Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

More national politics...

It's relevant to local urbanism in that how the federal government is led, organized, and managed impacts state and local government.

WRT people touting Oprah as President after her speech at the Golden Globes, Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick explains why this is a bad idea ("'President Oprah' proves the US hasn't learned its lesson").  From the article:
People I read and respect are actually saying of an Oprah candidacy, “Hmmm, it’s an idea.” That’s what a toddler thinks before she swallows a disc battery. I’m ashamed for them. Canadians don’t like ostentation, but Americans do grovel before the rich and gaudy.

Despite Winfrey’s on-air skills, her genuine acting talent, and her rags-to-riches life story, she is a huckster much like Trump, albeit one with emotional intelligence and great personal charm. Her show was lowbrow, daft, and often dangerous, displaying Jenny McCarthy and her antivaccination campaign and handing out free cars to a studio audience that was later stunned to discover the gift was taxable. ...

Winfrey’s speech was a blast of feeling. She would make a splendid preacher but that is not what the U.S. needs.

It needs an intelligent, highly educated, understated president who understands both the general and specific nature of governing and who will redesign tax rates to lessen inequality.

She or he must know how to cope with or even fight climate change, manage immigration chaos, restore and expand medical care, fund pharmacare, find $4.6 trillion to repair decayed infrastructure, mandate paid family leave, restore women’s health funding, apologize to the nations Trump insulted, appoint judges and hire government workers and make thousands of other repairs that chat-show hosts won’t have dreamed of because they’re boring and meticulous.

Trump is an idiot regarded by his base as a fountain of common sense. He sends out daily threats along with messages of fragility, incoherence and hate. His staff is now desperately figuring out how to please him by waging a teeny nuclear war on North Korea.

Winfrey, on the other hand, is a positive thinker mistaken for a sage. She would offer the U.S. a vast surge of emotion rather than thoughts, and a motley collection of crackpot theories. The main difference between her and Trump is that she is a nicer person. 

Labels: , , , ,


At 10:52 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Trump is the symptom, not the cause.

The cause is we have forgotten our American birthright, which is politics.

We'd rather settle for sentiment and gestures rather than what politics really is -- the give and take.

Daniel Webster would be horrified.

The genius of Trump is shows how shallow our politics has become. This isn't him -- this is everything. ON a local level think of the various "town halls' or "listening sessions" or that entire junk.

Facebook/Twitter has made it worse. Yes, we had a president for 8 years that was only concerned with Twitter feeds. Yes, Facebook got Trump elected. But the problem is deeper than that.

But civic engagement is hard and nobody wants to do it anymore.

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

yes, the agglomeration of culture into the entertainment economy.

a failure to accept that governance and government are legitimate and require a skill set, further complicated by the anti-govt. focus of neoliberalism (both democrats and Rs) and Republicans.

the idea about "shaking things up" vs. the reality that govt. is supposed to be about the long game.

civic engagement is hard, but for a long time we haven't had a discourse that examines matters of community, connectedness, etc., instead the focus is on individualism, f* the govt. (e.g. Cliven Bundy, Ted Cruz, etc.).

and yes, town meetings etc. are mostly about seeming access, not substance. I wrote about this a long time ago w/ America Speaks, a group I detest. They are about counting participation, not substance.

(Probably one of the reasons that the Walter Reed plan sucks is that America Speaks was the civic engagement consultant.)

and twitter, facebook and all the rest amp up the flow of communication (I won't say information) to the point where people can't keep up. I know I can't.

So they look for a way to simplify their choices. Celebrities are the way to do it. They have a seeming relationship with them, etc.

BEFORE celebrities were the monied types e.g. FDR, JFK. Now they are from the world of entertainment.

And as we know from tv content (e.g., I think of Andy Cohen and Bravo network as destroying America), the entertainment world is not about substance.

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I have an entry from 2006 where I refer to public meetings as arm candy:

another good title, "don't hate, participate"

although I wouldn't say the post is worth reading otherwise...

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

The one thing I learned from the fighting the homeless shelter is the ONLY thing that bowser looks at is her twitter feed. Bomb that and you get a response ASAP.

A great description of Markel (and politicians) is about being one step ahead of mob. Listening is also a skill. Very few of our politicians have that. Mendleson does, as does Allen, Gray and Grosso. The less public I saw about Mr. White the better.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

besides the fact that the whole program has been poorly conceptualized and developed, why were you against the original W1 location? (Or is it the overall program?)

2. there's listening and there's listening. When I was considering running for Council, I talked to some reps/former reps in other jurisdictions. One said it wasn't for me, that it's not like a seminar and people are constantly focused on improvement. He said they think they already know everything, that this belief is confirmed by their getting elected.

as you would say, it's more politics than governance.

when I say there are a couple types of listening, people still might not get good input or have better ideas and approaches, as a result of listening.

... or maybe it's just they are willing to go as far as the electorate, but not to lead or get too far ahead of the electorate.

Sort of what you are saying about Merkel. Although that sense of "co-optation" of other positions is what I learned co-optation was about, e.g., how the populist movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s, their program was amalgamated into the Democratic party, etc.

At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Charlie said...

The ward 1 site was driven by the budget; they needed a site they could ground lease (use DGS funds) and then build on it (with capital funds).

Once the council changed the game and gave them 85M in capital funds, that was a sub-optimal location; developer wanted over 25M to turn over and build the site.

She got too far in front of the mob; to her credit she understood that and backed down. I still think she wanted there DC General site in play because that would activate donor dollars in 2018.

At 5:35 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I see your point about the possibility of DCG as a sweetener and the reason for the rush.

fwiw, most of the locations are sub-optimal and really small. to me that's a function of an ill-conceived program over all.

spending a lot of money for very little return. e.g., the new W1 project is what, 9 units? crazy.

At 9:11 AM, Anonymous rg said...

Spot on. Since last year I have been thinking a lot about a book I way back in college: Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. Postman was spot on. It turns out his son is also a writer who did a 20th anniversary edition of the book in 2005. Anyway, I'll link to an article he wrote - it does a much better job of outlining the idea.


Post a Comment

<< Home