“Art, an enduring record of man’s emotional response to his existence…the communication of emotion rather than of information.”— Peter Hurd, Artist1
It’s been a while since my last blog. Not so much because there was nothing to write about in the turbulent aftermath of Donald Trump’s election and subsequent inauguration as our President, but more because events have occurred so rapidly that it has been hard to stay up with them either intellectually or emotionally. I have left it to others to put their words on paper (or computer or video) to describe and dissect the immediate events as they have occurred this past year. I think all of us, regardless of our political leanings, felt beset by the almost daily revelations of scandal, bigotry, racial slurs, personal attacks on individuals or entire groups (Democrats, Republicans, Muslims, Blacks, etc), abrupt changes in leadership and policy directions, “fake news”, lies and distortions, etc.—much of which has been fueled by incessant tweets and incendiary remarks by the President. I for one have felt helpless wondering what if anything I could do that would be more constructive in trying to participate in today’s political discourses and debate.
As an artist I have tried to find the answer in my art—to paraphrase Peter Hurd, by communicating emotion rather than simply information. With that in mind I am using this forum to present three recent pieces of my art that, hopefully, convey a sense of the emotions and concerns felt not only by myself but many of us that reside in the southern regions near our border with Mexico. Continue reading →
Like many of us who supported Hillary Clinton, I am in a bit of shock that our country has chosen to elect a man so totally unqualified—morally, intellectually, and experientially—as Donald Trump. Yet the votes have been cast; and while he lost the popular vote by over a million votes, he won the electoral vote—the only one that counted. Despite early warnings of problems—the ever-growing and large, raucous Trump rallies; Russians all but indicted in hacking many of our national political organizations; the incessant drumbeat of Wikileaks’ releases of meaningless political insider emails; and a cowering FBI Director prematurely revealing the discovery of a “new trove of emails” ten days before the election that turned out to be mostly copies of already analyzed material—most of us were lulled by the pundits and pollsters who showed that Hillary would most certainly win, possibly by a landslide. Even the exit polls, run by the same media and pollsters, all but confirmed the certainty of Hillary’s success.
And then the votes actually started to be counted. The shock to more than half of us hit like a bomb; euphoria to the rest began to set in. Apparently, change, at whatever cost, driven by anger and hatred of those often left out of the political equations of the past, overpowered reason, deliberation and thoughtful governance proposed by Hillary.
Yesterday, I submitted my formal petition to run for public office as a Democrat for New Mexico State Representative for District 34. While many may not be surprised at my decision to run for public office I’m sure many others would think I am crazy given: the costs just to mount a reasonable campaign, the likelihood of an Anglo (gringo) to win in a predominantly Hispanic district, the challenge in taking on a well financed incumbent , the public exposure, and resultant stresses to my private life. All of this should I get elected for a job that will require much work, long hours, endless travel and absolutely no pay. It is hard to justify why I am running in a purely logical sense but I’ll give it a try. Continue reading →
In 1925 Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampfwas first published and outlined in vivid detail Hitler’s philosophies and plans for world denomination. As noted by famed author William L. Shirer in his epoch treatise, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, “The blueprint of the Third Reich and, what is more, of the barbaric New Order which Hitler inflicted on conquered Europe in the triumphant years between 1939 and 1945 is set down in all its appalling crudity at great length and in detail between the covers of this revealing book.” Hitler’s racist views on Jews and non-Aryans, their “treacherous acts” against German society and the need for what became the “final solution” were clearly outlined for all to see, assuming they were able to work their way through this rather ponderous and tedious book. While history and the Allied armies of World War II ultimately rebuked Hitler’s attempts at a new world order under laid by nationalistic and nihilistic racism, unfortunately, we continue to face ongoing assaults on our basic liberties and freedoms both within and outside of our country. Continue reading →
The world has been holding its breath awaiting the formal response to the historical signing of a nuclear agreement between the United States and six other nations with Iran this past July. The agreement, if enacted, would lift economic sanctions against Iran while, hopefully, preventing Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon for at least ten years and beyond. The US Congress has sixty days to either agree to or reject the agreement. News on an almost daily basis gives a tally of who may or may not vote in favor or against the agreement in both Republican-controlled houses of the Congress. President Obama on his part has threatened to veto any action to reject the agreement. Being a pre-year Presidential election year (yes, we are still more than a year away from any Presidential elections!) all seventeen of the Republican candidates have weighed in (aghast and against), as well as the three Democrat hopefuls (cautiously in favor, maybe), making this a multi-media event of major proportions. Before reviewing the most salient particulars of the Iranian deal it might be useful to consider how a similar nuclear agreement was successfully negotiated in the past and the lessons we might learn in our current circumstance. Continue reading →
Independence Day has come and gone. Native Americans can only watch from the sidelines, aware that they were considered “savages,” used by the British to harass the colonists. The Declaration of Independence charges that King George “has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” Disdain for the First Nations is not now the focus of Fourth of July festivities – but it has shaped US history for some four centuries.
Redskins logo under fire
Let’s consider another American party, the Super Bowl. The Washington Redskins were absent from this year’s contest, reducing media interest in the team’s name and the campaign to change it. The courts have so far upheld the effort to remove trademark protection from the name, on the grounds that it is widely considered as disparaging; it is not yet known if the Redskins will take this issue to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Can any reader imagine a team named The Palefaces? The Darkies? The Slant Eyes? The question answers itself; but little has been done in mainstream media coverage to explain to the public why this is so important to Native Americans. Continue reading →
Numerous questions have been raised in recent years about animal-based farming and the consequences for people, the environment, and the animals themselves. The news about pending recommendations to eat less meat for environmental reasons may now bring this issue to the front page. Continue reading →
Like many of us I was shocked by the horrific killings that took place recently in Paris where more than a dozen staff and editors of the French publication Charlie Hebdo, as well as some innocent bystanders, were viciously and cold-bloodedly gunned down by Islamic terrorists. In a separate but related incident a policewoman and five other Parisians were killed. Ultimately, the French authorities found and killed the perpetrators of these killings, but not before they had succeeded in bursting the illusionary bubble of security and safety thought to be enjoyed in this modern city and, in fact, in Europe and much of the west. The terrorists, young French citizens apparently trained and supported by Al-Qaida, purportedly acted in revenge for cartoons and articles published in this satirical weekly newspaper seen as insulting to Mohammed and the Islamic faith.
The Western world responded swiftly in showing support and solidarity to what was seen as a vicious attack on freedom of speech and liberty in our modern society—”Je Suis Charlie—I am Charlie,” resounded around the world as thousands took to the streets in protest and support against the terrorists. The intent of the rallies and the protests was to show Islamic extremists/terrorists that we will not be bullied by armed threats, and we will continue to live as free and open societies. To underscore this, the January 15 publication of Charlie Hebdo sold out more than 5 million copies. (Their normal publication rate previously only amounted to about 60,000 copies!) In the end though we are left to reflect on what could cause such a violent and visceral reaction to simple cartoons in an obscure publication. From my own travels I recall an experience that may offer some insight as to what drives these extremists. Continue reading →
This past September while standing in a long tourist line to enter Rome’s ancient Colosseum I was mesmerized by a little boy held in his mother’s arms right in front of us. I had just taken out a banana to maintain my failing strength (tourism is tough!) when I caught sight of the youngster eyeing my banana as I slowly and now very deliberately peeled it with a devilish grin in my own eyes. The youngster squirmed in his mother’s arms as I teasingly ate the banana while wondering if it would be impolite or taken wrong if I offered the child a bite. Before I could make up my mind to share (or not) the young mother, alerted to her child’s awakened appetite, cleverly pulled out her own banana to give the child! As he eagerly grabbed the proffered banana from his mother I mimed my need to have a bite. He wisely ignored my growing, silent entreaties to share that which I had refused to share only moments before. We both laughed when he dramatically finished off his snack leaving me looking desperate and famished—a fun moment to pass the time in a long, boring line. Having broken the ice we introduced ourselves to the young couple. “Where are you from?” we asked. “Russia,” they replied. “And you.” “We’re Americans.”—only a slight hesitation but I could sense for both of us conflicting thoughts, “But you’re the enemy. You seem so nice.” Continue reading →
In an earlier blog I wrote two years ago I discussed a rather tawdry story of election fraud and corruption in the border town of Sunland Park, New Mexico. The then mayor pro temp, the city manager, and a number of other officials and council members were indicted and sent to jail. Apparently, millions of dollars were misspent, including questionable trips to Mexico by various city officials. The Governor had the city’s finances taken over by the State’s Department of Financial Affairs. Fast forward two years to today. Sunland Park, having just regained back control of its finances from the DFA this past summer, now seems bent on expanding its budget and power by the time-proven method of annexing adjacent properties. In this case the City Council, facing bankruptcy and looking for new avenues of revenue, has cast its eyes on the local community of Santa Teresa, hoping to add this more affluent community to its overall tax base. Continue reading →