Posted in America, Politics, TV, tagged America, Chrysler, Clint Eastwood, Detroit, Politics, President Obama, TV on February 6, 2012 |
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As I suspected, the Clint Eastwood “Halftime in America” commercial for Chrysler that aired during last night’s Super Bowl turned out to be quite controversial.
This AP article discusses some of the reaction to the ad from various points on the political spectrum and quotes Eastwood as saying the ad was not intended to be political, but rather just about job growth and the spirit of America.
Interestingly, some people apparently construed the ad to be a pro-President Obama endorsement of the federal government bailout of Chrysler and GM. I guess I’m just dense, but I didn’t get that message if it was intended. In fact, if I were the President I don’t think I would want that ad, with its emphasis on tough times and America needing to come from behind, to be associated with me. If President Obama wants to highlight what he considers to be positive accomplishments during his term, you’d think he would be able to come up with a better subject than poor, broke, decimated Detroit.
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I expect that the most talked-about commercial from the Super Bowl is the Chrysler ad featuring Clint Eastwood.
In the commercial, the gravelly voiced Eastwood says that just as it is halftime in the Super Bowl, it’s halftime in America, too. Times are tough, he says. We’re down and out of work, we don’t understand each other, and we’re stumbling in a fog of discord and recrimination. But you can’t knock out America with just one punch. We need to come together to figure out how to come from behind because the second half is ready to begin. Detroit is showing us it can be done, Clint says.
Huh? America as a whole is supposed to follow Detroit’s lead? For the record, Detroit is on its knees. The city is losing money and deeply in debt, and the city government and the state of Michigan are trying to figure out whether the city can avoid being governed by an emergency manager who would have the ability to revise union contracts, restructure government, and sell off city assets like parks. I’m hoping Detroit can pull through, but let’s not kid ourselves — Detroit is no model and no inspiration.
I recognize that the Chrysler commercial provided an excuse to hear the welling music and to see the by-now-standard shots of courageous firefighters, mothers and children, and families standing strong. But it cheapens our country and its circumstances to compare America to a football game, and it’s jarring to receive a commercial message about coming together and sacrifice in close proximity to an over-the-top Super Bowl halftime show featuring Madonna.
Can’t commercials just stick to selling products, rather than trying to send us irksome, ankle-deep inspirational messages about our country?
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The 2010 Census delivered stunning news about Detroit. The Census determined that the Motor City’s population has fallen — some might say collapsed — by 25 percent in only 10 years. According to the Census, Detroit now has only 713,777 residents. Detroit is now about one-third the population it achieved at its high point, in the 1950s. Former citizens of Detroit, black and white, have fled the city for the suburbs or have left Michigan entirely.
The rapid decline of Detroit’s population will come as no surprise to anyone who has been to the city in the past few decades. Even in the early 1980s, when Kish, Snow and I visited, Detroit had the scent of death about it. The city was tied inexorably to the American auto industry, and as the Big Three fell victim to their own hubris and inability to produce quality vehicles at reasonable prices Detroit suffered. Successive urban renewal-type projects, from the Renaissance Center to casino gambling, became increasingly desperate and made the city’s image fall still farther. A few years ago I went to a deposition at a law firm’s building in a formerly grand neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown, and found block after largely vacant block of rubble and an occasional gutted building. Parts of inner city of Detroit seem to be turning into a vast urban wasteland.
A rapidly shrinking city poses significantly more difficult problems than does a rapidly growing one. What do you do with dozens of neighborhood fire stations, police stations, and schools that are greatly underutilized? How do you consolidate services when entire neighborhoods have disappeared, and therefore consolidated districts must cover a significantly larger geographic area than before? And most importantly, how do you convince new businesses to relocate to Detroit and revive its economy when the city’s own residents are running away?
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Bob often writes about the problems of the University of Michigan football team, but those problems pale in comparison to the problems the state of Michigan has, and more specifically the city of Detroit. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I happened to stumble on to some pictures shown in this article of downtown Detroit and I am wondering how does this happen ?
In 1913 Detroit was the world’s car capital with Henry Ford building the first of his factories employing 90,000 workers to supply the growing American middle class with fairly inexpensive transportation, the Model T. Yet in less than 100 years Michigan is facing a $2 billion dollar shortfall and a loss of 500,000 residents since 2001.
The state is caught in a downward spiral that has the states youngest, best and brightest choosing to move out of the state which leaves less people to pay for needed services and higher taxes for those that stay.
Since the youngest are leaving the state in big numbers the population is becoming increasing older, meaning more Medcaid payments, not to mention the states very high unemployment rate of 13%.
I wonder what happens to a state if they can’t get these trends turned around ? Yesterday I heard Ben Bernanke say that the Federal Reserve will not get involved in state bailouts and I don’t think I am in favor of the federal government doing so, but it’s ashame to see such a dramatic decline in what was once such a vibrant city.
Hopefully this isn’t the trend of things to come.
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Posted in Columbus, Ohio, Politics, The Economy, tagged casino gambling, casinos, Columbus, Detroit, economy, Issue 3, Ohio, Ohio Issue 3, Politics, vice on October 4, 2009 |
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It’s about a month before the election, and already we are being bombarded with commercials urging us to vote for Issue 3, which would allow “full-service” casinos to be established in Columbus and three other Ohio cities. For weeks, we’ve seen the Fraternal Order of Police arguing in favor of Issue 3, and most recently the pro-Issue 3 ads have featured former Ohio State Treasurer Mary Ellen Withrow, who reassures us that the casinos will, in fact, pay their taxes, and two women who are riding us a bus to a casino in another state and lamenting that they can’t gamble closer to home. So far, I don’t think I’ve seen a single ad against Issue 3. Obviously, the moneyed interests strongly favor casino gambling in Ohio.
Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure I’m going to vote against Issue 3. The proponents of the Issue say it will create 34,000 jobs connected with construction and then operation of the casinos and keep $1 billion in Ohio that Ohio citizens would otherwise gamble away in Indiana or West Virginia or Detroit. I don’t know whether those statistics are reasonable or valid, and I don’t care. I just think casinos are bad for communities, and I don’t want one in Columbus. I’ve been to Detroit, where casino gambling was supposed to revitalize downtown, and I don’t think it has worked. In fact, I think the contrary is true. The “Greektown” section of Detroit is pretty grim — a few casinos in an otherwise blighted area that doesn’t seem safe to walk around. Why would we want that in Columbus?
I don’t buy the “jobs at any cost” arguments. Other forms of vice — such as prostitution, opium dens, or legalized underage drinking — no doubt also would produce “jobs” and keep money in Ohio, or maybe even attract “vice tourists” from other states. The fact that other states are willing to slip into sleaze doesn’t mean Ohio needs to follow suit just to keep a few bucks in the state treasury. Casino gambling seems to bring with it crime, prostitution, guns, theft, drunkenness, and other generally inappropriate conduct. If 34,000 jobs and $1 billion in lost revenue is the price to pay for avoiding having that unsavory atmosphere in my home town, I am perfectly willing to pay it.
In Ohio we have had statewide initiatives on casino gambling repeatedly in recent years. Last year a bruising campaign produced a strong rejection of casino gambling at the ballot box, and yet it is back on the ballot, again, this year. It seems unfair to allow moneyed interests to put the same issue on the ballot over and over again, until their less well-heeled opponents have exhausted their resources and the proposition finally is approved after repeated defeats. In my mind, that is just another reason to vote against Issue 3.
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The tunnel of chiming weirdness
We came home from Quebec through Detroit, which has a fine, modern airport. Unfortunately, it also has one of the banes of the frequent traveler — the under-the-runway concourse connection I call the Tunnel Of Chiming Weirdness. In Detroit, it is the tunnel connecting Concourse A and Concourses B and C. The tunnel has the standard moving walkways, but then inflicts upon the weary traveller a dim changing light show and weird, chiming, otherworldly music. In O’Hare, the Tunnel of Chiming Weirdness is the neon-ceilinged monstrosity that connects the United concourse with the rest of the airport. I am sure there are others I can’t think of at the moment.
Why do these off-putting light and sound shows exist in airport tunnels? Does someone actually think they are a triumph of modern “public art,” music, and design, or are they consciously designed to be so disturbing that they will cause travellers to sprint through the tunnel? Why can’t travellers who are changing planes just have a little peace and quiet as they walk through airports?
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