My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

A Long Hot Stinking Summer

A summer heat wave has hit the North Coast.  When you have three days in a row above 90 degrees and humidity to boot, North Bay Ontario sounds very alluring by now.

As the air conditioner cranks up and I run out of ice cubes in the freezer, I for some reason think about an old movie  that many have seen over the years, some of you even when it first came out in Cinemascope..The Long Hot Summer.  This overblown 1958 melodrama (the working title for the script had to be SUDS) with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward was a big deal when it came out.  However, whenever I see it, I start howling with laughter half way into it.

Cleveland’s own Newman plays Ben Quick, a redneck hustler with a history of setting fires.  He stirs things up in a small Southern town owned by an even bigger redneck hustler, Will Varner, played by Orson Wells.  Varner is the fat, coarse, conniving, big mouth operator who owns the entire area and nobody, not even his pig-headed daughter (Joanne Woodward) will stop him from getting his way.  In this epic full of  nasty rumors, fights, Angela Lansbury pestering Orson on when they’re getting married, Lee Remick running around in as flimsy a wardrobe she could under the Eisenhower Administration, Orson being trapped in a barn by his own son (played by Anthony Franciosa; now what’s a Paisano doing in a flick like this?) who tries to set it on fire, Paul nearly getting lynched, and oh yes Joanne falling in love with apparently a gay guy, Paul woos Joanne throughout and, after all THAT, there’s a happy ending.  How the heck did they pack all that crap in a little under two hours?

There’s another good reason why The Long Hot Summer is on my mind and it’s not just the sweltering heat.  While First Son-in-Law Jarrod is no Newman, for the life of me, when I think of Orson barking orders from the big white plantation house he calls home, it’s so easy to move on to The Donald think he can do the same thing in the Oval Office.

The reality TV show that has become the presidency is not only providing a steady stream of ‘breaking news’ for evening cable news shows, and fodder for the Australian Prime Minister to make jokes out of, but we all now despite his protestations there’s, as Malcolm Turnbull quipped “this Russian Guy” who must be elated that whatever took place last year gave him a bang for his ruble.  Yet, for many Americans, there’s a dark edge to the humor and I that when I watch the news I am amazed and angry at the same time.

Even when Trump goes, the damage has been done.  As I’ve written in previous posts, many of the people who voted for him did so because he promised to deliver on changing things that they believed hurt themselves, their families, and communities.  What Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have been trying to ram through Congress (such as the Health Care Bill now under wraps in the Senate) are not the things many voted for   Their anger and frustration will flare up again, and get worse.  Now, as shown by incidents such as what happened in Alexandria Virginia, you also have disturbed people who, in this case, supported Bernie Sanders who felt they had to take the law in their own hands with near tragic consequences.  If neither party really makes an effort to address the average American’s need for a living wage, good health care, opportunities for their children, safe communities, and that the future will at least get a little better (which I argue was starting to happen under the Obama Administration), there will be such an explosion that our governing class won’t know what hit them.

As I write this, another movie comes to my mind far removed in location, and tone from the Newman/Woodward Sudser.  It’s  a rather sparse black and white 1961 film version (with Sidney Poitier and another Cleveland native Ruby Dee) of a play by Lorraine Hansberry: Raisin in the Sun.  It is the story of a black family buying a house in an all white area of Chicago.  Naturally, a very polite meek looking white man from the local neighborhood association drops by to offer them a check to get the hell out of there.  The happy ending in this film is that they managed to stay.  For those of you reading this who don’t know it, Ms. Hansberry took the title of her drama from a poem, A Dream Deferred, by Langston Hughes.  Of course it was a reflection on the hopes and frustrations of African=Americans in the 1950s but the message is universal; especially today

Starting on Sunday, things here south of Lake Erie will be a little more normal with temperatures in the high seventies by Tuesday. On that day is the congressional election in Georgia  I will definitely keep an eye on it and, naturally, I hope Ossoff can pull it off.  If he does, then there is hope for next year in my book.  Then of course is Robert Mueller’s investigation.  However, it will take a few years I fear before anything approaching normal will take place in the country.  In the meantime, will things explode?

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A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion

Comey Fired: A Quick Little Post.

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The Democratic Action Day at Lakeland.

So much has happened in the last four days that it’s hard to keep up.  Tonight, as I was driving home from my neighborhood block watch meeting, I was stunned to hear on the radio that FBI Director James Comey was fired.  Of course it’s all over the news and will be discussed further in media tomorrow so I won’t write much about it.  After all, this is just a blog and politics, or my life, is not the central part of this.  However, with all that has happened from Macron winning the Presidential election in France, to Barak Obama’s speech Sunday accepting this year’s Profiles in Courage Award, to Sally Yates finally speaking before Congress, so much has occurred to reflect on for me.

Saturday, I went to a Democratic Action Day meeting at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio.  There, on an unseasonably cold and rainy day, I spent over four hours there pretty much participating in a format I’ve sat in many times before.  However, when I saw the first email regarding this event, something in my gut told me to be there.

The first part was a political action boot camp conducted by two young organizers with the Ohio Democratic Party.  As I looked around who was in the audience I saw many familiar faces from Lake and Geauga Counties, many not only older than the two organizers but even myself.  Their age wasn’t the point, their passion to do something was.In our little break out sessions, we were supposed to talk about why we were there.  I didn’t get to speak but that was by choice.  While my gut told me to be there, my head was wondering why do this once again.  However, when some of the men and women in my group spoke about why they wanted to be politically active in some way, I must admit I was impressed.  They were willing to do something that many my age, and younger, fail to do and didn’t really expect much out of it but to get some Democratic candidates elected.    For a pretty burned out hack like myself, it was good to hear what they had to say.

The candidate’s forum afterwards was another thing I sat in many a time before.  It was the same format with different people asking for support for the various offices they were going to run for; and in some cases against each other.  As I sat there listening to each on pitch their case, I thought about what was going on in the nation at large; things I have sometimes touched upon in a previous quick little post.  I thought about how my father told me the night before when he came over that he hoped that ‘the guy’ would win the French election; though I reminded him that Marine Le Pen was the one that Trump liked.  Buyer’s remorse is finally setting in, though he hasn’t completely admitted it.

That’s why the 2018 election is important; we can’t wait four years to just vote Donald Trump out.  We need to get people in Congress to be an active check not only on this White House but on people who are so willing to let him get away from it.  It’s also important for Ohio that we, and this is my own personal opinion, more Democrats into State wide offices because I do honestly believe that this party can do a better job helping out everyday people and communities in so many matters.  Though for twenty years of work I may seem to only have a bunch of T-shirts and bad feet, and a chip on my shoulder to boot, I know that despite what so many people I know say that I get nothing for it (and they only want my time and money) I will probably wind up working on a campaign in some form just like those people in that school room at Lakeland.   You have to be part of the solution, not contribute to the problems gripping this country.  All those Macron supporters in France Sunday showed what can be done even despite interference from a foreign power and a strong ultra-nationalist message from a slick operator that can be so appealing.  What Obama spoke about Sunday builds upon this, not just in terms of calling upon lawmakers  to protect the Affordable Care Act, but to be adults and play more than party politics especially during this time when we have an Administration which plays dirty.   We have to each do our part and hope that the potential damage that is taking place for at least a few years will not be too harmful to our country we can find a person who can be a president we can be proud of again in 2020.  So, you all know where I stand.

 

Photograph by James Valentino

 

 

 

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A Quick Little Post, Opinion, Uncategorized

Looking for the American Dream; A Quick Little Post.

Who would have thought Trump’s well rehearsed speech to a Joint Session of Congress Tuesday would be the eye in the storm call his presidency so far?  He almost made it a whole day with people focusing on how well-behaved he was in the Chamber that night when news of Attorney General Session’s meetings with the Russian Ambassador stole his thunder.  Now, he tweets that the former president wire-tapped his phones and bellows for an investigation while violence breaks out in Berkeley between Anti-Trump protesters and his supporters.  Now, our President tweets his predecessor wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower, blames the generals for the botched job in Yemen, and goes back down (at our expense) to Palm Beach for another weekend. For all those people last year who chanted “lock her up” referring to Hillary Clinton and her emails, what are they thinking now?  Do they still say give Donald Trump and his boys a chance?

The Washington Post Daily 202 on Thursday and Friday had some interesting tidbits.  Apparently, four orders were signed under the radar that have nothing to do with renegotiating NAFTA, getting higher wages to working class voters, or making Americans work again; but do sound like something you’d see many Tea Party types in the past applaud; such as making it easier for the mentally ill to get guns..

All though brouhaha the only ones who appear to be benefiting seem to be Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell; especially if suddenly Mike Pence winds up being President.  Talk about a backstage coup.  It would be like the George W. Bush Presidency all over again; with the inevitable consequence. Once again, we will see if in a year how it all plays out.

The irony is that, if you happened to see Fahreed Zakaria GPS today, the American Dream in increasingly a Canadian one.  Former Canadian diplomat (and Conservative) Scott Gilmore discussed with Mr. Zakaria his latest article he wrote for Maclean’s titled The American Dream has Moved to Canada.   Mr. Gilmore pointed out many studies that shows that, on average, that Canada has surpassed us in such things as longevity, obtaining a college degree, even a freer press.  In his article, he referred to the fact that the World Economic Forum has ranked Canadians as the sixth happiest in the world.  What about us?  We’re ranked at thirteenth.

In many ways that fact that Donald Trump is still in office, or not, for a full term isn’t really the main issue for many people.  What is important is if those promises he made on the ‘bread and butter’ issues (let alone restoring the American Dream) really start coming to fruition.  If all that results from all this mess is a Mike Pence presidency with a Paul Ryan budget,  you will have a whole lot more angry people out there than we do now; and incidents like Berkeley will be nationwide.  If that happens, then couldn’t the Kremlin say their gamble paid off?  Let’s see what the next seven days has in store for us.

 

 

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A Quick Little Post, Opinion, Uncategorized

Happy President’s Day: A Quick Little Post.

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Lake Erie at Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor, Ohio.  Taken earlier this month.

Things have been quite calm here on the North Coast.  Unlike last year at this time, we are experiencing an early taste of Spring.  Snowdrops and iris reticulas are starting to emerge in the garden.  The snow is gone and Lake Erie looks like it does in early April.  Work on a new pier at Euclid Beach has begun and, despite money gaps, the renovation of the La Salle Theater continues. Today, at a special ward club meeting I went to, I leaned that after West Park, my neighborhood is the safest in the city of Cleveland   Property values also seem to continue to be slowly recovering and the person who bought the house across the street from me seems to be moving in.  The reality of everyday life is serene compared to the firestorm I see everyday on the evening news regarding our government.

It’s really had to keep up with the revelations regarding President Trump and his merry band that seem to hit the public hourly.  I’ve stayed up until midnight a few times to learn what’s going on with our President and his merry band; and I don’t just mean the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn last Monday.  The cable tv talking heads are right; it’s only been a few weeks since the inauguration and it feels like it’s already been a year.

E.J. Dionne wrote in one of his recent pieces for his column (Admit it: Trump is unfit to serve) “What is this democratic nation to do when the man serving as president of the United States plainly has no business being president of the United States?  Okay, so Donald Trump is unfit to serve but what does it reflect on the millions who voted for him?  What about Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell?

Those who left the Democratic party to vote for Trump didn’t vote for the Republicans’ calls to repeal Obamacare or Paul Ryan’s plans to privatize everything.  They want to see jobs coming back to Ashtabula Ohio or Grand Rapids Michigan and are willing to wait a bit to see if the man can deliver.

I don’t have to know what his base thinks about his performance, I just had to listen to it across the table at Muldoon’s last night.  For one, my own father is still keen on Trump.  Yesterday he made two comments which show how a family can be so divided politically.  The roundups now hitting the country of illegal immigrants merely verifies what he already thought.  “They arrested an illegal alien who has been collecting social security” he told me. Later, I found the source of this news, from a Breitbart article printed in May 2016.   I merely drank my water.  I also decided not to tell hem what I heard of a transgender woman being turned in to ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) by her boyfriend after she got a protective order against him.  As I ate my hamburger, he went on to talk about how things will turn around in coal country; which is rather surprising coming from a retired welder.  “They keep worrying about the water but what’s good with water if they don’t have jobs?” was another comment which for once I was too tired to counter.

He’s not alone.  As a clip I saw Friday on MSNBC of interviews of residents of Kenosha Wisconsin shows, those Obama voters who went for Trump will give him the benefit of the doubt.  They are attracted to the man and his message.  As I’ve written before, what will they feel if all those well-paying jobs don’t come back to the Rustbelt or, worse, Trump is gone before 2020 and the vice-president, who is in my opinion a Mid-Western version of George W. Bush, takes charge?  Deep down, that is exactly what Republicans like Paul Ryan want to get their agenda moving; but did Trump voters like my Father and those above vote for business as usual 2006?

When I heard Saturday that rally in Florida them play the Rolling Stones tune “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, I kept thinking again the Eurythmics “Would I lie to you?” would be much more appropriate.  Happy President’s Day tomorrow folks.

 

Photograph by James Valentino.

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