Archive for August, 2017

An Inconvenient Truth

August 19, 2017

August 9, 2017 Time’s Katy Reilly headlined Senator Suggests McCain Voted Against Obamacare Repeal Because of His Brain Tumor. “Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, suggested Tuesday that John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis might have affected his decision to vote against GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Again, I’m not going to speak for John McCain. You know, he has a brain tumor right now, that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning — some of that might have factored in,” Johnson said in an interview Tuesday on AM560 Chicago’s Morning Answer, which was published by CNN on Wednesday.” Evidence of McCain’s blood clot procedure that revealed a glioblastoma tumor were visible on his forehead above his left eye. Johnson’s speculation apparently stemmed from that physical evidence. But what if there was no scar, no visible interface with the presence of illness or medical procedure? Cleveland.com’s Peter Krouse headlines Cuyahoga County’s top judge, John J. Russo, and Prosecutor Michael O’Malley moving ahead on justice reform (8-18-17). “Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Administrative Judge John J. Russo asked a question of his audience on Friday at the City Club of Cleveland. What’s the largest hospital in Ohio? “The institution,” he said, before waiting for an answer. And by that he meant he meant jails and prisons. While a federal consent decree requires Cleveland police officers to become better trained at dealing with individuals with mental health issues, the county also is better served by having drop-off points where police can take those individuals in lieu of jail. Russo said Common Pleas Judge Hollie Gallagher and County Law Director Robert Triozzi are among those working to bring support services to those drop-off points and that a model in use in Broward County, Fla., will be studied.” Analysis found this from the Broward County’s Policy 508 (updated May 17): “The purpose of this policy is to direct Department sworn personnel through a continuum when handling situations involving individuals in need of mental health services, especially in cases where an arrest may not be the best course of action. When an officer responds to a mentally ill person call or during the course of any investigation determines that they are dealing with a mentally ill person, they may initiate any of the following procedures. The goals of the Mental Health Policy are to provide immediate response to and management of situations where the mentally ill are in a state of crisis; prevent, reduce and/or eliminate injury to both the consumer and the responding officer; find appropriate care for consumers; reduce consumer recidivism and to insure the individual receives the proper mental health services and the proper diversionary steps are taken for the safety and welfare of the mentally ill person or others.” This is something that Newark, along with Licking County and its prosecutor, would be well advised to consider. After all, most illness does not announce itself with a mark on the forehead. Is it the business of the police to consider the nature of a disturbance? Do they need to be trained in that? Are we asking them to be more sensitive, more insightful than ordinary citizens? Analysis finds these questions very relevant. Answering them might reveal an inconvenient truth (to quote past VP Gore). Reporting the same day for the same cleveland.com, Eric Heisig headlines Akron federal Judge John Adams investigation explores the line between meanness and possible mental illness. From that report: “These [various previous stated] events, along with other antisocial behavior are chronicled in a pair of disciplinary decisions publicly released this week that give insight into why a special investigative committee ordered Adams to undergo a mental health evaluation by an expert the committee hired. A panel from the federal judicial conference sanctioned Adams and again ordered him to undergo the evaluation, which he has so far refused to do.” “An investigation into Adams — plucked from the Summit County bench and appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003 — began in February 2013. Four federal judges in the Northern District of Ohio made a formal complaint to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The appeals court formed the special committee – itself a rare step, as numbers from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts show that four or fewer special committees have been formed annually in recent years to investigate the thousands of judges in the federal system nationwide. The special committee worked in secret — though many lawyers and court watchers knew about the probe – and a hearing was held in 2015. All the while, Adams continued to hear criminal and civil cases, and the appeals court continued to review Adams’ cases. Throughout this time, the appeals court overturned several of his rulings, removing him from a decade-old lawsuit involving Akron fighters and a criminal case in which a defendant said he did heroin with members of Adams’ family. The special committee’s findings led to the 6th Circuit Judicial Council’s decision to discipline Adams in February 2016. They reprimanded him and decided that he could not hear any court cases for two years.” “The special committee believed that Adams might suffer from an impairment that prevents him from maintaining professional relationships with his colleagues, prevents him from taking on the responsibilities as a member of the court and causes him to make “unfounded and destructive attacks against his colleagues,” the Judicial Council’s decision says. After Adams refused to undergo the exam, the special committee’s psychiatrist looked at provided information provided and concluded there is “a reasonable basis for concern as to Judge Adams’ mental or emotional state,” the decision says. “The data available so far do not suggest a mental state of psychotic proportions, but do suggest significant personality traits that may have contributed to the current concerns,” it continues. The 6th Circuit Judicial Council wrote that Adams should retire if he continued to refuse to undergo the ordered mental health exam. Adams appealed, and the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States took up the case. That panel released its decision Monday and mostly upheld the Judicial Council’s findings and discipline, absent taking away Adams’ docket.” Analysis reveals that ordinary citizens, voters, need to be cognizant of this possibility not only with those suspected of violating the law but also with our elected and appointed officials. Well trained law enforcement officers will provide immediate medical care for those suffering apparent (or suspected) physical impairment or trauma. Now we are requesting such acuity and appropriate response for a not easily diagnosed mental dysfunction. And what of those we’ve elected? Do we ever allow for any health condition other than a readily apparent and diagnose-able physical ailment?

 

Charlottesville Ain’t The Sharks And The Jets

August 16, 2017

Leonard Bernstein wrote the music to West Side Story in the 1950’s. The story was based on the template of Romeo and Juliet, only instead of Shakespeare’s rivalry of the Montague’s and Capulet’s, Bernstein considered that of the Jets and the Sharks. Ethnographers are likely to point out that this template is somewhat universal with actual examples from America’s own history, like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. Indeed, West Side Story could also be staged as a sports rivalry (the Jets and the Dolphins), or an intrigue between two college basketball or NASCAR dynasties. However, Analysis finds it a bit disconcerting when the apprentice president of the United States appropriates this same template to address the ongoing tragedy which happened in Charlottesville Virginia this past week. Nazi’s and their opponents are not like the Montagues and Capulets. There is a difference, both in the engagement as well as the correct use of the cultural template. Suffice to say it is not a sporting event, nor a literary play. Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel and the future apprentice president’s mentor, Roy Cohn, may have mastered the insinuation of equivocation for purposes of disparagement during the McCarthy “Communist investigations” but the real politic of this methodology ultimately failed America. This tactic relies on eliminating difference in favor of the cultural template utilized in story telling. Successful, it absolves one of the “rivals” of guilt, while assigning guilt to the other (a perverse interpretation of “equal justice for all”). The apprentice president has utilized this argument form many times as a “real estate” tycoon as well as in his primary/general election run. He continues with it now during his Charlottesville “do overs”. Analysis shows he will likely call for another “do over” explanation (and probably many more). In the case of Charlottesville, the template as explanation is totally inadequate. It is very, very convenient for quick, deadline oriented media. Nazi and KKK ideology has history, actions and deeds which cleave to a rigid perspective and interpretation. The opposition is diverse, even disparate. Much as the folks who run in the various races-for-the-cure fund raisers, the opponents of Nazi’s are unified by a determination to stop the spread of a known carcinogen. The inevitability of confrontation and clashes leads folks like the apprentice president to simplify and equivocate the “rivalry” in terms of the cultural literary template. Cohn’s ghost calls out “they’re both the same, equally bad.” However, there is a deafening silence when it comes to defining or narrating the “other side’s” history and continuum, word and deed, position and ideology. To do so would be to speak of anarchists, something that folks like McCarthy made sure would not see the light of day, let alone media presence. Professor David Graeber was fired by Yale University for having done anthropological field work with various anarchist groups and actions in the late 90’s, early 2000’s. You remember the various world bank, international monetary fund forums disrupted by anarchists in cities like Seattle, Washington, Quebec and numerous overseas occurrences? Gonzo journalism it wasn’t but his involvement and study resulted in an excellent academic anthropological book entitled Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. Recommended reading if one would like to understand the antifa which operate on the principle of the black block (which also requires a bit of understanding as it is not just folks with tiki torches chanting anti-semitic babble). Folks like Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover would prefer Americans associate anarchism with bomb throwing and Sacco and Vanzetti. Events like Standing Rock present more current incarnations of “anarchy”. As Graeber pointed out, anarchists are primarily interested in local governance issues. They eschew oppression of any kind and prefer local governance to be resolved within a framework of consensus – so that each represents themselves and all feel they have been heard, all feel the resolution is not at their expense (no 50 senators and the vice president to produce a majority, in order that majority rules). The rest flows from that (their disregard for national government, for multi national capitalism, etc.). Charlottesville ain’t the Sharks and the Jets.

Discerning Ohio Issue 2

August 13, 2017

The conventional wisdom coming from those covering Ohio and local news regarding Issue 2 is that “Folks just don’t know enough.” What is Issue 2, you say? See, you just don’t know enough. Analysis shows the pundits to be right. Knowledge wanting, the advertising blitz is on to buy your vote. The pro Issue 2 folks offer a small partial solution to the ever rising cost of healthcare. They are backed by the nurses’ union. Even Bernie Sanders’ image and voice from past speeches are featured in their ads. But wait! The anti Issue 2 folks have long time Democratic consultant and Innovation Ohio fixture Dale Butland doing the talk shows as a paid spokesman (the group’s communications director). Just another gig for brother Dale, you say? Their ads claim the backing of various Veterans groups as well as members of the medical industrial complex. Currently they are outspending the pro folks by 3:1. “Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue spent $9.7 million of the $15.8 million it has raised from May 30 to June 21, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday with the Ohio secretary of state. Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices raised $3.7 million from January through June 30 and has spent nearly all of it, according to its report.” (Issue 2 opponents spent $9.7 million against Ohio drug price measure, Laura Hancock for Cleveland.com, 7-31-17). Know more now than you did before? Of course not. In archive posts Analysis has indicated that part of the debacle of the climate change “debate” centers on “cause and effect” science versus “correlation” science. Cause and effect seeks absolute irrefutable proof, correlation employs artificial intelligence utilizing extensive data to reveal trends and likelihoods of great certainty. Case in point would be the recent Ohio State Fair ride tragedy. Non Destructive Tests (NDT) would have indicated a high probability of metal weakness and probable failure. But this is a correlation, not cause and effect. Cutting the metal parts (destruction) would definitively reveal their actual condition (absolute, irrefutable proof). When it comes to the future, cause and effect science is full proof, and would be nice. But it might be more practical and useful to employ correlation in many instances. Case in point would be the addition of a recent Washington Post article to that of Laura Hancock’s. “Study: Doctors received more than $46 million from drug companies marketing opioids” by Katie Zezima, 8-9-17 offers the following: “One in 12 doctors has received money from drug companies marketing prescription opioid medications, according to a study released Wednesday afternoon. Researchers at Boston Medical Center found that from 2013 to 2015, 68,177 doctors received more than $46 million in payments from drug companies pushing powerful painkillers. Researchers believe it is the first study to look at the practice of pharmaceutical companies marketing opioids to physicians.” “Doctors were paid the most for the promotion of fentanyl, which is typically used in hospitals to treat post-surgical pain, cancer patients and for end-of-life care. Most of the fentanyl driving the increase in deaths is illicitly manufactured overseas and cut into heroin. According to the study, companies were not aggressively marketing tamper-proof versions of pills, which were created in response to the opioid crisis.” “According to [author Scott] Hadland’s study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, about two-thirds of the payments came from speaking fees. About 700 doctors raked in nearly 83 percent of the total money spent marketing to physicians. Pharmaceutical companies spent freely around the country, but some of the states hit hardest by the opioid crisis, including Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey, recorded the most payments to doctors.” Add to that the multiple lawsuits, settled or pending, in West Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi, Oklahoma, etc. involving pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, and Issue 2 begins to look a little different. Cause and effect certainty?  Without knowing anything for certain, are you beginning to discern something about Ohio Issue 2?

The League

August 6, 2017

One of the bright spots in the news of Licking County this past week pretty much flew under the radar, for all intents, unheralded. The online Newark Advocate (8-3-17) listed “Letter” under the news labeled “Granville.” Clicking the item revealed a page headlined “Letter: League of Women voters forming”. Analysis surmises it must have been a letter to the editor of The Granville Sentinel, a Gannett subsidiary. Notable is: “A chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) is forming in Licking County. The history of the LWV goes back almost 100 years nation wide. It once had a strong and active presence here until the local chapter disbanded in the 1990s.” and “The LWV is always firmly non-partisan with regard to candidates, but on some policy issues it takes a stand after reaching consensus based on research and discussion.” Policy issues would primarily be issues around voting rights, voting access and organization which are an integral part of the league’s 100 year history. Unmentioned by the letter is the absence of participation by young Americans in the organization (both women and men), leading to a decline in League membership as well as League sponsored events nationwide. You can only rely on the elderly (though they don’t think of themselves as such) for so long before fatigue or natural attrition sets in. Other local organizations, such as the NAACP, The Poverty Think Tank, etc. face a similar challenge. This has not been a factor with commercially sanctioned civic organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, who rely on the profit incentive to solicit and retain members. Of course, commercial organization implicates paid administration whereas those running the League at the start-up, local level are volunteers. A vibrant local chapter of the League is able to organize, publicize and activate educational community issue forums as well as candidate debates. A “Candidate debate” differs markedly from the “meet the candidate” events sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, primarily in terms of organization and sanctioning. No League member “benefits” from “sponsoring” the event (usually held at a public space rather than a hotel, private facility). Candidates agreeing to participate receive their party’s representative on the question screening panel. Questions are submitted before hand, screened by the League organization with input from the party reps – GOP, Dem, Green, independent, etc. The questions are screened for purposes of filtering out blatantly promotional, biased, or gotcha questions, sometimes edited to maintain intent but neutralize presentation. Candidates receive advance copy of the debate format, but not the questions themselves. This stresses the importance for their being knowledgeable of the substance as well as their own positions in responding to the questions. It also facilitates spontaneity. The monitor runs the debate but has no input on the questions themselves (as opposed to the Chamber’s previous format of having the Advocate editor present questions and stimulate responses. Many Advocate advertisers, as well as the Advocate itself, belong to the Chamber). There is a separate time keeper allotting each candidate equal time in toto (use up too much time in a single grandstanding response means you lose it in your closing statement). In this manner, unlike “meet the candidate” debutante events, League candidate debates are rather rigorous, something Licking County might find quite refreshing. The letter ends with “If you would like to be included in the communications about forming a LWV chapter in Licking County, please call Rita Kipp at 740-525-2287.”