Thursday, September 15, 2016

Clueless Or Contemptuous

Either way, it's still the same old Donald Trump.  He goes to Bethel United Methodist Church in Flint, Michigan and looks like he's wondering how he got stuck in such an uncomfortable situation. Quietly and respectfully interrupted by Reverend Faith Green-Timmons for being "poltical" when he transitions into an attack on Hillary Clinton, Trump soon thereafter finishes his speech.

We've all been uncomfortable somewhere and started looking for a soft landing. Most of us, however, wouldn't try to turn it around, as Trump did later, by saying something akin to "But she was so nervous. She was like a nervous mess, and so I figured something – I figured something was up, really."

It is enough to remind someone of Trump's recent visit to Mexico, where he went in as a pit bull and was turned into a chihuahua.

Of greater substance, though only barely so, were remarks made at the church by the candidate, where he commented

It was announced that Ford- and I've been talking aout this- I think the reason that I've been doing well in Michigan is that I've been talking about this for four and five years to Michigan 'cause I'm having a great relationship with Michigan. But it was just announced that Ford is moving all small car production- all of it, 100 per cent- to Mexico over the next two to three years. We should not allow it to happen.

Characteristically, Trump did not explain how we "should not allow it to happen." Worse, he disappeared his history, when last August- after he already had become a presidential candidate- he told a Michigan crowd

You could have let it go, and rebuilt itself, through the free enterprise system. You could have let it go bankrupt, frankly, and rebuilt itself, and a lot of people felt it should happen. Or you could have done it the way it went. I could have done it either way. Either way would have been acceptable. I think you would have wound up in the same place.

He wasn't so concerned about the American auto companies or Michigan workers back then.  He went on to lament of the Flint water crisis

And the damage can be corrected and it can be corrected by people that know what they're doing. Unfortunately, the people that caused this tremendous problem had no clue.

They had a clue; actually, several clues.  City residents had a cluen when they complained about the smell, taste, appearance, and sickening effect of the water a mere six weeks after the city in April, 2014 had swiched its source from the Flint River to Lake Huron. General Motors had a clue when in October it switched its water supply from the Flint River to Lake Huron. The University of Michigan-Flint three months later had a clue when it shut some water fountains after it found high levels of lead in its water on campus. City manager Darnell Earley, hired by Republican governor Rick Snyder, had a clue what was happening when two days later he announced that he would hire water treatment consultants rather than switch back to Lake Huron because that would increase water cost by at least $12 million.
Flint resident Lee Ann Walters had a clue the following month when her water was found to exceed by almost seven times the EPA's upper limit for lead in drinking water.  The Flint City Council had a clue the next month when it voted overwhelmingly to reverse an earlier decision and get its water from Lake Huron. The state had a clue in July, yet responded to an EPA memo leaked the previous and advised Flint residents to "relax" because thre was no "broad problem with the water supply freeing up lead as it goes to homes."

Virginia Tech researchers had a clue when on September 15 they announced they had found high lead levels across the city. So, too, was a clue had by a pediatrician who five days later concluded that blood levels of lead had risen significantly in the city's children since the switch. Soon after, state officials finally decided to go back to Lake Huron.

Lots of people had clues. But the primary responsibility should lie with the Emergency Manager system. E.M. Ed Kurtz made the decision to switch the source of Flint's water. He later left and another individual served very briefly, at which time Darnell Early wa appointed..  Once Early became aware of the problem, he made a decision to save money short-term at the cost of poisoning city residents..  Two days later, he resigned when Governor Snyder- evidently impressed with Earley's work in Flint- appointed him emergency manager of the Detroit school system.

This problem did not occur because of cluelessness but because Governor Snyder engineered the takeover of Flinto government and put in charge individuals with an obsession about costs, even as Flint residents and its largely powerless City Council warned of the impending crisis.

The impact of lead in the drinking water in Flint has taken a toll, and will take its toll in a jump in crime in the city in 15-20 years.  However, it ought to raise another issue. Whether it's about drinking water, city governance, the domestic automobile industry, or interaction with ministers or foreign leaders,  Donald Trump appears to lack any self-awareness, having no clue that he has no clue. Alternatively, he is vastly more aware than he seems and is takes the American people for fools.

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