Postmortem on Delusional Politics

  • 09/29/2016
  • James Preston Allen

Clinton Crushes Trump; Buscaino Stumbles

James Preston Allen, Publisher

You’d expect the postmortems on the Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump debate to be decidedly partisan dissections. I don’t think anyone would have thought so many Republicans would join the stomp parade on Trump’s debate performance.

“Trump was somewhere between incoherence and babble. Never [before] has there been a candidate in a presidential debate as fundamentally unprepared and incoherent as what you saw tonight,”  Republican political strategist Steve Schmidt said.

The Arizona Republic, which has never endorsed a Democrat for president in all its years of publishing (since 1890) wrote:

“The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified…for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.”

The editorial staff of the Arizona Republic went on to explain:

“The challenges the United States faces domestically and internationally demand a steady hand, a cool head and the ability to think carefully before acting. Hillary Clinton understands this. Donald Trump does not. Clinton has the temperament and experience to be president. Donald Trump does not.”

It will come as no surprise to conservative readers and even some liberal or progressives of this newspaper that as a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter we are now endorsing Hillary Clinton for all of those reasons announced by one of the most conservative Republican newspapers in America.

I find it extraordinarily strange that this paper finds itself in agreement with such ardent conservatives, but the Republican Party has not had such an unqualified presidential candidate since its founding. Trump’s delusional rhetoric has divided this country from every corner and state down to our own main streets.

Trump’s politics of fear insinuated itself far and wide in the national psyche through his calls to profile and restrict the movements of Muslims and Mexican—the echoes of which can be heard in the voices of those who fear our growing homeless population at home.

Those fears are rooted in the anxiety many working class Americans feel–an anxiety that often result in the scapegoating of marginalized communities. When Trump says he wants to “Make America Great Again” he does it by hammering on our fear of the other, a division as deep as the Grand Canyon.

One can only ask, “How can Trump possibly unify this nation after creating such divisions?”

The same might be said about Hillary Clinton except that she has not been the one castigating minorities or promising to build a Great Wall of China along our southern border to keep out the heathens. In the San Pedro Harbor area, our very own smiling Joe Buscaino has inspired much of the same fear and loathing as The Donald, though perhaps unintentionally.

Still, the empowering of the Saving San Pedro folks with appointments and neighborhood council status has only emboldened the anti-homeless contingent of Pedrans and fueled sustained vitriol on social media.  The main culprit behind Buscaino’s political rise and continued social media stardom is his chief propagandist, communications director Branimir Kvartuc, who recently told me point blank that, “I’m not going to answer any of your questions.” This while he was talking to the press at the Barton Hill demonstration we reported on in this issue on the lack of transparency in deciding the location of the homeless storage facilities near the elementary school.

What we have found here is that Kvartuc’s facile use of seductive digital media imagery has built a bubble around Buscaino, shielding him from voices of dissatisfaction with his reign in office, as the number of those grumbling grows.

There are very few who will go on record  about their lack of confidence in Buscaino’s leadership, but privately there is a growing chorus asking, “Exactly what has Joe done in the last five years, aside from taking selfies of himself and blasting them over social media?”

Media should be the bridge not the wall between the governed and those who govern—and when the government assumes the role of being the media, like Kvartuc and others have done, they eliminate dissenting voices.  Hence, like Trump, Buscaino is living in his own self-generated delusion.

Don’t get me wrong, Trump is a xenophobic self-centered egotist who can only bully his way into public office. Buscaino, on the other hand, is a really nice guy, a former Los Angeles Police Department senior lead officer whom everybody once liked.  I’m sure that, unlike Trump, Buscaino’s intentions are decent, if unavoidably naive and narrow-minded. After all, he views governance through the lens of law enforcement. Some have even gone so far as to call him arrogantly ignorant of the realities of big city politics and development.

Whatever the case may be, it has come to my attention that he is terribly thin-skinned and resistant to even light-handed criticisms. I’ve offered them privately before I voiced them publicly. His leadership, much like his police training, is a top down kind of approach that distrusts collaboration, public discussion (unless heavily controlled or edited) and critique.

He avoids neighborhood councils, except when he wants his decisions to be rubber stamped. He sets up task forces to deal with dicey issues so as to avoid Brown Acted meetings and transparency and use them for cover if things go bad.  And, when you come to think of it, this is the same kind of problem the rest of the City of Los Angeles has with its citizens, or vice versa. So Buscaino fits right in with the top down power structure.

An example of this is the councilman’s bungling of the homeless storage proposal, which excluded Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council advice, and avoided getting community consent and consideration of the neighborhood that would be most impacted. Obviously, his chief propagandist didn’t get ahead of the issue before it exploded. Good job, Branimir!

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James Preston Allen

James Preston Allen is the founding publisher and executive editor of RLnews He has been involved in community affairs for more than 40 years in the Los Angeles Harbor Area.

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