Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cannery Row

While getting infused with Rituxan the other day, I read John Steinbeck's 1945 novel "Cannery Row," a work I was vaguely familiar with but had never read.

I was familiar with it in part because Steinbeck and Monterey (the setting for "Cannery Row") had been important in my youth, he as a writer who seemed to capture the essence of life and people on California's Central Coast and Monterey as the place where so much life-changing experience occurred when I was 18 or 19.

I knew somehow of Ed Ricketts who was the inspiration for the character of Doc in the novel. It's hard to say how I had any knowledge of Ricketts, but years ago, I spent a day at the Steinbeck Museum in Salinas, and I suspect there was a display that described him and his laboratory in Monterey -- and how it was important to Steinbeck.

I didn't finish reading the novel at the infusion center on Monday, but I took the book with me and finished it while waiting for Ms Ché to have her sonogram at the radiology center yesterday (she's developing edema in her legs, something new and needing monitoring along with various heart checks to see if she's developing congestive heart failure, the cause of her mother's and grandfather's deaths.)

I confess, I shed a little tear at parts of Steinbeck's story of these wayward souls on the margins of society and the edge of the ocean. Oh yes, it was quite a moving tale, and I have no doubt that Steinbeck intended to draw a tear or two from his readers. Tears of recognition, sympathy, empathy.

According to what I've read about it, Steinbeck himself was trying to get back some of the joy he felt when he lived in Pacific Grove, next door to Cannery Row in (New)Monterey during the Depression.

The novel was a way for him to recapture some of the spirit of the time and the place and the people and to bring some joy back to his increasingly complicated life.

Fame and fortune had done so much for him, but it had changed his life in ways he could not have anticipated-- and not entirely for the better.

What I noticed first was the structure of the story. The novel consists of a series of mostly very short chapters which are constructed as stand-alone short--short stories strung together like the firecrackers from Lee Chong's which figure toward the end of the novel. It's quite a trick, not easy to pull off at all, but Steinbeck seems clear about what he wants to do with this story and how he wants to tell the tale. Quick glimpses, vignettes, sketches, some quite elaborate, but others merely outlines and shadows.

I could see a lot of it in my mind's eye, though the image wasn't much like my memories of Monterey. Not at all, really. This was a very different, colder, and surprisingly darker Monterey. In fact, most of the story seems to take place in twilight or darkness. My memories of the place are mostly sunshine and fog, oh my the fog, and the chill that comes with it, even in high summer.

Or especially so.

In Steinbeck's telling, there's little daylight, and no fog at all. Seems impossible. You can't live anywhere on California's Central Coast and not be immersed in morning and evening fog, sometimes all day fog, fog that set the pattern for your days and nights, fog that's sometimes very comforting but sometimes very annoying, too, as the eaves and the trees will drip and drip and drip, and a chill will grab hold of you and penetrate deep into your body. After a warm and sunny day, you may suddenly shiver with that fog-brought chill, wondering how the warmth of the day can vanish so completely and quickly as the sun lowers in the west over the sea, and the fog rolls in flowing over the coastal hills and filling the little valleys where lettuce and strawberries and artichokes are grown.

Sometimes here in New Mexico, high in the mountains, there will be morning fogs like those on California's Central Coast, and for some moments when the fog comes down like that, I'm puzzled about where I am, because here in this little valley in New Mexico's central highlands, I'm often reminded of the little valleys along California's Central Coast. No, there's no ocean here, but there are plenty of evocations, and they say that many long years ago, a "warm shallow sea" penetrated deep into what's now New Mexico, and there might have been fogs from that vanished sea that swathed the region's dinosaurs in dripping mists.

Indeed, our location now was the shore of a lake not that long ago, a lake the size -- and about the elevation -- of Lake Tahoe. Fogs easily could have arisen.

But they don't figure in Steinbeck's tale of Cannery Row in Monterey c. 1938 or 39.

It's not really clear when the story takes place, but it's almost certainly before the War, during the latter portion of the Depression.

The characters are familiar types to me, Mack and Doc and Hazel and Dora and The Girls and Lee Chong, and even the dog Darling. These are roughnecks for the most part, not a refined and high-faluting one among them, though some like Doc and Dora are clearly closer to the ideal of the era than others.

Marginal people at the time, maybe particularly in California, had a rough go of it, and whether they lived or died mattered not at all to their betters, the self-appointed and self assured leading lights of communities and cities and the state itself. California was for the winners. Still is.

So here are the characters of Cannery Row, flotsam washed up on the shores of Monterey, lucky to be there, happy to be there, living out their simple-complicated lives, getting by as best they can with little or no money, stealing, swapping, borrowing or creating what they need from the throwaways and debris around them. There's a lesson for the rest of us if we could learn it, as some have tried  in times past and more are trying now.

These rough people in rough times live lives with more humanity and joy, it seems to me, than many of our well-off modern people can imagine, and they might read the story now and believe it is all fantasy, a never-was fantasy.

But it was more real than they can imagine. I knew these people, some of them. I still do. They were my neighbors when I was growing up in California, and they are my neighbors now in rural New Mexico. There may be more broken down cowboys in these parts, but no one in "Cannery Row" would be out of place in my adopted home.

I'm one of them.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rituxan In the Morning

Yesterday was another infusion day, so I spent the morning hooked up to an IV drip in a comfy bed at the Infusion Center reading "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck which I had not done before despite my enthusiasm for Steinbeck and his dyspeptic vision of California's Central Coast and its society.

In that regard, I should mention that my (new found) cousin sent me a journal kept by her mother and our aunts that has an extended section  telling tales about their cross country rail expedition from Washington DC (where they were working at the WPA headquarters) to The Coast, where they did and saw everything. They saw all the sights from the Redwoods to San Francisco's Golden Gate and International Exposition at Treasure Island to Hollywood and Beverly Hills where they hob-nobbed with the movie stars and studio honchos. They went out to the beach and sunburned lobster red, they even went to Mexico, briefly, and saw a disgusting bull fight.

This was 1939. They passed through the Salinas Valley on their way to Los Angeles, but I can't imagine they noticed much. Certainly not the wretchedness and waves of travelers up from Mexico and still crossing the country from Oklahoma. What they reported and what they saw was the idealized tourist vision of California. There was always some truth to it, but it never told the whole story. Not by a long shot.

Steinbeck fills in some of the blanks, but he was hated for it in and around Salinas. His stories of his home place and the people there were stories you weren't supposed to tell. I grew up in other parts of California being socialized to that same notion. There are simply things you do not mention. If you're smart, you won't even look into them.

For example, I spent years studying the Gold Rush and the people who made their way to California between 1849 and about 1855. I reviewed all kinds of original documents kept at the California State Library and other places, and scoured the Gold Country for remaining clues to what was going on in those days.

The picture that emerged was nothing like the glorified and romantic image of the Gold Rush we were taught in school -- and I guess is still widely believed. For many who made the trek, it was horrible. Many died along the way or shortly after arrival. It cost a fortune to make the trip, and the chance of finding gold or even surviving more than a few months was slim to none.

And yet they kept coming. By the hundred thousands and ultimately by the millions they kept coming. My mother and her mother and stepfather among them. Most of my father's siblings -- but not himself -- came and settled in California, too.

Ms Ché and I left, though. She was born in California, and I lived there almost all my life, and the two of us could hardly wait to move to New Mexico.

Where I think we've never been happier -- health issues for both of us aside.

And so it goes.

Yes, there are plenty of challenges in front of us, and many memories left behind (along with a storage unit full of... stuff, including some of those memories...)

Perseverance, yes. But ultimately relaxation and freedom, too.

More to come.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Yet Another Impetus for a Coup?

Look, if the golpistas were going to do it, they would have done it by now. They haven't, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say they won't.

No coup.

Too many unknowns, I guess.

And who, really, wants a Xtian Dominionist like Pence in the Big Chair?

I'd say he'd actually serve a useful purpose if he were briefly to sit on the throne, but he would have to be removed -- or remove himself -- pronto. The presidency of the USofA is not where he belongs.

The Millennial Coup of 2000, when Bush Jr was handed the throne by a lawless Supreme Court, didn't work out so well in the end. Precipitating another one because of Trump's  erraticism is probably out of the question due to the unpredictability of results if for no other reason.

But something has to be done.

And quickly.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

An Updated Condition Report -- with Update to the Update

It''s now just short of a week since I had the first of four Rituxan infusions. As I reported, after the infusion I felt pretty darned good. No pain for the first time in weeks, months. Almost  complete freedom of movement. A lingering twinge now and then but the feeling of release from pain and restricted movement was magical.

It lasted three days.

Friday, I started noticing moderate joint pains and a dull throbbing pain in my lower back; in addition, there were signs of pain returning to my left hip, along with numbness in my left leg -- sciatica returning.

I took a Flexeril muscle relaxant as a precaution, and the pains seemed to diminish. But Saturday, they returned, focusing in different spots -- the way RA pain does, leading me to believe that I was having or trying to have another RA flare (for many weeks, weekend flares were routine). But then, almost magically, the pain of a flare seemed to disappear, and by late Saturday morning, I felt well enough to start mowing some of the out of control herbage out back.

Mistake. The pain came on again. I didn't take another Flexeril, but I did have to rest. I stayed up quite late Saturday night, monitoring my condition. When it seemed like the pain was not going to worsen, I went to bed.

When I got up Sunday morning, pains in my hips and shoulders were noticeable. Wrists and finger joints were painful as well. It was flare all right.

Later in the day, however, the pains diminished until they were almost gone. That never happened with previous flares. My neighbor Wes came over to help with the mowing, and though I didn't do much, I was able to take care of picking up some of the branches downed by the wind. No noticeable pain. Later in the day, however, when Ms Ché and I went for a supply run, I started experiencing sharp pain in my left shoulder, somewhat less pain in my right shoulder and wrist. Both knees were periodically painful as well.

So the flare isn't over. It's modified. Is that due to the Rituxan? I don't know. I'm supposed to talk to one of the nurses at the Rheumatology department tomorrow about what's been happening. On Thursday I sent an email to my rheumatologist describing my trip to the ER and what seemed to be miraculously pain free days since the Rituxan infusion.

Twice, nurses from rheumatology called me Friday to find out if I was OK. I said yes, but the flare really got going on Saturday.

So, we'll see where this latest episode goes. Right now, I'm feeling pain in my left shoulder, twinges elsewhere. But it's not nearly as bad as previous flares.

We'll see...

UPDATE: (Monday May 15, 2017)  Word came from my rheumatologist that my "good feeling" last week was not likely due to the Rituxan -- effects don't generally kick in for several months -- but was from the high dose of steroids included in the infusion.

I reported my current symptoms -- various joint pains -- and was told that's to be expected. For the time being anyway...


Was the Comey Thing Intended to Mollify Dems?

Interesting speculation I''m seeing in several places that the firing of James Comey from the FBI was intended -- at least in part -- to mollify grudge-holding Dems who were still smarting over Comey's interference in the 2016 election. Odd interference if you ask me, but what do I know about the machinations in DC these days? Not much.

The Outrage!!!™  (FFS are we back to that?) over it seems to be a bit overwrought, but that's how things are done among the political and media classes, for reasons that long ago escaped me. Until Trump actually did it, Dems, by and large, called for Comey's ouster. Now, of course, they are his greatest defenders in the whole wide world.

It's much like the near unanimity of praise for Trump when he picked up the Big Stick and blew some shit up in foreign lands. Despite the fact that he was still the ego-driven blowhard he'd always been, and just as ignorant too.

Of course the Comey Thing is turning out to be the reverse. According to reports, things have never been so chaotic in the White House. And that's saying something, I'd say.

Mollifying Dems seems like the least important thing to those people, the people in Power. Dems, at least in recent times, have been incapable of using Power. They don't like to. It's icky. (Unless, of course, it's pink-misting brown people overseas. With drones. Yay US! Odd, that.)

The Democrats have limited power, but they tend to be reluctant to use what little they have, no matter the provocations. They are often referred to as "feckless," which they are, "corrupt" -- yes, well, who in Washington isn't? -- and "incompetent."

Since the advent of the Republican sweep of government, however, it's clear that the Rs are incapable of governing in the public interest. They just can't do it. To me, this means that they need the expertise of the Ds in order to maintain even the appearance of competence, and getting rid of a "troublemaker" like Comey was expected to gain some Democratic support. Well, it did just the opposite.

The Rs and Trump are in a real pickle right now.  I think the act of firing Comey was an unforced error, but it was also a power play. As if Gulliver were breaking free of the Lilliputian's bonds. Well, maybe so, but in the end, Gulliver becomes the best friend of the Lilliputians, doesn't he? Perhaps Trump thought he could pull off a similar trick.

After all, they say he just wants to be loved.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Power Play

The Comey Thing is without doubt an effort by the Trump regime to consolidate power and neuter any effort by the so-called "deep state" to interfere with the regime's exercise of power.

Analysts are wetting themselves trying to pin this or that meaning or significance to the firing of James Comey by Trump, but they have so far missed the bigger picture.

There have been several opportunities for a coup or coup-lite since the election, and each of them has been whiffed. Those opportunities are disappearing. The regime is learning how to consolidate and exercise power, and soon, it will be almost impossible to get out from under that power. We saw it happen in almost the same way with Bush/Cheney.

From a purely pragmatic point of view, Trump is doing what he needs to do.

From practically every other point of view, it's a disaster.

It may be a disaster we have no way to avoid.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Saving the NeoLibCon Paradigm

So Emmanuel Macron is being hailed as the Great White Hope of the neoLibCons, saving the paradigm from the likes of the nasty and unrepentant white rightists who have been running rampant through the Euro-Anglo-American globalist Empire.


Or perhaps not.

The situation in France still seems somewhat fluid as "doubts" about Macron's mandate continue in the face of his rather thumping defeat of the white rightist candidate LePen. The problem I'm hearing most frequently is that he ran and won without traditional party support and he will have a tough, nay impossible time winning a majority in parliament, leaving him in a kind of limbo with little or no political backing.

On the other hand, there is a remarkable propaganda effort to prop him up as the savior of civilization in the face of the barbarian hordes -- such as Trump and his diminishing cohort of fanboys.

Hillary and Obama apparently are going all in trying to save the paradigm for the next generation, and I even heard Condoleeeeeeezzza Rice on the radio yesterday defending not just the appalling catastrophe of the Iraq invasion and occupation but the neoLibCon ideas behind that and so much of the disaster we've been heir to since (it seems like) forever.

These people are never right, but they are intent on bulling their way forward in their wrongness come what may.


Just great.

What did we do to deserve this?


I was infused yesterday with Rituxan, an anti-cancer drug that's used in difficult cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

It went well enough I guess, despite all the warnings I was given both before and during the treatment. The worry is that patients will have  "a reaction" -- sounds like an allergic reaction, much as I had to the CT contrast dye the first time I had a CT scan decades ago. I felt the dye coursing through my blood stream and had an inside out feeling of itching, swelling, breathing and other difficulties. I passed out and stopped breathing. I don't know how close I got to the final elbow, but I remember waking up as CPR was beginning and a Benadryl injection was ordered. I was wheeled back to my hospital room where the nurse said I was lucky. They'd lost a patient the week before because they didn't get to him in time. Yes, well...

One patient in the infusion center did have a reaction, and there was no nurse available immediately, so things got a little scary for a time. The patient was in fact stabilized shortly though and did seem to recover fairly quickly. They increase the dosage of  Rituxan very slowly so that if you have a reaction, it will be easier to counteract.

The only thing I felt the whole time was a slight drowsiness and light-hadedness that seemed very similar to the way I feel whenever I take Benadryl for allergies (which is rarely anymore.)

The only thing is, the process takes several hours, in my case, from 9am till 2:30pm. You aren't completely a prisoner to your bed, but you feel like it sometimes. I had a book with me, "The History of American Archeology" -- rather a dreadful tome from the 1970s -- that kept me occupied. More or less.

I have to do it again in two weeks, and then twice again in six months, and then -- the hope is -- not again afterwards. The idea is that the RA will go into remission. I'm for that.

UPDATE: I feel much better today than I have in weeks, maybe months. It may just be coincidence, but it may be due to the Rituxan as well, If it is due to the Rituxan, yay.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Do We Need An Emperor?

[We  might not, but the government may.]

For years, I've been toying with notions of parallels between the late Roman Republic and our own US governmental mess. It is a mess, you understand, at nearly every level, though for the most part, its mechanisms function more or less well most of the time.

The problems are mostly at the ideological and leadership levels. The almost universal operating paradigm is what I call neoLibCon. That is to say, it is a fusion of neoliberal domestic and economic policies together with neoconservative foreign policies. There are many complexities (and surprising levels of denial) along the way. It's not a binary "this or that," it's a multiplicity of "this and that."

The government has run rogue at the top for many years, at least since the days of Clinton and Gingrich hammering away at one another. I saw it as Gingrich's attempt to reanimate and replay the English Civil War with himself as Cromwell to Clinton's Charles I.

The struggle and pageant didn't end well for either of the main characters, but it had a profound effect on government and the electorate. Lessons were learned. Primarily, the lesson was that that Leaders can get away with pretty much anything they want, so long as they keep their constituents entertained (bread and circuses), but they may not succeed in reaching their goals (for example, impeaching and removing Clinton from office.) But then, was that ever their goal? We can't be sure, can we?

Perhaps the impeachment saga took place to diminish the aura of the presidency. Or rather to diminish the aura of Democratic presidents while enhancing that of Republican presidents and legislators.

A sort of sideways statement that we are ruled by Rs no matter which party holds congressional majorities and the White House.

It's not just that they are the ruling party, they are the only legitimate party; the Ds exist merely as foils.

For as long as I've been playing on the intertubez, I've noticed a strong animus toward the Democrats, to the point of urging and working for the "utter destruction" of the Democratic Party. That's almost a core principle for the internet political junkies and denizens. Democrats delenda est! 

They are betrayers, feckless, worse than Rs, and corrupt as hell. Yes? And? Democrats must be destroyed!

Well, OK. But if they are the Washington Generals to the Republican Harlem Globetrotters, then the whole thing is just a show, a pageant, with a pre-determined outcome, meant to entertain the rubes while the real work (and money counting) goes on in the back office somewhere. It's a game, a show, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

So if that's the case, do we need an Emperor instead of a president? Perhaps to be above the president?

Trump of course is inadequate to the role. Octavian was a masterful politician and bullshitter, however, and it was apparently easy for him to elide the roles he assumed and created (once the civil war was done). He "preserved and protected" the Republic while essentially doing away with it.

Is that what we need?

Sometimes I wonder.

The fantasy world that many Trump supporters, defenders and loyalists created around their devotion is still very strong. To some, Trump is their longed for "God-Emperor," who can never fail, he can only be failed. They actually use the term "God-Emperor" in their devotions. Their longing for... something.... is so strong, they can't see the flim-flam and fraudulence of what they're getting. Those who do see it recoil in disgust.

And yet... I'm convinced Trump won't last in office (but I've been wrong about coups and such, so we'll see.) It doesn't actually matter whether he serves out his term or not. What matters is what comes After Trump, and my sense is that a precedent is being set which will solidify the oligarchic rule we've been under for many years and enable direct rule from the palaces of our Overlords, one of whom will be periodically selected to be Emperor. We will have good Emperors and bad.

The Republic, then, having given up the ghost, will be lost forever after.

But then maybe it was inevitable.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Healthcare Insurance Trainwreck

It's been odd -- to say the least -- watching so many self styled progressives defend the contraption called Obamacare. A contraption meant to ensure the profits of the insurance cartels in perpetuity. As a side benefit, some people who otherwise wouldn't have health insurance can get it. Others are out of luck.

It looks like the Rs will "repeal and replace" Obamacare with their own contraption that will most certainly punish and kill people -- why not? tough luck suckers! -- as well as ensure the profits of favored members of the insurance cartel. (Molina, watch yer back, hear me?)

And so it goes.

Of course at no time has either major party even considered doing away with the stupid, aggravating and too often deadly health "care" contraption that relies on private/commercial health care insurance through giant companies who intend to profit no matter what.

Until that happens, the trainwreck will continue to plow into the ditch and people who otherwise wouldn't will die.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Gulliver in Lilliput

I had to do a spit-take yesterday as Himself's Twitter-poutrage in the morning contradicted his afternoon effusions over the budget deal worked out by congress. Of course this is par for the course, "normalized" Trump behavior. He'll contradict himself in the same sentence, and hardly anyone bats an eye any more. It's just him being him, yanno?

It's become very clear to me as an observer, however, that his powers and authority are very tightly constrained, more so every day. He can babble all he wants in interviews and on the Twitter Machine, but what he can actually do is more and more limited by the rest of the government apparatus either ignoring his demands or actively thwarting them.

The courts, of course, took the lead in the matter of reining in the God-Emperor (I recently discovered that term has actually been utilized by parts of the White Right -- and Ann Coulter(!) -- in reference to Himself) and I doubt at this point that even the SCOTUS with the New Boy will overturn the lower courts, at least on the matter of what the president can do by diktat.

From my vantage point very far outside the halls of power, what appears to have happened is that the military and the security state have taken the lead in doing their own thing as they see fit and necessary while the rest of the government is in a leaderless anarchic state that could turn chaotic but so far hasn't. Inertia can sometimes be a good thing, no?

I observed a somewhat similar effect during the first few months of the Obama administration. He set out to do this, that or the other thing, and he was thwarted and constrained in his actions by the will of the other branches of government -- and he didn't resist. Not even a little bit. This was disappointing to some of his loyalists who saw it as betrayal, but most saw it as simply accepting "reality".

Trump seems to see Himself as a Boy-God-Emperor in a sandbox who can do anything he wants, because he is a God and that is that. Only he can't. And isn't. As he is thwarted, he yields, though his rhetoric may become ever more shrill and his next move may be even more outrageous and radical.

Will we soon be seeing him drop his pants and pee in the Rose Garden? Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Something similar to Trump's reining in happened with Reagan, Schwarzenegger and Ventura, among other celebrities elected to high office. They set out to be huge change agents, and really Reagan was the only one who succeeded -- and that by the skin of his teeth. I think he managed to cause as much change as he did because he brought with him 1) a coherent plan (created by his sponsors) and 2) sufficient personnel familiar with the workings of the government apparat to do what his sponsors wanted. That and his personal charm (he could be quite a charming fellow. I met him a few times) were enough to enable many of the changes he wanted.

Trump lacks the charm of Reagan, but he also operates by alienation. Rather than developing allies, and building coalitions, he reverses the process by driving would-be allies away, insulting and dismissing them, and by shattering -- or trying to shatter -- coalitions that might support him so as to work on individuals instead.

This habit became untenable very early in his regime, and one after another, potentially supportive  power centers turned their backs or shut him off.

As other observers have pointed out, you may be able to get away with this sort of behavior in business -- whatever Trump's business really is -- but not in government. Not in the US government anyway. So he's thwarted and the major aspects of government carry on as if he weren't there.

That brings up the question of whether they are operating on a contingency plan: "What happens if the presidency is 'vacant?'" Could be. I don't know.

He's stated directly that he has authorized "his" military to do what they think best -- apparently without consulting him -- in the various wars under way. That kind of carte blanche is dangerous, of course, but it could be less dangerous than letting him direct military operations.

There is one sector of the Security State that appears to be operating on his direction (though maybe not), and that would be the border, customs and immigration forces who have been causing immense disruption and panic in immigrant communities. "Sticking it" to immigrants and their descendants, particularly ones from South of the Border, seems to be something our dauntless border agents have longed for, despite the rather extraordinary deportation statistics prior to the advent of Trump in the White House. WTH?

I look at this targeting of brown immigrants or suspected illegales as potentially extremely dangerous over the long term. The Obama regime exercised considerable discretion in their targeting for deportation. It appears that the Trump regime is consciously dispensing with discretion and is sweeping up anyone and everyone they want and throwing them out with no compassion or conscience at all.

The question then becomes "where does it end?" And you know it won't. Not unless something is done to stop it. Anyone can be targeted. Anyone can wind up in the camps (privately run of course.)

That so many have risen in opposition to the regime is important. Millions upon millions have taken to the streets to show solidarity with one another -- despite many political disagreements -- and their unity in opposition to the regime and its figurehead leader. The streets have filled with protest over and over again, and it has been sobering to The Powers That Be. Elected officials have been confronted over and over again by citizens demanding accountability for their too often gross, cruel and corrupt actions. That, too, has been sobering.

What I see right now is that the governing situation is anarchic but not yet chaotic. Chaos can easily be induced however. Whether we'll get to that point, I can't say. I can't even be sure I'd recognize it if it came because we've been whipsawed so often already.

This is perhaps tangential, but I'd like to encourage people to watch Adam Curtis's "HyperNormalization" embedded below. It doesn't explain everything, and the visuals sometimes seem to be part of some other documentaries, but it offers plenty of clues to how we got to this point and what may have to be done about it. Our rulers always have the option to do the right thing. As a rule, they do just the opposite. Correcting course is difficult and fraughtful, but sometimes there is no alternative.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"For the Love of God!" -- What Comes After Trump?

For all intents and purposes, Trump's power and authority was neutered toward the end of February (or March, depending on your point of view). He's simply not in charge of the government, which is in an anarchic -- but not yet chaotic-- state.

The interesting thing to me is that he has not (yet) been removed from office by subtle or overt means. So clearly he is serving a purpose on the Throne, even if he can't exercise any power from it other than having his personal Gestapo terrorize brown people in the Heartland. Why that's allowed while almost nothing else is, I'm not entirely sure. Entertainment for the crackers? I dunno.

Having this empty mechanical Thing sitting on the Throne may be entertaining enough for the rubes but it gives everybody else the willies. It's Grand Guignol at best. Walking Dead most of the time. Things are happening quite apart from anything Trump says or does, but what he says and does -- no matter how stupid or irrelevant -- dominates every news cycle, and that's probably why he's being kept on the Throne. So we don't see or recognize what's going on behind the scenes and who is directing the pageant.

Precedents are being set.

The world has been turned upside down and things will never be the same again.

This could be a good thing. Just as Trump or Congress or the SCOTUS might -- for once in their worthless lives -- do the right thing. It could happen. It won't. But it could.

What comes After Trump? How will the White House and the world be changed by his advent and demise?

I've said many times that his advent represents the apotheosis of the neoLibCon paradigm. Many observers -- and voters for that matter -- on the other hand, bethought themselves that Trump would smash and destroy neoLibCon - ism once and for all when that was never his idea or intent. It was a desire projected onto him. (Much the same happened with Obama, and look what it brought us: Trump and the accelerated implementation of the Program).

Many observers now claim that neoLibCon-ism will crash and burn on its own as the rise of the nationalist white right sweeps the global North and West. Somehow, nationalism and white supremacy are deemed the death knell for neoLibCon-ism and Globalism, though I can't for the life of me fathom why. It's simply a rearrangement of winners and losers, it has no effect on the paradigm at all.

The Forever Wars, the exploitation of the Rabble, the looting, the indecency of it all will continue at an accelerated pace. That's all. In other words, nothing changes -- except that scapegoating of selected minorities will become the distraction of the moment.

That's an important addition to the neoLibCon kit bag, but it ultimately changes nothing.

After Trump will we see a succession of clowns and rakes and buffoons on the Throne? Come to think of it, isn't that what we've been seeing since Reagan with few (no?) exceptions?

On the other hand, as mentally incompetent as Reagan was (we knew about it when he was governor of California, but nobody listened to us) he had a crew of wreckers come in with him who were clever and executed a program that essentially changed the nature of the federal government that was accepted by both political parties. It's a legacy that continues.

I've said that Reagan was responsible for uprooting the Progressive operating system (or paradigm of governmental operations) first in California then in the federal government, and I doubt we'll ever get it back, though strangely that's what a lot of the so-called populists are pining for.

We're actually devolving government into something closer to neoFeudalism.

I have many, many reservations about Progressivism, but most of the time it seemed to be better aligned with the public interest than its replacements.

No, a government that serves only the interests of the Highest of the Mighty, slavishly, is not in the public interest and cannot be.

Trump -- for all his lack of power and authority -- is tilting the government so far over to favor the rich and well-connected that what will emerge After Trump would be unrecognizable as a government at all.

It would be little more than a service to the rich and a disaster to everyone else.

By design, not accident.

That would truly be the apotheosis of neoLibCon rule, and it could easily become a permanent (well, long lasting) state.

The Future looks bleaker every day.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Mob Rules

It seems that some of Trump's  partisans are beginning to wake up to the fact that they've been conned, big time. Of course they're reluctant to admit it and they still rationalize Trump's many betrayals and about faces as due to his "capture" by the Deep State Clintonites, but I think that misses the point.

First of all, he wasn't supposed to be elected. The fact that he won enough electoral votes, not popular votes, to ascend to the Throne came as a shock and surprise to everyone, including Himself.

I truly expected a coup of some sort before he ascended the Throne, but apparently those who might perpetrate such a thing backed off -- repeatedly.

I attributed that to dissidents within the ranks who essentially said, "No deal" because nobody had a clue to what was to come next if a coup was successful.

They chose instead to let things play out.

Of course chaos ensued.

Trump has no idea how to president. It's all bluster and optics with him. Show Business if you will. He's way out of his depth, and he seems to know it. A coup became unnecessary when he turned the wars over to his generals to do as they wanted without his active input, and he turned over everything else to Jared and Ivanka to do as they will -- or can. Which isn't much.

This happened by the end of February. I notice, however, that some of his partisans think it happened toward the last week of March. At least they noticed.

Trump is not in charge. He literally can't do anything independently, prolly not even take a piss, and it appears that the government itself is hamstrung to the point that nothing (much) can happen while The Powers That Be sort out some kind of future path.

I would say this is a least-worst outcome. Not that it's any good. It isn't. It's terrible. Another shade of terrible.

Yet mob rule -- as in gangsters -- is on the ascendance and there seems to be nothing we can do about it.

Even some of Trump's partisans have noticed parallels between the Corleones and Trump's attempts at ruling from the Throne. It's not just the movie versions of gangsters, though. Our governments have long had a parallel operational model that is not that different from the operations of a large scale crime family -- mob. In fact, I think the two go hand in hand, and essentially always have. The Genius of our Founders.

But we note with interest that El Jefe is tied down almost as securely as Gulliver was in Lilliput.

What gives, and who is really running this battle wagon?

It's not Trump -- he could go into retirement at any time now, become President Emeritus like Pope Benedict and I doubt many people would notice. It's not Jared or Ivanka. Not President Bannon, They say even Gorka is being forced out of the Inner Circle in the White House. The little fascist pissant Miller is still stalking the corridors of power, but to what object remains unclear.

So who is running things? My guess, based on his frequent junkets abroad and his nearly constant presence on the teevee, is Pence. He's not acting on his own, however. He's acting on behalf of...


Ah, there's the question. Who actually constitutes the Shadow Government, and what are their objectives?

I long ago noticed that We, the Rabble, have no champions among the Masters of the Universe. None. This is quite unlike the situation during the previous Gilded Age. Then, quite a few of the Gentry and High and Mighty Titans of Industry, yadda yadda, were at least ostensibly on the side of the People, calling for reform -- gradually, of course -- and doing Good Works in the teeming slums, blah blah blah. Some spoke out, loudly and frequently, against the horrible conditions too many of the Rabble were forced to endure, just so some Vanderbilt somewhere could erect yet another pseudo-palace.

Action was taken, too, with any number of experimental projects launched (mostly funded from private fortunes) to ameliorate the conditions of the poor and working class.

It was not enough, but it was something, something practical that inculcated civic virtue, improved public infrastructure, and bettered the lives of millions. At least for a while.

There's nothing like that today. It seems that every one of Our Betters (so they think of themselves) lives to exploit and oppress the Lower Orders and can't conceive of not doing so. The idea of Good Works is alien to their class.

They can't imagine...

And this, I think, is one of the reasons a false champion like Trump could achieve the White House, despite all the efforts of the Powers That Be to thwart his rise.

Even a false champion is better than no champion at all -- at least it is emotionally fulfilling.

Trump's attempts at rule -- mostly inoperative -- are those of a crime family boss, not those of a President. And yet some of what he commands/orders from On High does get implemented -- such as the deportation efforts carried out by his personal Gestapo ICE.

The killing spree in the Middle East and elsewhere has accelerated under Trump as well.

Anything that benefits the exploiter class appears to be fast tracked, while anything that might benefit the Rabble is put on hold or not bothered with at all. After all, what can the Rabble do about it? Right?

The Mob takes care of itself first, right?

The rest can take care of themselves. Or not.