Archive for September, 2020

First Impressions

September 29, 2020

            Psychologists and personality gurus tell us that immediate first impressions are what set up lasting relationships, lasting biases, lasting affinities. Sometimes these first impressions can be 180 degrees off, and then it is a struggle to reset the acquaintance. But first impressions do have an indelible effect. What is hardest is to catch the first impressions as they occur, to catch the auto pilot mind as it is operating in order to create the space for more sustainable reflection. Dream catchers are of little help. So it was with tonight’s first 2020 presidential debate. No room here for Analysis to dissect the oxymoron “presidential debate.” First impression, it was more like moronic presidential debate. But the first impression, the very first appearance on stage that the camera focused on was the entrance of America’s commander in chief, our incumbent Dear Leader. What did Trump do with his hair? His current do was coifed markedly different from his previous appearances. Either he is losing hair or his budgeted $70,000 stylist was instructed to make a more political statement for the sake of his base. The usually contrived comb over (which Rosie O’Donnell made so famous) was only half there. Normally the haircut favors the right side springing the heaviest, thickest strands from the back left over to the right, and then back in the direction of the left again. This time the thinner hair favored the right with the thicker locks cascading off the left. Significant? Doubtful, but neither was anything that came out of the maw located south of the hairline. Not even complete sentences, Just bytes and whistles, like twitter incarnate. Old tapes of Trump rallies would be indiscernible from what was called a “presidential debate” for our Dear Leader. For the most part his opponent stayed civil, though a bit mousy. He seemed to “roar” (if it could be called that) only when invoking the lives of his sons. Analysis came away with three takeaways; If the polls go down for Dear Leader directly after the first “presidential debate,” there won’t be any second or third debate (see Dear Leader’s rationale for accepting the outcome of the election for that one). The first “presidential debate” displayed this country’s current state of malignant normalcy in all its fetid offal-ness (every pun intended). The final takeaway differed little from the initial impression of the first “presidential debate.” It left one totally exhausted.

Ouch!

September 25, 2020

            The truth hurts. 9-22-20 Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlines Winter’s coming: Newark area homeless again without enough shelters. No, not winter, a not necessarily hurtful truth for some people (though maybe not those without shelter). But that another year dawns where, once again, there will be a scramble to “respond” to the truth of fellow citizens living with inadequate means to deal with what winter dishes out. Mallett’s story centers on the still defunct Family Dollar building (200 E. Main St.), purchased by the Evans Foundation and earmarked, at the time of purchase, to become a low barrier shelter for those with none. But first a round of studies with tax payer paid outside consultants to insure that it is done right (“Mayor Jeff Hall said although speed is important in opening a shelter, it’s most important to do it right.”). Along with the building purchase in 2019, Luken Solutions was contracted “to study the feasibility of operating a low barrier shelter.” There must have been an opt out clause in the agreement, as a year later Luken Solutions chose to exercise it (so much for Mayor Hall’s “speed is important”). Mallett quotes Trisha Pound, a member of the Licking County Task Force on Homelessness, who addressed the opt out by Sally Luken: ““The letter Sally wrote to us said she believed our community doesn’t want a low-barrier shelter. As someone that is a social worker in the community and knows how much we really need it, it’s alarming to me that a professional would say that they feel we don’t need a shelter or don’t want a shelter.”” (Ouch! The cat just clawed its way out of the bag. Remember Mayor Jeff Hall’s insight that he is all for a homeless shelter, as long as it is outside the city limits?). Another stakeholder, that vociferously embraced the Family Dollar building as a solution to those detracting from the renovation miracle of downtown Newark (Mallett pithily understates this “In the summer of 2018, the homeless problem gained attention when homeless persons were seen sleeping on benches around the Courthouse Square.”), tried to put a positive spin on Luken’s abdication: “Dan DeLawder, chairman of Newark Development Partners, a public-private community improvement corporation involved in the effort to open a new shelter, said someone needs to continue the work of Luken Solutions. “A number of things were accomplished by Sally and her work, not the least of which was to confirm that Licking County does have a need for an additional emergency shelter,” DeLawder said. “She did, in fact, confirm the need. We need beds. It’s as simple as that.”” Meanwhile, renovation work is going gang busters on Newark Development Partners’ downtown Arcade, also purchased in 2019. “Dan DeLawder, chairman of NDP, said, “We can’t pull this project off without tax credits. I don’t know how to do it, anyway. From a pure commercial perspective, tax credits will make this a possibility. We’re still in the early stages of development consideration. It’s just a massive project. It’s a very comprehensive effort underway to evaluate the facility and it is still too early to say a cost and what form or fashion it will be done.”” (Mallett again, 6-29-20 Arcade renovation project could cost $15 million, needs tax credits). Maybe declaring the Family Dollar building a historic landmark would get tax credits to build a low barrier shelter? Analysis finds the painful truth of “Winters coming: Newark area homeless…” to be the significant difference between, not only language but also the experienced actuality of, “dealing with homelessness” and helping people who are actually without housing, between quickly agreed upon “needs” and actual, acted upon wants (for an Arcade, Yes. For a low barrier shelter downtown, No!).

How The Lie Tells The Truth

September 9, 2020

            During this final stretch of the presidential election campaign, the enthusiasm factor definitely favors Dear Leader. Both the folks who own the boats (and ATV’s, RV’s, in home theatre TV’s, etc.), as well as the folks who make this ownership possible through their low wage labor, wear their hearts on their sleeves (as well as flag poles, truck beds, motorcycle sissy bars, etc.). And Dear Leader feeds off this adulation, offering up whatever sound bytes, dis info or mis info which may get a rise out of his reality show audience. The truth value of all this exchange is now, finally, immediately and continuously being challenged by media fact checkers. This, in turn, is swiftly transferred into sound bytes of actual and factual information by the opposition. The latest front in the battle to secure Mt. Parnassus, the abode of Apollo the god of truth, has been conjoined by the likes of investigative journalists (an endangered species on anyone’s list) writing for The Atlantic, Rolling Stone or Salon, as well as this year’s crop of tell all books from the likes of Bob Woodward, Michael Cohen or Mary L. Trump. The GOP’s official position during the Obama years was pretty much straight forward and embarrassingly honest: top priority was to get rid of Obama. Seemed politically viable enough. Obama’s flaws and untruths were readily enough pointed out and embellished. But that only worked as long as there was an assumed baseline, ground of truth (which could be verified like the great “keep your own doctor” of the ACA). Today’s lies are fast, furious and continuous, at a speed challenging the most adept of fact checkers (over 20,000 in 4 years for Dear Leader alone according to the Washington Post). The truth revealed by all this is that the lie promoted for whatever given decision or policy is preferred by the boat owners and those working for them in their marinas. This, that Dear Leader enthusiasts prefer and seek out the lie intentionally and knowingly, is a particularly hard truth to swallow, let alone digest. But then, Apollo was known to be a particularly cruel god.

What Will Newark Do If Trump Doesn’t Leave?

September 6, 2020

            David Brooks is a writer. He has written several books as well as a weekly op-ed column for the New York Times, part of the Times “both side-ism” approach to covering the news. On a political spectrum he would be somewhere around conservative/centrist/moderate. He also appears as a foil to the liberal Mark Shields on the PBS Friday Newshour commentary (as well as on election coverage, etc.). So it came as a bit of a surprise to read the title of his 9-3-20 Times’ op-ed: What Will You Do If Trump Doesn’t Leave? Sure, Bernie Sanders can broach the same topic eliciting “That’s Bernie” yawns. But Brooks? In his essay, Brooks assumes his paper’s both side-ism coverage of the various street demonstrations around the country and that they are increasingly actively involving both sides (the truth being that the Proud Boys and Prayer Patriots have been actively agitating in Portland for years, not just the past 100 days). White supremacy aside, and the affinity of these groups to side with and be embraced by law enforcement (after all, like the police, they are carrying firearms), none of this will go away with the election of a new president. Brooks’ point is will you choose a side? His response was to point to the outrage and mass street gatherings in Belarus (as well as Ukraine, Chile, etc.). Would you be willing to go to the streets for the sake of democracy, the Constitution and country (and not just one side)? What is striking about Brooks, and Sanders, and so many others recent concern about what will occur if our Dear Leader questions the legitimacy of the outcome (which he has been continuously laying the groundwork for just such a response), relies on his paramilitary (which he has continuously been instigating and affirming), and decides to change the Constitutional interpretation of what is the legitimate transfer of power (which he has been collaborating with his attorney general to reset what was previously assumed as lawful) is that most Americans are totally oblivious of this evolution, this development in American history. It has only been recently, in the last half year, that the media will immediately call out misinformation, disinformation as a lie, untrue, not backed up by facts and actuality. The word “fascist” still elides the lexicon. Speaking of fascism, what will Newark do if Trump doesn’t leave?