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Friday, 28 July – It's like nobody in either party's leadership wants to tell the truth about anything, and media want to keep it that way. What cracks me up most about the recent healthcare vote is that Democrats are celebrating preserving a policy that forces the healthy young urban poor (read: young minorities within walking distance of urgent care centers) not only to buy insurance they can't afford, but also to thereby subsidize insurance costs for our aging rural population too (read: costly geriatric whites nowhere near hospitals). I can understand centrist gypsy moths from rural white states like Murkowski of Alaska and Collins of Maine going for this. But McCain, the guy who never saw a war he didn't like, was just being a drama queen in preserving the status quo.


You already know that everything about the way Obamacare was pitched ("Choose your own doctor!" "Lower costs!" "Insurance for all!") was a big door-to-door lie. But I guess once Congress got into the business of letting actuarial tables at insurance companies finesse our public policy debates with the phoniest data of all, we could safely forget about having honest debates about how America might cap its horrendous heathcare costs. Significantly, Murkowski and Collins even voted no on merely opening the actuarial table to debate; McCain voted yes so he could grab as much corporate glam as he could while the going was good.

Tuesday, 1 August – This from the Sacramento Bee, which hasn't yet fully been taken over by Machiavellian ideologues as the LA Times has: California Obamacare premiums will go up by double-digits again in 2018. "Silver-tier plans would no longer be a good option for consumers who receive no subsidy," our State's meta-hustler insurance agency Covered California finally admitted. Covered California's top flack tries to spin it by insulting our ability to choose for ourselves: "every consumer could avoid paying any additional premium by shopping." You can choose your doctor – except if your plan can't afford her, and she's not part of the (even more limited) insurance plan you actually can afford!


Saturday, 5 AugustI think I'll call this photo "Hollywood Sign" – it's somewhere on that hill in the back. There are other signs too. But here in the foreground is a city block being redeveloped as a LGBT housing and community center by the Los Angeles LGBT Center. There's a liquor store and a (beloved, 24/7) pawn shop across the street from it. My guess is that those will close up shop within two years of this massive center "cleaning up" the neighborhood. This the way the City does things in the name of affordable housing: it works with financially flush not-for-profits on projects that make their communities less affordable than they were before the project lands. We thereby turn these kinds of developments into cruel lotteries for the poorest, pushing hundreds of others out to some other margin. The Los Angeles LGBT Center offers a suite of services to that community. But fancy redevelopment-styled housing, so often included in such suites, is a two-edged sword for communities that are barely affordable before, and even less affordable after.

Monday, 14 August
When I studied American art history in college, I learned that the Civil War monuments that went up after WWI were a way to honor the South's effort in this battle for all Americans. The South has many great military academies, and they produced the kind of military men that fought valiantly for all Americans in WWI. Also, there was a lot of military hardware around, and the idea of turning it into art was a good one, actually forward thinking.

The bronze of which these monuments are made often was forged from the heavy and middle artillery of WWI. So these statues from the 1920's do not honor only the Civil War–they honor WWI vets as well.

When monuments went up in the South, they were typically made by Northern sculptors – as was the one in Charlottesville, made my a lifelong New Yorker. And they also went up in the North in complementary fashion.

The program was more careful than one might suppose. This Robert E. Lee equestrian is the complement of an equestrian of US Grant – to whom Lee surrendered – by the same sculptor, and made at the same time. But the one of Grant is right across the park from the US Capitol building – a far more honored site.

In Washington, DC, there are twelve Civil War monuments that are sculptures of generals. Eleven of them are of Northern generals. Only one is of a Southern general, Albert Pike. Even Pike is somewhat stripped of his full dignity: he is featured in masonic garb, as he was a mason. He is not featured as a general.

I have no idea if the alt-right knows the history of the statue it wants to protect in Charlottesville, or if the vandals in Durham know the history of the statue they tore down to-day. If they don't, it's a shame, and it's a shame to have them representing the interests of these statues. I don't care about the alt-right or what happens to them. But I do mourn the loss of these statues, as I mourn the loss of any component of our art historical record to vandals. If a governing board had made this decision, we can debate that, and, if we feel like it, hold the decision makers accountable. But wanton vandalism takes this decision out of the hands of we the people, some of whom may have valued it.

Friday, 18 AugustWith some melancholy, I was cruising down memory lane low on petrol, recalling to-day the premiere of Lutoslawski's final symphony here at the LA Philharmonic in 1993. (If you're reading this and you've lived in LA for a long time, you probably know why; in fact, in service of my present novel, I've probably already bugged you enough about the LA riot and post-riot LA and the arts, and how I believe the arts rather than politics re-made LA for better and for worse, that I wouldn't blame you for a recent unfollow). This LA does not exist anymore. But recalling that evening, and how Esa Pekka championed such people and such music, made me melancholy enough to look up the review of this premiere. Was it really the way I remember it – was it really everything I remember it was? Yes, it was, according to Bernheimer at the time. This kind of evening is unimaginable here to-day. .