Grenfell Tower Fire is being compared politically to Hurricane Katrina, with Theresa May as George Bush and her refusal to meet survivors compared to Bush’s flyover of New Orleans. The Conservatives were already in severe trouble, this could make it infinitely worse. They have to dump May as soon as possible and replace her with someone her complete opposite temperamentally. Alas, Churchills do not grow on trees. And even if one could be plucked from a tree, we sometimes forget how Churchill’s government was itself defeated in a landslide by Clement Atlee’s Labour Party in 1945, before the war was even over. Fortunately for the Conservatives, Corbyn is no Atlee. Atlee had viable ideas. Corbyn’s are mostly pie in the sky. It’s hard to imagine Corbyn repeating Atlee’s success, but it is possible to imagine today’s Conservative Party being viewed by most English voters as being as out of touch as Churchill was once the war with Nazi Germany was won. Which makes Grenfell Tower such a minefield for Theresa May and her party. A minefield no one knew was even there and that suddenly she finds herself in the middle of. Any misstep could have calamitous consequences and she already made one when she refused to meet with survivors–many of them mideastern, many from Syria–due to “security concerns”. Very Trumpian, that. The nonegenarian queen had no such fears and was down there today commiserating with victims. When the queen shows greater love for her subjects than the prime minister and her party have, things can only get worse. Meanwhile, May says her main focus is on Brexit…. which someone in her own party said will be the Conservative’s Paschendaele. We have no metaphor in the US like Paschendaele, the nightmarish quagmire in Flanders fields where poppies blow between the crosses row on row. We never had that sort of war. But it means that the Conservatives expect the Brexit negotiations and the battle over them in Parliament to be politically costly and brutal and leave the Conservative Party a husk of what was there only a few months ago. And that statement was made before the Grenville Tower fire. The Conservatives might find Grenfell an albatross, if not a burning tire, around their necks. The Conservative Party hangs onto power by a thread (with the help of the archconservative and racist anti-Irish Catholic allies from Ulster). Should they somehow lose the loyalty of a few members of parliament–how I do not know, but let’s pretend–and Corbyn assemble a majority coalition and become prime minister, I believe he would then have the right to call a snap election. And given the current political climate, and it only gets more so now after Grenfell, Labour would almost be assured a decisive win and everything would change. Everything. It’d be like July 1945 all over again, when Clement Atlee created the modern welfare state, as dramatically as FDR created the New Deal. Bernie Sanders would be a prophet, he was just in the wrong country.
Just saw that Bergamont Station is being plowed under to make way for, you guessed it, another luxury hotel. As if Santa Monica has a desperate need for another luxury hotel. It’s nothing but luxury hotels. But the thing about luxury hotels is that they provide enormous tax revenue for a city, and so the more the GOP cuts the federal budget of funds that would eventually (mostly via the state) make their way down to cities to pay for services, the more cities are reliant on big businesses like luxury hotels to provide local tax revenue. And the more city services and urban planning a city engages in, the more it needs the revenue of things like luxury hotels. Quality of life is expensive, and quality of life in a place like Santa Monica is very expensive. People who live there expect the city to provide very nice things. Which means a city like Santa Monica needs to come up with lots of tax revenue. To the City of Santa Monica, Bergamont Station was a big hole that didn’t make bring in much tax revenue. Fill that hole with a luxury hotel and revenue comes pouring in. So some of the worst offenders of tearing down small businesses and replacing them with mega developments are often progressive cities like Santa Monica that provide a wide array of city and social services. I watched Glendale do the same thing, tearing down all these little mom and pop places and replacing them with the then highly profitable shopping malls. What happens now that shopping malls are closing down I do not know. Nor do I know what will happen when there are not enough tourists and business groups to fill luxury hotels. But in the meantime mom and pop businesses and creative spaces like Bergamont Station are seized by eminent domain and leveled to make way for rich people spending lots of money. The city can pay its bills, provide social services, fix streets, build libraries and put on summer concert series. We’ve come to accept all this as necessary. A lot of people get hurt. More people get helped. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. It’s all quite logical and very Vulcan. It’s a very mid-20th century sort of thinking that goes back to the New Deal, actually, the same sort of thinking that condemned whole neighborhoods and replaced them with shiny identical apartment towers with affordable rents. That is the justification for tearing down Bergamont Station, anyway. Leveling a popular art colony and cultural hang and replacing it with a hotel that can help Santa Monica pay its bills. But that need to tear it down, the reason that Santa Monica needs to tear beautiful spaces like Bergamont Station down and build a hotel is due to late 20th century Republican fiscal policy. Tax cutting Reaganomics. Cut taxes, cut the budget, reduce pay outs to state and local governments and voila, Santa Monica needs to find a revenue stream, quick. Every city in America, big and small, is facing the same problem. Combine New Deal social policy and Reaganomics fiscal policy and instead of affordable apartments you wind up with way too many luxury hotels none of us can afford to stay in. I wonder what Robert Moses would say. He might think Boss Tweed was running things again. He might be right.
No TV, so I was listening to a bit of the coverage of the James Comey hearing on KPCC just now and it’s not exactly a murderers’ row of famous journalists and analysts. Competition must be fierce and KPCC is down to the D listers. Anybody who is nobody is on TV or the radio or online somewhere experting away. What an exciting time to be a reporter. The press has never been this famous. I mean, all these journalists are rock stars now. They tweet like mad and write long pieces we all read the first paragraph of. They show up on TV daily. They have unnamed sources to die for. They pal around with movie stars and directors. Imagine the perks and the swag and the people who want to meet them, to touch them, to take a selfie with them. Living the reporter’s dream. A Pulitzer. A bestseller. George Clooney playing you in the movie. I confess I always wanted to be a political reporter. Alas I was born too late for Watergate and too early for Trump. It’s all in the timing. People loathed the press only a year ago, mistrusted them, assumed everything it said was a lie. That was then. Now it’s Beatlemania for reporters. I watch these guys on those giant CNN panels and I think to myself man, I bet they’re getting laid like crazy. Maybe not a second time but still, they’re getting laid like crazy.
The self-crucifixion of Kathy Griffin has nothing to do with political correctness. It has to do with a Hollywood egomaniac who went way over the line (when it was Obama in a sniper target you all flipped out), and then had the pathetic audacity to claim that she was some sort of victim, trying to make herself the martyr of the resistance, knowing how much money that might mean. She dominated the news for a day or three, burying whole news cycles of genuine tales of horrors that Trump is inflicting upon the Constitution, working people, women, children and the poor. Her publicist must have been thrilled to death. But real blood on London sidewalks popped that balloon real quick. Nothing makes stage blood look sillier than real blood. Her publicist must have despaired. Damn that ISIS anyway, stepping on Kathy’s big finish. It’s too bad reality isn’t happening on a Hollywood set. Too bad reality ain’t reality TV. But maybe Hollywood should stop trying to score ratings and higher ticket prices by loudly announcing themselves as our consciences. We don’t need celebrities to tell us how to think. We don’t need comics to feel our pain. You have to be goddamned fool to think that Jim Carrey proclaiming that comedians are the last line of resistance against Trump is anything more than celebrity ego inflated to the size of the Hindenburg. Oh the humanity.
His approval rating is down to 35%, while 43% want impeachment proceedings to begin. He responds by turning more and more to his base, that 35%. I suspect he believes that the reason the 43% is bigger than his 35% is because it’s composed in large part of Californians and illegal aliens, seriously, he probably thinks that, and that there are more voters and real Americans in his base than not. These polls are MSM lies, fake news, he says, or FAKE NEWS!!!! It’s obvious following his tweets that he gets nearly all of his news from Drudge and Breitbart and their ilk, and that is his reality, and these poll numbers mean nothing. His tweets and policies and appointments will get more and more strident and offensive, and he’ll do more of his Trump Country rallies before crowds of fanatical supporters who perceive things exactly as he does. One third of the country and our president live in an internet reality where facts are only what they care to believe, no one is there to counter them in their beliefs, and Trump is winning victory after resounding victory, the most successful president ever. Sad.
Unless you actually wander through the bizarre social media world of Trump supporters, you will really have no idea just how out there and paranoid their perception of reality is. I was amazed to see that they are becoming increasingly convinced that the London mayor Sadiq Khan has ties to ISIS, the implication being that he was somehow behind the terror attacks. There’s no proof of this whatsoever, of course, but it was a story in Breitbart, which means it must be true. Furthermore, as Trump, like his core followers, gets most of his news from Breitbart, does he think that the mayor of London is affiliated with ISIS? Only tweets will tell.
Went offline for a few hours and come back and Twitter has gone berserk and Trump has fucked up more than anyone thought possible. Giving away classified information to the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador, in front of Russian reporters no less. Imagine being that stupid AND being president. And imagine there were enough people that stupid to vote for him. It’s not like no one knew just how stupid he was. He proved it every single day of the campaign. Most people realized how stupid he was, too, and there were millions more people not stupid enough to vote for him than there were people stupid enough to vote for him. But the dumbfuck gets elected anyway. That is some system we have. The brightest constitutional minds of their time somehow built a device that ensured that eventually the stupidest man ever to run for president would win even if most people didn’t vote for him precisely because they knew he was too stupid to be president. And to think they designed the system to avoid people as stupid as Donald Trump from ever being elected president. Because the brightest constitutional minds of their time knew damn well how disastrous a really stupid head of state could be. Europe was littered with the memories of countries ruined by unbelievably stupid kings. They were determined that would never happen to their new republic. It’s too bad they’ve been dead now for so many hundred years. I’d just love to see the look on their 18th century faces when they saw that the Enlightenment made possible the least enlightened president imaginable. To them it would be inconceivable that a free people could bring forth someone as loutish and thick and ill tempered as the most inbred simpleton ever to sit his fat decadent ass on a throne. Which is how bad a president Donald Trump is. We once rebelled against a king as obnoxiously incompetent as our president is now. Mad King George, they called him. We call ours Mr. President.
Ya know, the Roman Empire did not decline and fall. It did not rot away. It was not even close to rotting away. Indeed, in the fifth century it was doing pretty damn good, its economy thriving, and it was more stable socially and politically than it had been in quite a while. But then the people in charge of its western half made a whole series of really stupid impulsive decisions and suddenly, with little warning, the western Roman Empire was no more. The Eastern Roman Empire lived on another thousand years. They didn’t make the same stupid decisions. There’s a price to paid, sometimes, for putting incredibly stupid people in charge. They fuck shit up.
Mad King Donald is fucking shit up. Impeach him.