Rapt attention

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Ain't No Fun When The Rabbit's Got The Gun

Sausage making time

We are at an awful time of the season that happens every couple years when we elect a new President.

It is unpleasant, sort of like watching sausage getting made and I try not to watch or listen. Wake me up when it is over.

This time we get to see the Democrats cannibalizing each other. Break out the circular firing squad.

Judy Chicago
Sen. Amy Klobuchar doesn't think that Gov. Jay Inslee should talk about reproductive rights because he doesn't have a vagina.

Ex HUD Chief Julian Castro thinks that Congressman Beto "Pocho" O'Rourke speaks crappy Spanish.

Sen. Lindsey Graham doesn't think that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is gay enough.

Congressman Eric Swalwell believes that Sen. Joe Biden is too old.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren thinks Sen. Cory Booker is too soft on Big Tech.

Joe Biden temporarily forgets who he is running against. But hey, is somebody serving soup?

Sen. Bernie Sanders doesn't think any of the other candidates understand the needs of the proletariat working class.

Marianne Williamson thinks the rest of the candidates are totally neglecting the angel and galactic visitor/ space invader vote.

Senators Harris and Booker think that Biden is a closet racist who wants to make nice with bigots and make jokes about gay people.

Hyon Yong-chol
And it goes on and on.

Ad nauseum.

I will honestly vote for any candidate running against the guy who has embraced the Asian despot who once took an army aircraft gun to his defense minister for falling asleep at a meeting.

The despot who killed his own uncle and brother.

I'll take any of these guys and gals. And sorry Donald, sticking your toe across the DMZ is not going to get you a Nobel Prize.

So have at it, you all, but make sure that someone is still standing at the end. Keep your eye on the prize.

Anyone but Trump in 2020!

Warner Williams and Eddie Pennington

Flying Leslie

Leslie went flying with her friend Beth this morning. She doesn't look very happy, does she? I want to try it. Lots of great pictures and a couple videos but I am going to let her pick the one she wants to keep before I purchase.

Love that smile!

Pretzel logic

I have long had sleep apnea but have never got around to doing anything about it. My wife and hotel roomies often tell me that I appear to stop breathing at night and am a rather weird snorer. During my recent operation I was given oxygen in the middle of the night when my levels precipitously dropped.

When I left a nurse said that if I don't get control of the apnea I will never fix my heart problems.

So I got a referral to a pulmonary doctor and recently had a sleep study. Took the infernal contraption home and delivered about six hours of data the next morning.

The doctor showed me various apparatus for dealing with the problem, a conventional cpap device, a dental appliance for keeping the airwaves open and a small electronic device that gets implanted in your body like a pacemaker and supposedly does the job.

"No way," I said. "I'm not going bionic. What if that thing has a kill switch?"

Although I was exaggerating purposely, I am going to forego the placement of electronic devices into my body for as long as I can. The very thought of becoming a semi cyborg weirds me out.

And then I saw this today, Medtronic recalls their insulin pump because it can be externally hacked. That would be just my luck, some old opponent turning me into their puppet or Manchurian candidate and messing with my internal parts. "Hey, lets see if we can get him to do this. Never saw a man turn into a pretzel before."

No siree Bob.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

No Expectations

Kadir Nelson

Have you seen this week's issue of the New Yorker? The very talented Kadir Nelson painted this cover called "Wheel Life." He appears to be channeling Parrish to some degree with his handling of the columns and the trees.

I love it! Everything this guy does is superb.

New World Order

I was talking to a South American friend the other day and he was talking about the impending death of liberal democracy, the postwar model that has guided the world's countries and behavior since the end of World War II.

I think it is too early to count them all out but taking a sober and honest look at the world, its demise is not entirely out of the question.

Getting along, playing nice and working together is out, ultra-nationalism, throwing elbows and engaging in brutal pressure gambits and raw power grabs is in.

If you look at the behavior of our country's leader, just in recent months, he has destabilized NATO, verbally attacked Japan, angered and threatened our two largest trading partners, Mexico and Canada.

He has gone after Merkel in Germany and the British government and also expressed admiration for Putin, Duterte, Kim Jong Un, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Urban, Xi Jinping and Bin Salman. His boycrushes shown above have engaged in all sorts of nasty business, from killing journalists to assassinating their own citizenry but he still gushes over them.

It is obvious that he has a love for authoritarian strongmen and that there is no love lost between him and our traditional allies. His support among his base is rock solid and shows no sign of wavering. Leads one to think that he could declare himself President for life and you wouldn't hear a peep out of the G.O.P..

You judge someone by the company they keep. If these guys, murdering thugs to a man, are your boys too, please stand up and be counted. It would be nice if you were on record.

Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing


I was meeting with a friend and client on the coast yesterday when I noticed that I rather liked the light coming in through her window. I asked if I could take her picture and she assented.

Later she told me that she almost never has her picture taken and that she liked these shots. I do too.

Yerba Buena Whitewash

A San Francisco school board is voting to paint over a series of murals at George Washington High School that illustrate some of the more ignoble facets of our nation's history, specifically slavery and the extermination of indigenous natives. You can read about it here in the New York Times or here if you can't get behind the Times paywall.

Westward Vision - Victor Arnautoff, 1936

The sixteen murals were painted in 1936 by a student of Diego Rivera, the Russian American painter Victor Arnautoff. Arnautoff has been condemned for being a communist but these murals of his do not depict hammers and sickles or overt images of worker's rights and communism, but instead some very real and sad chapters in our nation's history that should not be forgotten. After all that which is not remembered is more easily repeated.

A group put together to study the artwork found that it “glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, Manifest Destiny, white supremacy, oppression, etc.” What kind of nitwit could come to that conclusion after viewing them? Rather than a glorification, they are instead a sober and honest look at our history. And a great majority of freshmen students polled were in favor of keeping the works.

But the school board wants them all destroyed, even the murals without a political message.
Mark Sanchez, the school board’s vice president, [said that] that simply concealing the murals wasn’t an option because it would “allow for the possibility of them being uncovered in the future.” 
Now is that Orwellian, if not outright fascistic.

I have been reading a lot of late about the Western Expansion. It had an inherent racist and religious message. Walker's book Bear Flag Rising points out that it was unequivocally Anglo Saxon. "Manifest Destiny" was a term first coined by a New York editor named John L. O’Sullivan in 1845.

He stated used the term in the July/August issue of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, in an article titled, “Annexation.” Manifest destiny was used to illustrate the popular idea of the need for the United States to take over the entire continent. It was the divine right and duty of white Americans to seize and settle the continent’s western territory, thus spreading Protestant, democratic values.

Much of this push and the impulsion towards a war with Mexico and a colonization of their lands was to stem Catholicism, which was despised by many Protestants. It is always helpful for a conquering people to enlist the help of a friendly deity and a heretic or two that needs smiting. Reducing the value of blacks and indians to less than human status sealed the deal.

In 1844  James K. Polk, a slaveholder from Tennessee, was elected President because of his promise to annex Texas as a new slave state, and to conquer Oregon.

The Angel Columbia was commonly used at the time as a symbol of the divine right of the Anglo Saxon to conquer the natives and Catholics. She would spread proper values among the unwashed west.

Interestingly much of the opposition to these murals comes from the politically correct left and not the right.
“We come to these recommendations due to the continued historical and current trauma of Native Americans and African Americans with these depictions in the mural that glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy, oppression, etc. This mural doesn’t represent SFUSD values of social justice, diversity, united, student-centered. It’s not student-centered if it’s focused on the legacy of artists, rather than the experience of the students. If we consider the SFUSD equity definition, the “low” mural glorifies oppression instead of eliminating it. It also perpetuates bias through stereotypes rather than ending bias. It has nothing to do with equity or inclusion at all. The impact of this mural is greater than its intent ever was. It’s not a counter-narrative if [the mural] traumatizes students and community members.”
These people's myopia sounds both shortsighted and idiotic. I do not understand their logic. Anyone with a brain and an eye can tell that he is not glorifying but instead condemning. This patronizes the poor students who can obviously tell the difference as well.

I hope that the murals can be ultimately saved, at least removed and placed elsewhere. This is pure censorship and pernicious historical revisionism.

Thursday, June 27, 2019


The first visitor to our continent from Europe was a man named Christopher Columbus. Although many think he was Genoan, he wrote his journals exclusively in Portuguese tinged Spanish and many experts believe that he was in fact from Catalan. Columbus of course sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety two.

On September 28, 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and his crew entered San Diego Bay, first known as San Miguel, the first Europeans to visit California. He claimed Alta California for Spain. Vizcaino followed him some sixty years later. Now there were many native peoples living here when he arrived and they certainly weren't speaking english but that is a subject for another day. More like Athabaskan, Takic and Shoshone.

Presidio de San Diego - Robert Sommers
Spanish colonization of "Alta California" began when the Presidio at San Diego, the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Coast, was established in 1769. As you know, they created the Mission system which ran up and down the state. There were four districts run by Presidios, Monterey, San Diego, Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

The Missions were secularized in 1834, thirteen years after Mexico was granted independence from Spain in 1821. In June of 1846 a bunch of Californios proclaimed their independence in the Bear Flag Revolt.

They called themselves Osos and wanted no part of any foreign regime, Mexico, Spain or the United States. They were like we are today, a polyglot of colors and races. I am currently reading a great book about the revolt by Dale Walker. They occupied the Plaza in Sonoma and raised the Bear Flag. Would have been really nice if the Californios had held out, we would be in a lot better shape without the rest of the union.

Unfortunately with the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848 a bunch of yankees flooded the area and ruined things and we became a state of the union in 1850 after a few battles with Kearney, Fremont, Dick Owens and Kit Carson.

Arizona was also a part of Mexico from 1822 until the cessation. New Mexico also came on board in 1848 after the Battle of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Ditto Nevada, Utah, about a quarter of Colorado, and a small section of Wyoming. Oregon was a part of Spain until 1819. Texas was a part of Spain until 1836.

My point is this.

We have been speaking Spanish in this country for a very long time, certainly before we spoke English. When douchebags like Wayne Allyn Rootsmoocher say stupid crap like this I wonder if they ever opened up a history book?

The right wing internet has been full of similar protestations today, some of it just vile racism.

The stupidity and xenophobia of certain Americans is just mind boggling. Especially since the use of Spanish predates English.

I am happy to be a spanish speaker, however rudimentary my spanish is, it has served me very well in my life and I am proud to have spent the majority of my life in mostly bilingual border cities.

Only in America is one's facility in another language considered offensive.


Wrong way ticket

Interesting article over at TPM today about religious discrimination, Religious Liberty’ – Not Just for Gay Cakes Anymore.

Not content to only discriminate against the LBGT community, a surprisingly high percentage of white evangelical and mainline protestants are in favor of discriminating against atheists, muslims, jews and blacks.

Obvious we are treading down a very slippery slope. And faith gives cover for all sorts of malignant behavior.

This information comes from new polling over at PRRI.

Well it surprises me anyway. 26% of white mainline protestants want the freedom to discriminate against jews. Slightly less, 22%, find it acceptable to discriminate against black people.

 35% of white evangelicals want to be able to refuse products or services to atheists.

Wacky world we live in, definitely headed in the wrong direction.

Lo and behold, Republicans were much more in favor of this type of refusal of service discrimination. African Americans are the group least willing to discriminate by religion. Those who registered as nonaffiliated were the theology least likely to discriminate.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

John Baldry - Flying

Written by Ron, Ronnie and Ron, Elton on piano, Leslie Duncan on background vocals.

Wednesday Mail Call

Hudgins sent this over. A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President.

An old joke from Gary.

Manring sent this Dylan thing. Which made me think of an old favorite interview in Rolling Stone. I have started watching the Scorcese movie, haven't made it very far. Tedious. But all my pals love it.

Promising restaurant in Wildomar, Finch, going to try on Monday.

More from Hudg' - The Petulant Presidency.

Ricardo sent something over on a botched restoration job in Spain. I've seen worse.

Shawn offers a youtube video of what might be the world's greatest artist, which unfortunately gets destroyed by a stupid and awful ending.

And he sends another one too if you like Westerns. Our friend got bit by a kikuri snake in Thailand the other day but he is okay.

Kent and Lois both alerted me to the Caravaggio in the attic.

I found this one - German town bugs Nazis by buying up all their booze.

Kip sends over a funny new Hasseblad promo, designed to target a very specific demographic, the lover of old and new.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Kicks keep getting harder to find

The President isn't thrilled with Megan Rapinoe's National Anthem protest. No great shakes there. I can see how the openly gay and "take no shit" player gets under his skin. What I take issue with is his statements that women soccer players don't deserve equal pay with the men.
“I think a lot of it also has to do with the economics,” Trump said. “I mean who draws more, where is the money coming in. I know that when you have the great stars like [Cristiano] Ronaldo and some of these stars … that get paid a lot of money, but they draw hundreds of thousands of people.”
As usual, Trump has his facts all wrong at least as it relates to our country. Our superlative women's team consistently brings in more revenue then the usually mediocre men's team, which by the way, has not been tearing it up for some time. Yet the World Champion women receive a fraction of the financial benefits of their male counterparts.
Rapinoe’s team has long been battling for equal pay, though it tentatively agreed to enter into mediation after this year’s World Cup. For context, per the Washington Post, the women won the World Cup in 2015 and split a bonus of $1.73 million. The men, meanwhile, were trounced in the Round of 16 — and shared a pot of $5.38 million.
The United States Women's Soccer Team is a wonder in their skill, domination and consistency. Our President is also consistent, consistently wrong. As he shows us once again.

Wall around your heart

A nice cover of Reno and Smiley's 1958 hit. Gene made every song his own.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Supreme Leaders

(Supreme Leader) Trump announced the following today:
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order that I’m about to sign will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader’s Office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support. The assets of Ayatollah Khomeini and his office will not be spared from the sanctions," Trump said at the signing of an executive order to impose the sanctions. 
The only problem is that Khomeini died in 1989. Oops. I know that they all look interchangeable but the shiite despot you actually want is Ali Khamenei, dude.

Hey you see one guy with a beard in a turban, you've seen a million, just how the hell are you supposed to tell them all apart? Give the guy a break.

Here's the original ayatollah, the guy who made the job famous and basically defined the position, the one and only Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomenei. The dead one. Dick York, if you will.

Sort of a serious type. Might need some bran, looks impacted. Wonder if the bowels is what finally got him? And here's the current supreme leader, Iman Sayyid Ali Khamenei, who looks more like a borscht belt comic or a lovable homicidal grandpa. Think Dick Sargent, the second ayatollah. No, I won't pull your finger. 

Like who can remember all this stuff?

I found the following joke on an Iranian website.

Ron Wood & Bo Diddley - Crackin' Up

Bo Diddley (1928-2008) wrote and recorded this song in 1959 on the Checker label. Is it the first reggae recording?  The word reggae didn't even get coined until Toots and the Maytals came up with it in 1968. The drum beats of reggae come from an African style called Nyabinghi rhythm. This morphed into a Jamaican folk music called mento which was the precursor of dub, rock steady and reggae and was brought over from West African slaves. It is very similar to calypso.

I love Bo Diddley's playing. He was a Mississippi man, born Ellas Otha Bates. He was so free and natural, obviously had such a good ear. Ron doesn't sound quite as bad here as he usually does.

Female Harrier glide at SJWA


Is it in poor taste to consider sending our President on an all expenses paid vacation to the Dominican Republic?

Got just the hotel.

Is Jerry Hollendorfer taking the fall for the entire thoroughbred industry?

Had you ever heard of Nipsy Hustle before he died? I hadn't.

Is there anything quite as stupid and pretentious as a person with good vision like Madonna donning an eye patch for fashion? Is she really that desperate?

Who could blame the Palestinians for rejecting a pact that would buy them off but grant them no real autonomy?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Rick and Levon

This was recorded in Portland on 1/28/83 at the Starry Night Club. I thought I had heard every available version of It makes no difference but this one that starts at 10:30 is pretty special with Levon blowing the harmonica. Great Long Black Veil too. Miss these guys.

Defend the rooster

There's a good article in the New York Times today The Rooster must be defended - France's culture clash reaches a coop. The article is about a rooster named Maurice. Apparently the coq is ruffling a few feathers with some vacationers who would prefer to not hear him crow.

The story takes me back to a rooster story of my own, the strutting Rhode Island Red in my little tale was named Ronald.

Many years ago my ex and I raised a lot of chickens. We always had too many roosters and our usual solution was to take the extras down to the river or creek and release them. We lived in Rainbow at the time.

They would fly up into the trees and eventually would be dispatched by nature, but they would extend their life in the wild for some time and live an uncooped and unfettered existence as was originally intended by the great poultry god on high.

Anyhow this Ronald was becoming a real problem. You see he would take to crowing at any god forsaken hour, usually around midnight and sleep for us became a serious issue. Luckily we didn't have any close neighbors, living in a rural setting.

I had an idea. I called Fred Rasp. Fred was a Rainbow native and he kept an odd menagerie, knew his way around chickens. "Fred, would you like a rooster?" He said he would. "Well, I have to tell you, he crows at inopportune times. I want you to know exactly what you are getting in to." Fred says no problem. "Fred, if there are any problems, give him back tomorrow. Do not whack Ronald." I was emphatic. Fred assents, will not kill rooster, gives us his word. I took leave of my poultry, assured that he was in good hands.

I called Fred the next morning. "How are things going with Ronald?"

"45 caliber," he says. "1:30 a.m."

Another Fred story. I think all the statutes of limitations have expired. Had a sketchy, meth addict neighbor in Rainbow. Actually a couple of them. This particular one was sort of a bad hombre. I forget his name. Scary. And he had a pig. Not just any pig, a huge pig, 400 pounder I think. A  disgusting creature, always something foul running out of its nose. Pigs are kind of gross if not well maintained, wormy and disgusting.  This one was outre horrific.

This particular pig would get out of its pen and terrorize the valley. And he would come over to my ranch and knock over the garbage cans filled with dog kibble and eat all the food. My dogs were mean and tough but they wanted no part of this porcine invader.  Who was costing me a lot of money.

I called the speed freak miscreant once, twice, three times but the same thing happened over and over, he would not restrain his porker and he would not replace my dog food.

So the last time it happened I called Fred. Who showed up in thirty minutes with his two brothers and his father Norbert with a truck and a winch. I tell you they had that pig shot, butchered, trussed and on the truck and out of the valley in the wink of an eye. Makin' bacon. Frontier justice. Guy comes over the next day asking if I had seen his pig? Shook my head. Nope.

Fred's dad has passed. Actually a long time ago. He was a hell of a guy. Taught me how to beekeep. Had been a foundry worker in Los Angeles. Strong, tough as nails. Soft spoken. Used to see him and his wife at the Grange pancake sausage breakfasts.

I miss the old country folk. Now the valleys in these parts are full of plastic fencing and people to match.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Blue Heron Anthology

© Robert Sommers 2019
My old friend Denis wrote the other day, hadn't communicated in ages.

Retired and living amongst the fossils in the burbs of Walnut Creek, he misses his long time haunts in Oakland. More of a street guy really, that Denis.

Denis taught greek and latin for decades at St. Mary's, wrote several outstanding cookbooks, is a poet, knows how to eat and drink, just a true renaissance man.

And he wants a Blue Heron Anthology someday or broached the subject anyway. Likes what I do here. Keep all the short stories and pictures from going down the drain.

I told him that people could worry about that sort of thing when I am gone. Please somebody rescue it all before Google puts it down their garbage disposal.

Lesley Duncan - Love Song

End of the week

It has been a very challenging month for my business, especially with the hospitalization and rehab, however abbreviated it may have been. If I hear another person tell me that the most important thing is my health I might actually commit a homicidal act. Which won't be good for anybody's health, least of all mine, easy to say when the mortgage is paid, not necessarily what I want to hear when I am scrambling.

Anyway, I am working a little harder every day, trying to plant seeds wherever I can, take advantage of every opportunity to sell merchandise, just not quite happening. And I have had a couple doozy clients this month.

First one has a Kim Wiggins painting she wants to sell. Nice. Modern regionalist. But she thinks it is worth 20k. I show her the comps, maybe 4 to 6k at best. She finally relents, brings it over to consign before she heads to Europe for a few months. And it is big, 36 x 48."

So I look it up and see that there is a pretty much identical painting on line but it was bigger, was cut down after an accident. The title was Voice of Jealousy. 

I started looking at this one more carefully, nothing on the back but a number but hey, I couldn't make any sense of the signature. Was it right? Kim Wiggins paintings don't get faked.

I decided to call Bob Nelson, who has been Kim's dealer for ever, sent him a picture. He thought it looked right but gave me the artist's phone number, just to make sure.

Kim told me that he had once done a smaller study; to send him a picture. He was a great guy, called me right back after looking at the image. My fears were justified, a good copy of a painting he created in 2000 but not his work, signature or impasto technique. I laughed, thanked him, told him he should be flattered by the imitation.

I tried to call the consignor and email her but she must be already gone. Now I have another big painting I can't sell to trip over this summer.

The other situation was a little more toxic. A woman brought a collection of her late husband's Japanese pottery over. She insisted on taking a picture of me with every piece, I got a bit of the third degree. She knew I was having a minor heart operation but kept calling every couple days and bugging me throughout my rehab anyway. And sent me a card, she was even praying for me.

Anyhow she calls up the other day and said that there was one item that she forgot to get my fingerprint on and take a picture next to, would I mind? Of course not.

Then she called back and asked for condition reports. I explained to her that three of the pieces had Japanese glyph signatures, that I was not fluent in said language and that I had written two experts, including one in Japan but as yet had had no response. These things can take time.

"Well can you have them and give me valuations by next week?

"Ma'am I told you, I am researching them, it is difficult to know when it will prove fruitful. Hopefully not too much longer."

She huffed, "Well then I will pick them up tomorrow."

I was ecstatic and mentally offered to pack them up for her but knew that she would want a total inspection  of each piece and I didn't bother. She called me back the next day and let me know that she had once again changed her mind, I could sell all but three or something like that but I stopped her mid-sentence.

I said, "No, pick them all up. I don't really have time for people like you in my life. That little exercise we went through yesterday." Harsh yes. But I did not need the aggravation and her lack of trust and pushy manner was all the indicator I needed to know that working with her would be ultimately impossible. Spare myself the crap. Which could only get worse.

I never do that, always exceedingly nice, but she pushed me to my limit and I just couldn't take it anymore. Had my Network moment.

She came and got her stuff. Never been so happy to see merchandise leaving my store.

Gene Clark

Friday, June 21, 2019

Self portrait with caution tape

David Lee Roth - Soul Kitchen

Compassionate conservatism

The Trump administration is in action again today, in the most gruesome way. A Justice Department lawyer, Senior Litigation Counsel Sarah Fabian, is trying to defend not giving incarcerated migrant children toothbrushes, soap and beds.
The government is not required to provide migrant children in custody on the border with soap, toothbrushes, or adequate bedding, a lawyer for the Trump Justice Department insisted in court Tuesday. A consent decree guaranteeing “safe and sanitary” conditions, the government argued, is too vague to be enforceable. The assertions left a panel of three judges for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals incredulous, with one stating plainly: “I find that inconceivable that the government would say that.”

Every time I think that we can sink to no further depths as human beings this administration surprises me once again.
The U.S. Justice Department argued in federal court this week that government agencies like Customs and Border Protection have no responsibility to provide toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap to migrant kids who are currently held in America’s vast network of concentration camps. Human rights organizations have previously reported that migrants don’t have access to these and other basic toiletries while in U.S. detention, increasing the individual health risks and the potential for outbreaks.
The U.S. government also argued on Tuesday that making immigrants sleep on a cold concrete floor with a Mylar blanket doesn’t violate the Flores Settlement, a 1997 federal court judgment that dictates what constitutes humane treatment while in custody. The Flores Settlement says that any living facilities for migrants must be “safe and sanitary."
“You’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?” U.S. Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon asked DOJ lawyer Sarah Fabian.
The DOJ lawyer argued that the Flores Settlement doesn’t say anything explicitly about sleeping, and therefore the government doesn’t need to provide anything like a cot or a bed. But the judges weren’t having it.
“Or it was relatively obvious,” said U.S. Circuit Judge William Fletcher. “And at least obvious enough so that if you’re putting people into a crowded room to sleep on a concrete floor with an aluminum-foil blanket on top of them that it doesn’t comply with the agreement.”
Ms. Fabian has to win some kind of award for this performance. Just leave your decency and humanity on the counter on the way in.

In other news reports of 250 migrants living in filthy, inhumane conditions at the Texas border.
Doctors and attorneys say hundreds of young people are living under inhumane conditions at a border control station in Clint, Texas. They say they found about 250 infants, children and teens locked up for weeks without adequate food, water and sanitation.
A researcher told "CBS This Morning" that at the Clint facility, about 20 miles southeast of El Paso, more than a dozen children had the flu, and that some were in quarantine cells without adult supervision. The researcher added that young girls were taking care of a sick two-year-old boy who was in filthy clothing without a diaper, and that the children said they were fed uncooked frozen food and had gone weeks without bathing. CBS News reached out to immigration officials, and has not yet heard back.
Remember that old Tea Party debate where the bastards were all whooping it up talking about cutting off people's access to health care? What were they screaming - Let them die? Still sounds like the party mantra. Children should never be taking care of other children. Or paying for the purported sins of their parents. Of course Trump says he is doing these families in detention a great service. He is, after all, bringing them back together. In jail.

4 Severely Ill Migrant Toddlers Hospitalized After Lawyers Visit Border Patrol Facility.

Kill the queers says Tennessee pastor and law enforcement officer Grayson Fritts.

ICE’s planned deportation raids in 10 big cities: what we know.

Two more Sarah Fabian stories. She was too busy dog sitting on the weekend to worry about orphan children. And she disobeyed a judges order not to destroy Border Patrol video evidence.

Steve Kimock

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Crosses and Supremes

San Diego Mission de Alcala
The Supreme Court is allowing the continued display of crosses and religious symbols on public land.

It ruled that a large cross on government land in Maryland does not have to be moved or altered in the name of church-state separation.

The 40-foot cross was erected nearly a century ago as a World War I memorial.

The opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito concluded that the display does not violate the Constitution's establishment clause because of its longevity and the multiple messages these crosses may represent. The vote was 7-2, with Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.

I agree with this decision. Crosses don't bother me, in fact I think that properly placed they can be quite pretty. And like them or not, they are a part of the historical fabric of our land, especially here in the southwest where they predate our constitution by about two hundred and thirty years, since Cabrillo landed his boat.

SCOTUS refers to them as "passive religious displays." I am not a person of faith, personally preferring to study psychology and anthropology but why should they be a threat to me? Unless you come for me with torches and pitchforks or try to overly restrict my behavior, your belief system if of no concern to me. And I must say, I lived on Mt. Helix for a while as a kid, always thought the cross was lovely.

When I was in boarding school as a thirteen year old I guess I got my first spiritual teacher. Later turned out to be a real prick but that's another story. Anyway he was reading buddhist tracts and introduced me to the concept of dualism. If you are virulently against something you are probably still very attached to it. People freaked out by crosses need to examine their personal motivations.

If you are a member of a religious minority in this country and feel outgunned by all these christian symbols you are fighting a losing war. But take solace that for better or for worse the number of those that state nonbeliever in polling are the fastest growing religious demographic. Or should I say, the cavalry is on the way and the calvary is in retreat?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Carpet Crawlers

I knew it was my late brother Buzz's birthday today, didn't give it that much thought. Not over it but keeping it more at arm's length. Until Barbara texted me this afternoon. She was having a hard time. He would have been sixty today. I started playing his favorite music tonight, Phoebe Snow, Cat Stevens, Genesis. Lost it a little bit myself. Life has not been the same without him, I lost an essential pillar as did the rest of the family. It totally sucks.

Good vibes

People that come to my wife Leslie's shop Caravan on most Thursdays often see a nice lady in the back named Penelope Richards sitting next to a very special bed.

The bed is a Vibe machine, short for Vibro Acoustical Sound Healing. Penelope's official title is Vibe Ambassador. The literature says that it interacts with your largest organ, the skin, with custom “transducers” that are rated to vibrate between 15-200 hz.

Leslie has been using the technology for a while. Last Thursday was a trial run for me. There are about forty different programming modes. I think I did one called Cell Cleanser.  Another is named Transformation and Abundance.

You lay down, don headphones and blinkers and sail into another dimension. Soundwaves course through your body and seemingly electrify every cell. I think that twenty minute sessions cost about a buck a minute.

I literally lost track of time. it was much more powerful than I expected and I tend to be quite critical about such matters. I encourage everyone to give it a go and make an appointment. Penelope can be reached at 760-468-8738. She won't be there tomorrow but will be back in a week. Caravan is located at 109 N. Main Ave. in Fallbrook.

Left right

Joe Biden is in hot water from some circles for once making nice with the segregationists. But it would be helpful for the aggrieved parties to read the entire quote and context.
Mr. Biden, speaking at a fund-raiser at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City on Tuesday night, stressed the need to “be able to reach consensus under our system,” and cast his decades in the Senate as a time of relative comity. His remarks come as some in his party say that Mr. Biden, the former vice president, is too focused on overtures to the right as he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.
At the event, Mr. Biden noted that he served with the late Senators James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, both Democrats who were staunch opponents of desegregation. Mr. Eastland was the powerful chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Mr. Biden entered the chamber in 1973.
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” said Mr. Biden, 76, slipping briefly into a Southern accent, according to a pool report from the fund-raiser. “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’”
He called Mr. Talmadge “one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys.”
Well guess what?” Mr. Biden continued. “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
Many of those staking a claim on the far left hand side of the Democratic party like Cory Booker have an issue with Biden here. I don't.

Because he is absolutely right. You have to talk with the people who don't agree with you. You don't make deals with your friends, you make deals with your enemies. I am so sick of the current shortsightedness and self righteousness from both Republicans and Democrats. And nothing is getting done in our country. And it looks like it won't for the foreseeable future.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with working with political opponents that you disagree with and we have a long history of doing so in this country. Look at Hatch and Ted Kennedy. We need to stop looking for perfect people who would never compromise. Because we are basically split right down the middle.

I was at a gathering the other day and was heavily outnumbered by conservatives. Tried to have some meaningful exchanges and was mostly successful.

But one stood out.

A man complained that dems were doing everything they could to obstruct the President. And I pointed out that Obama was treated the very same way by a Republican congress, pointing out McConnell's famous one term in office quote and the failure of them to back him on anything.

"That was different," he said. "That was about policy."

And I had to sillily point out that we on my side had a problem with the Republican's policy too. But I had heard the same argument from Mitch McConnell himself last week. He is not going to take up any House votes because the left is full of creeping socialists, etc. Mitch, that left you so greatly despise represents a majority of Americans right now. And you are abdicating your position and responsibility to your office and the citizens of the United States by not respecting that majority.
For the first time in my memory, I'm going to agree with Nancy Pelosi. I am indeed the grim reaper when it comes to the socialist agenda that they've been ginning up over in the House with overwhelming Democratic support and sending it over to America, things that would turn us into a country we've never been. Sen. Mitch McConnell
We discussed this situation at K's house today. Kip thought the Biden bashing was unfair, D preferred a more progressive candidate. I personally don't think a Bernie Sanders is what our country needs right now, free this and free that and we'll worry about paying for it later. Prefer a Biden or Buttigieg type that is more centrist or moderate in their views, that might track with the great undecided block that floats down the middle.

D said something interesting, that Obama tried to take a middle position and got screwed by the right, no matter how accommodating he tried to be it was never enough for the conservatives and strategically a failure.

An interesting and horrible conundrum but not one that looks like it will get fixed anytime soon. A Democratic President and House with a Senate that refuses to take up any legislation is still a big zero.

Scam the scammers

I'm a bit tired. I was up late last night watching YouTube videos. From this guy, Scammer Revolts.

He finds online scam artists in India engaging in phony tech support extortion schemes and destroys them, albeit temporarily. He is an obvious computer whiz.

While the bad guys think they have another rube on the line, he is breaking into their own systems and deleting their files.

After he tells them what is up and confronts them with their sins they freak out and he engages in some wonderful swearing in hindi. Very addictive, don't say I didn't warn you. Guy is doing a great service. Hard to say where to start, you might try this one. Or this. But they are all great. Don't say I didn't warn you. Benchod.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Simple Twist of Fate

This is a version from the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour. There is a new Bootleg series album from the tour and a Scorcese bullshit movie opening. I am a bit of a Dylanologist and it is one of my least favorite tours, material wise. I was overseas for much of the year Desire came out and the album was really overplayed and ultimately rubbed me the wrong way. The Rolling Thunder renditions were very jangly and disjointed, quite uneven. Different lineup every night and my guy Mick Ronson was sent to the bench early in the tour. Having said that, it had its little gems. I hear the next Bootleg will be John Wesley Harding/ Nashville Skyline material and I am really looking forward to that. Nashville is my second favorite Dylan album after Blood on the Tracks. He sang so beautifully when he wanted to.


Last year Donald Trump reneged on President Obama's 2015 nuclear JCPOA deal with Iran. He reinstated heavy financial sanctions, broke with his international allies and called it the "worst deal ever." Tehran has largely held to the deal but has just announced that it would soon exceed the nuclear enrichment limits.

And wouldn't you know it, Trump is pissed at Iran and demanding that the allies pressure them to hold to an agreement that he himself breached. I don't know the farsi word for chutzpah but that definitely rates the farsi word for chutzpah.

When Hong Kong ended the 99 year old lease with Britain in 1997 and Beijing instituted the "one country, two systems" policy the place was giddy and the nationalism was as thick in the air as Chinese fireworks. Mainland China promised not to interfere, to let Hong Kong do its thing until 2017. The Basic Law was supposed to protect peoples' rights.

I was worried at the time, having seen what the Chinese have done in Tibet and to the ethnic minorities in the Western provinces. And there has been a steady erosion in those Hong Kong people's rights ever since. Things have obviously come to a head in Hong Kong this week, with demonstrations bringing out a reported two million protesters.

The people of Hong Kong have received an apology this week from Carrie Lam, the mainland appointed titular head of Hong Kong. But they should not get too giddy. This is the most ruthless dictatorship in the world this side of North Korea. The iron hand awaits to swoop and I fear for these people. Beijing brooks no opposition and an incorrigible Hong Kong would be a signal to an even more hated Taiwan. Tiananmen Square would pale compared to the horrors they could rain down on these people.

I have written before about the horrible treatment of the Uighers. I was sick to my stomach today reading about how the Chinese government is now killing and harvesting its enemies and political opponents' organs. Is there a more perfidious and reprehensible regime on this earth? And yet we do business with them and turn a blind eye. They need to be reproached and isolated.


Walk in beauty

One of the things I counsel new photographers is to always have a camera around. Of course a phone will do in a pinch but if you are buying a more sophisticated or expensive camera and can keep it at arm's length you will be amazed at the shots that will come unlooked for over life's transom.

And it helps to have a beautiful model, like this paisley clad lass with the aubergine mane.

I live in a rural area, on a rough road and have a habit of carrying around a long lens at times or multiple cameras and gear. I got tired of having things roll around in the car and risking damaging expensive gear so what did I do?

I bought a catbed at CVS for eight bucks.
I place the camera in the bed and it stays snug and safe behind my seat when I am careening around the backcountry.

Get so intimate with your camera that you can make any necessary adjustment in total darkness. Know where every specific button sits blindfolded and which way to turn a dial for speed, iso and aperture.

I tend to shoot in two different digital modes these days. If I am out in the field shooting birds in flight with my 400mm 2.8 fl I usually shoot manual with auto iso. I set the aperture, usually quite wide open and the shutter speed to somewhere between 2500 and 3200 depending.

The auto iso gives me perfect exposure. If the subjects are stationary I pick the depth of field I want to achieve or separation from the background and adjust the ƒstop and speed accordingly.

For landscapes or in the studio I tend to use aperture priority with the lowest possible iso manually set depending on the light conditions.

Helps to be on a tripod. I rarely use shutter priority and never use P or program modes. Have not found a need with the things I shoot. Get off automatic as soon as you can. More fun without training wheels.

The most important thing about recording or capturing a photographic image is that it speaks to you in some way.

Composition and intent usually trump technique and hardware. Learn the rules and break the rules.

The Navajo have a saying, Walk in beauty.

Photography helps me define and embrace the beautiful in this life. Here is the Dineh chant or song.

Walking in Beauty

Today I will walk out, today everything unnecessary will leave me, I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body. I will have a light body, I will be forever happy, nothing will hinder me. 
I walk with Beauty below me.
I walk with Beauty above me.
I walk with Beauty all around me.
My words will be Beautiful.
In Beauty, all day long, may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen, may I walk. 
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With Beauty before me, may I walk.
With Beauty behind me, may I walk.
With Beauty below me, may I walk.
With Beauty above me, may I walk.
With Beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering a trail of Beauty,
lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering a trail of Beauty,
living again, may I walk. 
It is finished in Beauty.
It is finished in Beauty.