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Farewell, America

No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently.

America died on Nov. 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide. We the people chose a man who has shredded our values, our morals, our compassion, our tolerance, our decency, our sense of common purpose, our very identity — all the things that, however tenuously, made a nation out of a country.

Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently. We are likely to be a pariah country. And we are lost for it. As I surveyed the ruin of that country this gray Wednesday morning, I found weary consolation in W.H. Auden’s poem, September 1, 1939, which concludes:


“Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.”

 
I hunt for that affirming flame.

This generally has been called the “hate election” because everyone professed to hate both candidates. It turned out to be the hate election because, and let’s not mince words, of the hatefulness of the electorate. In the years to come, we will brace for the violence, the anger, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the nativism, the white sense of grievance that will undoubtedly be unleashed now that we have destroyed the values that have bound us.

We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone.

We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.

If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.

This country has survived a civil war, two world wars, and a great depression. There are many who say we will survive this, too. Maybe we will, but we won’t survive unscathed. We know too much about each other to heal. No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things. Nor can we pretend that democracy works and that elections have more or less happy endings. Democracy only functions when its participants abide by certain conventions, certain codes of conduct and a respect for the process.

No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things.

The virus that kills democracy is extremism because extremism disables those codes. Republicans have disrespected the process for decades. They have regarded any Democratic president as illegitimate. They have proudly boasted of preventing popularly elected Democrats from effecting policy and have asserted that only Republicans have the right to determine the nation’s course. They have worked tirelessly to make sure that the government cannot govern and to redefine the purpose of government as prevention rather than effectuation. In short, they haven’t believed in democracy for a long time, and the media never called them out on it.

Democracy can’t cope with extremism. Only violence and time can defeat it. The first is unacceptable, the second takes too long. Though Trump is an extremist, I have a feeling that he will be a very popular president and one likely to be re-elected by a substantial margin, no matter what he does or fails to do. That’s because ever since the days of Ronald Reagan, rhetoric has obviated action, speechifying has superseded governing.

Trump was absolutely correct when he bragged that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his supporters wouldn’t care. It was a dictator’s ugly vaunt, but one that recognized this election never was about policy or economics or the “right path/wrong path,” or even values. It was about venting. So long as Trump vented their grievances, his all-white supporters didn’t care about anything else. He is smart enough to know that won’t change in the presidency. In fact, it is only likely to intensify. White America, Trump’s America, just wants to hear its anger bellowed. This is one time when the Bully Pulpit will be literal.

The media can’t be let off the hook for enabling an authoritarian to get to the White House. Long before he considered a presidential run, he was a media creation — a regular in the gossip pages, a photo on magazine covers, the bankrupt (morally and otherwise) mogul who hired and fired on The Apprentice. When he ran, the media treated him not as a candidate, but as a celebrity, and so treated him differently from ordinary pols. The media gave him free publicity, trumpeted his shenanigans, blasted out his tweets, allowed him to phone in his interviews, fell into his traps and generally kowtowed until they suddenly discovered that this joke could actually become president.

Just as Trump has shredded our values, our nation and our democracy, he has shredded the media. In this, as in his politics, he is only the latest avatar of a process that began long before his candidacy. Just as the sainted Ronald Reagan created an unbridgeable chasm between rich and poor that the Republicans would later exploit against Democrats, conservatives delegitimized mainstream journalism so that they could fill the vacuum.

With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived.

Retiring conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes complained that after years of bashing from the right wing, the mainstream media no longer could perform their function as reporters, observers, fact dispensers, and even truth tellers, and he said we needed them. Like Goebbels before them, conservatives understood that they had to create their own facts, their own truths, their own reality. They have done so, and in so doing effectively destroyed the very idea of objectivity. Trump can lie constantly only because white America has accepted an Orwellian sense of truth — the truth pulled inside out.

With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public’s contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.

With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.

What’s more, Trump already has promised to take his war on the press into courtrooms and the halls of Congress. He wants to loosen libel protections, and he has threatened Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos of Amazon with an antitrust suit. Individual journalists have reason to fear him as well. He has already singled out NBC’s Katy Tur, perhaps the best of the television reporters, so that she needed the Secret Service to escort her from one of his rallies. Jewish journalists who have criticized Trump have been subjected to vicious anti-Semitism and intimidation from the alt-right. For the press, this is likely to be the new normal in an America in which white supremacists, neo-Nazi militias, racists, sexists, homophobes and anti-Semites have been legitimized by a new president who “says what I’m thinking.” It will be open season.

This converts the media from reporters to targets, and they have little recourse. Still, if anyone points the way forward, it may be New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks is no paragon. He always had seemed to willfully neglect modern Republicanism’s incipient fascism (now no longer incipient), and he was an apologist for conservative self-enrichment and bigotry. But this campaign season, Brooks pretty much dispensed with politics. He seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that no good could possibly come of any of this and retreated into spirituality. What Brooks promoted were values of mutual respect, a bolder sense of civic engagement, an emphasis on community and neighborhood, and overall a belief in trickle-up decency rather than trickle-down economics. He is not hopeful, but he hasn’t lost all hope.

For those of us now languishing in despair, this may be a prescription for rejuvenation. We have lost the country, but by refocusing, we may have gained our own little patch of the world and, more granularly, our own family. For journalists, Brooks may show how political reporting, which, as I said, is likely to be irrelevant in the Trump age, might yield to a broader moral context in which one considers the effect that policy, strategy and governance have not only on our physical and economic well-being but also on our spiritual well-being. In a society that is likely to be fractious and odious, we need a national conversation on values. The media could help start it.

But the disempowered media may have one more role to fill: They must bear witness. Many years from now, future generations will need to know what happened to us and how it happened. They will need to know how disgruntled white Americans, full of self-righteous indignation, found a way to take back a country they felt they were entitled to and which they believed had been lost. They will need to know about the ugliness and evil that destroyed us as a nation after great men like Lincoln and Roosevelt guided us through previous crises and kept our values intact. They will need to know, and they will need a vigorous, engaged, moral media to tell them. They will also need us.

We are not living for ourselves anymore in this country. Now we are living for history.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Re: Tedeschi Barriers

All that land belongs to the Owners of that property, and not the town. Watts Mobile owned all of that years ago. What the town (I.E. planning board) is attempting to do is remove the owners curb-cut, as it existed for years. That is not something the property owner should, or would do without a fight. It limits the future use of the property, and lowers it's value.
7:45 pm est 

Re: Tedeschi Barriers

According to the corporate office of 7 Eleven it is the Town of Provincetown that is preventing them from moving forward with the completion of the construction project. Bring back Sharon Lynn. Maybe she could even get Jeff Jaran to refund some of the money Yingling and Donegan lost us in one of their many screw ups.
7:43 pm est 

Re: Provincetown Poliice Station

Lets get over this Harbor Hill crap and focus on our police station. Either we respect the police or we don't. That ridiculous funeral home is an embarrassment to this town......10 years already ...sheesh!
6:15 pm est 

Re: Formula Business By-law - CVS

It will take a while for the CVS and Walmart that you want to become a reality.  In the meanwhile why don't you just move somewhere that already has these fine establishments and leave us alone?  That way we can retain the character and beauty of our small town and you can enjoy all the chain stores you want.
5:30 pm est 

Re: Tedeschi Barriers

"Most of the Jersey barriers at Tedeschi's are on Town Property, what should be sidewalks."

IF this is true, great.  But, I have not seen a plan of the street layout.  If it is town property it would be nice to install sidewalks with some nice trees.  These could be used to control the entrance and exit. Maybe they are now working on a plan and will wait for better weather to do it.  Lets hope.
9:42 am est 

Re: Formula Business By-law - CVS

Now people are concerned,as posted,"about issues involving historic character & the village character" of Provincetown,all the while the small houses were allowed to be enlarged or replaced by too large trophy home styles!! CVS in the business district & maybe a smaller Walmart (where people can by what isn't sold here anymore) isn't such a bad idea!
9:40 am est 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Re: Harbor Hill & Misuse of Housing Trust

"The Board of Selectmen may have an ace in the hole in their bid for Harbor Hill." 
 
Oh, How You Pick and Choose from the formula business by-law

It is much more complicated than you have presented. there are many issues involved and they affect the historic character of the town and the village character and so much more.

Let the boards decide. We did vote for a by-law that has power and that can regulate the use of land and of buildings. Otherwise--sir--it never would have been accepted by the attorney general. But it was!! and thus it has power if---properly interpreted and properly presented.

this is not what we need. It is a violation of all that we represent and care about and hold dear. And the by-law presents our arguments against in quite legally-couched terms.  We have the right and the power to regulate land use.
10:39 pm est 

Re: Harbor Hill & Misuse of Housing Trust

Let Harbor Hill go to a developer. Town will get 5 or 6 affordable units, the real estate tax back to us and no bighead aches of managing and repairing 26 units . WIN-WIN!!!! A few of the units with water views are worth at least a million.

8:21 pm est 

Re: Harbor Hill & Misuse of Housing Trust

Ace in The Hole

The Board of Selectmen may have an ace in the hole in their bid for Harbor Hill.

The property is currently assessed as a commercial property since it is a time share.

Section 4010 (Conversion Bylaw), which has never been tested in the past ten years since its adoption, despite many oversights or acquiescence by town regulatory authorities, could potentially cause 20% or more of the condos to be deemed afforded housing, thus depressing the market value of the units, since the propery would be converted from commercial to residential use, triggering application of this bylaw.

This is the strategy which the town may use in its bid which Richter and Donnegan obliquely referenced in their Banner op-ed.

At some point, this strategy will need to be disclosed before town voters in order to understand the town's below market value bid.

At this time, developers are looking at this project as a once in a lifetime opportunity, 26 units which could not be created today, unless 40B was applied for and minimum of 30% 0f units were affordable.

So, town counsel, what is the opinion on change of use, Section 4010?

2:12 pm est 

Re: Tedeschi Barriers

 

Most of the Jersey barriers at Tedeschi's are on Town Property, what should be sidewalks. The Planning Board stepped in and forced Tedeschi's to install the barrier. The Town Manager needs to do his job and remove those barriers and replace them with sidewalks. The Planning Board dropped the ball. Do your job Town Manager.

2:09 pm est 

Re: Formula Business By-law - CVS

People think we can prevent "chain stores" from opening in Provincetown just because we want to. That is called "restraint of trade" and is illegal. You cannot "zone out" chain stores.
 
Then people say "we have a formula business by-law so we can keep them out"...wrong.

Here is the ONLY criteria that the ZBA can consider for a forumla business. They are allowed by special permit in res3,resb, tcc and gc districts.

(3) Regulated Uses
The proposed use of any building or
structure for a Formula Business establishment shall require
both a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals and a site plan approval of the Planning
Board as well as the business license. The impact
on the neighborhood and Town visual character of
any Formula Business establishment shall be a criteria
for approval.  

The impact on the neighborhood that must be addressed are safety, hazard or environmental degredation.

That's it.
Having a CVS at Riley's would effect none of these.
10:28 am est 

Re: Harbor Hill & Misuse of Housing Trust

Seems the brokers in town are circling the wagons to prevent the town from buying Harbor Hill like they came together to block the condo conversion plan. 26 condo units would certainly be a coup for a broker to sell and it would give the town a huge boost in real estate taxes that might help with affordable housing rather than the market rate apartments that few could afford... $1,200-$2,600 a month is a lot for people in this town  but that's the market rate in Barnstable county.
10:25 am est 

Re: Tedeschi Barriers

"He has so little power that he can't remove them? Really?"

They are on private property. If they violate any law or code he can and should do something.  But do they.  Ugly very much so.  Illegal?
10:23 am est 

Re: Tedeschi Barriers

"I wonder if the state could get involved in forcing the town to deal with those barriers in front of Tedeschis? It seems that those barriers create a road hazard and the Town Manager has not been properly doing his job."

Agreed that the barriers are ugly.  Road hazard?  How?  Not a state road so no jurisdiction.  There got to be a better way to control entrances and exits. But state could not care less. 
10:22 am est 

Re: Tedeschi Barriers

I wonder if the state could get involved in forcing the town to deal with those barriers in front of Tedeschis? It seems that those barriers create a road hazard and the Town Manager has not been properly doing his job.
8:37 am est 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Re: Tedeschi Barriers

If it Takes Brining Back Sharon Lynn to Get Those Ugly Barriers Away from Tedeschi's

then let's do it. what is wrongwith Panagore?What does
it take after five months to get these ridiculous barriers removed? He has so little power that he can't remove them? Really?

Can anyone answer? they do not make this place safer and I'd rather a Sharon Lynn than a bow-tied Panagore that seems in capable of doing ---anything!
5:46 pm est 

Re: Formula Business By-law - CVS

Please do not allow a CVS to open here.  Our town has changed so much from the fishing village, to the art colony to the gay mecca and now into a resort, but at least all that time Provincetown has  always been unique and one of the things that makes it that way is no chain stores and lots of local businesses that visitors find charming.  PLEASE this is something we can do something about with very little cost or energy.  If you feel you so badly need a cvs please consider living somewhere  else!!  Lets at least hold on to what makes us special.
8:53 am est 

Re: Harbor Hill

I just attended the open house at Harbor Hill.  The condition of the interior of the apartments was better than I expected. However, all of the appliances (stove, refrigerator, dishwasher,microwave and clothes washer/dryer)later.  Also wood shingles on the exterior walls and roof are cupping terribly and some roof shingles are totally missing.  I also notice two of the exterior staircases are not level but sloping away from the building.
If the Town is successful in purchasing this property, the bills will be never ending.
8:51 am est 

Re: Airb'n'B Tax

"The Gov's new Airb'n'B tax is proposed for only those renting for 5 months of the year..."


Well this will make the newly appointed Housing trust found member Rob Anderson happy.
8:49 am est 

Re: Airb'n'B Tax

Our governor is not trying to help Cape towns. He is protecting friends who rent their properties. This 5 month rental requirement before taxing is just for show...no help at all.
8:47 am est 

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