Monday, October 30, 2017

"Instead of Dead"

Los Poblanos Organic Lavender from Los Poblanos on Vimeo.

Ms. Ché and I have been celebrating our "50th" this weekend at Los Poblanos (Historic Inn and Organic Farm) tucked away in Ranchos de Albuquerque adjacent to Albuquerque's North Valley, a rich and diverse community of land grants and farms, palatial estates and modest homesteads along the east side of the Rio Grande that date back, in some cases, to Spanish Colonial days.

Los Poblanos has been here in one form or another for more than 150 years (I think, not having the history of the place in front of me.) It became a "model farm and dairy" in the 1930s when Albert Simms and his wife Ruth Hanna McCormick bought it and commenced a major overhaul. They hired John Gaw Meem to build several new buildings and renovate/expand existing buildings to create a cultural center and working farm as well as a rather extravagant home for the Simms.

I won't go into the history of the Simms' tenure, nor detail the story of the restoration of the site by the current owners. It's quite a tale, but it's not for now. (This article in New Mexico Magazine is the short and dirty version...)

Since we moved to New Mexico full time at the end of October, 2012 (it's our fifth anniversary as New Mexicans), we've been to events at Los Poblanos many times and enjoyed their fine hospitality. It''s a lovely setting that often hosts Canada geese and other flyway birds, especially this time of year.We heard cranes overhead not long after arriving yesterday afternoon, and geese were calling later. We were visited by peacocks at breakfast, and one seemed to have followed Ms. Ché over to the Farm Shop afterwards.

Los Poblanos seems remote and out of the way, but it isn't really. It's only a few miles from Old Town down a leafy lane, past the fields of lavender for which its latest iteration has become famous.

We came to have dinner at the highly regarded restaurant, stay the night in the newly built Field room section, and have breakfast in the morning in celebration of our "consolidated 50th" -- fifty years together, 48 married, and five years as New Mexicans.

At dinner last night, we had many thanks for one another (oh yes), and made the comment: "We're here instead of dead."


We've had quite an adventuresome life together to say the least. It's the kind of life that makes people's eyes bug out, filled with oddities, adventure and risk, and simply enough, either of us might have wound up dead by the side of the road almost anywhere along the way.

But we wound up here instead. The way I put it, we're living our lives in reverse. It's a constant wonder to us.

Lavender fields outside our window in the morning

So the morning is dawning cloudy and chilly, the lavender field outside our patio is touched with dew, breakfast is waiting. We've had our morning french press coffee, and I need to clean up a bit before we venture forth. We'll have some things to do in town, and then head home to our passel of cats,

Instead of dead...

Saturday, October 28, 2017

How Close Are We To Direct Military Rule?

Hard to say. I'm not really up on military thinking (to put it mildly), so I haven't a clue to what The Generals are up to in their own secret realms. I know that they, their troops, their allies and their mercenaries have been killing and destroying up a storm overseas, and they've been organizing disaster response domestically. That can easily -- too easily -- morph into occupation abroad and martial law at home, but domestically it hasn't quite yet (the situation in Puerto Rico may hold the key... they say that crime is running rampant on the streets of San Juan and "something has to be done." Right.)

When Gen. Dunford appeared before the media to clean up the mess of the Niger Operation, I thought, "Well, there's your Emperor-in-waiting."

I've said for a while now that we're one or two catastrophes away from the Apocalypse, and we've had one major catastrophe (the California wild fires) since.

We're very close to the edge.

We've seen over and over how close to nonfunctional Congress is, and when they can do something, it's detrimental to the public good. We've seen over and over how dysfunctional and chaotic the White House is, and when they do something, it is all but certain to bring harm to some segment of the public -- and probably save the favored faction of the gangster rich from harm -- to say the least.

The courts too often reinforce injustice and free the rich from the law.

The public is restive enough that some are taking matters into their own hands; white rightists are on the march, racially motivated murder and assault is on the rise, and nothing is being done about the long term problem of mass murder, except perhaps to encourage more of it.

The White House backs the "good people on both sides" -- whoever they may be -- involved in the mayhem.

This is not sustainable.

The military and intelligence community are already in effective control of foreign policy, international affairs -- and warmaking. Trump freed them from Obama's restraint almost the moment he assumed the throne. I doubt he fully understood what he was doing -- does he fully understand anything, after all? But by doing so, he set up the foundations for the military take over of the government (to the extent it isn't already overseen/directed by the military.) The emergency framework has been around since the 1950s. On occasion, parts have been implemented, starting, so far as I can tell, with the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, or perhaps with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Or maybe earlier.

The point is that both the military and the permanent government in Washington, DC, have contingency plans which can be implemented in a heartbeat should the need arise.

Parts of those plans can be implemented without notice or a backward glance, and it's possible hardly anyone would notice.

Trump opened the door to the seizure of the whole government by the military when he countermanded the restraints on military action imposed by the Obama regime. It may seem like those restraints only involved who got killed and what was destroyed where and when -- overseas. The White House had to approve.

But the military also has a domestic presence and role, and if by chance the chaos of the Trump regime interferes... it can be (and in part already has been) neutralized.

Retired and currently serving generals are scattered throughout the Trump regime, and they head -- or have headed -- the key agencies that can impose rule on a restive population. Experiments and examples are implemented by such agencies as the Gestapo-like ICE which has been unleashed to terrorize brown people and communities.

This sort of thing is easily expanded, but I would suggest that in a military take over, this sort of thing would be reduced or even cease.

The military and their sponsors would want calm and certainty at home so they can more easily and effectively pursue their Imperial objectives abroad -- which apparently involve the wholesale destruction and annihilation of "rebels against the Empire" we've been seeing.

All to what end?

We're not privy to that.

At any rate, I'd say we're closer than ever to the end point of the Republic, and once it comes, a lot of Americans will breathe a sigh of relief.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Losing the Argument

I started a post the other day about the apparently endless flap over the White House response to the death of Sgt. La David Johnson in Niger. Of course the way it has been handled by the White House is appalling to anyone with a shred of decency, but decency is not what it's about.

It's about power and its exercise.

It's not an argument, in other words. It's not something you can rationally consider and come to a conclusion about from an intellectual or even moral standpoint. It's a visceral, immediate, emotional thing, and if you "stand with" the White House and Trump, literally nothing at all will change your mind about it. If you "stand with" the widow, Myeshia Johnson, and with the congresswoman, Frederica Wilson, you won't change your mind, either.

In the end, it doesn't matter. In the end, the one with the most power and the ability to exercise it wins. Period.

The issue I was trying to deal with the other day, however, was not so much that as it was the mechanisms by which power was being exercised in this example.

The White House was exercising textbook gaslighting. It wasn't merely that what they have been saying about it was false, it was that they had the power to say anything they wanted about it and to force you (all) to doubt your own perceptions and sanity in the process.

Trump lied repeatedly about it. It wasn't differing perceptions, it was deliberate lies, meant to put into question the sanity of Rep. Wilson and The Widow, Myeshia Johnson. The White House fabricated and Trump disseminated false stories about what had happened, and the only ones who could correct the record had far less power than the White House and Trump, so their corrections were generally treated as "he said, she said," and as everyone knows, when the President says something, even if it is  wrong or a lie, one must give it due respect.

Not so with a couple of Negro women who can't say anything that a white person is obliged to respect or believe. Everyone knows they... tell tales. Amirite? And that sparkle hat! Who's to believe anybody who wears a sparkle hat on TeeBee? You see? And so it went.

When Gen. Four Star (Ret) Kelly was trotted out to stand at the podium and blatantly smear and lie about the Congresswoman with a purely Gaslighted story about what she said in her dedication speech for the FBI building in Miramar, FL in 2015, it was over. The argument, such as it had been, was lost. It was over.

Here's why: Kelly fabricated out of whole cloth a story of the self-aggrandizing Negress at the dedication who got up, bragged about her prowess in getting the money for the building and for her constituents, and how great she was, and then sat down. It "stunned" the audience, so said Kelly. They couldn't imagine anyone doing such a thing at such a solemn occasion.

Except for the fact that it didn't happen, one might understand his dismay and the dismay of those who were there. How dare she! Right?

Not only was Kelly's description of the event fabricated, a straight out lie as shown in a video of her remarks at the dedication, which did not self-aggrandize at all but celebrated the work of law enforcement and the FBI, and particularly the sacrifice of the agents for whom the building was being named, she never mentioned "getting the money," but only briefly spoke of the request from the FBI  Director that she spearhead legislation to name the building after the fallen agents, a task she took on and which was successfully completed by bipartisan efforts in the House, the Senate and the White House just a few days before the dedication. It wasn't her doing alone, it was the doing of many.

But. Kelly's gaslighting went right round the world several times before the media and the Congresswoman got their pants on. Once the tape showed the General Four Star (Ret) lied, it was too late.

Subsequently, when the White House spox was asked specifically about the General's lies, she doubled down, suggesting that no one should question the word of a Four Star. Of course what she was doing was more gaslighting. She did not and would not address the actual questions about the actual lies Kelly told from the podium. Instead, she was referring to his comments about his son killed in action to deflect from his lies about the Congresswoman, and it seemed as if no one in the media at all, and darned few commenters on the situation, caught it.

From that point, there was mostly just flailing ineffectively.

There really is no defense against gaslighting. I didn't even know what it was until one day I saw the movie from which the term is derived. In it a husband forces his wife to question her own perceptions and sanity through a series of carefully crafted lies and fabrications about his actions and those of others. She witnesses things that contradict what he says, but he says in so many words she's crazy, and what she thinks she sees is not what's going on, oh no not at all. The only defense against the perpetrator is to get away--or take decisive unpleasant action to stop him.

You cannot argue with him.

He will just lie the more, fabricate more falsehoods, and continue to go on about his nefarious business until the bitter end.

And so that's the situation we are in with regard to much more than the fracas over the White House response to the death of Sgt. Johnson.

They get away with it because they have the power to do so.

It's a deeply, deeply dangerous situation for the rest of us.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Ol' Max Evans--The First 1000 Years

Max Evans Iconic 

It's coming up on five years since we moved to New Mexico full time. One of our first literary encounters was with Max Evans, who called himself Ol' Max Evans even when he wasn't particularly old, cause he's a cowboy or was, and that's how ol' cowboys talk, and he's nothing if not an ol' cowboy talker, Ol'  Max is.

He didn't invent the genre, but he had long been the icon of it.


I remember very well first meeting him. He seemed to think I was someone he knew, and he kept circling around and checking me out, and he finally sat down next to me and said, "I'm Max." I said, "Yeah, I know. How you doin'?"

He looked me up and down and said something like, "I'm just happy I'm still around to tell about it; be 89 next birthday, can't complain."

He didn't look a day over 79 and I had no idea how old he was at that time.

Slim Randels had already done a biography of him, "Ol' Max Evans -- the First Thousand Years" which I don't think I had at that time, and if I did, I hadn't read it, but I would eventually. In time.

Ol' Max had a new book out, well ... it was a compilation of some of his animal stories from years ago, and he told about his involved and complex relationships with animals over his long lifetime. NOTE: I think that's what the first time we saw him was about, the release of "Animal Stories", but you know what? I'm not really sure now, because all the times we've been at some Ol' Max event, and there have been quite a few, seem to swirl into a common encounter, not separate at all. I probably wrote about it at the time, but I honestly don't recall.


One animal story in particular stood out for me: "One Eyed Sky". It is perhaps the finest animal story in American literature. There is nothing else that comes close. Ol' Max has repeatedly told the story of writing it in a frenzy up in his studio in his house in Taos, typing furiously over a day and a night of passion for his topic and his story, and coming downstairs in the morning where his wife Mrs. Max (Pat) and her friend were having coffee in the kitchen and they looked at him and said, "My God, all the blood's gone from your face."

And Ol' Max said, "All that blood's right here," holding out his manuscript.

I asked him once, "When did you write 'One Eyed Sky'?" 'Cause I'd never found a date on any of the copies I'd read, and his answer was just, "When I lived up in Taos." Which could have been any time between 1949 and about 1967. Or so.

I still don't know.

Mrs. Max told me it was around 1960, but she wasn't completely sure herself.

It's kind of that way with Ol'  Max. The year a thing happened doesn't matter nearly as much as the thing that happened itself.

He went ashore at Normandy, he says -- and I assume he did -- but when that happened is not what needs to be remembered. It's that it happened. Not when...

And so it goes with Max. You may not get a straight answer from him, but you'll learn more than you ever thought possible from listening to him.

Or reading what he wrote.

We lost touch and I got very worried; I thought I should call Mrs. Max and find out what was going on with him, but then I thought, no, if it was bad, she would have enough to do without fielding calls from near-strangers, and it would be better just to let things go the way they would. I thought Max was probably quite ill, and during that period I was pretty ill myself.

Then one day Ms Ché showed me an article in the Santa Fe Reporter: "Ol' Max Evans -- The First 1000 Years" would be premiering at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival on October 19. Ohhhhh...

The article talked about Ol' Max and the film, a biopic narrated by Peter Coyote and Sam Elliot, but it didn't say where or when it would be playing, much to my and Ms. Ché's frustration, but there you are. When a thing happens is not as important as that a thing happens. Must learn patience, eh?


I did a web-search and found out that the premier would be playing simultaneously in both of the theaters at the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, and it was sold out. No! Of course it was!

But, come Sunday the 22nd of October, it would be playing at the KiMo Theater in Albuquerque, and it was free, and we said, "Well, we'll go." Just like that, and we did.

We didn't expect Ol' Max and Mrs. Max to be there. He's 90-something. Almost 1000. But sure enough there he was, with Pat and Margo and a whole bunch of friends. We said hello, and his eyes brightened when he saw Ms. Ché for they had bonded years ago, and I think he was just happy to see her.

"Hey, Pardner" he says to me, and there are layers and layers of meaning which I won't get into, but that's all I really needed to hear. I was so glad to see him, and I told him so, and he knew. Yeah. He was frail as heck and had oxygen tubes up his nose (yep, I had to do the same thing for so many months), but he was hail and hearty for a 1000 year old man, and it turned out he could walk on his own and had a grand time greeting friends old and new before the start of the film.

And the film was wonderful. It's the second biopic of New Mexico literary icons we've seen in the last few weeks ("Nasario Remembers" was the first), and we were delighted with it, as was every one in attendance, including Ol' Max who got up onstage and answered questions for a good half hour after the film. He was as crotchety and funny as ever. When it was over, Ms. Ché waited for him to come down from the stage, and they had a... moment.

I'll say no more about that except I think it made his day.

He sure made ours.

Thanks Max. Pat. Lorene. Slim. Ollie. And so many others.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Wheels Coming Off. Skid Marks Everywhere.

No, this latest White House flap over the response to the death of Sgt. La David Johnson in Niger is not going to bring down the regime. At this point, I don't know what will -- short of the armed seizure of the White House, Bedminster, and Mar A Lago. Even that might not do it.

It's clear enough that certain powerful interests are deeply invested in the Trump Crash and Burn presidency, and their faction within the government is strong enough (though maybe not large enough) to control events, at least for the short term.

It's been suggested that the only thing that faction really wants is that gargantuan tax cut for the rich, and once they get that they'll cut the Orange Menace loose, regardless of the consequences. If Pence is "worse," so what? What he would do, post Trump, would only effect the Rabble, no? So why should the Important People care about that?

They don't and they won't. Period.

So long as the current White House chaos is kept in bounds -- by a force field? -- what happens and doesn't happen there is more for entertainment and distraction purposes than for any program or policy, most of which seem to be made in the shadows and implemented more or less on the sly, all of which benefit the Most Important and Highest of the Mighty.  In many cases, they're nothing but pure expressions of power. "I can do this and get away with it and there is nothing on God's Green Earth you can do about it. Suck. Ers!"

As the wheels of the regime come off and skidmarks run everywhere, it's mostly, still, for show.

The spectacle keeps us transfixed.

A while back, I mentioned that it looked to me like Trump's powers and authorities as president had been severely curtailed, essentially he'd been neutered as "God-Emperor," by the end of February, or at the latest the end of March. (Accounts vary about when in actuality the tie-down took place.)

When he put The Generals in charge of running things, it seemed obvious to me that we were now ruled by a junta, and if Trump was anything in that context, he was a buffoonish, boorish, racist, bullying figurehead.

The whole Sgt. Johnson Thing said to me they're full-on into gaslighting now. The revelation that Gen. Kelly straight out lied about Frederica Wilson's speech at the FBI building dedication, and that the White House was going to stick with the lies no matter the facts is I think a step beyond where they've been in the past. This is madness, but with deliberate intent.

By producing and presenting lies and fabrications regardless of the demonstrable facts of the matter, they achieve a remarkable advantage over their targets -- the media first of all, the rest of us in the end. This was the tactic used by the Bush 2 regime in the run-up to the Iraq War. It did not matter at all what the facts were, what the truth was. They were fabricating their own false reality against which there was ultimately no defense. One could object and point out the truth all one wanted, but it had no discernible effect on events.

By the time the bombs started falling and the invasion began, most Americans were convinced of the false reality fabricated by the gaslighters -- as quite a few still are.

It seems to me the gaslighters now are trying to re-create that triumph. They've been feeling their way along, in some respects following the lead of Trump's gaslight tweets. Even though he's constantly hammered for his falsehoods, he gets away with it because it is... entertaining, and a money-maker for the media (among others.). His falsehoods are something like earworms. It's hard to shake them, especially when the media repeats them over and over and over again.

It can be countered, but I don't think it can be done nicely or politely.

And if the goal is, as I suspect, those ginormous tax cuts for the rich, regardless of anything else, then it doesn't much matter what has to be done to get there.

This too shall pass, but things will never be the same again...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Dishonorable Marine General John Kelly is a F**king Liar

Yesterday, Gen. John Kelly, Trump's Chief of Staff and a supposed "adult in the room" who brings something like sanity to the White House, gave an often moving account of the loss of  his own son under fire and of the attempt by Trump to express his condolences to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson who was killed in Niger early in October.

He followed his remarks about that with a calculated smear of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson who he called "an empty barrel" who had "stunned" the general and the audience at the dedication of the Federal Building in Miramar, FL by claiming that she had obtained the money ($20 million) for the building by just calling up President Obama.

This was a lie. A straight out fabrication from... who knows what.

Today the Miami Sun-Sentinel produced video of her remarks at the dedication ceremony in which she repeatedly named and honored the agents for whom the building was named (she spearheaded the congressional action which enabled naming the building for them) and she had nothing but praise for the FBI and everyone who served the nation at the dedication.

See it here:

Kelly lied just like his boss lies.

The regime is spinning straight into hell.

What that means for the rest of us remains to be seen.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


It never ceases to amuse me.

We've reached the point in our worthless political "debate" where revisionism is mandatory.

One of the curiosities of the current wave of political revisionism is the elimination of the Bushes (and often of Trump Himself) from the presidency. Oh yes, it goes this way:


In the revisionist view, Obama (or sometimes The Hag Clinton) are still in office, and they must be opposed with every fiber of ones being because ... something.

Trump is at best an afterthought, a nonentity or even a puppet of the Deep State run by the Clintons and Obama. On the other hand, he's God-Emperor who will smash the Deep State and the Clintons/Obama who run it. Cognitive dissonance doesn't begin to describe it.

But the Bushes, strangely, simply weren't.


And I think it's quite deliberate.

To the extent the Russian Thing has any merit or relevance to the situation we face now, I think it has to do with the fact that it has shown how easy (and cheap) it is for "interests" to shape the battle space as they say in the military. Influencing and managing public perceptions has become a Thing, going back a long way to be sure, but made manifest in the lead up to and implementation of the Second War on Iraq -- the one initiated by the Bush 2 Regime (one of the ones eliminated from the revised list of regimes).

Perception management and revisionism was very successful. It was so successful that it is seen as a model still followed by numerous interests and political players to induce, shall we say, certain favorable beliefs in a sufficient number of people to enable the worst elements of our society to literally get away with murder.

Or anything else they happen to want to do.

It's really quite remarkable, and it goes on all the time now.

Trump used some of these techniques -- particularly blatant lying, incitements to violence, and appeals to white people's feelings of betrayal  -- in his campaign, but it wasn't particularly effective because it was so transparent. More effective was the background drumbeat, much of it based in facts or deep rooted beliefs, that said The Hag Clinton was poison, and-- most especially -- she would single-handedly start WWIII with Russia by imposing a unilateral "no-fly zone" over Syria.

It was a pernicious falsehood, but that didn't matter because it was believed by enough people to become fact in their minds. Much as the falsehoods about Iraq were believed (after much intense propaganda) by a sufficient number of Americans to make at least the initial phases of the Second Iraq War possible and widely supported.

I didn't believe the falsehoods then or now, but the techniques that induced such false beliefs are employed more and more universally -- because they work.

Ragging on Clintons, Dems, and Obama -- while ignoring Trump and his hench-people and what they are doing -- is part of the process of perception management. So long as people can be made to fixate on what certain players in the past did or didn't do, and specifically on their intrinsic evility  *shades of Saddam* so long will the current regime be enabled to do as it will.

It works. At least up to a point.

And when it doesn't?

Not pretty.

Meanwhile uncounted victims are slaughtered and Chaos reigns.

What's not to like?

What did we do to deserve this?

Or rather, what did those above us think they were doing?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


I can't say I know what's really going on because I don't, but the view from out here in the wilderness of the continuing spectacle in DC is both alarming and hilarious.

The "President" is a running gag, but he's a joke whose policy effects are real and devastating for many. He seems to be intent on causing as much harm as he can to as many people as he can before his plug is finally pulled and he's hooked off the stage for good and all. He seems to know he doesn't have that much longer in the Oval Office -- if indeed he's actually in office and not just someone else's puppet on a string.

It's never been clear with him.

But then, nothing is.

Congress, for its part, seems nearly incapable of functioning so long as there are these pesky "parties" and "politics' going on. The rare agreements, like sending Calista Gingrich to the Vatican (oh, that should work out well) as ambassadress are often more symbolic of "supporting our own" and real policy moves.

They can't do much more without pissing off someone. Some time. Some where. And too many of them are terrified of the consequences of pissing off the wrong person/people at the wrong time.

The White House seems to be run by The Generals whose objective appears to be committing as much mayhem, death and destruction (directly or by proxy) as they can in as many places as they can so as to force the rebels (whomever they may be) to desist and submit. I keep seeing references to all the death and destruction committed by Obama and Mrs. Clinton, but never anything about the death and destruction an order of magnitude greater committed by Trump and His Generals. It's as if Obama and Mrs. Clinton are still in charge -- of whatever they were in charge of. They are blamed no matter what happens.

Trump and His Generals don't actually exist. Or something.

The legitimacy of the courts has been under question since the appalling Bush v Gore SCOTUS decision almost 20 years ago now. Whatever the corrupt courts decide is subject to a perfect storm of dispute and disagreement. No longer is justice found in the courts (assuming it ever was).

So here we are. Effectively, we're being ruled by a junta fronted by a buffoon.

What did we do to deserve this?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The California Fires

Some truly outrageous wild fires have been burning through northern California continuing a pattern established over the last several years of drought and then a super-abundance of rain.

We didn't live in the affected areas, but we are certainly familiar with them. Santa Rosa, the Napa Valley, burned areas in Yuba Country (Loma Rica), Mendocino, Nevada County, Calaveras. Oh yes, all of them hold emotional connections either through people we knew or the many places we became familiar with.

They say 23 are dead from the fires, hundreds missing, thousands of homes and other structures destroyed so far, and there is no end in sight. For many, it's an Apocalyptic situation, one that has become all too familiar in this era of climate change.

To be caught up in it is almost impossible to imagine, though we haven't been spared firestorms in our area of Central New Mexico. The backside of the Manzanos burned spectacularly a couple of years ago, dozens of homes burned and many people left refugees. The fire scar is still slashed across the mountains.

When I was a kid, as I've mentioned, I would sit on my back fence and watch the slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains north east of Los Angelesburn almost every year, and one year, the fires came up the east side of the hills by our home, crested the hilltop, and were starting down our  side. Panic ensued, but the fire department arrived just in time to stop the progress of the fires a few hundred yards from the border of the housing development. I did a Google street view tour of the area not too long ago and saw those hills were now covered with houses. I thought, "Uh-oh" but people there didn't and don't much care about the intrinsic hazards of earthquake and fire I think. It just goes with the territory.

I remember my mother was horribly fearful of fire, and I never quite understood it until she told me that when she was just a little girl, three maybe four years old, she witnessed the family home in Indianapolis burn to the ground. She couldn't shake the memory and she was terrified of fire ever afterwards.

I don't have quite that fear of fire, but when she told me what had happened when she was a child, I understood her fear.

These visions of fires in California are disturbing, there's no doubt. Ms Ché is somewhat less disturbed -- more for the animals than the people, whom she refers to as "rich white people" -- which not all of those affected are by any means. But enough of them are that her sympathies can sometimes lie elsewhere.

Is this something like the Trump regime's disinterest in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands? I don't know. But for the most part, the "rich white people" affected by the fires in California can and no doubt will  take care of themselves while the poor black and brown folks in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands can't very well, can they?

They were mostly impoverished by colonialism to begin with and have few resources to fall back on. How many of us are actually in the same leaking boat?

I mentioned to someone the other day that we are one, maybe two, catastrophes away from the Apocalypse and there isn't a lot we can do about it.

I'm not into Doom Blogging, but..

It's always darkest before the dawn. Or something.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mass Murder is More American Than Apple Pie

As we once again slouch toward Columbus Day/Indigenous People's Day against the background of mass murder in Las Vegas, it's easy to see that the perpetual "gun debate" is stalled where it has been for decades: "Nothing can be done, nothing should be done, occasional mass murder is the 'price of liberty,' now is not the time to discuss these issues."

Yes, well. We've been round and round this mulberry bush so many times. More than 1,500 incidents of mass murder since Sandy Hook, and to the extent there's been any legislative action at all, it has been to loosen restrictions on access to firearms. Something is haywire.

I'm watching a "debate" right now between two congressmen (both military vets, 38 years old)  on the issue of "gun control" and it is the same sterile garbage we've been hearing for years -- "can't" "should", "conversation," "emotion," "automatic weapons," "confiscation," "reasonable," "common sense," on and on, round and round, "tyranny!"


Here's (part of) the problem: The American experience is founded on repeated episodes of mass murder, beginning with Columbus and continuing to this day. There has never been an end to it.

The "well-regulated militia" referenced in the Sacred Second is about having the ability to threaten and commit mass murder to supposedly protect the nascent "free state." From what?

Slave rebellions, worker strikes and rebellions, Indian uprisings, etc. That's what the militia was for and to an extent still is. The National Guard is the current iteration of the militia of the post-revolution era. The National Guard is a largely reactive and protective force that tends to serve the interests of the political and financial elites -- which can but don't necessarily involve putting down slave revolts and Indian uprisings. The ad-hoc militias -- mostly white males, mostly right-wing -- on the other hand, are much more zealous about who is in charge and why, and who will be targeted by said militias.

Black people, brown people, poor people, homeless people. You know the kind. "Threats" to the "free state." Of white men doing what they want.

That's the foundation of all of this, and until Americans clarify that in their own minds, nothing can be or will be done about mass murder and gun violence in this country.

I mentioned on another site that a possible way to break the log jam over "gun rights" is to engage in a persistent campaign to end the acceptance of and glamorization of gun violence and mass murder in this country.

The idea is to use some of the tactics successfully employed by anti-tobacco and anti-drunk driving activists not so very long ago.

Very powerful and wealthy interests opposed both campaigns, but their opposition ultimately failed. Indeed, many opponents ultimately joined the campaigns to reduce drunk driving and tobacco use.

It can be done.

These were largely social campaigns -- though legislation was part of it. Acceptance of drunk driving deaths and injuries and deaths and injuries from tobacco use was specifically targeted for social (and political) opprobrium. It took some time and quite a bit of money and grassroots activism, but... It worked.

Using similar (Bernaysian, public relations) tactics against gun violence and mass murder could have a similar effect.

I was surprised and pleased to see Mark Shields make the same point on NewsHour last night. There isn't a movement yet, but there could be.

A key is to fear not.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Simple Things -- Nasario remembers the Rio Puerco

¿Crees que las piedras nos recuerdan?

About five years ago, soon after we moved to New Mexico permanently, we happened to meet Nasario Garcia, PhD, at a book fair not far from our home. After retiring from a long-time academic career, he had returned to New Mexico, his place of birth, and became a noted oral historian.

His focus was and is recuerdos of the viejitos of the Rio Puerco Valley where he spent his formative youth.
Do the ruins remember us?
I've written several times about the ruins that are found throughout New Mexico, some of them dating back to prehistory (ruins left by the vaunted Anasazi, for example), but most are much more recent. The ruins of the Rio Puerco Valley are a case in point.

Nasario's family were among the pioneer homesteaders in the area, and he lived there from the age of six months until his family was forced to leave (along with nearly all the rest of the Hispano settlers) in the late '40s due to drought and increasing physical and financial hardship.

Nasario remembers a simple, hard, and happy life along the Rio Puerco, filled with activity, adventure, and rituals, rituals which in some cases could be traced back to Gypsy Grenada in Spain. Was that where his people came from? When he visited Grenada, he couldn't get over the similarities in song and spirit with what he knew as a child growing up in the Rio Puerco in far, far distant New Mexico.

When we met Nasario and his wife Jan at the book fair, they were promoting his most recent volume of recuerdos -- I forget which one it was now -- and as new permanent residents of New Mexico, we were fascinated. These stories are important, and Nasario was afraid they would be lost if they weren't collected and preserved. So that's what he set out to do.

Almost casually, he mentioned that a play was being developed from some of his stories, and he invited us to attend a staged reading of the script to be presented in Dixon a couple of weeks hence. At the time, we didn't even know where Dixon was (there was a Dixon in California we were familiar with, but not the one in New Mexico). Nevertheless, we thought it sounded interesting -- after all, new play development was one of our primary interests and activities in California for many years -- and marked our calendar for the date.

On the date, we found Dixon (off the road up to Taos) and were quite taken with the nascent play based on stories Nasario had collected from the vecinos y viejitos of the Rio Puerco. It showed much potential, and we became supporters of the project -- financially, artistically -- through its completion and sold-out presentation at venues in Santa Fe and Albuquerque a year or so later.

"When the Stars Trembled in Rio Puerco" was quite the triumph, I think to the surprise of Nasario as well as the playwright and director Shebana Cohelo. Of course they were happy about it, too!

Shebana was more comfortable in film and television production, but she thought a play would be the appropriate form for presenting the stories of the old ones, and we tended to agree. Discussing it with her, though, I mentioned almost in passing that what I longed to see was Nasario's own story of his life in the Rio Puerco, though perhaps not in this particular vehicle.

Her eyes seemed to light up. And a year or so later, we got notice that "Nasario Remembers" was going into production. It would be a filmed project for presentation on New Mexico PBS -- if they were so inclined. If not, maybe it would wind up as a DVD.

Long story short: the NM PBS premiere of "Nasario Remembers" is slated for October 12 at 7:00p,

We saw a preview in Albuquerque on Wednesday, and I have to say, it's wonderful.

Simple things indeed.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Chaos Continues

The Las Vegas Massacre (50-60 dead, 500 some odd wounded so far) has consumed all the oxygen and attention of a confused and frightened media and nation. WTF is it now?

I woke up yesterday morning to the news of the mass shooting in Las Vegas from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay. Oh.

I haven't been to Vegas in many years, but Ms. Ché goes almost every year, sometimes twice or three times a year, and years ago when we would go together, Mandalay Bay was our favorite location. She was there last December, and she went once again in July of this year. When she goes, it's to meet friends from around the country, for the fun of it all and usually for country music concerts.


Here we are witness to the aftermath of yet another mass slaughter by some white guy high up in the tower, shooting seemingly randomly into  folks just going about their business.

Allusions have been made to the UT Austin origin of the phenomenon, Charles Whitman, 1966, etc. How similar this seemed in some ways. Well, no. Not really. But it seems to comfort some observers to see commonalities and parallels with historical events. To place it in context, or so they say.

Because the shooter was a white guy, it's not -- and it can't be -- "terrorism," right? That's the narrative, always: when a white guy does the unspeakable, it's always about a Lone Wolf, almost always someone with diagnosed or undiagnosed mental issues, clearly deranged and exceptional because of it. We should not draw any conclusions about white guys because of it, right?

If a person of color does it, however, of course we can draw conclusions not only about the individual but about his family, society, race and religion. It's obvious as sin, right?

Yes there are commonalities between these shootings and shooters, ones that we probably should be paying more attention to but we don't.

  • They almost never go after the High and the Mighty -- the Scalise shooting in DC and the Giffords incident in Arizona are startling exceptions to the rule. One could argue that neither Scalise nor Giffords are particularly high or mighty in any case.
  • They almost always target the defenseless rabble going about their ordinary lives, shopping, going to church or the movies, or in this case at an open air concert. 
  • It's almost as if these shootings are purposeful and deliberately terroristic, to terrorize and panic the Rabble, to make them fearful and easily managed/manipulated -- by whom, though? And to what object?
This massacre came at a particularly opportune time for the Regime of Chaos emplaced over us. Nothing will be done about gun violence per se, and nothing can be allowed to interfere with the sale and trade of firearms for the pleasure of the masses, but we can be almost certain that this incident of mass murder will be used for some political and practical end benefiting the Regime.

People are already being conditioned to accept a form of military rule, and I've pointed out elsewhere that the Government in DC is effectively that of a military junta. The Generals are in charge of everything that's important, not the Orange Menace. Yet he is the temporary face of the junta, and he is the one who ceded presidential power to them. It was no accident. I think this was gamed out behind the scenes well before the election, and it might have happened if Clinton had assumed the throne.

In other words, a civilian government may not have been salvageable given its own inherent instabilities and disabilities.

Obviously the Generals are playing it by ear. They're not skilled at this. But they do have skills and they are prepared to take over completely -- should the need arise.

They might bumble, but they'd do it.

During the recent hurricanes, the military was given almost free rein to conduct domestic operations in Texas and Florida, and according to reports, their operations were a "stunning success." Despite widespread destruction and devastation from the storm, few people died (and those who did "would have died anyway..."); relief efforts were mostly adequate or more than adequate, and survivors have little but praise for the operations of both civilian and military agencies on behalf of hurricane victims.

That all fell apart with regard to the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands hurricane aftermath. Many-many calls for military intervention were either not heard, or they were deliberately countermanded in DC. By whom? By Daddy Yankee? It's hard to say. More likely, he gave no direction at all. He went golfing instead. Weekend getaway and all that.

This left the Generals on their own, and to say they were flat-footed is an understatement. According to this article at Politico, the military resources for relief and recovery that were operating in Texas and Florida were not re-deployed to the Caribbean. They simply disappeared. 

Thus the chaos and continuing lack of relief on the ground in Puerto Rico that has led to so much recrimination. Now that the military is deployed in the Islands, it's looking somewhat less dire in some areas, but...

Puerto Ricans are well aware that the military can just as easily be an occupation force on behalf of corporate interest no matter what immediate and temporary relief they are able to provide.

Puerto Rico is a humanitarian disaster, but conveniently, there was a mass shooting by some white guy of a lot of other white guys in Las Vegas that takes some of the focus off the disaster in the Islands. The white guy that did the shooting in Las Vegas apparently had access to military grade weapons and used them to effect. The killed and wounded by one civilian have reached unprecedented numbers. Even the military would have trouble matching them without resort to 1000lb bombs.

Dude did a bad-bad thing, but...

He was a white dude shooting at mostly other white dudes (and their women and children) in what would otherwise be seen as a "military" operation -- it's what Our Valiant Troops have been doing in foreign lands for so long we've forgotten when it all began. 

It shouldn't be acceptable abroad, but it is definitely not acceptable at home. It is an invitation to chaos.

Yet another one.

The only force capable of controlling it is the military itself. 

Ergo, don't be surprised if over the next few months the military ("His Generals" according to Trump) take on more and more domestic responsibility and authority. They will be hailed as heroes.

Oh yes, they will...

Monday, October 2, 2017

Daddy Yankee Chaos

This is about Puerto Rico, but...