Monday, November 21, 2016
Over the weekend, we had a lovely experience.
We live in the East Bay Hills, facing the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge to the West.
At sunrise, I awoke and looked out the bedroom window, and to my amazement saw a vertical rainbow touching down on the Bay, directly behind Brooks Island, a narrow body of land sitting just south of Richmond/Marina Bay. I rushed downstairs to get our old digital camera, and caught just the tail end of the display before it faded into the dawn light.
Rainbows are unusual enough here, but catching one from a point of view that allows a useful photo is rare indeed.
There may not be a pot of gold along the Tiburon shoreline, but it was inspiring to see nature's accidental fireworks from our own backyard.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
The 2016 Presidential election is coming to an end, and it's clear that Donald Trump, while not winning the actual popular vote, has been elected to the office.
The prognosticators have been telling us all along that Trump's campaign strategy, which has been consistent from the beginning, was appealing to what Nixon supporters used to understand as the "silent majority"--the part of America often referred to as the ideological Middle.
Political sentiment has always been as much about emotion and irrational projections as it is about facts and realities. Politicians who can tap into resentment and frustration can often overcome better candidates who base their campaigns on valid points.
While some of Trump's talking points were superficially valid--stemming illegal immigration, restoring jobs--there never was any reason to believe he had any concrete solutions.
Trump has behaved as a demagogue, strutting and blustering and wise-cracking. He is a man without political experience, or public speaking skill, and with little knowledge about domestic or world affairs and issues.
When America elected George W. Bush, I felt deep embarrassment for my country. How could a naive, smarmy little truant rich boy ascend to the highest office? It became clear, eventually, that Dubya was nothing but a puppet, that the real President was Dick Cheney, who guided our country into dead-end foreign wars, while using the patriotic fervor generated by those conflicts to engineer a traditional conservative domestic agenda (tax breaks for the rich).
I've always said that Americans are dumb, and that who we elect to political office is the clearest proof of that. Trump's election is further evidence.
For three generations, America has been losing jobs, and its standard of living has declined in real terms. Meanwhile, corporate America has flourished. The political parties' answer to this has been to champion minorities and immigrants, "free trade," tax breaks for rich and corporations, etc.
Rather than addressing the root causes for the widespread frustration which these trends have created, the Democrats have talked about "inclusion" and "cooperation" and brotherhood. Code words aimed at minorities, whom it was widely believed represented the new "swing" vote strategy.
Again, the fact that Trump might never be able to "deliver" on any of his vaunted promises (building a wall, bringing jobs home, increasing domestic security), had nothing to do with his appeal.
Because casting votes is more about gesture and sending a message, than it is about seeking real solutions. In this current election, supporters identified with Trump's adolescent posturing and resentment at outsiders.
Politics is indeed dirty business, and Trump's strategy has been to play it as dirty as possible. It wasn't that his supporters were duped, as much as that they got the message they were looking for.
We live in a democracy, which means that no one side can win all the time, or at least that's what the rules say. Yesterday, Americans spoke. You can like it or despise it, but they expressed their sentiment, directly.
They're fed up with how things have been going. Will we listen to them? Or are they just the great unwashed benighted fools we've been thinking they were all along? The unemployed auto and steel and glass and textile and rubber and plastics industries workers have been hurting, and they feel betrayed by a government which puts their priorities at the bottom. They haven't enjoyed being told that the needs of Mexicans and Syrians and Indians come first, while they must learn to be more "tolerant" and transform themselves into service drones.
Now, with majorities in both houses of Congress, and a "can do" guy in the White House, whatever Lola wants, Lola will get.
It's likely that Trump's administration will be "business as usual" for the rich and privileged. The American Middle Class will continue to crumble.
Plus ça change . . . .