Like A Perfect Storm

In the collage of images concerning America’s latest internment enterprise are some detainees dressed in the local native garb of place of origin, usually children. Most are dressed in everyday uniform “camouflage”, the non descript generic fashion offerings of Walmart or Target. Analysis is dedicated to the local, and the interface of the local with what is national or global in scope. Analysis has written (more than once) about public transportation, and the bias for autos and highways dating back to the Eisenhower Federal Highway Act of 1956. Analysis has written about Citizens United (more than once) and the influence of corporate wealth and lobbyist largesse in destroying the urban bus and trolley lines so Americans could “See the USA in their Chevrolet.” Analysis has written about the organizing savvy and expertise (more than once) of those aspiring for a single vision of America as it was (locally as well as nationally) fending off continuous threats in a politics of eternity; where there is no aspired future, no achieved goal, no progress or better but only the continuous replay of threats and adversaries to a vision of angst saturated security. Like a perfect storm, Hiroko Tabuchi headlined How the Koch brothers are killing public transit projects around the country (NY Times 6-19-18). “In cities and counties across the country — including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and here in Tennessee — the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government. At the heart of their effort is a network of activists who use a sophisticated data service built by the Kochs, called i360, that helps them identify and rally voters who are inclined to their worldview. It is a particularly powerful version of the technologies used by major political parties. In places like Nashville, Koch-financed activists are finding tremendous success.” “One of the mainstay companies of Koch Industries, the Kochs’ conglomerate, is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts. Even as Americans for Prosperity opposes public investment in transit, it supports spending tax money on highways and roads.” “Nashville’s idea to invest in transit got off to a strong start. Introduced in October by Megan Barry, who was mayor at the time, it called for 26 miles of light rail, a bus network, and a 1.8-mile tunnel for buses and trains that would bypass the city center’s narrow streets. The $5.4 billion proposal, the costliest transit project in Nashville’s history, was to be funded by raising the sales tax city residents pay by one percentage point, to 10.25 percent, and raising other business taxes. A coalition of Nashville businesses urged voters to endorse the spending as vital to a region projected to grow to almost 3 million people by 2040, an increase of 1 million.” “Central to the work of Americans for Prosperity is i360, the Kochs’ data operation, which profiles Americans based on their voter registration information, consumer data and social media activities. The canvassers divided the neighborhoods into “walkbooks,” or clusters of several dozen homes, and broke into teams of two.” “Their data zeroed in on people thought to be anti-tax or anti-transit and likely to vote.” Etc. Etc. Etc. And, lest we forget, the (dark) money behind it all: “In Nashville, Americans for Prosperity played a major role: organizing door-to-door canvassing teams using iPads running the i360 software. Those in-kind contributions can be difficult to measure. According to A.F.P.’s campaign finance disclosure, the group made only one contribution, of $4,744, to the campaign for “canvassing expenses.” Instead, a local group, NoTax4Tracks, led the Nashville fund-raising. Nearly three-quarters of the $1.1 million it raised came from a single nonprofit, Nashville Smart Inc., which is not required to disclose donors. The rest of the contributions to NoTax4Tracks came from wealthy local donors, including a local auto dealer. Both NoTax4Tracks and Nashville Smart declined to fully disclose their funding.” Sound familiar? (hint: the VW union organizing effort subverted in like manner, in same state) A new trail of tears? Thursday evening, June 21, 2018 the Freedom School will air their last film of the series – You Got To Move: Stories of Change in the South (7:00 PM GMP Hall 350 Hudson Ave Newark). “In this recently re-released film from 1985, film maker Lucy Massie Phenix interviews people who describe how they learned to set aside their fears and work for change in their own communities on issues as varied as voting rights, segregation, union organizing, strip mining and toxic waste.” (from the promo) Given the ubiquitous use of “latest technology,” like i360, by both political parties as well as special interest groups like the NRA and Americans For Prosperity (all brought to you by the makers of Citizens United), what the local Newark Freedom School offers bears a striking resemblance to the local native garb worn by some of the Central American refugee children pictured on the screens of Americans’ visual device of choice – small pinpoints of genuine intimate color and style awash in a sea of generic conformity made possible by the latest technology.

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