Friday, September 22, 2017

Reposted: Excerpt of Andrew Sullivan's Extended Reflection on America's Deepening, Paralyzing Political and Civil Tribalism Interspersed with Narrated Pictures of My Cleveland Work Trip

The central figure of the Fountain of Eternal Life on the Cleveland Mall and the Key Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:50PM August 24, 2017.


This entry contains a series of images -- topically totally unrelated to the content of the entry -- that I took on my work trip to Cleveland last month, specifically, my free afternoon shortly before I headed to the airport to return home. (That was my sixth such work trip this year and followed trips to Atlanta, Durham, Chicago, Dallas, and Pittsburgh.) I posted the first batch of Cleveland pictures in this entry.

I still need to post my South Carolina eclipse trip pictures.

Before continuing, here is a better picture of the above that I found online:


This entry was written over the course of the past two nights, but I didn't -- couldn't -- finish it. In both instances, I had gotten back from the gym at this late hour following an OK day at work (although I have to make better progress on a series of reports). I was making a late dinner and watching the usual MeTV line-up of programs including Perry Mason, which I've quite gotten to like.

The AT&T Huron Road Building, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:14PM August 24, 2017.


So there are lots of big events ongoing that I would like to discuss and comment upon:

*Hurricane Maria striking Puerto Rico as a category 4 tropical cyclone (winds of 140 mph) and causing catastrophic destruction and terrible flooding with mudslides, not to mention an island-wide black out.

*The 7.1 earthquake that struck the Mexico City area yesterday (on the 32nd anniversary of the devastating 1985 earthquake there) , killing at least 270 people including 30 children at a school that collapsed.

Outdoor restaurants along the E. 4th Street pedestrian side street, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:24PM August 24, 2017.


*The latest bloody abortion of a Senate GOP health "reform" bill that promises to kill many people while shoveling more trillions to the ultra-rich (and that the Republicans are in a manic frenzy to pass before some bullshit Sept. 30th deadline that won't allow them to use the obscene process they are using to jam it through. Thank God for Jimmy Kimmel. (I need to post that piece in full.) More consequentially,, thank God for John McCain (and, hopefully, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins).

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument of Cuyahoga County at Public Square, downtown Cleveland, Ohio, 1:28PM August 24, 2017.


*Speaking of obscene, the North Korea mess and how Trump is making it worse, in particular, with that obscene and deeply embarrassing speech he gave before the UN General Assembly -- followed up by the "madman" versus "gangster" and "dotard" exchange of pleasantries between Trump and Kim Jong-un. 

Key Tower as seen from Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:28PM August 24, 2017.

The 57-story, 947-foot tall Key Tower is the tallest skyscraper in Cleveland and, at present, the 26th tallest building in the United States.


*Meanwhile, the rampant corruption and perversion of the federal government executive branch by the crooks, crazies, and cronies that Trump put in office while the judicial branch is handed over to the reals loons that have the Federalist Society seal of approval -- courtesy the legislative branch that is also under rightwing Republican control.

And on and on it goes.

The Terminal Tower from Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:31PM August 24, 2017.

The 52-story / 771-foot tall Terminal Tower is so named because it the location of the Tower City Center (originally, the Cleveland Union Terminal), today a mixed-used commercial facility and the main hub of Cleveland's rapid transit system. The Terminal Tower -- once the second tallest building in the world after the Empire State Building a long time ago -- has an observation deck, unlike the Key Tower.


There is also the case of our crap weather pattern here -- too warm, too humid, no rain -- but that's a recurring issue here including this time of year when it is according to the calendar the start of autumn. There's really no break it in forthcoming for 8 to 12 days.

The Key Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:40PM August 24, 2017.

The Key Tower may or may not at present be the 165th tallest building in the world. (That's what Wikipedia says, anyway.)


However, for this entry, I've decided to post one section of a lengthy thought-piece by Andrew Sullivan on the worsening "tribalism" that is damaging United States political and civic society. The full piece is here (link embedded):

Tribalism was an urge our Founding Fathers assumed we could overcome. And so it has become our greatest vulnerability.

It is easily a half-hour read.

The Cleveland Mall (looking south) and the 200 Public Square Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:43PM August 24, 2017.

The Cleveland Mall is an interesting urban park. As explained by the Keeper of All Knowledge: Originally conceived in 1903, the Cleveland Mall was supposed to be the where the Cleveland Union Terminal ended, but that was moved to Public Square where the Terminal Tower is now located. The Cleveland Mall consists of three malls -- Malls A, B, and C -- and represents one of the few nearly fully realized City Beautiful examples in the United States.

This is about as good an aerial view looking down -- or rather, "up" -- the Cleveland Mall from atop the 200 Public Square Building (the old BP America Building).

Above: The view is toward the north with the FirstEnergy Stadium for the Cleveland Browns, and of course, the vast expanse of Lake Erie visible. There is a wind turbine there, too. This image is from 2009 and there have been a few changes made -- indeed, parts of the Malls B and C were under construction -- but I couldn't find a more recent picture. Basically, it captures it. The Fountain of Eternal Life is on Mall A (the southern portion).


I just would like to post here the following portion of it discussing why this country's two-party, winner-take-all political system cannot handle the present-day situation in the United States in which what he calls the "three core components of a tribal identity -- race, religion, and geography -- define your political parties."

The Cleveland Mall and Key Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:45PM August 24, 2017.

What is strange about this vista is that the tallest building in the city rises up basically out of a grassy mall area -- rather than having its base concealed amid a series of smaller buildings. It gives it a look and feel that is somewhere between Art Deco and fascistic.



"Some countries where tribal cleavages spawned by ethnic and linguistic differences have long existed understand this and have constructed systems of government designed to ameliorate the consequences. Unlike the U.S., they encourage a culture of almost pathological compromise, or build constitutions that, unlike our own, take tribal conflict seriously.

Another view of the Cleveland Mall and Key Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:45PM August 24, 2017.


They often have a neutral head of state -- a constitutional monarch or nonpartisan president -- so that the legitimacy of the system is less easily defined by one tribe or the other. They tend to have proportional representation and more than two parties, so it’s close to impossible for one party to govern without some sort of coalition. In the toughest cases, they have mandatory inclusion of minority parties in the government...

Blurry picture from inside the Clevelander Bar and Grill, Cleveland, Ohio, 2:47PM August 24, 2017.

I went there for lunch. I actually had trouble finding a place to get lunch.


The United States is built on a very different set of institutions. There is no neutral presidency here, and so when a rank tribalist wins the office and governs almost entirely in the interests of the hardest core of his base, half the country understandably feels as if it were under siege.

Downtown Cleveland, Ohio, 3:17PM August 24, 2017.


Our two-party, winner-take-all system only works when both parties are trying to appeal to the same constituencies on a variety of issues.

Our undemocratic electoral structure exacerbates things. Donald Trump won 46 percent of the vote, attracting 3 million fewer voters than his opponent, but secured 56 percent of the Electoral College. Republicans won 44 percent of the vote in the Senate seats up for reelection last year, but 65 percent of the seats. To have one tribe dominate another is one thing; to have the tribe that gained fewer votes govern the rest -- and be the head of state -- is testing political stability.

The arch over Euclid Street for the Playhouse Square theatre district, Cleveland, Ohio, 3:18PM August 24, 2017.

This was right next to the hotel where I stayed (the Wyndham Hotel at Playhouse Square).


What you end up with is zero-sum politics, which drags the country either toward alternating administrations bent primarily on undoing everything their predecessors accomplished, or the kind of gridlock that has dominated national politics for the past seven years -- or both.

Exterior of the Kimpton Schofield Hotel, Cleveland, Ohio, 3:22PM August 24, 2017.

This picture in the light of a dull, overcast day doesn't do justice to the bright red brick fa├žade of this Victorian building.


Slowly our political culture becomes one in which the two parties see themselves not as participating in a process of moving the country forward, sometimes by tilting to the right and sometimes to the left, as circumstances permit, alternating in power, compromising when in opposition, moderating when in government -- but one where the goal is always the obliteration of the other party by securing a permanent majority, in an unending process of construction and demolition.

Bobby C's Classic Barbershop in the 5th Street Arcades, Cleveland, Ohio, 4:00PM August 24, 2017.

I had opted to walk to the Tower City Center transit hub to get a Red Line train on the RTA Rapid Transit system out to Cleveland Hopkins Int'l Airport instead of taking a taxi.


And so by 2017, 41 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats said they disagreed not just with their opponents' political views but with their values and goals beyond politics as well. Nearly 60 percent of all Americans find it stressful even to talk about Trump with someone who disagrees with them.

Interior of Tower City Center complex, Cleveland, Ohio, 4:13PM August 24, 2017.


A Monmouth poll, for good measure, recently found that 61 percent of Trump supporters say there’s nothing he could do to make them change their minds about him; 57 percent of his opponents say the same thing. Nothing he could do.

Blurry picture of the ascent from Cleveland Hopkins Int'l Airport, 8:04PM August 24, 2017.

In order to head back to Washington National Airport, I had to change jets at Chicago O'Hare -- in other words, go about 340 miles to the west (into the Central Time Zone) in order to travel about 370 miles east from Cleveland to D.C.


The counterpoint to this is that it is the GOP brand of tribalism that is what's wrong with America -- and I tend to agree with that since today's Republican Party is more of a strident ideological movement to the point of a cult that exists in an epistemologically closed bubble with its own media/entertainment ecosystem, it has a heavier portion of the blame. (Heavier portion, that is, but not sole.)

Besides, even if it is the case that it is all the Republican Party side's fault, that doesn't change the fact that we have the situation that we do.

Ascent over Chicago, Ill., 9:10PM (CDT) August 24, 2017.

I had a very brief layover at Chicago O'Hare before leaving. Both inbound and outbound of Chicago, I had a window seat and a terrific view of the Chicagoland area at night, as well as crossing Michigan.


OK, that's all for now. My mom is here (at the nearby hotel) and I need to meet her. My next entry likely will not be until late Monday / early Tuesday.


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