25 August 2012

Pahls, Anderson represent fresh hope for beleaguered NM voters

Bob Anderson, a political science instructor at CNM
Community College, and Jeanne Pahls, an Albuquerque
public school teacher, are write-in candidates in the November
federal elections. He is running for the U.S. Senate and she
seeks New Mexico's 1st Congressional District seat.
Albuquerque, N.M.—Stumbling, we approach the end of Pres. Obama’s first term and the state of U.S. democracy and the economy, and the horizon of possibilities for progressive change, are worse today than they were eight years ago when the sulfurous pall descended at the inauguration of George W. Bush’s second term. The trajectory of American decline, manipulated to serve to the insatiable self-interests of the corporate elite, has proceeded without interruption for more than 30 years, regardless of which political party occupies the White House or controls the House or Senate.

It is news to no one, except the mainstream news media, that the two political parties are morally and ideologically bankrupt. Neither has any solution to the myriad troubles facing a nation in freefall, appalling economic inequality, wars without end, and looming ecological Armageddon. In the upcoming presidential election, the spineless incumbent who proclaimed sweeping justice but delivered business as usual, often with his tail between his legs, faces a vulture capitalist, fattened from global plundering, who promises to fix the tanking economy with more of the same policies that engorged his peers but generated economic disaster for the overwhelming majority of Americans.

Here in River City, voters are fortunate to have two write-in candidates for the U.S. House and the Senate, Jeanne Pahls and Bob Anderson, both educators, who represent a genuine alternative to the capitalist apologetics of the Democrats and Republicans. Their policies and programs, listed on their web sites, would cease the plundering of commons and rebuild society for the benefit of the many, not the few.

Neither Jeanne nor Bob will win their race. They cannot win because the landscape of electoral politics is too dominated by funding from the wealthy few to permit that to happen. Federal electoral campaigns, as they are constituted today, have been distorted into a formidable obstacle to democratic participation and will only become meaningful when they are ripped from the parties that have degraded them beyond recognition. A vote for a Democrat or a Republican in a federal election today is a wasted exercise that legitimizes a broken political system, but a vote for a platform that places people and peace before profits is a gesture of hope for the future, an insistence on something better than the hollow bromides from the failed parties of the past.

Postscript: Under New Mexico law, official write-in candidates must first register with the state.

10 August 2012

Again on Tuesday, the west channel of the Rio Grande from the I-40 pedestrian bridge looking north.

09 August 2012

Waltzing with apocalypse, waiting for the lights to go out

Chimp at Cognitive Evolution Group research center, New
Iberia, Louisiana, from Surviving Progress (2011).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—the guy ahead of me as I exited the theater was raving about Surviving Progress. “That’s the best film I have seen in 20 years. I saw it other day too. Everyone ought to see it. What did you think?”

“Well, more of the same,” I said, diplomatically, wondering whether he has been living under a rock for the last quarter century.

The documentary, based on the book, A Short History of Progress, “explores the concept of progress in our modern world, guiding us through a sweeping but detailed survey of the major ‘progress traps’ facing our civilization in the arenas of technology, economics, consumption, and the environment.” It is one of a spate of recent films that looks at the 21st century against the backdrop of ecological, economic and political collapse and the apocalyptic present.

Touted by one critic as “Koyaanisqatsi meets The Corporation,” Surviving Progress [trailer] is the equal of neither, as cinema or narrative, though it provides even more compelling evidence and support for an argument that has been convincingly made in west for more than 40 years: predatory capitalism driven by short-term gains by an insatiably greedy minority with utter disregard for the planetary commons, and lifestyles predicated upon orgiastic patterns of consumption and waste production are pushing to the world as we know in into extinction.

Acknowledging that reality, by itself, has not made bit of difference.  The first Earth Day, the symbolic birth of the environmental movement, was 22 April 1970 and four decades of mounting evidence has not altered the trajectory of the freefall. The interconnected ganglion of problems requires every resource and all the focus of the world’s population, but for the most part, the rot at the top, the parasites, the deniers, the “1%” and their hired guns, the boneheads, the bagmen and the assassins of truth have it made it clear that they aren’t about to do anything differently. What the collapse of earlier empires, all local, some regional but none global, tell us is that the elite will ravage and rule until they can’t, plundering unto death, starting with the poor and the weak, who get tossed overboard first. The first requirement in the reordering of the universe, it seems to me, is not a matter of ideas, or better technology, or education, or awareness, but the exercise of raw political power to wrest control of the present from the forces of death before the lights go out for good.

Bolt paces Jamaicans to 1-2-3 200-meter final

“After the so-called dirtiest race in history (1988), Olympic sprinting descended into institutionalised cheating, with opportunist 'lab rats' trying to stay ahead of the testers with undetectable concoctions. Bolt has been presented as the clean-up guy: a brash, crowd-pleasing superhero to contrast with a generation of macho, scowling Americans," writes
Paul Hayward for The Telegraph.

07 August 2012

Muddy and shallow in the morning

Overlooking the west channel of the Rio Grande earlier this month from the pedestrian bridge that parallels Interstate 40 in Albuquerque, N.M.

Navigating the waters of endtime in recent film


Six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhan√© Wallis) leads the resistance, in her own kind of way, to the rising waters of endtime from the fast-submerging, multiracial Delta town of Bathtub in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012). The end of time loomed in three impressive films from 2011. It was the storm to end all storms in Take Shelter with Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain.  In both Melancholia directed by Lars von Trier and Another Earth, featuring Brit Marling and directed by Mike Cahill, the end took the form of a duplicate planet hurtling toward the ol’ sod.

"I had a good home, but I left..."