Get braced for a harangue. I couldn’t even be this coherent without a few volcanic moments with our long-suffering librarian, my version of a barkeep. She’s up to it.
At this Monday’s Valier Town Council meeting we devoted most of the time to a talk by Dan Kramer from Montana Rural Water Systems, Inc. who explained how a careful spreadsheet of the facts can show what fees ought to be for water and sewer service. I’ll go into that at a later post. As it turned out, Mayor Ray Bukoveckas — http://www.townofvalier.com/town-council — has a background in accounting, so he had already covered that ground.
What we need to know is what to do about citizens who are not invested in the success of the town. They do not attend meetings unless they are at the point of riot, they do not act respectfully towards their elected representatives, and — maybe because of that — they will not run for office to take their turn at decision-making. This is state-wide, even national, so we end up with beefy guys who punch out four-eyed reporters because Beefy probably has some secret deal with big money connected and it gives him hair triggers.
When I came back home from this town meeting, I ran the memory-tapes of what happened. I heard myself say, “Valier was once a safe place, which was part of the reason I and others have moved here. It is no longer a safe place.” That’s easy to defend considering that the sheriff is being recalled for incompetence, there is no deputy in Valier now, the only time the sheriff shows up at the Town Council is when he wants the contract renewed for the same amount of money — which is a lot, considering that no deputy even has time to come to the meeting.
But I think that in my case there’s more than that. It’s true that I have neighbors who endanger themselves and others, but that’s been true everywhere I’ve lived. I seem to be much more aware of the national dangers, and I don’t just mean the disasters of climate change, earthquakes, and forest fires near enough to burn buildings in both Glacier National Park and the contiguous Waterton Peace Park. I don’t even mean grizzlies.
The rules and practices of law and government are at risk. These are invisible except when there are convocations of people — usually old white men, which is part of the problem. Under these rules and assumptions are the deep “frame” convictions of democracy which were once threatened by world war and are now threatened by structural famine and international oligarchies rich enough to be hidden, covertly all powerful. That’s who controls us all with starvation (diversion of resources) and fuel control, which is more-or-less the same thing. They want all the profit, at the expense of everyone else. This is much exacerbated by overpopulation and shifting of people with conflicting “deep frames.”
Politics in America, ruled by media, proceeds on the basis of central casting: do we like the way the person looks? Our morality and judgement are controlled by script-writers, cynical panels living on the two coasts. We won’t even watch what they produce unless it’s soaked with sex and violence, neither of them portrayed realistically. Somehow they’ve been able to convince us that both “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards” are the worlds we live in. One is going on in the “Third World” — including the ghettos of low income people in this country — and one is the norm in the developed world. Neither is realistic. Neither is realistic. Neither . . .
People I talk to (there aren’t many, since I mostly stay home to read and write) confuse Trump with Frank Underwood and think that Melania must be like Claire Underwood — the same as they confuse Frank Underwood with Kevin Spacey and Claire Underwood with Robin Wright. If you try to get them away from these stereotypes, they become angry because the confusions are deep in their minds. They’ve SEEN it. And I think Melania and Trump believe it, too.
This is what I get from reading:
1. Trump is NOT a wealthy man. In fact, at several points he has been so deeply in debt that he has gone to crime and Russia for bail-outs, which they were quick to provide. (They recorded it. They keep books, even if they are secret.) It’s all an illusion, the same as his name on a building implies that he owns it when he does not.
2. Putin’s country has limited resources, but he raids them for his own personal wealth. He IS a wealthy man, but if he stored that wealth in Russia, the other oligarchs would figure out ways to take it. He could leave it in secret and protected island nations or Switzerland, but those were created in part during WWII. A recent treaty has removed some of the protections. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/20/business/global/20ubs.html?mcubz=3 So Putin needs to launder and store money in the US. Trump owes him so much that he has no choice but to oblige through real estate deals. His stupid sons talk about it openly — they were raised to believe it’s smart, both doing it and boasting about it.
3. When certain nations — probably basically the NATO countries — began to realize what was happening in these huge international webs of corruption, they began to close in. A narrow chance of escape was the idea that if Trump were president, he could protect Putin’s interests. But Putin has dictator’s powers — the USA was founded on the prevention of dictatorships. Trump’s poker tricks of bluff don’t work.
4. Putin was VERY resourceful and used his major advantage: technology. “He” was able to access voter records; to change results; to control voting machines; to plant thousands of troll messages meant to arouse anger; to control the Facebook pop-up app to form mobs of dissidents; and to hack into private email accounts belonging to politicians so as to download information and then feed it back into the public at times when it would be damaging.
All without anyone noticing. As one recent Russian official boasted, “We elected the American president and they didn’t even notice.” Our schools do not teach the analytic skills needed to understand. Most of us don’t even have the vocabulary to talk about internet and computer stuff.
Resorting to learning through media, last night I started watching a TV series called “Halt and Catch Fire” (HCF) which is a tech computer term. “The common definition of Halt and Catch Fire is that the instruction would cause the computer to lock up, and the user would need to restart it to be able to use it.” https://www.techopedia.com/definition/19720/halt-and-catch-fire-hcf
Actually that happens to me rather often. I don’t know why. It happens to the computer in my pickup, which freezes the engine for thirty seconds while the computer reboots itself. Scary.
So that’s where we are in this country: halted and on fire, both actually and metaphorically. Bannon was right: his goal was to destroy the country and he is succeeding. But he made a mistake by appearing in person on TV, and so did Jared Kushner. Neither would ever get past a good casting director with their child voices and strange demeanor, either too eager or too frozen. As idiot sons, the Trump boys with their rosebud mouths hanging open are perfect for their parts. In the end Trump himself should probably be played by Red Skelton. He would have enjoyed it.
PS: The librarian and I agree that per the Charlie Rose interview, Charlie was wrong. Most people weren't offended by the "grabbing" -- they thought it was funny. And waves of hatred come at any woman who gets uppity. It's scary.