Archive for May, 2018

Thoughts And Prayers…

May 27, 2018

Memorial Day, when we remember. Memory is often conflated with history, the two being not the same. But memory always feels historical while history none too often relies on memory to jar open the doors of the past. Memorialized this week were the victims of the again repeated school student shootings, in Santa Fe Texas. Writing for the Washington Post Tim Craig and Brittney Martin covered some of this with Praying the pain away: Christianity’s presence at Santa Fe High grows after shooting (5-26-18). Same day the NY Times ran an article on When Anti-Trump Evangelicals confront their brethren. Other news outlets have been tracking the recurring ritual of memory, history and “coping” that repetitively follows these killings, almost as if scripted. In 2016 nationally recognized Evangelical minister Rob Schenck (who had previously come to the defense of Roy Moore’s 10 Commandments monument) and Lucy Bath (mother of senseless and racist gun violence victim Jordan Davis) embarked on a soul searching encounter of the relationship of gun ownership and Evangelical faith in a documentary titled The Armor of Light. Americans seem almost obsessed in wrestling with “the gun issue” while eliding questions of memory, feeling and history. “Memory is often conflated with history, the two being not the same.” Part of American History that is never memorialized and hardly ever remembered would be anarchy and fascism. The former is quickly mouthed with the travesty of Sacco and Vanzetti. The latter, if mentioned at all, with the likes of Charles Lindberg, Henry Ford, the KKK and a host of other Americans from the first half of the 20thcentury. Anarchy has loose and vague affiliations with some philosophical/theoretical roots (Wiki gives Proudhon, Analysis suggests Thoreau). But what are the philosophical/theoretical roots of fascism? The knee jerk response is “Oh, Nietzsche and Wagner’s operas” in regard to the Nazi contemporaries of Lindberg and Ford. Little energetic inquiry is made as to the origins of thinking associated with myth, fiction, duplicity, violence and the incessant manufacture of enemies. The violence of Santa Fe materialized a specific manifestation covered by the Craig and Martin report: “Communal displays of faith have defined this district’s response to the shooting that left eight students and two teachers dead inside Santa Fe High on May 18. While some other schools affected by shootings have turned to politics — whether calling for armed teachers or demanding gun-control measures — Santa Fe’s concerns have been less about guns than God.” “Danielle Mason, 35, also has memories from her years as a student at Santa Fe High. There was prayer at lunch, prayer at graduation. Around Easter, churches set up tables inside the school and gave out Bibles near the building entrance, she said. Though she was raised Southern Baptist, Mason and her parents were uncomfortable with the ubiquitous presence of Christianity in the school. When Mason chose not to take one of the Bibles that a group was handing out at the school, students started treating her like an outcast and called her a Satanist, she said. “The town, from what I know from when I lived there, would rather have Bible study and prayer, then arts and music,” Mason told The Post in a Twitter direct message. Mason left Santa Fe in 2003 but still has relatives there. She said she’s been told the town’s views on religion haven’t changed: “A prayer and god will stop gun violence,” she said.” “On Sunday night, Arcadia First Baptist Church hosted the town’s annual baccalaureate service for Santa Fe High’s graduating seniors. About 100 graduates attended, as did the schools superintendent, who was recognized from the dais. Jack Roady, Galveston County’s district attorney, spoke to the students from the pulpit. His office is prosecuting Pagourtzis. “You are entering into a war zone, and it’s a spiritual war zone,” Roady, a Republican, told students. “And you are entering into an area where you will have to deal with — and you are already dealing with — the full effects of sin in our world. “For those of you who know him, truly know him — Christ — this time is for you,” Roady continued. “Because, believers, we shouldn’t be surprised about what we’re seeing.”” In a recent book (The Road to Unfreedom: Russia Europe America, 2018) Yale historian Timothy Snyder considers the politics and motivation of Vladimir Putin and Russia, and its spread westward. He spends considerable attention on Putin’s revered (and frequently iterated) Russian philosopher of fascism, Ivan Ilyin (Putin even going so far as likening himself to Ilyin’s aspired strong man). From page 25: “The men who redeemed God’s flawed world had to ignore what God said about love. Jesus instructed his disciples that, after loving God, the most important law was to love one’s neighbor… For Ilyin there were no neighbors. Individuality is corrupt and transient, and the only meaningful connection is the lost divine totality. So long as the world is fractured, loving God means a constant struggle “against the enemies of divine order on earth.” To do anything but to join this was to enact evil: “He who opposes the chivalrous struggle against the devil is himself the devil.” Faith meant war: “May your prayer be a sword and your sword be a prayer!”” Analysis finds a contemporary American update would read “May your prayer be a gun and your gun be a prayer!” Thoughts and prayers…

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No Government Is Politics By Other Means

May 22, 2018

Well, this is actually quite old, only now it is so much more overt than covert. How so? News blackout in Newark, The Advocate has definitely NOT been covering the Payday lender news in its editions. As pointed out in this blog’s Buried Lead posting (4-18-18), the resignation of House Speaker Cliff Rosenbeger had beaucoup to do with the definitely weird and unaccountable primary reelection campaign ads by Larry Householder (whose win was, to use the liberal term for a conservative cause celebre, “inevitable”, aside from also being within The Advocate’s coverage area. As mentioned in previous posts, The Advocate’s customer base is its paying advertisers, not readers). Those ads positioned Householder (and the various other state rep candidates he backed so they would back him) for election as Speaker of the House in 2019. Though a bit odd, he is not one of the candidates to replace Rosenberger who resigned, to run out the rest of the Speaker’s term in 2018. Most voters will find this strange as there were two separate lists of primary candidates for the 12thUS Congressional district – one to fill out Pat Tiberi’s recent term, and one to run for the next term. These two lists included the same names. Ditto for Ohio House Speaker? Emphatic nyet! Yet Householder’s “inevitable” campaigning was all about the speaker’s job. Confused? Following all this for the Dayton Daily news, Laura Bischoff headlined Payday lender made 3 international trips with ex-Ohio House speaker (4-25-18). In it she reports on various overseas trips to China, Great Britain and France by Rosenberger accompanied by Advance America exec Carol Stewart. “Advance America, which has 2,000 stores across the nation, employs lobbyists to influence legislation, including House Bill 123, a payday lending reform measure that had been stalled in the Ohio House for months.” Since then, other lobbyist for various umbrella groups of the Payday Lending industry have been named as being involved in financing other such trips (as well as accompanying Mr. Rosenberger). For Cleveland.com Jackie Borchardt headlined Payday loan ballot measure advances while Ohio lawmakers debate bill (5-21-18). After originally refusing to allow a citizen initiative petition, Ohio Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine eventually certified the Short Term Loan Consumer Protection Amendment. “The effort now goes to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will decide whether the proposal is one or multiple ballot issues. After it clears the Ballot Board, supporters can begin collecting the 305,591 signatures of Ohio registered voters to put the measure on a statewide ballot. The deadline for the November ballot is July 4.” The citizen Amendment initiative is in response to the constipated effort of the Ohio House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee to move HB 123. As mentioned in this blog’s posting “Buried Lead”, the committee moved the bill along immediately following Speaker Rosenberger’s resignation. Committee member and House Speaker candidate Ryan Smith supports and promotes the bill as is. Smith is running for filling out the unexpired speaker’s term as well as opposing Householder for the next session. What does this have to do with The Advocate and all the trips to China, etc.? The House Speaker’s position is one of the most powerful in the legislature, determining not only what legislation moves along (and what never sees the light of day) but also what is funded, etc. For the unfulfilled speakership term the GOP caucus is currently deadlocked which means no special sessions of the house can be assembled. Though a vote on HB 123 is on tap for the regular scheduled session later this summer, the bill still needs to pass the Senate in the fall (an election year) before seeking Governor Kasich’s lame duck approval. With a new session (and speaker) in 2019, HB 123 would need to start all over again from scratch. Rosenberger’s trysts with the Payday lenders association, along with Mike DeWine’s footdragging and now the failure of the GOP to fill out Rosenberger’s unexpired term have effectively killed the possibility of any meaningful short term loan regulation. None of which is newsworthy for The Advocate. It is often said that “war is politics by other means.” In the US today it is more like “No government is politics by other means.”

Subtle Creep

May 2, 2018

In these recent years one often encounters articles and essays suggesting that democracy is on the decline. Could democracy have reached its end? With the various “revolutions” (velvet, orange, etc.) as well as the various “springs” (the Arab spring, etc.), great promise was forecast on behalf of democracy around the world. That all changed with the recent elections, in America and elsewhere. Head scratchers have attributed this to divisive power structures, social media, global technologies, etc. ‘Nuff said. Democracy is suspected of being under siege or threat locally as well as globally. Ever since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in the late 80’s, begrudging accolades have been festooned on the triumph of, not democracy, but capitalism. It has literally become the only game in town. Formally communist or socialist regimes have divested themselves of strict adherence to ideology and become, well, capitalist. Few holdouts remain in the world. “Communist” China is actually a state capitalism. Karl Marx (remember him?) couched much of his prognostication within the logic of dialectic. The online dictionary gives one definition as “inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions. • the existence or action of opposing social forces, concepts, etc.” It informs this with several examples, one of which is “Hegel applied the term to the process of thought by which apparent contradictions (which he termed thesis and antithesis) are seen to be part of a higher truth (synthesis).” Marx was much taken with Hegel and formulated most of his thought along Hegel’s dialectic. Put crassly, Marx’s dialectic follows the simplistic interpretation that as one aspect increases or grows, another diminishes and dies. This happens at one and the same time. Few who bemoan the demise of democracy, as well as those celebrating the success of capitalism, link the two. After all, western European democracy (which includes the U S) was established by avowed capitalists to function as democracy. So one would think the two would thrive together and be mutually compatible. Wrong. As capitalism succeeds world wide, democracy disappears. The antithesis of capitalism is not communism, but democracy. Case in point would be the recent courthouse lighting for the first Pride event in downtown Newark, Ohio. The back story is that 3 GOP commissioners, Duane Flowers, Rick Black, and forever commissioner Tim Bubb, formulated a strict ideological courthouse lighting policy after receiving a written petition to light the courthouse in rainbow colors for the first Pride event. The policy stipulates 19 colorations with no exception except if the commissioners decide to make exception (outside input excepted). Tim Bubb’s newly renovated courthouse, which includes fully computerized lighting, is now an issue of contention within the county seat. Analysis calls the reader’s attention to the 4-29-18 Newark Advocate Our View, submitted by the “editorial board” (they all sat together in one room and collaborated on the essay? Who wrote it? The reader is to believe that this is “the view” of the corporate entity): “But more importantly, the policy adopted is wrong for the community. The county should have an inclusive policy that allows outside civic organizations and events to petition for the courthouse to be lit in their colors. Such petitions should require those groups to cover the entire cost of programming and operating the lights, whether that’s $100, $1,000 or more.” This resembles a “reasonable” resolution until one does the math – the computerized lighting is already installed and paid for, there are 365 days in the year (not 19), and any teenager who has a smart phone where their hand ought to be could program the lights in less than half an hour. The Advocate’s resolution of this contentious issue embraces the SCOTUS Citizens United ruling whereby corporations are deemed “persons” and money is speech. What else would one expect from Our View’s corporate speak? No, it is a dialectical matter. As the purchase of elected officials and policies becomes more “natural” (capitalism) so the self-governance of the actual living inhabitants by the actual living inhabitants diminishes and dies (democracy).