Archive for May, 2021

Family Tradition

May 16, 2021

            Talk of the Big Lie is usually filled with names like McCarthy, McConnell, Lindell, Gaetz and Taylor Greene. But never DeWine. Somehow, magnificently, Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine has managed to disassociate himself from anything even remotely emanating the stench of a lie. The Governor appears unscathed. This past week Mike immersed himself completely, and proved it to be quite unremarkable. What was the lie and why the lack of interest? On May 13, 2021 DeWine announced establishment of the Ohio Vax-a-Million program, offering $1 mil to five lucky newly vaccinated individuals as an incentive to get Ohioans vaccinated, and by implication, benefitting Ohio’s economy. The very next day his administration announced that it would be ending the $300 weekly Federal unemployment benefits with the end of June, roughly 2 months prior to when they are scheduled to run out. Let’s get a calculator and compare apples to apples, or rather dollars to dollars. DeWine’s new benefit distribution allocates $1 mil to five individuals for a total expenditure of $5 mil. Simple enough. The termination of $300 weekly benefits checks to one individual, over two months, amounts to that individual not receiving the earmarked $2,400 meant to benefit Ohio’s economy. Both funds, the $5 mil as well as the $300 weekly unemployment, come from the same honey pot. So how many denied individuals would the $5 mil have provided weekly benefits to over two months span? $5 mil divided by $2400 equates to about 2,083 individuals. Not a great number? Which? The 5 lucky ones? The $5 mil? The $1,200 monthly income to live on? Or the 2,083 denigrated individuals? (denigrated by virtue of insinuation, that they are “just not trying”) Enter the Big Lie. It is now exactly 40 years since President Reagan’s Budget and Management guru brought “trickle-down” economic speak into the common vernacular. Since then David Stockman has had a remarkably checkered history of successes and failures, even vaguely disavowing responsibility for what was once termed “voodoo economics.” But one thing for sure is that trickle down never delivered benefits to the people of the US as intentionally projected. It benefitted the few, leaving a whopping deficit for the many. “Ninety-two percent of the wealth is owned by five percent of the people.” (Stockman on Bloomberg TV 2013) But the Big Lie persisted, carefully cultivated and nurtured by the Republican party. In the same year Stockman himself is quoted by Public Affairs as writing “[T]he Republican Party was hijacked by modern imperialists during the Reagan era. As a consequence, the conservative party cannot perform its natural function as watchdog of the public purse because it is constantly seeking legislative action to provision a vast war machine of invasion and occupation.” Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine was just carrying on an old family tradition when he anointed 5 individuals to have a greater impact on “reopening” Ohio’s economy than the 2,083+ affected by the cuts to weekly unemployment benefits. But that’s even less than 92% of the wealth being owned by 5%; more like being owned by .0024%. As Black Lives Matter points out so succinctly: Big Lies morph into family traditions oh sooo easily that it seems almost unnatural to imagine otherwise!

Visuals

May 2, 2021

            Large item in the national news this past week was the President’s address to a “socially distanced” (to put it mildly) joint houses of congress. This was followed by the institutionally de rigueur rebuttal speech by the opposing party. Both were meant primarily for the prime time television viewing audience. That kind of explains the institutional requirement of a follow up address by the party opposed to the president. Which makes little sense in an age when folks can choose where and when to “tune in” on a device of their choosing. Also the institutional obligation to have a party in opposition. Analysis finds it not so hard to imagine both, if not multiple parties, without opposition but difference. But back to the visuals of the two events. Front and foremost was that of the addressors, one an old white guy, the other a young black guy. Background is important. It contributes context (which is why all those weathermen get blown over standing outside in a hurricane, or wading with alligators during a flood). Behind President Biden were the official government trappings of our representative democracy. These consisted of the leaders of the house and senate as well as one big flag which back dropped all three. Any head-on shot showed the flag behind the president even if it didn’t show Speaker Pelosi or Vice President Harris. The president always had a red or white stripe rising up vertically behind him. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s background consisted of the mandatory flag, only this time it was in the multiple. The surprise wasn’t the number, or kind (there were flags of the US as well as SC), but the angle at which they were presented. It was hard not to notice as one was forced to continuously “adjust” the upright Scott to the skewed backdrop while following his address. It was impossible not to notice that the multiple flags were arranged as a backslash diagonal (\), with the head of the flag starting above the speaker’s right side and sloping to his lower left. Coincidence? Was the senator leaning to the right?  It was hard to tell since, other than the senator himself, there was no vertical visual in the image field (such as a podium). Analysis concludes this was deliberate, and symbolic. Much as Scott’s address relied on flag, family and religion without any point by point rebuttal to the previous presidential address of specific policy proposals, so the special effects  folks at the opposing party relied on symbolic presentation to carry through this absence of any reasoned conversation (or argument). Multiple flags for multiple America’s. State flag given equal space and arrangement with national flag. Right at the top with left near the floor. Etc. Why the emphasis and reliance on symbol? Analysis finds it is precisely because symbols elide and negate reasoned conversation (debate) that they are employed as a means of political propaganda. The symbol embodies all kinds of feelings and fuzzy imagining, but only to the chosen ones who recognize it. Voila! Scott can say on television, in a short time spot, what cannot be verbalized in reasoned debate (conversation). So the backdrop contributed to the baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet speech, successfully creating a unified visual reply without voicing any kind of policy proposal as to why or why not.