Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Texas, Enigma and Contradiction

  Inspired by my Julie's writing today about her family history in Texas and her journey, like her ancestors, to a new place, I am reminded of my own native San Franciscan journey to over half my life in Texas.

My first encounter with real Texans on moving there was being taken by a couple of work mates to the restaurant in Richmond, Texas with the world's best enchiladas, really just a road house.  Then, following dinner, to a dance hall to learn how to two step.  Northern California is not known for enchiladas or two stepping.  We thought of ourselves as entirely too hip.  But what a joy.  And our friendship with these great people led us to trips with them and their UT loyalists to Mexico and the discovery of cabrito and Ramus Gin Fizzes.

We found Texas, and particularly Houston to be people country.  You couldn't go to a restaurant, church or a bar without having strangers come up to you and say "Hey, y'all, how are you?"  And of course, they went onto to discover who we were and from where we had come to settle in Texas.  Just like them.

The friendly factor is undisputed.  I had by then lived in Maryland, DC, northern Virginia, southwest Virginia, Chicago and Minnesota as well as my native land, California.  Lots of friendliness most everywhere, varying by degrees but simply nothing like Texas.

And local culture of such diversity I cannot begin to describe the variety.  Texas redneck culture,  Cajun culture, black Gulf Coast culture, Mexican American culture and lots of middle eastern culture from the oil industry in southeast Texas.  Touches of southern hospitality and openness blended with pioneer southwestern individuality.  And plenty of midwestern and northeast ethnic cultural traditions.  And a thriving, respected Jewish community in Houston going way back in local history.

Incredible natural beauty from Big Bend, the Hill Country to the Piney Woods. The gulf coast? Did I mention food?  Tex-Mex, BBQ beyond compare, Gulf seafood, Chicken Fried Steak and Cajun delights. Did I mention unique Texas music?  Bob Wills and Pappy Selph and Texas swing?  So much going for it.  So much to experience.

I am so grateful for this melting pot experience in my life.  After a two year promotion and transfer to very blond and white Salt Lake City, we could not wait to move back to Texas, with our first border crossing meal moving home being BBQ from an amazing roadside stand.  We felt incomplete without the ethnic diversity of Houston and celebrated our return.  This was home and this was the America we cherished.

But now the enigma part.  Soon we discovered  deeply imbedded racism among a diverse population.  Some of it from rural bred Texans and some of it from transplants from highly urbanized white Philadelphia.  A strange mix but much of it had its source in these two groups for us. It manifested in demeaning racial references in conversations only matched by the racism I found while living in southwest Virginia and which I had never experienced in northern California. Back in suburban Houston, it manifested in demeaning references to "n-word loving liberals" in our neighborhood from parents and their children alike.  For some of these racists, this is who we were in our neighborhood as our racial and political views became known.  And our family was not shy about revealing who we were.

The most virulent  racism revealed itself to us when we engaged in the public school integration movement.  It was offset by the amazing cohesion we experienced with fellow integrationists of every ethnic background when we overthrew a segregationist school board.  Liberals around us were fierce, brilliant and undaunted by the task of dismantling segregation so our kids would grow up knowing the joys of ethnic diversity and mutual support.

But as our Texas experience progressed and we experienced success with others in moving the Texas Democratic Party to the left and expelling the racists to find a home in the Bush Republican Party, we did not envision the future backlash would foist upon us.

For a wonderful period in Texas politics, in the 70''s we had a liberal renaissance era.  A highly diverse coalition of Black, Hispanic, Anglo liberal and feminist politicians led our State with amazing skill and idealism.  Roe v. Wade was made possible by a feminist Democratic lawyer/legislator.  Robin Hood funding of impoverished public schools happened with this coalition.  Environmental protections against oil industry abuses emerged.  A rainbow of political leaders stood side by side and created policy and an atmosphere of mutual respect, tolerance and lots of love.  Think Texas and you think Sam Rayburn, Jim Wright, LBJ, Barbara Jordan, Mickey Leland and of course Molly Ivins and politics and amazing governance.

The Reagan backlash and a rebuilt, racist Bush Republican party ended this era.  Liberals became anathema.   Civic engagement was replaced with rugged individualism and an I got mine, go screw yourself conservatism.  Ann Richards managed to reverse the tide, but the forces of regressive policies marshaled their power and money to end the reign of enlightenment.

Enlightenment was replaced by mean spirited political leadership in Texas bent on neutering progressive policies and looting the public treasury.   Contrast mean spirited Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick with the Texas political leaders listed earlier.   Laissez faire capitalism and the rule by wealth prevails today in Texas.   Texas starting in the 80's was very much  the laboratory testing for the Oligarchic Fascism which reigns in the nation's capital today.

So, it was not hard to leave the Texian culture as a result.  The tepid, weak knee liberalism of Delaware has been an adjustment compared to the fierce, warrior liberalism fighting its way back in Texas but it is an improvement for me.  I have a fem-warrior spouse to inspire me daily in my new life.

And I carry with me the memories of the cultural Texas I much prefer over the political Texas.
And the satisfaction that I was able to fiercely fight for justice and equity along with some amazing Texas liberal warriors.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

2017: The Worst Year Of My 81 Years Here

Don't get me wrong.  I cherish the love that I live with and that inhabits my life.  I have a great home, neighborhood, family, spouse  and friends.  Pretty good health.  I feel good about the life I've had that fate and whatever talents I have used have given me.  I'm one of the lucky ones.

But looking beyond my own experiences, what I've seen in 2017 deeply disturbs me.  I tried to be an engaged citizen, looking beyond my own doorstep to do what good I could do after performing my responsibilities for my family.  I engaged in the fight for racial and social justice with the time and tools I had.  I joined others and led others in trying to avert or end wars that did no one any good.  I tried to elect and support leaders who could uplift my fellow citizens, especially those supporting children in education, disabled with needs and older citizens as well as healthcare for all of us.

I thought as the mid-2000's approached I saw some progress.  But then as 2016 arrived, I began to see reasonable voices being muted by angry, ugly sounds.  The sounds of bigotry, intolerance and outright hate began to dominate.  Very quickly, my vision and that of fellow liberals for an American life of some security, some prosperity, some enlightenment through education and a sense of community on the commons became blurred.  The angry voices, voices of resentment of the presence of people different from them dominated.  My certainty that we had overcome the greed is good 80's era became unsettled.  Even with the unsettlement I was sure America's rational side would prevail against untruth, exaggeration and facts-free diatribes. 

My certainty and optimism was overwhelmed in November 2016.  I awoke after election night to a new world I thought impossible.  Sure, we had faltered and made huge mistakes in the decades I had experienced before.  But more often than not, falsehood was replaced with truth, injustice with at least some justice and errors at least accounted for if not rectified.   America's better angels mostly reigned again after dark periods. Yes, assassins took the lives of JFK, MLK, Malcolm X and RFK.  But some redemption came with the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts and the ending of the Vietnam horror.  Again we tragically stumbled with another horror, Iraq.  Some redemption arrived with the election of our first Black President who helped us save our economy from another great depression and gave healthcare to millions more of our fellow citizens without it.  Few understood how close we came to total economic collapse.

Yes, the economy emerged weak and faltering.  This not being a planned economy like in socialist systems, we relied on the commercial sector to rectify wrongs  and correct deficiencies.  Monetary policy changes, currency stabilization and other financial measures, including a fairly large stimulus package helped, but didn't do the job that industry needed to do to assure themselves a stable, secure and capable workforce.  Industry had other ideas.....globalization, outsourcing, downsizing, robotics and earnings hoarding and improved shareholder value were among those ideas.  A sense of community and civic responsibility values were abandoned for the most part.  The company as good citizen disappeared.  Those days were gone.

When James Carville coined the axiom It's the economy, stupid, maybe he had an insight we missed.
When jobs and retirement became uncertain, when incomes failed to match increases in housing, education and family budgets, who got blamed?   Liberals for their solutions......ask wealthy and corporations to pay their share in taxes, which they had not for 40 years.  Minorities, especially Blacks and Latinos were blamed  for wanting their share of the economic pie they'd been denied. But they were perceived to have taken more than they actually deserved, being minorities.

So, ugly emerged.  Hate emerged, untruth became an alternative truth, not objective, proven truth.  And rather than the wealthy being the takers and hoarders,  poor people and minorities became the perceived takers and government the facilitator of the taking.  Republicans turned this into public policy via their Tax Policy adopted on 12/20/2017.  The cruelest irony?  Republicans gave the worst prepared candidate for the Presidency in American history the Presidency to further discredit government, knowing he'd appoint anti-government ideologues to every executive office under his control.  This is the libertarian wet dream.  And to further discredit government, they gave us a corrupt, multi-bankruptcy industry titan with some kind of brain disorder and an inability to string together a coherent sentence using actual words.  But, through him they have managed to finally pull off the looting of our collective treasure, and transfer it to the wealthiest 5%.

I do not know if America as we had hoped it might be can survive this.  For sure, at 81 I won't live long enough to find out the outcome.  All I can do at this point is advise anyone listening, including grandchildren that if you're 40 or under, seriously consider immigrating to a country that can give you some certainty for a happy future.

To my young readers, google fascism.  Read my blog on that topic if you want to take the time.  To my middle age and elder readers, you know what has been sealed on December 20, 2017.  The inauguration of fascism  in America.  The system we fought our most honorable war to end with our allies in Europe when we defeated Germany.  We have become what we hated. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Commerce-An End In Itself To Republicans. A Means To An End For Democrats

I have been grappling with a simplified explanation for the essential difference between Republicans and Democrats in a discussion I am having with a family member.  They are very bright but also very busy (doing commerce and family), so brevity, not one of my long suits, may be helpful.

I think I've found a good way to explain the difference some attribute to brain wiring, others to cultural or social influences.  Here it is.

Republicanism is mostly about commerce.  Commerce is viewed as a marker of personal success to Republicans; for some attributed to some kind of divine intervention to reward the "good" people.  It is embedded in their theology. Other Republicans see such financial success as the reward for hard work, affirming the higher, better motivation among some of us to "succeed".  They see poverty as a personal failure.  In this culture, the way to financial success in through commerce.  Some may find it through entrepreneurship, others through working in the corporate vineyards. 

They all support government welfare for the corporate/business world and given the choice between the government prioritizing assistance for individual citizens, they choose assisting the corporate/business sector over individuals.  Even though Republicans espouse individual, personal responsibility as one of their major values, corporations and businesses, collectives of several or many, take precedence  when it comes to government and tax assistance.

Thus, Republicans idolize commercial and business leaders, titans if you will.  The country clubs and gated communities are full of them and that is a great place to be to network into your own financial success.  But even those living in modest exurban bungalows admire the titans.  This is exemplified by Donald Trump's success in that voting sector.

Democrats, on the other hand, see commerce as a means to an end.  The means is trade and exchange between people and organizations to generate income to be enjoyed by individuals/families and shared through taxation.  Thus, Democratic public policy, while supporting capitalism, favors collective assistance via government to assist those in need of it.  Children, disabled, elderly are examples.  If theology motivates some Democrats, it is a mandate to assist the poor and less fortunate among us.  If humanism is the motivator, it is the desire for a fair and just society favoring no privileged group as a means to a peaceful society with a minimum of conflict between competing groups. 

This is the end for Democrats.  If some with to strive for wealth, they are free to do so with the understanding that if success is achieved, some modest amount of it is to be shared, again to keep the peace and because it is just fair to do some sharing.  That sharing takes the form of Social Security and Medicare for retired, disabled and healthcare for middle class citizens, which we all contribute to like an insurance premium. Other assistance is provided by taxes we all are asked to pay for healthcare for children and the very poor, CHIPS for other low income people, food assistance, financing of public education and post-high school training and education.  Democrat icons are seldom  business titans.  Many of the most admired are those who strive for social and commercial fairness.  This is exemplified by Democrats admiring leaders in social and reform movements like Barack Obama.

So, to my young family members, you indeed have a choice of association.  Some may call it a tribal affiliation.   I'm at peace with my choice.  I hope you will be too.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Chamber Of Commerce Democrats? Shunned Or Embraced?

I reached blog #100 on this site recently and was sort of coasting, basking in the achievement of this silly goal.  But I read a blog on a very much appreciated progressive web site trashing a Democratic State Representative I know because he's a sort of Chamber of Commerce Democrat.  It moved me to ponder a conundrum for many Democrats.

I know this guy.  He's reasonable, very liberal on most stuff and makes his living as a businessman.  His spouse is also a small business owner, also a liberal, very influential feminist and opinion leader.
I myself made my living before retirement as a young corporate employee, learning my field of endeavor from the big guys before transitioning to mostly self employment/entrepreneurship for the remainder of my career.  So I admittedly kind of identify with this very accomplished guy.  But some fellow progressives challenge his commitment to our values.  I wonder if they are being myopic?

Many, but not all of my fellow Democrats and activists came from academia, labor organizing, non-profit organization management as well as legal and medical professions.  But a large share of my political colleagues were local small business owners; consultants, retailers from all kinds of industries as well as large corporation mid-level and a few top executives.  They were Democrats because of their values of humanism, tolerance, compassion and appreciation for collective action to better lives of fellow Americans.  They did not sacrifice their individuality is engaging in collective action in the commons. But they were capitalists like me.

The blog I read chastised this State Representative for, in their view, putting the interests of the  Chamber of Commerce ahead of individual voters and citizens.  But is it not in the interest of individual voters  to provide a healthy economy, employment opportunities and some level of financial security as a result?   Does this not sometimes require such a local officeholder to weigh and balance the value or damage of legislative policy to  each sector.....the individual citizens vis a vis the commercial enterprise around them?  There are few organized societies today in the world that don't have the challenge of balancing these priorities....the needs of individuals vs. the needs of commercial organizations, even with authoritarian collectivist economies.

America is facing a  huge long term challenge.  The globalization of commerce and the transformation of industry from primarily utilizing human labor to the primary use of mechanized tools and artificial intelligence in place of most human and animal labor.   This world changing, this likely unstoppable trend has got to be put front and center on the American agenda right up there with climate change.  In fact, solutions to climate change might be found in the major transformation from human and animal labor to mechanized labor and artificial intelligence.

But the short term issues of government serving the interests of individual citizens vs. the interests of the commercial sector is a really important precursor step towards addressing the longer term potential American and global economic crisis.  Some Democrats frame this problem in search of a solution as a conflict that must favor the individual citizen.  But does it?  Are we not facing a codependency issue here?  Don't individuals in even a quasi-capitalistic economy need commerce to provide them income to take care of their basic needs for housing, nutrition, socialization, mobility and the like?  And doesn't the commercial sector need some of these individuals for labor as well as all of them equipped with the ability to purchase their goods and services?  Marketers call this the exchange process.  It is the very heart of economics. 

And governments, in order to provide services to satisfy at least the basic needs of individuals and commercial entities, need to generate some revenue from this exchange process.  Things like roads and transportation services, fire, policing and judicial services, water, in some cases electricity and power generation, education, health services at the very minimum.

Unless we make the unlikely decision as a society to nationalize all commercial services, we are going to have to figure out how to address the short term dependency needs of both our individual citizens and the commercial sector both serving their needs and depending on their affluence to sustain their commerce.  This obviously requires a balance of priorities.  Sometimes the citizen's priorities must prevail  and sometimes the commercial sector's priorities prevail.  This is a balance that is continuously in flux. 

At least right now, government bodies are the most reasonable arbitrators of that balance; municipalities and states, with those elected to serve the common interest are the front lines engaged in the skirmishes to resolve the conflicts of priorities.  How well the economic interests of all involved are served starts here, on main street.  This is the laboratory where successful solutions are discovered and transitioned upward to our very dysfunctional national government, who must very soon engage in the work of solving the problems created by our commercial sector.  Again, major economic disruption due to changing technology but also, life threatening climate disruption potentially mitigated through changing technology.

So, Democrats, we must embrace the commercial sector to ensure we are allies in problem solving.  This starts with appreciating the balance required by good local politicians in serving both the interests of individual citizens and the Chambers of Commerce on Main Street.  The Chamber of Commerce cannot be the enemy unless our society is about self-destruction.  This is an ally Democrats absolutely need to solve the economic and environmental problems threatening our very national and  material existence.  That doesn't mean we shouldn't regulate them, fairly tax them protect workers and their rights and bust up their massive monopolies.  This is part of the solution to our massive economic challenges. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Is White Resentment Fixable?

How do we reach these 60 million + Americans who have given us this Trumpian chaos?  Is this what they intended?  Democrats could not reach them with logic, rationality and facts.  This was true of both Democratic diagnostics and solutions.  Are they in fact reachable?  Teachable? Persuadable?

Some clearly want to punish those of us who gave them and America our first black president.  They will continue to want to punish because their hate trumps everything else.  They hated that Obama, no drama Obama,  who calmly and rationally gave them some stability out of economic and foreign war chaos.  They hate that he succeeded on many metrics, though metrics mean nothing to them.  This breed of Trumpian is beyond reach. They want reversal of Obama's calming, stabilizing and tolerant policies purely out of spite and resentment for the success of others. 

I don't think so but as an optimist I am open to the possibility of some event or series of events that would move some of them to embrace an alternative to chaos.  As authoritarians is is unreasonable to assume that they find this chaos acceptable to their lives, which mainly is all they care about.  Authoritarians like control, as long as it is in their hands.  Surely, even on an emotional level they see the current situation as not in their hands.  They like predictability and don't like surprises.  Every day under Trump is a shocking surprise.

They bought the wall, immigration of only people like them, trade deals where their jobs stay here, control where they feel on top of the social order hierarchy or at least not losing out to those who don't look like them.  All sold to them on a purely emotional level with the practice of marketing/advertising my fellow Democrats never have comprehended.

So it seems reasonable that alternatives can be sold to them on an emotional level if Democrats can bring themselves to engaging people emotionally as well as rationally and intellectually. We'll never make urbanites or cosmopolitans out of them.  That is a lifestyle we embrace and is as foreign to those rural and exurbans as, say, Indonesia.  Or Africa.  We are going to have to meet them on their turf there in the red hinterlands.  They are not going to leave.  Those that are not indigenous rurals are there because they or their parents escaped to the pasturelands, woods and mountains in the stampede for the exists from school and housing integration in the adjacent cities.

They embraced their local main streets and mom and pop stores until saving a few pennies at Walmart became an option previously unavailable to them.  They quickly abandoned their neighbors' businesses because they are largely not about community (except a few indigenous locals who maintain that incredibly generous tradition).  They are about the American Dream, getting rich themselves and caring less about those who didn't/couldn't compete.  Sadly, few of them got rich; maybe the local car dealer and tractor dealer, but the rest just scraped by with that factory job.

But, then, with the votes and help of their Republican congressmen, those factories  passed out the pink slips and headed to the hinterlands.  They went overseas or merged with other corporations for greater efficiency, meaning, scaling back labor.  This included moving from union to right to work states so they could pay lower wages and benefits.  Or, no benefits.  So, like many of the exurbans who headed out of the nearby city, the factories headed out of town.  Pretty much the same mentality.

Now we have boarded up small town red America.  And they want to be saved.  Can't blame them.  They didn't go beyond or many didn't finish high school, so other than the trade they learned at the factory, they are without needed skills.  So, many resorted to opioids and some fraudulent disability support.  It is ironic they or their parents accused urban/minority persons of milking the welfare system but they now find themselves replicating that option.

Joe Biden is telling us that that manufacturing plant can be reopened out there in the hinterlands.  You've got to be kidding me.  So, by some magic Motorola, if they even exist anymore, will return from Bangladesh and reopen in say Canton, Ohio and save the Trumpian Cantonites?  Not on your life. The Cantonites are going to have to take charge of their economics and through some sort of community cooperative organization create a industry or two that fulfills some unmet need elsewhere in Ohio.  And many of these people would have to sell a house that is nearly paid off for a pittance and relocate and maybe rent to retrain or work in a new plant 300 miles away?  Really? And this is going to require a lot of help from the state and likely the federal governments to help them find the unmet needs for new products and services and provide financing.  All of which defies these Resentful's strong distaste for government "interference," because this is going to take some policies, rules and regulations.  Yes, and taxes, probably on others, mainly the non-Resentfuls and 1 % ers .   Or, pay them some kind of life sustaining stipend funded by others, mostly in Blue states, an idea that Joe Biden hates because people need the dignity of work for self respect.  As if they had any in the first place.

And all of this is going to have to be sold to them on a purely emotional basis appealing to their self interest, god forbid it is offered to anyone different from them.

So, good luck with that.  But optimists can always hope.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

How Do You Explain the Silence?

Have you noticed the silence?   Many among us don't talk about the not normal America.  Polite people convey the impression that life goes on as usual, though  these are far from usual times.  They avoid the unpleasantness of discussing the mood in America set by our political leadership,  if you're willing to call Trumpism leadership.

Every day from President Trump we observe and hear insults; blatant lies, exaggerations, support for violent, racist, misogyny,  threatening language, personal and group insults.  We see shock and disdain from other world leaders. Trumpism is  dismantling hard earned government protections for rights, safety and life giving support and security that  prior generations in some cases even gave their lives to secure for us.

Yet most around us are silent.  They do not speak of this dismantling of democracy and just plain social decency.  They appear not to either see nor hear the abuse, neglect and horrific treatment of so many around them.  They act as if life goes on; as if this is just a temporary aberration to be endured before normalcy is restored somehow, by somebody.

History had taught us that this has happened before.  Chroniclers have documented in detail how fascist regimes have slipped into power in such countries as Spain, Germany and Italy.  We have highly researched documentaries as to how the quiet people, the majority, stood idly by as rights were stripped of their neighbors and then, ultimately, them.  We know that the nice people just went about their lives without acknowledging what was happening to their societies, let alone objecting or in rare cases, resisting the authoritarian take over.  They remained silent because they were nice people.  Their silence destroyed their communities, lives and families.  Their silence was complicit with evil doing, death, destruction and immense suffering.  

I have family members who just won't speak or write about the transformation taking place right in front of them.  You do  too.  We have neighbors who continue to engage us with small talk as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening to their society.  Is it too painful for them to disclose their horror at what is happening to them, their families and neighbors?   Or is it just easier to remain oblivious, to avoid speaking of the unspeakable?

Most people I regularly engage with, both personally, in meetings and on the internet are eager to share their alarm, disdain and eagerness to confront, resist, speak against and voice their outrage at this amazing fascist transformation.   These are the people I choose to be with, to support and be supported by in this most trying of times.   But most around us behave like ignoring the evolving fascist state will somehow stem its relentless tide.

Look at what has happened in less than a year.  Trumpism promised a wall that would be paid for by our neighbor we're trying to keep out.  Trumpism promised to stop immigration from people displaced, their homes and lives ruined by others committing violence against them and their communities.
American citizens were urged by Trumpites to publicly display hatred for fellow citizens and to threaten them with violence if they got out of line.  They were lied to about the source of their economic pain and anxiety, those who looked different from them and lived in cities.  They were promised non-existent jobs and told this land was their land to prosper from, because they were of the right descent. They were told the Washington swamp was going to be drained and run like a business.  Instead, it was drained of expertise and commitment to do good and sent off to lay fallow. Trumpites are systematically sabotaging anything, education, environmental  protection, public spaces, consumer protections, civil rights, criminal justice. They were told great deals were going to be made with other governments to make things better for them, the Trumpites.  Instead, those government leaders were systematically insulted, dismissed as irrelevant and turned into opponents, if not enemies.  Now we face potential war, maybe nuclear war with a hostile North Korea we fought to a stalemate 65 years ago, led by a mad man no less deranged than our own  mad man.

Those of us choosing to resist in our own way know who our opponents are; the fellow fascists Trump has allied with and who are systematically dismantling not only our government but republican democracy itself.  They are operating openly and unashamedly. They are aided by a thoroughly corrupted Republican Party controlling Congress and most of our courts, who have chosen to retain power rather than retain democracy.  We can hopefully deal with them in the election booth in 2018, or at least blunt some of their abuse of power and neglect of democracy.

Those we have to worry about are the quiet ones.   We must call them out.  We must challenge their courage to speak and act.  Embarrass them if necessary.  Withdraw our friendship if necessary if they remain oblivious and gutless.  Confront them as necessary.  These are the people who speak, see and hear no evil.  They will bring down the American Experiment, not the Fascists they enable.

Monday, August 28, 2017

I Grieve For Houston

I cannot take my eyes off the weather channel and CNN coverage of the disaster besetting my beloved home for 45 years and the suffering of all my friends there with this massive catastrophe.
You may have noticed a press conference held by their respected mayor as the disaster unfolds.  Sylvester Turner, an excellent Democratic state representative and son of  Houston's Acres Homes community is calmly advising his fellow citizens of help forthcoming to save them from further harm with nearly 50 inches of rain in a period of a week, typically a years worth of rain for this tropical climate.  Sylvester is a Harvard educated black man who loves his diverse city.  His presentation is followed by information from Houston's Hispanic police and fire chiefs and Anglo Republican County Judge.  This is bipartisanship and multiculturalism at its very finest.  This is my beloved city where we raised and educated our four children.  I'm very proud of their bravery and resolve.

What was so impressive was how the Hispanic leaders smoothly switched from English to Spanish in their presentations, representative of the so very treasured multi-cultural environment that is Houston.  It will be very tough and very expensive but Houston will rebuild and once again prosper for its people because the residents there really show love to one another even under these most difficult circumstances.   It is a model for much of  a very racist and bigoted red  U.S.A.

But rebuilding will be challenging because it is at sea level or slightly above and decades of ignoring reality in its face regarding its primary industry, oil and gas as major contributors to the climate change have to be reconciled with jobs and prosperity.

This is the message I want to be heard by my Delaware friends.   Houston, for all its goodness ignored reality and science, though much of its industry is very science based.  It welcomed and actually ushered in the oil industry which has driven so much of our national economy.  Not unlike Delaware's welcoming of chemicals as the basis of its corporate economy.  Now both Houston and Wilmington face the challenge of both mitigating the local environmental damage but also the demise of these lucrative industries which provided prosperity and comfortable livelihoods for their citizens.

Further, Houston, in the interest of fulfilling the demands of an increasing population partaking of the prosperity, built residential and commercial properties with abandon.  In Houston's case, no zoning exists to protect and provide sensible design for communities both residential and commercial.  Yes, standards of construction and development exist, but were both loosely regulated by city and county government and often skirted for economic advantage for developers and builders.  Houston as also been known as a developers paradise.  Growth was its primary goal and boy howdy did it ever happen.

The result has been concrete where grass and soil should be to absorb water draining from gully washer rains this tropical climate produces.  Yes, bayous were engineered to mitigate drainage but the planners didn't or couldn't account for the massive growth this 4th largest American city experienced.  Houston began to experience flooding beyond normal expectations starting 30-40 years ago.  Planners simply couldn't/didn't account for all that explosive growth.  And planning was always skirted to foster growth.

Exxon and much of the oil and gas industry have understood the climate change impact their production of carbon for much of these 30-40 years, but covered it up.  The oil and gas industry is heavily populated with environmentalists; The Sierra Club and many other environmental groups are populated by informed oil and gas industry employees and have always been robustly active in Houston.   They  warned, but corporate America didn't listen and because of the prosperity created, much of the Houston area citizenry simply didn't want to hear the warnings.

Who can criticize this very human phenomenon ?  The conflict between commercial prosperity and more esoteric and sometimes futuristic consequences is an age old conundrum.  Crystal ball readers have and never will be as popular as those bearing gifts to enhance prosperity.  It simply is a human failing.  But one Houston and Delaware must confront.

Some of my fellow Delawareans have heard in recent days about AddicksBarker Reservoirs in Houston and the release of water cause more flooding during the current catastrophic flooding.  This is because there are now flaws in the structure of the dam threatening breakage of the walls.  Houston has been warned for several decades about this infrastructure problem in the hands of the Corps of Engineers.  The warnings have been ignored in the interest of growth and prosperity.

An environmental engineer by the name of Jim Blackburn has brought the science of this dam issue threatening hundreds of thousands of nearby residents for decades.  All of Houston's elected officials and county officials are well aware of Jim's science and systematic forewarning but have looked the other way because it will require massive investment to shore up the walls.  This means tax money and you know Americans and tax issues.  Anathema to even liberal political leaders who don't want to face the heat.  Yet another very human trait. But now Houston has to face up to the truth of  infrastructure spending or absence thereof.  

So, Delaware.  Be forewarned.  Here no one wants to talk about sea level rising, a climate change reality we face in a big way.  But we have to both talk about it, as well as toxic waste in our rivers and land from years of industrial pollution.  It is either face it now or face even more dire consequences as my beloved Houston is currently facing.   We owe it to future generations, though I realize this is a really vague, elusive concept.

Lessons to be learned from Houston's tragedy, both man made and made by nature.