Thursday, August 31, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For-- the After Labor Day Dread

The media trope that nobody pays attention to much of anything till after Labor Day may be true, I can't say. Summer has never been that much of an "I don't care" season to me, never that much of a vacation, either.

Media's attention, however, is dulled, even absent during the summer. News organizations tend to take weekends off, too, which is why the Friday Night News Dump is so popular among political operatives. Release news on Friday night and no one will see it goes the rationale, and it used to be pretty much true. Something that would be news on any other day of the week isn't all that important news on Friday, Saturday or Sunday because news rooms are shuttered and only a skeleton staff is on duty.

The Russia! Russia! Russia!! Thing has mostly faded away this summer in part, I think, because it hasn't polled well. It's become something of a running joke. I don't doubt there's a there there, and we've already seen a boatload of smoking guns, but they haven't caught on as something to care that much about because ... well, why? Are we just so used to corruption in high places that the in-your-face old-line gangster corruption of the Trump Organization and its collusion with a foreign power for political (and financial) gain in simply taken for granted? Or is it something else.
I've long been of the opinion that Trump and the Trump Organization are not anomalies. They represent a class of people and enterprise that is common among the High and Mighty. This is who they are, this is what they do, and Trump is not categorically better or worse than any of them. They are gangsters, thieves, mountebanks and con artists.

Our political class has always intersected with them, and sometimes -- like now -- has largely been them. There is little or no moral separation between them.

This is true of our political/ruling class in general. It's no better on one side of the aisle than the other.

We, the Rabble, have little choice in the matter. Voting doesn't really change things, though it can accelerate or retard the rate of looting, pillage, and destruction by the Powers That Be, and it can change the personality of the looters ruling over us.

We're in a situation now where the Looting/Ruling Class sees the looming catastrophe from climate and other environmental changes before them and they... worry.

The Rabble may be pretty well contained by their squabbling among themselves over this and that, everything really, that doesn't really matter (eg: the Nazi/Antifa street theater among so many other Things) but the forces of Nature marshal themselves time and again, and they can't be escaped even by the Highest of the Mighty.

The South Texas Disaster is yet another object lesson among so many this season. The floods there are mild compared to elsewhere. And yet it's a disaster nonetheless with long term consequences as well as short term misery.

What will be done about it? Largely nothing. Not for the Rabble, at any rate. But there will be a sorting and selection process among the People Who Matter, many of whom -- if they haven't already - will abandon the region for somewhere higher and drier, where they can put their bunkers and Be Safe.

I expect to see more of them moving to my area of Central and Northern New Mexico. We already have plenty of The Type. I expect we'll get more.

There are plenty of other nicer -- and safer -- places they can go, and I expect they will, but we won't know about it because it won't be reported by our intrepid media. It's not a Thing like Russia! Russia! Russia!! (Sharks and Missing White Women! Nazis and Antifa!! Oh my!) and media moguls and personalities are making their own survivalist preps anyway.

They'd rather not be caught in either fire or flood, yanno?

People who continue to claim that "nothing has been done" about climate change or population control or whatever are silly. Of course "something has been done," it's just not (quite) enough to make that much of a difference. It never is. In some ways, it can't be "enough" no matter what is done.

The thing is, humans aren't totally in control of the situations they (we) face.

Desire for that control is part of the problem.

There is a greater power than we ourselves.


When "we" wish to have power over climate change or population control (of "them" of course, not "us") we're asking for something we can't -- and shouldn't -- have. At least for their part, Our Betters seem to subliminally understand that. However much they see themselves as Masters of the Universe, they self-limit their mastery to money and governing, and they seem to be losing the thread of government.

They don't know what to do. They're too self-obsessed. Ignorant. Uncaring. Mad.

We have to be careful what we wish for. I don't want these monsters ruling us, but at the same time, I haven't seen a better alternative. There are no good monsters, they're all bad each in their own way, and there is no one in the ruling clique that gives a shit about the rest of us. On the other hand, I haven't seen anyone emerge from Below who is capable and brilliant enough to overthrow the ruling clique and do any better.

It's classic rock-hard place dilemma.

Because no one has found a Better Way yet, I'm facing After Labor Day when things get Real again, with an uncommon dread. Our rulers -- especially Himself in the White House -- are itching to prove their bravery -- much as Bush/Cheney back in the day --- and that could only mean war. We're involved in so many of them as it is, and so many die every day under our Imperial Benevolence that adding more death and destruction would seem to be a waste of resources and energy, but it's a target rich environment out there, so Pyongyang or Tehran or wherever better watch out. The itchy trigger finger is on the button, you know?

The street brawls might intensify, though it seems that for the moment, the Nazis are in retreat. We'll see. Meanwhile the mess in Texas gets worse and worse, as flood waters retreat for the moment, and the gawd-awfulness of it all becomes clear. The pollution alone will take generations to clean up -- if it ever is.

And much much more is in store.

If I sometimes go off on seemingly tangential issues, particularly comforting domestic ones, there's a reason. Given everything else that's going on and likely to come, we take comfort where we can.

Be safe, y'all.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Household Hints and Swallows

Last year we had some storm doors put up at the front and side doors. Long ago there were probably screen doors, but they were taken down whenever and were never replaced. We wanted to do the back french doors too, but because of the non-standard size of the opening (it was a window that was enlarged to accommodate french doors to the backyard when we had the house renovated a decade ago) it would have cost thousands to have storm doors custom made. So. We passed on that for the time being.

I decided that screen doors would be adequate -- especially in the summer, keep the bugs out -- but finding the right size proved a challenge. 30" screen doors are not commonly stocked in the big box stores it would seem. Nor are they easily available anywhere else. I went through something like this with the side door as well. Just lucky, I guess, to find one 30" storm door in stock. I wanted to replace the interior door too, but couldn't find what I wanted -- one with and operable window -- and wound up purchasing an antique door in California and hauling it out to New Mexico on one of my many California to New Mexico junkets before we moved here permanently.

Eventually I found two 30" screen doors in stock at Home Depot in Albuquerque at an astonishingly low price, and I figured I could put them up without too much trouble. Sure enough. Given my inability to do much of anything over the last many months -- besides growing tomatoes -- I was pretty jazzed that I was able to do it. Then I built four cat houses for the ferals that would no longer be able to use the french door step for a shelter. Whoa. Actually, they were pre-cut cat houses, so it wasn't too much of a challenge to put them together, but still. I couldn't have done it at all a few months ago.

And the swallows are back -- again. There was a clutch earlier this year nesting in the eaves of the front porch. That nest has been there for years. There used to be two nests, but one day when we weren't here a bad boy who lived across the street came over and smashed one of them. We told him that if he tried that again on the other nest we'd be sure he went to jail as swallows are a protected species, and interference with their nests is a criminal offense. He never came back, and eventually his household moved away. Yay.

So. This is the second clutch of swallows this year. Four chicks each time. Whether they have the same parental units, I don't know.

Swallows are messy. When they nest under the eaves at businesses and public buildings, there's often an outcry to get rid of them. Bird doo-doo piles up under the nests as the parents dispose of their little ones' excrement.

Requires constant attention and clean up.

But the birds are pleasant to have around just the same, and it's a joy to watch the chicks grow and eventually fly away. They'll be back next year once the weather is warm enough.

Late summer pleasures. Simple things.

On the Labor Day weekend we're headed out to Acoma Pueblo -- I think I mentioned before. I really hesitated about going because I wasn't sure I could handle the exercise. But we'll give it a try. Why not?

And then, if I haven't already, I'll have to describe what happened there when Onate came to call in 1598.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Late Summer Battle Over White Supremacy

Labor Day is nearly upon us, and once we're past that milestone, I expect this battle will fade away, much like summer stories of sharks and missing white women.

The Hurricane Season will be upon us. A new Imperial war will break out somewhere. The economy will tailspin once more. The poor will rise up and be put down with ferocity and brutality.

Himself will keep the pot stirred and bubbling. Media will be transfixed by it all.

And the questions of Confederate Statues and White Supremacy and Nazis with torches will vanish as if they were never asked.

The white supremacist right has already gone into nearly total retreat. Their efforts to "engage" as it were turned into a nightmare in Charlottesville, and a farce in Boston. The idea that they would show strength by marching and rallying in San Francisco (hahhahhah) went bust when Antaifa said they'd cover Crissy Field, the rally site, with dog doo doo.  Dear me. So impolite.

Dozens and dozens of white rightist rallies have been canceled, it seems, while the white supremacists have been banished from the internet and must find what comfort they can with the pedophiles and freaks of the so-called "darknet."

While the Overclass can't seem to do anything worthwhile about Trump and his gang of thieves and mountebanks, they seemingly can -- and have -- put the kabosh on any more of this Nazi unpleasantness (too bad that girl had to die, they say, but her sacrifice was not in vain.)

Unlike a lot of white kids, I was not exposed to the active white supremacist community until I was old enough to make a judgment of its value. I lived my first ten years in mixed company so to speak, integrated communities and schools where the concepts of white supremacy and separation of the races didn't exist.

Well, except that white supremacy was taken for granted. The default as it were.

We may have lived in an integrated environment, but all civic and higher authority was held by whites, and nobody questioned it. At least not until the mid-fifties and later when Civil Rights became a Thing.

White people were not only in charge, they set all the cultural, educational, governmental, and scientific standards.

For all intents and purposes, it's still that way. And it's not likely to change anytime soon.

There are plenty of chinks in the armor to be sure, and white supremacists including  the tiny Nazi contingent whine and complain incessantly about the suppression of Wypipo by those ever-present hordes of Others -- Brown and Black and Not Quite White Enough -- who always want to rape their women and steal their stuff. Yes, yes, we know.

But the Overclass is not having it. Not this time. No way.


So, they'll go away after Labor Day; Antifa will too. It will all be like a dream as Shit Gets Real once again, and who knows what fresh hell we'll be presented with? Who knows?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

It Couldn't Have Been Plainer

In his speechifying to the troops last night, Trump was laying the groundwork for military rule.

There should be no doubt any more, given his lavish praise of the military and military culture, a culture civilians should emulate.

A culture of patriotism, loyalty and mutual service to one another, to the highest principles of sacrifice, to the Glory of the United States, and to the honor and love instilled through service.


He says a lot of things, of course, and we should have learned long ago not to take any of it too literally or seriously. He's a lawn sprinkler, spewing out in all directions at once, all of it absorbed by his thirsty fans, but none of it meaning much in the end.

Oh yes, much harm has been initiated and caused by his blathering. The terror sweeping through immigrant communities from his unleashing of the immigrant raiders, the fear and anger inspired by unleashed Nazis and white supremacists, the annihilation of whole populations and the destruction of cities overseas, the removal of environmental and safety regulations, the efforts to destroy a tottering health care system, the endless advantages delivered to the meanest of the mean at the top of the pyramid, and on and on.

Everything he touches turns to shit, but... he seems to recognize that his presidency is a failed one, and there is nothing he can do at this point to salvage it. He's lost the thread, along with most of his staff. Stephen Miller is essentially the last man standing, and hardly anyone takes him seriously. [I forgot about Gorka. For shame. For shame. Yeah, he's a winner... ]

What's left? Well, of course, "his generals."

Three of whom essentially run the executive branch in the absence of a functioning presidency.

Pence seems to go around the world explaining to the dismayed foreigners that things aren't really as bad as they appear to be, and that everything will work out in the end, be not alarmed. He seems to carry out his duties as well as can be expected. Loyal to the core, he is.

Meanwhile, Congress is as much of a mess as ever, worse in some ways, in its inability to find common ground between the contending factions of the Ruling Party. It's a bad joke which does nothing and can do nothing to improve the lives of the American people. What's the point of such a body? We have to ask.

Trump's lavish praise for the military is no doubt shared by many, many Americans. In one survey, I recall, the military was the only part of the government that consistently rated a 50%+ approval rating.

And I have no doubt that many -- many, many -- Americans would be happier under military rule than continuing under the current wheezing mess of a government.

I myself have thought for many years that a military government, even martial law, was coming. It would be unavoidable given the advent of the Security/Surveillance State under the Bush/Cheney regime. This is not something that an accountable civilian government can undertake or operate constitutionally. It can only happen as a function of a military government, and ideally only temporarily. But as we've seen, the Security/Surveillance State is permanent. It's not going away. Like everything else in this mess of a government, it's metastasizing.

Trump has already handed immense and unaccountable power to "his" generals in the fields of war and destruction overseas, and to "his" security forces at home. They are not just unaccountable, some of them take pleasure in defying what few constraints there are. This has been going on from day one of the Trump regime, and it's not likely to end any time soon.

I'm no fan of the military for a wide range of reasons, but under the circumstances, I can understand why many Americans might applaud a mild form of military rule, especially as the indications of a looming civil war between the red and the blue factions gain heat if not much light.

Trump has shown himself incapable of rational and responsible rule, Pence appears to be a pawn, the congressional leadership is anything but, and that leaves what?

The generals.

A junta as it were.

While I've never thought the Trump regime would end well, an elision to a military government might be the least bad of terrible alternatives.

Or it might not. Uncharted territory. That's for double damb sure.

I should point out that it would be military rule on behalf of a corporate state, not on behalf of the long-suffering masses.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Junta Time?

The events in Charlottesville continue to reverberate. While Nazi torchlight parades and chants of "Blood and Soil!" are a disgusting display and street brawls are little more than theater -- usually -- the upshot in Charlottesville was the terror-by-vehicle tactic deployed against the so-called counterprotesters (watch how that term is twisted and turned this way and that to normalize the Nazis as the genuine "protesters.")

One was killed and dozens were injured on the ground. Two state police officers observing from above were killed when their helicopter crashed.

It was a debacle for all kinds of reasons.As we inch closer to Labor Day, we need to keep that in mind.

The day did not go well for anyone.

It seems to me this was the tipping point we wondered if it would ever come.

Trump demonstrated clear unfitness for office and inability to lead with his pathetic and contradictory responses to the events in Charlottesville. He was so far out of touch with the zeitgeist he seemed like some alien entity plopped down in front of a teleprompter to say just the wrong things and repeat them, at a time of public mourning and national moral crisis. He failed every  test of leadership.

In normal times, that would mean he's done. In these times, it's hard to say.

But note well that he's effectively installed a military junta to run the country should his regime collapse -- as it appears to be doing.

Mattis at Defense, McMaster at DHS (the key domestic agency -- thanks Cheney!) National Security Advisor and Kelly (ex-DHS) in the White House as chief of staff. There seems to be bipartisan support for these fine fellows, each of whom is practically worshiped by both parties and many in the Overclass. In other words, if the Trump regime goes down, these three can instantly elide from their current positions to ones of executive control, without objection from the People Who Matter.

The US experiment with constitutional self-government will reach its final end.

Though I'm sure the junta, like Octavian in Rome, would say they are protecting and restoring the Republic. Bless their hearts

Events of this magnitude take place after Labor Day, so we have a few days to psych ourselves up.

Ms Ché  and I are scheduled to visit Acoma Pueblo on Labor Day. There is a whole story to tell about what happened there when the Spanish came a-calling in 1598. Needless to say, it wasn't pretty.

Acomans survived it in sufficient numbers that they are still around; the mesa-top village was rebuilt along with the huge San Esteban mission church, one of the largest in New Mexico, and today, the Acoma pueblo and surrounding territory are major tourist destinations. Despite survival, Acoma today is a very different place than it was before the Spanish conquest.

My bet is that the US will become a very different place after Labor Day this year, but I wonder how many people will notice.

There has long been a significant sector of the US population that would prefer military rule to the messy "democracy" that's been teetering on the verge of collapse for a generation.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

On Seeing A Photo of My Mother's Father For the First Time

Until a few days ago, I had never seen a photo of my grandfather Lawrence -- the Black Sheep of the Family and of several counties, indeed of several states. My mother's father had always been a mystery figure to her and to me. He was killed when she was only five years old in 1916; years before, he'd left his family in Indianapolis and moved to St. Louis where he started another family with another wife and daughter.

My mother said she had few memories of him, but I've long thought she didn't have any at all. He was gone from Indianapolis by the end of 1913 at the latest. She would have been barely two. If my mother had any memories of her father Lawrence, it would be a miracle. But the picture I found online -- taken in November, 1915, in Indianapolis -- leads me to question my assumption that she couldn't have had any memories of her father.

On the other hand, she may have remembered her mother's older brother Ralph and confused him with her father. Ralph lived with the "household of women," as my mother described their home in Indianapolis. The household included, in addition to my mother and her mother, her mother's adult brother, her grandmother, two widowed aunts, and the teenaged son of one of those aunts.

My thought is their original home burned down sometime around 1913. It seems to have been a large old farm house, two stories, big porch, drafty, rickety, built on the edge of town before electricity and much modern convenience at all. The fire may have started in a shorted-out electric line since I understand that electric lights had recently been installed. The household moved next door to a more modern and somewhat smaller house, built in 1898, and already equipped with indoor plumbing, electricity and gas.

The new house resembled one featured in the first season of "Good Bones" on HGTV. The episode is called "An Old Victorian House Gets a New Facelift" for anyone who's interested. The show is about rehabs in Indianapolis, though not in the Tuxedo Park neighborhood where my mother's family lived. Ida, my mother's grandmother and matriarch of the household, apparently owned quite a bit of property in Indianapolis, perhaps inherited from her murdered husband or from her father who was a carpenter, and later she would move to another, nearly identical house the next street over to live with her sister. She would die there in 1935.

It's also possible that my mother remembered George, Lawrence's younger brother. George was employed at the same bank in town where my mother's mother, Edna, worked as a telephone operator.

Whatever the case, I thought she didn't have any real memories of her father. The picture makes me wonder.

I've been in periodic contact with Pam, a descendant of Lawrence through liaison he had with a 16 year old girl named Julia. Julia's son by Lawrence, Virgil, was Pam's grandfather.

She's been researching her ancestors longer than I have and she has assembled quite a bit of information about her ancestors in Indianapolis, but she said she had never found a picture of her great grandfather Lawrence and she wondered if I had one.

No. I did not. Until a few days ago, I'd never seen one.

And then, wonder of wonders, as I was following a thread of information Pam had provided me -- a brief family history written by one of Lawrence's nephews provided by one of Lawrence's grandsons -- I found a website maintained by the son of the nephew, a photographer in Indianapolis.

Among contemporary photos taken by David R, the photographer, were excerpts from his great grandfather David H's Civil War diaries.

Among the excerpts was a family portrait taken in 1915 on the 50th wedding anniversary of David H and Caroline L, Lawrence's parents. The portrait includes David H, Caroline L, and their five surviving sons, Frank, Harold, Edgar, LAWRENCE, and George. Their sixth son, Leo Clyde had been killed in a hunting accident some years before.

So. There he was.

I will post his picture here, though I may have to take it down as I haven't contacted David R on whose website I found it.

If he looks rather cranky, I think he had his reasons.

His parents' 50th wedding anniversary was November 21, 1915. He'd have come to Indianapolis from St. Louis with his brother Harold who had moved to St. Louis around 1890. Lawrence had a wife and one year old daughter in St. Louis. He had a wife and four year old daughter in Indianapolis (my grandmother and mother). He also had a four year old son, Virgil, in Indianapolis whose mother, Julia, had not been married to Lawrence. And he had two other sons and a daughter living in Indianapolis. The sons were living with his parents while his daughter Florence was living with his brother Frank.

Got it? It's complicated.

Even more so, his first wife Maud had (apparently) married his older brother Harold after her divorce from Lawrence around 1907-08.

What fun? Nah.

With more than a century's distance from these people, I can be somewhat dispassionate about them and the stories I've found, but still, it's jarring.

When I first saw the family portrait, I initially identified the wrong brother as my mother's father. I picked out Lawrence's older brother Edgar as my grandfather because he had a look very similar to one I was familiar with from my mother.

She would often show this more or less exasperated expression, and the features of Edgar's lower face are very similar to my mother's features when she was about the age of Edgar in the picture (45).

So the family resemblance is there among the offspring, but Lawrence's appearance doesn't remind me of my mother at all.

Here's one theory of why he looks so annoyed, and why my mother might have had a reason to remember him.

What if on his return to Indianapolis for the first time in at least two years, he brought gifts for his wife and daughter Edna and Virginia and went to visit them while he was in town?

That shouldn't seem out of the question, and it was a fairly quick streetcar ride from his parents' house to my mother's and grandmother's place.

If he arrived unexpectedly, I can imagine things got tense very fast, especially if Edna wasn't there but came back while Lawrence was playing with Virginia on the floor.

All holy hell might have broken loose. And it probably did.

In another possible scenario, Edna learned that Lawrence was back in town from his brother George with whom she worked at American Fletcher bank. He might even have mentioned that Lawrence was in town to celebrate his parents anniversary. I can easily imagine Edna and Virginia marching over to the parents' house to confront Lawrence and the rest of the family.

There could be any number of other reasons for Lawrence's crabby look, as his life was "checkered" at best.

Maybe I should stop dicking around and dramatize it.

TV cries out for such family dramas, no? ;-)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Why the "Alt-Right" Is Not All Right

America, we have a problem. A growing problem of rising white rightist reactionaries. The so-called "Left" is in such disarray in this country that there is no effective counter to the organized ideological racist reactionary pressure of the white right/Nazis.

We've seen this before.

The problem is thatwhat passes for a "Left" wants to argue, sometimes even rationally argue, with these violent assholes, when their interests are not at all rational but are deeply seated emotional appeals. There is no effective rational counter to it.

Let me repeat that: There is no effective rational counter to it.

This is why so much of Europe and much of the rest of the world fell under the fascist/Nazi spell in the interwar period of the 20th Century. It was simply easier and more emotionally satisfying to go along with it than to fight it. Besides, fascists and Nazis generally protected corporate interests (so long as the corporations went along with the program) as opposed to what the dreaded Communists were doing.

So. Here we are again.

Even our neo-liberal overlords have no counter to the rise of the right. Some, of course, embrace them. What is better for effective looting and control of the masses than the endless theatrical spectacles the rightists engage in and scapegoating minorities for the losses the white underclasses inevitably endure? Works like a charm, and it works almost every time.

Until it doesn't.

And then it's all hell all the time.

I say stop it now, but the ruling class cannot and will not. They will accommodate themselves to it, just as we've seen increasing mainstream accommodation to Trump in the last six months. "As long as he doesn't go too far, what's to worry, right?"

Nothin' a-tall.

The mess will continue. Even if we get a respite for a while, once this Pandora's Box is opened, it's a bitch to close again.

Strap in or secure your bunker. This won't end soon, and it won't end well.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Butthurt Wypipo UPDATED


Some wag posted on the Twitter Machine: "Jews will not replace us!"

Well, isn't that special.

They are, these butthurt Wypipo, marching in their torchlight multitudes, whining about their loss of privilege-- even though they haven't lost a damn thing -- and complaining about the removal of yet another Confederate hero's statue from the public square.


Yes, well. We'll see about that, won't we?

A great deal is being made about the various torchlight parades by the butthurt Wypipo called the alt-Right -- Steve Bannon's bros, Stephen Miller's compaes, the "Base" as it were-- primarily it seems to me to whip up fears of a Rising by US whites against the brown and black hordes of "Mud People" trying to submerge them in immigrant tides, yadda yadda. And it's all a load of codswallop.

All of it.

And so they march and try to cause a ruckus at the University of Virginia over the impending removal of the equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee (genuflect). Oh well. Put it in museum, eh? Like the statues of Lenin.

It's interesting to me that these butthurt Wypipo have chosen to take their stand in the protected safe spaces of universities and colleges. How clever of them. Assured of lots of coverage. And assured they will be... safe.

Be not afraid of these cowards.



Of course running down the protesters on a pedestrian mall was quite an escalation of the animosity and mutual anathemas between Antifa and the Nazis.

RebelutionaryZ was there and more or less captured it on his live feed (he was pretty rattled, no wonder, and the camerawork was not stable at crucial moments, but slack must be cut):

[RebZ apparently took down his video of the crash because it was being used without attribution or permission by CNN and others.]

So here's TMZ's video:

Nevertheless, BE NOT AFRAID.


As an antidote: DON'T BE A SUCKER

Thursday, August 10, 2017


This must be stopped and it must be stopped now.

The entire mass media is gearing up to cheer on nuclear annihilation -- doesn't matter who gets it -- as a late summer diversion from whatever important thing is going on.

This sickens me.

But there you are.

The depravity of our rulers and their handmaidens is boundless.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Immigration Thing

Yet another summer Shark and Missing White Woman story to distract from what's really going on.


And they trot out that little would-be Nazi -- probably drugged up and excited as hell -- to sell the latest scheme to Make America White Again. Here we go.

Now they say there's not a chance in hell this regime proposal will be passed by Congress, not that that matters in the vast eternal scheme. That's not the point of it. The point is to control the conversation about the dreaded incomers, and to force the other side into a defensive (and losing) posture.

Successfully playing to the base while making immigration advocates scramble to defend the incomers on a non-ideological basis. That's been a problem with this immigration thing -- going back many many years -- all along. The reasons why we've had so much immigration over the entire history of the United States and why it's desirable (and for whom)  are never articulated, whereas those who seek to restrict immigration know and can say why (though their arguments might be filled with lies and distortions -- as the little Nazi's arguments clearly were.)

Relying on anecdotes and the Emma Lazarus poem to justify large scale immigration doesn't really work. I don't really know why my ancestors left England, Ireland and Germany when time was, but they did, and they came to the US, made new lives for themselves, and here I am. I wouldn't be here without that. On the other hand, I wouldn't be here without the kindness and forbearance ofthe Native Americans who saved my life, quite literally.

So how should I feel, personally, about immigration?

Personally, I'm relatively neutral about more immigrants coming in. It's neither a good thing nor a bad thing in and of itself. Most of the objections to immigration have to do with who comes and how many and where they wind up. This goes right back to the beginning of Euro-conquest and immigration to North America. The struggle over it is never-ending.

Most of the defense of immigration has to do with a whole bunch of unknown wonders that might accrue. You never know. Right?

I think most Americans have no idea how the current immigration system works or doesn't work. It's a mess by any objective measure, and the regime proposals won't fix that. The problem is that the system isn't set up to handle large numbers of applicants; so millions wait, some of them for many years, while the various steps toward getting a Green Card are undertaken -- or not. It's crazy.

The Emma Lazarus system at Ellis Island was more efficient and comprehensible.

So. What should be done? For the time being, nothing. And that looks like what will happen.

Until immigration advocates get their act together and go on the offense, the notion that anyone can fix what's wrong with the system is silly.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cowboy: "Punch a hole in the Sky."

Sam Shepard died last week. ALS. I didn't know -- didn't even suspect he was sick. Just old-ish. A bit rough around the edges perhaps from life and drugs and alcohol.

I won't go into a long memorial post about him and his work, some of which had a profound affect on me when time was. He was the only playwright I know of who could accurately capture the spirit and the feeling of life in the hills and valleys east of Los Angeles before the end of the world that it once had been.

Until recently, I didn't know much about his personal life. Didn't care, really. He was a writer, an actor, an artist, and a presence who could -- somehow -- capture the essence of a particular time and place and the people who tried to survive in it, the times and places and people I knew, had lived with, perhaps had been and still was.

When I found out he'd been brought up on an avocado ranch in Duarte, California, in the '40s and '50s, of course it was obvious. This was the why and the how of his ability to capture the essence of what I knew to be true about... that part of the West.

Duarte is less than 10 miles from where I lived from 1954-1959. While Duarte is hard up against the San Gabriel Mountains and I lived on the flatland below, I could see the mountains rising proudly out my living room window, and sometimes I would sit on my back fence and watch them burn as they did practically every year when the weather was hot and the wind was high.

In 1954, the land north of our house, across the concrete drainage ditch that has once been an intermittent stream used by the vanished Gabrielenos Indians, were acres and acres of orange groves protected from the infrequent frosts by strategically placed smoky smudgepots. The avocado trees up in Duarte needed similar protection, though I don't recall Shepard ever writing about it directly.

While I tend to focus on material memories of what it was like back there and then, he was focused on the spirit of the time and place, and its effect. For me, listening, reading, watching and participating in his works when I could -- infrequently, true, but often enough -- was exhilarating and sometimes scary. How did he know?

Unlike many of those posting comments on his NYT obit, I never met him though I was told he came to a rehearsal of "True West" I was working on. For whatever reason, I wasn't there that time.

He was called "Cowboy" -- not that he was a cowboy, just that he knew. We call our next door neighbor "Cowboy," though he's not one, not now anyway, and his name is Kevin. But he reminds me a bit of Shepard, and though we don't have a lot in common, there's enough...

It seems too soon for Shepard to be gone, but not really. He was only a few years older than me, but he clearly had a greater ability to share his inside and insight than I do. Those who sing his praises now that he is gone probably don't quite know what he was really doing. I sometimes wonder if he did.

Vaya con dios, amigo.