What is going on in and with our Federal government? The question cuts two ways:
1) I don't understand. 2) I'm appalled, shocked and scared.
This past week I did some reading and CSPAN watching:
- New York Review of Books, Dec 22nd, "The Real Trump"
- CSPAN2 Book TV, Dec 3rd, "Twilight Warriors", James Kitfield
- Economist, Dec. 11th, "A house divided: the alarming response to Russian meddling in American democracy"
I was consciously trying to triangulate by picking sources with different implicit biases. The first, liberal; the second, counter-terrorism establishment; the third, conservative. I don't know if I succeeded in my selection, having my own implicit biases, but my synthesis of the day was that Donald Trump et al are really mixing things up, defying all conventional expectations and norms; that many sub-groups of the community that surrounds and includes the Federal government are seeking and exploiting opportunities; and that our society as a whole could be in great peril. Also there must be some positive opportunities, both national and local, amidst the breaking apart of foundational structures and relationships.
I believe we have genuine cause for alarm but allowing our emotions - fear, anger, frustration, etc. - to take over is a guilty pleasure we have to forego.
The NYRB article details the extraordinarily counter-intuitive and unexpected way Trump operates plus the effects it has in our government and society in general, and provides possible theories about what is motivating him. Although we may feel contempt we have to recognize that, consciously or intuitively, his practice of continually upsetting the conventional applecart keeps the people upon whom we depend, on their heels, reacting.
The CSPAN2 interview lays out in a convincing way, a description of a new consortium of U.S. intelligence/interrogation/assassination/technology groups that is designed to fight an on-going war with Muslim-based radical extremist terrorism - and, it seems obvious to me, could easily be used to suppress domestic dissent, especially in the hands of The Donald.
The Economist article describes Russia's alleged interference on behalf of the winner(s), in our recent Presidential and Congressional elections and then points out that the current leading candidate for Secretary of State (former CEO of Exxon-Mobil) was recently awarded one of Russia's highest official honors.
So why am I'm delving into this miasma? First, because I believe we need to share information, analysis and inquiry within our community as we try to dope out what is happening nationally, on a daily basis. And I'm going to sett up a thread on Open City Hall for this purpose, to which you are invited to contribute.
The second is because there have been many calls from citizens for the City leadership to respond to 'what's going on'. Pam Marsh and I have discussed the need to so and the difficulties the above situation presents. The following statement, which is going to the Council for its consideration on Dec 20th, is an attempt to keep our poise while expressing deeply held and felt community values and feelings. (Pam composed this amalgamation that draws from multiple sources, for me to edit but I have nothing to change or add.)
Two thousand sixteen has been a challenging year for many. On the national level, dissension has emphasized our differences and undermined our confidence in common values. Within our own city, we’ve struggled with direct and unconscious acts that have generated fear, fomented conflict, and caused us to assess the standards that underlie our community.
Democratic government is dependent on adherence to fundamental principles. Therefore, as we look toward the New Year, the City Council and Mayor of the City of Ashland affirm:
As individuals and as an elected body, we pledge to work to make Ashland a city that reflects these values in word and deed in the months and years ahead.
Comments invited: firstname.lastname@example.org