Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Charlottesville Ain’t The Sharks And The Jets

August 16, 2017

Leonard Bernstein wrote the music to West Side Story in the 1950’s. The story was based on the template of Romeo and Juliet, only instead of Shakespeare’s rivalry of the Montague’s and Capulet’s, Bernstein considered that of the Jets and the Sharks. Ethnographers are likely to point out that this template is somewhat universal with actual examples from America’s own history, like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. Indeed, West Side Story could also be staged as a sports rivalry (the Jets and the Dolphins), or an intrigue between two college basketball or NASCAR dynasties. However, Analysis finds it a bit disconcerting when the apprentice president of the United States appropriates this same template to address the ongoing tragedy which happened in Charlottesville Virginia this past week. Nazi’s and their opponents are not like the Montagues and Capulets. There is a difference, both in the engagement as well as the correct use of the cultural template. Suffice to say it is not a sporting event, nor a literary play. Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel and the future apprentice president’s mentor, Roy Cohn, may have mastered the insinuation of equivocation for purposes of disparagement during the McCarthy “Communist investigations” but the real politic of this methodology ultimately failed America. This tactic relies on eliminating difference in favor of the cultural template utilized in story telling. Successful, it absolves one of the “rivals” of guilt, while assigning guilt to the other (a perverse interpretation of “equal justice for all”). The apprentice president has utilized this argument form many times as a “real estate” tycoon as well as in his primary/general election run. He continues with it now during his Charlottesville “do overs”. Analysis shows he will likely call for another “do over” explanation (and probably many more). In the case of Charlottesville, the template as explanation is totally inadequate. It is very, very convenient for quick, deadline oriented media. Nazi and KKK ideology has history, actions and deeds which cleave to a rigid perspective and interpretation. The opposition is diverse, even disparate. Much as the folks who run in the various races-for-the-cure fund raisers, the opponents of Nazi’s are unified by a determination to stop the spread of a known carcinogen. The inevitability of confrontation and clashes leads folks like the apprentice president to simplify and equivocate the “rivalry” in terms of the cultural literary template. Cohn’s ghost calls out “they’re both the same, equally bad.” However, there is a deafening silence when it comes to defining or narrating the “other side’s” history and continuum, word and deed, position and ideology. To do so would be to speak of anarchists, something that folks like McCarthy made sure would not see the light of day, let alone media presence. Professor David Graeber was fired by Yale University for having done anthropological field work with various anarchist groups and actions in the late 90’s, early 2000’s. You remember the various world bank, international monetary fund forums disrupted by anarchists in cities like Seattle, Washington, Quebec and numerous overseas occurrences? Gonzo journalism it wasn’t but his involvement and study resulted in an excellent academic anthropological book entitled Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. Recommended reading if one would like to understand the antifa which operate on the principle of the black block (which also requires a bit of understanding as it is not just folks with tiki torches chanting anti-semitic babble). Folks like Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover would prefer Americans associate anarchism with bomb throwing and Sacco and Vanzetti. Events like Standing Rock present more current incarnations of “anarchy”. As Graeber pointed out, anarchists are primarily interested in local governance issues. They eschew oppression of any kind and prefer local governance to be resolved within a framework of consensus – so that each represents themselves and all feel they have been heard, all feel the resolution is not at their expense (no 50 senators and the vice president to produce a majority, in order that majority rules). The rest flows from that (their disregard for national government, for multi national capitalism, etc.). Charlottesville ain’t the Sharks and the Jets.

Discerning Ohio Issue 2

August 13, 2017

The conventional wisdom coming from those covering Ohio and local news regarding Issue 2 is that “Folks just don’t know enough.” What is Issue 2, you say? See, you just don’t know enough. Analysis shows the pundits to be right. Knowledge wanting, the advertising blitz is on to buy your vote. The pro Issue 2 folks offer a small partial solution to the ever rising cost of healthcare. They are backed by the nurses’ union. Even Bernie Sanders’ image and voice from past speeches are featured in their ads. But wait! The anti Issue 2 folks have long time Democratic consultant and Innovation Ohio fixture Dale Butland doing the talk shows as a paid spokesman (the group’s communications director). Just another gig for brother Dale, you say? Their ads claim the backing of various Veterans groups as well as members of the medical industrial complex. Currently they are outspending the pro folks by 3:1. “Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue spent $9.7 million of the $15.8 million it has raised from May 30 to June 21, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday with the Ohio secretary of state. Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices raised $3.7 million from January through June 30 and has spent nearly all of it, according to its report.” (Issue 2 opponents spent $9.7 million against Ohio drug price measure, Laura Hancock for Cleveland.com, 7-31-17). Know more now than you did before? Of course not. In archive posts Analysis has indicated that part of the debacle of the climate change “debate” centers on “cause and effect” science versus “correlation” science. Cause and effect seeks absolute irrefutable proof, correlation employs artificial intelligence utilizing extensive data to reveal trends and likelihoods of great certainty. Case in point would be the recent Ohio State Fair ride tragedy. Non Destructive Tests (NDT) would have indicated a high probability of metal weakness and probable failure. But this is a correlation, not cause and effect. Cutting the metal parts (destruction) would definitively reveal their actual condition (absolute, irrefutable proof). When it comes to the future, cause and effect science is full proof, and would be nice. But it might be more practical and useful to employ correlation in many instances. Case in point would be the addition of a recent Washington Post article to that of Laura Hancock’s. “Study: Doctors received more than $46 million from drug companies marketing opioids” by Katie Zezima, 8-9-17 offers the following: “One in 12 doctors has received money from drug companies marketing prescription opioid medications, according to a study released Wednesday afternoon. Researchers at Boston Medical Center found that from 2013 to 2015, 68,177 doctors received more than $46 million in payments from drug companies pushing powerful painkillers. Researchers believe it is the first study to look at the practice of pharmaceutical companies marketing opioids to physicians.” “Doctors were paid the most for the promotion of fentanyl, which is typically used in hospitals to treat post-surgical pain, cancer patients and for end-of-life care. Most of the fentanyl driving the increase in deaths is illicitly manufactured overseas and cut into heroin. According to the study, companies were not aggressively marketing tamper-proof versions of pills, which were created in response to the opioid crisis.” “According to [author Scott] Hadland’s study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, about two-thirds of the payments came from speaking fees. About 700 doctors raked in nearly 83 percent of the total money spent marketing to physicians. Pharmaceutical companies spent freely around the country, but some of the states hit hardest by the opioid crisis, including Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey, recorded the most payments to doctors.” Add to that the multiple lawsuits, settled or pending, in West Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi, Oklahoma, etc. involving pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, and Issue 2 begins to look a little different. Cause and effect certainty?  Without knowing anything for certain, are you beginning to discern something about Ohio Issue 2?

The League

August 6, 2017

One of the bright spots in the news of Licking County this past week pretty much flew under the radar, for all intents, unheralded. The online Newark Advocate (8-3-17) listed “Letter” under the news labeled “Granville.” Clicking the item revealed a page headlined “Letter: League of Women voters forming”. Analysis surmises it must have been a letter to the editor of The Granville Sentinel, a Gannett subsidiary. Notable is: “A chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) is forming in Licking County. The history of the LWV goes back almost 100 years nation wide. It once had a strong and active presence here until the local chapter disbanded in the 1990s.” and “The LWV is always firmly non-partisan with regard to candidates, but on some policy issues it takes a stand after reaching consensus based on research and discussion.” Policy issues would primarily be issues around voting rights, voting access and organization which are an integral part of the league’s 100 year history. Unmentioned by the letter is the absence of participation by young Americans in the organization (both women and men), leading to a decline in League membership as well as League sponsored events nationwide. You can only rely on the elderly (though they don’t think of themselves as such) for so long before fatigue or natural attrition sets in. Other local organizations, such as the NAACP, The Poverty Think Tank, etc. face a similar challenge. This has not been a factor with commercially sanctioned civic organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, who rely on the profit incentive to solicit and retain members. Of course, commercial organization implicates paid administration whereas those running the League at the start-up, local level are volunteers. A vibrant local chapter of the League is able to organize, publicize and activate educational community issue forums as well as candidate debates. A “Candidate debate” differs markedly from the “meet the candidate” events sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, primarily in terms of organization and sanctioning. No League member “benefits” from “sponsoring” the event (usually held at a public space rather than a hotel, private facility). Candidates agreeing to participate receive their party’s representative on the question screening panel. Questions are submitted before hand, screened by the League organization with input from the party reps – GOP, Dem, Green, independent, etc. The questions are screened for purposes of filtering out blatantly promotional, biased, or gotcha questions, sometimes edited to maintain intent but neutralize presentation. Candidates receive advance copy of the debate format, but not the questions themselves. This stresses the importance for their being knowledgeable of the substance as well as their own positions in responding to the questions. It also facilitates spontaneity. The monitor runs the debate but has no input on the questions themselves (as opposed to the Chamber’s previous format of having the Advocate editor present questions and stimulate responses. Many Advocate advertisers, as well as the Advocate itself, belong to the Chamber). There is a separate time keeper allotting each candidate equal time in toto (use up too much time in a single grandstanding response means you lose it in your closing statement). In this manner, unlike “meet the candidate” debutante events, League candidate debates are rather rigorous, something Licking County might find quite refreshing. The letter ends with “If you would like to be included in the communications about forming a LWV chapter in Licking County, please call Rita Kipp at 740-525-2287.”

If Not Democracy, Then What?

July 31, 2017

Newsweek lifted an article from RobertReich.org entitled INTRODUCING DONALD TRUMP, THE BIGGEST LOSER by (who else?) Robert Reich, 7-31-17. Those not familiar with Reich will recall he was part of the Clinton cabinet and now is (like a lot of former government heads) an academic. Well, to cut to the chase, he writes articles and essays telling folks what they need to know and think, the big picture, and giving out forewarnings. Describing our apprentice prez as a “loser”, by a former cabinet member of all people, is a bit jaw dropping. No, not because he chose to identify the apprentice president with winning and losing (which we already know), but rather for stooping to the apprentice president’s level of dialogue and discourse (“He’s a loser.”). First our political leaders have degraded to expletives, exaggeration, and unsubstantiated innuendo. Now our academics? Reich’s article is another essay (by many) illuminating that the current administration’s priority is winning/losing rather than any ideology or policy commitment. Analysis finds itself in that same company having written/posted likewise.  Reich lays out a sterling argument referenced impeccably with accurate current events and observations (his own as well as those of others). With his summation he writes “Anyone who regards the other party as a threat to the nation’s well being is less apt to accept outcomes in which the other party prevails – whether it’s a decision not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or even the outcome of a presidential election. As a practical matter, when large numbers of citizens aren’t willing to accept such outcomes, we’re no longer part of the same democracy. I fear this is where Trump intends to take his followers, along with much of the Republican Party: Toward a rejection of political outcomes they regard as illegitimate, and therefore a rejection of democracy as we know it.” America and democracy? Like bacon and eggs, bread and butter, Kardashians and Extra – hard to imagine one without the other. “Rejection of democracy”? Naaa. Same day NPR produced New Florida Law Lets Residents Challenge School Textbooks (Greg Allen, Morning Edition 7-31-17). From the transcript: “Keith Flaugh is a retired IBM executive living in Naples, Fla., and a man with a mission. He describes it as “getting the school boards to recognize … the garbage that’s in our textbooks.” Flaugh helped found Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a conservative group that fought unsuccessfully to stop Florida from signing on to Common Core educational standards. More recently, the group has turned its attention to the books being used in Florida’s schools. A new state law, developed and pushed through by Flaugh’s group, allows parents, and any residents, to challenge the use of textbooks and instructional materials they find objectionable via an independent hearing.” There is an elaboration of Florida Citizens’ Alliance agenda and methodology followed by: “Flaugh says he’s just as concerned about how textbooks describe U.S. history and our form of government. “I spent over 20 hours with a book called ‘United States Government,'” he says. He found more than 80 places where he believes the textbook was wrong or showed bias, beginning with the cover. Its subtitle is “Our Democracy.” “We’re not a democracy, we’re a constitutional republic,” Flaugh says.” The dictionary gives the following definition for the word “republic”: “a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.” Fair enough. Analysis wonders about the elected part and whether Mr. Flaugh is taking something for granted (are we all?). If the representatives and the president aren’t determined through election by the people (which hold supreme power), then how does it come about? Who determines winners and losers? If not democracy, then what?

 

When Ya Gotta Get Your Fix

July 29, 2017

The latest full week episode of The Apprentice President cannot go unmentioned. Tumultuous would be an understatement. The weekly show began with many platitudes and pronouncements, Boy Scout Jamboree, a mass rally in Youngstown Ohio, a Twit directive on military preparedness, staff melodrama (all shook up) and the eventual demise of Trumpcare, totally elided by the apprentice prez himself (I’m not going to own it). Not part of the show, but part of the ratings, was the recent Gallup Poll indicating current approval/disapproval, nationally as well as by individual states. In Ohio, the disapproval/approval rating is statistically even given any margin of error (48% disapprove, 47% approve of the apprentice prez. The rest are undecided, whatever that means). Analysis reflects on the approval folks, especially their affirmative “Give him a chance”. Chance has been given, and still undying loyalty and promotion followed the Youngstown mass rally (which was well attended). The rally brought out the typical and expected speculation by the various news/media organizations regarding the being of such a phenomenon (unprecedented in that it is officially described as a 2020 re-election event). An oft repeated mantra of news pundits is that when the apprentice president hits a “tipping point” the crowd size will diminish, the disapproval ratings will increase. This mantra is aging fast, being almost 3 years old. The latest variation of this same mantra is the chickens-coming-home-to-roost one. When the factories aren’t back, when the jobs don’t materialize, when health care isn’t available or is unaffordable, etc. then the approval/disapproval equity will shift. This line has been borne out as inaccurate with the disparity between the “undying” mass affection shown the apprentice president in Youngstown, and the abysmal performance chaos of the last 6 months. The conventional wisdom interpretation is that apprentice president fans don’t really care about outcomes and performance. They like the show because they are so fed up with the politics governing America and (as evidenced by the Medicaid recipient electorate of Kentucky) prefer self inflicted damage to being without, a kind of retro “Let it bleed.” Analysis likens this to high school fund raisers where folks pay a buck, don safety glasses, and take a whack at a car with a sledge hammer. Eventually the car becomes inoperable, an expense to dispose of. But heck, it felt so good to destroy it! And it was all perfectly legal and sanctioned (for a good cause, even). Globally, historically this is nothing new. We’ve witnessed it time and again, this destroying, this purging of the status quo (because it feels so good to off them) and the cataclysmic change it spawns. It is infrequent (and unfulfilled) for America where historically this high has been tempered by the sobriety of our constitutional form of government. Americans don’t care for such a self-image. In a sense it can be spoken of as a kind of death wish. Freud referenced it as a death drive. Wiki gives an assessment which supports conventional wisdom’s interpretation of the “undying” loyalty of apprentice president fans – “In a sense, the death drive is a force that is not essential to the life of an organism (unlike an “instinct”) and tends to denature it or make it behave in ways that are sometimes counter-intuitive.” Analysis finds it little wonder that many of the private lives of these selfsame fans are touched and plagued by the unwanted scourge of the opioid addiction epidemic. It likewise could be described as “a force that is not essential to the life of an organism (unlike an “instinct”) and tends to denature it or make it behave in ways that are sometimes counter-intuitive.”

New Deals Contract Government Circa 2017

July 17, 2017

The first line of the news report was almost banal but the news it reported was more than a tragedy – “A yoga and meditation teacher living in Minneapolis was fatally shot by police Saturday night after she called 911 to report a possible assault in the alley behind her home.” (Minneapolis police officer fatally shoots Australian bride-to-be under mysterious circumstances   The Washington Post, report by Katie Mettler, Kristine Phillips, Mark Berman, 7-17-17); this in a community still struggling to comprehend the senseless homicide of Philando Castile by exonerated officer Jeronimo Yanez, 7-6-16. “Three mayoral candidates, Minneapolis NAACP officials and about 250 other friends, family and community members attended a vigil Sunday night where [Justine] Damond was shot. “Many of us who have been on the front lines have been warning the public, saying if they would do this to our fathers and our sons and our brothers and our sisters and our mothers, they will do it to you next,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds, one of the candidates and a civil rights attorney. “I really hope that this is a wake-up call for this community to stop allowing things to be divided on the lines of race and on the lines of socio-economic status.” Friends and neighbors called her a “peaceful, lovely woman” who loved animals and helping others.” Analysis knows this will be on the nightly news, across the board. Analysis also shows that these same nightly news broadcasts air a commercial ad, a Public Service Announcement of sorts, that shows a couple having to endure listening to an overly heated, violent argument from the adjoining apartment which ultimately results in the murder of a spouse. Viewers are urged to risk being wrong and call police if they suspect such domestic violence. The ads urging “calling” for help are not new. Nor are the reports of people calling 911 for help, reporting burglaries, sick individuals off their meds, a child waving a toy gun, etc. resulting in someone, even the caller, being shot by the uniformed responders. Usually, there is more than one shot, normally a fusillade as per rigorous police firing range training. The domestic violence PSA may go the way of Movantik commercials. You know, for aid with opioid induced constipation. Like the domestic violence ads, the Movantik ad might be quite appropriate —  until one realizes the epidemic AstraZeneca is trying to cash in on. Likewise, “calling” police “to report a possible assault” might be quite appropriate, until one realizes the redundancy of banal news report first lines describing callers being shot by responders, usually multiple times. Still eager to do your civic duty and call? Analysis vaguely recalls high school civics and government classes teaching long dead political philosophy and theory about contracts between the governed and those who govern, and the role of police in a democratic country like ours. Something in there about trust, and the erosion of trust creating something unrecognizable, even sinister. Evidence of this erosion can be found in “But the BCA [Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension] offered few other details on what precipitated the shooting and, it said, neither of the responding officers had turned on their body cameras before the shooting. The squad car camera did not capture the incident, either.” Analysis finds Nekima Levy-Pounds’ statement not to be inflammatory but rather quite documentary. “Many of us who have been on the front lines have been warning the public, saying if they would do this to our fathers and our sons and our brothers and our sisters and our mothers, they will do it to you next,”

Know Justice, Know Peace

July 13, 2017

The media news footage includes cell phone/dash cam/body cam video of a man being shot dead by a policeman. Later, the policeman is exonerated, has done no wrong. Repeat ad nauseam. Closer to home the video shows protesting people targeted by city police and taunted as they are pepper sprayed. Following orders. Repeat again ad nauseum. Both here at home and elsewhere there is video of people complying, or already subdued being punched in the stomach or kicked in the head by uniformed officers. Doing their duty. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. No video available of the nation’s top law enforcement official addressing an SPLC designated “hate group” for an “off-camera, closed-door speech” (NBC News, Jeff Sessions Criticized for Speaking to ‘Hate Group’, Mary Emily O’Hara, 7-13-17) “As announced on his public schedule, Sessions addressed a crowd at the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Summit on Religious Liberty in Orange County, California.” “Founded in 1994, the Alliance Defending Freedom was a coalition effort between conservative Christian leaders aiming to preserve traditional social norms, restrict access to abortion and fight the “homosexual agenda.”” “But with millions in its war chest, ADF does more than just litigate: The firm wrote model legislation called the Student Physical Privacy Act that built a foundation for dozens of proposals and policies around the country that are frequently referred to as “bathroom bills.” ADF’s model legislation, and the national trend that stems from it, is aimed at keeping transgender people out of restrooms and other private facilities that correspond to their gender identity and presentation.” The dominant news dwarfing all these repeated daily occurrences is “that Russia thing,” disparaged as so much “fake news” by the apprentice president. His son now flaunts the family’s otherwise undisclosed interaction with Russian representatives prior to the official GOP nomination of his dad as their presidential candidate. How is this possible? Responsible news media continuously supplies contextual background reporting for an “in depth” understanding of headline news. Today, USA Today gives “In Trump country, Russia doesn’t resonate” from Tennessee. On 7-11-17 PBS Newshour ran a segment “Deep in coal country, West Virginia residents speak out about GOP healthcare bill.” Closer to home, writing for Reuters, Tim Reid headlines “In Trump’s Ohio bastion, supporters dismiss uproar over Donald Jr.” (7-12-17) With regard to the GOP engineered demise of Medicaid PBS shows a dismayed Rebecca Hicks, a patient at Williamson Health & Wellness Center from Chattaroy, West Virginia, earnestly confessing “I chose those people. I put my faith in those people that they would make this place better, not take away the only things that were helping this area.” Tim Reid reports: “In Hillsboro, the county seat of Highland County, the editor of the Hillsboro Times Gazette, Gary Abernathy, says many people in the county believe the media is trying to destroy Trump. “It just plays into the belief here that the media is fixated on all things Russia,” said Abernathy, whose newspaper was one of only six in the United States to have endorsed Trump for president during the election campaign. “I don’t mind Donald Trump being treated critically or aggressively, but not in a way that is an effort to drag him down. Donald Trump Jr. had one 20 minute meeting with a lawyer from Russia and it’s wall-to-wall coverage.” Analysis finds it extraordinary and quite revealing that the responsible media expends such an effort on the actual news of the media being designated as “fake news” and disparaged as unreliable while the substance of this news, that without reporting events become of no concern, is missed entirely by those it is meant to inform. It seems like an odd twist on the former president’s admonition to “go and talk” with those who don’t agree with you. Reid ends his road trip report with “In the Bob Evans diner in Jackson, three workers from Walmart were sitting down for lunch. They were Trump supporters. Asked about the Russia investigation, they stared back blankly. “I have never heard anything about it,” said Chastity Banks. Neither had her two colleagues.” Repeat ad nauseam nationwide. Given this unique situation, Analysis can’t help but conclude that Junior and “that Russia thing” will go the same route as police violence, shootings, and the dictates (in word as well as deed) of America’s top law enforcement officer.

Michael Mangus, Mark Fraizer, And C-TEC

July 7, 2017

A quick synopsis for readers unfamiliar with the current Newark kerfuffle: “During Wednesday’s council meeting, Michael Mangus, D-4th Ward, chastised Mark Fraizer, R-at large, for comments he made about circuses during council’s finance committee meeting June 26.” (Newark City Council members spar over circus comments, Maria DeVito, Newark Advocate, 7-6-17). Mr. Fraizer threatened to bring the big top down (and did). His reason was that animals were being abused, that he owns 7, and couldn’t imagine they’d learn tricks other than through abusive techniques (a true animal aficionado would have said “cohabits with 7”). Many associated this with the influence of PETA, and their ongoing campaigns on behalf of animal rights. Mr. Mangus chose to chastise via the current, conventional charge against media, “doing the research” and all the fake facts, alternate facts, real facts, science, etc. A little political grandstanding was thrown in for good measure by siding with the locals, and local service organization (and all the good they do). C-TEC? Concurrent with DeVito’s report, the Advocate headlined “C-TEC manufacturing camp looks to fill hole in job market”, also by DeVito, same day. Analysis finds coverage of the brouhaha (ha ha!) to glaringly reveal the character of contemporary culture through the dynamics of this discourse. In attempts to make the world a better place, Mr. Fraizer focuses on righting the wrong. In attempts to make the world a better place, Mr. Mangus focuses on “do right” service (the service organizations contribution through the services of the circus and the disservice of Mr. Fraizer’s comments). He opts, or rather co-opts the currently fashionable trend of bashing the media (gratis our apprentice president) while questioning the character of Mr. Fraizer and his ability to do research and differentiate facts (fake, alternative, “real” facts, “real” alternative facts, etc.). Analysis finds this to be a microcosm of what is occurring on a larger, national scale. The real issue is totally elided, obfuscated by the need to right a wrong (think the GOP and Obamacare) or that knowledge and learning are a matter of discriminating consumerism (think if you just got your news from the right source, you’d get the right answers, correct outlook, whatever – the apprentice president’s approach to correct learning, let alone knowledge). The human animals performing in the circus didn’t learn their tricks through abusive techniques. There are more of them than the non-human kind. The internet is full of documented accounts of human interactions with animals, both wild and domesticated. There are accounts of wild birds eating out of folks hands, pet fish cuddling on the palm of a hand so as to be petted, and crocodiles getting a smooch from their keeper. How do you abuse a croc to get it to be so? No, people and animals do learn tricks through patience, perseverance and continuous repetition. Which brings us to Mangus and his consumer oriented disposition to learning and its offspring – knowledge. There is no “once and for all” absolute, ultimate, final fount of knowledge (no matter how smart your mobile device is). As any good educator would say, learning is continuous. It would be naïve to believe that there is no abuse in the world, or that we can eliminate it totally through some sweeping legislation (like “pee in the cup” legislation for public assistance recipients, “to eliminate the abusers”). Which brings us to C-TEC and the article concerning one of its programs to foster and cultivate learning and skills through patience, perseverance, and repetition. Brand marketing has its consuming faithful convinced that something is a natural, born that way, in the DNA, fated (like Athena sprung whole from the forehead of Zeus). That quality is reflected in the price and inherent. Any flaws indicate lesser value. Etc. Learning and knowledge formation require working with what is unknown and at risk of being off or wrong. Crafting good legislation, whether for health care or circuses, requires a bit of doing, a lot of patience, perseverance and repetition, and even more learning and knowledge. This is something Mr. Fraizer and Mr. Mangus ought to be held accounted for, along with our other elected officials.

Send In The Clowns

June 28, 2017

The news out of Newark this week includes the campaign by Republican council person at large (and rising GOP star), Mark Fraizer, to rid Newark of circus (Please refrain from uttering the snide comment that “Newark is….”). Much of the online commentary swivels on his need to represent the dollars and cents interests of his constituency (which “at large” would include just about anyone and everyone). There is an under current of disappointment that someone who listed working in a bank on his candidacy resume would choose not to concern himself with fiscal issues but rather ones embraced by “interest” groups like PETA. In More Hannah Arendt (previous post, 6-22-17), Analysis pointed to the difference between politics situated amongst interest groups and that within a totalitarian environment, where the politics swirls around either being for or against the dominant party (the need to win at all costs, anything whatsoever). Analysis paraphrased a quote Arendt pulled from the official handbook for the Hitler Youth, The Nazi Primer (New York, 1938). The original quoted line reads “We shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of genetics.” Analysis substituted “economics” for “genetics.” How do they differ?  The dictionary gives “the study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics.” for genetics. For economics there are two given interpretations: “the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth.” and “the condition of a region or group as regards material prosperity.” Either interpretation, they are united by concern for material prosperity taken as production, consumption and transfer of wealth. Both genetics and economics have one glaring thing in common – neither are a science (as indicated in the definition). Neither can make a plane fly, change hydrogen and oxygen atoms into water, or prevent tooth decay. If it were so, we certainly wouldn’t have experienced the financial meltdown of 2007-8 and the great recession that followed, nor would there be such outrage over the “scientific” genetic experiments perpetrated by various government sanctioned individuals, here and abroad (think Dr. Mengele, American slave breeders, or Soviet aptitude selection). 100 years ago genetics was one of the operative forms of “knowledge” used to justify segregation, colonial administration, relocating Native American children to church run boarding schools, etc. Genetics essentially gave the alibi for why some people were complete human beings and others were just human wannabe’s, in need of development, etc. Bear in mind, dear reader, that it was not a science but was a “branch of knowledge” very prevalent within the world at that time (we’re not talking DNA here but the shape of a person’s skull, nose or color of skin).  Economics has supplanted genetics in today’s world order. What isn’t justified by, or doesn’t have economics as its alibi? (Think jumping ahead in line for a higher fee at the historic jail haunted hoochie, or health care if you’re not familiar with Halloween in Newark) Which brings us back to Mark Fraizer, his Grand Old Party, and interest based self-governance (where groups representing specific interests interact to form cohesive civil government through a democratic process). This blog doesn’t need to reference the continuous debate over whether some or any government decision or policy makes money, costs money and the “economics” involved (jobs created, wealth distribution, tax breaks, etc.). A funny thing happens on the way to government in the US today. If it is something ”interest” based, it immediately is cast into the margins by the call to be with us (for the economics involved) or against us (trying to subvert the market, consumers or wealth distribution). With his desire to bring the big top down in Newark, Mark ventures into this nether region of an appeal to interest, a public interest that is not economics. Analysis shows that eventually this will put him at odds with the GOP’s dominance, which prefers to actively shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of economics. Will Mark submit and toe the party line? Or will he require Newark’s finest to respond to clown sightings at the American Clown Academy or the Kiwanis BIG Show?

 

More Hannah Arendt

June 22, 2017

Although Hannah Arendt writes about events from 70 to 200 years ago in The Origins Of Totalitarianism (1951, 1958, 1966), something of today jumps out with almost every page. Contemporary political savants argue endlessly over how the party system is faring, who is winning/losing, why, and what the results of this spell out for the American people (as well as people of the world). In a paragraph referencing utilitarianism and governance (pg 347) she ends with:  ““Scientism” in politics still presupposes that human welfare is its object, a concept which is utterly alien to totalitarianism.” She footnotes this with: “William Ebenstein, The Nazi State, New York, 1943, in discussing the “Permanent War Economy” of the Nazi state is almost the only critic who has realized that “the endless discussion . . . as to the socialist or capitalist nature of the German economy under the Nazi regime is largely artificial . . . [because it] tends to overlook the vital fact that capitalism and socialism are categories which relate to Western welfare economics” (p.239)” She begins the next paragraph with: “It is precisely because the utilitarian core of ideologies was taken for granted that the anti-utilitarian behavior of totalitarian governments, their complete indifference to mass interest, has been such a shock.” On page 350 she writes “Totalitarian movements use socialism and racism by emptying them of their utilitarian content, the interest of a class or nation. The form of infallible prediction in which these concepts were presented has become more important than their content. The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error.” She elaborates this. On page 350 she writes “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such.” Which she footnotes with “Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s Rise to Power, Boston, 1944, underlines Hitler’s “phenomenal untruthfulness,” “the lack of demonstrable reality in nearly all his utterances,” his “indifference to facts which he does not regard as vitally important” (pp. 368, 374). –In almost identical terms, Khrushchev describes “Stalin’s reluctance to consider life’s realities” and his indifference to “the real state of affairs,” op. cit. Stalin’s opinion of the importance of facts is best expressed in his periodic revisions of Russian history.” She concludes this small foray into utilitarianism and objective interests in “traditional” Western forms of governance and what she believes occurs with totalitarian forms: “For masses, in contrast to classes, want victory and success as such, in their most abstract form; they are not bound together by those special collective interests which they feel to be essential to their survival as a group and which they therefore may assert even in the face of overwhelming odds. More important to them than the cause that may be victorious, or the particular enterprise that may be a success, is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.” Tonight’s nightly national news covered the crowds lining up overnight for the apprentice president’s Iowa rally, very much like they used to do outside stores for Black Friday Sales. The camera panned to a little girl who yelled out “Build a wall!” No matter that at the recent (6-14-17) Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum Dr. Jim Johnson, in his talk on the Browning and Greying of America and its impact on business and the economy, carefully pointed out that the median age for whites is early forties, for immigrants and people of color upper twenties and early thirties. Who will help populate the workforce and consumer economy of tomorrow? No matter that the GAO, as well as others, describe self inflicted damage from much social legislation and executive action. (to paraphrase Arendt’s pg. 350 quote from the Nazi Primer “We shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of economics” [original “genetics”]). No matter that “the jobs are never coming back,” and that the coal mining museum in Kentucky has solar panels on its roof. “More important . . . is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.”