The East Palestine Disconnect

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So Donald Trump visited East Palestine, Ohio, yesterday. Visiting the scene of the crime is what immediately came to mind when I saw him arrive in “Trump Force One.” But what I saw from many in that community was nothing of the sort. There were cheers, clapping, and fawning – something resembling a rock star coming back on stage for an encore.

What in the hell is wrong with these people?

I’m sorry. I do not mean to lump everyone in East Palestine into the same camp. Indeed there are folks there who despise the man. But let’s face it. Trump got over 70 percent of the vote in that area in 2020. Certainly, those are landslide numbers by any stretch of the imagination.

And what they do not know, at least most of them, is that when Trump came into office in 2017, he gutted scores of regulations spanning multiple agencies across the entire spectrum of the United States regulatory system. Of course, it’s not a shock that a Republican president – hell, any Republican president, would resort to these tactics. It’s what they do every damn time.

And rural America is okay with Republicans gutting regulations because they’ve been told it’s nothing but big government trying to tell companies, and them, what to do.

It’s a crazy dichotomy that always plays out when Republican ones replace democratic administrations. But here’s the deal. At some point, folks who live in areas like East Palestine will likely need big government, and they will need it in a big way. And the disastrous train derailment perpetrated by Norfolk Southern proves that point.

In 2018 Trump reversed an Executive Order issued by President Obama that would have required Norfolk and other rail company behemoths to adhere to a higher safety standard concerning their antiquated braking systems. Naturally, Norfolk and the others lobbied the Trump administration hard to ensure these new regulations were rolled back.

It’s too early to tell if gutting that particular regulation was the sole reason for the derailment in East Palestine, as the National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the incident. And it appears more and more that it’s not the case.

But does it matter? In recent years, Norfolk has cut back on workers, enriched shareholders with stock buybacks, and increased profits. And those profits were enhanced by increasing the number of rail cars allowed on the tracks and the subsequent cutting back on personnel.

Consolidation in recent years has left the nation with seven major freight railroad companies, most of whom have adopted the same type of profit-boosting methods of Norfolk. According to a Government Accountability Office report issued in December, “the overall number of staff among the seven largest freight railroads decreased by about 28 percent from 2011 through 2021.”

But what is the prevailing opinion of the folks in East Palestine? That Joe Biden doesn’t care about rural America. That’s right, big government Joe Biden decided to go to Ukraine – not East Palestine. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is also hearing from the GOP because, until today’s visit, he hadn’t been there either. Never mind that the EPA and NTSB were there within hours.

It doesn’t matter because most of the folks in East Palestine only hear the narrative from some of the pontificating GOP politicians like Senator Marco Rubio, who is currently in a tiff with Buttigieg over the derailment.

Buttigieg had the nerve to point out that Rubio was one of several politicians who signed onto a letter in 2021 siding with the rail companies on rolling back regulations. But Rubio, of course, was having none of the sorts. He did what GOP politicians do: he doubled down, recommending Buttigieg resign over the incident.

The mayor of East Palestine also weighed in when Biden traveled to Kyiv to show solidarity with Ukraine on Monday. The mayor said he should have come to East Palestine instead of Ukraine. He, of course, voted for Trump, like most of his constituents. He’s since walked back those comments somewhat. Still, the mayor was there yesterday with Trump and newly elected Senator J.D Vance, wallowing in their hero worship of the guy who gutted regulations and doesn’t give a damn about the community.

Let’s face it. It’s all about pointing fingers at the Democratic administration and making the people of East Palestine think the Republican Party cares about them. We know, though, that they really care about scoring cheap political points. And they do that very well.

Remember, profits are all that matters to these companies. Cutting checks to pay fines is a drop in the bucket, as is throwing millions to politicians who will do their bidding. And Norfolk, by the way, made well over $4 billion in profits in 2022. Again, sending some crumbs to politicians who will ensure regulations are kept in check is well worth their efforts.

But as tragic as this disaster has been, perhaps even more troubling is the enormous disconnect in that community and many others like it throughout the United States: That Democrats are inherently evil and don’t give a damn about rural America, and Republicans do. Regardless, it couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s the prevailing narrative.

And while GOP politicians are at the forefront of this narrative, we cannot discount the damage that Fox News continues to do to our democracy daily. It’s always a blame Biden first strategy, never providing nuance or context as to who may or may not be to blame for incidents like the East Palestine tragedy or what can be done in the future to prevent it from happening again.

There will be other calamities. Tornados, hurricanes, wildfires, derailments, and earthquakes will devastate communities like East Palestine. And they will demand a response from the government they’ve been told to despise no matter what.

Biden, at least, is trying to bridge the divide. The recently passed Infrastructure and Chips Acts contain many positives for rural America. They will help create jobs in those areas and provide easier access to broadband internet.

But most people won’t believe it, nor will they give credit to a Democrat under any circumstance. I feel for the people of East Palestine. Nobody deserves what happened to them. But, damn it, they keep voting for GOP politicians repeatedly. As they say, eventually, you will reap what you sow.

And they will continue to watch Fox News and welcome Trump to their community. Yesterday’s visit was classic Trump. He arrived with pallets full of ‘Trump Water’ and doled out MAGA hats to employees at Mcdonald’s. The folks there loved it.

I could show them several tweets from their favorite president in 2017 and 2018, where he bragged about ridding businesses of bothersome regulations and how great it was for the economy. But why bother? They wouldn’t believe it. Besides, if their hero did it, he did it because he knew what he was doing. By the way, when asked about it yesterday, Trump denied knowing anything about the regulation rollbacks. Of course, he did. They’ll all believe him, regardless.

For the disconnect to improve, Democrats must seek ways to reach these folks in these rural communities. Frankly, it might be too late. The Right has spent decades buying up radio stations nationwide in these areas. Many of them only receive news from far-right or conservative-leaning stations.

It has undoubtedly contributed to the big divide between rural America and the Democratic Party. It helps when Democrats go to these communities and let the folks voice their concerns. Out here in rural Oregon, our two Senators, Merkley and Wyden, make it a point to go to every county in the state. Of the 36 counties here, most are rural. That outreach may also work in other areas of the country.

But it’s going to take time. Hell, it may already be too late. Meanwhile, the people of East Palestine are told Joe Biden doesn’t give a damn about them. And they will believe every word of it. What a shame.


  1. Because, these there are mostly, less highly educated in the population in these, rural towns, and, they are all, following anyone too blindly, that’s why, Trump is able to get such a, “warm welcome”, which made him feel, really, important, feeding to his, huge ego, and, it will be mostly these, less educated in the population who will vote Republican, because, that’s the only audience that the, Republican can, have.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re absolutely correct. Studies have shown that many of these rural voters do lack education in many regards. They actually resent those who do achieve college degrees. It’s no surprise, really, why Trump appealed to these types of voters. He simply played to their weaknesses and resentments, most towards people of color.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, his vocabulary is basically 4th grade equivalent. I guess that’s what makes him a ‘common’ man to the MAGA crowd? UGHHHH

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is Nan, and no, they will never see it. Mainly because they do not want to. They do not want to hear any opposite viewpoints. Their bias is what drives them. Trump is a master at manipulation. These folks are welcoming rubes.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    EAXCTLY!! If they were clapping and fawing — too bad!! … “Let’s face it. It’s all about pointing fingers at the Democratic administration and making the people of East Palestine think the Republican Party cares about them. We know, though, that they really care about scoring cheap political points. And they do that very well.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You’ve outdone yourself here, Jeff! Great, well-researched and heartfelt post. If I were a resident of East Palestine, I would have gone to the Trump rally and BOO-ed him loudly, yelling that it was HIS FAULT, and if I could have gotten close enough, I’d have spit in his face. But instead, the sheeple welcomed him with open arms. This, my friend, is why I am fast losing hope for this nation … people don’t want the truth … they want to believe the lies they are told by the ugliest creatures like Trump, Carlson, McCarthy, Greene, et al. Thanks for this post … I shall reblog in just a bit. We really need to find another project to work on soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Jill. All true. He deserves to be spat upon, put in the stockades, and publicly shamed. And then prison! I shall email you in the coming days to touch base. You’re the best and thanks for the reblog!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My dream is to see him carted off in handcuffs, shoved into the back of a police car, and wearing an orange jumpsuit. It won’t ever happen, but I can dream, can’t I? I’ll be looking forward to your email … I’ve really missed our chats, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    My granddaughter has, rightly, taken me to task for not giving more attention to the catastrophic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, just a few hundred miles from our home. But, try as I might, I have been unable to stay focused on it long enough to write a post. The disaster has become both a political football and a racial one, thanks to certain politicos, and I find myself growling and cursing every time I try to put fingers to keyboard. Jeff, however, has no such problem and has written a well-researched, timely, and passionate post about the disaster and the situation to date. Thank you, Jeff! I owe you one!


  5. You hit the proverbial nail on the head, Jeff. Trying to reason with these Trumpists/MAGA folks is like talking to another species. I know that to be true from personal experience. When I confront my MAGA friends with objective, verifiable facts, they counter with the empty refrain: “Fake news.” Truth is whatever they and their fellow tribe members choose to believe, and especially whatever their rotund, orange messiah says it is. I despair.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Jerry. These people are the epitome of the confirmation bias that exists today. Don’t tell me the facts, just what I want the facts to be. Unconscionable. I just don’t get it


  6. “A perfect comment on Robert Reich this am say it all. And it’s more of the same for the rhetoric in Ohio.

    “Remember, though, that all of this is built on the MAGA voter base. The 15 rounds of voting for Speaker showed us just how weak McCarthy and the Republican party are, and how they have to pander to the crazies.

    What the Dominion court case ultimately revealed by releasing the Fox News emails is that those same belligerently ignorant, conspiracy-addled voters call the tunes the Fox News piper plays.

    The Republican party and Fox have spent decades cultivating the deplorables, and now they are captive to them. Fox News is deathly afraid of being abandoned by its crazy viewers. The Republican leadership is deathly afraid of Trump and his deplorable mob. The deplorables demand to be fed all manner of stupid lies, and who will turn to whichever politicians and media outlets that meet their demands.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Mr. Reich is spot-on, Mary. Fox News/Rupert Murdoch, is a cancer on democracy, all around the world. And two former Prime Ministers of Australia, one liberal, and one conservative, have said the same thing. I don’t know that we can do anything about it other than hope they keep losing lawsuits and drain the coffers so much that they have to change their ways. I’m not hopeful.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That just makes me ill! What price animals have paid over human history for our greed, apathy and delight often at seeing animal’s tortured. Probably a lot from the poisonous air as well as a direct hit…sickening.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. hey Jeff,

        I was wondering, whatever became of that podcast that you had started a while ago?

        I remember there was an episode but I couldn’t get it to play for some reason.

        I started my blind flight podcast again recently after a 7 year absence from broadcasting.


      2. Thanks for asking Scott. I realized after doing a couple of demos that podcasting simply does not suit me. When I listened back to them, my first reaction was: stick to writing!! LOL

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s become profits, above all else for most corporations. I don’t know how we can change that. Yes, profits are needed, of course, but what is the price we as a society pay for their drive to increase profits to please shareholders? It’s quite a dilemma.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. the tone of this post is nothing short of “those people deserve what happened to them because of who they voted for” and it’s a terrible tone to take on a disaster which will effect more than this community. This is shameful and I am regretting my decision which I have made to engage with your blog. If this had happened on a republicans watch, I’d bet you all the money I have in the world that your post would have been more compassionate and much softer on tone. You’re better than this, that’s what you tell me all the time. so take your own advice.


    1. Sorry it’s taken me a few days to get back to you Scott. Was traveling.
      They do NOT deserve what happened to them. Nobody does. If you thought there was a tone denoting something different, my apologies. That said, these communities continually vote against what is in their best interests. The GOP could give a rat’s you know what about them. A GOP president always guts regulations. They’d love nothing better than to gut Social Security and Medicare too. Many of the folks voting GOP are seniors who depend on these programs.
      My overall point is that they’ve been told, since Reagan basically, that government is bad and doesn’t care about them, and that they are the problem. They vote for GOP, who say the same thing. Then, when something bad happens, they’re quick to point fingers, blame Democrats, and bitch about the government. Is this not true, Scott? Aren’t you also someone who continually blames the government for everything?
      One party believes that government can and should do good things for the American people. The other says the exact opposite. In fact, many of them talk about eliminating agencies like the EPA, Education, and the IRS. I, personally, am sick of the hypocrisy.
      On a final note, do you remember when Obama went to NJ after Hurricane Sandy to meet with Governor Christie? He praised Obama for his and the government’s overall response. And the reaction from GOP/media/right-wing world? They criticized him for having the nerve to cooperate and say good things about Obama. I know what is real, Scott, and what is BS. The GOP peddles BS. I’m sick of it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I think some of what I said didn’t seem to make much, I was so angry after I read this post but if this had happened in an area where the people weren’t trump supporters, I still believe your tone would have been softer.

        The reason a lot of these people don’t like the government and want less of it, and I’m not talking about the idiots who don’t want any government, because it is clear that humanity needs some rules and regulations, after all, well, I don’t need to tell you why.

        But, historically, government has proven time and again that they can’t handle anything efficiently. As most people “what can government do well” and you’ll be hard pressed to get an answer other than spend our money and deliver the mail, and even that second one is debatable.

        No I don’t regret finding your blog and I shouldn’t have said such a thing. I’m only human, sometimes I say stupid things out of emotion.

        I’m still angry that biden hasn’t visited the site and it sends a message to the people that he really doesn’t care about them, hell, he didn’t even contact the mayor of that town.

        I’m just tired of the double standards so many people have about their favorite politicians, or, at least the ones whose teams there on, they get a pass for behavior that would be called out if the opposite party were in charge.

        I don’t know why most people can’t be fair minded and hold everyone to the same standard. it’s not really that difficult but it requires not playing favorites, being logical about the situation, getting some distance, I can work on this more myself so I admit when I’m wrong in this.


      2. My advice is to count to ten when you’re angry, then respond. It’s easy to let things get away from you. I’m not averse to this. I struggle as well. Politics is so toxic these days, and has been for several years now. We’ve got to find ways to speak with one another and not go crazy. I don’t mean you and I specifically. I’m talking in general. I’ve always said that government isn’t perfect. Never has been. But, we need it. Perhaps we disagree on how much we should depend on it. That’s a valid debate. But there are some things that no other entity can take on but the government. The political back and forth-the name calling and hatred…This is where we are and I wish we could do better. I’ll try


      3. I’ll try to my friend.

        You’re so right that it has become so toxic and my biggest regret is that, time and time again, I have fallen into the trap of toxicity, even after I say I’m going to do better. It always seems to be a case of one step forward, two steps backwards and there has to be a way to break the cycle.

        counting to 10 is a good idea and as that great karate kid character Mr. Miagi always eluded to, breathe. When Daniel’s life would get out of focus, Miagi would always have him breathe deeply.

        deep breathing can help ground a person too and we can all use a lot more grounding and calm in this world.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. our idiotic, evil, bafoon of a president doesn’t take his sorry ass to Ohio after three weeks from the time of this disaster and if trump were president and didn’t show up the same day, you and every other liberal goon in the world would be yelling and screaming forever. dumbass bastared biden can go visit ukraine but he doesn’t give a rats ass fuck about the people in his own country. This jackass is a joke and i’m fucking pissed that you’d implicitly give him a pass on not doing his job. how can someone who is supposed to possess an intellect still have confidence in this moron? tell me how that’s possible?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice tone, Scott. I appreciate your thoughtful and insightful rhetoric. Sarcasm, btw, in case you didn’t realize it. Perhaps you should head elsewhere. You seem angry

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My two cents: The situation in Ukraine has a FAR greater reach than the disaster in Ohio. Not to discount the train incident in any way, but one must admit that it’s localized whereas we could be facing a much greater disaster if we don’t rein in Russia.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Are you aware that regulations are often written by companies who lobby regulatory agencies in order to pass regulation that either squashes their competition or transfers taxpayer dollar to their accounts?


    1. Oh, I’m absolutely aware of that. That type of lobbying lies at the heart of what is so wrong with our system. Simply put, the game is rigged. Until we can change how we pay for our political campaigns and deal with lobbying and corruption, we’re screwed.
      Thanks for the follow. I followed you back as well.


      1. this guy makes some good points, biden is an elitist who doesn’t give a damn about the average citizen and this just makes that crystal clear, unlike the water in Ohio.

        I have nothing but contempt and loathing for this horrible administration.


      2. Nice to hear from you Scott. Yeah, he’s such a detestable man. Insulin is now $35/month for seniors. Infrastructure improvements have begun(the previous guy had infrastructure week every week-but no infrastructure bill was ever passed-because he was the most God-awful president in history. Chips manufacturing is coming back to America. Thanks President Biden. I could go on, Scott, but why should I? Why did the previous president brag about reducing/getting rid of regulations when he was in office, including those that govern rail and the banking industry? But sure, do go ahead and blame Biden for it all. As usual, you’re misinformed. I wish that you’d actually listen/read to credible news sources. Is that asking too much?

        Liked by 2 people

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