Powerless
by Ken Arneson
2020-07-29 23:30

I have Donald Trump’s Twitter account blocked, muted, hidden, buried and shielded every which way Twitter’s technology allows. Normally, this makeshift force field is enough to prevent the accidental destruction of brain cells that results from directly reading whatever nonsense he is spewing that day. I usually only get exposed to second- or third-hand Trump radiation, not the pure poison itself. This morning, however, my force field failed.
 

WARNING: Dangerous Trump radiation ahead.

Please apply all appropriate personal protective equipment.

 
This morning, he wrote this: “I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood…”

Trump using the power of his office to spew barely hidden racial dogwhistles is par for the course now. But this one stings in particular because my suburb, Alameda, is embroiled in exactly that sort of argument. We have a provision in our city charter, Article 26 (a/k/a Measure A), enacted in 1973, which prohibits the construction of multi-family apartment buildings. The city council voted 4-1 to place this article up on the ballot for repeal this November.

I’m convinced this article exists in order to keep Black and Brown people from Oakland from moving into Alameda. Nobody admits that, of course. Nobody wants to be labeled a racist. They use other arguments so that they can plausibly deny that their motivations are racist. They say it’s about preserving our architectural heritage and neighborhood character and crime and traffic and such things.

There may have been a time I would have believe these arguments were sincere, and given those people the benefit of the doubt. But after four years of a President tweeting non-stop plausibly deniable racist bullshit exactly of this ilk, I no longer accept those arguments, even if they are sincere. Plausible deniability isn’t good enough anymore. The burden is on the people in power to prove that not only is this not racist, but that it is anti-racist, that it actually improves racial relations. Otherwise, you’re just joining with Trump in keeping the powerful in power, and the powerless without power.

The one person on the Alameda City Council who voted against placing the Measure A ballot, Tony Daysog, is a friend of mine. We went to high school and college together. Obviously, I disagree with his position on Measure A, which he supports. So when Trump wrote this tweet today, I was compelled to write to him about it.

Anyway, to make an already long story not any longer, I spent my mental writing energy today in an email exchange with a local politician, instead of trying to write something brilliantly clever for today’s blog post.

Sorry about that, Catfish Stew fans. That’s what 2020 is like. We’re trying to play and watch and discuss baseball, but there’s a pandemic to fight, and racism to fight, and housing shortages, and climate change, and whatever dramas are happening in our personal lives, and God only knows what tomorrow will bring. We all have to pick our battles, one day at a time. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Sometimes we don’t have the energy to fight, so we save it for another day. Sometimes, like today, we choose to spend our energy fighting a likely hopeless and futile cause, because fighting and losing feels better than not fighting and saving our breath. Sometimes, we have the power to give voice to the powerless, and sometimes we’re the powerless ourselves. Sometimes we have the time to care about the drama of a baseball game on TV, and sometimes it feels like the least important thing in the world.

I did watch the A’s game today. The A’s lost to the Rockies, 5-1. There was an infuriating non-reversal of a replay call the kept an A’s run off the board. There were defensive near misses–plays that, if made, that could have turned the game around.

Blah blah blah. A bunch of little things went wrong. But those little things are little. The big thing is this: the A’s just aren’t hitting. More specifically, they aren’t hitting with power.

In the last two years, the A’s have hit home runs about once every 26 plate appearances. They’ve hit doubles about once every 20 plate appearances. Those big hits for power are where much of the A’s run scoring has come from in this generation.

But this year so far, the A’s have been mostly powerless. They’ve only homered once per 43 plate appearances. And worse, they’ve only doubled once per 54 plate appearances. The A’s slugged .439 in 2018, and .448 last year. They’re slugging .319 this year. They’re offense is all walks and singles, and with that kind of offense, it’s hard to put up any big innings that can sew up easy victories for you. Instead, every game becomes a grind. Their pitching has been pretty good, and that’s kept them in games enough to win some of them.

So the A’s have been a mixed bag. Their 3-3 record is accurate measure of their performance. It would be weird, at this point, with that kind of hitting, if the A’s were above .500 right now. The powerless usually don’t win most of their battles.

This is Ken Arneson's blog about baseball, brains, art, science, technology, philosophy, poetry, politics and whatever else Ken Arneson feels like writing about
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