Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spirits of the Dead and Philosophies of the Doomed

**Updated 11:14PM 6/24/2014: See below.**

Yours truly in Glenwood Cemetery in Washington, D.C., on a summery hot and humid sunny evening by the rather unusual spherical marble gravestone(s) for a family named (I think) Pollack (it was rather faded), 6:07PM, July 10, 2011.

Glenwood Cemetery is a cemetery in D.C. just off Rhode Island Ave. and Lincoln Rd. on a hilly rise in Northeast D.C. Its "heyday" was in the 19th / early 20th Centuries with very few (if any) remaining plots.

In fact, that's true of basically all of D.C.'s cemeteries. You basically can't be buried here when you die.


Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, D.C., 5:50PM, July 10, 2011.

The graveyard images in this blog entry were taken on Sunday early afternoon at Glenwood Cemetery here in Washington, D.C., where I went with LP. We were actually looking for a VERY LARGE tree (or pair of trees) that I can see WAAY in the distance looking east down U Street from near where I live. The trees in this cemetery are not it / they.

I believe the tree in question is actually between T, V, 2nd and 3rd Streets, NE, on a high spot firmly behind three sets of row houses. This Google map image shows circled in red the tree(s) that I believe I am seeing. This tree is not the topic of this entry.

(St. Mary's Cemetery is visible at the top of this entry. It is next to Glenwood Cemetery. Northeast D.C. is a strange part of the the city filled with still-dangerous neighborhoods and also lots of Catholic "stuff" such as cemeteries, monasteries, etc.)

The old headstones in Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, D.C., 6:00PM, July 10, 2011.

Thereafter, LP and I went to the place on New York Avenue where the Fringe Festival is being held this year, though we didn't see any plays. And later, we went to Nellie's, where we met up with Gary, Jamie, Kristof and Li'l D. Even later, I went to Larry's Lounge with Jamie, Kristof, and D., before getting home around 12:30AM.

Oh, yes, LP and I stopped for about 4 minutes in the D.C. Eagle. I NEVER was there before in the 19 years I've lived in D.C. and environs. It's a throwback to another era.


Anyway, this is just a quick update. I'm not feeling rather tired tonight and want to go to bed earlier than usual. I'm home watching Frasier. Earlier, I caught The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell -- I think he and Paul Krugman, although approaching things from rather distinct perspectives, are my two new demi-gods, though I would include political writer Michael Lind in there as well.

O'Donnell has been of the strong and articulate opinion last night and tonight that Pres. Obama has the Republican leadership exactly where he wants them to be.

Or maybe it's more accurate to say that they have boxed themselves into an "unwinnable" corner in which on the one hand, the $4 trillion "grand bargain" he offered them in which they would get 80+ percent of what they wanted ("spending cuts") was an enraging unacceptable cave in and defeat to the Teabagger / fundie crazies.

Another Glenwood Cemetery picture -- featuring the row houses on (I believe) Channing St, NE, that dead ends at the graveyard. The Washington Monument is visible poking up about 3 miles to the southwest on this very warm summer evening (5:56PM, July 10, 2011).


On the other hand, the alternative -- the U.S. Government defaulting on its obligations AND 70 million or so checks not going out to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and (maybe politically importantly) military personnel, with the Social Security part worth $20 billion alone -- is simply so beyond the realm of possibility (the Empire hasn't declined that far just yet!) that the "proposed solution" is offered by Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is (in O'Donnell's view) basically a sort of complete and total surrender. (To quote O'Donnell, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took Republicans a "giant step toward TOTAL SURRENDER".)

Obelisk tombstones are very popular in old D.C. cemeteries such as here in Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, D.C., 6:06PM, July 10, 2011. Perhaps it's a Washington Monument thing?


As a result of McConnell's proposal, the Teabaggers (OF COURSE) have detonated into a white-hot frenzy, and nothing has been decided and who knows how this may play out over the next few days. But as O'Donnell surmised tonight, Wall Street / Big Business ("Republican monied interests") are not going to let the U.S. Government unilaterally default in a chaotic and catastrophic way.

Not all corporate oligarchs are as ideologically crazed as the Koch Brothers. Some know that society actually has to function normally.

On that topic of the corporate overclass, it is worth posting what economist James K. Galbraith wrote in his July 11, 2011 Huffington Post column:

"There are many people who believe fervently in the resilience of the private sector and for whom government is just a burden. Some of those people are pure predators: resource magnates, media magnates, banking magnates. Others have blinded themselves to the role government actually plays in sustaining the advanced networks, human protections and social systems that make up our lives, and imagine that one can go back to the world of subsistence farming, church charity and credit from the corner store. But there were many fewer people in that world, they didn't do what we do, and they didn't live nearly so long."

He also wrote that the debt ceiling statute is actually a weird relic of the Woodrow Wilson / World War I era first enacted in 1917.

The Constantino Brumidi grave in Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, D.C., 5:59PM, July 10, 2011.

Brumidi was the artist who painted the frescoes in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. That's LP standing beside the grave and the row houses nearby front onto Douglas St., NE, and North Capitol Street.


Of note, as Rachel Maddow noted, the foursome of Reps. Boehner and Cantor and Sens. McConnell and Kyl (the the top two House and two Senate leaders) voted 19 times combined during the Bush era to raise the debt ceiling a total of $4 trillion. More broadly, it has been passed 74 times since JFK was president.

OK, this picture shows a squally-ominous sky approaching from the NW behind the Brittany, located next to my building, Washington, D.C., 8:28PM, July 11, 2011. We had a brief, torrential downpour with some explosive cloud-to-ground lightning.

Oh, yeah, DCA officially got zilch.


Dr. Krugman has a somewhat different approach and has been very critical in a lamenting (lamentful?) sort of way about Obama due to his baffling betrayal of basic Keynesian principles (which help to undergird a progressive world view) and the Washington pundit class consensus -- what he derogatorily dubs the "Very Serious People" (in particular The Washington Post Editorial Board, as well as his NYT colleague David Brooks) -- that nothing can be done to right a situation of chronic high unemployment ("it's structural") and massive consumer indebtedness that has created liquidity trap conditions.

Large trees growing in Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, D.C., 5:52PM, July 10, 2011.

No, none of these trees are the ones I was seeking.


Krugman has also discussed how the "rentier" class in a sense is benefiting from the current situation with de facto "negative" interest rates and (but for downward nominal wage rigidity) wage deflation.

A dead mighty oak tree in Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, D.C., 5:52PM, July 10, 2011.

It's always weird seeing a dead tree at high leafy green summer.


From the broadest perspective, I think Dr. Krugman believes that it is as though the lessons of the Great Depression have been intentionally forgotten both by the ruling business elites and economists (most unforgivably of all by the Chicago School) and we have entered a period similar in concept to the "Long Depression" of the late 19th Century with severe economic instabilities (not to mention wage deflation).


My shadow on the gravestone of a young man named Joseph M. Johnston, who died just 10 days after his 21st birthday on Oct. 22, 1915. I wonder who he was and why he died so young.


**Updated 11:14PM 6/24/2014: Content removed including dead YouTube link of the 1970s opening of the Million Dollar Movie on WWOR channel 9 in New York. **

Ah, the Million Dollar Movie opening (or at least its 1970s version) -- on WWOR channel 9 in New York ... Well do I remember that opening withe the sweeping orchestral rendition of "Tara's Theme" from Gone With the Wind along with a montage of nighttime images from midtown Manhattan New York City in the 1970s. I was living in Long Branch, N.J., and was just a little boy. But that's a topic for another entry.

'Night. My next planned entry will be late in the week (Friday or Saturday).



к.нео.физ.де.му said...

really enjoyed reading today blog entry...

btw, i had a strange dream last night.

you, me and farid zakaria were eating together at some expensive restaraunt. strangely, you didn't recognize him, or made it look like you didn't...

you kept talking politics, he kept reasuringly smiling at you, as if inviting you to ask his opinion - and i was worried how the hell we were gonna pay for the dinner...


Regulus said...

Thank you, Mike. I really appreciate that you read and comment on my blog.

You, Fareed Zakaria and I at an expensive restaurant eating and talking??

Let me ponder that for a bit and I'll try to come up with a possible interpretation. The part about you and I not being able to pay seems straightforward enough, except it must tie into the fact that I didn't recognize him.