Archive for May, 2016

Large Margaritas

May 26, 2016

A quarter of a century ago there was a Mexican themed restaurant in Columbus located on High Street, just north of Hudson. It was trendy then to take in the latest food and drink start ups, much as seeing the latest movie release is today. The major draw was the huge (pre- Bernie, Trump and Hillary) margaritas, a must have if dining there. The place was very dark and dimly lit. The nothing-to- write- home- to-mother- about food was brought to the table by little street urchins with even a bit of mariachi music wafting in the air. Down home Mexico! Did Analysis mention that the margaritas were huge? Soon the place was closed up by the health department, and the proprietor (who personally served each enormous margarita with a welcoming grin) found himself in jail for violating child labor laws, working after hours, etc, (and maybe more). Protestations of family values aside, the kids weren’t exactly all his. This past week’s news related reporting dominating The Newark Advocate took Analysis back in the way back machine. Various testimonials were penned by Luconda Dager, Nathan A. Strum and Bryn Bird celebrating the economic vibrancy and success of Licking County business development, and how much good it is bringing to our area, our neighborhoods, our own back yard. Indeed, the Bird article touts the imminent (and inevitable?) wonderfulness of the new Farmers Market to open next to the historic county jail (fair trade/unfair trade, you get to experience a twofer with one stop). Bird is not alone. Various other news reporting, on other days, elaborate the inevitable (and imminent?) success of the nascent enterprise to be. This is not unusual reporting for the Advocate (as well as most large media outlets). In essence, the “news” reporting is one huge infomercial. Analysis witnessed this recently with the FamFest (second year in a row). Afterwards, not a peep of critique was reported as to the actual event itself. Considering the genealogy and history of funding and organization, the grand opening of the new Farmers Market will probably receive at least a photo spread. Trendy events usually warrant imagery, sans a wordy critique. An equally celebratory article, likewise of a business oriented nature, was “Grant may be sought to clean up gas station site” by Kent Mallet. The mayor (a land bank board member) and his administration are all a gush that they may obtain funding to rid the city of the derelict gas station at Mt. Vernon and Deo Drive (a veritable museum of how life was a quarter of a century ago before Obama stimulus money made the Deo Drive extension a “shovel ready “ priority). “Deputy Licking County Auditor Roy Van Atta, executive director of the land bank, said the site could be cleaned even without the grant, but it would cost about $80,000 to dig out the tanks. It could then be marketed for sale, possibly to an adjacent property owner, before the end of the year.” Of course, the property is virtually even more unmarketable than the South Second Street fraternal hall recently “sold” by the Licking County Land Re-utilization Corporation (for $100). The old gas station, as well as the defunct car wash across the way, had their useful life terminated when the extension relegated them to only one driveway for entrance/egress. But, as far as business is concerned, there is much to be celebrated by the Newark administration. At least for “Newark Service Director David Rhodes, who owns the adjoining property for his storage units.” Analysis projects more celebration with storage unit development in the future. Another story, also by Mallet, “County children services levy not covering expenses” was quite troubling, not celebratory in the least. Put bluntly, the County cannot afford to care for the abused, neglected and unfortunate minors entrusted to its care by statute. Analogous to the anecdote at the head of this posting, all is large margaritas for the business community. When the lights come on, the family value oriented businesses eschew these children as not exactly theirs. Is it so hard to imagine Cheri Hottinger and the Chamber celebrating, in partnership with the county, that funding is guaranteed for every client of Licking County Jobs and Family Services?

Why Bernie Continues

May 23, 2016

When a SCOTUS majority decided Citizens United, media world was all a tizzy with speculation as to what the future of politics would be. The Move To Amend folks would like us to believe it will be a safer world if it were otherwise, not unlike the second amendment faithful whose credo is that if everyone carries a gun, society would be more civil and respectful. Then again, there would be no SCOTUS to turn to for a ruling questioning such an amendment as the court is, at present, evenly divided. To complicate matters even more, with the court’s Evenwel vs. Abbott ruling, it reaffirmed the basis of representation (within this representative form of government) to be persons – not specifically limited to those eligible to vote (see this blog A Bridge Too Far 12-13-15). A different definition of personhood may have resulted in a likewise different decision, founding representation on eligible voters and not a census count of persons – creating the dilemma of “free” persons (those who can and do vote) and others (veritable non-entities). This is a crucial distinction to bear in mind with regard to our electoral process (which the Move To Amend folks say is affected by the SCOTUS definition of person). As it stands currently, anyone can have a say. Ruled otherwise, only those who show up to vote have a say. But isn’t that what is actually present today? Jeb Bush had substantial financial backing (that speaks), and dropped out, as eventually did Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, etc. Finally, Ohio’s Governor John Kasich quit the race to represent the people as president because he wasn’t winning (anything at all – popular votes, delegates, or contested convention possibility). Enormous sums of money were spent by corporate “persons” in an attempt to ground the Trump jet. One of the outcomes of the SCOTUS C U decision (unanticipated by media world) is that elections (to date) are not about “buying” but “winning”. Like a sport or game, Americans associate politics, and elections in particular, with who wins (and gets to govern) and who loses (and is forgotten). Hillary plays the game so well that even before the first primary vote was cast, or caucus held, she was projected by media world as the inevitable winner. Indeed, according to the game as played by the Democratic Party, she was ahead in delegates before any voting started, always maintaining winner status with media world no matter the outcome of any primary election. Yet Bernie continues. Media world (which includes not only news and sports reporters but gamers, entertainers, gamblers, etc.) speculates his continuance is in order to be assured inclusion and input at the convention (“a place at the table”), or to affect the party platform, maybe even to obtain a position within a fantasized future administration, etc. Analysis finds these to be way off the mark. Analysis reveals the two SCOTUS rulings to be more informative and relevant in explaining why Bernie continues. Repeatedly this blog has referenced the 47% statistic that Romney cited only 4 short years ago. 47% of Americans have no net worth (either owe more than is theirs or are one step away from having their financial equilibrium upset and falling into debt). According to Romney, these are persons who can be bought (at that time a GOP twist of C U interpretation – to say the Obama administration was “buying” their vote). Likewise these are not persons who themselves can “buy” representation (an indebted 18 – 30 year old cannot afford to “buy” an election choice the way Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson can). Here’s the sticky part, the rub that explains Sanders’ continuous effort. Is this 47%, who cannot “buy” their speech, “free” to govern itself (eligible to vote) or are they other (simply counted for the sake of representation but no more voting individuals than corporations are)? Sanders’ continuous campaign, from before its inception, has been about this very segment governing itself through voting, the electoral process. Through his continued personal engagement as contested activity, this is an actuality, not a possibility, not an “if” proposition (“if you vote for me…”) – not a game or sport (all about winning). Donnie and Hillary are all about “winning” (the bread and butter of media world). “Winning” and self-governance are not one and the same. This difference explains why Bernie continues.

The Good Is To Be Done Because It Is Good, Not Because It Goes Somewhere

May 1, 2016

The Washington Post headlined the passing of Daniel Berrigan (Daniel J. Berrigan, pacifist priest who led antiwar protests, dies at 94, Colman McCarthy, 4-30-16). Politics from the past involving figures not noted today. The cliché is that history is written by the winners, those who are successful. After the various comings and goings of success in the last twenty years, from the first Clinton presidency Dot Com economic hysteria through the Bush years financial meltdown to “What do we do with the Basket Building?” and today’s “it’s not the economy, stupid!” presidential politics, Analysis can’t help but wonder how, or what kind of history can or will be written. Within that context it was refreshing to read the obituary. An obituary refreshing? Several days prior, PBS Newshour ran a segment entitled “Artist Theaster Gates turns Chicago’s empty spaces into incubators for culture” (4-26-16). The end of the interview brought the following exchange:

“JEFFREY BROWN: His newest project, undertaken in his position as director of arts and publics life at the nearby University of Chicago, extends the idea to an entire city block, a burgeoning art block in the Washington Park neighborhood. It includes an arts incubator for cultural groups and classes in woodworking and more for young people.

THEASTER GATES: As you finish high school and go to college, come back for the summer, go back to college, come back after you graduate, that it’s really that relationship that will make these buildings work over time.

JEFFREY BROWN: There’s also a cafe and a bookstore where musicians regularly perform. On the drawing table, a large performance space for plays and concerts. And what’s the idea behind it, an anchor or an engine to grow, or how do you see it?

THEASTER GATES: So, maybe words like engines and anchors are good words. But I think first it needed to just be a place where culture could happen, that before we had to think about it as an economic generator or a cultural anchor, it’s just like, can I have a place to rehearse my play?

JEFFREY BROWN: Simple? Yes.

THEASTER GATES: Yes, absolutely. Can we have a place to make our music? Can our kids learn art here?” Gates final words in the interview:

“THEASTER GATES: What I love about art is that the power of the symbolic work has so much potential to do more than the thing on the ground. And so I think about ripples. I think about affect. I think about symbolism. But I don’t think that there are limits on what’s possible. Not only do poor people have a right to beautiful things, but people have the right not to be poor anymore. And I think that that feels like it’s worth making art about and fighting for.” (from the transcript)

Analysis finds this outlook, this reasoning to resonate with what Daniel Berrigan has to say at the conclusion of McCarthy’s obit: “In a 2008 interview in the Nation magazine, Father Berrigan echoed a line of Mother Teresa’s that spiritual people should be more concerned about being faithful than being successful.

“The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere,” he said. “I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where. . . . I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanely and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.””