Monday, January 30, 2017

Time for a reminder

Following orders is not a valid defense for human rights abuse.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

No Exceptions

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Seeking an explanation

One of the blogs I follow regularly is No Caption Needed.  As the "About" page there says: "No Caption Needed is a blog dedicated to public discussion of the role that photojournalism and other visual practices play in a vital democratic society." The posts at the blog deliver thoughful ideas about photography, something that is seldom accomplished eslewhere.  The last installment takes up the question of what photographs of the election period made a significant contribution to the largely unexpected Trump win.  The conclusion reached by the blog authors was that the role of photography and photojournalism was insignificant compared to an over-all failure based on language and logic.

I don't disagree with the No Caption Needed take on the question posed, but explaining something that did not happen is not in the end very revealing.  It seems to me that it might have been more useful to point out that the failure of photojournalism to come to grips with Trump and his followers was part of a larger failure of journalism in general.  Also overlooked was the fact that photojournalism is inextricably intertwined with words, unlike photography that is conducted for more purely aesthetic ends.  And, finally, some respect needs to be given to the well-known fact that people hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see.

I also think it is possible to move a step closer to an explanation of the role of images in the political process with the thought that both supporters and opponents of Trump are seeing essentially the same thing when they look at either still or moving images of the guy, and that they are actually arriving at many of the same conclusions regarding Trump's character.  I don't think it requires  a college degree to perceive that Trump is an ignorant, arrogant narcissist.  I do think many, perhaps most, Trump supporters see Trump as exactly that kind of person.  What differentiates the supporters from the opponents is that the former believes it is ok to have such a flawed personality in the Presidency.  It is a cynical and desperate viewpoint, for sure, and it overlooks a lot of potential fallout, but it don't think it is a question of misjudging character.

There is a useful analogy available which I think supports the foregoing analysis.  Consider for a moment the TV ads promoting the sleazy, ambulance-chasing lawyers who promise to aggressively represent people who have been the victims of accidents, bad luck and general powerlessness.  While the personalities are repellent and the message implies no particular adherence to real principles of justice, those characteristics clearly have some appeal for people confronting a desperate reality.  I think a lot of Trump supporters see themselves in a similar position regarding the possibilities of their individual futures.  Which is not to say that such a world view is representative of all of Trump's backers.  In fact, Trump supporters have been shown to be doing better economically than the average.  But, that is another piece of the story, the details of which need to be teased out by other means.

So, in the end there is no single magic key to explaining the Trump phenomenon.  My own view is that the media focus on Presidential politics has tended to obscure underlying causes of the current disaster.  I think the real answer to Trumpism is more likely to be found in local, grassroots organizing which can effectively combat hopeless and desperation.  Whether there is time now for that process to take place before disaster overwhelms us all is an open question.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Well, this is actually a post about politics.  I know, I know; you're sick of the subject.  But, hey, we've got to find a way to evict that squatter from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, and I did give you a nice cat picture.

The first step is to find reliable information sources about local politics.  So, here is my short list:

The New Mexico Legislature Web Site:
Info on current bills, legislators, and web casts of the sessions.
On line news about what's going on in Santa Fe and around the State.

New Mexico in Depth:
Trip Jennings is Executive Director of this on line political news site.

The Santa Fe New Mexican:
Santa Fe's daily newspaper gets a lot closer to reality than the right-tilt Albuquerque Journal.

New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan:
A daily dose of political gossip.  Monahan is a gun-for-hire, but he often gets the story right.

Democratic Party Town Hall Meetings:
I went to the recent one in Albuquerque at The Hotel Blue which provided a report on the beginning of the Legislative session.  Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino always does a great job as moderator.  Click the link to send a message to get the date for the end-of-session meeting.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Next Day

Thousands of people filled Albuquerque's Civic Plaza today to reject hate and greed.
It was an inspiring day.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

An Opportunity

People dismayed at the coming Trump/DeVos assault on public education can fight back effectively at the local level.  School board elections are typically held separately from general elections and generate sparse interest.  Last year in Albuquerque, only 2.6% of eligible voters showed up for the election of board members for the public schools and community college.  A small voter turn-out effort could clearly have a big impact on this year's election.

Election Day for the open APS and CNM board positions is February 7th, but early voting starts today and votes can be cast at any of the early voting locations around the city.  Information on candidates and early voting locations is available from the county clerk's web site.

Voters wanting to find out which APS and CNM districts their votes will apply to can also get this information interactively by filling in a form on the county clerk's site or the NM Secretary of State site.

The list of APS board candidates endorsed by the Albuquerque Teachers Federation is available at the ATFUnion Web Site.

Monday, January 16, 2017

CNM Community College Board


ATF and AEAA APS Board of Education Endorsements 2017

The cost of killing the ACA

The streaming of the Minnesota rally in support of Obama Care was not very compelling.  Schumer, the Dem Senate leader, was a total bust as a cheerleader; he seems to have nothing to say on the subject.  As usual Bernie Sanders in a brief statement laid out the issues with a strong, clear voice.  The union leaders also had some important messages to convey and did so well.

Of course, the other side of the coin is also revealing.  The Republican leadership really has offered nothing substantial in regard to how they are going to deal with health in the Trump era.  Which is not to say that they don't know what they are aiming at.  A clear-eyed view of what is coming is available from Allison K. Hoffman at REGBLOG.  Hint: think inequality on steroids.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Today at 12:30 p.m. ET, featuring Bernie Sanders:

Tune in to the livestream of Bernie’s rally to protect the Affordable Care Act.