Thursday, October 31, 2013

Outrage Fatigue -- And the Question of Exemptions from Surveillance Returns

I watched a bit of the Sebelius hearing yesterday, and oh, my, weren't the bull-Rs in a high dudgeon, though? Geepers, creepers. Ms Sebelius handled it like a pro, but from what I saw of it, the whole thing was pretty scripted for the cameras, there wasn't really much of anything said that wasn't already on the pre-distributed crib sheets and talking points  -- ie: the Propaganda -- from either side, so I got to wondering just what this cock up of a Health Insurance Launch was really all about.

The website is apparently somewhat functional for some people some of the time; there are alternative means of getting coverage, though, so the website issue isn't the biggest deal, certainly not as big a deal as has been made of it since the re-opening of the Government by relenting Rs.

No, the screaming about the website is for show, and it's probably less interesting than the underlying shift that I see going on, the sort of background churning, by which health insurance/health care costs are rising dramatically for many users and customers, while for others costs are being reduced, sometimes significantly. In other words, there is a cost increase and a cost shift going on simultaneously, such that profits will be guaranteed in perpetuity to the carriers and the providers, while costs for users will be distributed "fairly" among the population as a whole.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Episode 95: Tilo Jung Continues His Interview With Jeremy Scahill: "Where's The Money?"

Re: Catching Up -- The Dynasty of Women: Pablita Velarde, Helen Hardin and Margarete Bagshaw

Art made by Indians has been around in New Mexico for thousands of years -- as is currently documented at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. Unfortunately, the Indian stuff from the long-ago is somewhat limited to pottery, some weaving and some spear points and arrow heads from ancient times. There is much more -- much, much more -- that might be shown, such a the mural paintings that have shown up in many now abandoned and ruined Pueblo locations, sculpture, rock art and petroglyphs, and so on. Maybe some of it could only be shown in photographs, but still...

The Pueblo murals are a revelation. The only ones that can be seen publicly are at Kuaua -- the so-called Coronado Monument -- in Bernalillo. The square kiva the murals were found in has been restored and the murals have been somewhat freely interpreted and repainted recently. In the museum at the site, fragments of the originals are on display, however, and it's quite possible to imagine what they looked like when they were painted. There were something like seventeen layers of painted plaster on the walls of the kiva, and other square kivas also showed signs of wall painting, but I'm  led to believe nothing was recoverable from the others.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Episode 94: Another Installment of Tilo Jung's Interview With Jeremy Scahill on the Topic of Drone Killings

Episode 93: Tilo Jung Continues His Interview With Jeremy Scahill on the Topic of "Kill Lists"

Even if Jeremy is pulling his punches these days, what he has been saying in connection with his latest book, "Dirty Wars" is sickening...

Re: Catching Up -- Trancendental New Mexico

Emil Bisttram, "Indian Ceremonial" 1959

As a member of the New Mexico Museum of Art, I attend talks up in Santa Fe periodically that delve into the rather intricate questions of the origins and development of (fine) art and the artists specific to New Mexico.

The most recent talk I attended was geared to New Deal artists and arts projects in New Mexico and their legacy for the present. Kathryn Flynn and others presented the case that without the New Deal projects, almost all artists would have left New Mexico because there was no market for (fine) art any more thanks to the Depression. Some artists were literally starving or on the verge of starving. Were it not for the good graces of merchants like Santa Fe grocer Kaune's, and the credit they provided to artists during the toughest times, the situation for artists in New Mexico would have been much more perilous prior to the advent of New Deal programs like the WPA and PWA.

If they did nothing else, the New Deal projects and programs maintained a core community of artists in New Mexico through the Depression, and for years the the federal arts programs and projects replaced the market that had disappeared due to the financial collapse. Even so, at least one artist of renown and repute "gave his life" for the WPA. Gerald Cassidy was commissioned by the WPA (or perhaps it was the PWA, or even some other program, accounts vary) to paint murals for the Federal Courthouse in Santa Fe. He was painting them on canvas in a poorly heated warehouse on the edge of town. The heating equipment was malfunctioning, though apparently he didn't know it. Carbon monoxide was being released by the heater into the warehouse while he was working and he was getting sick day by day. He would go home and recover sufficiently to return to his work the next day, only to get sick again. Finally, he got sick and didn't recover. He died in 1936 of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Re: Catching Up -- The Cassidy Collection

We spend quite a bit of time in Santa Fe, and a fair amount of the time we spend there, we're doing something at La Fonda on the Plaza, the iconic Fred Harvey hotel that has served as the city's social hub for generations.

I can't remember when I first visited La Fonda, but I do remember very distinctly seeing the Cassidy paintings the first time. They were, and I think they are, stunning.

Gerald Cassidy (né Ira Diamond) was a founding member of the Santa Fe Artists Colony, arriving in Santa Fe in 1912, and sometime in the 19-teens he got together with the handful of other "easel artists" in Santa Fe to form the Art Colony -- which in a sense still exists.

He created the collection at La Fonda in 1922 when the hotel itself was still in the process of self-creation. They are large works on brown paper, most of them essentially life-size, executed in casein, and remarkably lively even after all these years.

"Santiago" is one of the most striking works of the collection. It is thought the model may have been an elder at one of the nearby pueblos, although Cassidy may have invented the character without a live model. In the '20's, it was customary for Indians in New Mexico to don Plains Indian headdresses and sometimes Plains Indians garments as well, to please artists and tourists who expected "Indians" to dress that way, even though the Pueblo peoples never had done so in the past. "Santiago," it will be remembered, was the cry of the Spaniards whenever they commenced to slaughter among the New World native peoples, a cry that they brought to the Americas after using it so successfully in ridding the Iberian peninsula of the Moorish taint. Consequently, this image titled "Santiago" has multiple layers of ironic commentary that Cassidy may or may not have intended.

Cassidy's "Shalako" is also quite striking for very different reasons. It is certainly a more accurate rendering of nearby Indian appearance and customs, but without context it seems perfectly astonishing, which I imagine Cassidy was aiming for.

Of course in New Mexico, you have to have a Spanish Dancer, wearing a Spanish shawl from China-na-na (something I picked up from a zarzuela, "La Verbena de la Paloma" that we worked on in St. Louis ages ago. Embroidered Spanish shawls were -- and apparently still are -- made in Manila, but the Spanish sometimes said they were from China...)

And what's New Mexico without a priest? I ask you.

And if you're going to have a priest, you'd better have a penitente, something like the matachine below:

But then, ultimately, if you are going to come to New Mexico from out of town, from Back East especially, you will carry with you an image of trailblazer and mountain man Kit Carson, for whom there are schools and monuments erected, and of whom Gerald Cassidy did a portrait.

Re: Catching Up -- 'The Cherokee Word for Water.'

We saw "The Cherokee Word for Water" last night at the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, and I cannot recommend it too highly.

It's a rather modest but extraordinary and beautiful film about Wilma Mankiller, first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, a very well-known American who is sorely missed. She passed away in 2010 after a long illness. The movie is clearly a labor of love, a more than 20 year project by Kristina Kiehl and Charlie Soap (Charlie was/is Wilma's husband and partner), both of whom were at the screening last night. We had the opportunity to meet Wilma and chat with her a bit in California about 10 years ago or so, and to tell the truth, the encounter has always stayed with us. She was an inspiration not only to the people of the Cherokee Nation, but to women and indigenous peoples all over the world.

The film deals with her first project for and with the Cherokee Nation, well before she was elected Principal Chief. She worked with Charlie Soap -- who was then housing coordinator for the Nation -- on bringing piped water to some isolated communities like Bell and Oak Ridge in Adair County, Oklahoma, a project that required that the people in the communities that would benefit from the water would voluntarily band together ('gadugi') by digging 18 miles of trench through rocky and hilly terrain, laying the pipe themselves, and recover some of their sense of purpose, society and tradition in the process.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Been Catching Up...

We're off to another IAIA event in Santa Fe and there will be more arts'n'culture stuff coming next week.

In the meantime, I've been catching up on some of the details about events in the Outer World, specifically more about the various strains on the Government and this Omidyar character and the world of the Silicon Valley Billionaires' Club that he belongs to. It's not much of a pretty picture. I knew this about that place and its highest priced hooligans (now, now) from times gone by; criminy, my first contact with them was in the '80's, and I sometimes still get a shudder from it.

These guys were fully hooked up and in bed with the Dreaded Government from the get. Make no mistake about it. And surveillance was a big part of their portfolio.

But anyway, I'm catching up on a lot of stuff, and as the weather chills I'm more and more interested in following some of my other Bliss, so erratic postings may be routine for some time to come.

Episode 92 -- Jeremy Scahill Interviewed by Tilo Jung on the Topic of "Dirty Wars"

As some people might know, I've used the concept of "Dirty (Little) War" from back in the days of Vietnam -- one of the filthiest wars on record until the unfortunate business in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The "Dirty (Little) War" formulation, of course, comes from Rado and Ragni's seminal "Hair" of 1966 when the nastiness in Vietnam was still on the up-ratchet.

Allen Ginsberg reads "Wichita Vortex Sutra" accompanied by Phillip Glass:

On the Potential Disintegration of the Republican Party

Ordinarily I don't comment on the Republican Party and its antics much because to do so -- as almost all the so-called "lefty" blogosphere has been doing for many long years, obsessively -- is to highlight their policies, programs and memes, and subconsciously to promote them. It's a very effective form of propaganda when your supposed opponents focus on almost nothing but what you and your party are doing. Markos, Arianna, Aravosis, Digby and Jane among others have long been pretty nearly totally obsessed with spreading the Republican Party message for as long as they have been on the intertubes. Strange, isn't it?

But recent events (oh, you know what they are) have led to the practically universal belief that the Republicans are splitting apart -- thanks to the TeaBaggers and their obsessions -- and that by this time some year soon, there won't be a Republican Party any more.

Years ago, I advocated for RICOing the bastards, because I saw the Rs as a criminal enterprise, bent on war and bloodshed around the world and pillage and plunder at home. Oh my, the reaction was fierce and fast:
"You can't DO that!!! The Republicans are NECESSARY!!!! If any political party should be destroyed it's the DEMOCRATS!!!!" Etc.
And this went on for quite some time. The issue was ultimately focused on that last bit: literally destroying the Democratic Party by infiltration, subversion, and when needed, scandal and prosecution.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Billionaire's Butt Boys -- Or The Other Way Around

By now, everyone knows that Greenwald is leaving -- or has already left -- the Guardian to "pursue other opportunities," as they say in the Media Business, and become the editorial head of a new media venture along with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill (among unnamed others) to be funded handsomely by none other than Billionaire Pierre Omidyar, chair and co-founder of eBay.

Well then.

Something like this was almost bound to happen, as Greenwald has made clear throughout his media career (as apparently he did as early as law school) that he had no problem whatsoever hooking up with and serving the interests of corporate masters, the higher the profile, the better.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Correct Understanding of What The Debt Crisis Crisis is All About


US budget deal sets stage for intensified assault on social programs

By Andrei Damon and Barry Grey
17 October 2013
The bill passed by Congress late Wednesday reopening the federal government and temporarily lifting the debt ceiling establishes the modus operandi for a bipartisan deal to deepen cuts in social spending and initiate an historic attack on the core social programs dating from the New Deal and Great Society periods—Social Security and Medicare.

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The outcome of the 16-day government shutdown and threat of a US default was entirely predictable, following the pattern set in previous artificially created budget and debt crises in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Once again, the most right-wing elements in the Republican Party took the initiative and set the tone for a shift further to the right by the entire political establishment.
Behind the appearance of partisan gridlock and mutual recrimination, the crisis provided the means for the Obama administration and the Democratic Party to move ahead with their own agenda of savage cuts in social programs upon which tens of millions of working people depend. To the extent there was a conflict, it was over means and tactics, not goals. At issue was how best to escalate the onslaught against the working class.
The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 81 to 18 to accept a deal that raises the debt ceiling through February 7, 2014 and funds the operations of the federal government until January 15. The bill mandates the formation of a conference committee headed by the chairs of the budget committees in the Senate and House to forge a bipartisan budget agreement by mid-December that will reduce the deficit and the national debt. This is to be achieved by implementing long-term “reforms” in basic entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and extending cuts in “discretionary” social programs such as education, housing, nutrition, the environment, health and safety and infrastructure maintenance.
At the same time, both the White House and congressional Republicans are insisting that any budget agreement include sweeping cuts in corporate tax rates.
Later Wednesday evening, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 285 to 144, with 87 Republicans joining all 198 Democrats in voting to approve. President Obama signed the bill into law early Thursday morning.
Significantly, the bill extends the automatic across-the-board “sequester” cuts that began last March into the new year. This means the $85 billion in cuts enacted in 2013 will not be restored and the budget negotiations in the coming weeks will take as their starting point the $1 trillion in cuts over the next eight years mandated by the sequestration process. It is to be expected that the Democrats will, in the name of “ending” or “reforming” sequestration, seek to continue the cuts in discretionary social programs while restoring funding for the military, the intelligence agencies and the Homeland Security Department.
Obama has already made it clear that he favors unprecedented cuts in Medicare and Social Security, including raising the eligibility age and introducing means testing for Medicare and slashing cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries.

More at the link.

And so it goes. No matter what, We the Rabble get screwed.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Armageddon Delayed

Or so it seems. The Congress is still styling for the cameras, but for all intents and purposes, the latest Debt Crisis Crisis is put off for another few months, the government will limp along somehow on austerity rations thanks to the continuing sequester, and Football will once again become the highlight of the season.

The attempt to fund government services one by one depending on their notoriety or popularity didn't get very far, but I have no doubt the tactic will be revived sooner rather than later. And we'll see the "reorganization" of government that the Kochs and all the other plutocrats and mountebanks have been angling for.


We did see sandhill cranes wheeling in the sky a little north of our place today, so there is that.

Monday, October 14, 2013

'Money for Nothin' and Your Chicks for Free'


When the Default comes -- which may be this week, maybe next -- some of the Highest of the Mighty will be rolling in money, more money than they ever imagined was possible back in the '80's when Greed turned into their religion.

They've commodified everything in the interim, including what passes for the US Government, and they fully intend to take advantage of the looming Default. Shorting is one of the biggest money makers there is.

What the rest of us lose in the process is none of their concern, how does the old song go? "It's your misfortune and none of my own?" Something like that. That's their world. Take whatever they can grab from anyone who doesn't get out of their way fast enough. They've been stealing from one another for years, now it's time to steal everything that's left from the rest of us.

The Default, along with the continuing Shutdown, has already had the effect of reprioritizing government function and spending, and the way it works is, there's no going back. We're on a different path than we were. Permanently.

"It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own..."

"I want my, I want my, I want my.... MTV... Boo-ah, boo-ah."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Why Did The Rs Drop the 'Defund Obamacare' Ransom Demand?

No doubt their insurance industry paymasters told them to desist. Or they never intended to follow through on it in any case, it was just red-meat for their ravening base.

Look, Obamacare is practically pure hyper-conservative Heritage Foundation Neo-liberal profit preservation, intended to bulk and perpetuate the profits of the insurance industry, to force purchase of insurance by the multitudes of uninsured, and to place the burden of health care costs squarely on the consumer.

It is neither a universal health care coverage scheme -- there will still be 20-30 million uninsured even with full implementation -- nor is it in any way intended to reduce health care costs or improve health care outcomes.

It is primarily a means of ensuring profits -- forever -- to favored sectors of the industry.

In that, it is perfectly shameful.

But as so many have declared, "It's better than nothing."

Well, maybe. We'll see.

Meanwhile, there could hardly be a more "Republican" version of so-called health care reform, so the whole notion that the Rs would actually repeal it or defund it was absurd. If anything, what they will do -- probably with the connivance of the Dems -- is defund the premium subsidies so that only a very few will qualify. This is not unlike the elimination of community clinics.

The point is to make it slightly less difficult than it was to obtain health insurance -- and to boost the cost to consumers for insurance as far as possible while requiring purchase.

There's an internal logic to the shameful scheme.

But there was never any intention by the Rs to actually interfere with it. No, they just want to ensure that its implementation is as cruel as possible.

It is their way.

Friday, October 11, 2013

'How They Got Art in New Mexico'

The Crippled Wagon of Fate on the High Road to Taos, 1898

(Essay upon attendance at the First "Artists Century" talk at the New Mexico Museum of Art, October, 2013)

La Leyenda....

One day in 1898, Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips set out from Denver with a wagon and team of horses. They were highly trained and accomplished fine artists, "easel artists" as they've become known, who went Out West to experience the rough and ready Real World Adventures America still had to offer.

Apparently they were bored in Denver and thought they'd find more inspiration in Mexico. What better way to get there than by wagon and horseback over the spine of the Rockies until they reached the Rio Grande?

Except they never made it to the Rio Grande, never made it to Mexico. Well, of course they would, in time, but on this journey, they didn't.

No, instead, on the high road (such as it was) above Taos, in the wilds of Northern New Mexico, then still a territory of the USofA, a wagon wheel broke, and they were stranded. This is the legend, this is the story, endlessly repeated to this day. Blumenschein is said to have "shouldered" the broken wagon wheel -- though it was tied to the back of one of the horses --  and he humped it the twenty miles or so into the Village of Taos for repairs while Phillips stayed with the broken wagon and had lunch.

Bert Phillips having lunch beside the Fateful Wagon, 1898

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Under Lemon Custard Skies -- and The Creation of Self

Groves in Duarte -- Sometime in the Past


Duarte is a city in Southern California's San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles. It was once quite rural, mostly small holdings of orange and lemon groves and avocado orchards at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains by the San Gabriel River.

Of course, before it was groves, it was a California Spanish rancho, Rancho Azusa de Duarte as it was called, only 7,000 acres of scrub and manzanita, where cattle and sheep were raised. Before that it was Indian land, where the tribe that would be called "Gabrieleno" lived well by the river that courses out of the mountains and off the abundance of the oaks and the other plants and animals of the region.

And now? Well, now it's a standard model San Gabriel Valley suburb of Los Angeles, chock a block with little stucco houses, mostly built in the 1950's before the freeway went through (the 210 wasn't built through Duarte until the 1970's). Even as a suburban enclave, Duarte was somewhat apart.

Duarte was the region where playwright/actor/musician Sam Shepard grew up in the 1950's and into the early 1960's and where (in a sense) he sets his "family plays" that won so many awards in the 1970's and '80's when they were seen as a revelation of the darker side of the California Dream as well as for what could be done on stage when the strictures of realism were violated.

I say that "in a sense" Shepard sets his family plays in or near Duarte, because you don't really know where his imploding families are, except that they are somewhere in California, Southern California, not far from the desert, but not actually in it. A transitioning rural/suburban area, where coyotes were sometimes still heard, where a future in agriculture was still imagined to be possible, where living could be harsh, and yet where the Dream of what might be possible was ever-present.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Regarding the House Gerrymander

It's been pointed out many times lately that the TeaBaggers in the House are running the show because they are all in safe seats and nothing at all can dislodge them short of revolution -- something that's not going to happen, at least not from the left.

Their districts were gerrymandered by Republican legislatures following the 2010 census; at this point, there's no way to rearrange the district boundaries until after the 2020 census. Isn't that special?

But the political failure, which isn't generally noted, goes back to the 2010 election, not the census, in which the Democrats basically ceded state level and many local level elections by not contesting seats or not contesting them vigorously (like funding Democratic candidates). This was one of the starkest signs that the Dems -- who had gained such majorities in the 2008 elections -- were simply giving up.

We may want to consider one day why the Big Wigs and Pooh-Bahs of the Party did this. From my perspective, it was a calculated and deliberate move, with full knowledge aforethought what it would lead to -- exactly where we are, with a government shutdown and looming federal government debt default, both engineered and implemented for one main reason: to have the ability and wherewithal and reason to "restructure" government along the lines of and in the interests of the corporate owners and rulers.

This is the End Game of the sequence of actions that became clear when the Supreme Court lawlessly intervened in the election of 2000, following, of course, the ridiculous spectacle of the Clinton Impeachment.

The High-level Dems in my view threw the election of 2010 for the purpose of enabling the Rs to manage their minority take-over gambit as smoothly as possible -- and as soon as they were able.

Here we are.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Connections -- and Cake

Wayne Thiebaud Boston Cremes 1962, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento CA, via Meandering Moodys

Bear with me as I go through some of these somewhat loose connections.

As I incessantly post, we now live in New Mexico's central Estancia Valley. We are out in the country, more or less equidistant from Santa Fe's and Albuquerque's original plazas, and we visit both cities relatively often. The last couple of months we've been going to one city or the other almost daily, and sometimes to both in one day, due to a plethora of fall events we've we've learned of, signed up for, know someone involved with, or have wanted to attend for ages but never did for one reason or another. Our calendar is chock-a-block at least through November. Then maybe we'll get to slow down a bit when the snows come! (Assuming they do.)

Central and Northern New Mexico where we are and its landscape -- its cities and little towns and expansive open spaces and its mountains and highways, even its interstate freeways -- strongly remind me of parts of California where I lived through most of my life. That's not to suggest they are the same; they are not.

The deserts are quite different. The air is different. The sky and the light are incomparably different. Of course here in New Mexico, we're always at a high elevation, whereas in California, you really had to climb up into the mountains from the low or very low elevations where most people lived. Few people in California live in the mountains to this day. In New Mexico, practically everyone lives at high -- or very high -- elevation. You have little choice in the matter.

Yesterday, we were up in Santa Fe for a Museum event we'd scheduled, and afterwards we decided to stop in at the Museum of International Folk Art, a destination we'd never visited before. We knew it was there, having been to the neighboring Museum of Indian Arts and Culture many times, but for whatever reason the Folk Art Museum had not been on our list of places to go to on a balmy afternoon.

Well, silly us. We should have gone long ago. It's wonderful.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

On The Continuing Chaos in DC

The recent DC incident, in which a young mother was shot to death in her car by police and/or Secret Service after being cornered near the Capitol was little more than a blip on the radar; these things have become a kind of New Normal. We now expect people to be shot by police routinely. It's what they do.

The woman was accused of ramming her car into a gate or barricade at the White House and firing at officers as she attempted to escape, but as has been the case with a number of recent high profile police shooting incidents (cf: Boston Bombing suspect captured), she was later determined to be unarmed. The location of the supposed ramming is not at the White House at all, it's the Treasury Building at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Ave NW.  There is no damage to the car that indicates it "rammed" anything at that location in any case.

There is video of a car matching the description of the one she was driving attempting to elude officers near the Capitol, striking one, and then rather expertly maneuvering away from pursuing vehicles. Shots are heard being fired during this escape. Shortly thereafter, apparently, the car is caught in a barricade and the driver is shot to death. There is reported to be an infant in the backseat who was taken to Child Protective Services. That is all.

One of the most striking things -- literally -- that happened during this incident/chase was the police car that rammed a barricade in an apparent attempt to apprehend the suspect.

This is just chaos, pure and simple.

It follows closely on the incident in New York in which bikers and an SUV driver tangled -- and mangled -- one another, and of course the DC incident follows on the heels of the Mother of All Shutdowns, in which the Rs in the House refuse to pay the officers involved in incident but give them a standing ovation instead.  That ought to do, shouldn't it?


The New Normal.

Friday, October 4, 2013


New Mexico relies heavily on Federal spending, and before the Shutdown, there was a lot of speculation about how bad it was going to be. Of course, being out in the Empty Quarter as we are, it doesn't seem like the Feds are either welcome or ever-present, but then there is an Air Force base just over the spine of the mountains to the west, and we hear that almost all their civilian employees are furloughed, and the essential civilians are not being paid. I guess the uniformed personnel are being paid, though, so that's good. I guess.

IHS is operating, they say, but with a skeletal staff, and with many routine services unavailable. The Indian Health clinics will continue to operate until the Service runs out of money to pay them, and then... who knows? They have contingency plans in place and ready to go. It's not as if health care is readily available to rural residents of New Mexico in any case.

Bosque del Apache is closed -- well, anything you might need there, like the visitors center and such, is closed, but you can still drive through much of it. They're getting ready for the Crane Festival in November, but the Shutdown has made it difficult to do preparation work.

Trinity Site has announced the cancellation of their October Opening, one of only two Openings they have a year, so thousands of people from all over the world who were intending to make pilgrimage to the site of the first nuclear bomb explosion will have to make other plans. Oh well.

It's not really clear how the nuclear labs are faring, but I'm sure the furloughed employees are pretty antsy about their projects and all. On the one hand, putting some of those projects on hold might be a good thing for all mankind as they say; on the other hand, the labs are not exclusively dedicated to blowing shit up. So there is something to ponder there...

IAIA is canceling/postponing some of its scheduled programs apparently due to the Shutdown; but there have been financial problems for some time thanks to the Sequester as well. The Sequester has sort of faded into the background of consciousness, but there are real and ongoing consequences from it as well.

Chaco Canyon is closed. As are all the other National Monuments in New Mexico. We were planning on going to a Night Sky Party in Chaco Canyon this October, but maybe not. Well, I'm sure one can still drive that washboard dirt road out to Chaco, maybe even make it to the edge of the Monument (I believe there is a gate where the dirt road changes to pavement at the entrance) and so see the stars from there, but the Night Sky programs they present are really good, and they have very nice telescopes to peer through. But not for now.

I could go on and on, because there are so many things people in New Mexico have taken for granted that simply aren't functioning or available right now thanks to the Shutdown, and many things were suffering thanks to the Sequester.

I was kind of flip in saying "no one would really notice" the Shutdown, just as they haven't really noticed the consequences of the Sequester (unless they're Federal workers or their work is funded by the Feds), but in this case, it's really not so. People are noticing, and thousands are sitting home wondering when they'll go back to work -- or of if they will.

I don't know how to explain it, but there is a growing sense of finality regarding this Shutdown, as if many of those furloughed suspect they will never go back to work, at least not at their former jobs. Could be, I don't know. I have long sensed that the makers of this mess are intent on transforming the government come hell or high water, and they will do it by any means necessary, whether it be by coup as in the SCOTUS usurpation of the 2000 election, or by compression through the Sequester, or by what they are doing now, simply cutting off a fifth of the government through the Shutdown. There is an obvious intent to re-make the government entirely, to serve only the interests of the Highest of the Mighty. The Shutdown serves those interests just fine.

The piece-by-piece restoration of funding the Rs are attempting on behalf of favored interests is an example of how they and their puppetmasters see the situation resolving. The government will be "destroyed" and then those parts of it which serve the Interests will be restored piecemeal, and no one can say a damned thing about it.

Whether this is the End Game or not, I can't be sure. But it is obvious to me that the current engineered crisis is being used as yet another opportunity to further those Interests at the expense of everyone else.

We live in interesting times...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

On the Wreck of the US of A (2013-2014)

The Shutdown is proceeding apace, and it looks fair to be... accommodated, or rather hardly noticed, by the multitudes, much like the Sequester. Ah, glory!

Well, given the fact that the Shutdown was more important than even having another War! we have to give Our Rulers some credit here. If there is a semblance of Peace breaking out in the Middle East (let's not count on it) and for the moment the missiles aren't flying at Damascus from either the Mediterranean Fleet or that nasty little state of Israel, we can ponder the fact that Those In Charge have their Priorities.

First Things First.

And the first thing, right now, is the take down of the Federal Government. One assumes that there will be a subsequent "rebuilding" phase, as there have been some piece by piece restoration bills hammered out between the Congress That Says No and the White House over the last few days.

They say this is all over Obamacare and the necessity to get rid of it. If it were, I'd almost be a happy camper, but it's not. Obamacare is a pig in a poke as those of us in favor of Single Payer/Medicare for All have known since kick-off day to get 'er done back in 2009. Let's not fool ourselves; this semi-universal health insurance program is first and foremost a profit-guarantee for major insurance companies and major health care providers essentially in perpetuity. The radicals in Congress agitating the Shutdown don't want to stop that, not on a bet. What they want to stop is any requirement imposed on Health Care Insurance and the Industry to provide service in exchange for their guaranteed profits and to stop the subsidy payments to the Rabble to help cover the health insurance premiums they are compelled to pay.

That's all.

No, this isn't really about Obamacare at all, it is about gaining full control of the Federal Government and re-making it into what the Radicals think it should be: an invasive and controlling force on behalf of favored segments of the Powers That Be. Nothing more, nothing less.

And they are nearly there.

By taking down the discretionary portion of the Government (some 20% of the budget), then restoring it piece by piece over an extended period, they demonstrate their power as a minority to eventually control everything. That's what the Debt Ceiling battle will be about. The Debt Ceiling battle will involve mandatory spending like Social Security, etc., and it will likely be resolved much the same way: there will be a default on those portions of the debt the Radicals want repudiated, such as the SS Trust Fund, and there will be a restoration, piece by piece, of what they want to preserve.

Of course, it's obvious by now, or at least it should be, that despite all the huffing and puffing and bombast on both sides of the Congressional aisle and at the White House, and despite all the breathless "news" we get through the propaganda media (unfortunately now including almost all the so-called "New Media"), this sequence was laid out long ago, and it became all but inevitable shortly after Obama was re-elected. It has not been a mystery -- except to the Public, of course, who are deliberately kept in the dark about what is really going on and to what object this shit is happening.

Everything's going according to plan.

Evil though it may be...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

OT: The Wreck of the Andrea Doria (1956)

LIFE Magazine partial cover, August 6, 1956, 20 Cents

It's hard to explain how extraordinary this issue of LIFE Magazine was to me when I was not yet eight years old. The story of the wreck of the Andrea Doria off the coast of Nantucket blew me away, in part because there were children involved, and I strongly identified with them. I know I kept this issue of LIFE Magazine for many years after the disaster.

That most of the children  survived the sinking of the Andrea Doria was remarkable. But some of them did not survive. I was glad for the survivors -- like Linda Morgan and Dickie, Ruth Roman's son -- and I was heartbroken for those who were lost for there were so many children among the dead.

I was reminded of my childhood fascination -- and horror -- at the wreck of the Andrea Doria during our attendance at the New Mexico PBS Science Cafe on the topic of "Why Ships Sink."

Afterwards, we took in the Titanic artifact exhibit at the Natural History Museum, a very dimly lit exhibition of not a lot of things pulled up from the abyss where the pieces of the Titanic have rested and rusted and disintegrated since 1912.

Even though it was rather sparse, the exhibit was nevertheless moving. One reason was that each person attending was given a boarding pass with the name of one of the passengers on the Titanic and each of us was asked to find that person on the list of those who survived and those who were lost when the ship went down. This list was posted at the end of the exhibit. I found my passenger right off, among the first class survivors. While it was something of an emotional relief to find him among the survivors, the list of the dead was far, far greater than that of those who survived, and I found myself breathing hard at the sheer magnitude of the loss of life.

None of the speakers at the Science Cafe mentioned the sinking of the Andrea Doria, which  had been featured on an episode of "Secrets of the Dead," but I couldn't stop thinking about it then and since.

It made that much of an impression on me so many years ago. Just as the sinking of the Titanic left an indelible impression on an earlier generation, and the wreck of the Costa Concordia will no doubt leave an impression on the current one.

So the Government Shut Down and the Coming Debt Default Were Planned In January


At least according to Chait in New York Magazine, this series of crises was plotted out by Republican strategists shortly after the 2012 election in which they failed to remove the President and replace him with their own simulacrum of Imperial Majesty. 

This might help to explain why the Syria Thing didn't get off the ground; the Rs couldn't pull a stunt like shutting down the government or defaulting on the debt if the Nation was embroiled in yet another war in the Middle East. At least you would think they couldn't, but stranger things have happened...

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy...

"The Williamsburg Accord," eh?

Well, why not. Makes a kind of warped and perfect sense, and what it tells us is that literally nothing of politics in this country is as it seems because nothing is moored to reality. It's all a show, a game show in a sense, in which Our Rulers posture and roar for entertainment purposes, but which is operating according to a plot and a plan laid out well in advance, according to a "script" if you will, that we -- the onlookers, the audience, the Rabble -- have no effect on at all.

Of course, the Show has an effect on us as it is meant to. This is a government of taking, and we're finding out more and more every day what is being taken, by whom, and how. But we are -- of course -- powerless to do anything about it. That's the whole point. The people we are allowed to choose from at election time all share the same theories of government. They will instinctively follow the same script.

For what it is worth, the "Williamsburg Accord" along with all the other plots and plans we've been subject to lo these many years come out of Republican strategy shops; there is no functional equivalent among the Democrats, and the idea of a Democratic Strategist is an oxymoron anyway. The party functions -- when it functions -- as a foil to the Rs who are in actual control of the government at all times. Even when -- or especially when -- they are crazy-seeming like now.

If Chait knew about the plot and the plan that the Rs came up with in January, then everybody who matters knew, too, yet it is the convention in politics and the media to play dumb while playing along with the script. As if everything that happens is somehow spontaneous, driven solely by the Public Interest. Or something.

To be clear, the Dems knew this was the Plan, too. So did the media. It has not been a secret among those who matter. It has been well publicized for their benefit. But the public, the Rabble, has been left out of the knowledge equation as always. They only see the results of the latest gambit, not how we got here, and they rarely if ever realize that the whole government/propaganda structure is in on the game.

Once again there will be the appearance of a protracted struggle over "principle" or what have you, and once again, because the protagonists are in on it together, they will get what they want -- and what's been planned -- bugger the rest of us.


No, it was not ever thus. But this is how governance has devolved in this country. As some wags have pointed out, the end game is nigh, and it will probably result in the irrelevance of Congress and the institutionalization of a straight-out Imperial (Fascist) Dictatorship. Lucky us.