Mythic Past Indeed!

December 2, 2022

            The word “fascism” started to appear regularly, and pervasively, within the news media after the January 6, 2021 capital insurrection (definitely a news coverage event). Prior to that it was remarkably absent save for academics and lengthy news analysis columns. During the Trump administration, it was whispered and inferred, but rarely spoken outright. Analysis bears in mind that the news media are primarily corporate controlled entities. Jason Stanley’s 2018 primer on fascism, “How Fascism Works: the politics of us and them” was available well before the Jan. 6 event, and the book includes the first year of the Trump presidency. Since Hannah Arendt in the late 1940’s, it’s not like we haven’t been told. It’s more like we haven’t been able to listen — being too preoccupied, or distracted. By whom, and why? As Stanley points out, fascism is generally marked by a “strong man” authoritarian afloat on a sea of “us – them” ideology. In the introduction (pg. xiv, xv) he writes: “Fascist politics includes many distinct strategies: the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, unreality, hierarchy, victimhood, law and order, sexual anxiety, appeals to the heartland, and a dismantling of public welfare and unity.” Stanley utilizes most of these as the chapters of his book, providing an exemplary road map of the history of fascism over the last 200+ years, both here in the US and abroad. In considering the book, Analysis found much of the description of the strategies to parallel an interpretation of corporate capitalism. Here’s a fast and dirty look: Mythic past – by definition corporations are entities which exist only in law, any self identity is purely a mythic fabrication. Strong man authoritarian – a quick look at the ranks of the 1%, specifically the .1% and .01% reveals the nature of corporate ownership/leadership (Rupert Murdoch, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk come to mind). Us and them – the integration of self identified branding into corporate myth, with the “them” being strongly dismissed, if even acknowledged. Enough said (e.g. Ford, Fiat Chrysler, GM, Honda, Toyota, etc. No parts are interchangeable though they are all makers of a product with the same function). Propaganda – think advertising, anything to get you to buy (recent summer airline overbooking comes to mind. “Fly the friendly skies,” also see mythic past and legal entities like Frito Lay, Coke or Pepsi). Anti-intellectualism – look no further than what big tobacco, Monsanto, big pharma, or the fossil fuel industry did/does through their lobbying campaigns. Unreality – welcome to the Magic Kingdom, Super Bowl, or whatever fabricated reality is better if you only shop here. Hierarchy – nothing more central to us/them than ranking what is “most” important (just recent railroad contract legislation which had the unions giving up their right to collective bargaining while the railroad corporations gave up nothing. We’re dealing!). Victimhood – the Trump administrations tax cuts to make corporations “more competitive,” level the field could only take place within the mythic propaganda of the corporations being the victims of injustice). Law and order – think what will happen after the merger of Kroger and Albertsons, food deserts and those without a house. Sexual anxiety – although legal entities are without sex, it can be projected on to the consumer, and we all know what sells. Appeals to the heartland – gun sales are up, hunting is down. Apple pie, football and Chevrolet (check out the mythic past!). Dismantling of public welfare and unity – the ongoing endeavor of privatizing public services and holding their operation up to the standards of private business, eliminating those not producing a profit or operating within their means (think Louis DeJoy and the USPS). Analysis finds the use of the word “fascism” to be  as  scary as what it is a moniker for. Its use reveals what it is we have been groomed to be, what it is we already are. Mythic past indeed!

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And The Party Never Ends

November 17, 2022

            Back on 11-10-22 Fort Worth Texas U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman struck down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. “The program is thus an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power and must be vacated,” wrote the judge. “In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone,” he went on to say. The ruling was heralded by critics of Biden and the loan forgiveness program comparing him and his action to that of a monarch. This critique is nothing new. Back in September “”The president isn’t a king. He’s not an emperor. And if he does something unconstitutional, hell yeah, I’m going to hold him accountable,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told NPR in an interview.” (Morning Edition 9-30-22) Analysis finds Americans easily incensed over the prospects of a single individual wielding ultimate power but are, ho hum, OK with a single party doing ditto. An 11-14-22 Newark Advocate report, Commissioners’ deal with water, sewer district angers several communities, by Kent Mallett would be a case in point. Bear in mind that the recent midterms were unanimously won by the GOP in Licking County, with some races uncontested. It is safe to assume that those involved with this story are all of one and the same party. “An Oct. 6 Licking County Commissioners’ decision to extend the service area for Southwest Licking Water and Sewer District brought a flood of complaints Thursday from township and community officials in western Licking County.” “Monroe Township Trustee Troy Hendren said the commissioners told the townships they need to plan and coordinate, all while they were secretly working against the townships. “I was shocked when I heard this because when you guys talk, you’re always about ‘we need to work together and know what’s going on,” Hendren said.” “Jim Lenner, the owner of Neighborhood Strategies planning company and former Johnstown city manager, represented St. Albans Township at the meeting. He said the township learned of the agreement as it planned to approve its comprehensive plan next week. The township is located between Granville and New Albany. “It just was shocking for my clients and the people I’m working with that this monumental decision was made without input from (them),” Lenner said. “There’s other entities that could be servicing that area. That’s the concern and how you guys came to the decision to basically hand it over to the district to service that when you are in the middle of a water and sewer study. When St. Albans and most communities are all trying to plan, this bomb is dropped on us.”” “The commissioners said the amended map may go too far and maybe they should consider rescinding the agreement.” “”At the end of the day, it may end up being the way it is, if you can’t provide it and they’re willing to plan to provide it,” [Licking County Commissioner Tim] Bubb said.” Analysis finds Americans easily incensed over the prospects of a single duly elected individual wielding ultimate power but are, ho hum, OK with the same actions by a single duly elected party, in this case three individuals. Analysis finds there to be an interesting analogy between contemporary political parties and corporations. Corporations, entities which exist only in law, theoretically can never die. Long live the party!

There’s More To Democracy Than Get Out The Vote

October 30, 2022

            With the midterm election coming up in a week, local matters. In fact, local IS the democracy that is touted as so valuable by those involved. In Granville there is a school tax on the ballot since all such taxes must be approved by the constituents of the district. Even though the school board is likewise elected to office by self same constituents, it lacks the authority to pass a tax. This year a group, self identified as Granville Common Sense Coalition, has opposed the tax through various street signs, promotions and even paid advertisements in the Advocate (10-9-22) as well as the Sentinel (10-13-22). As pointed out by various Advocate reports covering this matter as well as columnists, and even a letter to the editor by the League of Women Voters, the GCSC’s anti tax advocacy is based on a lot of lies, fabrications and misinformation. Just another case of “both side-ism” in today’s news media coverage of democracy in action? There is a subtle difference at play here. Once discerned, it becomes quite glaring. The rebuttals to the GCSC’s rationale are all authored by identifiable individuals. Even the League lists the members co-signing the letter, the reporters’ inquiry names election officials interviewed, the columnist signs his opinion, etc. As of this writing, no one at the Advocate has identified any member of the Granville Common Sense Coalition. Who are these people? After the SCOTUS Citizens United ruling it is improper to ask such a question as it is money that is speaking. Money is pretty much indistinguishable (a dollar is a dollar, any dollar). In this case it is dark money and purposefully anonymous at that. True, at the time of the founding of the republic, anonymity with regard to politically held views was accepted as part of the exchange of enlightenment era ideas made possible by the secular use of the printing press under the rule of a totalitarian monarchy. Although anonymous publications did much to foster the American revolution, the new constitution addressed the downside of anonymity (lies, misinformation, the stoking of chaos). The First Amendment protected individual speech, worship, etc. Anonymity has no such guarantee. Which brings us to the present day political quandary. How responsible is the Advocate (or any other platform like Fox News, Twitter, Meta, etc.) for the anonymous dissemination of lies, misinformation and the sowing of chaos? The Advocate has a very strict and specific no anonymous letter to the editor policy yet their coverage, and ads, have disseminated the GCSC’s outlook marvelously well (reminding one of our former president’s penchant that “any news coverage is good news”). Yet the Advocate ostensibly is about the facts, and the fact is the lie is out there and spreading its corrosive effects. (Analysis has just now dabbled in both side-ism) Shouldn’t the Advocate’s strict policy of no anonymous letters extend to its advertising or news coverage? (or any other platform at that?) Giving lip service to the First Amendment speech rights and liabilities while promoting the profit to be made off anonymous dark money sources is disingenuous (Gannett’s fearless investigative reporters can’t, or won’t, identify the make up of the GCSC).  There’s more to promoting democracy than get out the vote. There’s the chore of everyday living  in one.

Welcome The Immigrant

October 2, 2022

            The upcoming midterm elections are deemed significant, or at least as significant as any, by national politicians, pundits and pollsters. Analysis finds it ironic how local politicians choose to remain silent on the matter. A recent AP article on Pa. politics made the astute, and ubiquitous, observation that the midterm elections are “about the high price of everything, about finding workers and good paying jobs, about the culture wars.” Analysis finds the first of that list to be code for inflation, and the last of the list to be a polite way of saying politics after the rise of Donald Trump. Put simply, inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods. Analysis finds it obvious that no election, no matter the outcome, will solve the culture wars. The last one didn’t so why should we believe the next one will? Analysis finds the nebulous middle term to be the most incongruous. For all it is worth “finding workers and good paying jobs” could be used during any election for the last 75 years. Funny it is used so much today. The current national unemployment rate is 3.7%. The Ohio rate is 4% while the unemployment rate for Licking County is that of the nation – 3.7%. These are numbers that 50 years ago would have been considered “full employment”, meaning all those able and willing to work would have a job. So why is “finding workers and good paying jobs” an election year, or any other year, issue? It’s obvious that the very nature of capitalism is that it takes money to make money. And if you don’t have any money, you sell your labor. In a capitalist democracy, anyone can open a business. There is nothing to prevent the new business owner from laboring themselves on the job they have created as a self employed business. But capitalism is about using money, to make money. So the new business owner seeks to find individuals who can’t help but sell their labor to work for them, to make the business function. The old saw was that in every successful business there is eventually a spouse or offspring found working in a back room because they are “family” (for no remittance). Americans have no difficulty understanding the “high price of everything” yet they see the lack of workers and good paying jobs as somehow a 1930’s Depression era issue. It is not. It is a case of job inflation – too many employers chasing after too few workers, who have only their labor to sell. In Ohio “Jobs!” has been a political rainbow stew since the author of the Kent State massacre originated it (galloping Governor Jim Rhodes). The Intel plant isn’t being built in Monroe County (which has a 10.6% unemployment rate). Rather, it is appearing in a county that matches the national rate of unemployment. With the spin off industries and support businesses that accompany such growth, there will be a lot of “entrepreneurs” looking for someone else to labor for them so that they might become successful capitalists. Although this same phenomena is taking place all over the US, hence the 3.7% rate, it is assumed that these folks will just magically appear to fill these jobs, trained or not. Job inflation – too many employers chasing after too few workers – is a real issue. But the solution presented by some, mostly the GOP, is not a solution at all, but rather an aggravation of an existing unsustainable condition. Getting baby boomers to fill these jobs by securing the borders is totally unsustainable. At some point, sooner than later, the only sustainable solution is to welcome the immigrant.

Strike For A Living Wage

September 27, 2022

            Two articles appeared within the same week, same online publication, that share an uncanny relation with each other. From the headlines, one would think the two had little to nothing in common. “On strike for a better world: Labor conflict is coming — and the ruling class will fight back hard Biden thinks he has averted a rail strike — for now. But the elites can’t crush massive discontent forever” was published in Salon 9-21-22. It is by journalist and former global war correspondent Chris Hedges. It features an archival black and wide photo prominently showing a row of Construction Workers Union members picketing, holding signs reading “Strike for a living wage”. In the article Hedges examines the history of labor strikes, the uber wealthy that opposed them, and the correlation with today (Analysis finds it way too much, too many to be brief). On 9-24-22 Salon published “”You are going to hear our voices”: Rev. William J. Barber on the midterms and the road ahead Don’t fear the word “poor,” Barber says: If poor people voted in large numbers, that would change everything” by Bob Hennelly, a reporter for the Chief-Leader. It features a recent photo of Reverend Barber delivering a sermon in Selma, Alabama. Hennelly’s article is an interview with Barber following a keynote address by the latter to the American chapter of the World Student Christian Federation delivered recently at Princeton University. Again, too much, too many to be brief. One “fact” is clear throughout the interview: most are reluctant to self-identify as poor. As a potent voting block they are “used” (politically) by those not poor. Organized politically, they would be capable of enormous, comprehensive, and real change (But how?). On its face it appears the two articles, one history based and the other a contemporary interview, would share little in common. Analysis reveals a curious and prescient overlap. The archival image at the onset of Hedges’ article says it all. He follows this up with: “Today, the top 10 percent of the richest people in the United States own almost 70 percent of the country’s total wealth. The top 1 percent control 31 percent of the wealth. The bottom 50 percent of the U.S. population hold 2 percent of all U.S. wealth. Infrastructure is outdated and in disrepair. Public institutions, including schools, public broadcasting, the courts and the postal service are underfunded and degraded.” “Workers, bereft of union protection and lacking industrial jobs, have been forced into the gig economy, where they have few rights, no job protection and often earn below the minimum wage. The rise in global food and energy prices, coupled with the weakening of democratic institutions and impoverishment of workers, have become a potent recipe for revolt. Weekly earnings, adjusted for inflation, decreased by 3.4 percent from August 2021 to August 2022, and real hourly earnings fell by 2.8 percent in the same period. Hourly earnings, adjusted for inflation, have fallen for the past 17 months.” Hennelly quotes Barber: “If you look at the number of poor people — 52 million without a living wage, 140 million [overall] — you have to talk to them as human beings. Second of all, say to them, “I am not here to ask you to vote. I am here for you to join a movement that says there’s something wrong with our policies that this many people can be left disinherited.” Thirdly, I am asking you to believe that democracy is not just an idea, but democracy and justice are on the ballot. So who you are going to elect is going to determine health care. It is going to determine if you can push them to do the right thing because if people who get elected tell you upfront, “Don’t come to me about a living wage, don’t even talk to me,” then you don’t have a real chance with them. And lastly, let people know how much power they have. There is not a battleground state where the presidential election has been decided within three percentage points where poor and low-wealth people don’t make up 45 percent of the electorate.” “Yes, we have done some things on climate change — historic things. Great. Yes, we have done some things with Medicare and pricing on the drugs. Great. But you can’t dismiss what was left off: voting rights and a living wage. You have to tell people, “Give us the kind of majority where we can’t be overturned easily and we will deal with that — we will deal with the filibuster. We will give you a living wage.”” Analysis finds that a living wage is the one things that never turns up on all the corporate media coverage/polling with regard to the upcoming midterm elections. Inflation, the economy, the war, Roe, etc. all are put forth as “what people want.” And those running to be elected collaborate with this same made up narrative. A living wage is an unspoken, assumed outcome of the correct choice on the ballot. “Strike for a living wage!”

The Monarch Is Dead. Long Live The Monarchy!

September 18, 2022

            The Donald got bumped from first place in the past week’s news box office receipts by the recently deceased queen of England. One can’t turn on the news, any news, without some story about the queen, her funeral, or her dogs. It’s not that the passing of any individual isn’t a matter of concern, only with this individual, the line between state figurehead and just-human are blurred. In the US, the president represents the US (to a certain extent) but is just-human when out of office. Not so for the British royals. And so there is a certain undercurrent of resentment. Not so much as to the news being dominated by man on the street interviews (standing in 5 mile long lines, to have a look), but that the monarchy was the face of colonization, exploitation, and oppression. News sources did their darnedest to insure that these cracks did not show (these demonstrations of minority protest, usually a mainstay of the “both side-ism” media, rarely appeared). Something similar occurred in Newark. “United Way of Licking County unable to secure donations from largest companies” (Kent Mallett, The Newark Advocate, 9-17-22) was dropped on a Saturday, and failed to resurface with the Sunday edition (print or online). There is no Saturday print edition; token coverage insuring the least number of readers would access the news. “Deb Dingus, executive director of the United Way of Licking County, told the Licking County Commissioners last week that Amazon, Facebook, Google and Intel have not contributed a campaign since locating in the county. Intel is new to the county this year, but the others have been here through a few United Way campaigns. “We’ve not seen anything come back from any of the large tech industries in this county,” Dingus said. “We’ve not gotten one penny from Google. Not one penny from Facebook. Not one penny from Amazon. Not one penny from Intel. “And yet, we have a lot of tax abatements. And the size of needs are continuing to grow in the county.”” Analysis finds striking similarities to British colonialism with the absence of active concern for the colonized by the colonizers. “Amazon announced it was coming to Licking County in November 2015. The company states it’s a misconception to claim it does not contribute to local communities because it has not donated to one organization. Amazon states it has contributed to 48 Ohio organizations, many in Licking County, but many outside of the county.” “Facebook announced it would build in New Albany in 2017 and had a groundbreaking ceremony in February 2020. Facebook has made grants available to the Johnstown-Monroe and Licking Heights school districts.” The crown’s representative had this obfuscating reply (dodging the issue, as usual, by attacking the messenger, not the message): “Licking County government, which has always supported United Way, also received some criticism, but from within. Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb said it’s not acceptable that United Way has been unable to even find out who is the county’s United Way campaign leader this year. “I’m really concerned when we say we’re not sure who’s even the Licking County government contact or who’s running our campaign,” Bubb said. “Somebody should be working on that. Seriously. We’ve got 1,000 employees. There needs to be outreach. There needs to be stuff on our bulletin boards and website and that sort of thing.”” The cracks on the surface of our “shared” capitalist democracy grow wider and deeper, and it’s beginning to show. The colonization of space and culture by the royal 1% is revealing it’s violence, slowly yet increasingly each day. Token gestures are made to placate the natives that there is active concern for the welfare and well being of the colonized, yet “the size of needs are continuing to grow in the county.”” Americans, obsessed with watching the trappings of the queen’s funeral from the security of their “shared” capitalist democracy, have been spared the sight of the violent residue of the Royal British Empire. The monarch is dead. Long live the monarchy!  

Space And Culture

September 11, 2022

            The 9-11-22 online Business Insider headlined “China plans three missions to the Moon after discovering a new lunar mineral that may be a future energy source” by Jyoti Mann. “It comes a day after China became the third country to discover a new lunar mineral, which it called Changesite-(Y), according to Chinese state-controlled newspaper the Global Times. China’s Chang’e-5 mission retrieved samples from the moon in 2020 and it has been described by Global Times as a “phosphate mineral in columnar crystal” found in lunar rock particles. The mineral contains helium-3, which could be a future source of energy.” Well, there goes the neighborhood! Which literally occurred in the US (more than once). American Experience aired the documentary “The Feud: for the Hatfields and McCoys, there were no winners” on PBS 9-7-22. “The Feud reveals more than an isolated story of mountain lust and violence between “hillbillies” — the Hatfield – McCoy feud was a microcosm of the tensions inherent in the nation’s rapid industrialization after the Civil War.” One of the things the documentary points out was the appropriation of small town Appalachian news, sensationalized by big city newspapers to sell copy, forming the mythological “hillbilly” culture which permeates to this very day. The other thing (amongst many) it shows that, akin to the motivations of today’s Chinese (and others), the greedy accumulation of coal, timber and land resulted in the dire poverty which the otherwise industrious and self sufficient native inhabitants eventually found themselves staked to. And, of course, bereft of land and resources, not to mention culture, they were forced to labor in mines and industry. Etc. We’ve seen that movie before with the elimination of “the commons” in the days of the pre-industrialization run up. Sound vaguely, and discomfortingly, familiar? How about the Intel shell game in Licking County? “The citizens of Ohio will be better off…” Yadda, Yadda. Analogous to the industrialists of the 19th century, the large scale financial institutions along with Intel are meaning to exploit something, and it ain’t undeveloped farmland. Analysis finds it to be space, AND culture. In the 1970’s, I 270 was built, ostensibly, to “relieve” the 70/71 congestion downtown. It was termed a “bypass’ at the time. Not. Downtown Cols withered and major development boomed along the “bypass.” Ditto years later with 670 and its ? spur heading from Easton to the tiny crossroads of New Albany. Like the 19th century Appalachian way of life, New Albany ceased to be. It is the space that is ripe for exploitation, that “nothing” is there AND that what is already there is not cohesive enough to withstand the violence of big money and its promises of Jobs! and “shared” (?) wealth. Just as the 19th century yellow journalists perpetuated the big lie of primitive Appalachians, so do today’s news sources perpetuate the myth of the rural/urban divide. At the end of the 20th century the US Census showed that the majority of small farmers (under 400 acres) had to have a source of off farm income (a job) in order to farm. Things are even more pressing today. In short, to live rural requires a job in town (just listen to the morning traffic report to verify that). The Jobs! promises promoting Intel (and other) development are superfluous to those already existing and employing the folks in “rural” America. Analysis finds that what will happen is the genuinely rural culture presently found within rural America will go the way of pre industrialized Appalachian culture. Akin to the time of “The Feud’, there is no cohesive culture to offset the large financial interest intent on exploiting the disconnected, and independent, fragility of rural living. In its place will be a further expansion of the culture now ubiquitously present in the spaces surrounding I 270 and its ? New Albany spur.

How A Capitalist Democracy Works

August 28, 2022

            The front page of the 8-28-22 Newark Advocate was a rare display of stories headlining American capitalism and democracy. Students of either ought to take note. Top headline story was “Intel shares tumble: Factory reboot fails to impress Wall Street” by Mark Williams for the Columbus Dispatch. Occupying the left single column was “Redistricting reform made bad maps. What’s next?” by Jessie Balmert for USA Today. Taking up the rest of the front page (with very large photo) is “‘Pick A Path’: Johnstown residents vote Tuesday on removal of council members” by the Advocate’s own Kent Mallett. Providing context or what was not written by these reporters, and appearing the same day online, was “Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse” by Brian J. O’Connor for MoneyWise. Analysis quick and dirty synopsis of the articles shows the Intel story to be more of just that – the Intel story. Ground is already bought and being excavated (along with roads and infrastructure work). Questions remain about the viability of the production facility and whether or not it is “planned obsolescence”, which the Chips act (along with JobsOhio, public funding etc.) are subsidizing. All this is done in the name of “Jobs!”, which is not at all what the capitalist market (Wall Street) is about. ‘Pick A Path’ is American democracy as imagined and idealized. Fundamentally it is a recall of two small town government leaders (Mayor Chip Dutcher and Council President Marvin Block) in a recently designated city just a mile away from the borders of Intel-land. Of course it is about property values and future use based on the previous village history. Both Dutcher and Block stress their roots in the community which can be taken to mean they have owned their homes (and other local property) by choice, and the choice is Johnstown (aw shucks, you know us, we’re your neighbors). Both assume those voting will also own their own residence (if not more). “Redistricting reform made bad maps. What’s next?” certainly doesn’t answer the question. But it does give a play by play history of what made for bad maps and how the GOP mapmakers could thumb their noses at the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Supreme court. Analysis finds the maps themselves, along with the article, to assume (along with the founding fathers) that voting is primarily for those who own property. The representative democracy voting districts are grounded in geography – property. “Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse” gives context to the emphasis of property ownership and voting rights within contemporary Ohio. It is an article of statistics. “In the year before the pandemic, the country recorded a shortage of seven million affordable housing units for low-income renters, according to the Center for American Progress, creating a crisis that left just 37 affordable rental homes for every 100 low-income households looking to rent. And the homes that are available are often still out of reach. Rent rates are up nearly 25% since before the pandemic, with an increase of 15% in just the past 12 months, according to the real estate tracking service Zillow. Evictions are up, too, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. In August, evictions were 52% above average in Tampa, 90% above average in Houston and 94% above average in Minneapolis-St. Paul.” The three years since have only aggravated the lack of availability of affordable housing. “The annual median household income for all renters in the U.S. is about $42,500, according to Zillow, 37% lower than the national median income of $67,500. As of early August, the Census Bureau reported that while 56% of renters had household incomes of less than $50,000, 24% of renters surveyed were paying more than $2,000 a month in rent. Nearly half of all renters — more than 30 million people — had been hit with rent hikes in the past 12 months, with 19% paying a monthly increase of $100 to $250, 7% paying $250 to $500 more and 4% needing to find another $500 a month to stay in their apartments.” Reading behind the lines of the Advocate’s front page stories one thing is overwhelmingly clear. Democracy in Ohio is reliant on and assumes property ownership. People who are without housing, as well as those in transition from one unit to another, cannot vote for their Ohio house and senate representatives, the very people who draw up the voting district maps.  In addition, they haven’t much say in the running of the municipality they find themselves in, be it Johnstown or Newark. Renters, along with those without housing, have little say in the distribution of services provided by the state, county or municipal government that collects taxes from them. In the end that tax money goes to subsidize corporate entities like Intel in order to assure “Jobs!” that provide the state, county and municipalities with more tax revenue. That’s how a capitalist democracy works.

The Weather

July 24, 2022

            “The weather” was once The originating topic of conversation when two strangers or mildly acquainted individuals would meet. Family get-togethers were often marked by talking about “the weather” amongst siblings, perhaps estranged. Analysis finds it was not as much about being the safe cliché that it is, but rather, of a starting point held in common (much as the starting mark of a race is held in common by all the contestants. After the race begins, there is no commonality). The news of the past week has been of extraordinary extreme heat, both here in the US as well as abroad.  And yet, though “the heat” may be a topic of conversation held in common, the weather is not. Joe Manchin, for example, believes the weather in West Virginia differs substantially from that in New England, Texas or the state of Washington. Americans there have nothing in common, except suffering the extreme heat. The weather, taken as a unified system, much as Google, Meta or the market on Wall Street can be considered as a system, is not possible for Mr. Manchin, along with many other political leaders (primarily GOP). “We can’t do anything about the weather” creeps in the age old saw. Analysis finds this to be based on a reliance of the deus ex machina excuse, essentially a belief in the hand of providence at work behind the scenes of a system. Analysis finds it uncanny how this dovetails with many other politically legislated and executive actions conceived and acted upon as articles of fundamental faith. Originally, the GOP adamantly denying global warming was about some mumbled reasoning that the scientific evidence was not completely there. With the extreme heat, the horrendous and prevalent wildfires, the catastrophic flooding in places that haven’t ever experienced such (and hurricane season has just begun!), the GOP position on climate change has evolved, much as the science of global warming has evolved. For the GOP today, God, guns and babies shows up with even something as common as “the weather.”

Dark Matter

July 16, 2022

“Running for the Ohio House on the Republican side are Thad Claggett and Mark Fraizer, the incumbent in old District 71. Unless an Independent files for the November election, this primary will decide who represents House District 68 because no Democrat is running in the primary.” (Kipp: Navigating Licking County’s August primary, Rita Kipp, guest columnist The Advocate, 7-9-22) Analysis finds the choice for the new 68th district Ohio House seat (old 71st) to be between MAGA and MAGA Lite. Nationally, pundits and columnists, like the LC League of Women Voters’ president, would have us believe that voting and the two party system makes all the difference in the world. The prescription for political discontent is often “Vote in Dems.” What’s going on in Licking County (as well as Ohio) must be either an anomaly or prescient (or both). After the summer’s blockbuster January 6 commission hearings, it is a bit uncomfortable to converse about life under a one party state as it is apparently crystal clear that this is a distinct possibility. Yet that is exactly what Analysis finds in Newark and Licking County. After all, the Newark mayor, entire city council, prosecutor, etc. are of a single party allegiance. Ditto for the County government, and state reps, etc. The choices are not between mindful, regulated sustainable development and carte blanche business growth but rather, as with MAGA or MAGA Lite, more and bigger business dominance versus not in my back yard but in your back yard. Whose back yard? No discussion exists regarding thoughtful housing development (premium tracts and affordable living units, as well as shelter for those without a house) but only choices between unbridled expansion at the rate of what the market supports versus NIMBY and IYBY. Quality of life issues are not afforded equal gravity or access of opportunity, such as health care, education, public transit, disability, and retirement, but choices are only in terms of personal affordability (follow the dollar). “Show me the money” is the final arbiter of difference. Analysis finds life in a single party state saps the imagination. Soon entire ideas, concepts and imagery like “affordable housing,” “shelter,” “environment,” “equal access,” etc. will disappear, not to be found anywhere, not even in historical accounts! Analysis finds indicators of this nationally with the don’t say gay laws, the single party rewrite of history and civics education legislation, and the recent women’s rights SCOTUS ruling. Locally, it is the de facto preeminence of “show me the money” criteria in determination of local affairs. Intel (and others) says “show me the money” and government marches to that tune. Any imagination otherwise as to alternatives inhabits the nether world of Rumsfeld’s known unknowns. Like dark matter, it’s out there, exerts an influence but is undetectable with no proof of existence to be found (like voting for a Democrat to be representative of the Ohio House 68th district).