Archive for September, 2019

Fire Service Kabuki

September 22, 2019

“The British are coming! The British are coming!” What American wasn’t introduced to that at some point in their childhood? The Disneyesque version has a patriot traveling through the land “warning” his fellow citizens of an impending British invasion. The more sobering, and less fanciful, historic account has it that this was no “warning” but rather a prearranged communication mechanism of a previously devised and agreed to plan. Exit Disney world and fast forward to contemporary Trumpland (equally as fantastic as the Disney magical kingdom). “The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!” What Ohio registered voter’s household hasn’t received such a mailing from Ohioans For Energy Security? “In the coming weeks, don’t give the Chinese government your personal information, email, cell phone, address or sign your name on their petition.” It’s the last part (“sign your name on their petition”) that is the buried lead. After all, the only voters who have not received the mailing would be those who were recently purged. The voter rolls are accessible public data. Why bother with an expensive and ungainly petition drive to acquire easily accessible data? “Don’t sign their petition attacking House Bill 6!” appears elsewhere on the mailing. Ohioans For Energy Security insinuates that Chinese shareholders in petroleum centered companies want to monopolize Ohio’s energy sources; the presumption being that OFES, and their backers, are “clean” of such pollution. Journalists, pundits, researchers and academics find that global investors are just as much vested in First Energy (the prime recipient of HB6’s largesse) as in the natural gas and other energy suppliers; the inherent nature and definition of “global economics”. All agree that such an aggressive marketing campaign to deny a petition, before it is a petition, is unprecedented. And there’s much at stake. Number crunchers show that the owners of the nuclear and coal fired power plants stand to gain 20 to 30 times the couple million dollar cost of the “Chinese are coming” marketing drive (should HB6 remain unchallenged). So what is happening here? Back to Trumpland. On the day of his inauguration in 2017, the newly sworn in president officially kicked off his reelection campaign. The subliminal messaging of this marketing tactic was “You don’t need to bother with any organized resistance or opposition to my regime as my reelection is inevitable in 2020.” Today’s latest news (9-22-19) is that Alaska has dismissed a GOP presidential primary in 2020 (along with several other states who already have made that commitment). There are 3 GOP challengers for a spot on the ballot. The overt message is one of “No need to bother with a fundamental process of democracy as the course of events is inevitable, and invincible.” Analysis finds the same mechanism at work with the high energy marketing trying to dissuade voters from engaging with a petition to place the question of HB6 on the Ohio ballot in 2020. Also in the news this week was the uptick in commitment of American troops to Saudi Arabia, for their defense. When asked by the media why this was such a priority, Dear Leader replied “They [the Saudi’s] pay cash.” The same seems to apply with Ohioans For Energy Security. The cash HB6 guarantees them is hard to pass up. No need to bother with any organized resistance or opposition. Cash is king. The outcome is inevitable, and invincible. Saudi Arabia is, after all, a monarchy. And on the local level we find the kabuki of “public discussion” of authorizing the capital expenditure of a new fire station on Sharon Valley Road. The question of funding for staffing all fire and EMT service in Newark is happening amongst the kabuki administrators and “civic leaders”  behind the curtain, out of sight, No need to bother with a fundamental process of democracy as the course of events is inevitable, and invincible.

This, That And The Other

September 15, 2019

September 15, 2019 found the Newark Advocate running similar coverage of the candidates for Municipal Court Judge. “Recovery a driving force behind Sutton’s campaign for judge” was a one-on-one by Michaela Sumner with Max Sutton (Advocate, 9-15-19). Sumner supplied an adjunct point of view from Irene Kennedy, LC Democratic Party member. Originally from Newark, Sutton addressed his personal past and its articulation with what he is presenting to be elected. Kennedy gave her opinion based on her acquaintance with Sutton as well as the functioning of municipal court itself. Sumner used the same format to cover Matthew George “Faith, family and friends help George in campaign for judge” (same day, same paper, same page). The adjunct point of view was provided by George’s best friend since 2002, Matt Parker. Neither are originally from Newark. The latter resides and is employed elsewhere. George spoke of the process leading up to his decision to run, and his qualifications for the job. Matt Parker spoke extensively of George’s being over qualified for the job, both in background and character, as well as ideological commitment. “Parker said “When (George) decided to run for office, it was pretty obvious that I would help him on his campaign.”” Turns out that Matt Parker isn’t just a GOP acquaintance. He is a professional “political consultant”. He is George’s campaign manager. Though the format for each “meet the candidate” coverage was the same, Sumner provided George with a twofer – his own words plus those of a professional retained to market his candidacy (the candidate in his own words plus an advertisement for the candidate). Analysis concludes that if this were a tennis match, the score at this point would be “Advantage George.”

And now for something completely different. Who says we can’t have this AND that? The incumbent mayor of Newark, running for a third term, received some affirmation, of sorts. The mayor’s stated position on those found in Newark without a house to call their own is that they should relocate elsewhere – anywhere but Newark, as long as it is outside Newark. Many cities across the country (large and small)  have deployed this strategy of shipping the indigent without housing to somewhere else; sometimes to a place of their choosing, sometimes not. Writing for the NY Times, Mike Baker reports “Homeless Residents Got One-Way Tickets Out of Town. Many Returned to the Streets.” (9-14-19). The article covers the various rates of recovery as well as failure of such an approach. Success seems to impinge on a well thought out specificity of outcome – a potential job, family, treatment facility, shelter awaiting those sent away by bus (maybe even plane), etc. Recidivism rates vary, though it is technically not a crime to be a person without housing. Sometimes the people returning are originally from the city that facilitated their removal. Sometimes they have been sent there after being removed by another city. In the 1930’s people without means rode boxcars. Today, “As cities see their homeless populations grow, many are buying one-way bus tickets to send people to a more promising destination, where family or friends can help get them back on their feet.” Only problem is, Mr. Mayor, Newark hasn’t had city wide scheduled bus service in years, let alone interstate. And the Hall administration has done nothing to address either problem – being without a house as well as being without a bus. Besides, ““Just shipping someone out of town to experience homelessness somewhere else is furthering the trauma that person experiences,” she [Lauren McGowan, senior director for Ending Homelessness and Poverty at United Way of King County, Washington] said, “and furthering this crisis that we have all over the country.””

Speaking of which Dear Leader is promoting the ultimate solution for “the other.” He advocates housing them in camps, just as is being done with “illegal aliens”, though no person, in and of themselves, can be illegal (that’s just not part of the law). Cynically, the point is they would be housed, thereby technically eliminating them as individuals without housing. Both they, as well as the cross border refugees (for whatever reason) find themselves in a curious position. They are physically (geographically) part of the state or city (the migrant concentration camps are located on US soil as well as the proposed facility for city dwellers without housing). They reside there. Yet they are de facto NOT considered residents of the country or city in which that camp or facility is found (not having the same rights and privileges of residency as those acknowledged to be members of the country or city). That would satisfy Mayor Hall’s demand that they not be part of the city while still being located there (much as having a post office box gets you mail but no vote to cast in an election). In short, they are warehoused out of sight as biblical lepers – minimally fed and sheltered by the religious community but kept completely out of reach of the secular (business) one.

What It Is To Be An American

September 12, 2019

The first Trump re-election rally in North Carolina was marked by the controversial “Send her back!” crowd interaction (Dear Leader and followers). This week’s (9-10-19) found the POTUS surveying the Carolina faithful. “Made in America?” or “Made in USA?” which do you prefer? The adulators roared back “Made in USA!” The next night Seth Myers found this to be a great joke. “That might be the single dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in any arena, and I’m including the time the Toronto Raptors mascot tried to skate down the stairs and fell flat on his face,” he said. But was it? The follow up to the inane “preference” of non-existent difference is, what else, a synthesis of the two –  a great coming together, a unifying of diversity, of getting all sides on the same page, part of the winning team – an American USA! After all, isn’t that what the “ever news” culture war and polarized politics of today is all about – what it is to be an American?

Downtown Abbey

September 6, 2019

Polarity comes in many shapes and sizes. Some may be completely surprising. One such is this week’s Our View from The Advocate Editorial Board (Our view: Downtown Newark a jewel for the entire community, The Newark Advocate, 9-6-19). A teaser headline for this editorial reads “Our view: Downtown Newark a jewel to be proud of.” The editorial itself is filled with kudos for the hard work, ingenuity and resilience of the downtown business community and “civic” leaders for changing the façade of the Newark courthouse square in a matter of 10 years or so. These are substantiated by “facts” which cannot be dismissed. Analysis found the line, “No longer is downtown simply home to attorneys and government workers as restaurants, shops and even manufacturing have recently opened.” to be disarming, an attempt to “bring us together behind a winning team.” Like a family house where renovations still leave the kitchen as kitchen, bath as bath (with maybe an addition) and rec area as rec, etc., so Newark’s downtown still is focused on the government as county seat (and municipal center). Restaurants are still in the same buildings as before; ditto offices, banks and retail. The editorial hints at the “behind the scenes” SID (Special Improvement District) helping to make it possible with its tax (that it gets to use on itself) and special rent-a-cop for parking enforcement. The board’s view just skims the government money that went into the “federally mandated project to reduce stormwater overflows” but doesn’t go further behind the scenes to expose the publicly funded tax incentives, tax credits and subsidies provided to make the jewel shine. Analysis finds it not to be a case of disparagement but rather an encouragement to point out that a truly great city has a vibrant downtown AND social responsible programs for what the vibrant downtown requires. Polarity need not apply. Newark’s “civic” leaders, unfortunately, prefer the polarity of This or That, but not Both. A city of 50,000+ would have some sort of reliable, fixed schedule, accessible public transportation. Newark has opted to have none with no taxi, fixed bus route, or on demand transportation available. During the jewel’s creation, no affordable housing was ALSO created. Newark’s mayor would prefer that those without a house live outside the city limits. The health department opts to deny the material existence of narcotics addiction through a focus on law enforcement, abstinence, and prevention rather than a hands on approach of a needle exchange and recovery centers. The list continues with community centers (youth as well as seniors), food banks and recreation facilities being mostly marginalized, away from the downtown center; access to which requires some form of transportation. A truly great city is not polarized. It is proud of what it has to offer its business community AND its resident population, BOTH. Newark can do better. What The Advocate editorial board presents is like a made for TV movie, a Downton Abbey of sorts, with its unspoken tale of those who serve and make the manor jewel possible without receiving any due. But then again, a really great city would have a news source that fairly and equally covers the landlords AND the tenants, BOTH.

Jimmy Aldaoud

September 1, 2019

“Mr. Aldaoud, whose parents were Iraqi, was born in a refugee camp in Greece, entered the United States legally in 1979 when he was 6 months old and grew up in the Detroit area. His life was unsettled: He battled depression and diabetes and also had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He was in and out of jail, with at least 20 criminal convictions over the past two decades, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. After being arrested on a larceny charge, he was deported to Iraq on June 2 with very little insulin, no money and no knowledge of Arabic. His sisters did not know he had been deported until he called from the city of Najaf. Mr. Aldaoud was found dead in a Baghdad apartment on Aug. 6 after days of vomiting blood and begging to return to the United States. He died of a “diabetic crisis,” according to Representative Andy Levin, a Democrat who represents the Michigan district where Mr. Aldaoud used to live.” (Body of Michigan Man Deported to Iraq Is Returned to the U.S., Mariel Padilla, NY Times, 8-31-19)

““This is a movement founded on love and grounded in the nobility and dignity of every human life,” President Trump said in a pre-recorded message to the massive Jan. 18 rally, before the crowd began its march through the streets of Washington, D.C.

“When we look into the eyes of a newborn child we see the beauty of the human soul and the majesty of God’s creation, we know that every life has meaning and every life is worth protecting.”

“I will always protect the first right in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life,” he said.” (‘Every life is worth protecting,’ President Trump, VP Pence tell March for Life, Catholic News Agency, 1-18-19)

“Mr. Levin coordinated with government officials and funeral homes in Iraq and Michigan to secure the return of Mr. Aldaoud’s remains. A private funeral will take place next week for Mr. Aldaoud, who was a Chaldean Catholic. The Chaldean Community Foundation, a social services organization based in Michigan, paid for his remains to be transported to the United States.” (Mariel Padilla, NY Times, 8-31-19)