Archive for May, 2020

Decision 2020

May 28, 2020

5-25-20 AFP headlined: India yogi who claimed to live without food or water dies aged 90. “An Indian yogi [Prahlad Jani] whose claims he spent decades without food or water earned him a band of devotees and the scepticism of doctors died Tuesday, his neighbour told AFP.” “He told AFP in 2003 he got the “elixir of life from the hole in my palate, which enables me to go without food and water”. There was no way of verifying Jani’s claims, but doctors have said a person cannot go for long periods without food or water without organ damage and the body breaking down.” Who would you vote for, Jani or the doctors? Think carefully, decide wisely as this will be the foundations of the 2020 presidential election in 5 months. Back in 2002 European scholar and curator Bruno Latour organized an extensive investigation in what he entitled Iconoclash. It considered topics such as “Why do images Trigger so Much Furor?” and “What is Iconoclash? Or is There a World Beyond the Image Wars?” Etc. One of his prime examples centers on the Reformation, a period when there were wars fought over the appropriateness of statues, paintings, relics and other iconic images within the churches of Christianity specifically as well as within the religion generally. Writing at the time of these actual events Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) offers one description (amongst many): “To speak frankly, there seems to be great self-love and presumption in granting your opinions such esteem that you can justify disrupting the public peace in order to establish them.” Returning to present time, Analysis finds an analogous Iconoclash unfolding before our weary eyes. It may not be a disruption centered on imagery, but it certainly does involve a destruction of the previous regime that values science, research, statistical data, factual analysis and intellectual conclusions. Montaigne seems to speak to the present reformation when “there seems to be great self-love and presumption in granting your opinions such esteem that you can justify disrupting the public peace in order to establish them.” The evidence is overabundant with Dear Leader’s Twitter usurpation, extortion of North Carolina’s pandemic response for mass gatherings by moving the upcoming GOP convention (after promoting individual state response), disdain for following his administration’s own CDC guidelines and recommendations with regard to masks, forcing people to unsafe work in the midst of an “invisible enemy,” championing the ingesting of hydroxychloroquine proactively as well as injecting bleach prescriptively, etc. Analysis finds that in November of 2020 the choice will not be about an economy, or racism, or security (personal, national or international). The choice for America will be between Prahlad Jani or the doctors. Who will you vote for?

MIA

May 22, 2020

In one of the recent Le Show broadcasts Harry Shearer posed a rhetorical question in regard the journalistic/cultural slant on the current Economic Depression. He made the observation that for the last 2+ months all the articles, talking heads, etc. speak of the “economy shutting down.” In actuality, according to Mr. Shearer, only half the economy has shut down. In addition to certain segments of the economy which are booming (i.e. Amazon), the financial sector hasn’t exactly withdrawn into a shell. As of this writing the DOW is only 10% off from its all time high. Shearer has a point. Pre Covid 19 debt obligations have not “shut down” or disappeared. Credit card companies, mortgage servicers, utilities, etc. all still post their bills and collect on them (electronically, so convenient! Save a stamp and all). They, along with the Wall Street financiers, are doing OK, thank you. So it was curious to read the Washington Post article headlined: “U.S. taxpayers might lose money helping companies. Economists say it’s a good thing. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged this week that some of the $500 billion in aid to companies might not be repaid.” As the article pointed out, Obama’s TARP Act, meant to address George W. Bush’s financial meltdown of 2008, lost some taxpayer money “But overall, TARP ultimately made several billion dollars as most companies repaid the loans and some of the stock the government took as collateral turned out to be worth a good bit more when it came time to cash in.” Trump/Mnuchin’s CARES Act isn’t structured around repayment or collateral. Besides, who would report if it failed? We’ve become so inured to Dear Leader’s policies and practices of big business – the firing of those deemed disloyal, the hiring of corporate executives to regulatory positions, the dismissal of regulations, the neglect of institutions, etc. – that we don’t notice their presence (or absence) in our everyday surrounds. Nothing comes from nothing, and what is favored nationally is ditto found locally. In a 5-19-20 article, Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlined “Licking County Chamber announces Facebook grant for local small businesses”. “The Licking County Chamber of Commerce announced it will coordinate a $100,000 grant from Facebook to help support small businesses battling through economic challenges.” In the text Mallett quotes LC Chamber Pres and CEO Jennifer McDonald and Facebook’s Community Development Regional Manager Amber Tillman, and no one else. 5-22-20 Mallett headlines “Downtown Newark survey shows public uneasy about reopening businesses amid coronavirus”. “A Downtown Newark Association survey showed considerable uncertainty and unease about reopening businesses after a two-month shutdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.” Again, he presents a stenographic rendition of the survey, quotes DNA President Trish Newcomb, and no one else. What do we elect civic leaders for? Where’s Newark’s Mayor Jeff Hall in all this? What about LC Commissioners Tim Bubb, Duane Flowers and Rick Black? Is there no interest that the Facebook grant money be distributed fairly, equitably and appropriately by those elected to insure such? Is there no want of direction, guidance and leadership on prudent measures for safely interacting within the war footing of a Covid 19 response? Have we become so lock step and attuned with the abdication of leadership and direction on the Federal level by our Dear Leader, as well as the journalists covering him, that we are OK with our own local MIA’s? Analysis finds that Harry Shearer  is right. Only half the economy shut down with the spread of Covid 19. The business half is still running everything. Only now they are doing it so overtly that the corporate news journalists don’t even bother with any other reality.

Invisible And Contagious

May 18, 2020

Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio has been advancing an “On Our Sleeves” campaign for juvenile mental health. The gist of the program is that children’s mental illness is indiscernible to most folks, and the individual pediatric sufferer has no way of indicating that they are afflicted. Like Covid 19, mental illness is an invisible pathogen (if one can call it that). And like Covid 19, it can be spread (intentionally or unintentionally) without knowing, capable of infecting entire communities. How? In a recent interview Dr. Bandy X. Lee, forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine and president of the World Mental Health Coalition, had this to say in reply to a query regarding journalistic responsibility: “No one is connecting the dots to the greatest calamity in the nation’s history, which is the president’s mental incapacity. This should be our biggest focus — even more so than the pandemic — since it is making the pandemic much worse, and even greater calamities are likely awaiting as the stress from the pandemic grows. Excluding mental health experts and replacing them with political pundits has been catastrophic, in my view, resulting in the gross underestimation and normalization of severe psychopathology. And, as we have seen, mental symptoms are even more contagious than ordinary infectious disease, since they transmit through emotional bonds alone.” Lee has good cause to make her assessments (along with those of the World Mental Health Coalition). As of April 14, 2020, the Washington Post has noted over 18,000 false or misleading claims originating from our Dear Leader. The embrace of these claims by citizens in the form of conspiracy theories, the maligning of dedicated government service professionals, advocacy for detrimental or non-existent therapies, convoluted rationales for policies that foster death and suffering, etc. definitely exemplify “mental symptoms [that] are even more contagious than ordinary infectious disease”. What is to be done since there is no national “On Our Sleeves” campaign for adults in America? At the end of a different interview Dr. Justin Frank, former clinical professor of psychiatry (40 years) at George Washington University Medical Center and practicing psychoanalyst along with being the author of “Trump on the Couch” (as well as previous “Obama on the Couch”, and “Bush on the Couch”) offered this remedy: “If I were to advise on a political ad campaign, I would show all the times when Donald Trump said that he is doing a “great job” and then follow it up with images of people dying from the coronavirus pandemic. Trump must be shown to be the fool he is, and that all his claims of greatness are hollow and empty. Show Donald Trump to be the fundamentally destructive person he is.”

If That Just Don’t Beat All

May 5, 2020

The front page of the online edition of the New York Times for Tuesday, May 5, 2020 was an accurate barometer of the contemporary situation. On the left hand side the NY Times headlined “Infection Rates Show the Threat of Coronavirus Is Not Fading.” The top story line beneath the headline read “The U.S. is seeing at least 25,000 new cases per day, an increase of 2 to 4 percent. There have been more than 1,000 daily deaths for over a month.” On the right hand side, sharing equal billing was the headline “Wall Street set to gain amid signs of optimism.” The reflection of today was not limited to the NY Times exclusively. The same day The Wall Street Journal headlined an article with “Why Home Prices Are Rising During the Pandemic”. Again same day, different news source, USA Today headlined “Essential worker just means you’re on the death track”. The headlines for today are as polarized as the politics that surrounds them. Ohio’s Governor Dewine’s daily update on the Covid 19 situation in Ohio showed an increase in cases along with an increase in mortalities. As of this writing Licking County increased to 133 from a previous day’s 130, and the previous to that 114. Yet contrary to the Governor’s initial rationale for nixing the Arnold, halting the March primary and closing public institutions, etc., all systems are go for reopening, without the curve ever reaching a peak. It doesn’t matter? Or is something else at play here? During the Arab oil embargo of the 1970’s it was the simplistic “supply and demand” explanation. During the Reagan recession of the 80’s it was “too many dollars chasing too few goods.” In the 90’s it was the dot com bubble with its enterprising entrepreneurs self justifying mega dividends. W’s regime righted itself with a war economy after 9/11. The chickens came home to roost with his end of term meltdown on the bundled, junk sub-prime securities. B Rock rescued everything through compensating the source of the loss with the mantra of “we can’t let the system fail.” And now this. THIS appears to be the complete unbridled, shameless operation of the market with no other considerations. There is no rhyme or reason, no attempt to justify or rationalize any of it (“Supply and demand” or “too many dollars chasing too few goods” etc.). Those accustomed to making money off whatever situation find no difference in the current situation. Those who always had to pay, no matter the situation, find no difference today except that now it also includes paying with their lives. The polarization reveals itself for what it is: the US as an economy versus the US as a society.