Archive for August, 2019

Distinction And Existence

August 21, 2019

““I am doing this whether it’s good or bad for your statement about, ‘Oh, will we fall into a recession for two months?’ The fact is, somebody had to take China on,” Trump said. “Whether it’s good for our country or bad for our country, short term, it had to be done,” he said, repeating that “whether it’s good or bad, short term, is irrelevant.”” (Trump admits his trade war could lead to recession but says ‘I have to do it’ Aaron Blake for The Washington Post, 8-20-19). The majority of the Washington Post article centered on the president’s replies to various questions concerning trade, recession, and economic analysis thereof. No text was expended on the words/phrasing used by the president in conjunction with the policies and practices he dictates to be inevitable. The repetition of “whether it’s good or bad”, “Whether it’s good for our country or bad for our country.” “Whether it is good or bad, … is irrelevant.” is no coincidence. It underlies the assumed authoritarian governance by this administration with its complete disregard for what is “good or bad”, right or wrong, legal or illegal, real or made up. It likewise discloses the current chronic complacency with our malignant normalcy and all its workings – as long as it doesn’t interfere with getting the story, no need to call attention to it.  Analysis is reminded of Hannah Arendt’s words in “The Origins of Totalitarianism”: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

What We Could Learn From Ongoing Events In Hong Kong

August 17, 2019

8-15-19 Kent Mallet writing for the Newark Advocate headlined: Licking County Board of Elections rejects petitions from 10 potential candidates. Among the many irrevocable rejections (“The deadline for write-ins to file for the November election is Aug. 26, but those who had rejected candidate petitions cannot file as a write-in candidate.”) was “Valerie Mockus, the lone candidate for Hebron mayor, left six of seven circulator statements completely blank, which board members described as a “fatal flaw” on her petition, which was rejected.” We Americans pride ourselves on our democracy and love the leadership it inspires. Mallett’s short article speaks of the almost methodical assumption that “it will all play out” that underpins the workings of democracy in the US of A. In the case of Mockus, the city of Hebron will decide upon a civic leader by means other than democracy. Current federal leadership in Washington has been regularly described as a government of complacency by various pundits. Mallett’s reporting shows the complacency is much more widespread and systemic than just at the highest levels of governance. Locally, leadership just assumes the democratic process will play itself out as intended. And it is intended to be competitive, right? Analysis finds the Democrat party’s run for the White House with over 20 entrants and multiple staging of “debates” reinforces this competitive framing given to our democracy. Overtly and covertly we are reminded that, of course, the selection of a leader is sooo important that the only way to do it is to duke it out in public (and over the media “air waves”). Like Coke or Pepsi, McDonalds or Burger King, paper or plastic, who will be Mr. or Mrs. Number One? Unspoken is that many functional democracies around the world rely on coalitions, not individual charismatic leaders. Leadership in those democracies centers on the leader’s ability to draw up and maintain coalitions of support for programs, policies and direction. Analysis finds it to be not so far fetched to frame the Democrat’s national candidate debates in terms of how those on stage create consensus and agreement amongst each other to form coalitions. That would whittle the mind numbing score of candidates down to a few that represent their coalitions most effectively. Sounds more than reasonable given they are all of the same party, with the same ultimate aspirations, doesn’t it? Where do we find this actually playing out? Writing for Reuters, James Pomfret, Greg Torode, Clare Jim, and Anne Marie Roantree report Rudderless rebellion: Inside the Hong Kong protesters’ anarchic campaign against China (8-16-19). [Names used are representative designations, not identities] “With slogans such as “Free Hong Kong” and “Hong Kong is not China,” Ah Lung and his fellow protesters have made clear they reject a future in which Hong Kong is inexorably absorbed into the mainland giant, eventually becoming just another Chinese city.” “Under the “one-country, two-systems” formula, China promised Hong Kong it would enjoy autonomy for 50 years after its handover from Britain in 1997. Unlike those who negotiated the deal, for young protesters born after the handover that deadline will fall in the middle of their lives. And, as Beijing tightens its grip on Hong Kong, the future they see careening towards them is that of an authoritarian mainland China with curbs on the freedoms and rights they now enjoy.” “”We can’t retreat or the authoritarianism will worsen,” said Tsang, referring to the Chinese government. “This is not about me. This is for Hong Kong, my home city.”” Incongruous as it may seem, the aspirational reasons that unify the folks of Hong Kong parallel those of the US Democratic party and its current spectacle of leadership selection. But the Reuters article repeatedly stresses and establishes the leaderless nature of the Hong Kong upheaval! “Along with other prominent democrats in the city, Wong has been seen at protests by Reuters being shouted down by activists who say they don’t want the movement hijacked by any single leader or group. “I’m quite happy people are saying we should not rely on any specific political leader to lead this movement,” Wong told Reuters.” “It’s not an issue of having “no leader, it simply means that everyone is a leader,” said one 22-year-old Hong Kong student based in Britain who helps run “antielabhk,” an Instagram page that includes details about protests that has amassed more than 50,000 followers. The student asked not to be named.” Analysis finds it amazing that the seeds of such an alternative outlook on the democratic process of self governance (alternative to the capitalist marketing “McDonalds vs Burger King”) were made apparent in none other than Newark in the run up to this year’s City Council primary. In a mini replication of the national race, the GOP had no contenders while the Dem’s had more than enough available candidates. Few readers may remember but in the media “debate” to discern candidate “differences” prior to the voting, one candidate embodied the alternative approach to the assumed marketing competitiveness for “leadership.” Sharing the overall aspirations of a better Newark (akin to Hong Kong’s lovers of democracy), Democrat Daniel Crawford chose to be in coalition with Jen Kanagy, rather than in competition. He urged voters to vote for the latter if left with only a choice between the two. How refreshing it would be if such genuine leadership and sensibility could be found within the national Democrat party’s 20 plus candidates for president. Instead of a “Pepsi vs Coke” marketing debate, it would be a real time performance of “Let’s work together for a better US.”

 

 

 

 

Knowledge, Preoccupations, And Distractions

August 6, 2019

We all know what the news headlines have been and currently are. Indeed, the saturation point on “the news” must have been reached. The news has again become “the news” (a curious twist of vulture capitalism where the system feeds upon itself!). USA Today headlined: ‘Unbelievable’: New York Times slammed for front page headline after Donald Trump speech (Jordan Culver, 8-6-19). The furor regards the headline (“Trump urges unity vs. racism.”) deceptively portraying the president’s response to tragedy without noting his own implication in the violence (“Very fine people on both sides”). Or at least that is what outrages the critics. The headline gave a synopsis of what occurred (the President’s post massacre address). Isn’t that the stuff of newspapers and the media? The critics insist on context (What implicates Donald Trump in the killings while cloaked in official immunity). The context of this news story being “the news” is likewise not given. 8-5-19 The Wall Street Journal (amongst others) reported: GateHouse Media Parent to Buy Gannett for $1.4 Billion Deal combines largest owner of U.S. newspapers by titles and the largest newspaper group by circulation (Cara Lombardo, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg). Who’s their competition? Who’s the competition in Ohio? Gatehouse will now control just about ALL the local news services in Ohio, including Newark and Columbus (Gatehouse already owns The Dispatch while Gannett owns the Newark Advocate and papers in surrounding towns). Monopoly will dictate where we pay attention (i.e., on the NY Times’ headline). Already there is no local “office” of Newark’s only local news service. Now all editorial decisions re: content and layout will ultimately be located outside the community ostensibly covered. Benjamin Lanka may be “the editor” of The Newark Advocate. Readers can’t help but notice how many stories have his name in the byline as the reporter. Too much time on his hands? Justifying the management paycheck? Analysis finds that when it comes to big services, big news items, readers and subscribers of Gatehouse publications will be more than adequately served. As we see with the Murdoch family’s Fox News (and News Corp which includes Wall Street Journal), the product and service will be supplied with priority given to brand over content. Analysis shows the local will become fluff, filler (Newark is a top Ohio hometown, Newark is addressing what civic leaders deem to be problems, the need for more development, etc.). Just as there are no longer any local phone calls (all require an area code designation), so there will no longer be any local news, local investigative reporting, local interest stories, unless it will tie in with the corporate brand emphasis. The reporting will no longer go where the story takes us but where the brand requires us to be. Analysis finds this to further indicate the encroachment of authoritarianism in a culture with a history of democracy. Hong Kong isn’t an island of enlightenment. In a Democracy, the local authorizes the city, state or nation. In an authoritarian nation, state or city, the authorities determine the local, what it should think, believe and focus on, what it should know. News media monopolies evidence that trend.

More No Collusion Kool Aid

August 4, 2019

The previous week was marred by intentionally similar and horrifying catastrophe’s in the cities of Gilroy California, El Paso Texas and Dayton Ohio, within days, even hours of each other. The killing events were alike in terms of large crowds, single young white male shooters, and rifles capable of firing many rounds in a matter of seconds. Analysis is certain many more “profiler” categories will be made apparent in the days to come given our cultural obsession with the necropsy of mass shootings (forbidden to be performed officially by the CDC). The Trump GOP response? In addition to “thoughts and prayers’ (previous shootings must not have generated enough to have prevented the recent ones), Mick Mulvaney pre-emptively scheduled the Sunday Morning Talk Shows. ABC News’ recap of his This Week performance (President Trump’s rhetoric not to blame for mass shootings: Mick Mulvaney, 8-4-19) includes these quotes from the “Acting” White House Chief of Staff (and simultaneously Director of Management and Budget): “”This was a sick person, the person in Dayton was a sick person,” Mulvaney told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, during an interview Sunday. “No politician is to blame for that. The person who was responsible here are the people who pulled the trigger. We need to figure out how to kind of create less of those kinds of people as a society and not trying to figure out who gets blamed going into the next election.” “Sick people who are intent on doing things like this should not be able to buy guns legally,” “There’s no benefit here to trying to make this a political issue. This is a social issue.”” Analysis can’t help but marvel at Mulvaney’s authentically genuine conclusion. Politically, there is no collusion. Socialism and the socialists are to blame. This is really slick! Fits right in with the Re-elect Trump campaign’s marketing strategy of branding the opposition as Socialists and Socialism. J.L. Austin’s mid twentieth century philosophy primer immediately springs to mind. Analysis recommends reading How To Do Things With Words (1962), an essential ingredient of this summer’s No Collusion Kool Aid. As Dear Leader would say “It’s cheaper that way. Saves lots of money.”