Thursday, October 20, 2016

Round Three: Creepy Clown vs The Hag -- a Draw

Once again, the "debate" was on the TeeVee while I was doing other things. So I didn't see a whole lot of it and I heard somewhat less than I did of previous installments.

Once again, Trump's facial tics and contortions made him look more and more like a Creepy Clown without makeup (though he was strangely pink this time rather than his more typical orange) and Herself appeared botoxed and made up to look 20 years younger.... oh dear. The Hag she is not! Whatever.

Chris Wallace actually did very well, I thought, asking substantive questions and cutting through some, not all, of the bullshit. I didn't much care for his Pete Peterson "Grand Bargain" hooey near the end, but even that was well crafted and provided each candidate with an opportunity to present their notions of how to deal with the Entitlement Problem (on the assumption that there is one, of course.)

Hillary had an approach -- raising the cap and increasing benefits at the lower end of SS -- that should appeal to a segment of Bernie supporters (assuming they believe her, HA!) while Trump literally had nothing. The problem would solve itself because of his glory and magnificence. OK. Sounds good.

I thought Hillary had an interesting modification of her previous call for a No Fly Zone over Syria. Wallace noted -- to his credit -- that generals and others say that establishing a No Fly Zone would in effect be a declaration of war against Russia and Syria -- and for my money that might not be the wisest course of action. What say the candidates?

Hillary said it would have to be (or would be) negotiated with Russia, it would take time, and it would take place once an agreement was reached. In other words, it would not be a unilateral Imperial imposition -- ergo, one would assume, no declaration of war.... How interesting.

For a moment, at any rate, the sabers stopped rattling. Trump for his part had previously mentioned that it would be a Good Thing to get along with Russia. He's been pretty consistent about that.

Hillary's campaign has been pretty consistent about accusing Russia and Putin of all manner of perfidy, and yet we can be pretty confident that Washington and the Kremlin are in fairly constant communications, that they engage in negotiations all the time, and that they can and do cooperate on any number of mutual objectives, despite the often ridiculous propaganda campaign against Russia/Putin that has been all but universal in the West.

This is very similar to the situation during the Cold War, when sabers were rattling all. the. time. Wild accusations against the Soviet Union and relentless anti-Soviet propaganda were daily injected into the US and NATO public bloodstream, and yet backchannel communications, negotiation, and accommodation between Washington and the Kremlin were nearly constant. The propaganda was not particularly related to the reality.

So when Hillary mentioned "negotiating" a Syrian No Fly Zone with Russia, I had a real "Ah ha!" moment. It's probably already in the pipeline. And that will be a steady as she goes resolution -- at least temporarily.

In other words, the idea is to have a safe-haven within Syria for civilians trying to flee the conflict which for a while will be under the joint protection of Russia and the United States.

Gee, could have done something like that long ago....

Trump again had nothing. He was challenged on his claim that "Aleppo has fallen,"  but his response was completely chaotic and nonsensical.

As for the rest of it, truly it's a blur. When they go off on one another's failings, or they repeat talking points and campaign boilerplate, I tune out. There's no there there.

Every sign is that Trump will lose the election badly, perhaps a historic loss on the level of Goldwater's loss to Johnson back in the day, or Carter's loss to Reagan. However, even historic losses on that scale provide opportunities for the losing side to eventually become dominant. Our political system has been set up that way. It's not clear what will happen to the congress, though many are predicting an R House and a (barely) D Senate. That seems to be what TPTB want. We'll see.

This will mean an almost certain Hillary impeachment the minute she assumes office, and that will provide endless entertainment for the masses and a huge ratings boost for the media. Trump TeeVee included. The bonanza will be incalculable.

Just like the last time...

My predict-o-meter is typically on the fritz, but my sense is that the SCOTUS will be allowed to wither away, as three more justices retire or die and are not replaced. It will maintain a "conservative" majority without really trying. Win-win (for TPTB) right?

Every Important measure will get through Congress and be signed by Hillary, including some kind of Grand Bargain, several trade agreements, various matters to do with War and Empire and such, budget reforms, and so forth. In other words, the idea that there will be "gridlock" is a crock. No gridlock on the Important Things, far from it.

The Impeachment Follies will probably go on in the House for a year or more, and then the Articles will be sent to the Senate for disposition. The "trial" will last, oh, I don't know, a few months, but whether the Senate chooses to convict Herself will depend a great deal on how well she performs for the Owners under pressure and how much the Senators would prefer her to sit in the Big Chair rather than Kaine. I predict they'll stick with her. But you never know.

Meanwhile, she might wind up one term or less for any number of reasons, including her health. While medical science can no doubt keep her animated indefinitely, there are other issues that might make her wish to "retire" before even the end of her first term.

As for Trump, he'll make a bundle marketing his patented brand of nonsense, but it won't matter because he'll be fringified as will nearly all of his "issues." This is the advantage (to TPTB) of someone like him claiming to be the King of What's Wrong. A good deal of his criticism of Hillary and the Government is valid, but because he is the critic, it will be dismissed. It's like Alex Jones with a (much) bigger audience. Jones is right about some things, but it doesn't matter because he's fringe. And what he's right about is therefore ignored.

The advantage of having a Trumpian fringe is that those inclined to share his views are fringified just like him. Win-Win again for TPTB.

In the meantime, I've suggested that this will be the last "genuine" presidential election. I know, I know, there's all this stuff about how it's being rigged in favor of Hillary. Well, every recent and many (most?) past elections were similarly rigged, But the votes were genuine, and for the most part they were genuinely counted -- where they were fudged, the numbers were mostly very small, just enough to change certain results without raising more than a few suspicions.

Following this election, however, I suspect that we will never have a genuine presidential election again, that the votes and the counts will be predetermined and they may vary greatly from what the electorate chooses, and there will be no way to check. Our Rulers will be chosen for us, and we will have nothing whatever to say about it.

Cf: Roman elections following Augustus. They took place for hundreds of years after the establishment of the Empire, even after the Fall of the Empire, but they were essentially fraudulent and meaningless, and no one voted for or against the Emperor, he was chosen by the palace faction with the greatest power.

And so it will go in our own revised government.

We have reached the final end of the Republic.

Transition compete.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Nuclear Annihilation! Instant Incineration! Run For Your Lives! We're All Gonna Dieeeeeee!


The fear and frenzy over Our Impending Doooooom! has reached fever pitch. So many online commentators are certain that The Hag will get us into a nuclear war with Russia -- over Syria, Ukraine or someplace -- that they are literally freaking out over it. We Are Doomed!

Now stop, I say. Stop. It. Right. Now.

The fear of Nuclear Annihilation time-honored tactic for control of domestic populations used by both the US/NATO and the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, though neither power had any intention of using nuclear weapons against the other -- except in the most extreme circumstance, a circumstance that never arose.

But boy was the fear of what might happen ever useful and effective.

What we're witnessing right now is a classic example of Cold War style Brinkmanship and propaganda which is being exploited to the max by both sides with the undeniable implication that one or the other will engage in a nuclear first strike --- and we're all gonna die!

Over Ukraine. Over Syria. Over... well, something, somewhere, somehow, some time.

And Putin is a Madman.

This whole frenzy depends on the underlying belief that Putin is a Madman who will sacrifice Mother Russia and the Russian people to demonstrate how low hanging and clangy his big brass balls are...


No. That's not how Brinkmanship works.

Yes, there are plenty of neoCon cage rattlers in the US/NATO governments who appear to want to engage in a Nuclear Holocaust with the Soviet Union, erm, Putin's Russia. Russia Hate is that strong, and "destroying" Russia is their aim.

But that can only happen if Putin is the Madman the propagandists try to make him out to be. I say he is not. Nothing like it.

And he has absolutely no intention of sacrificing Mother Russia to slow or stop the Imperial Juggernaut.

The cage rattlers will not get their Nuclear Holocaust, not this time, and with any luck, not ever.

But the fear of what might happen will continue to be ratcheted up, the better to control domestic populations, not so much to strike fear in rivals.

The propaganda campaign against Russia started up in earnest as Edward Snowden settled into what appears to be a very comfortable exile as the guest of the Russian Federation. I have long felt that the Snowden Thing started out as a Black Op -- part of a rivalry between The Agencies, meant to provide an upper hand to one faction of security/spy agents over another. The initial exposures of domestic spying by the NSA, for example, didn't tell us anything (much) that we didn't already know or suspect. Greenwald, et al., had to scramble to point out that this was confirmation of what we knew/suspected and that was the main point of the revelations, and that was good!

Whatever. There was little more than proforma outrage from the powers that be, styling to be seen as responsible adults and all that. But when details of foreign spying operations were published, everything changed. What The Agencies were doing to foreign governments was not supposed to be released, I guess, and at that point -- starting before then, of course -- Snowden became a real persona non grata, and his protector Putin became The Evil One as far as the propaganda machine was concerned.

In addition, WikiLeaks, which once seemed like a Honeypot to snag various malcontents, but as Snowden accomplice and helper, was subjected to increasingly intense pressure from all sides.

I think that much of the anti-Putin and anti-Assange propaganda is due in large measure to the continued presence of Snowden as guest of the Kremlin, and that (temporary) resolution to the current Brinkmanship will be found in withdrawing the Russian welcome extended to Snowden.

He's the card Putin can play to bring a (temporary) end to the present state of affairs.

That doesn't mean that it won't happen again (it most likely will; the Imperial Project is relentless, and the dismemberment of the Russian Federation is a long-ago announced goal); but its current iteration will become inoperative.

In the meantime, it's worthwhile to review how Brinkmanship works, and to understand that Putin at least is no Madman.

See all of this as a shadowplay, not as reality.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Aleppo Thing vs the Mosul Thing vs the Fallujah Things vs All The Other Things...

I'm no Syria expert, far from it, but the propaganda out of Syria especially over Aleppo, is grating to say the least.

We are constantly informed ("") that Russia (read Putin) and Syria (read Assad) are "destroying" Aleppo and that the city might "fall" to these Evil Ones as they kill and maim innocent women and children (the children seen on heartrending video practically every day) and repeatedly blow up the "last remaining hospital" in Aleppo... etc. The horror show just never ends, and obviously Putin-Assad-Satan are guilty of War Crimes worse than those that led to the Nuremberg Trials. Oh, much worse.

Except b over at Moon of Alabama has been explaining in exhaustive detail that this narrative is false from top to bottom. It's not just propaganda, it is the definition of The Big Lie.

"Aleppo" is a very large city in northern Syria, and most of its population has always been under official Syrian government control. The eastern part of the city is under the control of a hodgepodge of "rebel" groups (b insists they're fraudulent and mostly jihadist/terrorist groups -- al Qaida, ISIS and the like -- paid by the USA/CIA to oppose Assad). The eastern part of the city is far less residential than the western part, and not surprisingly most of Aleppo's population lives in the western city, not the eastern.

We never hear this in our "news" about what's going on in Syria. "Aleppo" is always presented as one city united and valiantly fighting for its life against the cruel aggression of Assad and Putin, never is it even hinted that there has always been a large population -- a majority -- living more or less normal lives (as much as anyone can be said to be living "normally" under the circumstances) in West Aleppo. That part of the city and its  residents don't exist in the propaganda narrative. They've been erased.

There is a struggle going on for control of East Aleppo, and that struggle is ugly and violent. The Syrian army and Russian air power are involved in that struggle as they jointly attempt to retake East Aleppo and drive out the jihadists/terrorists. They are making some progress. But it is not without cost. There is much destruction to be sure, but it's nothing like the claims of the "rebels." False reports out of East Aleppo are routine, and everything we hear, see and read about it must be taken skeptically, because most of it is a lie.

One part of the Big Lie is that "Aleppo" -- that is to say East Aleppo -- has a civilian population of several hundred thousand under siege and bombardment by the Evil Ones. b assures us that's false.
He insists there are no more than about 20-30,000 civilians in that part of the city -- and there may be far fewer. There were never as many in East Aleppo -- which is mostly an industrial and quasi-rural part of the city -- as there were in the Western city, which is mostly residential and commercial.

He insists that most of the civilian population of East Aleppo left long ago and those that remain are mostly the families of the jihadists and terrorists -- paid by the USA to fight Assad.

So if I'm understanding this story correctly -- and I can't say I do understand it fully -- most of the population of Aleppo has always been under Syrian government authority. A jihadist/terrorist faction supported and paid by the USA took control of the eastern part of the city some years ago, and now the Syrian government and their Russian allies have launched a campaign to take it back.

This almost exactly parallels the just launched effort of Iraqi armed forces together with their American allies to "retake" Mosul from jihadist/terrorist ISIS control, just as previously similar campaigns were launched against Fallujah (for what, the fourth time?) and Tikrit, among other cities in Iraq.

And during these campaigns, the cities are essentially flattened, and the civilian population that can't escape are exterminated. That's the pattern set years ago during the American occupation. It's happened over and over again. And that's the pattern being followed by the Syrian government in East Aleppo and other cities under jihadist/terrorist control in Syria.

Everything that our propagandists claim Putin/Assad are doing in Aleppo is being done or has been done in Mosul, Fallujah and other cities in Iraq by combined American/Iraqi armed forces, and for essentially the same reasons, with approximately the same result. Ruined cities and dead civilians -- and escaped jihadi/terrorists.

It beggars belief.

Accusations of War Crimes are flying thick and fast, and calls for a No Fly Zone over northern Syria -- to protect "Aleppo" -- are intensifying. Of course such an action would mean War With Russia. Which must be approached gingerly, as Russia is a heavily armed nuclear power, and one doesn't want to mess with  that unnecessarily. Does one?

You would think not, but according to many observers, our NeoCon rulers are actually spoiling for a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union -- er, Putin's Russia -- and would welcome the chance to go nuclear on Putin's ass.

How much of this is brinksmanship and posturing I have no idea, but the thought is understandably troubling to more than a few Americans. Are Our Rulers crazy?

Well, I think we've long understood that they are. They are out of their freaking minds.

On the other hand, the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin in particular, appear to be among the sanest of international rulers. They are not going to start a nuclear war with the United States.

There's a widespread assumption among Hag-Haters that Hillary is bound and determined to engage the US with Russia in a nuclear exchange. I think that's ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as the notion that Trump won't start a nuclear war.

We're in realms of pure fantasy and projection when we believe that one or the other will or won't start a war with Russia. There is no way for us to know one way or the other. There is always a risk of nuclear annihilation no matter who sits in the Big Chair, simply because there are so many nuclear weapons on both sides (and others, it's not just two nuclear powers after all) and we can't predict how our rulers or other rulers will behave. We can hope, but we can't know.

Brinkmanship is a long known and practiced form of international "diplomacy," and I think that's what's going on with the current round of nuclear threats. Those of us who lived through the Cold War ought to be thoroughly familiar with  the tactic. It's frightening and potentially deadly, though the point of it is intimidate the other side sufficiently to gain one's objectives without resort to the Ultimate Weapons. A side advantage of Brinkmanship is that it so frightens the domestic population that they are kept in line. Patriotism and all that.

Meanwhile the meatgrinders continue without let up.

Proxy wars without end.

That would be true no matter who sat in the Big Chair, and unless we're willing and able to rise up as one, we the Rabble have no control over it.

I wish it weren't so, but it is.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Hillary Speeches Hoo-Hah

I've held off saying much about the Hillary Speeches Doc Dump because there isn't really a whole lot to say about it. I have read a few of the docs that have appeared or been linked from elsewhere. It's all but impossible to search WikiLeaks' archives itself (I tried "Podesta emails", for example, and came up with 62 of supposedly thousands of hacked emails.)

Anyway, what's in these emails and the partial transcripts of speeches Hillary gave to the High and Mighty for Big Bucks strikes me as pretty benign. She even tries to inject a modicum of social conscience into people and institutions that have none. No wonder this isn't getting a lot of traction in the media or much of anywhere else. Despite the headlines, there's very little there there.

There's so little there there that Lambert over at NC, always one of the most inciteful (heh) analysts of Things Clinton ("Clintoooon!"), had to say: "Reading these, I’m thinking the $675,000 had nothing to do with the actual content…."

We know from endless prattle of the likes of Lambert and many others that all things Clinton ("Clintoooon!") are the definition of corrupt. There is no political corruption on the face of the earth unless it is smeared with Clintoon shit. None. And these emails, according to Julian Assange would be filled with smoking guns of Clintoon corruption that would, somehow or other, destroy her campaign.

Well. No. Not so far anyway. 

They show her getting along with the Mighty-Mighty titans and malefactors of great wealth to be sure, but in every one of the ones I've seen, she's telling them to their faces that they need to get a soul and start treating the rest of humanity -- like all the millions who've been harmed by their shenanigans --  better. Sometimes there are details of what she expects of them -- such as lending to Main Street to get the economy going again -- and sometimes there aren't, it's just a moral(ish) declaration. "It's your obligation to do better for the Little People."[Paraphrase.]

So the question has been raised, "Why the hell didn't she just release this stuff when Bernie asked? 'Cause it sure doesn't look like there was anything worth hiding in what's been hacked."

Of course these aren't the whole transcripts, they're excerpts, but there's nothing shocking or more than modestly ear-grating in them. She doesn't have a way with words, let's put it that way. She's no great orator to the Great and Worthy or to the Rabble. But there's an inner coherence to what she has to say, and gets across her points relatively well. One of which is, "I'm your friend, and I want you to behave better."

Gee. Alert the media! Get this to Olbermann, stat! (An old joke, but sometimes it's fun...)

Her positions -- so far as I can make out -- are pretty much the same as Obama's when it comes to those people. Which has been arm's length but relatively friendly. Enough so that they're rolling in money while the rest of us have continued to struggle with little or no help from Our Betters.

I think it's Greenwald who has proposed that though the emails are not particularly damning or devastating, they do show how She (Who Must Be Obeyed) would govern, and it's not pretty. 

Well, no. It never is.

With Hillary it is perhaps less pretty because of her nature and background and her absence of oratorical power -- particularly problematical is her legal training and experience. I'm convinced it destroys otherwise good people who want to do right, but once they learn about the Law, they're lucky to do anything unless it conforms to custom and can be parsed to mean what it doesn't.

I come from a family of attorneys. I don't recommend their ways as a general thing. It's nuts making.

Big Dog has had many of the same problems of excessive legalism as Hillary does. 

I think it's interesting that it's called "corruption" when it is really something else again. Let's call it an excess of moralism based in flawed understandings of law and propriety. Or maybe it's inner defiance....

Anyway, it's gotten the Clintons in trouble more than once.

These emails don't show the kind of corruption that Hillary is incessantly accused of. The accusation of "pay to play" quid pro quos between Herself and the myriad High and Mighty interests she's dealt with don't fly in the end because there's no direct sign of a quid let alone a pro quo. Well, I should say, there's more than a few quid, in that many tens of millions of dollars have gone into hers and Bill's pockets and into the Clinton Foundation, but other than a "fair hearing" it's not clear that anything has been delivered to those interests that they wouldn't have already received anyway.  They didn't have to pay her for what they got on the other end. They would have gotten it anyway.

In other words, the charges of "corruption" are based in a fantasy understanding of how government is supposed to work.

Not an understanding of how it does work.

So what did they pay her for?

It's always a question, isn't it? Why do ex-officials, it doesn't matter who they are, cash in so heavily on the speaking-lecture circuit or gain multi-millions from legal partnerships or from sitting on boards of directors once they leave office? How does that work, exactly, and what are the parameters?

What do the speakers-partners-board-members provide the payers?

You can't get a clear understanding of this System from all the yapping going on about it, particularly not from all the puerile insults being thrown around: "Clintoooon!!!!" Etc.

Yes, it is a System, fully formed long ago, by which those who once served in high government office (and sometimes not so high) can profit mightily and legally once they leave the marble halls of government, and by which they can thence return to the Hallowed Corridors of Power, rich as Croesus, to start the cycle over again. It is the custom of the tribe. Dick Cheney, anyone?

We may disagree with it -- I certainly do -- but it is legal, and it is all but impossible to prove a direct pro quo for the quid, so legally it's not corruption. No, not really. Really!

It's especially so the higher you go up the ladder of the System. Lower ranks can and do get in trouble or sometimes go to jail for relatively minor indiscretions in squeezing the teats of the System, but the higher the rank, the less likely one is to have one's tits put through the wringer.

The System itself is corrupt, but we don't hear about that, and passions rarely rise over the whole damn thing. No, it's individuals like Hillary who are pilloried for working the System to their advantage, for profiting legally (or sometimes not) from the opportunities on hand.

That someone else does likewise, say Colin Powell or Condolezza Rice to pull two names at random out of a hat, is not a problem -- they're not running for office of course -- but they're profiting from the same System Hillary has. The list of profiteers is almost endless.

That Hillary has worked the System better than many must be galling to her rivals who are convinced she's just not that smart, but the emails show her with a clear grasp of issues and the interests of the people she's speaking to, and the interests of those who have been left behind, a fuller grasp than I would have expected. She may not express herself artfully -- far from it -- but she's no slouch or dullard when it comes down to it.

I suspect she suffers from being "too smart for her own good."

What she seems to lack is good judgment. This has led to some catastrophic misjudgments and utter horror for millions of people in the Middle East, North Africa, Central America and elsewhere. Her husband suffered from some of the same problems of poor judgment Hillary has though perhaps on a different plane...

Yet strangely, or perhaps not, Hillary's poor judgment seems to be right in line with the theories of how things ought to be as they are the accepted consensus among the Ruling Class. In other words, even her moral scolding -- and moral failing -- is taken by them as right and proper.

They should be doing better by the Lower Orders. But they don't. Aww, such a Pity so many have to suffer...

All the Hag-Hate in the world is not going to change that. It will have no affect on the System at all. It's a diversion. Perhaps even an engineered one to ensure that nothing will interfere with the System as it is.

Trump, too, seems to be a diversion.

Keep the Rabble entertained enough and at one another's throats enough, and Wah-Lah! Their impotence for another cycle is assured.

That is key to keeping the Overclass on top and the Rabble incapable of doing anything about it.

Part of the President's job assignment is to soothe or tame the Rabble. Obama is a master at it; there hasn't been anyone as skilled at it since FDR. Hillary is not skilled at it, not at all, and Trump's apparent goal is to rile them up so much they commit mayhem or even a Revolution from the Right.

TPTB cannot tolerate that, of course, but they must be disappointed in Hillary's failure to connect with, let alone tame the Rabble who might well rise up on their own against what they see as an inappropriate continuation of an unacceptable status quo.

The situation puts the Overclass on the spot. Clearly they have decided on Hillary for the White House, but as she is incapable of properly taming the masses, something or someone will have to supplement her rule. I don't see Mr. Kaine being much help in that regard. Certainly Bill will face the same sort of difficulty he did when he was president. Nor would Democratic control of one or both houses of Congress do her any favors. In fact, given the historic fecklessness and misrule of the Democrats, and their lack of interest in progressive policy solutions to domestic and international problems, I can easily imagine a Democratic majority in either or both houses of Congress would be even worse for Hillary than it was for Obama when he had a Democratic majority.

If the Rs keep the House -- likely but not certain -- who would be surprised if articles of impeachment are filed within minutes of her taking office? Who would be surprised with endless "investigations," scandal mongering, hysterics even greater than when Bill was in office? The media will eat it up, just as they have with the sex-accusations against Trump.  They don't care about other aspects of his history, though, do they? The man is a gangster and a con man, and he is a representative of his class, but none of that matters when there is sex on the table.

Nothing matters except The Sex.

It strikes me that there's a revenge drama running through all this nonsense, "get back" for past slights and mistakes. How all that works is a topic for another day.

Right now, though, the Hillary Speeches Hoo-Hah is a lot of sound and fury signifying almost nothing.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Las Migas in Albuquerque

And now for something completely different...

My ancestry and heritage is not Latin but English and Irish and German, yet if I had a choice of cultures to belong to, I would be far more inclined to Latin/Hispano/Chicano than English, Irish, or German. I've always attributed this to the fact that I spent much of my childhood in mixed neighborhoods in Southern and Central Coast California, where many of my neighbors and friends were Mexicans and Mexican-American, and where Spanish and Mexican history was proudly asserted.

Today, of course, we live in New Mexico, where Spanish and Mexican history and culture are proudly asserted, and where some of our friends and neighbors, perhaps most of them, are of Hispanic ancestry. It just seems natural to me.

While our cultural interests are pretty broad, we have a special fondness for flamenco, which for all intents and purposes is the New Mexico State Dance. There are a number of world class flamenco troupes in New Mexico, and we make it a point to attend flamenco performances as often as we can.

Last night it was Las Migas from Barcelona at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Well, that was different! 

Flamenco in New Mexico tends to be very traditional with modern touches. Maria Benitez from Taos was perhaps the pioneer New Mexico flamenco dancer and teacher forty or fifty years ago. One can see the influence of Antonio Gades' choreographic repertoire and style among current troupes -- which is very contemporary though Gades' dance and musical vocabulary is based entirely in the flamenco tradition.

Las Migas breaks away from that tradition and starts one of its own. Mira:

Being todo mujeres is not all that unusual among flamenco groups, as many have been and are all women. But Las Migas is unusual in creating a lot of their own music and focusing on the music rather than the dance. And in their literature they make clear their music is a fusion of flamenco and "Mediterranean" sounds.

There was a segment of dance in their show last night, with Alba, their lead singer, dancing a very unusual and contemporary flamenco interpretation. That is what she does. Mira:

There were few people in the Disney Theatre (Roy Disney, Walt's brother, funded the mainstage at NHCC back in the day) when we got there last night, and I feared that because Las Migas was little known in Albuquerque (this was their US debut performance) attendance would be light. But it turned out the place was nearly full when the show was a few minutes under way -- road construction nearby may have caused some people to be late.

Alba started speaking in English -- her English is very good -- but she asked in Spanish whether people in the audience could understand her. The response was ¡Si!  She asked in Spanish if there was anyone in the audience who couldn't understand her. No response. "¿Nadie?" No response. Well, of course. If you don't understand Spanish, you're not going to know what she's asking, no?


So she continued through the rest of the show speaking Barcelona Spanish mixed I'm sure with some Catalan, and it strained my limited Spanish to follow along. I found I could understand enough, though, that I didn't feel left out. I even got some of her jokes, ja ja. My Spanish comprehension must be better than I thought.

The Barcelona accent is not quite Castilian, but it is recognizably Spanish from Spain and not from the Americas, particularly not Mexican. New Mexicans pride themselves on their preservation of Castilian Spanish from the 17th century, and so despite any differences there may have been between the Barcelona Spanish of Las Migas, and the somewhat antiquated Castilian spoken among many New Mexicans, there seemed not to be a language barrier with the audience at all. If there was, I wouldn't have known anyway, because I still have some difficulty with New Mexico Spanish, about as much as I had with the Barcelona Spanish of Las Migas.

I go on about this because essentially the entire show was performed and explained in Spanish (there was one song in Catalan), and English was set aside for the evening. That's a first for me at NHCC, where most performances are either in English, or bilingüe, English-Spanish. As far as I could tell, most of the audience appreciated that there was no need to use English or to cater to the Anglos in the audience (and there were more than a few of "us".)

In New Mexico, Hispanic heritage and culture may have pride of place, but nearly everyone uses English rather than Spanish day to day. Last night, it wasn't necessary. And that was, I think, liberating.

The musicianship and song styling of Las Migas is first rate. The "Mediterranean" aspects of their music were interestingly interpreted by the audience, some of whom were up and dancing in the aisles, as tropical. Of course, it was familiar that way. That part of the show was interpreted as cross-over-fusion perhaps more so than was intended, but it was fine.

Alba Carmona, the lead singer and dancer, has a very powerful, smoky voice, not quite as gutteral as much flamenco cante,  but strong and clear and packed with emotion nonetheless. Hers is a different kind of flamenco cante, just as her dance is a different kind of flamenco baile. The term of art is Nuevo Flamenco. Again, that was something new for us as it may have been for most of the audience.

The group as a whole performs strongly together, obviously enjoying themselves and the music. The two guitarists were superb, and their solo segment was technically and artistically outstanding. It was not, however, "flamenco" guitar, which was just fine!

Their violinist had her own moments to shine, and I thought her contribution was a major factor taking Las Migas's work out of the "traditional" realm and into new territory.

Alba, however, was clearly the star and attention grabber, both vocally and through her dance (the others joined her dancing at the end of the first act, following her lead off stage as the house lights came up for intermission.)

NHCC has been actively seeking and presenting European acts from Spain for some time to supplement their rather strong focus on Hispanic art and artists from the Americas. Las Migas may have been one of their most successful efforts to date. It was a continuation and celebration of the venue's Latin Diva Series. 

Ms. Ché is Native American (Cherokee) and she is attending a Native American art school in Santa Fe (IAIA). Yet she is perhaps even more appreciative of Hispanic arts and culture than I am. As she becomes more deeply involved in Native American arts and culture than she was ever able to do in California, she's gaining a stronger appreciation for other cultures and styles present in New Mexico, including, from time to time, the contemporary "Anglo" arts and cultural sphere -- though you should hear her criticize it! Oh my!

This was Las Migas's first appearance in Albuquerque, but we both hope it will not be their last. ¡Viva!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Creepy Clown vs The Hag

This election pageant has devolved into a cage match between Creepy Clown and The Hag. Some of it appears to be as scripted as a pro-wrestling match, other aspects seem to be ad libbed to the point where the contest is running the risk of spinning entirely out of control.

The irony is that the riveted focus of the contest is on the Sex Thing; dredging up Big Dog's past while all these new accusations against Trump are put in play. And blaming Putin and the Russians for the leaked Podesta emails...

Which puts a whole other layer of irony on this mess of a presidential campaign.

Sex sells, of course, so I guess we should have anticipated this focus on doing the nasty. Which, without consent, makes it assault and/or rape. Nasty indeed. Now of course we all know that Bubba was vehemently accused of doing likewise a couple of decades ago, and that got him in several tubs of hot water, including winding up impeached -- but not removed from office -- by the august majesty of Congress Assembled. It was quite the goon show. That was right around the time I started writing and commenting online. The impeachment of Bill Clinton triggered a lot of us to make some waves and call for... some semblance of reason in Our Government.

The thing was, there were plenty of things to criticize Clinton and his administration for. PLENTY. Every time the focus turned to The Sex though, all those other things -- from NAFTA to Serbia and Rwanda, the dismantlement of welfare as we knew it, the free rein given the banks, and on and on --
were shunted aside. And it quickly enough became clear that that was a prime motivation for focusing on The Sex. Keep the Rabble amused and entertained with prurient stories of Bubba's libido and poof, all those other things disappear.

Sure enough, it worked. It wasn't just the Rabble being entertained, either. This was hard core Presidential Porn for vast swaths of the Government as well. The Congress was entirely captivated; the media likewise. Special prosecutors went wild with glee. It was insane.

The echoes of all of that in the accusations once again being hurled at Bill Clinton, and by extension somehow tainting his wife ("The Hag") are dredging up plenty of revulsion among the masses. "Oh please, let us not go through all this again. Please!" I'm seeing the same sort of hyperbole about Bubba -- he's a rapist and worse, oh much worse, and Don't Forget Vince Foster, and Mina airport, and so much else that he's guilty-guilty-guilty of! -- being injected into the commentary about Trump's libido. It's as if the insanity of those times was institutionalized, and is now a permanent fixture of the government/media complex.

Of course many young people are being exposed to it for the first time. They didn't live through it like old codgers like me did. They didn't experience the utter hysteria the first time around, so this current hoo-hah must come as something of a shock to them. WTF? Right?

Not just the hoo-hah over Trump's stunted adolescent pawing of females and "locker room talk," but all the stuff about Bubba being a cad and a heel and an inveterate womanizer, too. Not that no one knew about it, it's just that until recently it wasn't much of a Thing anymore. Then suddenly, BOOM. It's back in all it's sleaze and tattered glory. 

Somehow this is supposed to impugn Hillary ("The Hag") for sticking with Her Man, yadda yadda. I'm surprised that the accusations that she's a lesbian or that Web Hubble is Chelsea's father haven't yet surfaced again. Let's try not to be shocked/surprised if they do.

There's a whole encyclopedia of accusations to draw from, after all.

Hag-Hate is a definite subculture in the USofA. What Bubba did back in the day -- and more importantly what he is accused of doing -- is a fundamental part of Hag-Hate. She was there, she enabled, she probably (an accusation) procured. She's therefore as Utterly Evil as he is.

Policy discussion and issues of (shall we say) more global importance get shoved to the background.

But isn't that the point? I think so.

In point of fact, the Clintons ("Clintoons" in the puerile lexicon of Hag-Hate) and their supposed rightist political opponents agree on most issues of global importance. Such disagreement as there is on the Important Issues comes from the left, not from the right. Never has been all that much disagreement on those Important Issues on the R side of the aisle, as there still isn't.

That's why I've said many times that Hillary ("The Hag") is running as the Establishment Republican candidate, not really as a Democrat at all. As many have pointed out, some of her policy proposals are to the right of Nixon. She isn't even as "leftist" as a Rockefeller Republican. Her belligerence and warmongering are direct throwbacks to Bush-Cheney, but they're rooted in the Kissinger perspective of world domination that flows through White House regimes like a river.

We the Rabble don't seem to be able to move or channel this river of hegemony in any way.

But who cares? It's not about The Sex, is it?

Trump is being portrayed as the prototype Creepy Clown, and I won't go so far as to say that's unfair. He's self-aware enough to understand that because he's rich and famous ("") he can get away with most anything he wants when it comes to Female Flesh, and he can crush his male rivals one by one or in batches (at least in his own mind.)  This is the mindset of a gangster and conman. No surprise, that's what he is.

That should be something the electorate pays attention to, but it seems that there's little or no comprehension of Trump's nature. Some see him as a bully and a predator -- but they like it. ("At least he's our Bully!" That sort of thing.) No, no, no. Trump does not bully on behalf of anybody but himself. Do you understand? No, they don't.

He's conning his supporters. Oh, but they like it. Whether they know it or not, they like being conned by Trump, because at least he's bothering to tell them what they want to hear ("Lock her up!") whereas the sticks in the mud "regular" Republicans endlessly tell them to sit down and shut up. Much as the "regular" Democratic Pooh-Bahs tell the rest of the Rabble to do likewise. "Sit down and shut up; there is no alternative."

Maggie Thatcher must be so pleased and proud looking up at us from her perch in Hell.


But again, none of that matters when the story is all about The Sex.

It's been noted that the obsessive focus on who did what to whom when is practically overwhelming the story of the Podesta email hack that is supposed to be exposing all the "devastating" details of what Hillary ("The Hag") really believes about the World and Everything.

And of course it's all Putin's fault.


What I've seen of these emails (note, it's useless to try to search WikiLeaks for anything of interest), suggests to me that there's essentially nothing in them that we didn't already suspect or know, and that to a surprising degree, Hillary ("The Hag") was using her position and the opportunity to inject something resembling a social conscience into the crowds of malefactors of great wealth before whom she was speechifying. WHAT???? If there's a smoking gun of perfidy worthy of more than a passing glance, I haven't seen it. But then, we only see what others want us to see...

In other words, if she were smart, and her campaign wasn't so focused on the Creepy Clown, she'd actually be using these leaks in her defense; if she and her campaign were smart, they would have been using these things from day one. No, she doesn't come across as an antagonist to these High and Mighty Owners, not at all; but she does come across as a Persuader, "helping" them to do the Right Thing for once in their sorry lives. In this, she really strikes me as akin to a Republican moralist of yore.

But no. The focus must stay on the Creepy Clown and how Outrageous he is.

It's political malpractice, but then, side issues are always more important in the Pageant, aren't they? Gossip and scandal, you know? That's what the People really want.

And of course, Blame It All On the Russians.

I've been thinking about this anti-Putin, anti-Russia propaganda campaign quite a bit. It makes no logical sense at all. It's not just out of bounds, it's crazy, and it could spin out of control at any time, leading to God only knows what. But why? Why does it exist at all?

A theory is that it grows directly out of the neocon "Project for a New American Century" which is the blueprint for the catastrophe in the Middle East, and the plan for establishing and extending American Hegemony over the entire globe. The destruction of Russia -- regime change, followed by dismemberment -- is part of the long-term goal. So, too, the destruction and dismemberment of China. Any rival to American Imperial Power must be destroyed, vanquished or absorbed. The two strongest rivals are Russia and China, so it is proposed, and taking them out is in the National Interest. Or something.

So Putin, fully aware of this, sees the saber rattling and tub thumping coming out of DC and particularly from the Clinton campaign as an existential threat to Mother Russia, never mind to himself. That's actually quite rational.

But the blaming of Putin/Russia for everything is propaganda-silly. When I see it parroted in the "news" and online, I'm just gobsmacked. Have we learned nothing from the barrage of lies and half truths that led to the monstrous invasion and occupation of Iraq? And all the continuing fall out from that? What? How can Americans still be so gullible?

Dear God, no.

But I think there's something more than merely the Plan being followed. No, I think the current propaganda barrage is the result of something more immediate: Snowden. What? 

Think about it. Russia-US relations changed fundamentally when Putin-Stalin granted asylum to Edward Snowden three years ago (or whenever it was, I forget now...) That act was blamed directly on Putin, and it was cited as defiance of US orders and demands that he be turned over to American authorities forthwith.

Not only has that not been done, but Russia has provided Snowden with a home, apparently with a good living, a girlfriend, and much, much more. He has become well integrated into Russian high life. And he is being carefully protected by the Kremlin.

Anti-Russian and particularly anti-Putin propaganda ramped up immediately, and it has now reached a fever pitch unseen since the propaganda barrage preparatory to the invasion of Iraq. We're seeing a similar anti-WikiLeaks propaganda barrage, which I attribute at least in part to WikiLeaks' assistance in spiriting Snowden into comfortable exile in Russia.

For a long time, I thought Snowden was a black op, a "limited hangout". Perhaps he started out that way, but something changed along the way, and once he was protectively ensconced in Mother Russia, his revelations became less about domestic spying and so forth (which the NSA, etc. were quite prepared to "explain") and more about international spying, some of which was quite embarrassing from a diplomatic point of view (let alone  from the security state standpoint.)  In other words, he crossed a line that was unpermitted. That enraged his former supervisors at the Agencies. And revenge became their prime directive, no just revenge against him, but revenge against all those who had helped him.

That sort of revenge appears to be in play in the actions of the Clinton campaign to literally destroy the Republican brand and if possible take Congressional power away from them -- while utterly destroying Trump in the process.

It's revenge for the impeachment and the follies that followed.

It's all very, very personal.

Yes, our governing class is just that nasty. Oh yes.

All this is sickening, but there's nothing we can do about it from our position Outside the Gates. Our Betters don't listen to us. They govern contrary to our interests. They dismiss our pleas.

They are Bourbon-like. This would be true no matter which unacceptable candidate is in office. It is who they are, and it is what they must do. No matter who it is. We saw quite clearly how this works with Obama's transformation once he was installed in the Big Chair. He became the creature of those he had denounced.

So we're screwed once again.

But meanwhile, we can focus attention on the All Important Sex Issues once again.

Save us.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Protests in Albuquerque Over the Mistrial of Sandy and Perez

The news yesterday evening was hyperventilating over a protest organized by UnOccupy Albuquerque at the courthouse and police headquarters over the mistrial of Keith Sandy and Dominque Perez for the killing of James Boyd.

Oh my, oh my. The news claimed the protest "turned violent" when protesters took to the street and blocked traffic briefly. Some of the drivers decided to proceed, in spite of people in the street blocking the way, and that resulted in some pushing and shoving between vehicles and people, and there was one report of a fight between a driver and someone in the street. There was also an instance in which a driver, plowing through people attempting to block his way, had his vehicle hit with a sign.

That was the "violence."

News people on the scene practically had the vapors.

Police eventually arrived and closed off the streets in the vicinity which dampened some of the conflict between drivers and protesters. At police headquarters, police with automatic weapons and dressed in camo fatigues guarded the building. Bless their hearts. Snipers were stationed on nearby rooftops (as had been the case during protest the night before.)

Then as darkness fell, police arrived at the courthouse (where the protest had reassembled) with their LRAD -- which I didn't see them use -- together with a half-dozen or so camoed-up and AR-15 wielding SWAT officers.

They were mocked and shouted at by protesters from ten yards away or so, most with their hands up ("don't shoot") and some on their knees. The news people watching this practically had their heart attacks at this point.

Finally, the last I saw of the protest, a line of several dozen camoed and AR carrying po-po assembled on one side of the street while the protesters formed a line on the other, and a stand off ensued.

I'll go check the news now and see if anything more happened. I suspect the protesters ultimately dispersed except for the more radical anarchist contingent, two or three of whom probably got themselves arrested.

We'll see.

The story, as seen on the 10pm news...

[I had to delete the teevee news segment due to an autoplay feature that I could not dismiss...fooey]

A slide show of the hoo-hah: [Deleted the slide show as well. Still having the autoplay problems...fooey]

And a link to the news story

Just to make clear, Albuquerque has a very active police abuse protest community, but it has factions. While some are inclined to confront police, others are more nuanced and subtle. I saw both factions in play in the videos and news reports, and I recognized some of the participants from other protests I've been involved with. These are people who are dedicated to making waves and precipitating change.

The problem is and has been that when change occurs, as it has with APD, there is so little recognition of it...

A Bit More on the Health Care Topic

There is growing alarm at what may be happening to Obamacare premiums with the coming year. In some jurisdictions they are predicted to rise exponentially; in other jurisdictions, carriers are pulling out of the market because -- they say -- they can't make a profit.

"They can't make a profit." Oh, too bad, so sad. In fact, this is an all-purpose but unverifiable excuse for ceasing coverage of undesirable customers, in unfashionable areas, and otherwise going back to the previous selective model of patient coverage or non-coverage as the case may be. We don't know the details of insurance companies not making a profit under Obamacare. Where does the money go?

Under Obamacare, they've been able to charge high premiums and keep raising the premiums year by year; they've been able to charge high co-pays and high deductibles too, effectively ensuring that they don't pay out anything for most patients most of the time, but they are able to collect extraordinary amounts of money from those patients month by month.

It's been a tremendous boon to the health insurance cartels, and yet they whine that they can't make a profit and must raise premiums and deductibles beyond any rational measure, or they must leave the Obamacare marketplace. Well, good riddance.

My own suspicion is that this is a pre-planned move to enable the long-delayed single payer health insurance/health care provision for most patients while reserving private insurance for the most well-off.

There are several single payer models already in operation in this country: VA-Tricare/IHS/Medicare/Medicaid/HMOs and PPOs. They all provide relatively low cost, relatively decent and accessible health care to a variety of constituencies. (HMO and PPO can be very expensive or not so much depending on which constituency category you're in.)

Expanding each of them or all of them to provide essentially universal coverage and access to health care would be a fairly simple task. It could have been done long ago, but the for-profit model of health care coverage was paramount.

And so, no. The simple fix was endlessly delayed.

But in my view, Obamacare was meant as a stop-gap at best, and it functions as something of a pre-paid payoff to the insurance cartels. They've been paid hundreds of billions of dollars over the last few years while providing little or no actual coverage for most patients who essentially pay out of pocket (subsidized or no) to the cartels, and pay extraordinarily high deductibles and co-pays, which limits insurance company exposure to essentially nothing at all for most patients. Yet they whine and whine that they can't make a profit. Well, too bad.

Except I'm sure they were quite aware of the ultimate goal: single payer and universal coverage. The private insurance market and for profit model can't provide universal coverage, and we see under Obamacare, it essentially doesn't provide any coverage for most patients most of the time. They pay the insurance cartels a monthly fee (whether subsidized or not) and they pay out of pocket for all their routine care. Thus most households actually never receive any benefit from their health insurance at all.

The definition of a scam, right?

But we see the same thing throughout the for-profit private insurance business. Most of the time, the insurers receive regular payments from their clients while paying out nothing at all on their behalf. And when they do pay something, it is generally only after the client has paid much more in premiums and deductibles.

In the for profit health care insurance model, however, everything is taken to an extreme. Monthly premiums totaling ten thousand a year or more are common; deductibles of $5,000 or $6,000 on top of premiums are also common, so for many households, out of pocket health care expenses of $15,000 to $20,000 before insurance pays a dime on their client's behalf is routine. Of course, most people won't have $15,000 or $20,000 in annual health care expenses, ever. So insurance will never pay anything on their behalf, ever. And they can't make a profit under the circumstances? Well, isn't that special....

But I think it is intentional and pre-planned. In some places, insurers have been pulling out of the market; that trend seems to be accelerating. In some places, remaining insurers are jacking up premiums by up to 60% and more. At the same time, they're cutting coverage to the barest minimum. So they're seeking greater up front payments while reducing the risk of payout (already low) to practically nothing.

Why should people even bother under those circumstances? But isn't that the intent? Make a product that costs a fortune but can't be used, and watch the customers turn their backs or complain so loudly that something must be done. Well, something can be done, and that is to jettison the for profit insurance model for the majority of people and reserve it specifically for an upscale clientèle who will cheerfully pay through the nose so long as they are assured special access and special care whenever they so desire.

Leave the Rabble to the expansion of one or another single payer system that provides basic care at relatively low cost, places limits on access, but can keep them (the Rabble) from spreading their diseases to the Overclass, and can keep them well enough long enough to be useful to their Betters.

Win-win, right?

That's where this has  been headed all along, I think.

Just as a note, I've had HMO coverage for decades, first with Kaiser in California and now with Presbyterian in New Mexico. I ran into some serious issues with Kaiser when I presented at the ER with pneumonia and they suspected I had tuberculosis -- because their flow chart red-flagged New "MEXICO" when they asked where I'd traveled. Even when I explained over and over again that I had never traveled to MEXICO, it didn't matter. I was red-flagged as exposed to tuberculosis, and that was that.  (Albeit, I did have some symptoms consistent with tuberculosis because I had gone untreated for pneumonia for two months...)

Kaiser HMO coverage cost about $1,100 a month, all but $400 or so was employer paid. It seemed remarkably high since I rarely used it. There were no deductibles, and co-pays were low, in the $10 range for routine care; nothing much over $75 - $100 for specialist/outpatient care. I insisted on being treated as an outpatient for pneumonia. If I had agreed to be hospitalized, there would have been no out of pocket cost. As an outpatient I was charged a co-pay of $10 each time I saw a doctor. There was one specialist I paid $100 to. There was a $4 charge for each prescription I took during the course of treatment.

It was generally quick and easy to see providers when necessary. But I rarely had a need. So, apart from the bogus tuberculosis diagnosis and very poor treatment in the ER that time, I had few complaints.

I currently have a Medicare Advantage plan through Presbyterian Healthcare in New Mexico. This requires some travel, as there is no Presbyterian facility nearby -- the closest is 17 miles away, but I use facilities in Albuquerque, 40 miles or so west since that's where my doctors are.

Doctors, plural. Right now, I have a primary health care provider -- who I haven't seen for months because I'm under specialist care: a rheumatologist, a hematologist/oncologist, and a pulmonologist.

Labs are no cost, and I get blood drawn at least once a month to monitor my condition(s). Specialist visits are $50 co-pay. That added up the first couple of months I was seeing specialists, but now it's only every three to six months for each one. There's a $5 co-pay to see my PCP. I had a CT scan which is normally billed at a $300 co-pay, but because I had it at their hospital, my co-pay was only $108, as it was billed at inpatient rates which are lower than outpatient rates.

If I need hospitalization, there is a $325 per day co-pay -- for the first three days. After that, no charge.

Prescription coverage is included, but it's hard to figure out just what the charge will be, as there are five tiers, and there is a gap in coverage when total cost for prescriptions is over $3,700 (or something) -- and I'm pretty close to that now.  One of my prescriptions is over $355 a month and another is close to $600 a month of which I would pay 40%.  If I take them both next year, I will be well into the coverage gap by summer, and that will increase my co-pays from about $140 a month for all prescriptions to around $700. Oh boy.  After total payment for prescriptions reaches $4,950, my co-payment drops to 5% of the cost of medications or less, depending. Since it won't take that long to get there... I guess that's good.

Access to care is somewhat dicey due to communications problems between providers... yet once we figured out what the hang-up was, things smoothed out a bit, and once I saw the specialists, followup was relatively easy, and contact and communication is relatively swift and sure. Haven't used the ER, so don't know how that would work. (There's a $65 co-pay if I wind up in the ER.) Ambulance service is included ($75 co-pay) which apparently includes ground ambulance from out here in the country where I live to a hospital in Albuquerque or in a serious emergency, helicopter ambulance to ABQ at no additional charge.

I can use an out-of-network urgent care clinic here without going to Albuquerque in most cases ($65 co-pay) and without getting pre-approval. If I use the Presbyterian urgent care clinics in Albuquerque (but that's 45 minutes away, not exactly "urgent") there's no co-pay.

There are endless other charges and details, but that's the basics of it. All I pay monthly is whatever Medicare premiums are ($106 a month right now I think, what they will be next year hasn't been announced yet.) 

So it's a pretty good deal all things considered, but it costs a lot more than Ms Ché's coverage which is through IHS and Medicare. She pays nothing for prescriptions, nothing for care directly through IHS, or First Nations clinics, and she pays the standard Medicare 20% co-pay for specialist care outside IHS. She has to go to Albuquerque too, because that's where the IHS facilities are, but she also gets care at UNM hospitals and clinics in ABQ, and at First Nations clinics in ABQ. This totals a few hundred dollars a year for her care in addition to Medicare premiums, whereas my care is costing a thousand or more out of pocket on top of Medicare premiums. (This year, I'm anticipating about $1,600 out of pocket.)

It's not a bad deal considering how much others are paying out of pocket with essentially no insurance contribution at all.

But it could be so much simpler for them if they were part of a single payer program that actually covered most medical expenses.

That, I think, is coming and not too long in the future. However, it will take a Nixon in China moment, and of the two candidates for president (who have a chance to win) Hillary is probably the one to do it -- because of her long-time "no you can't" and "it will never happen" statements about it. Trump says a lot of things, none of which seem to be operative for more than a few minutes, but his "plan" has always been Obamacare "repeal and replace" with no specificity of what to replace it with, just that it will be "wonderful."

The fact is private for profit insurance doesn't work for universal coverage -- it can't. The for-profit model of health care will have to be ditched if universal access and coverage is the goal. The end of the Obamacare for profit model is just about nigh. The only rational replacement is single payer, and that is what I predict will happen sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Old and Ill...

I got doctored yesterday for the umpteenth time. Part of an ongoing assessment of my condition(s) of old age and cussedness, as well as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), COPD, and potential other complaints.

Finally got a pulmonary function assessment which was ordered months ago by my rheumatologist. Understanding what's going on with my lung(s) is a key to understanding some of the rest of my physical difficulties.

Fatigue has become my most aggravating problem. I simply cannot do what I once could because I become exhausted within a few minutes. We found out part of the reason why yesterday.

The pulmonary function test is no fun, but I'm glad I did it. It showed that I suffer from mild COPD, but also a severe reduction in lung capacity which the pulmonologist determined was due to RA not COPD or emphysema which CT scans determined I had acquired from smoking years ago.

He advises aggressive treatment with steroids for the RA to get a handle on diminished lung capacity.


I've been warned repeatedly and insistently about the hazards of steroids, particularly bone loss, diabetes and other side effects, and my rheumatologist has been reducing my dosage of prednisone while providing me with other medications that seem to work pretty well at controlling RA joint pain and swelling. Now I'm being told to use a steroid inhaler -- albuterol (which I have but have never used) -- due to diminished lung capacity.... well, what to do, eh?

It's one of those conundrums which I guess I'll just have to face.

Note: generally speaking, I feel pretty good. The problem I have not been able to resolve is fatigue, and figuring out what to do about that is going to take a bit of resourcefulness.

Then there was the brochure on COPD I picked up yesterday that was all about hospice care, ventilators, end of life decisions and whatnot. My oh my. Well, I'm not quite there yet.

It's not about victory, it's about justice...

The trial of Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy, acknowledged killers of homeless, schizophrenic camper James Boyd in the Sandia Mountain Foothills of Albuquerque, ended in a hung jury yesterday. Whether they will be retried depends on the wishes and interests of the incoming DA who won't be installed until January.

Their mug shots -- Keith Sandy,  L, Dominique Perez, R
Charming duo, aren't they? Actually they were, I won't lie about it. When they took the stand in their own defense, they came across as a couple of choirboys, no pun intended, who would never hurt a fly in anger or intentional malice. They were (wait for it)


when they shot and killed James Boyd that chilly afternoon March 16, 2014, setting off a roiling series of protests and demands for police reform in Albuquerque, including an end to the killing spree APD had been on for years. I played a very minor supporting role in the efforts to bring some kind of accountability to the police department and an end to the killing, and I reported some of it here. My involvement in these efforts over the years, in both Albuquerque and Sacramento has caused some strain in my household because Ms Ché, a retired court official and the granddaughter of a sheriff's deputy, strongly supports the police; I, on the other hand, am the son and grandson of attorneys, and my uncle was charged with murder in the death of his wife -- in a highly political trial that ended first in a hung jury, then in acquittal.

So we have a disagreement about these things, Ms. Ché and I. While she respects my point of view and has actually been very supportive in my efforts, she rather vehemently disagrees with me. To her credit, she does not denounce those I've worked with to bring accountability and an end to police violence. But she does see these incidents through the prism of her own experience in court, and through the eyes of the police officers she's worked with and come to know very well. I've known some of her police pals, and for the most part have found them to be fine, upstanding gentlemen -- who wouldn't hurt a fly out of anger or intentional malice. If they ever engaged in violent policing or use of lethal force (so far as I know, none of them did), they would only be doing their jobs.

And this is the problem of violent policing in a nutshell. When it happens -- and statistics suggest it happens much less often than it once did -- it is almost always regarded by departments, officials, and the public as "just doing their jobs." In other words, it is what officers are expected and required to do under the circumstances.

Prosecutor Randi McGinn asked after the mistrial was declared yesterday whether this was the kind of policing the people of Albuquerque wanted, whether "shoot first" anticipating that someone might be a threat was the right and proper way to approach people like Boyd who was clearly in another world but who was not objectively a threat to officers, or should there be another way for police as representatives of the community, to approach people like Boyd.

In a way, she's back in the past, because the APD policies in these matters have changed radically since the Boyd shooting. In fact, the whole approach to his minor offense of camping in the mountains and his insistence on self defense with folding knives would be significantly different by APD and support staff than it was on the day he was killed.

Crisis intervention would be allowed to continue until there was a successful resolution. The ROP (Repeat Offender Project) team that Keith Sandy was part of has been disbanded. If SWAT (Perez was a SWAT officer) had been called at all (not necessarily) they would not have been obvious nor would they necessarily have been setting snipers ready to kill at a moment's notice. The K-9 officer whose actions helped precipitate the killing might not have been there at all.

And so on. Rather than setting up to kill this man, APD would be doing everything possible to preserve his life. That would be their jobs.

That is a radical change, and that is part of the change we were after.

Three of the jurors believed Sandy and Perez were guilty of 2nd degree murder, 9 voted to acquit. 

The jury told the judge that they were hopelessly deadlocked, and the judge declared a mistrial. 

The matter goes back to the DA's office. Randi McGinn, the prosecutor, was a special appointee, not the DA. The DA, Kari Brandenburg, recused herself when she was accused of conflicts in this case, and she appointed McGinn to conduct the prosecution. Brandenburg chose not to run again for DA this year so she will be replaced by Raul Torrez in January. Whether he will attempt to retry these ex-officers is anyone's guess, but I suspect he won't, partly based on the fact that APD has undertaken significant reforms since Boyd's killing, and they are currently under a DoJ consent decree to address their issues of unconstitutional policing and other failings -- including one of the worst killing sprees of any police department in the country (based on population.)

McGinn said it's up to the community to decide whether they want police training to emphasize "anticipatory" killing (ie: neutralizing a potential threat) or focus more on preserving the life of even a suspect like Boyd. I think that conversation has already been had. It's not subject to a vote. The community came out strongly in favor of doing everything possible to preserve a life, including that of Mr. Boyd. Thus policies that led to Boyd's death -- and the deaths of many others prior to and briefly after Boyd's killing -- have been changed significantly. Albuquerque Police Department now kills very few individuals -- three this year so far, compared to more than a dozen per year in the past -- and they deploy crisis intervention much more often than in the past.

The problem of police killing in Albuquerque and the rest of New Mexico has not gone away, however. While APD doesn't kill the way it used to, other agencies, particularly US Marshal, Bernalillo County Sheriffs, and New Mexico State Police continue to kill in a pattern that follows prior "force protection" models rather than "sanctity of life" models. They never had as high a rate of killing as APD, so it didn't seem like they were as trigger happy as they are. But now that APD has taken a very different approach to these matters, the other law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction in Albuquerque who haven't changed their approach seem to be much more violent and lethal -- though their actual rate of killing is probably not any higher than it was before APD changed its ways. 

It's a never ending challenge to maintain both accountability by police forces and to reduce their use of violence and lethal force. Police unions resist strenuously any effort that would interfere with officers' use of force or require accountability by police. In some cases -- Seattle and Oakland come to mind -- they refuse to abide by rules of conduct they don't agree with. This is in effect a mutinous action that should lead to discipline or dismissal, but until recently, it hasn't. APD vocally resisted reforms, but in the end accommodated them fairly well for which they are to be congratulated. 

I've pointed out the drop in killing by APD in several internet fora, only to be met by skepticism because it hasn't been reported in major online  media. True enough. It hasn't even been reported locally. But it's true, as any review of the data (as collated by Killed by Police and the Guardian) will demonstrate. But that's work, and few want to bother with it if they don't have to.

Meanwhile, the trial of Sandy and Perez did not end with an acquittal, which is what I thought it would. There may or may not be a new trial, but if there isn't one, it will not mean that these men were acquitted of murder, only that the charges were dismissed.

I can only hope that the reforms instituted by APD will continue in force and that violent policing will be curbed nationwide.

But it's a long and exhausting struggle. I'm old and ill, and I'm not at all sure how much more I can do. Time for the young to step up...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Anti-Putin Racket

I've been curious about this for quite a long time.

Russia and the United States have a long and complex history with one another, on the one hand putative enemies due to differing value systems, on the other friendly rivals, and on yet another level, close allies to overcome existential political, economic, social, or power threats.

When I was a child, of course, I was indoctrinated with all the anti-Communist/anti-Soviet propaganda everyone else was. We lived through endless iterations of the looming nuclear annihilation game, the repetitive duck and cover drills, the frequent measurements between our happy homes and likely targets for ICBMs and long range bombers. Of course, the enemy du jour was Joe Stalin and after he died, it was still Stalin until the Kremlin sorted out its power structure and Nikita Khrushchev got to the top of the heap.

That was a bit disorienting because we'd been taught to believe Stalin was the Devil, and Khrushchev just didn't seem to be all that threatening. More like a somewhat crazed uncle.

And the stories we were told about the appalling conditions in the Soviet Union either lacked context or were outright false. For some reason, I don't recall how it happened, I became aware of the falsehood of the anti-Soviet propaganda we young were indoctrinated with very early on. I'd like to think it was through anti-anti-Soviet propaganda organs like "Soviet Life" which was distributed fairly widely in the late Fifties, but I can't recall seeing it before my eyes were opened to the fact that we were being fed fabrications and lies.

I may have learned of the propaganda and lies through a teacher instead. Mr. Beeson was my fifth grade teacher, and I recall he was being "investigated" for God knows what, but I think it was for "Communist Sympathies" among other things. He was gone from the classroom for several days, perhaps weeks, and when he came back, he was very subdued. But I think he was the one who clued us to the fact that propaganda of any kind wasn't "fact," it was meant to sway our minds and build up loyalty and patriotism toward our own country and animosity and hatred toward -- THEM. It was perhaps my first lesson in critical thinking.

I see many echoes of that indoctrination in the New Hitler/Boogeyman, anti-Putin, anti-Russian propaganda we're being flooded with these days. Putin-The-Devil is everywhere, inescapable, and yet I see very little that even makes sense, let alone has any sort of evidence to back it up or factual basis whatever.

But even if there were concrete facts to back the propaganda -- there aren't -- the correct approach is skeptical disinterest, a "so what?" rather than the increasingly shrill and belligerent demands and ultimatums.

What's really going on here, in other words?

The Official CT (if you can call it that) is being driven by the same internal government faction that drove the drumbeats that led to the Iraq invasion and the subsequent catastrophe, and the demonization of Putin, the Otherization of Russia and its people, is right out of the neocon playbook which has been known for almost 20 years (Project for the New American Century, etc.) The point being to establish the USofA as the unrivaled global hegemon by destroying or absorbing any and all rivals.

Including the Russian Federation (aka "New Soviet Empire") and China. The destruction of the Middle East and Arab North Africa fit right in to the Plan as it was announced years and years ago.

It's an Anglo-American-Israeli plot to Rule the World for ever and ever, rAmen.

These people are relentless, they don't give up, and they will have their way by hook or by crook. Hillary is fully on board with their evil plans, according to the common CT understanding, whereas Trump, for all his many faults, is not.


I don't buy that Trump is not on board, but that's a side issue.

The issue for me is that this faction within the government (and those who own said government) is playing with fire, and it seems to have a Bourbon level inability to learn from mistakes or even to acknowledge them. Iraq was a great success according to them; the ruin of Syria is going according to plan; the rise of rebel jihadist groups and their terrorist accompaniment is useful to keep domestic populations in line and uncomplaining; the flattening of Yemen is necessary for the Saudi regional hegemony and to teach a lesson to anyone who would challenge the mighty-might of the Empire;
periodic Gaza flattening likewise.

India and Pakistan going at it is part and parcel of the Imperial Project; the chaos in much of Africa is meant to be. The economic turmoil in China is a precursor of Imperial Will to Power. It's all been gamed out, and the Hegemonic Axis of Anglo-American-Israeli power always comes out the winner.

Except when it doesn't. Which apparently the military has found is the case in any direct conflict with a fully engaged major or minor power. In other words, the Imperial Axis can't win against, say, Iran or Russia, or even a determined group of rebels unconnected with a nation-state. Thus the current efforts at subversion and undermining such states and rebel groups, much like the Color Revolutions of the 80s and 90s or the more recent Arab Spring/Maidan uprisings.

It's all part of the Imperial Project.

It's disturbing to say the least.

There is much hoo-hah over the likelihood of a nuclear exchange with Russia should The Hag assume the Mantle of the Presidency. I don't think it will happen. More likely in my view is a "non-aggression pact" between the two supposed Super Powers. In other words, some imitation of what has long been going on between US and Russian/Soviet rivals. Russia will bluster but back down in the end, and the US will step back from the brink. Nevertheless, it's a dangerous and a fool's game that shouldn't be played at all. Easy for me to say, right?

Of course, Russia is no longer a "super-power" and is unlikely to use its stockpile of nuclear weapons except in defensive extremity. Despite the propaganda barrage, things haven't deteriorated that far. Not yet, anyway.

And too, it's all a racket, meant to enhance the power and authority of a certain bloodthirsty faction among Our Rulers -- and theirs (the Russian ruling elite)  as well, it would seem. For profit. For gain. For ultimate glory.

It's sick.

But it's built in to the way our government and its owners believe and act. There is little or nothing one can do about it from outside. Not much the other factions can or will do from inside.

We're fucked no matter which way we turn, much as was the case during the previous anti-Soviet  churn.


Monday, October 10, 2016

The Second Contact Between Hillary and Trump

Always one for a good time, I had the second "debate" between the Presidential contestants on last night while I busied myself with other things.

My, wasn't it nasty, though.


They seem to have picked up energy from the VP set-to, or something, and the accusations flew fast and furious. Trouble is, we've heard them all before and they no longer resonate. Yes, he's a misogynist and liar; yes, she skirts the edges of legality and may cross over from time to time; yes, Bill is a serial philanderer (or was, anyway).

I didn't know about Trump's press availability with The Women Who Accuse Bill (and One More) just before the "debate"" until after the event. How interesting. Yah, it was a good deflection from his own "locker room banter," but ultimately, it's a nonstarter. Everyone knows -- too much -- about Big Dog's randiness and they long ago made of it what they would. Nobody's mind will be changed by trotting out The Women again. On the other hand, we're just getting used to the notion of Trump the Serial Assaulter (though why it should have been a mystery until now is anyone's guess.) His peccadilloes will play for a while until people get bored with them.

Ultimately, though, they don't stain Hillary. She's  blameless -- well, more or less -- in all of this, so the point of bringing up Bill's indiscretions (or the Other Accuser that I'm still somewhat mystified by) is more of a distraction than a Thing. Hunh?

I didn't watch much of it, but I heard plenty. All the same accusations we've been hearing on and on, about taxes, emails, Russia, Muslims, yadda yadda, almost all of it completely meaningless.

Mention was made of the Wikileaks release of partial transcripts from the high-paying Clinton speeches to People Who Matter. The issue that's been glommed onto is Hillary's "public" vs "private" positions. OK, so?

Or rather it would have been a meh if it weren't for Hillary's hooey about the Ruskis hacking; what the FFF? Another tailspin into the gutter.

The point of course is that she didn't even try to deny she said what she's reported to have said, doesn't discount the truth of what's been released, but she blames it on the Russians, which is stone stupid.

But then Our Rulers never were known for their smarts, I think.

Meanwhile, I looked over some of the Wikileaks leaks of what she said to the High and the Mighty, and my initial impression is that she was trying -- probably unsuccessfully -- to inject some concept of social consciousness into the realm of Those Who Must Be Obeyed.

In other words, if she had a brain -- or her people were actually thinking things through -- they would realize these leaks are better for her than opponents make them out to be.

But then, who ever said they could figure things out without a focus group?

Her baroque and legalistic excuses for the Email Thing are wearing thin, but Trump's continued yapping about it doesn't help his cause in the least. Saying she should be in jail because of it, while red meat to his fans, is one of many disqualifications for high office Trump has exposed throughout this mess of a campaign. I'm sure that a tit for tat could be used -- no, YOU should go to jail! -- but it's just stupid. If Trump were running a  serious-revolutionary campaign and he didn't have so many vulnerabilities and skeletons in his own closet, I'd say go for it, jail them all and hang the rest of them, but that's not what he's doing. He's trying to finagle a neo-Republican ascendancy with Himself in the driver's seat. It's not revolutionary, it's just more of the same bullshit, with an extra dose of cruelty.

So in the end, I'm more convinced than ever that he's a ringer, meant to lose and to split the R Party in the process. Revenge, let's say, for the impeachment. Yes, of course, Our Rulers are just that obsessed with Get Back. This tells me that when Trump loses, he will be rewarded handsomely. Oh, very handsomely indeed.

It's all as phony as a three dollar bill.


So I'm thinking that when they gamed this thing out, they discovered that Hillary couldn't win the White House unless the R candidate were someone like... Trump, who I'm given to believe has been a family friend of the Clintons for years, and perhaps was.... induced to run with the proviso that he lose and throw a monkey wrench into the R Party to boot.

Signs are sure pointing that way.

I think I'll skip the next one.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Historic Political Realignment?

The backstory of what is going on with the Trump campaign must be absolutely fascinating for political junkies of all stripes. This year's elections will be fodder for political scholars for decades to come. Nothing like this has happened in our lifetimes, perhaps ever. We're in a political never-never land. A circus. A goon-clown show. A WTF moment every day. Hunh? You've got to be kidding!

Something's happening here, but we don't know what it is.

Time to dredge up the Buffalo Springfield for the umpteenth time...

Yep, here we go again. We're living in Interesting Times.

I read in some newsfeed that Trump was lustily cheered yesterday when he made an appearance at the front entrance to the Trump Tower. He is mighty-mighty and his loins are heavy with seed. I mean come on... And his partisans have flooded the Intertubes to tell us all how mighty-mighty he is and how heavy his loins must be. This is the Man who ought to be King! Yay!

Something similar followed on revelations of Bill Clinton's infidelities, so I'm not at all surprised at Trump's partisans standing with him today. Of course they will; they must. They do not see the randiness of Boss Men as a fault. They see it as an Attribute. A Good and Necessary Thing. It is one of the ways to separate the Strong from the Weak.

But the Trump campaign, such as it is, appears to be falling apart. Rs of all stripes are "distancing" themselves from the candidate for his indiscretions, not his actions. They've never had a problem with his actions, nor in fact, so far as I can find out, have the members of his class, the Billionaire and Would-be Billionaire Boys Club, ever had a moment's problem with Trump's personal or business behavior.

Why should they? It's standard for men of his status.


Maybe he's a bit cruder and ruder than many of those in his class, but what he does -- never mind what he says -- is what nearly all of them do. They are no friend to the weak or downtrodden. They have little use for women except for what they can get from them. They are exploiters and oppressors. It is their emblem of Strength.

The pro-forma denunciations we're hearing are just that -- pro-forma. They don't mean anything but they are meant to bamboozle the weak-minded, to shift the story from one of outrage over what he said (never mind what he does) to one of Puritanical holiness on behalf of everyone else of his status. Bollocks and Bullshit. They're all like this. All of them. Every one. Well, nearly...

I've said many times that Trump is a particularly boisterous representative of his class; he is no aberration, he is an avatar of who they all are. For whatever reason, that insight has gained no traction, in part, I think, because most people simply don't want to believe the worst about Our Betters. They can't be that bad. Well, they are.

Many others see Trump's badness for what it is and celebrate it. Whoop dee doo, we're goin' to the Rodeo now! He liberates the badness in others. That kind of liberation, the removal of any requirement for restraint, leads to violence of course, but more than that, it redirects social energies.

He's been called a fascist, and in a classic sense he is. But our governance has been inwardly fascist for a long time, and every now and then it is outwardly and openly fascist as well. He is not, therefore, aberrant. He fits right in. Where he diverges from the right and proper way of doing things is in his demagoguery, his populist cant and rhetoric. No, no, no, no, no. This is not the way things are supposed to be done. A leader doesn't whip up populist sentiment -- you never know where it will go after all -- one suppresses the urges of the Rabble, and convinces them that their Betters know better, and in the end, the right and proper Leader governs contrary to the interests of the Public and disregards the People's Will. That's how it's done.

Trump violates these principles over and over again, and that -- to the oligarchs and kleptocrats who rule us -- is unacceptable.


Trump's campaign may indeed fall to pieces, and Herself may indeed be installed in the White House come January, partly because she is more acceptable to the oligarchs and kleptocrats, but also because her world-view is more in line with the conventions of the neoLibCons who have been so right about everything over the post-modern course of history (save me), and she has made clear she will follow their lead over the cliff if so ordered.

But... Trump has shown there is a future in his way of whipping up sentiment. There is no ultimate need to mask it. Our Betters can be just as bad as they want to be without the necessity of Bernays-ian bamboozlement and enough of the Rabble will go along with them, cheering them on, that the Others, sticks in the mud, won't matter. The mild form of populism, represented by St. Bernie (bow down) is simply too weak, you see, for consideration.

That's the lesson of Trump. A billionaire being openly bad is hailed a hero by enough of the Rabble to be electable. Ah ha! The light bulbs are going off all through the political class, make no mistake.

I've said he's a gangster and a con-man -- which he doesn't even try to hide, btw -- and I've been shocked that so many people want that kind of rule, but I can see how frustrated many people are with the status quo. Of course.

Millions upon millions of Americans have been forced into poverty by the economic unpleasantness of the last decade. No one who should be held responsible for it has suffered in the least let alone been brought to justice. In fact, they've been rewarded over and over again, while Rabble continues to be oppressed and looted. The status quo, represented by Herself, Ms. "No You Can't", will ensure that the way things are will continue without let up. And indeed, will ensure that conditions will worsen for the Little People indefinitely.

That's the post-modern, neoLibCon way. There is no alternative.

I'm not so worried about her warmongering. I see most of it as pretense. The implicit threat against real and imagined foes runs throughout the ruling class -- Trump and his familiar Pence express it just as strongly though against slightly different targets -- and it is part and parcel of their approach to global domination.

Hillary ("The Hag") is probably less likely to act on her warmongering than her opponents want you to believe, in part because the Obama Wars have been such complete clusterfucks, following as they do the regime-change pattern set under the Bush-Cheney regime, than which no clusterfucks have been greater. While it seems that neoLibCons are incapable of learning (they're worse than the Bourbons in that regard) as the misrule and anarchic "liberations" pile up, they've eased off adding more bungling and disregard to their litany of horrors. What they've done doesn't work for long-term imperialist gain in any case. The Hegemon suffers too much to keep doing the same things over and over. On the other hand, you never know...

What she's doing though, is perhaps more important in the long run. She's consolidating political power and the parties under her (or rather her owners') purview. The Republican Party elite is being absorbed by the borg of the Dems. I've never seen anything like it in the open, though it's been obvious as sin that the Democratic Party is for all intents and purposes a Rockefeller Republican Party in every way but name. This transformation has been going on since Clinton I. Perhaps it started under Carter but was temporarily aborted by Reagan's intervention. At any rate, the Dems are nothing at all like a leftist party. They are a "less evil" rightist party, whereas the Rs, to escape, have become the "most evil" rightist party. There is no genuine Left in American politics.

But Hillary is going much farther than I've seen any politician in my lifetime toward bringing in the opposition (supposed) under her wing. And it's working spectacularly. Her ostensible Republican support is essentially greater than her nominal Democratic support. At least it's more powerful.

She's in the process of transforming the Democratic Party into a consolidated Democratic Republican Party (of Unity?) that can be something like a permanent ruling party, serving the interests of Oligarchy against the popular will.

It is a historic political realignment.

Of course all the attention on Trump and his follies obscures it.

Of course.

Le sigh.