Sunday July 1, 2018 – Columbus, OH

The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
Dr. Martin Luther King

I guess we’ll see about that. Trump and his band of hooligans are taking us to some dark places.

What follows is actually a wrap-up of the week. Things have been very busy at work so I have not been staying current.

Productive weekends of working on the camper project. I actually tore it down to bare skins and am rebuilding from scratch. It was too heavy and bulky last time. I think this design will be better. Smaller, lighter, easier to set-up and tear down. A little less storage space but should still be plenty. I am working alone this time. Last year I had a pretty handy carpenter fella to help but I learned a lot and am pretty confident now in my ability to figure things out. A little slower and less perfect, but overall I am making gains in using my hands to craft things.

I went downtown to ComFest for a few hours (last) Saturday night. I have a tendency to not leave the house so this was my effort to see and be seen. It was good. Pretty typical. Lots of interesting food choices, lots of people, lots of arts and crafts. I did see an excellent band ‘Wille Phoenix and the Soul Underground’. Dude tore it up on the guitar and played some excellent old blues and rock including a killer rendition of Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’.

Interesting development this week. Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. So Trump will get to make another nomination. Too depressing to think about.

I am more and more frustrated with the Trump supporters. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand the anger and hate and judgement. How is it that separating parent’s from their children is considered acceptable when those families are just trying to find some sort of decent life for themselves. Everyone I grew up with was fortunate to be born in to pretty lucky circumstances, comparatively, and yet so many of them are banging the drums for deportations and supporting Trump through this nonsense. This heartbreaking policy of taking children away from their parent’s. Can you imagine the terror the children feel and the heartbreak and anger the parent’s must feel. It is hard to get your mind around.

Very depressing Supreme Court ruling yesterday upholding Trump’s Travel Ban from Muslim countries. The ruling was not surprising, but bitterly disappointing as the Republican’s strategy to steal the Supreme Court seat vacated by Scalia’s death pays off. To see our country support the open bias of Trump’s travel ban is heartbreaking.

In the summer of 15’ I was driving from Chicago to Columbus when the Supreme Court handed down the ruling legalizing gay marriage. There was another significant progressive ruling at the same session and there was a real spirit of happiness and fellowship in the air. I talked for about two hours with my friend Brian and we were so thrilled at the development and to be living in an era with a thoughtful, compassionate, considerate president who had appointed Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the court. It felt as if the US was catching up to much of the rest of the developed world on social policy. Like we were finally starting, as a nation, to understand an inclusive viewpoint is central to our stated values. It was a really cool moment in time.

And now, we fast forward to 2018. We have a belligerent, xenophobic, racist, narcissist, man-child as president. Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow Merrick Garland to get a vote for Supreme Court surely is a crime—if not in legal terms, definitely in ethical terms. And now we are starting to see the results of that maneuver. It will set America back in social policy, but as Dr. King suggests, we will find our way back. Progress is measured in stops and starts and the occasional setback, but ultimately, history tells us the world is a far safer and more just place than it was a 100, or 500, or 1,000 years ago. So while the US is having a moment, perhaps even much of the world, history suggests we will continue to progress socially over time.

Of course McConnell will not wait on the Senate confirmation vote until the mid-term elections as he did with Garland—even though the scenarios are similar.

And the elephant in the room remains, how can our nation have so many ignorant, morally bankrupt people to not see the pain we are inflicting on so many. Who are so easily manipulated in to supporting obviously damaging and misguided policies. So many of the people I grew up with are Trump supporters. These are people who were born into situations that put them in positions to live happy, comfortable lives compared to much of the world. We all had food and security and a reasonable education system. Now, as they are disappointed in their lives (apparently), they want to somehow blame immigrants for their disappointment rather than face the reality that they have not achieved a life they desire through their own pursuits. They seem to both blame the government and immigration and any other easy target for their disappointment but then at the same time try to hamstring the same government programs that could assist them or their children in getting back on track.

It’s heartbreaking. Where did we go off to track to think it was okay to feel so privileged. To belittle science; to demonize entire categories of people who are just trying to make a better life for themselves; to accept narrow-minded and petty behavior as deserving of our respect and admiration.

As we near July 4th and so many of my childhood friends will be posting nationalistic bullshit, it is interesting to try to articulate what actually is there to be proud of for the US. We stole the country from mostly peaceful, nomadic native tribes whom we essentially attempted to extinguish through genocide, we have a brutal and institutionally systemic bias against people of color, we have more people incarcerated than any other developed nation, we have a far more violent society than most other developed nations, most obviously captured in our high murder rate, we very recently condoned extraordinary rendition and torture, we started two illegal wars in the last 20 years and 4 in the last 60 years, we are the only nation ever to use a nuclear weapon on another nation and we did it twice, mostly on civilians. We are now attempting to implement a backwards immigration policy based on exclusion rather than inclusion, we are attempting to return to trade policy that will inhibit our ability to participate in global economics, we dropped out of the Paris Climate Accord and the Trans Pacific Partnership against all rationale thought, we belittle intelligence and embrace ignorant bellicose rhetoric. It goes on and on, and yet so many will set off their fireworks and celebrate the ‘Best Country in the World.’ Mostly from people who’ve never left the country.

I took Saturday off from working on the camper to hang out with Ed-n-Rita. We had a nice lunch downtown at FlatIron Grill and then went to North Market and I bought a few things for dinner. Mom and Dad came over and we played cards, had some drinks and chatted until midnight.

Will be a busy week at the mill. Some very unpleasant developments late last week will result in some difficult decisions this week, along with lots of brainstorming and trying to herd the cats. Nearly 5:00 now and I am cleaned after the 8 hours working in 90+ heat on the camper. Dinner soon and to bed early to bed ready for the work week.

A couple of interesting articles in the paper this week. A nice piece by Wolf Biermann about the immigration crisis in EU and how Angela Merkel is working to maintain a humane approach to the problem but is being pushed on all sides for a tougher stance.

Sjoerd and I traded a few mails about the situation. He is super tuned in to EU politics (and the US actually—more than most Americans). He also sent a couple of excellent photos from Amsterdam that I simply had to include.

And a very cute piece about a bookstore in Scotland that can be rented out for a week at a time to anyone who wants to run it. It is filled through 2020.

Anyway…..

This was written fast and furious with no proof-read. Too tired and way past dinner time and I still need to work a bit before bed. Will be a crazy week at work.

 

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