up and head out. 


  1. Che,

    I find myself wanting to defend Greenwald. You've said this,

    "...Glenn is becoming more and more strident and shrill in his antipathy toward anyone who doesn't share his rigidity and absolutism, which he calls "principle," no matter how wrong or dangerous it may be..."

    I am puzzled about this remark of yours because I would have thought that you would have approved of his stands on priciple. The discussion you recently had about Thomas More involved the business of the trees of Britain and how More would have left all these trees to defend himself from the Devil if he should come looking for him. I take it Greenwald believes in the trees and he thinks himself on the side of More.

    Are you, now, on the side of those who want to cut down these trees to get at the Devil?

    If you are a forester at this point, then, I am baffled.

  2. Hi Steven,

    I think I can see why my position vis a vis Greenwald might be perplexing.

    As I hope is clear enough over the years I've been participating in his comments, I am an admirer of his insights. I don't always agree with him; more and more lately I've been disagreeing with him on some pretty basic issues, such as "justice" in general and specifically with regard to the Citizens United ruling and his absolutism about his interpretation of the First Amendment and his determination that all terrorism suspects and WOT detainees (apparently anywhere and under any circumstances apart from actual capture by the military in physical combat) be handled by Federal Courts in the usual way.

    I think I've considered these matters with some care, though by no means have I done so as rigorously as some have, including Glenn. Glenn has made clear that his position is not driven by concern for "justice". It simply isn't.

    His position on these matters is driven by his absolutist interpretation of the Constitution (which to me is an impossible position to maintain as the document itself is antithetical to Absolutism) and on his sincere belief that Federal Court is the only appropriate venue for trial of these suspects and captives.

    My focus is on Justice, Glenn's is on Law -- in a highly formalist and legalist way. I can see why he left litigation: it must have been incredibly frustrating dealing so often with people who were more concerned with Justice than with absolutism and literalism, formalism and legalism.

    Glenn has become more and more rigid in his presentation, more and more certain of his own authority on matters he cares about. He's become more and more shrill in his denunciations of those who don't agree with him. Maybe he was always a purse-mouthed Puritan. But in my view, he's becoming his own worst enemy, as I've seen happen with some other legal minds on the blogosphere. He calls his legalist and formalist stances "principle", and that's fine, but he comes close to denying that anyone who doesn't agree with him have principles of their own -- that differ from his. And that's not fine. That way lies madness.

    In addition to the scene about the Law and the Devil in "A Man For All Seasons," there is another scene, which I also linked, which touches on the issue of Justice. As Sir Thomas says, if Justice is the issue, he has nothing to fear.

    So, I'll ask again: was Justice done in the trial and sentence of Sir Thomas More? If so how? If not, why not?

    How do you see it?