Saturday, March 13, 2010


I've been back in California for about a week, still a little zzzz-y from the trip. Well, it's eleven hundred miles, 20 hours solid on the road, and as many times as I've driven it, it's still something of a challenge getting from here to there and back again.

It's not just a change of location, it's a change of culture.

I've never much cared for Arizona, but passing through it these days is becoming a real chore. Arizona's culture is antithetical to the Indians and the Mexicans who long predated the Anglo interlopers who squat there now and parade around with their guns out, refusing to pay taxes and threatening any brown person who happens by. What with the closure of the highway rest areas and the state parks and the attempts to sell off the state buildings, the whole notion of government of, by and for the People of Arizona has become a sick joke. This is America? No. It's Arizona, and these days it sucks to be there.

In Arizona, nobody wants to pay taxes, so they don't. If the state is really interested in cushioning its bottom line, and the government really wants to sell off its assets and shut down, which is the way they are behaving, then I think they should sell it all to the Indians and lease it back, if the Indians are so inclined. Or let the Indians run things. At least they have casinos, and they seem to run just fine. Tell me, have you ever had a bad time at an Indian casino? I ask you.

In New Mexico, things are different. Thankfully. Or maybe not, it's a little hard to say these days. Not only did I have a visitation from The Plumbers which turned out OK in the end, the house has been reinfested with skunks, and that was pretty bad, and is still not completely solved. In the past, the skunks have been a nuisance, this time they were pests. They nest under the house, with the feral cats. We had eleven skunks trapped and sent to Otero Canyon last year. I don't know how many there are now, but I can bet there are at least two, and probably more. Last year, they got along with the cats pretty well; this year not so much. In fact, there seemed to be a nearly constant war between them, which of course led to endless skunk spray.

There is a specific remedy for it. Vinegar. That's right. If the stink is severe, as it was, over and over, when the cats and the skunks contended, warm the vinegar and spray it liberally, or place a dish full of it in front of a fan and let it blow over the vinegar for an hour or so. Usually, that will take care of the stink, almost like magic.

Keeping the skunks out means making it impossible for animals to get under the house, and that's been the trick. When The Plumbers were there, they opened a hole outside under the bathroom and suggested that the hole stay open for a while to help dry out the area under the house where the water from the clogged drain had collected. I left it open for three or four days, and of course skunks moved in. The war began and it didn't stop until the day before I left. I wouldn't be surprised if it has recommenced.

There's another place where The Plumbers were several years ago when they replaced the supply piping, and that hole, though repeatedly closed up gets dug up by creatures, and the animals get in that way, too. So it's a constant struggle. The fact that we're not there more than a few weeks a year means the struggle is ongoing.

Hate to whine about it, but this time the skunks were much worse than ever before, so we're going to have to find a more or less permanent solution. I have some ideas.

Meanwhile, of course, the NM legislature came up with a grand plan to keep their schools and parks and stuff open: raise taxes on the poor and near poor. Not on the rich, oh no no no no no. Can't do that! This from a Democratic state administration -- Dems all the way down. Outstanding! Outrageous!

And the Rs are salivating. They figure, perhaps rightly, that with only two choices, the Dems or the Rs, the electorate will install Rs come fall, since the Dems have raised taxes on those least able to afford them. So throwing the bums out seems like a clever plan. Except... putting the Rs in will mean no reduction in taxes on the poor and near poor, but it will mean a significant reduction in services, and probably a further reduction in taxes on the rich and on corporations.

Our electoral system is insane.

Your choice is Bad or Worse. Now choose.


Of course things are no better in California. Arguably they make things in Arizona and New Mexico seem very mild by comparison. Taxes have been raised, budgets have been cut, and still things are spiraling out of control. The rich are refusing to pay any more in taxes, and the unemployment rate is enormous and getting worse. Local governments are going broke, the state is tens of billions in the red, and nobody knows what to do about it or how to do it. Stalemate.

Or checkmate.

So a Hail Mary effort to change the budgeting rules is apparently going to be made, and then we get to pray.

All this is happening while our friends in DC continue to dither.

So I'm slowly recompressing but reluctantly.

After a while, you just get sick of it.


  1. Ché. My guess is you've already seen this, but just in case:

    It's about a new book on our mutual friend, Mario Savio, written by Robert Cohen.

    Also wondered. Have you read G. A. Cohen? Have ordered his Why Not Socialism? and am looking forward to finding more of his work in local university libraries. Stumbled onto him in the Crooked Timber forums, during a discussion of most important political philosophy books of the naughts.

    Hope all is well this Saint Patty's day.

  2. Welcome home.

    ~ bystander