Saturday, July 22, 2017

More Mosul "Liberation"

A few days ago, I speculated that the Mosul "Liberation" cost the lives of 20-30,000 civilians, not the "hundreds" or even the few thousand that was initially claimed. And then word started appearing in some of the foreign press -- not so far as I know in the domestic media -- that the civilian death toll was more like 40,000 -- and rising, as air strikes  continue to "mop up," revenge killings continue, and searches of the destruction of the city turn up more and more rotting corpses.

In any sane world, this would be considered a catastrophe of major proportions, not a liberation at all.

The ISIS rebels may have been cruel and destructive, but they didn't slaughter tens of thousands of civilians, and they didn't destroy entire cities in their quest for their Caliphate, and this will be remembered in the Middle East for ages to come.

The Imperial Storm Troopers their air wings, and their allies, on the other hand, are all about slaughter, annihilation, and destruction of homes, families and entire cities, leaving abundant smoking ruins in their wake and calling it "liberation".

"Liberty?" For whom? To do what?

Given the figure of 40,000 civilians killed in Mosul now being bruited about, I'd venture to guess the actual figure is more like 100,000, but we shall never know, in part because the count will never be complete, and even if it were, the Imperium would never let it be verified.

Do Americans have any idea how many cities in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia have so far faced destruction in the Imperial "Fight Against Terror?" How many civilians have been randomly and/or deliberately exterminated in this futile quest? I would assume not because Americans seem not to care. They have become immunized to the slaughter of brown people and the destruction of their homes and cities. If they know anything about it, it's all a blur, and besides when Trump is acting up, who cares what's happening to brown people far away? I mean, really.

Priorities.

Media Lens did a compare and contrast exercise, The Siege of Aleppo vs Mosul, to show something of how the stories are twisted to fit a prepared narrative. East Aleppo's valiant struggle against the Soviets (damn near) vs the valiant struggle of the West against the perfidious Islamist threat to civilization in Mosul.

The propaganda was constant and heavy and essentially false. That's what we're dealing with, and the more we're immersed in it, the more likely it is that one day -- sooner rather than later -- blowback and karma will come back to haunt the West. Oh my yes.

When will they ever learn?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Health-X Update

The roller coaster continues, but it's on the slower part of the ride right now. Good.

It's been just about two months since my second Rituxan infusion, and so far, so good. I still get joint pains regularly, almost clockwork for early morning pains (3:00am, sometimes 4:00) but they're not as frequent as they were, and they are never as painful as they were. I call it a "3" instead of a "10" or higher. The pains last a few minutes to an hour and then they're gone. I spend most of every day almost pain free. Last time I saw my rheumatologist, I told the nurse my pain level was "0" -- almost unheard of in that office.

So, this is all very positive.

Of course the cost for the Rituxan treatment was/is breathtaking, incomprehensible. $42,000 for two 50mg infusions? (According to the prior authorization, however, I'm supposed to get 2000mg over the six months of treatment. Not sure what the deal is with that...)

When I finally got a more or less comprehensible bill, I found I was charged 10% of the approved cost of the Rituxan for each infusion, ($9,492 x 10%= $949 x 2= $1,898.) I wasn't charged for anything else connected with the treatments.

I made something of a stink because this wasn't anything like what I was told the charges would be. Because I wasn't given accurate information, I wasn't able to prepare.

I applied for financial assistance through the hospital, and after some back and forth over income documentation, it was granted: 50% reduction in all my costs associated with the hospital and my providers for the 240 days prior to my application.

Ergo, $949 for the two treatments. Somewhat more than I was prepared for, but not outrageous. I guess. Well, how can one know? Still trying to understand what I actually owe, as the charges for the Rituxan treatment have been reduced by some of the out of pocket charges I've paid for doctor visits and tests.

I am told that I will need another two infusions in October  or November, and I will have to reapply for financial assistance at that time, but it will most likely be granted. So my ultimate cost for the four infusions of Rituxan should be $1,898. More than I was anticipating, but still within a manageable amount. Much more than that, though...

Which brings me to medication costs. I've been in the notorious Part D "donut hole" since last month, My prescription for mycophenolate alone is now costing $450 a month out of pocket. Add in Spiriva, Albuterol, Plaquinil, and miscellaneous other meds, and we're  looking at about $1,000 a month out of pocket for the next four-five months. OK. How do we pay for that?

I checked online, and discovered a source for mycophenolate at $106 a month, such a deal. I don't use Spiriva or Albutertol unless I need them, and I rarely need them. Hardly ever. So I still have them from months ago. The other meds I take are relatively inexpensive, so if I can get the cost of mycophenolate down and can continue not using Spiriva or Albuterol, drug costs will be more or less manageable as well.

I'm supposed to see a pulmonologist at UNM today for an assessment of my lung condition which was becoming quite severe. Recent CT scan indicates that the condition has stabilized and has not progressed beyond the damage noted almost a year ago when I started taking mycophenolate. I still have some breathing difficulty but I don't use oxygen or inhalers any more.

And I'm able to get around and do things with far less difficulty than before.

It's the New Normal. Slower, more deliberate and careful, as if Old Age were settling in.

Ms. Ché is facing a whole raft of issues of her own, most of them consequences of diabetes and most of them more or less under control. I urge her to slow down. She won't, but still I urge her. She'll be going back to IAIA full time next month, three more semesters she says before she gets her degree in Creative Writing. Getting through it is somewhat more of a challenge than she was anticipating, but she's as determined as ever, come what may. And she has a lot of support. From the administration, from the faculty, and from fellow students. She may be an "old broad" as she calls herself, but she feels perfectly at home among the young pups. Sadly, we don't have the money to buy more of their art.

I know so many people are in much worse shape than we are, and I'm grateful for what we have and what we are able to share. Some of what's been going on, particularly since Ms Ché's wreck in January, has been a shock no doubt. But we carry on.






Monday, July 17, 2017

Galisteo

Image of Galisteo Basin from this real estate listing


We're lucky to be able to pass through the Galisteo Basin when we go to Santa Fe. It helps make the fifty mile or so drive an adventure, something we look forward to rather than dread.

Getting to Santa Fe from Albuquerque on I-25 might be a little quicker, but the drive is horrid and it's often a mess either due to weather or more frequently due to wild drivers causing wrecks. This is  New Mexico, after all.

The other alternative, the Turquoise Trail (Highway 14) from Tijeras north, is scenic in parts, but it also tends to be heavily trafficked, and once at Madrid, traffic slows to a crawl. It's not a pleasant drive, and it seems to take forever.

Our preferred drive is lightly trafficked Highway 41 to 285 through El Dorado and into town via Old Pecos/Old Santa Fe Trails if the destination is in town; turn off at Camino Los Abuelos in Galisteo beside the church (Highway 42) to Highway 14 and thence past the State Prison ruins to Rancho Viejo and (eventually) to IAIA.

The village of Galisteo is the midpoint of our journey; the road through the Galisteo Basin constitutes one third of the trip.

Lucy Lippard's magisterial 'Down Country" traces some of the Native Pueblo history of the region and touches a bit on the Spanish history, but it leaves out much of the contemporary history including its use as a kind of refuge from the intensely competitive artists' environment in Santa Fe.

Movies have been made there for decades -- it was once a more popular location than it is today, partly because today's locals are not so keen on the intrusion. There is a movie set just outside of town behind a ridge (so as not to interfere with the village's pristine adobe-ness.) Almost all the few hundred residents are artists of some kind (including writers like Lucy Lippard) or related to artists. A huge ranch, the Bar S Ranch, comes right up to the edges of Galisteo on the south while the Galisteo Basin Preserve and the Flywheel Ranch provide some protection from development on the north and west. The general absence of development is part of what makes the area so appealing to artists and travelers (and movie makers) alike.

If you're going to live in Galisteo, it definitely helps to have money. Lots of it. While some properties are available for less than a million dollars, many are priced well north of that. There seems to be a fairly constant churning of luxe and not-so-luxe properties in the area, partly because people die off when they're old, even if they're rich, and partly because some people move out to Galisteo--  for whatever reason -- little realizing how much work it is to live there.

Everything is more difficult than it would be in the city.

There are no services in Galisteo, for example. There used to be, but there are no longer any places to get groceries or gas or supplies.There is a historic church:
Church, Galisteo, New Mexico
From WikiMedia Commons, Tom Harrington - originally posted to Flickr as Church, Galisteo, New Mexico


and a sala -- used as a community art gallery-- and that's about it. Ruins of the past are found all over the village and in the country-side.

Though electricity and propane fuel are available through the usual means, it's wise to have your own generator because you never know when the power will go out or how long it will stay out. Better yet, have some solar panels installed, just make sure they're hidden from view and don't disturb the pre-industrial ambiance of the place.

Learn to slow down.

That's the basic lesson of places like this and throughout New Mexico if you listen. Learn to slow down. 

Some of the ricos and famosos who chase their dreams to Galisteo or other fashionable parts of New Mexico may never learn that lesson. They won't hear the call to ease up a bit. Things will (usually) work out one way or another.

The road that winds through the Galisteo Basin is an invitation to slow down. It's posted at 55 miles an hour, which is certainly fast enough to get you where you want to go. Through the village, it's 35mph, to me almost too fast. There's not a lot of traffic which is one of the pleasures of the drive through the Galisteo Basin. Nature isn't unsullied, but there is wildlife like pronghorn antelope, rabbits, scurrying voles, ravens and hawks patrolling for road-kill, buzzards afloat on the updrafts, horses, cattle of various breeds. When the monsoons come, the roadsides are awash in wildflowers, but this year, while the monsoons came early, they've been infrequent, and the wildflowers are sparse.

For months, I couldn't take the trip north through the Galisteo Basin -- too much pain, discomfort, distress. There were times I could hardly walk, could not even imagine sitting in the car for the hour it would take to drive to Santa Fe. I really missed it. When we've recently gone to Santa Fe through the Galisteo Basin I've felt rejuvenated.

It brings joy to these tired old bones and joints.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

As The Russia Thing Continues to Metastasize

This long ago got boring I know, but the Russia Thing continues to grow and flourish on the internet and throughout the media firmament; it is this summer's sharks and missing white women story on steroids.

Of course no matter its ever broadened net, no matter how many Trump or Clinton campaign advisors and staff it ensnares, ultimately it appears there will be no there there for the simple reason that it's not meant for a denouement, it's meant to keep the Rabble (and some of their Betters) entertained and distracted while the serious business of neoLibCon looting and pillage and slaughter continues relentlessly.

The Juggernaut must not be interfered with in any way.

Barring the Who-Knows-What, it won't be.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Counterculture Day (for us) in Santa Fe

We don't get up to Santa Fe (fifty some odd miles north) as much anymore, partly because school's out for another month and so and for now Ms. Ché has fewer reasons to go, and partly because my health has made it difficult/impossible for me much of the time to make the trip or to stay for very long if I got there.

You could argue it's always Counterculture Day in Santa Fe; after all, it is the City Different...  and doG knows the city is littered with reconstructed and a few unreconstructed hippies. There is art and alternative healing everywhere. On the way up we pass through Galisteo, a tiny, historic hamlet chock a block with artists and QiGong practitioners. Oh yes, the Counterculture has evolved and is present in bits and pieces or in whole throughout Northern New Mexico, where it arrived like an alien invasion some fifty years ago or more.

2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love, though, and all this summer there have been celebrations and exhibits and lectures and so on and so forth to mark the occasion.

There's something happening here and we might have forgotten what it is.

We'd been planning for some time, Ms. Ché and I, to head up to town yesterday to check out the Counterculture exhibit at the History Museum and go see the remastered "Monterey Pop" at the Center for Contemporary Arts. She also had some business to take care of at IAIA with regard to her retreat at Idyllwild.

Counterculture was a mode of expression for some people of our generation, but not by any means for all of them. Looking back, I'd say most of my generation stayed well away from anything that smacked or smelled of hippies, peace, love, flowers and patchouli. 

Those who did partake, for the most part, did so on the margins; Counterculture was not a way of life.

It couldn't be; it was not possible for an entire generation  to tune in, turn on, and drop out (from the mainstream) and still survive.

That's what I felt was missing from the large and very intriguing exhibit at the History Museum co-curated by Jack Loeffler. There seemed to be little or no recognition that the Counterculture of the '60s really involved very few individuals at any given time and place, and by the time it got to New Mexico, in the later '60s and '70s it had become quite a different thing than it had started out to be.

Assuming it had any point of origin as such.

I thought it was interesting -- and wrong -- that Loeffler pegs the "origin" of the Counterculture on the poetry reading at 6 Gallery in San Francisco on October 7, 1955, at which Allen Ginsberg premiered his magnum opus, "Howl." Now wait. No. Just no.

But Jack was there, you see, and he remembers, and so, that's where and when it all began -- for him. And if the Counterculture began for him there and then, then it must have done so for everyone.

No.

It didn't.

Jack is confusing influences with origins. Of course the influences -- such as "Howl" and Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder and Michael McClure, all of whom were present at the seminal poetry reading in 1955 -- were important. Loeffler mentions "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac as a moving influence, as it certainly was, but he casts it as a phenomenon of the '60s when it was published in 1957 about a road trip in 1949. Hello? What "On the Road" is describing is people and events in the immediate Post War era, and to me it harkens back to "Cannery Row" (published in 1945) which was about people and places (in California) in the 1930s.

This didn't originate any Counterculture at all. Instead, literary voice was given to part of the margin of the mainstream.

Which when you boil it down is what the Counterculture of the 1960s really was: an expression of the margins of the mainstream -- commercialized and marketed to death.

Already in 1966, "hippies" were becoming a commercial phenomenon, and some of the original hippies in San Francisco got together in October of 1967 to stage the Death of the Hippie ceremony that was supposed to put the commercial phenomenon to ultimate rest. It didn't of course, but the statement was made by some of those who were there at the beginning that the idea had climaxed and it was time for something else again.



Was I there for this ceremony? You know, I might have been, but I'm not quite sure. There was so much going on that summer and fall, it's a kaleidoscope of impressions now, and actually where I think I was on or near that date was at the Oakland Induction Center coughing on the remnants of tear gas used to clear the way for the inductees.



(Actually that was a couple of weeks after the Death of the Hippie ceremony, so maybe I was there; I don't know anymore.)

The draft and the war fueled the Counterculture for many, and there was a small corner of the exhibit that dealt with the Protests and Movements. One of my strongest impressions of the exhibit was that corner where an elder fellow (my age) sat crying while listening to first person accounts of the anti-war movement and the slaughter in Vietnam through headphones. I couldn't hear  what he was hearing, but I knew why he was crying. It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears myself.

At least Loeffler acknowledged that the war and the movements had something to do with the origin and persistence of the Counterculture, but I'm not convinced he understood how critical they were to it. I think it's possible he didn't see it the way I do in part because he's ten or more years older than so many of those who were caught up in the Counterculture and he served in the armed forces when it was relatively safe to do so.

He wasn't drafted. He volunteered. Played in the band. At nuclear weapons tests in Nevada. Interestingly it was soon after that seminal reading at 6 Gallery in 1955 which he claims started the Counterculture.

All in all the exhibit was fascinating, though I have my quibbles. The Ram Das elements made me smile, though I wasn't altogether sure why. I've never been much of a fan of Ram Das, but the hand-printed posters and book box inside the geodesic dome from and based on the Lama Community  were an unexpected treat.

Sadly we only had an hour before the museum closed so we didn't get to explore the exhibit quite as much as we might have liked.

After a bite  at Santa Fe Bite, successor to Bobcat Bite, we headed out to to the Center for Contemporary Arts, one of the few local museums we don't belong to, to get ready to see "Monterey Pop" in full, in a movie theater, for the first time in many years.

"Are you here for 'Monterey Pop'? Sorry, it's sold out. But we'll have more showings Friday and Saturday."

Right. Sold out? What the actual hell? "If you'd like, we can give you a 'Queue Card' and you can wait until showtime; we'll release tickets that aren't picked up at that time, and you may get a seat."

OK. We take the "Queue Cards" and wait. Others join the Queue, some rather annoyed that they weren't told that the show was sold out, nor were they informed that there would be additional showings on the weekend (while  we waited, an additional Sunday showing was added.) Nor, in fact, did they know they could buy tickets in advance. I heard many of the same stories while we waited. Then, of course, there were the patrons with extra tickets to sell to those waiting. It became quite a scene in the lobby. Reminded me a bit of the scene outside the fairgrounds at Monterey in 1967, where people were selling -- scalping? -- tickets to get inside. We didn't have that worry then, for we had tickets to all the shows but one, and that one we chose not to attend because nobody we wanted to see was performing.

Those were the days. Not sure how much the tickets cost. Depended probably on where you sat.

We had box seats for Friday and Sunday evening. arena seats for Saturday.

So we waited in the lobby where things were getting tense until showtime yesterday, and sure enough, our Queue numbers were called and we got in just in time, so it seemed. Front row seats, too, wow.

In fact, it looked like everyone who waited got in. So.

The movie was introduced by Lisa Law, whose archive of photos provided nearly all the pictures for the exhibit at the History Museum --and who took some pictures at Monterey between setting up the trip-tipi at the fairgrounds and taking care of her puppy.

Listening to her brought back a  lot of memories.

She said she'd just come back from the 50th Anniversary Monterey Pop Festival where Michelle Phillips sang "California Dreamin'" (and it was so beautiful!) and oh... it was... well.... you'd have to be there.

And she asked how many of us had been to the original Monterey International Pop Festival. Five hands went up, two of them ours. And I was shocked. Everyone in the audience seemed old enough to have attended, but only five of us did. Which is an expression, I think, of how few of my generation actually participated in the events of the era. I say 25,000 or so attended Monterey Pop, but others suggest 50,000 or more. I don't know. But it wasn't a lot in the vast eternal scheme.

Sold out, but still...

And then there was the movie. "Hand held Pennebaker shit." Bless his heart. He captured so much, but he left out a whole lot. Lisa Law said the picture was groundbreaking, and I suppose it was. But then I'd been seeing "groundbreaking" movies at the midnight movies at the Towne Theatre for a long time, so the Pennebaker shit wasn't all that new to me. I loved watching it again for the first time in many years (I think I first saw it in 1968, and maybe once again in 1973, and I haven't seen the whole thing since.)

Brought back lots and lots of memories, but what Pennebaker left out (many of the performances, for example) and what he changed (the order of performances among other things) struck me this time whereas it really didn't seem to matter before.

There were allusions to the cold and the damp, but they were minor elements. Yes, it was cold much of the time, and yes it was damp. I wore a heavy wool army jacket, but still shivered sometimes. The arena seats (yes we had chairs to sit on) were wet with fog and dew. There is a scene in the movie where a pretty young thing is wiping off the chairs. "Just lucky I guess" she says. But they got damp again.

Airplanes are shown flying in to Monterey with the artists, but what isn't shown is that the airport was/is right next to the fairgrounds, and the planes land and take off right over the rodeo arena where the festival performances were held, and time and again, the roar of the planes drowned out the performances. That's not in the movie at all, not even hinted.

There were other interesting omissions. But there were things I flashed on, too, such as the wall of posters that I didn't remember until I saw them in the movie.

All in all, seeing the movie again was a heady experience. When we left, it was starting to rain a little bit, and that, too, was not unlike the Monterey experience.

There's much more I could say about it  -- both the movie and being there -- but it was 50 years ago.

Does any of it matter now?





Monday, July 10, 2017

Destroying the City to Save It

Celebrate! Dance to the music!

Mosul, they say, is "liberated."

Battered and bombed into rubble, its people slaughtered and left to rot in the streets, but they're Free Now, aren't they? Free from the oppression of... whomever the Enemy of the Moment might be. Free to dance in the streets, throw flowers and chocolates at their Liberators, the few wretched and wounded survivors Free to live what remains of their crippled lives in the debris of the conflict.

Whoopee!

I heard a mention of civilian deaths in the conflict with (whomever) in the Middle East since 2014. The stated number? "Almost 600." Wow. Really? Gee golly. That's a lot, isn't it?

Of course if that's the stated number due to Our Glorious Side's operations, it's not just a lie, it's deliberate fraud and deception. Remember when Our Glorious Side refused to count any casualties except those of Our Valiant Troops? If Wogs died, so be it, but their numbers were to be uncounted and unknown.

It's been suggested (by NGOs) that as many as 2000 4000 6000 8000 and rising civilians have been killed ("by both sides") in the Liberation of Mosul. Given the apparent scale of destruction of what was once a city of well over a million population (prior to "Liberation" from Whomever) it would be no surprise if actual civilian deaths are closer to 20,000 or 30,000 and civilian casualties are in the hundreds of thousands.

They will not be counted.

They are Wogs and Wogs don't count -- they never have counted in the Imperial Liberation of Wogistan.

How many cities in the Middle East have now been destroyed in progress of its Liberation? A dozen? Two dozen? No one keeps count, do they? Falluja of course set the pattern.

Total destruction of a city, merciless slaughter of its people, Apocalypse justified by... rebellion.

One does not rebel against ones overlords without paying a heavy price, no?

And so it has gone, rebel city after rebel city leveled to the ground, depopulated, destroyed, wiped from the map and the memory of man. Or so the story goes.

The Empire shall not be defied.




Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Bourbon Democrats

While I have railed plenty against Trump and the gang of thieves and mountebanks who moved into the White House with him, that does not mean I am unaware of or uninterested in the continuing failure of the fucked up Democrats to offer anything other than the bitter pill of the Status Quo to the long-suffering masses.

The Democrats are no better than the Bourbons prior to the Revolution -- or maybe no better than the Bourbon Restoration après Napoleon. They neither learn nor do they forget.

It's nuts-making.

We're dealing with a Ruling Class incapable of comprehending any misery, inconvenience or discomfort apart from their own.

Even the slaughter of the innocents overseas is incomprehensible to them, despite their constant escalation of the process of murder by every means necessary.

It's insane.

The Ruling Class includes, of course, the likes of Trump. He being an avatar of the worst of the category. Though he's largely been disempowered by the Permanent Government, he hasn't been defenestrated, and that, I think, is partly due to the fact that the constraints on his power effectively produce what the neoLibCon Ruling Class would be doing anyway but at a somewhat accelerated pace. And, bonus!, the masses are endlessly entertained in the bargain. Genius!

Democrats, of course, are eager participants in this little goon show. Of course they are. They see plenty of advantages to their own sweet selves from going along with it, even pushing the narrative this way or that. Nothing really changes all that much, you see, and so long as that is the case, Dems are sitting pretty no matter what.

The Bourbon Democrats are sticking with a simple narrative: "Trump evil, Russian interference, Putin the Devil, never-you-mind about anything else. Who is Sanders again?"

It boils down to Baroness Thatcher's rubric: "There is no alternative." TINA. There ya go.

I have never doubted that the election was manipulated to produce the result it did. Trump in response to a question about Russian interference said something I think was true. Yes, there was Russian interference, but it probably wasn't just Russian interference. There was likely other interference from other countries and (importantly) from individuals. 

He didn't say, but the upshot is that the outcome in the three states that gave him the electoral college is the key to understanding what happened. But as Jill Stein's recount effort showed, in those three states, it is impossible to verify the vote. So yes, manipulation could well have taken place and there is no way to prove or disprove it.

How convenient. And note, the Bourbon Democrats are just as happy it is so. They have never questioned the outcome in those three states. Why? Isn't it obvious? They know what happened, they have been eager participants in election manipulation -- boy howdy have they ever been! -- and they see only benefits from continuing the unverifiable electoral system we have now. They will not interfere, no way, no how, even if they lose again and again.

In other words, so long as both teams can play, they don't care.

They figure the Rabble are too stupid to understand these esoteric matters, so why should they care anyway? Right?

Another part of the narrative has to do with some mythical "whiteruralworkingclass" whatever that is.

Of course I know what this is, it's a false construct -- apparently developed by Republican consultants but eagerly adopted by Democratic ones -- to "explain" the otherwise inexplicable victory of Trump over Mrs Clinton.

How could this have happened? Welllll, it was obviously because the rural white working class voted in overwhelming numbers for Trump. Don'tchasee? The out of work coal miners and the factory workers whose jobs have been shipped to Mexico and China and yadda and yadda and yadda, all these dispossessed and dishonored rural white male voters who have been ignored all these years (by that Nigrah in the WHITE House) finally got their revenge. You see?

Except that isn't what happened at all, and the consultant class and the Ruling Class they serve know that full well. It's a false narrative pushed onto the  Rabble to keep them divided and squabbling among themselves so that the looting and oppression by those at the top can continue without interruption.

It works, too.

And the Bourbon Democrats are going along with it.

Why not? They benefit from it, too. Win or lose.

I must reiterate something I've said before: the Internet has had an objective of destroying the "Democrat" Party since it was the Intranet. The dweebs online have always had a very crabbed and often ignorant notion of how politics works in this country and what needs to be done about it. The focus has almost always been on the inadequacy, fecklessness, corruption and betrayal by the Democrats, thus: Democratic Party delenda est.

Even a hint that bad as the Democrats are (and they're terrible in their Bourbon arrogance and stupidity) the Republicans are and long have been the problem is met with derision, contempt and fear.

If any party needs to be destroyed, it's the Republicans. I suggested they be RICOed out of existence long ago.

But that's like heresy deserving of burning at the stake as far as Internet political gamers are concerned. No, only the Democrats deserve destruction and salting of the earth behind them.

My observation is that if we want to preserve the political system more or less intact, then the Radical Republicans and their reactionaries must go, and the Bourbon Democrats must become -- or re-become -- the aristocratic and conservative party they so dearly want to be. A new People's Party must then arise, as it's been trying to do for generations but has always been suppressed by co-optation and other means not pleasant.

If you don't want to preserve the system, then both parties must be consigned to the ash-heap and we start anew.That's Revolution, and we aren't ready for that. Not yet, anyway.

We need have no love for the Bourbon Democrats; they are foul and stupid and arrogant (among other things) but that should never mean taking the side of the reactionary-fascists as so many have done in defending and supporting Trump and his "disruptors."

Politics is a tough and often nasty game, no doubt. On the other hand, we must be clearheaded enough to fight for what's right, not just for what's expedient and serves the Ruling Class.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Rainbow

I was in town (ie: our little hamlet in the wilderness) the other day picking up some potable water from the dispenser when this appeared in the eastern sky.


The picture's not all that good, but then I don't have the fanciest smart phone in the universe, but it was a sight to see.

Normalizing the Spectacle

Summer tends to be the media silly season dominated by sharks and missing white women. But because there is Trump and Republican dominance of government at every level, among other things, the usual summer media obsessions have to take a backseat. In fact, I haven't heard a single missing white woman story this summer, have you?

Something's different. Something's changed.

Without cable news in our house, our media landscape is somewhat different than that of many Americans, but the fact that we watch television news at all means that we're still subject to the propaganda, lies and strict gatekeeping that are big parts of the media landscape. Our preferred television news outlets are Democracy Now! and PBS NewsHour. On Sundays, we tend to watch one or another of the Sabbath Gasbag Shows, though sometimes we skip it. Why bother, right?

It's a rare thing if we watch one of the network news shows or one of the morning shows. (We watch endless repeats of "Laramie" on GRIT instead.)

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! tends to restrict her coverage to those issues and stories she is personally interested in or invested in. She corrals her topics so strictly sometimes that "news" -- as in what's going on now -- is absent while a sort of academic consideration of potentialities and so forth dominates her hour. When you're familiar enough with her ways, this isn't too bothersome, but it can be frustrating.

NewsHour is a more general and standard-model television news program -- with a twist. They have literary pretensions, and they often feature artists and writers who have something to say. Because Ms. Ché is in a creative writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, she's more than a little interested in that part of the NewsHour.

Both news programs must be conscious of their funders and do what they can, and sometimes what they must, not to cross them.

Amy's funding tends to be somewhat opaque, but it appears to come from Pacifica and a select group of well-off patrons and foundations which seek to ensure that a leftish perspective on the news is at least available to the public if not dominant therein.

NewsHour's funding is much more mainstream. Thus their news is, too, but with that literary/artistic twist that you generally won't find in the typical network or cable news program.

With all that said, it appears that the entire news media industry has collectively decided to normalize the spectacle of Trump-de-do this summer in place of the usual diet of sharks and missing white women.

In other words, whatever he tweets, whatever he does, wherever he goes, and whomever he chitters with will dominate all news cycles of every outlet almost as if he were a shark or missing white woman.  We're supposed to be amazed and appalled, I guess.

It's the spectacle that matters most. And making believe it's like any other summer spectacle. Keep the Rabble entertained and unable to focus on what's really going on.

So long as Trump can do that, so long will he be secure in office.

He seems to be doing that with a kind of sharp-elbowed relish that we haven't seen in presidents for a long time -- most of us alive today have never seen it which is why it's so shocking on the one hand, and so entertaining on the other. Mr. Trump has no sense of noblesse politesse. 

He's a gangster, and a lot of Americans like that.

He's an upper crust twit. Some Americans seem to like that, too.

He's a buffoon. Addled. Clearly out of his depth, but he doesn't care, nor do enough Americans to worry about.

He obviously doesn't have enough handlers to keep him in line, but so what? The presidency has been so jokified during his reign to date, all the handlers in the world wouldn't be able to restore the "dignity" to the office. That's gone. Precedent has been set. Oh well!

From now on, presidencies will have to include a lummox squiring around a surgically remodeled Stepford Wife, A boy that "ain't right." A craven group of toadies. An ultra-craven group of ideologically driven "disruptors." Incompetence and incoherence will be the standard of rule from the Oval Office. There will be no going back.

I always dread the summer silly season because it tends to shroud the important issues that can easily lead to catastrophe after Labor Day. We've been down this road before. But this is different, I think, because more of those issues are out in the open. The precipitated crisis in the Persian Gulf, for example, over Qatar's "support for terrorism" could very easily lead--  stupidly and inadvertently -- to a Guns of August scenario that could touch off the War of the Ages . Who knew that the Balkan Thing and the assassination of an Archduke nobody liked would lead to WWI for example. The Saudi royals simply  aren't very bright, but none of these anachronisms in the Gulf seem to have very much on the ball smarts-wise.

Inject something like the Trump Spectacle into the midst of it, and... whoopsy!

So it goes.

But then, taking advantage of crisis is what it's all about, isn't it? Even if you have to engineer crisis. Somebody comes out on top, no? So let it be...who?

This is all becoming normalized.

I'm such a stick in the mud, I don't like it. Doesn't get my juices flowing.

It's garbage day out here in the wilderness. Have to get m'sef in gear and get the can out to the road. At least we have garbage pick up. A lot of folks around here -- even the fancy ones -- have to shlepp their trash to the transfer station themselves. The way of the world...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

116

Himself -- c. 1930-something
Being born later in my parents' lives means that I have a longer familial memory than most of my generation.

My father was born on July 5, 1901, for example, and he always saw himself as the model of the 20th Century American Patriot. That meant that he served his country -- whatever else he did -- gladly and enthusiastically. He was a junior officer ("2nd Looey" he called it) in WWI, drilling troops on the town square in Iowa, posing proudly in his uniform, going on expeditions into the wilds of the Thousand Islands of the Mississippi, and so on and so forth from the time war was declared in 1917 until it was over over there in 1918. It was one of the high times of his life. He loved it.

The other was his service in the Army Air Corps in WW2. He was drafted in 1943, spent a few months in basic training and then was sent to officer's candidate school, wound up at Harvard Business School at one point, was commissioned an officer (starting as a second lieutenant and moving up rapidly), and was sent around the country to oversee and report on training at air bases. Later he was responsible for contract terminations for the War Reconversion Board. He was discharged from the AAC in 1946 over the objections of his commanders -- who stated forcefully that they needed him and his work to accomplish their goals.

However, he needed to get out of the military at that time because his older brother had been charged with the murder of his wife back in Iowa, and my father was an attorney needed on his defense team.

I'd been told a bit about Vince and his wife and his trial, but not much. It happened before I was born, after all, and ultimately Vincent was acquitted, so there wasn't a whole lot to get het up about. At least so I thought. Well, come to find out, there was plenty to get het up about.

My mother was convinced of Vince's guilt; my father was convinced of his -- sort of -- innocence, It was complicated. Vince had a mistress, and his alibi was that he was with his mistress the night his wife died, apparently from a fall, and he didn't find her body till the next morning when he came home from his tryst in town.

Sounds plausible, but the County Attorney thought otherwise and charged him with second degree murder, claiming the signs were that Vince's wife had been pushed down the stairs and that Vince had then departed for his tryst with Pauline, his mistress.

I found out about some of this after my father died and I found the mimeographed copies of reports he made to his kin during the trial. But some of it I found out much later when I was researching through Ancestry.com and I found newspaper clippings covering the trial -- or make that trials as Vincent was tried twice. The first trial ended with a hung jury, the second ended with Vince's acquittal.

The situation was further complicated by the fact that there was a witness. My (half) brother Terry.

I didn't know Terry. He was "afflicted" and lived with a (sort of) foster family who took care of him.

I was essentially not allowed to see him -- nor he me -- because it was claimed I would upset him. My understanding of his condition was that he was an "idiot savant" which of course much later would be classified as a form of autism. I only learned how severe his affliction was -- again through Ancestry and connections made there -- from a cousin I didn't know I had who had kept letters sent to her mother (my father's sister) from Vince's wife describing just how bad off Terry was.

He couldn't walk. He couldn't talk. He had seizures. He couldn't stand up. He needed constant care. He was about 8 years old when he could finally stand by holding on to a chair, and somewhat later he learned to take steps if he was held onto. He learned to talk around age ten, but it was difficult for him. The story I was told about his brilliance with statistics seems not to have been possible, but I can't say for sure.

He couldn't testify at Vince's trial, even though he was the witness, but he was interviewed in chambers at the second trial, after which -- so I was told -- the judge directed a verdict of acquittal. The newspaper report of the acquittal, however, made no mention of a directed verdict. So I don't know.

At any rate, my father was happy that his brother was acquitted, but the whole situation was so fraught that Vince and his mistress left town never to return. I thought they stayed in Iowa, but I discovered, again through Ancestry, that they moved to California where there were already lots of relations.

I had no idea.

Part of the reason why is that my parents divorced when I was 9 months old. My father stayed in Iowa partly to look after the family legacy (his father had been a prominent attorney) and partly to look after an afflicted sister (she had scoliosis but otherwise OK).

My mother and (half) sister and I hightailed it for California where my mother had been raised and my sister had been born.

So I grew up apart from my father and with only limited contact with him. Ultimately, toward the end of his life, there was no contact at all. So there is a lot I never knew and can't find out.

I did find out that he was married three times, not twice as I'd always believed. He was married for the first time on his 21st birthday to a young woman named Bernice (though she called herself Evelyn, her middle name) from Iowa City where my father was in law school at the University. So far as I could find out, he and Bernice/Evelyn were married for about 10 years, until around 1932, when something happened and she moved back to her parents' home in Iowa City where she lived the rest of her life.

She was never mentioned by my father or anyone I knew in his family. It was as if she didn't exist, and I only found out about her through Ancestry (again.)  I still don't know what happened, but I suspect that the marriage was annulled. If so, I don't know on what grounds.

My father was married a second time to a woman from Waterloo he called TED -- Thelma. I believe it was in 1934, but I'm not certain. At any rate, she was Terry's mother, and she died from complications of childbirth the same day he was born in August of 1935. My father was devastated and never got over it.

Terry's brain damage happened that day, too.

Vincent and his wife took Terry into their household and cared for him as their own son until the unpleasantness of the accident that caused Vince's wife's death. I'm convinced now it was an accident. Her eyesight was poor, she drank more than a little and she had a history of falling according to trial records and letters she sent to my aunt Catherine. The likeliest scenario is that she missed the first step at the top of the stairs, tumbled down and hit her head on a table at the bottom of the stairs, suffered a fractured skull and died.

There was nothing Terry could do. He could barely walk (he was 11 years old when this happened.) It was a tragic accident.

My father and mother met when she was working -- I believe as a civilian -- at an Air Force base in California in 1944. They were married in 1947 and divorced in 1949. The reasons were... complicated, and I won't go into them here, but several times after their divorce they attempted to get back together. The sticking point seems to have been his refusal to leave Iowa and her refusal to live there.  She especially didn't like his family. The feeling was mutual.

My father faced many difficulties and some tragedies in his life, and it affected him more and more as he grew older and retreated into isolation. Even his sister who lived down the street from him said she was unable to get through to him; when they saw one another -- which became more and more rare -- he would just ignore her. His friends couldn't get through to him. Almost nobody could.

The exception was the Christianist extremist family he'd rented the upstairs of his house to. They were the ones who finally took him to the hospital where he died. But they shared nothing of his last days with his family, and how he saw his situation and what was going on is perhaps a permanent mystery.

Part of my reflection on him on his birthday is my realization that I am older than he was when he died. While I wouldn't say I'm particularly "well" healthwise, I'm doing OK. I've faced plenty of my own share of difficulty and tragedy, but it hasn't led to the kind of withdrawal and isolation he experienced.

Perhaps because I never felt all that important...? I don't know, and I can't ask. That is one of my big disappointments. There is so much I have wanted to ask him and never had the chance.

Happy B-Day, Dad.


Monday, July 3, 2017

And Then There's This

Guntown

https://youtu.be/7ERQCmwNOyM

Frustration With Trump

The Cable Guy came by our place the other day while I was out in the back tending the tomatoes. We don't have cable -- partly as a defense against cable "news" -- so I thought it was odd. Dude says he needs to get to a pole, can he come through our place. I say the pole isn't on our property, it's on the neighbor's. Wouldn't it be easier to go through their place?

"Oh no, that's all right, I can get to it just as easily from your side." OK, I said. How long is it going to take? "Ten-fifteen minutes. Just have to check something. Do you have Comcast?" Noooo, I said. Cable teevee is not allowed in our home.

"Oh. That's interesting." And he goes about his business. No doubt wondering about out sanity.

Practically everybody out here has cable or satellite teevee. Many of our friends and neighbors wouldn't dream of living without it. It's one of the basic utilities like electricity and water. Gots ta have it.

Well, we never have. Even though we're out in the wilderness, we're not that far from Albuquerque and it's a straight line from Sandia Crest where the broadcast towers are to our place, so an outside antenna works fine to bring in local broadcast stations. We have about thirty right now, and more are being added all the time. Many of them are "Christian" -- or some bizarre interpretation of it. Ranting and raving mostly. We pass those stations by.

Since we aren't exposed to cable "news" we aren't exposed to the kinds of hysterics that are apparently typical of the genre. Apparently, too, Mr. Trump drives the cable "news" hysterics into hyperdrive each and every day (almost) with his rage-tweets and attack-tweets, much of it ridiculous, which sets off yet another round of hoo and haw, and obsessive coverage of "Twitler" on both cable "news" and all over the internets.

It's frustrating to the cable "news" specifically and to the news media in general because Trump just won't shut up, and he won't behave like a "normal" president.

The Rules are out the window and news media in general, cable "news" in particular, don't know what to do.

From outside, this situation is interesting in part because it seems quite deliberate -- I'd go so far as to say staged in some respects.

Twitler's attacks on cable "news" especially seem calculated to drive traffic. He's been a godsend to the bottom lines of many a media mogul throughout his campaign and "presidency," and losing him and his tweets would  be horrendous, no? They need him, and by golly, he comes through. Doesn't he?

Remember before the election (that he was supposed to lose to Herself) how Trump was planning to set up his own cable network -- or maybe it would be a YouTube channel, or something... -- to defy the gatekeepers and speak directly to the public regarding matters mundane and important and keep his ugly mug in front of the Rabble all the live long day? He would use the platform to counter the lies and deceits of the Clintoon II Regime, but not only them. Oh, no. From his media perch, he'd take 'em allllll down. Remember? Sure you do.

Well, here we are now, 6+ months into his own regime (that wasn't supposed to happen) and sure enough, he's behaving just like he planned to if he had lost (as he was supposed to), only now he doesn't need to set up his own network, because the presidency is a media platform in its own right.

All he has to do is tweet or say something outrageous on mic or camera, and it's off to the races.

Ka-ching. Every utterance of his is money in the bank.

So it's in their interests to keep him around and twit-storming like mad, but it "diminishes the presidency" which will have repercussions anon. It's having repercussions now, of course.

The president of the United States of America (LLC.) is an international laughing stock, not just because of his idiot tweets but because he demonstrates a total lack of self control on the one hand, and complete disinterest in the issues others deem important. He doesn't care if it doesn't mean the spotlight is on him and glory surrounds him.

But that isn't how the world works, is it?

Or is it?

There were a number of opportunities during and after the election and then after the inauguration to prevent him from taking office or to remove him, but all of them were whiffed. What happened instead was that the presidency itself was progressively diminished and as I call it, "jokified." This sets precedent. We should be aware that Trump is being normalized (despite all the cries that "this is not normal!") day by day, and the normalization will become a kind of standard reference for regarding any subsequent presidential behavior. But you can't run a country or an Empire this way.

The King-Emperor must therefore become a figurehead at best, an unimportant cypher, placeholder, or entertainment figure.

I've often pointed to the fact that the neoLibCons who rule us take advantage of every crisis to consolidate their wealth and power (h/t Naomi Klein who detailed the  process a decade ago in "The Shock Doctrine.") We've seen it used over and over and over again, and it is very successful in accomplishing the goals of concentration and consolidation of wealth and power in the neoLibCon elite.

There is little doubt that the Elite saw and see Trump's election victory as an existential crisis. It was not supposed to happen. But as always we're seeing the crisis turned to the advantage of the High and the Mighty while the Rabble are being distracted and confused as always.

Trump himself appears to be a willing -- if addlepated -- participant in the game.

One may not like it, but there is little or nothing one can do about it.

So I'll continue to not watch cable "news," continue to grow my tomatoes (watching carefully the spread of the hatching hoppers) and keep monitoring my condition for improvements and deteriorations.

Alarm is warranted, as our idiot rulers are constitutionally unable to do the right thing. But that's nothing new. On the other hand, we are not entirely powerless.

Stay tuned.