Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mourning in America

OK it’s been a long time since I posted but mostly things have been going well and Detroit is a fantastically changed place since we moved here.

So why the title, and what’s the connection?
Well the connection is that if what you read about Detroit in the 1990’s and early 2000’s then get ready because the individuals that just got put in power are like the white flip side of the folks who drove this city into the ground.

This election I think turned on a LOT of pent up anger. I get it I am still pissed off at Wall Street and the banks and the complete lack of congress to get much of anything done. 

Trump came along and said it's OK to vent in ways that have never been acceptable in public and people wanted to vent. I'm sad that so many people didn't see beyond that anger and look at what a Trump / Tea Party America would look like.  An America (white male AmeriKKKa) first, isolationist, turn back the clock and pretend it’s 1952 (and that we are not fighting a War in Korea) world.

What that doesn’t of course take in to count is that WE are not the kings of the universe.  If we can ignore Europe, then we hand it to Putin’s remaking of the USSR.  If we ignore Asia then we leave it to China.

The America they want to back to depends on things that don’t exist anymore.  A huge industrial base.  Being the only world power not devastated by WWII, England was still on food rationing.

We can either be positively involved with the rest of the world or end up living by Moscow and Beings rules.  The ONLY thing that keeps them in check is American partnerships with Europe.

Atomic weapons are pointless because they all know any use ends all of their reigns.  No power survives an atomic war because there is no way to stop retaliation, the other sides missiles will launch long before the first ones land.  And any crazy leader pushed to the point where they have no viable survival chances will throw the hail marry play, as Saddam did by launching missiles into Israel.  If Bush senior had not managed to keep the Israeli’s uncharacteristically out of the war there would be a lot of green glass in the middle east and a LOT of people still dyeing from the after affects.
As a weird aside it’s sort of interesting that the Tea Party chose to name itself after a media stunt that is remembered for something it was not.

It wasn’t about the tax on tea, americans didn’t drink a lot of tea.  Tossing the tea was a slap at England for a tax on molasses which is the key ingredient in rum.  Something that americans did drink a LOT of.  The colonies were at the time the largest makers of rum in the world, and they were no exporting…

So I am mourning the loss of the ideal of America.  

The country didn't change, nobody suddenly became different.  I worked and lived at a theatre squeezed between tenements and projects in a rather scary part of Oakland California in the late 70’s so I have seen this side of america and I have seen what black americans deal with that white americans rarely experience.  I also did a set design for a gay theatre in the 80’s where I and the other straight contributors were given an orientation on how to stay safe.  See there were thugs that would assume we were gay just because we left the building.  Not having had to probably deal with this issue the theatre wanted to make sure we knew to never leave alone and to watch out because we might well be attacked on the assumption we were gay.  This was in San Francisco where one would have assumed it wouldn’t be an issue.  The point got driven home when one of the crew was caught on the two block walk to the subway and beaten so bad he spend a week in the hospital.  He hadn’t payed attention, he grew up in suburbs and wasn’t gay.  Didn’t mater to his attackers.  Perception was all it took.  So I know that under belly probably better than most folks “like me”.

But till now there was at least the ideal that if we had our issues we at least in principal were striving to be a better place.  America was proud to be the “Melting pot”  Sure some were on the top of the pot and it wasn’t as easy to get from the bottom to the top and it was harder if you fit into any number of groups, BUT most people still seemed to believe in the pot.  At least they said they did.  Folks have said the want Trump because they want the america of years before.  Well that America publicly embraced the melting pot and would NEVER have found most of what has publicly said about women acceptable.  They probably wouldn’t have a big issue with tighter immigration, but they would not have supported a WALL because WE saw ourselves as a Melting Pot.  America has played with isolationism before and restrictions on some races have been at times very restricted but mostly the concept of immigration has been strongly supported.

This election showed that a significant portion of the population rejects that idea.  The core founding idea of America.  This is the most unAmerican result possible and that more than anything else is what really shocks the rest of us.

The next election someone will be able to truthfully run on a "make America great again", because 4 years of Trump and TeaBag control is going to leave us looking fondly back on the "good days" of the "great recession".

The “Tea Party” is fundamentally unAmerican and always has been.  The “government” IS America.  If your stated goal is to “reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub” you are by definition antiAmerican.  It actually stands on the brink of advocating a violent overthrow of the government which would be, ah, treason.

And speaking of treason Russia says it was working with Trumps campaign during the election.

Working with a foreign power to subvert an American election…

It sounds like a bad remake of the MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, maybe the PUTIN PUPPET?

Part of this travesty is the fault of the DNC and the RNC.  That is one part Trump got right.  I don’t hate Clinton, I don’t really hate Trump either.  Neither should have been their party’s candidate.  And not Bernie either.  Neither Party when out and found any viable candidates.  Though I have to say the RNC did a MUCH better job.  I didn’t like the RNC crop but they at least had some variety, not many I would call Ike republicans but at least they had some not already on Medicare.  

I get it Hillary took one for the team and was a good soldier for Obama but sorry she is TOO OLD.  I’m a boomer and ALL of the choices that came close with the exception of Cruze were TOO OLD.  Somewhere around 70 you should become ineligable.  If you need more bodies lower the start age to say 30.  I would much rather see a 30 year old in office than a 70 year old trying to learn on the job.

Hillary is not a bad person despite a decades old obsession of the right to try and “nail her” on something, anything.  But she is a TERRIBLE candidate, and nearly the worst choice possible to try and get the first woman in the oval office.  She has a history of doing things that while not illegal look bad.  She has had a (possibly unfair) image of being an elitist that dates back to when Bill was governor.  I know you owed her but putting her out there was just WRONG.  Wrong for the DNC and WRONG for the election.

Trump on the other hand IS a criminal.  He will go to trial for FRAUD, not an accusation but an actual trial.  He may have to do time before his term is up.  He has publicly bragged about sexual assault.  He will probably have to be in court over some of those issues.  He made an issue of Bill’s exploits but with possibly one exception they were all conventual.  None of Trumps have been.  It is now documented that Millania violated her Visa so that means she had to purger herself on her citizenship application.  They are very unlikely to take any real action but she IS an illegal Immigrant.  Who BTW was working illegally and so taking away jobs that would have gone to people who could legally work in the US.
He has been divorced twice and was openly having an affair while married.
Trump employed illegal workers to build Trump Towers and paid less than the minimum wage.  He was sued and lost by the housing administration for discriminating.  And didn’t pay any taxes for 18 years.

There is probably more and the point isn’t that any of these necessarily means he would be a bad president.  Some of our better presidents have had some of these same “flaws”.

But imagine for a second Hillary having any of these “flaws” and what the RNC’s position would be.  Now you can join me in saying RNC How DARE you put Trump on your ticket.

And while I can agree with the argument that with Hillary if she got the votes she and you can’t talk her out of it has to be the nominee.  Though it appears you did a lot less that even try to get her to step aside.  There is NO excuse for the RNC.  Trump is a criminal.  Not a speculation or suspicion or a maybe or an innuendo but an actual criminal who has bragged about it publicly.  And he embraces NONE of the traditional Republican values.  He is not a conservative, he is not fiscal astute, he is not religious, or moral.  He is not pro business (he is pro Trump business but he has stiffed hundreds of small business owners over the years).  
He is NOT a Republican.  He doesn’t embrace the parties core beliefs.  He could have and should have been rejected by the RNC.  Yes you would have lost some TeaBaggers, but you would have picked up the middle and in the end Trump wouldn’t have been a contender.  His outrageous behavior wasn’t new, the fact that you were letting him try to be your candidate was new.

Do the parties survive?  Hard to tell.  I stopped giving any time or money to the DNC when they abdicated an election they won.  If you don’t fight for your winners what is the point?  The DNC has now shown such a total lack of interest in what America want’s or needs that for me it is totally dead.  I will support candidates I like but I’m reregistering as an independent.  My out look on the DNC has gone from disappointment to disgust.  They don’t represent me, or even seem passingly interested in doing so.

The RNC on the other hand????  Does it even exist?  Certainly it no longer supports ANY of what it has traditionally stood for.  I have never been a Republican but I have liked some of their candidates and I have had a fair number of friends and family who were Republicans.  For those of you locked in a left wing bubble, there are a LOT of republicans you would have a good time with and a LOT of them did not vote for Trump (if that would be a stopper for you).

Republicans used to split mainly between the more liberal IKE republicans and the more conservative William F. Buckley Constitutional conservatives.  I actually have a lot of respect for both groups.  I don’t know if many of either side would be happy with the RNC today.  The driving force seems to be the TeaBaggers who don’t support really any of the core values of either group.  They are big on select parts carefully interpreted of the constitution but want to trash the rest.  They want to trash government support for everything but what actually benefits them personally.  They have no long term hopes for America or making it better, or even maintaining it.  Take a look at your roads next time you bump along.  Eisenhower started the national highway system to benefit America, the TeaBaggers won’t maintain it because they would have to pay for that maintenance so they leave it for future generations to deal with and hope it doesn’t totally fail while they are in office.  They want no taxes.  Well no taxes means no services, no roads, no police, no fire department, no FDA and all those pesky regulations that keep what you buy in the store from killing you.

Well I moved to Detroit five years ago and I can tell you at that time the tax base had eroded to the point that we had a good taste of what a minimal government city looks like.  Twenty two minute fire response time (if you were lucky).  To put that in more concrete terms it means any serious injury and you DIE.  Any house fire and you loose your house and all your belongings.  And because of the above you either can not get insurance or your premiums are through the roof.  So you want to buy it has to be cash.  You want to sell you can only do that for what someone can pay cash for because there is no possibility of a mortgage.  Houses in Detroit today that are gong for close to a million dollars were selling for thirty thousand in 2010.  If you had a mortgage then in most cases it wasn’t worth paying it.  People walked away in droves and the ones who stayed couldn’t afford to do much in the way of maintenance.  When we bought the house needed a new roof.  That roof cost as much as the selling price.  The downward spiral happens fast and takes a LONG time to recover from.  This country is only partially recovered from letting the banks have their way 12 years ago.

Assuming Trump and the TeaBagers don’t get checked (or locked up) my recommendation is to brush up on your first aid, buy a lot of fire extinguishers, and learn to garden.

And hope that americans get over their rage at the “establishment” and remember what America is all about.  I agree that monopolies and globalization is generally a bad thing.  “Big Business” and Wall Street will screw you three ways to Sunday if given a chance.  But the solution is not trashing the only systems that can keep them in line.  And immigration did not take your jobs.  Globalization to a certain extent did, and the evolution of manufacturing and energy to a big extent did.  The solution is not to bring in the head of a global corporation.  NOTHING you want is in Trumps interest.  If there is one thing that has been obvious for his entire life, Trump ONLY does things that benefit Trump.

Breaking up the big multi nationals and bringing back the old requirements that government contracts have to use actual American companies that are using actual American components will bring back some jobs.  

Coal?  Forget it.  It won’t be coming back and really should have been a dead issue years ago.  12,000 people died from coal smoke in five days in London in 1952.  It was a bit of a freak of smoke mixing with the fog (the origin of the word SMOG BTW) but anything that dangerous has no future is there are any alternatives, and there are plenty now.  There is no “clean coal” that was a lie to get your vote.  Get mad you deserve it, but the answer is to transition people into jobs that do have a future.  You are energy workers, there will be a lot of need for energy workers going forward.  Make sure the people you vote for will keep those jobs in the US, that is a future.  

Manufacturing?  even if we can force a bunch back to the US the job count in modern manufacturing is 1/2 to 1/4 of what it was when it left.  Figure at least 3/4 of you are going to have to find other work.  The answer is probably not “learning computers” a phrase that would make anyone who works in high tech fall down laughing.  If anyone ever proposes to “teach you computers” or any politician ever uses that term put them on your “never to vote fore” list.  They lying to you or they have no idea what they are talking about.  Either way you don’t want them to have anything to do with your future.  So I’m not sure what to say except that the more you keep companies from combining and growing into market crushers the more jobs there are and the more stable the industry is.  A small machine shop is not going to move to Mexico to save a few dollars an hour on labor.  You are probably not going to make what your union says you should, but they lied to you also.  They didn’t move to protect you from the changing manufacturing landscape and instead tried to lock manufacturers into old models.  So the jobs moved because it cost too much to play the “nothing ever changes” game.  Detroit’s water department had a guy on staff who’s job was to maintain the horses shoes.  They haven’t had horses in the department in generations so this guy got the job well after there were no horses to shoe.  It was a grandfather job the union wouldn’t let them eliminate.  They didn’t do the guy any favors.  We went bankrupt and his job was eliminated and what skills does he have going forward?  A horse shoer who hasn’t been shoeing horses.

I’m not anti union I’m just pointing out all of your representation union and political has been blatantly lying to you any time they talked about “bringing all your jobs back” because those jobs don’t exist anymore and they never will again.  Buggy whip makers had this problem in the past, and countless other industries have had similar evolutions.  Get your people to be straight with you.  It won’t be easy but it’s the only way you are not going to get screwed.

America is strong only when it works together.  The whole concept America was born with was working together.  It is US all together that make America Great, not politicians.  Trump can’t make America great, even if he really tried.  Only YOU can make America great.

The flip side to Detroit when the city was failing big time was that neighborhoods largely gave up even worrying about the government, you knew they weren’t going to help.  So neighborhoods and communities started doing it on their own.  If you got stuck in the snow there was always a bunch of folks to hep get you out.  If someones house alarm went off are things looked strange neighbors would investigate.  If you needed a hand with something lots of folks would lend it.  When arson became a thing on the night before Halloween citizens organized city wide watch groups.  That arson at it’s height a number of years ago was over 300 in one night has dropped to 0 two years running.  People took over abandon properties and started community gardens and tiny farms.  Where there was no street lights many communities started their own patrols to cut down on crime.

So I have also seen the strength of Americans when they work together.  Say hello to people you don’t know.  Get to know your neighbors.  Get involved in local politics.  And I mean your block, neighborhood, and eventually maybe the city.  You can get a lot done if your block or neighborhood can speak as one voice.  You can’t do that unless you embrace all of them, not just the ones that look and think like you.  Not because it’s politically correct but because you are ALL Americans and with out them YOU are weaker.  You don’t have to agree with their politics or religion, or even want to have them as friends.  Just respect them, and talk to them.  You will find lots of things you agree on.  And when you have worked with them maybe to organize the neighborhood to force the city to fix that pothole, they might even lend you a ladder when you need it.  Or call the cops if it looks like your house is being robbed.  You might even find out you like each other.  And after that you may still disagree on politics and religion, but at least you will know that like you they are not an “other” but an American.

And that is the best outcome I can see from this disgusting election cycle.

Maybe, just maybe people will finely realize if they don’t learn work together nothing will ever get better.

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