Friday, November 30, 2012

I Don't Like Woody Allen Movies

Never did. BUT this performance by Corey Stoll in "Midnight in Paris" last year almost made me change my mind:

 



Almost.


A Way of Looking At Recent Economic History and Policy

Spanner in the Works


Numerian over at Economic Populist goes into great detail about how we got into this miserable economic condition and what it means for the future of the United States and its Globalist followers. It isn't pretty.

Framing what's happening as the development of a Permanent Dependency Class is something I haven't seen before, but it strikes me as an intriguing and reasonable way of looking at it. Except for one thing: once people become part of a dependent class, no matter what it is, the props are then routinely and almost ritualistically knocked out from under them, leaving them to fend for themselves if they can. It is a Social Darwinist game which Our Betters seem to love to stir up and watch.

Perhaps this sort of thing is a natural result of overpopulation and the impending climate catastrophe.

We haven't heard much about "overpopulation" in many years thanks to the advent of the Green Revolution and the determination of governments and social engineers -- in China and India especially -- that their people will not starve ever again.

I've written before that famine and starvation were used as social control weapons by colonial powers back in the day, and they were used because they were very effective. People who are barely surviving -- or dying in droves all around -- are not likely to rise up against their exploiters and oppressors. Even if they try, they are not likely to be successful. They become dependent on the good will and largesse of their masters -- whoever they may be; during the colonial era, the masters were the European colonialists.

We haven't quite returned to that model of social and political control, but we're getting there, as the experiments in neo-colonialism going on in Europe today (affecting primarily Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, most of Eastern Europe and to a limited extent Italy) amply show. People are starving in Greece already, and the situation is nearly as catastrophic in Spain and Portugal for far too many. If the Eurocrats out of Berlin and Brussels are successful in essentially destroying Greece as a viable nation and society and in setting up some sort of beggar state ruled from the rapacious financial hubs, then it will become a model for EuroEcon for some time to come. They've already successfully destroyed the Greek economy, and they're working hard on doing the same to the rest of the "peripheral" nations.

A major paradigm shift is underway, one that is as fundamental as any we've seen in centuries.

A tiny minority of Global Wealthy -- individually and through the corporations they own and control -- are vying to Rule the World to their exclusive advantage, bugger everyone else.

Numerian sees the process clearly enough, but seems to believe it is related closely to the practices of third world plutocrats who have long ruled their roosts with iron rods, keeping tens of millions -- billions -- of people in debt, penury and poverty while the rich benefit from the resources of the land and the labor of the impoverished masses. In order to keep the masses in their place and prevent more than modest and occasional uprisings, the third world plutocrats maintain the masses as a dependent class of peons -- providing them with enough to get by and survive, but no more than that.

In other words, in the third world, plutocrats have behaved with something close to responsibility toward their dependent charges, though never generously.

Numerian sees something similar happening in this country, but I would say that Our Betters have no sense of social responsibility at all, and they seek to avoid and undercut any responsibility for the well-being of the Lesser People that has been imposed on them by law and tradition for generations.

There is no substantive economic or institutional pressure being put on them to behave responsibly toward anyone, certainly not toward anyone of a lesser status than they themselves. Governments by and large have abandoned their own responsibility for the "general welfare" -- in an effort to serve and please the Global Plutocracy against the interests of the People.

The absence of any sort of moral suasion from institutions and individuals aligned with or part of the Plutocrat Class has been one of the most striking aspects of this paradigm shift (into neo-Colonialism, neo-Imperialism, and neo-Fascism) compared to those of the past. There is no apparent counterbalance from among the High and the Mighty to the course of events underway -- events which are destroying the natural world, the economies of nations, and the lives and futures of millions upon millions of people around the world.

This absence was made manifest -- and very striking -- in the lead up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The People took to the streets in their millions to protest; the People's voice was ignored. It could be ignored in part because there was no established institutional voice, and no respected members  of the ruling class aligned with the People.

The situation is much the same with the current deficit hysteria. The way nearly the entire media -- including much of the "new media" -- is aligned with those who are pushing austerity and deficit hysteria rather than with the People is striking and highly evocative of the way so much of the media (including "new media") was breathlessly anticipating the looming invasion of Iraq.

It's all Plutocrat Play Time.

What to do about it is among the most vexing if not the most pressing problems of the Modern Era. A spanner must be thrown in the works somehow, but so far, nothing that has been tried has worked more than momentarily -- if that.

What to do?

One thing that's being done and may be successful over the long term -- and for some, the short term as well -- is withdrawal from whatever world it is the Plutocracy seems to be engineering for the rest of us.

Unfortunately, withdrawal can only be a temporary solution while other options are explored. Eventually, the relentlessness of the exploiters and predators is inescapable. And then?

We'll see, won't we?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

OT: Something Interesting

Children at play, San Jose Elementary School, c. 1962 (?)


I saw this picture the other day and it caught my attention -- because I recognized those jungle gyms. The picture was taken at my elementary school in eastern Los Angeles County, but I didn't know that right away. The caption said the picture was taken in 1962. I moved away from there in 1959. Yet there was something very familiar about the picture, and then it came to me.

The second boy from the left looks very much like... me... c. 1957 or perhaps 1958. The third boy from the left strongly resembles my friend Mike. I wonder if the picture was taken some years before the date given in its caption and if I am the boy second from left, and Mike is the boy third from left. It wouldn't surprise me too much.

I was featured in a couple of newspaper articles around that time, and photographers from a number of publications, including LIFE Magazine, paid visits to our school in 1957 and 58 for other feature stories. We were thought to be on the cutting edge of education at the time...

Strange...


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"No Cuts" vs The Correct Approach

Heels for Digging In


So Dems have "dug in their heels" regarding the issue du jour, "entitlement reform" -- ie: cutting benefits to the old, the sick, the lame and the halt, right along with further savage cuts to benefits for the poors.

"No cuts!" declare the Dems, not quite in unison, but with somewhat more vigor than they have managed in the recent past.

The problem they are avoiding, of course, is that Social Security benefit levels simultaneously too low for most recipients to begin with, and Medicare and Medicaid benefits often go where they are least needed rather than where they will do the most good.

We have a screwy benefit system, one that is designed to keep people on edge and uncertain during what will be the most difficult period of their lives. Rs are desperate to make the situation worse for most people, while Dems don't want to make it too much worse too fast for the majority.

The People have no say in the matter.

Except that they do, to a very limited extent, and they had their say in the "election" by confirming Obama in the White House, a Republican controlled House and a Democratic controlled Senate.

Of course we can point out how bizarre and anachronistic the whole electoral system in this country is, and we can specifically point out that Republican control of the House was assured by the gerrymandering engineered in State House after State House following the debacle of the 2010 election in which the Dems conceded the House of Representatives as well as state houses all over the country -- knowing full well what would happen.

I've pointed to this stunning political failure many times, but note of it is rarely made outside the fringes of Blogtopia (h/t Skippy).

This screwed up electoral system has assured the Powers That Be that the People's Voice will be forever muted in the halls and corridors of Power.

So the Powerful sit around deciding just how far they wish to push their programs of impoverishment for the masses, untold wealth for the few. They don't worry about the clamor outside the gates because they can't hear it. Even if they could, they wouldn't care. According to the institutional theory of Power, there is nothing the People can do -- or more importantly will do -- that the Powerful need pay any attention to.

It has been this way for many a long year.

They sit around deciding how much to cut the benefits of the masses and how fast to do it. There is no other discussion or consideration at all. The decision to cut has already been made, long since. The Dems say "No cuts!" but that isn't what they mean, and we know that because there have already been cuts, substantial cuts, to all three "entitlement" programs, cuts that "nobody noticed." Medicaid has taken the most savage hit, but Medicare and Social Security have both seen reductions due to "payment adjustments" in the case of Medicare, and failures to provide COLAs or only tiny COLAs in the case of Social Security.

"No cuts!" means "Cuts yes!" -- only slower and more subtly than they might otherwise be.

Ah, the language of salesmanship and politics!

And no one notices.

Well, that's the operating theory. As long as it is done slowly and subtly, no one will notice, the lid will stay on the boiling cauldron of popular discontent and the hyper-rich and powerful will sleep soundly and safely on top of their absurd and obscene piles of money. Forever and ever, amen!

The lessons of Europe are not lost on Our Betters. The prime lesson, of course, is that those in power can get away with almost anything they want, no matter how badly engineered and managed, no matter the popular clamor against it, because the People will never do anything that will seriously interfere. There are running street battles between police and protesters all over Europe, but it doesn't make a bit of difference to the High and the Mighty. In fact, they may enjoy the show. In election after election, those who are most responsible for the economic suffering of the People are returned to parliaments in their droves. Even when so-called "Socialists" are installed, as happened in France, the economic policies coming out of governments are the same. It doesn't matter who is elected, in other words, the policies don't change.

That's true in the United States as well, though the situation is a bit different because of our anachronistic system. It's easier to mask what's really going on under our system, and to make believe that the tiniest "difference" between policies is somehow earthshattering.

Americans are currently facing "austerity lite," but every sign suggests that our government will plunge head-long into Euro-style Austerity Heavy any day now.

The correct approach, of course, is just the opposite. Under current economic conditions, policies should be tailored to increasing employment, benefits, rebuilding, and more. None of that is being done, none of it will be done. No government that I know of is approaching current conditions appropriately. None.

Global Revolution is then made inevitable.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Actually Benefits Should Be Increased Not Reduced

This is the only "progressive" policy position out there. "No Cuts" sounds nice, but what does it really mean?


Of course, I've been saying benefits should be increased for years and years, but no one who matters has ever listened. It's the way these things go.

Social Security and other benefits that people receive -- regardless of whether they are earned entitlements such as pensions or they are welfare benefits for the poor and disabled -- are simply too low, scandalously low given that we (the People) are in a perpetual -- and now a totally engineered -- recession.

Social Security benefits should have been doubled or even tripled at the lower end and increased by 25% or more at the upper end at the very outset of the Endless Recession. Instead, benefits were cut. Oh they were, were they? comes the rejoinder. Yes, they were. There was no COLA for two years, and COLAs since then do not reflect -- at all -- the steep increases in costs for food, housing, transportation, and utilities, not to mention medical care not covered by Medicare, that recipients have had to endure. These cuts have had a profound economic effect, both among the elderly who depend on Social Security as their main income in retirement, and critically among the poorest Americans who often receive nothing in benefits.

Benefits for the poor and disabled not on Social Security or SSI have all but disappeared with the exception of food stamps and completely inadequate private charity.

This is due to stupid and self-defeating policies at the very top of the political ladder,  policies that appear to be institutionalized as the nation races to the artificial deadline of the vastly puffed up "fiscal cliff."

When the gasbags insist that the only way to avoid said "cliff" is to cut benefits even more (under the rubric of "entitlement reform") you should know what's coming: benefits will be further cut. And there is nothing, supposedly, the peasantry can do about it. Haw. Double. Haw.

There might -- or might not -- be a tiny uptick in revenues in exchange for cutting benefits further, but don't count on it. The more that can be taken away from the poor, the old, the hungry, the sick, the infirm and the unable, the more accrues to the highest of the mighty in any case. Everyone knows that.

Taking to the streets is a good tactic but it isn't a strategy that will put the brakes on this madness. Cf: Europe for an example. All the street demonstrations over there haven't even momentarily halted the idiotic slide of Europe's leaders into fiscal and economic paralysis. There is no sign whatever that demonstrations by themselves will ever affect the Powerful.

Monster Meetings and Mass Demonstrations rarely affect the Powerful in any case. What does move them, sometimes with amazing speed, is a nudge from within their own ranks ("class betrayal", cf Roosevelt -- either one) something we have not seen any of during our recent unpleasantness, or sometimes an external intervention is necessary, such as the near-success of the Populist Movement in this country at the end of the 19th Century, or the advent of the Global Communist Conspiracy following the Soviet Revolution of 1917.

Domestic demonstrations by themselves don't accomplish much, nor can they, nor do scholars of protest movements expect them to. They serve as consciousness-raising actions more than anything. But that's another discussion.

Our problem is that no one among the Ruling Classes is willing to be the voice of conscience that we so badly need in order to halt the madness. Anyone who tries is booted from the fold promptly, and all his or her goods and chattel are forfeit. A certain Al Gore comes to mind. Remember him? No? Well, there you are then.

The decision was made years ago at the highest levels that the least among us would be made to pay proportionately the most for the sins and failures of the Highest. Nothing has acted to change or even influence that decision.

In the current "debate" there is no thought or consideration whatsoever if increasing benefits for any but the very richest and most powerful (how about eliminating the estate tax altogether, for example? That is on the table; increasing Social Security and other benefits for the People absolutely is not). The posture of nearly all so-called "progressives" is to maintain SS and some other benefits at current levels, not cut them.

Well, maybe cut them a little bit. OK? Deal?

Madness.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Gaza Thing



I've purposely stayed well away from the latest ritual Gaza slaughterfest.

It seems clear that unless Israelis slake their thirst for Palestinian blood from time to time they aren't fulfilled. The periodic death and destruction in the vast prison/ghetto that is Gaza turns the stomach and outrages the conscience of anyone who pays the slightest bit of attention.

Israel lies, thieves and murders with near impunity, hollering constantly about all the "rockets raining down" on their sleeping innocent citizens while hundreds or thousands or however many Arabs it takes are mowed down in the Gaza, regardless of "guilt" or "innocence."

And the United States is the enabler.

Is this what it takes for a nation-state to exist? Lying? Thieving? Murdering? Enabling?

Maybe it's time to re-think the nation-state notion.

It's long past time for Zionism to fade away.

[Meanwhile, Egypt seems to be undergoing a bit of... political strain. Ahem.]

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Blankfein Thing


This has gotten much play in the Haute Blogosphere for many days now:
BLANKFEIN: You’re going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people’s expectations — the entitlements and what people think that they’re going to get, because it’s not going to — they’re not going to get it.

PELLEY: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?

BLANKFEIN: You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. … So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.
PELLEY: Because we can’t afford them going forward?

BLANKFEIN: Because we can’t afford them.

Jeebus what a freak.

The notion that this mook should be lecturing anyone on matters of what we can "afford" and "fiscal cliffs" and so forth is surreal and insulting. His own sense of entitlement (and his bone ignorance) is unlimited.

Perhaps he would do well to contemplate just how close he and his ilk are to a ride in a tumbril before he and they mouth off again.

Thanksgiving



Norman Rockwell's famous "Freedom From Want" illustration from 1943. Part of the "Four Freedoms" series. Needless to say, for many-- or most -- Americans in 1943, Thanksgiving wasn't quite like that...


There's one of those posts over at Alternet that lambastes the Europeans -- specifically the English settlers in North America -- for genocide of the Indians, a genocide that was the impetus for the First Thanksgiving that is still (apparently) given much play in elementary schools across this broad and fertile land.

The genocide was real, and it's still not really taught or even talked about much in schools, I'm told. The preferred way to deal with it is still to claim that the Indians "died out" due to lack of resistance to European diseases. That's true too as far as it goes. Many tribes perished en masse from disease. Many others still struggle with the twin scourges of Native Peoples, alcoholism and diabetes, both of which were introduced by and have been idly perpetuated by the dominant Euro-culture.

However, something keeps astonishing me about the Anglo/Euro-American view of American Indians, and that is the strange belief that the Indians have been all but wiped out entirely, that they are "gone, though not forgotten." The internalized belief is that the genocide -- however it was accomplished -- was essentially complete, and now there are almost no Indians left.

What nonsense. I know too many people who sincerely believe this though, who assure themselves  that they don't have to concern themselves with Indians any more because there aren't any left -- or at least that there aren't enough of them left to bother with.

But scholars suggest that there are more American Indians alive now than there ever were, and for the most part, native tribes are holding their own if not flourishing. Tribal living has been severely -- and probably irreparably -- disrupted for many Natives, but there is no lack of Natives in this country. Many are wise, some are militant, all of the American Indians I know are creative. The stereotypes from the past are still abroad in the land, of course, but the reality mocks the stereotypes.

It's a reality worth celebrating, and yes giving thanks for. Without a Native presence, America would be much worse off than it is.

Moving from California to New Mexico, we knew we were moving from a society in which the very concept of "Native" is for all intents and purposes alien (though there be no lack of Indians in California, don't get me wrong, they are very numerous) to one in which Native Peoples, society and culture are the foundation of everything else. Indians are not "gone" from New Mexico by any means. They are everywhere. The 19 current Pueblos are only part of the picture of Native Living in New Mexico. The ruins which dot the state, some of them not far from our own home here, demonstrate that the Indians of New Mexico and round about were "civilized" (in terms that Spanish and Anglos can understand) from a very early date, and modern day Pueblos continue that society in an unbroken line from those early days. Scholars are said to be still mystified by the "Anasazi" > Pueblo connection ("if there is one") but the Pueblo Peoples aren't. They understand it fully, and they are happy to let the scholars know if they are interested, but often they are not because they are more interested in fostering their own pet theories.
 
The Navajo and Apache Peoples who have lived among the Pueblo Peoples for many generations -- and have had more than a little conflict with them over the centuries, let's not fool ourselves -- have a distinct life-style and culture and language that is not that of the Pueblos, and most people in New Mexico understand that, while many outside the state don't. Navajo may have the dominant numbers and may hold far more land than other tribes, but they do not rule Indian society, nor is their culture the dominant Indian culture. It is one of several. (Navajo and Apache are considered "new-comers" -- and invaders -- by the Pueblos, because they only started arriving from the north in the 1400's, not that long before the Spanish incursions from the south.)

The Kiowa and Comanche Peoples who once raided and preyed on the Pueblos of New Mexico from the north and east are now pretty much integrated into Indian life in the region and many have become part of Pueblo communities. There still might be a sense of rivalry or even animosity from time to time, but for the most part, no. In fact, it appears that Indians of All Nations are welcome among the established tribes, and together they form a huge part of the artistic and cultural richness of New Mexico. It's impossible to imagine New Mexico without an enormous cultural, social, and artistic influence by Native Peoples.

Of course what I know about these things is limited. My ignorance is profound, as it will no doubt be for the rest of my life. I may have lived among Indians for most of my existence, but I still feel like I "know" next to nothing -- and in many respects, that's as it should be. I'm still finding out about my own people, after all,  and the lies they've told over the generations.

We'll have a modest Thanksgiving this afternoon -- partly to acknowledge the many blessings we've had over the years, and to give thanks to the Spirits for all of it, good and bad, as we have stumbled along our complicated path of life. Myself, I once was convinced I wouldn't -- couldn't -- live past 30, and here I am well into my 60's, puttering along, amazed at every day. Astonished. And often delighted.

The United States has many sins to atone for, as each of us as individuals have our own catalog of sins  to expiate. At the same time, we have so many blessings to be grateful for.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Then gird thy loins, there is so much more to do...;-)


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On Secession and Secessionists



This Modern Secession Movement might become intriguing as more and more entities decide to press for secession from one another.

I'm told that there are now secession movements in all fifty states. But within the states, particularly Texas -- which got the ball rolling, after all, with some of the more intemperate statements of its brain-addled governor quite some time ago -- there have arisen plenty of internal secession movements seeking to withdraw this or that city from the grip of the Other Secessionists. Well now. What have we here?

For some time, I've been writing that the Problem With America is that it is too big. It's a Domestic  Imperial State where one really ought not to be. It's an anachronism built from the detritus of the British Empire, which itself was a criminal enterprise leading to untold suffering and misery around the world. Basically, as brilliant as many of the Founding Fathers were, their underlying premise was that they could do this Continental Imperial Project better than the British, and they wanted the power and authority to engage in it without interference from London. They were prepared to take that power from London and did so.

Their Original Sins, of course, were slavery and genocide, both necessary for the Imperial Project to succeed. The political efforts to curb the excesses of these sins led to the Civil War and a temporary break up of the Union to discover whether the future of America would be corporate-Imperial or plantation/mercantile-imperial. The corporate side won.

And here we are.

Of course it's not that simple, not at all, but the outline is strong, and the problem continues to be the fact that the country is a domestic Empire that's just too damn big. The solution is to break it up.

Ah. I can already hear the screams of Imperialists: "Balkanization!" Yes, well.

The United States is really an uncomfortable amalgam of a number of culture and geographic areas into an unwieldy and nigh on ungovernable mish-mash of a nation served by an ever more remote and disconnected national government and a descending series of ever more impoverished state and local governments.

Given my druthers, the rest of the country should secede from the Old South rather than the other way around, since the South really runs this pop stand and isn't about to let go of it any time soon. So, drop kick them. I'd go farther, though, and abolish the states as well, since they are all artificial creations with no natural existence either culturally or geographically at all.

Instead, what's now the United States should be divided into affinity/geographic regions, perhaps ten of them outside the Old South. Each independent. For a time I thought that there was some merit in preserving the national existence, but now I'm not so sure.

The idea of domestic empire has become an anachronism in any case.

It's time to ponder something else again.

A real secession movement would be founded outside the South and would have as its objective freeing the People from the illiberality of the Old South. Real secessionists would want to see the chains of the Old Southern mindset broken, and our governments liberated from control by Old Southern politicians and their cruelties.

I like the idea of turning the Modern Secession Movement inside out this way.

Heh.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Republicans

Isn't it about time that the so-called "left" -- especially the "left blogosphere" -- stop talking about and fretting over what the Rs need to do to be competitive in future elections?

It's become obsessive.

Pronghorns

The backside of a herd of pronghorns somewhere between the VLA and Socorro 

There were three herds within about fifteen miles along our route returning to Socorro from the VLA site in the San Augustin Plain. Two of them showed only their backsides, the third -- which we didn't get any pictures of -- was face on and very close to the road. Between each group of pronghorns were cattle, most of them on the nearly 19,000 acre Kokopelli Ranch.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

At the Bosque Friday Evening



This is one of the videos we shot as the cranes returned to the North Pond at Bosque del Apache NWR  from foraging during the day. They are magnificent birds, thrilling to watch and hear. Mesmerizing, really.

The sunset wasn't bad, either!

Sunset at Bosque del Apache NWR, 11/16/12

Headline of the Day: "Now El Paso Wants Out of Texas"

The Modern Secession Movement which has been triggered by the re-election of The Kenyan Socialist Darky to the White House has led to plenty of ludicrosity, especially in Tejas next door where the crackers have gone crazier than usual.

Comes now a petition out of El Paso saying "let us out of Texas!" Apparently El Paso would re-up with New Mexico, which makes sense given that it is practically a suburb of Las Cruses as it is. There would still be the question of what to do with Ciudad Juarez, but that can be dealt with in due time.

Don't think, however, that New Mexico itself has escaped the Modern Secession Movement. Oh far from it. 

Even though, let's be clear, most of the signatures on the NM petition of secession are by out-of-state-ers. New Mexicans may be a cussed lot from time to time, but most of them know what side their bread is buttered on and are well aware that twice as much tax money flows into the state as its comparatively few residents send to Washington.

Were it not for all the military bases and installations and all the labs and university programs and all the other national funding that winds up here, it's hard to imagine that New Mexico would be anything but a very impoverished wilderness and frontier. New Mexicans by and large know this.

On the other hand, they mostly know how to live on the edge. For hundreds of years and perhaps for thousands of years before that, New Mexicans and their Pueblo Indian and other progenitors lived "poor." They had no choice. And they made the best of it -- in sometimes charming, sometimes astonishing ways. The Earth provides -- but rarely abundantly for those who live here.

Secession is seen by the wag-rocracy as more of a joke these days than it was prior to the Civil War. There's been more than a little sniggering over the Texas secession plea, to the tune of "LOL. Kthxbuhbai" and so forth.

The part of New Mexico where we live is often considered an outpost of West Texas, and during various periods, it was claimed by Texas (and periodically invaded.) Everything up to the Rio Grande was once declared Texan, but Texas could never make the claim stick. Instead, there's been a slow migration of Texans into the eastern half of the state, and I wouldn't be surprised if they make up a majority of the population these days.

Nevertheless, Tejanos though they may be, they become New Mexicans once they settle in, and I would bet that given their druthers many of those trapped in the sink-hole that is Texas would dearly love to be adopted by New Mexico. Heh.

New Mexico's current governor is called "Susana la Tejana" because she was born and raised in El Paso and is not of the Old Spanish Stock that has long been prominent in New Mexican politics. But from appearances she's adapted pretty well to New Mexico's customs and ways, to the point where she's almost liked -- despite the fact that she's both a Texan and a Republican.

For myself, I've often encouraged secessionists to do it. Please. Go.

This Is Kinda Fun... As These Things Go

Agenda 21 Full Video from Bryan Long on Vimeo.

Yes, well.

There's actually some more or less accurate information in the video within the video; I'll let the viewer figure out what it is. There are most definitely Things Going On that either the public is not privy to at all (a whole bunch of that stuff), or Things which are sold to the public using what amounts to false advertising. In other words, Things are not necessarily what they appear to be, and their upshot may be quite different than we are led to believe.

Government uses falsehoods frequently to help lull and control the People. This is nothing new, it's been going on for as long as there has been government, and it is by no means a peculiarity of the Modern American Government. Falsehood is built in to the institutional framework of government as we know it. It's not necessarily a bad thing. But I wouldn't call it good.

Tactics and techniques of mass control are pretty much constant in the haute monde of both the public and private sectors, and as we descend further and further into our Neo-Fascist Future, the interchange between the sectors essentially fuses them into a unity. They use each others' techniques freely, and for an identical purpose: control.

What is striking about this presentation is that it is offered as if it were "secret knowledge" -- much like the inner workings of the Mormon Temple to use one recent similar example -- when it's not really "secret" at all.

To state the obvious: The everyday world the public experiences doesn't operate the way the inner working of government does, but the way the government works is not especially hidden from view. Almost any interaction with the government will demonstrate how it works.

What's interesting to me is the how the ordinary operations of government can be so easily interpreted and sold as some vast conspiracy or other, much as is done in the video-within-the-video above and was done in a kind of baroque excess during the Clinton Era. There are conspiracies to be sure. And some of what the government and private sectors plan and do is not in the public interest by any means. Many people would say that most of what the government does is not in the public interest while giving the private sector a pass, and that's simply absurd; the twain have plighted their troth in a manner of speaking, and there is no way to separate their plans and actions from one another -- quite unlike the situation between the People and Government.

I've written many times that the United States Government has essentially divorced itself from the People and there is no longer much or in many cases any institutional necessity to include the People's Will or the Public Interest in the institutional framework of Government. This is true of many smaller jurisdictions as well. The United States Government -- like other governments around the world and at home -- serves the needs and interests of a select (and diminishing) minority of keyed-in and hyper-wealthy individuals and interests almost exclusively. The People are an impediment at times; most times they are simply irrelevant to the needs and interests of the power elites.

The surprise is that this state of affairs still comes as a surprise to many people.

It shouldn't.

In the meantime, the fantasy that is spun in the video above is really something to behold. The Truth might actually be scarier, though. So when these things appear, I generally take them to be the product  of an elite faction that wishes to press its own case in opposition to whatever is currently going on, and wishes to sell a load of crap to the public in the process in an effort to sway public opinion its own way.

Wheels within wheels...

[Speaking of: We had a series of truly remarkable adventures on Friday, starting with the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, thence to the Very Large Array at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, thence back to the Refuge for the Arrival of the Cranes, thence to New Mexico Tech to hang out at their Observatories. I've drafted some stuff about it, but it may be a while before I post anything. Still working on the pictures....;-)]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Goin' to the Bosque

http://www.festivalofthecranes.com
2012 Festival of the Cranes, Bosque del Apache NWR, NM


Last week I mentioned the multitude of birds we see around here, including sandhill cranes which fly in formations over our place daily and feed in the recently plowed farm fields nearby.

They -- and many other birds -- winter in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge out of San Antionio, about 60 miles south and west along the banks of the Rio Grande. Every year the Friends of the Bosque (Anglos say "Boss-key," everyone else says "Bohz-kay") hosts the week-long Festival of the Cranes, one of the most elaborate international gatherings of bird-watchers and naturalists and citizens I've ever imagined. There are so many activities and events through the week that it's easy to get exhausted just reading the list (pdf). The brochure (pdf) is 44 pages long.

So we're going to do some of the events today -- heading out to the Bosque this morning to see the birds (though most if not all of the cranes will already be gone by the time we get there -- many will be feeding nearby our home to the north -- there should still be a good many other birds on the waters) then out to the Very Large Array west of Socorro (a destination we've failed to reach several times previously), then back to the Bosque in the afternoon when some of the cranes should be returning, then in the evening, we're planning to head to a star party at the observatories at New Mexico Tech in Socorro.

I suspect it will be a very full day.

The first outfit we joined after we moved here was Friends of the Bosque, something we've been intending to do in any case, but once we saw the hundreds and hundreds of cranes flying over this place, it seemed like a sign to get with it. They are magnificent birds in flight or on the ground, and all the other bird-life in these parts is amazing. People around here adore the birds, and even though there are lots of feral cats and other predators about, the birds seem to flourish in great numbers. The grackles are some of our favorites, especially when they're dancing! (Most people consider them pests, but we like their constant cheery attitudes... and of course their songs!)

There is also a prairie dog village next to the community center up the road from our place; it is quite extensive and seems to be expanding into another field across the road. That would be something because in many places prairie dogs (aka: "American Meerkats") are in decline.While I used to see the creatures when I passed by, I haven't seen any since we got here in October, and I need to find out what's happened. I hope it wasn't eradicated.

We're still unpacking, of course, and we're still in the midst of the outrages of The Saga of Refinancing Our Home. This has been going on since June, and the latest word we got was "we hope to close your loan by the end of November! Isn't that wonderful?!" Yeah, right. How many times have I heard something like that? I have hesitated to write about it for the simple reason that it is off topic, but the upshot has more than a little to do with why the People's Economy, as opposed to that of the corporate and financial sector, is in such desperate straits.

In a word: Incompetence. But there's also a great deal of... well, let's let it marinate for a bit longer.

The stories I could tell.

But that's for another time.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Plutocrats On A Rampage



Oh my, this is getting fun.

After setting up one of their own (if only a Legacy Hire) to sit on the Throne and being soundly rejected by the electorate, the American Plutocracy is throwing the Mother of All Hissies, now including the reject himself, "Mitch Wromley" (h/t Letterman, Crowley.)

After declaring 47% of the country's voters to be firmly in Obama's pocket because they're dependent on government handouts (ie, they get fed behind the Big House by the Head Darky) and they don't pay income taxes (never mind that little matter of being too poor to pay the income tax), Romney renounced himself and claimed he didn't really mean it. Of course not.

Comes now the very same Mr. Wromley claiming that the field hands and the house negroes alike put Mr. Obama in the White House (as it used to be known) instead of Wromley his ownself because the Head Darky bribed them with student loan forgiveness, Obamacare, and immigration amnesty -- among other things.

Wromley's runningmate, the execrable little turd Ryan (yclept "LyinRyan" by the wags), claims that Obama won because of the "urban" vote (Darkies for Darkies, in other words).

And the Plutocrats are going ballistic, insisting that the only way to get control of this little situation is to make the field hands and house negroes pay. They will suffer for this betrayal of all that's white and holy, oh yes.

First it was the fast-food and restaurant magnates who insisted that providing health care insurance to their staffs was a brutal burden too far, and they would retaliate by firing people and cutting back hours as well as by raising customer prices to compensate for expenses they would refuse to incur. This is much like the Plutocracy's adamant refusal to pay taxes, not even the mingy little bits they are assessed these days. No! they holler. We will not pay! You can't make us!

They've been able to get away with that one for many a long year now, and they've essentially doubled down on their insistence that they be held harmless and immune for the well-being of anyone but themselves. They will not pay! 


The field hands and house negroes shall pay for everything on this Plantation America, and in addition shall be made to pay an assessment, a fee, a tribute to their Lords and Masters, simply for letting them live and sometimes eat.

That's the way it is supposed to be, né?

Now the Aetna CEO is all on a rampage because of  the illusory Fiscal Cliff and all the rest of it. "You will all suffer!"  he screams. "We will make you pay till the end of time for this betrayal!" Oh dear.

So now we're seeing a bit more of the Ol' Tumbrils and Guillotines metaphor being trotted out, to -- shall we say -- help focus the minds  of the Plutocracy.



And to think, it was only a month or so ago when offering such [ahem] metaphors was considered too outré for words in the haute blogosphere. It was [quelle horreur!] "advocacy of violence!!!!" EEEEEEE.

No. It's an illustration. A challenging one, perhaps, but an illustration just the same of what can happen when the plight of the People is ignored or exacerbated. In other words, it's a metaphor.

Oh, and then there's this: something called "Fix the Debt" -- which is nothing but a scam by Bowles and Simpson on behalf of Pete Peterson and the Plutocracy to eviscerate what's left of the social safety net and plump up the bottom lines of every CEO and corporate raider in creation. The Romneys come to mind in that regard for some reason.

It's all about the entitlement mentality of a handful of sadists and crooks who deign to rule us -- by persuasion if they can, by force if necessary.  It's on full display like it hasn't been since the days of the Robber Barons of yore. It didn't end well for them then; it's not conceivable that it will end well for them now.

Well before the outbreak of the Soviet Revolution, however, there was something called the Progressive Revolution in this country which followed hard on the heels of the Populist Uprising that put the Fear of God into the Plutocracy of that era.

Any realistic assessment of Obama's confirmation in the Big Chair, of course, is that he will go along with the demands and outrages of the Plutocracy in the end, for that is his way; the High and the Mighty know that very well; much of their display is posturing for effect.  On the other hand, if the stories of Wromley's delusions about the election are correct (was he really convinced he would win right up to the last call?), they tend to believe several fantastic things before breakfast and they act on them as if they were true, too.

They have no social conscience whatsoever and they defy the very gods themselves.

The more they have their tantrums, the more lunatic they appear.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

So...?



It appears that the upshot of the "election" is that the masses will be further ground down to satisfy the insatiable appetites of the metastasized financiers, their handmaidens and their hangers-on.

Word has it that the president will go out on the hustings to sell his plan to reduce benefits for the poor, the sick and the old in an effort to get the "other side" to agree to a minute increase in the tax liability of the highest of the mighty.

Of course the H & M won't agree. This has been made clear over and over again: Our Betters simply refuse to pay any more taxes. They refuse to pay the absurdly low taxes they are obligated to even now; all they will pay is what they choose to pay, and they will direct the use of that tax money as they see fit. Period. End of discussion.

The social contract has been broken, irrevocably.

The question is, what do we do about it?

The key to understanding is that elections are not how these matters are resolved. Elections may or may not provide a modest amount of guidance to the ruling class about how to proceed with programs and policies they have already determined to implement, but they are not the way those policies and programs are determined in the first place.

In our case at the moment, the ruling class has decided that it will implement policies and programs which will further squeeze the poor, the sick, and the old, while simultaneously reducing the living standards of the working class and significantly reducing both the numbers and the living standards of the middle class.

This is now Doctrine, agreed to by all the "serious" political factions, regardless of party identification or ideology.

Those least able to will be forced to pay. Forever.

We see the results of the implementation of this policy and these programs in Europe, starkly and with a kind of awful ugliness we didn't think was possible even a few years ago. People are going hungry in Europe's "periphery." They lack many basic services and care. They are unemployed and unemployable in their own countries because their economies have been looted for the sake of a handful of a financial sector run completely amok. The results are painful and obvious, and Europe's elected leaders do not care. They see their future is secure only through adherence to the dictates of the out-of-control financial sector. The People and what happens to them do not matter.

The People, for their part, have complained more or less loudly, and massed and marched and carried signs, sometimes even battling with police, but they have not reached the point of rising up to overthrow their exploiters and oppressors. No, it appears that that phase of human response to adversity is gone, vanished into the mist.

What we see instead is a response tailored to the People's immediate needs for succor and sustenance, sidestepping the apparat that has been deployed for their suppression. Much as has happened in the United States in response to the calamity of Hurricane Sandy -- "The Storm" -- the People have spontaneously adopted the practice of Mutual Aid, and are acting on behalf of one another quite apart from the bureaucratic mills of the corporate state.

It's a wonder to behold.

In addition, there is a surprising awakening to the fact that certain limited interests are profiting mightily -- and expect to profit much more -- from the nearly universal governmental obsession with austerity policies in the midst of an economic disaster of global proportions.

Some people are getting far richer than even their wildest dreams through the implementation of economic austerity programs and policies, and that is why they are being pushed so strenuously in the corridors and halls of Power.

So in the midst of this, there's one of the most magnificently tawdry sex scandals in our long history of of them. Hm. What could be going on? Certainly not a  distraction from what is important? Certainly not that!

Sex scandals tend to be ginned up to distract the Palace courtiers from otherwise productive tasks. In this case, the tawdriness of the cat-fight over the General(s) is matched by the delicious irony of the rightist "moralists" (apparently) doing in not just one of their own but the very star of their ongoing Morality Play. Of course what's apparent may not be what's true, so I'll withhold any judgement about what's really going on. I don't know. But for now, it looks like the Scandal has the media courtiers and not a few of the governmental and military ones fully engaged.

The fact that this is happening just as the Pretend Liberal Candidate was re-elected and plans to go on a campaign to sell his version of austerity programs and policies leads me to wonder whether there isn't some design and intention behind the events.

In other words, by keeping the courtiers engaged in Scandal Watch all sorts of mischief can take place under, around, and over the radar. The mischief of which I speak, of course, is the economic sales-job that is underway as we speak.

My prediction is that this Mother of All Sex Scandals will last just as long as it takes to implement the economic policies that have been waiting in the wings for just the right moment. And then it will be over as if it never happened at all.

Don't be too surprised if His Divinity St. David Petraeus winds up on the Throne just the same.

Oh what a tangled web...


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Books! -- and Other "Nice Things"

Crespi, "Music Library," 1720


The last few days before The Big Move were a whirlwind of packing and disposing and re-packing and disposing of the huge number of Things (some of them quite nice) we had accumulated over our own lifetimes and the lifetimes of several others.

We were delighted to give things to people who helped or to donate them to charity; but a lot of stuff went to the dump. Now that we're unpacking -- slowly -- in New Mexico, we've been wondering why we brought some of the stuff we did to our home here and why we disposed of some of the things we did (that we now see we either need or would enjoy and use if we still had them.)

Sometimes we laugh over what's "lost," while sometimes there are real -- if temporary -- pangs over nice things we "should have kept" but didn't or couldn't due to lack of space.

We hadn't moved in many years, but prior to settling down a couple of decades ago we were moving constantly, several times a year, so we'd pared our stuff down to essentials that we could pack into a station wagon and (sometimes) a trailer and head to our next destination. We could move most or all of it ourselves without additional help and we didn't need a truck -- or, except briefly, did we need to put things in storage for later sorting and disposition.

But once we settled, we started accumulating (we called it "collecting"), and that accumulation became our main burden during the final days and weeks of The Big Move. What to do with it?

The problem was compounded by the fact that our house in New Mexico was already fully furnished and quite liveable without a single additional item at all -- and it already had its own assortment of "collectibles".

What to do?

Though we gave away or donated hundreds of books, perhaps 90% of what we sent out to New Mexico via truck turned out to be... paper. Books primarily. Boxes and boxes of them. Thousands of volumes. Much other paper as well:  Writings, newspaper clippings about ourselves, scripts by the box full (most by others), ancestral documents, memories and souvenirs, photographs. There was a lot of stuff we don't need but couldn't just throw away because it has ID information on it (like SS numbers and such). It would have taken too long to shred it all. So we brought it with us to shred here. (But we didn't have room to pack a shredder!)

As we settle in here, though, we miss some stuff that is now gone, "nice things" that we used all the time in California and could definitely use here, though there are substitutes here for everything that was left behind. In other words, we don't lack for anything. Far from it.

The sense of loss was hard for a while. We had so many "nice things" in California, much of which is now either in other hands or disposed of. But we have plenty of "nice things" in New Mexico. Too much as we're coming to understand.

So part of our task since we've been here is... getting rid of stuff. Paring down. Simplifying.

Re-conceptualizing our lifestyle.

I think that happens to most people who move here.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Note on The Petraeus Thing

I'm ignoring it for the duration. Whatever is going on is not what is being marketed. Don't be surprised if he still winds up in the Big Chair sooner rather than later...

Indian Sunset

 

We did some necessary Indian Business in Albuquerque yesterday, hooking up with the local tribal township and unexpectedly reconnecting with some of the tribal leaders we haven't seen in a decade or more.

It's a long and complicated story which I don't have time to go into in any detail right now. In the past, though, I've ranted about those who misuse the term "tribal" or "tribalism" to mean mindless loyalty. In Native American Indian society, the concept of loyalty is anything but "mindless." It's just about the opposite.

At any rate, we had a fine time at the Annual Meeting, very well attended by folks from all over the area (some had apparently come from as far away as Phoenix) as well as -- surprisingly -- by the tribal honchos and pooh-bahs who just showed up to say "hey" and schmooze for a while. They were not expected. Some of them we hadn't seen for a decade or more, and then it was in California, so yesterday was like Old Friends Day. Of course this was our first visit with the local branch of the tribe, and they were very welcoming and warm-hearted -- the way they tend to be. They were actually a lot of fun, and some were very funny, too. We met some really fine people, had wonderful food, got together with some folks we were surprised to see again, and we learned a bit about this area's tribal branch -- which has a whole different feel and atmosphere than the one in Northern California. That's how it goes in a tribal society: it's not a monolithic thing. They may share common values, common history, often common relations, but each group has its own character, and we were delighted with the one headquartered in Albuquerque.

Heading back over the mountain, we were driving away from the sunset, but the nearly clear sky in the east was lit up with all the colors of the sunset just the same. It was so subtle, though, it was almost transfixing. The nearly turquoise blue of the sky overhead faded gradually into a paler and paler blue, dusty gray, a pale yellow, into pink and then to orange, into another sort of purplish gray, then finally into an almost pure violet. These are the colors that painters and photographers struggle to capture waiting for exactly the right time of day and conditions -- and failing more often than not.

When we turned off the highway and looked back into the west, a brilliant orange and yellow glow arced over the Manzanos where the sun had set, as if there were a fire dying down, and the sky all around it scintillated with purples and pinks and blues. It was yet another of those gorgeous sunsets New Mexico is famous for, but this time not quite so showy or dramatic. This time it was simple and warming and welcoming.

We still have much more to do but we're getting there...

[This is not my picture, it's an uncredited image from Dialog Santa Fe -- a site which doesn't seem to be in operation at the moment... ]

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Night At The Opera



Over my long years in The Show Business, I was involved with a couple of opera companies (Western Opera Theatre in San Francisco and Opera Theatre of St. Louis) and through them I became somewhat familiar with the Santa Fe Opera. It was actually the trip between San Francisco and St. Louis that served as my introduction to New Mexico, so in at least one respect, we're here because of the opera. (Getting here was quite an operatic production in the end, too, wasn't it? Well, that's a story yet to be told in full; we're still recovering.)

I'm not by any means an opera fanatic nor for the most part do I much care for operas -- at least not in the Grand tradition. I became fond of opera theater -- partly because of the people, they were wonderful -- but not fond enough to stay for very long in that realm.

My association with Santa Fe Opera has been very limited: a few visits to the facilities (the setting is stunning); some friends and colleagues who were once part of the company but are no longer; and attending a few of the season-opening parties back in the 1980's. There honestly wasn't much that attracted me to the Santa Fe Opera scene and I've had very little contact with it since; there is so much more in Santa Fe and New Mexico that I am more attracted to.

But last night I went to the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe to attend an HD simulcast of the Met's "The Tempest." Readers may recall my praise of the Met's HD version of "Carmen" that was produced a couple of years ago. I decided to go because I had to be in Santa Fe for other reasons and I would have a few hours to kill in the evening -- and because I had a long and somewhat stormy relationship with Shakespeare's "The Tempest" dating back to my earliest days a theater producer and director. Since that was also around the same time I was involved with opera theater and about the time I first came to New Mexico, there was something of a tie-in with the presentation on screen last night. At least so I thought. And I think I was right.

This was (I believe they said) the Met's premiere of Thomas Adès "The Tempest." It's adapted from Shakespeare, and it's fairly true to Shakespeare, too, though the ending is a bit different (libretto by Meredith Oakes.) This production was set at La Scala in the 19th century (settings very cleverly designed by Jasmine Catudal.)  The setting didn't always serve the production as well as it might have, but it worked surprisingly well just the same.

The music was the challenge. Much more so than anything else. Adès is touted as "the New Benjamin Britten" and I thought, OMG this is going to be awful. I really had dread of what would be presented musically, and at first my expectations seemed to be met. Those poor singers! Jeebus on toast! It wasn't just that it was a struggle for them to do it at all, it was that the audience was pretty much being left out of the equation, as if it were all a self-indulgent exercise for the composer (who was also conducting).

But then something clicked, and I was surprisingly drawn into it. I think what happened was that I "got" the production's premise (which was simple enough but not entirely clear at the beginning) and the challenge of the music on my eardrums (and the alienation that produced) dissipated. There is nothing in it that you can hum to be sure (no earworms here), and yet it... fit. This is "The Tempest" after all. I don't think something melodically "beautiful" would be appropriate. What Ades came up with may not be definitive but it was ultimately appropriate.

I want to say I actually liked it, but I'm not sure I'm quite at that point. I still have visions of my own for "The Tempest" and one day perhaps... The truth is, much of what I had in mind all those years ago has been realized in one form or another in various adaptations and productions of "The Tempest" I've seen. This one carries it even further, and I appreciated that. But none quite put it all together, and that's where I feel this production was somewhat shy of the mark though it was certainly an outstanding effort.

The production ideas were good, but much of the staging by Robert Lepage was almost pedestrian. Some of it was stunning, though, and when it worked, it was really good. The way Ariel (Audrey Luna) was all over the place, for example -- often carried in the arms or on the shoulders of black-clad "stage hands" -- was really quite effective. I liked the way the image of La Scala was used and transformed throughout the production and how it became a metaphor for the play/opera itself.

But moving the cast and chorus around might have been handled with somewhat more surety and less plodding and/or stasis if the bulk of them hadn't been hampered by Opera Costumes of 1842. Transformations are an integral part of the story, but it seemed that very little use of the idea of "transformation" was made in the production -- except as the setting was transformed. I think much more could have been done. Of course what to do with the chorus is always one of those conundrums in opera, and in this case, the director just decided to bring them on, let them stand there and sing for a bit and then take them off. Repeatedly.

The Miranda (Isabel Leonard) and Ferdinand (Alek Shrader) were performed by a very attractive young couple, both with wonderful voices, but both of whom appeared to be gobsmacked by what they were expected to sing. They did it well, but it was clearly a challenge for them. Their idealized love seemed quite genuine, surprisingly enough under the circumstances.

The Prospero (Simon Keenlyside) was another matter altogether. He sang the role superbly, but strangely his character was not as central to the production -- either the staging or musically -- as I would have thought. He was actually an ideal Prospero to my mind, but he often seemed to have nothing to do -- though he might be onstage.

Unlike the Prospero, who seemed almost like a prop at times, the Caliban (Alan Oke) was the essential and in the end the central character of the opera. This was conceptually something I have gone back and forth over many times in thinking about and imagining "The Tempest" in production. At its root, it's a story of theft and abuse and revenge and redemption through idealized love. One can see Caliban as the "ugly" aspect of all of that (but there is much, much more in his character and condition) leaving him to his bitter fate at the end, or one can see him as a -- or even the -- key part of the redemption. In the Met production, the Caliban was both central and key, but unlike the others his "transformation" was left in doubt. I really liked his final scene, but I was not entirely satisfied with the uncertainty (!) of it. Maybe it's just the times.

Toward the end, I swear the man sitting behind me broke down in tears. I certainly didn't feel that moved by it, but I can understand if someone would be. The story is one that can bring you to that point under the right circumstances, and it was my impression that everyone involved in the production was aiming for an emotional release, a catharsis. A few tears toward the end are fully appropriate.

Unlike most of the other events I've attended in Santa Fe and New Mexico, I didn't wind up chatting idly with other attendees; in fact, as soon as it was over, I hustled back to my other destination in Santa Fe and thence home through a very light snowfall. In fact, there's about an inch of snow on the ground right now, really pretty in the morning sun. Some of our East Coast friends would probably rather not hear about snow right now... or tempests for that matter...

I'll be thinking about this production -- and the very concepts underlying it and Shakespeare's play -- for some time to come, however. I had more than a few options for time-killing in Santa Fe last night. Glad I chose this one.

Friday, November 9, 2012

They Aren't As Smart As They Think They Are



But they have all the Power, so it's a wash, right?

I'm talking about Our Betters, those who rule us with the rod and the staff. They just aren't very bright, as we've recently seen with the candidacy of one Willard Mitt Romney, aka "Mitch" (h/t Letterman). He was simply an avatar of his class however, no brighter nor particularly less bright than any of the dozens or hundreds of minted or legacy multibazillionaires who deign to own the government and thus to acquire the right to rule.

This is how an aristocracy is established and how it rots from the inside as well. We've had plenty of experience with legacy aristos wishing to -- and frequently succeeding in -- imposing their right through some permutation of le droit du seigneur. It is, strictly speaking, a form of official and sanctioned rape -- something made quite clear during the campaign with statements and actions by Republican candidates that simply denied that "rape" was a serious or real offense against the persons of The Little People, in this case The Little People With Lady Parts.

Much as I excoriate the Republicans for their stupidity and their cruelty, I don't let the Dems off blamelessly. After all, in our duopolistic political system, their role -- which they typically perform dutifully and frequently energetically -- is that of enablers for the stupid cruelties of the Rs. It's not unlike the role of the Church vis a vis the Spanish during the Conquest. While some of the clergy remonstrated with the conquistadors over their abject bloodlust and cruelty during (and after) the Conquest -- and were sometimes eloquent and forceful in their condemnations -- the upshot was to enable even worse abuses and ever more cruelty in pursuit of the supposed salvation of the savage's souls. In other words, the victims were truly better off dead.

There is no People's Voice in the midst of this. The People are little more than resources for exploitation or waste for disposal. The People's very existence is a bother to their Betters.

And that, perhaps, is the stupidest aspect of our current Ruling Class; they see the rest of us as a bothersome and ultimately irrelevant burden on their beautiful minds and lives, when in fact, it is the People who are responsible for providing all the benefits and comforts the Rulers desire and demand. Treat the People well, and all good things flow to those who serve them. Treat them poorly and the Ruling Class totters, eventually causing its own extinction.

The People are not abstractions or impediments. The People are the foundation upon which everything else is constructed. Our Betters once knew this and acted on it -- perhaps with some reluctance, but still...

They have forgotten.

The People have immense intrinsic power under the circumstances, but there is a general reluctance to use it, partly because there is no institutional memory among the masses of what to do when those who rule are as stupid and cruel as the ones we have today.

The Occupy Movement (which has by no means gone away) was an attempt to formulate some kind of mass opposition to the character of the rule we are subject to. Whereas I saw it initially as the Revolution itself, I realized later it was at best a precursor -- a necessary one to be sure because the People do not know what to do in the face of such gross cruelty and incompetence by those in charge.

During the last 30 or 40 years the knowledge has been largely beaten, bred, and "educated" out of them. It all has to be relearned, in many cases from the ground up.  There is no political opposition to the rule of the stupid and cruel, and part of the learning process that's been going on has been finding the means and methods of sidestepping the politics while forcing the political system to be responsive and responsible. So far, nothing tried has really worked, though there are those who claim that what's been done to date has had a profound effect on the Ruling Class (I don't see it that way at all, but that's just me.)

Re-learning the basics of mass movements and social and revolutionary theory takes time, and actually using it takes lots of practice. There are no real shortcuts, though the Gene Sharp Method proposes a sort of short-cut to Revolution -- one that unfortunately leads too often to the triumph of neo-liberalism and greater misery for more people than before the Sharpian Revolutions. This is not exactly what we need at this time. We are already in the triumphant phase of a neo-liberal revolution among the ruling classes. We need to get beyond that.

There is a widespread lack of enthusiasm for the confirmation of  Team Obama in office -- along with simple disgust at the same sort of gridlocked Congress we've had for the last several years. The electorate apparently said keep them around to do their will, but we don't really know what their will is -- except that we can be sure it will include further depredations on the masses as a matter of course and right. Further stupidity. Further avoidance of the correct path toward the future.

And yet seemingly spontaneously all of it can change in a twinkling.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

So Actually, We're In The Same Place We Were Before the "Election"



An interesting result, to say the least.

We still have a chaotically gridlocked Congress, with the House in the hands of the renegade radical Republicans, the Senate in the hands of their Democratic enablers and a re-elected centrist-compromiser in the White House -- who is ritually disparaged as a Socialist by his rightist political opponents.

In other words, nothing has changed.

That of course doesn't mean that nothing will happen. In fact, all the signs point to some serious squabbling behind the scenes regarding how best and how quickly to extract more from the groaning masses through benefit cuts, tax and fee increases, and required expenditures for governmental and private services (ie: ACA).

There is no debate about the objectives themselves, only how quickly and how unmercifully to enforce them.

Rs want to go balls to the wall, forcing as much pain and suffering on the masses as possible in the shortest possible time while the Ds want to take it somewhat slow and easy, but there is no faction in among the Power Elite which was re-confirmed in office to abandon this program of mass suffering and try something else.

That means we are so screwed.

And that's what the People voted for -- well, some of them. Looking over a sampling of statistics, the turnout for this election was shockingly low in many precincts, under 50%. Was there a boycott? I'd like to think so, but without a public statement regarding such a thing, it's more likely people just weren't interested in the long lines and the hassles on voting day as well as the fact that neither candidate was offering anything substantive to the common people, only more benefits to the rich and well-connected.

I noticed this in the summary of political ads on the news. Rob-me had a definite program in mind which he mentioned in many of his ads, focusing on jobs (but he wouldn't say how he would increase employment), lower taxes for the rich, and reducing or eliminating regulations on employers, resource extractors and financiers.

You may not like the policies, but it is a policy program. Obama on the other hand seemed to concentrate on abstractions, what might be possible one day, and how to set the stage for the New America of the Future. He did not offer a policy program as such but instead focused his attention on ideas for doing something someday.

Obama's approach was rather soft and soothing but it lacked definition. Romney-Ryan on the other hand were cold and harsh -- though defined.

Neither appeared to be the least bit interested in the real issues the public faces, though both put on game faces of pretense. Romney for his part at least made "jobs" the centerpiece of his campaign. Obama barely mentioned the j-word.

They were both focused on the needs and demands of the Plutocrats.

That's where we were before the election, that's where we are now.

Nothing has changed.

Maybe after Barry and Mitch sit down together and have a good long heart to heart...

LONG LIVE THE STATUS QUO!

The Birds

 
Sandhill Cranes and snow geese at Bosque del Apache NWR, Michael Mauro/Mauromedia

One thing we've noticed since we've been here in New Mexico is the abundance of bird life. We've had swallows nesting in the eaves of the front porch forever, and we've noticed lots of grackles, doves, sparrows, larks and other birds proliferating in the area and on our trees, but over the week or so that we've been here permanently, we've discovered that we're under the flyway for sandhill cranes.

We knew about the snow geese and other geese that use this flyway, and we knew there were cranes on the other side of the Manzanos and Sandias, but we didn't realize they were local here, too. They don't just fly by in great flocks, they feed in the plowed or harvested fields not far away, sometimes by the many dozens, they apparently use the saline lakes in the region, and they are a nearly constant presence. I can hear them outside now.

The Festival of the Cranes at the Bosque del Apache NWR near Socorro is November 13-18, so we may have to take a little time to visit. The count of sandhill cranes stands at 300 as of a couple of days ago. I think we've seen -- and heard -- close to that many overhead at our place quite a few miles north.

I've seen lots of raptors in the area as well, including one huge golden eagle sitting placidly on a fencepost down the road and a whole bunch of Cooper's and red-tailed hawks among others.

Of course the ravens and the crows are common; they love to follow the horses around in the field nearby. Woodpeckers love our trees. I'm not surprised, the droughts having left a lot of dead branches which we have not had the opportunity to clear and may not do in any case unless we need branches for more coyote fencing.






Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Storm -- Redux

The Storm from overhead via NASA


Found a link to this stunning slideshow of The Storm over at dKos and I'm reposting it here so that we'll have it available for further contemplation as time goes on. (It's from NASA but it's not that easy to find at the NASA site.)

Despite claims to the contrary from some officials, it does not seem that response to The Storm has been in any way appropriate to the needs of the devastated areas and people, most of whom are not rich and don't have the means to escape the worst effects.

Unfortunately, Our Betters have a privileged claim on government services both in times of peril and times of peace and plenty. The Masses are left, as always, to fend for themselves -- or die. We saw this clearly in New York and parts of New Jersey where the tony well-to-do were provided with practically everything they needed almost immediately after The Storm passes while those many thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of Americans who faced the full wrath of The Storm and particularly the storm surge were ignored for days by official relief agencies (such as FEMA and the Red Cross) as was reported from Staten Island, the Rockaways, Coney Island and elsewhere in the New York/New Jersey area.

Occupy Wall Street brigades stood in the breach, helping where no one else did, stepping in where all the other "helping organizations" seemed to be tied up with currying favor with the High and the Mighty. They did heroic work under trying circumstances and are to be commended, but of course, because OWS is nothing but a bunch of DFHs, they will get little or no recognition from On High, in fact, they might be arrested for their temerity to go where angels fear to tread.

Oh, and there was an "election" yesterday, too.

Turns out those of us who predicted that the Romney campaign would forcefully try to steal the election were wrong. I wasn't alone in the view that Romney et al would do just about anything to have their way, but I was surprised when I heard that Obama was declared the "winner" and that shortly thereafter, Romney had conceded.

No fight in them, or what? Is it something else? Is it that the Rs know full well, and have known from the get go, that Obama is really one of them (well, except for his complexion and kinky hair)? And that they would rather someone like him, somewhat closer to the Masses, execute the Program?

It was never possible for me to imagine someone like Romney -- or Romney himself -- sitting in the Big Chair in the Oval Office except as a joke. Of course I felt the same way about addle-pated (But Ever-Saintly) Ronald Reagan. See where that got me. Given the polling consistency, I doubt that Romney actually thought he'd get there, but the Horserace was as always the most important thing to sell to the unwashed, and so it was, right down to the wire.

The game was called by shortly after 11pm EST, rather shockingly early given all the uncertainties in  places like Ohio and Florida and whatnot. Obviously, it could have been strung out much longer than it was, but apparently the mathematicians at the networks wouldn't have it, and so they did their noble thing and let the Kenyan Socialist continue to sit on the Throne.

But who will control him and to what object?

We'll have to see, won't we.

Interestingly, there has been little change in the Senate and House, meaning the idiocy of the last two years will continue. But look at this, the GOP has retaken the Wisconsin State Senate, so that all the sturm and all the drang over the Walker/Koch Brothers take over of the Wisconsin State House will either have to be repeated on a bigger scale, or it will have to dissipate into the mists of time. There's a level of absurdity in these things (anomalies abound in state and local election results) that simply defy rational consideration.

It is what it is.

[Note: Meant to mention the Nor'easter that is now visiting the East Coast, but this post was written early in the morning, before I was fully awake... not the first time, not the last.]

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gaming the "Election"

 

[Note: the truck trailer is now unloaded; the buildings are chock full of schtuff that we're now wondering why we brought out here, there's a new bed in the north bedroom (and we sleep like coddled proverbials), and the cat is loving it all...]

More and more it looks like the Rs are going to go ahead and try to steal the "election" tomorrow outright. They want the Big Chair even though they are proving their incompetence to do anything positive with it day after dreary day of the Long Campaign.

Of course I realize that all this was set up years ago, and that two years ago, the Ds essentially conceded the Congressional mid-terms by not carrying out policies that would actually be beneficial to the public, and by not mounting a serious campaign at the state level -- where the Democratic wipe out was practically total.

This allowed numerous radical Rs to get into office in statehouses and legislatures all over the country, not simply in those infamous "battleground" states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. They promptly set about radical rule and the delegitimization of democracy. For the most part, they were not seriously opposed by Ds though there was much pro-forma sturm und drang to be sure. From appearances, at any rate, this was a rather obvious Let It Happen series of events.

Radical rule and delegitimization of democracy included the infamous acts of Scott Walker in Wisconsin, but more importantly for the future, they involved gerrymandering districts and emplacing often severe restrictions on voting and voting rights, unlike any seen since the days of Jim Crow. The objective, of course, is to make it difficult or impossible for Ds to be elected in many disctricts, and to ensure that millions of otherwise qualified (and largely D) voters are prevented from voting, and if they do somehow manage to vote to ensure that their votes aren't counted.

The scheme was pretty obvious from the outset, and yet there was very little pushback from those who actually could have done something about it. By the time these radical measures were in place, it was too late to do much but complain about it and go to court over it. Courts that generally defer to elected officials.

Under the circumstances, this failure two years ago, to hold on to or even make gains at the state level meant that the High Pooh Bahs among the Dems were either guilty of gross political malpractice, or they were in on the deal from the get, and they let what happened happen for their own purposes.

There is a conventional wisdom in Left Blogistan that the Dems are just so seriously incompetent, they do not know what they are doing, yadda yadda, and if they'd only "listen" to certain bloggers-cum-political consultants, everything would be fine. I don't believe this.

The Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the country, and they absolutely do know what they are doing and and they also know how to win elections. They're masters at it. They are numerically the predominant party and if they chose to, they could predominate in office (as they have done frequently). From time to time, however, they choose to play dumb and let the Rs run rampant, as we've seen them do for the last 20 years and more -- at least since the election of Bill Clinton to the White House.

I have no idea what their reasoning is, but they have been quite determined to let the Rs do pretty much whatever they want, with predictable disastrous results for the rest of us.

And it looks like they are doing it again. If the "election" is stolen, I have no illusions that the Dems in office will fight. They will do what they did in 2000 and accommodate the thieves. If by some chance Obama is declared the winner (these things are largely determined by media "calls" after all) the Rs will fight tooth and claw to take it from him, going so far, I don't doubt, to initiate another coup.

The strange thing is that Obama is really one of them (an R is D clothing) and they know it. He's no  model of any Dem that I could recognize. I was willing to put up with this "R in D clothing" business with Howard Dean because it was important to me that the imperial warriorism of the Busheviks be ended and he served as one of the loudest voices against the Iraq nonsense. But I had no illusions that somehow Dean was this Big Progressive - Liberal he was being made out to be. He was and is essentially a Rockefeller Republican. Better than the radicals, but still an R at heart.

It was pretty clear the same was true with Clinton and then Obama. But Obama is tending more toward Reagan Republican than Rockefeller (it's his youth, don't you know) and his constant accommodations with the Rs are dispiriting to say the least. It means there is currently no major party that represents the interests of the People; it means that there is no Democratic Party in the ideological sense. Only two versions of the Republican Party -- radical or Reaganite. (Compared to today's radical Republicans, Reagan was practically a full on Communist).

The radicals see their main chance, and I suspect they are going to take it unless there is some sort of high level intervention.

Tomorrow will be interesting....