Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Disgust, Depression, Despair

Did I watch the 8th (or was it the 80th) Republican “debate?” Of course not, what would be the point? Some racist jerk, when asked if he watched Professional basketball reportedly said, “Who wants to watch ten (Black men) in their underwear jump up in the air every 24 seconds?” That’s pretty much the way I feel about watching the Republican “debates.” Who wants to watch seven half-wits “diss” each other and President Obama every minute or so? Frankly, I cannot understand why the Republicans insist on having so many debates when all they accomplish is to make each other look more and more foolish. If this were a sane, or even semi-sane world, they would be handing Obama a second term on a silver platter. The fact that Herman Cain is currently leading in the polls is perhaps the best indication of their problem. Cain seems to be completely ignorant of virtually anything that might have to do with becoming President of the United States. He now appears as nothing but a clown out to entertain us with his outrageous antics, saying things so ridiculous as to be laughable, then claiming they were merely jokes, then repeating them again indicating they were not merely jokes. Not only is he apparently completely ignorant of Foreign Policy he seems to be ignorant of American politics in general. But he knows the Republican mantra, “Lower taxes, less regulation.” To be a Republican candidate for President that seems to be sufficient as that is the basic Republican position shared by all of the others as well. The only other theme of their “platform” is that Obama can do no right, even when he presents options they themselves created. There seems to be nothing he can do they cannot and will not try to criticize. John McCain has now gone so far as to even criticize the bus he is using on his current tour. Republicans announced almost immediately after Obama was elected they wanted him to fail, they would refuse to cooperate and vote “no” on everything, and they have stuck with those pledges even though it has brought our country to near oblivion. If they are successful and cause him to fail they will blame him, a classic case of blaming the victim. This is I think truly disgusting.

Last night I had occasion to visit Kellogg, Idaho, once the heart of the Silver Valley where more silver was produced than anywhere else in the world. The result of this mining and smelting was environmentally disastrous, as nothing much would grow there, the air was polluted, the river ran an appalling grey and poisonous color as a result of years of dumping mining waste in it, along with whatever garbage the locals wanted to add, kittens, puppies, old tires, refrigerators, bicycles, whatever. After years of expensive attempts to clean up the mess there has been some success, the river now runs clear, grass seems to grow, and the environment has clearly improved. The city has tried to recover from the loss of the mines and smelter by creating a ski resort and trying to make the place a kind of “Bavarian” community. There is now a wonderful ski lift, condominiums have been built, everything seemed to have been going well. Unfortunately, this attempt has failed. While my wife was teaching a class there I went for a long walk in what was once the heart of the city. I walked for almost an hour during which time I saw only one other person, a man walking his dog. It is not an exaggeration to say that fully 80%, of the buildings, perhaps even more, are either for sale or for rent, this includes the major hotel, the YMCA building, as well as almost all other businesses. It is true this is the oldest part of the city, the buildings are old and unkempt, dirty and vacant. As near as I could tell there is one large antique store still in business, three bars with few customers watching Monday Night Football, one pizza parlor, one furniture store, and I believe one other small antique store. When I was a boy this was a thriving community even granted its environmental problems. I used to swim in the YMCA pool, attend basketball tournaments, dances, football games, and other social events. I thought my previous visit to Wallace, Idaho, just up the road, was depressing, but I cannot tell you how depressing my walk in Kellogg was. It is true there are now other parts of the city that are newer and doing better, but I fear there is nothing that can be done to recover the center of the town short of tearing it all down in an attempt at urban renewal. But as far as I know there are no funds for the renewal of small cities and perhaps no valid reasons for wanting to renew them. Such places are deteriorating and losing populations all over the U.S., with more and more people moving into the cities where they now cannot find work and fall into poverty. I do not know what can be done about this but it is truly depressing. If Kellogg even with its potential as a ski resort and the millions spent on cleaning it up (even to the point of digging up acres of earth and replacing it with unpolluted earth) cannot make it, I despair for what is happening to such communities everywhere.

This was for me a terribly unpleasant experience, and coming along with the current political scene in general is damaging my psyche. I’m all for the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon but I wonder what might come of it (other than perhaps another civil war), I fear the warmongers will somehow convince Obama to go to “war” against Iran, another unnecessary, illegal, immoral, and idiotic enterprise, I fear there will never, ever, be peace in the Middle East or an end to Israeli designs on all of the West Bank and perhaps even other areas, I fear that Osama bin Laden’s plan to bankrupt us is working, I fear the fascism that is threatening our lives, and I am even beginning to fear the fear itself. I try not to give in to despair but I find it increasingly difficult. There is no end in sight.

Sometimes you feel other people's pain worse than your own. We're armored against our own troubles. We can't afford to give in to despair. Then you see someone else struggling, and it breaks your... heart.

Sean Stewart

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