As I promised last time, I’m posting some of my film images that I made at the Community Zoe get-together last month at Twentynine Palms, California. I shot 49 rolls of film – 45 with my Pentax 67 and four with my Holga – but have only developed nine of them.The remainder will have to wait, for the most part, until I’ve developed the film that I shot earlier in the year. Those comprise the last rolls from Cambodia (some of which I’ve developed this week) plus the other undeveloped figure nude work, including workshops at Woodstock and Colorado, studio work and my summer trips to Utah and the San Francisco area. Whichever order I do things in, it’ll take several months to get it all done – and filing away the negatives into pages takes almost as much time as developing them (or so it seems).At any rate, the photos posted here today are with (from the top photo down) Candace & Amber, Madame Bink, Claudine, Laura, Jin, Rebecca, Joceline, Stephanie and, again, Candace & Amber.
I wanted to make sure I made a posting here today because, quite honestly, I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to do here over the next two weeks. That’s because my mother, sister and niece arrived today to stay with me for two and a half weeks. It’ll be good to spend time with everybody again, of course – but do please wish me luck, all the same!
As I spent this evening going to the airport (not once, but twice), I was unable to watch tonight’s third and final debate between Senators McCain and Obama. Hopefully I’ll be able to find time to watch the tape I made of it before too long.
As far as the presidential campaign goes, the Republican rallies seem to be getting angrier and angrier. I’ve read reports that after McCain and (especially) Palin put down Obama, people have been shouting out things like “terrorist,” “kill him” and “off with his head.” Perhaps the next thing they’ll start to do is cry out “Hail, Victory!” (That’s the English translation of “Sieg, Heil!” – a phrase many people should be familiar with.)
At one rally, an African-American cameraman was the target of racist remarks by the crowd, and I’ve read that at one event in Florida, a black reporter working for a Tallahassee newspaper was removed, even though he was standing in the journalists’ area and had proper ID, just because he was black. (And some people claim that there’s no racism here.)
The one positive thing I can say is that McCain at least tried to tone things down a bit last week. One man said that he feared Obama becoming president because he’s a terrorist, and a woman said she didn’t trust Obama because “he’s an Arab.” McCain replied that they shouldn’t fear, saying that Obama is a “decent man” and a “family man.” This leads me to wonder again just how torn John McCain is between his principles and his desire to become president. It’s obvious from his recent actions and his political positions that the latter is more important, but some of his principles do seem to show through now and then. The question is, who’s really running his campaign and setting the ugly tone that they’ve shown?
Last week I read an interesting column in the New York Times written by David Brooks. He’s a conservative, but a thoughtful and moderate one, unlike the extremists who now dominate the Republican party. He wrote that conservatives used to be against the liberal elite but were still open to a lot of ideas: “They disdained the ideas of the liberal professoriate, but they did not disdain the idea of a cultivated mind.”
“But over the past few decades,” he continued, “the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare….
“The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts. What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect….
“This year could have changed things. The G.O.P. had three urbane presidential candidates. But the class-warfare clichés took control. Rudy Giuliani disdained cosmopolitans at the Republican convention. Mitt Romney gave a speech attacking “eastern elites.” (Mitt Romney!) John McCain picked Sarah Palin. Palin is smart, politically skilled, courageous and likable. Her convention and debate performances were impressive. But no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin. Nobody so relentlessly divides the world between the “normal Joe Sixpack American” and the coastal elite.
Brooks finished his column with this: “And so, politically, the G.O.P. is squeezed at both ends. The party is losing the working class by sins of omission — because it has not developed policies to address economic anxiety. It has lost the educated class by sins of commission — by telling members of that class to go away.”
So, if Brooks is correct, is it any wonder that Republican rallies attract people who actually believe that Obama is a terrorist and who actually think that Obama is an Arab?
Another NY Times story of interest dealt with the term “maverick,” which Palin has used to describe John McCain and herself. The term began with a rancher named Samuel Augustus Maverick who, in the 1800s, was known for not branding his cattle. His cattle were called “Maverick’s,” and the term came to denote someone who didn’t bear another’s brand.
The members of the Maverick family today certainly seem to disagree with Palin. They’re known for their progressive politics, the story said, and quotes one of them as saying “I’m just enraged that McCain calls himself a maverick.” To quote further:
“It’s just incredible — the nerve! — to suggest that he’s not part of that Republican herd. Every time we hear it, all my children and I and all my family shrink a little and say, ‘Oh, my God, he said it again.’ ”
“He’s a Republican,” she said. “He’s branded.”
This reminds me of a skit I heard on an old Jewish comedy album. A man is showing his parents around his fancy new yacht. He’s decked out in a captain’s outfit – hat, jacket and all – and he says to his parents, “Your son is a regular captain, isn’t he?” His father replies: “Listen, sonny. I don’t have to tell you that by you you’re a captain, and by your mama you’re a captain, and by me you’re a captain – but by a captain you’re no captain!”
So, in keeping with that, I guess we can say that by the Republicans, McCain and Palin are mavericks; and by McCain they’re mavericks; and by Palin they’re mavericks – but by a Maverick, they’re no mavericks!!!
Of course, as I’m comparing political topics to stories that I’ve heard, I can’t forget the economy. Let’s start with the Republicans tired old line that the Democrats do nothing but “tax and spend.” (They’re still using it, even though independent groups confirm that under Obama’s tax plan, 95% of the people in the U.S. would get a tax cut.) I don’t like to have to pay unnecessary taxes any more than anybody else does, but I consider “tax and spend” to be a much more responsible way of doing things than how the Republicans conduct business: “borrow and spend.”
Yes, when Reagan took office, he said that one of his priorities was eliminating the federal budget deficit – but when he left office, the deficit was three times greater than when he started. It took a Democratic administration – that of Bill Clinton – to reduce federal spending, give us a surplus and actually begin to pay down the national debt. Then good ol’ George W. took over, and guess what – the surplus is gone, and the deficit and debt are going through the roof! (Of course, with the government pouring billions into the financial system to try to prop it up, who knows when we’ll ever see a surplus again.)
This reminds me of an exchange I remember from the TV show I Dream of Jeannie
. Jeannie has just learned the joys of buying things on credit, and she excitedly tells Major Nelson, “You don’t have to pay today!,” to which he responds, “That’s right. You have to pay tomorrow
.” Obviously, Bush and company have not put any thought into us paying tomorrow. Dick Cheney even said that the deficit is meaningless – but meanwhile, it and the national debt are continuing to drag us down.
Of course, part of the problem today is that Americans in general act like the government does by continuing to buy things that they can’t afford and can’t pay for. Sooner or later, it’ll catch up with you. Like most people, I have several credit cards that I use, but I always pay off those cards 100% each month. If I can’t afford something, I don’t buy it. The only exceptions are things that are truly necessary, like my college education (I took out a student loan that I paid off long ago) and my apartment (I took out a loan that I’m still paying off, but the payments are manageable).
Back to the federal deficit, part of the reason it’s risen during the past eight years are Bush’s big tax cuts for the corporations and for wealthy Americans (with the resulting drop in federal revenue intake). This is supposed to allow the wealthy to spend money that will find its way to
ordinary Americans, and will increase everyone’s economic well-being. Some people, of course, call this “trickle down economics” (though Bush Sr. called it “voodoo economics,” as I recall) – and it’s obvious that during the past eight years, that money has not been trickling down to either the average worker or to the federal coffers.
The quote that this brings to mind comes from the 1940 comedy film, The Great McGinty, written and directed by the great Preston Sturges. It stars Brian Donlevy as McGinty, a hustler who is first seen on Election Day, voting for about the 37th time that day. Through his involvement with a political boss (know only as The Boss), he becomes a city alderman, then mayor and finally governor. All the while, he’s taking orders from The Boss, getting involved with kickbacks and other corrupt dealings.
Finally, McGinty realizes that what he’s doing is wrong, and confronts The Boss about stealing money from the people. The Boss then answers him thus: it’s impossible to steal from the people, because whatever you take from the people, you spend it and it goes back to the people.
That kind of reasoning doesn’t make sense, and it wasn’t meant to. It was a rationalization by a criminal mind in order to justify his criminal activities – but yet Republicans are asking the American people to believe just that! Still, I think a better way to describe Republican economic theory is through this joke that I once heard:
An old Irishman knows he doesn’t have too long to live, so he goes down to the pub and says to his friends, “I haven’t got much time left, so could you do me a favor? After I’m gone, could you pour a six pack of beer over me grave?”
One of his friends answers and says, “Ay, sure, we’d be happy to do it – but would you mind if we passed it through our kidneys first?”
That, in a nutshell, is Republican economics: the wealthy get to drink the beer, while the rest of us just get pissed on by them.
Finally, in summing up here, I offer this: Sarah Palin told her audience last week that Barack Obama doesn’t think the way they do and that he doesn’t view America the way that they do. Well, as far as I’m concerned, that’s about as ringing an endorsement to vote for Obama as one can get.
Election Day is less than three weeks away, my friends. Things are looking good right now, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed.