Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

OMG

July 16, 2018

This just in: Andrew J. Tobias for cleveland.com headlines Southeast Ohio Republican Party leader resigns over Trump-Putin meeting (7-16-18). Chris Gagin, Chairman of the Belmont County Ohio Republican Party, sent out these two tweets today:

“I remain a proud conservative and Republican, but I resigned today as Belmont Co Ohio GOP Chairman. I did so as a matter of conscience, and my sense of duty.”

“The President is entitled to GOP party leaders, at all levels, fully committed to his views and agenda.  Following today’s press conference with Pres. Putin, as well as certain policy differences, most especially on trade, I could no longer fulfill that duty.  Thus, I resigned.”

Tobias gives this background info: “Gagin is a former staffer to ex-Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson who switched parties in 2013. He ran this year as a Belmont County commissioner, but lost in the Republican primary in May. In the 2017 fight for control of the Ohio Republican Party in the aftermath of Trump’s electoral victory, Gagin was an ally of then-Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges, who lost to now-Chairman Jane Timken, for whom Trump personally lobbied. The leadership fight generally was seen as a proxy fight between Trump’s and Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s political teams. Belmont County is among the historically Democratic counties in Ohio that have swung into Republican control in recent years. In November 2016, thanks in large part to Trump’s popularity, Republicans took control of the Belmont County commission in what may have been the first time in history.” Analysis must note that St. Clairsville is the county seat of Belmont County. During the heyday of coal strip mining Belmont County contained more than its share. It also contains Dysart Woods. Don’t know what Dysart Woods is? Wiki it.

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Not Worthy

July 12, 2018

July 12, 2018. Not appearing as news in the Newark Advocate today would be the news about John Schnatter (a perversion of Wayne’s World “not worthy”). You remember John, founder of Papa John’s (the one time official pizza of the NFL). He stepped down as Chairman of the Board of the company he founded (and still owns majority of the stock). Eh, just another case of whiteness in America, nothing to note (“not worthy”). But wait, there was a prequel to this episode. From the 12-21-17 Washington Post business section  Marwa Eltagouri headlined: Papa John’s founder will step down as CEO after criticizing national anthem protests in the NFL. “In November, Schnatter sparked outrage by blaming sagging sales at Papa John’s — a top NFL sponsor and advertiser — on the league’s “poor leadership” in response to the demonstrations during the national anthem. He said the practice of players kneeling during the anthem to raise awareness of police brutality and social injustice hurt the NFL’s TV ratings, which in turn hurt sales of his pizza, which is advertised heavily during games. “You need to look at exactly how the ratings are going backwards,” said Schnatter, who donated $1,000 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. “Last year the ratings for the NFL went backwards because of the elections. This year the ratings are going backwards because of the controversy. And so the controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”” Analysis surmises The Newark Advocate doesn’t wish to get involved with polarization when it comes to its customer base, its advertisers (its readers being “not worthy”). But then again “In the days after Schnatter’s remarks, white supremacist publication the Daily Stormer dubbed Papa John’s as the official pizza of the alt-right. Papa John’s spokesman Peter Collins told the Courier-Journal that the company was caught off-guard by the endorsement and condemned “racism in all forms.”” Do tell. Obviously not an advertiser but big news just the same, the huge rally by organized labor at the Ohio statehouse was also deemed “not worthy” by The Newark Advocate. After the financial meltdown at the end of the Bush presidency, multi-employer pension funds were thrown into a tailspin. Wall street got bailed out, as did GM and Chrysler along with farmers. Now the unions, who bargained in good faith with a pension plan as part of their wages, want a fix to the mess the demise of Lehman Bros. left (you remember, John Kasich’s old employer). “Republicans on the [House and Senate Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans] committee oppose a bailout for the plans, which are essentially private contracts.” “”We don’t want to be bailed out, but we want a little assistance to give us a leg up,” [Dave] Kalnbach [retired ironworker from Michigan] said. “We built America. We built all these buildings.” (Multi-employer pension rally draws thousands to Ohio Statehouse, Jackie Borchardt, cleveland.com, 7-12-18). Elsewhere in the Op Ed section of the same publication Brent Larkin headlines; For Senate hopeful Jim Renacci, Ben Suarez is baggage that will not go away, nor should it (7-12-18). “Suarez was convicted of witness tampering and spent about a year in federal prison.” “A July 6 story by Dayton Daily News reporter Laura Bischoff revealed telephone logs obtained by federal investigators found Renacci and Suarez exchanged more than 40 calls between late 2010 and May 2012. Evidence in Suarez’s 2014 criminal trial showed that in 2011 Renacci wrote a letter to Gov. John Kasich complaining about an investigation into the business practices of Suarez’s company being conducted by the state of California. Renacci’s letter proved profitable.  Days later, checks from Suarez employees were headed to the congressman’s campaign treasury, eventually totaling a reported $100,000.” “Of the 40 or more telephone calls, government exhibit 802 in the Suarez trial shows:

*Eight telephone calls between Renacci and Suarez in the week before the tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions began to arrive.

*A call on the day before Renacci wrote the letter to Kasich.

*Another call within hours after the Associated Press reported on May 21, 2012 that the donations were the subject of a federal investigation.” Larkin’s finale informs The Advocate’s choice for what is news worthy: “Suarez’s sick brand of vigilante justice includes raising money to defeat Dettelbach and Brown. And he’s offering rewards to anyone providing dirt on any of these four targets. Republican David Yost, Dettelbach’s opponent in the contest for attorney general, has already denounced Suarez’s effort, tweeting, “Mr. Suarez was convicted – by a jury of his peers. Politics and retribution have no place in the criminal justice system. This nonsense needs to stop.” Contrast that exercise in honesty with this from Renacci campaign spokeswoman Leslie Shedd: “Both the Obama Justice Department and the FBI conducted a thorough investigation and repeatedly made clear neither Jim Renacci nor his campaign engaged in any improper conduct. This is just another embarrassingly desperate attempt by Sherrod Brown to deceive voters and deflect from his liberal record in Washington.” That’s the new Republican way. When cornered, always obfuscate, mislead, change the subject. And make sure you include at least one mention of Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.” When the reader is the product and the customer is the advertiser, then, during election years, such news is definitely “not worthy.”

A Desire To Preserve Public Civility

June 30, 2018

Most recent in the Richmond Times Dispatch, Lauren Berg of The Daily Progress writes (6-29-18, Charlottesville judge awards Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler $5 for activist cursing at him): “A Charlottesville judge decided Friday that a local activist violated Virginia’s anti-dueling statute when she screamed curses at Jason Kessler. Kessler cited the statute in his $500 lawsuit against Donna Gasapo, whom he said used insulting language that tended toward violence and a breach of the peace. Kessler said he sued for a small amount of money based on the principle of the matter and a desire to preserve public civility. With dozens of supporters seated behind her in Charlottesville General District Court on Friday, Gasapo never denied yelling curse words at Kessler on March 16 outside of DeAndre Harris’ assault trial in the same courthouse. But her attorney said she was protected by the First Amendment to express rhetorical hyperbole and make exaggerated statements. Representing himself, Kessler argued that Gasapo’s words — “F— you … f— you, a—— … crybaby Kessler” — were fighting words and could have incited violence. In the video that Kessler played as evidence, Gasapo also can be heard calling Kessler a “murderer.” Kessler said Gasapo was falsely assigning him blame for the death of Heather Heyer, who was killed in a car attack on the day of the Unite the Right rally, which Kessler organized.” Following coverage of “both sides” (and the judge) Berg concludes with this from Gasapo’s attorney: ““I think we should all be very concerned about what this ruling means in terms of opening up other frivolous harassment suits against members of our community who are expressing their opinions and their very real feelings of frustration, which we believe are protected by the First Amendment,” she said.” The words of Gasapo’s attorney, Pam Starsia, skim the surface and steer well away from the depths. Analysis finds this symptomatic of our current, curious times. How so? Remember Cleveland’s John Demjanjuk? No, he didn’t play for the Browns. Who could forget the Ukrainian immigrant refugee who was stripped of US citizenship and eventually tried as an accessory to the murder of 28,000+ Jews during the Second World War? And who could forget John F Kennedy? What? What does Kennedy have to do with Kessler, or Demjanjuk? Historically, one of the pressing questions during his “time” running for president was whether or not his religion, Roman Catholic, would affect his ability to govern as a future president. This dogged his candidacy, as well as many others during and after his “time.” As late as 2012 the question arose regarding Mitt Romney being part of the LDS Church. Ideology, or in this case religion, matters. Numbers driven media covered recent events regarding the rather personal confrontation of various current administration officials on a number of issues – Sarah Sanders, Kirstjen Nielsen, etc. (described as “harassment”). “Let the folks eat, for gawd’s sake. They’re only following orders and doing their job.” cry the administration’s defenders. Ideology matters, not personality. Demjanjuk, and others of his generation, were dragged from nursing homes to stand trial for being personally responsible for the atrocities that occurred in WWII. Personality matters, not ideology. It’s the people who were driving the locomotives, manning the guard towers, and keeping the books who  were personally responsible for the evil perpetrated. So which is it – ideology or the persons who embody it and make it materially real? Taking his cue perfectly from the fascist playbook, Kessler has gaslighted his vigilant (and virulent) opponents by publicly and legally casting himself as innocent, bearing no responsibility for events of his own doing. “A desire to preserve public civility”?

 

Whiteness

June 21, 2018

“The National Park Service has approved an initial request for organizers to hold a second “Unite the Right” rally, this time across the street from the White House in August — one year after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Va. The park service has given initial approval to an application from Jason Kessler to hold a “white civil rights rally” on Aug. 11 and 12, as first reported by WUSA9. Kessler, along with white supremacist Richard Spencer and others, organized the 2017 rally, during which a woman was killed.” (‘White Civil Rights Rally’ Approved For D.C. In August, James Doubek, NPR, 6-21-18). In his book, Our Damaged Democracy: We The People Must Act (2018) Joseph A. Califano Jr. writes (pg. 137): “Political spending on television ads has soared from about $2.6 billion in 2008 to $4.4 billion in 2016. In 2008, half of all campaign ads were negative. In 2012, 85 percent of ads paid for by super PACs and other outside groups were negative.” Analysis finds TV ads currently being run for Ohio’s 12thdistrict House of Representatives’ double header (for Tiberi’s replacement August ballot as well as for November’s 2 year expired term). Though some of Troy Balderson’s ads in the May primary appeared negative by making him out to be a Trumpier than thou conservative over his more to the right opponent (Melanie Leneghan), the recent ad offerings are meant to placate independents and moderates. Three video ads are accessible to Newark viewers (who are part of the sprawling district from southeast of Zanesville through New Albany/Upper Arlington, Delaware, and finally ending in greater Mansfield). One video on the website is a general “what a great guy Troy Balderson is”. One on network TV shows an “opioid mom” (“He is the compassionate and caring leader.”) and the other shows a Dublin mom raving about the benefits of the Trump tax cuts and how Troy will maintain them. Not much negative there. Troy’s opponent, Danny O’Connor, has also been running an ad. His primary race was not as contentious as Troy’s so we didn’t see his face on TV but did receive his mass mailings (showing what a great guy he is). The same “need new leadership” video appears on his TV ads as well as his website. Nothing negative there. Before the “outside groups” step in and sully everything, Analysis finds the “innocent” ads quite revealing. Not so innocent was the cell phone video of “Antwon Rose, 17, was shot three times in the back while running from a parked car that was stopped by a police officer, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said, according to the Associated Press.” (Unarmed Teen Fatally Shot by Police While Fleeing Traffic Stop in East Pittsburgh, Mahita Gajanan, Time, 6-20-18). Although Black Lives Matter will only unendingly infer it, whiteness ended another black man’s life. Neither Troy Balderson nor Danny O’Connor will admit complicity in the violent and needless death. Their “vote for me” ads sharply disagree with their alibis. Zanesville, Troy’s political origin, has a very long history of African American population. Non whites account for just over 15% of the population (DataUSA). Wiki gives 13% non white as the population of the 12thdistrict overall. There is not a single non white face (or body) in any of Balderson’s three promotional videos. Nada. Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor doesn’t fair any better with absolutely zero, zip, people of color in his single promotional video. Either non whites don’t vote in the future congressman’s world of whiteness, or black lives don’t matter.

 

Like A Perfect Storm

June 19, 2018

In the collage of images concerning America’s latest internment enterprise are some detainees dressed in the local native garb of place of origin, usually children. Most are dressed in everyday uniform “camouflage”, the non descript generic fashion offerings of Walmart or Target. Analysis is dedicated to the local, and the interface of the local with what is national or global in scope. Analysis has written (more than once) about public transportation, and the bias for autos and highways dating back to the Eisenhower Federal Highway Act of 1956. Analysis has written about Citizens United (more than once) and the influence of corporate wealth and lobbyist largesse in destroying the urban bus and trolley lines so Americans could “See the USA in their Chevrolet.” Analysis has written about the organizing savvy and expertise (more than once) of those aspiring for a single vision of America as it was (locally as well as nationally) fending off continuous threats in a politics of eternity; where there is no aspired future, no achieved goal, no progress or better but only the continuous replay of threats and adversaries to a vision of angst saturated security. Like a perfect storm, Hiroko Tabuchi headlined How the Koch brothers are killing public transit projects around the country (NY Times 6-19-18). “In cities and counties across the country — including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and here in Tennessee — the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government. At the heart of their effort is a network of activists who use a sophisticated data service built by the Kochs, called i360, that helps them identify and rally voters who are inclined to their worldview. It is a particularly powerful version of the technologies used by major political parties. In places like Nashville, Koch-financed activists are finding tremendous success.” “One of the mainstay companies of Koch Industries, the Kochs’ conglomerate, is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts. Even as Americans for Prosperity opposes public investment in transit, it supports spending tax money on highways and roads.” “Nashville’s idea to invest in transit got off to a strong start. Introduced in October by Megan Barry, who was mayor at the time, it called for 26 miles of light rail, a bus network, and a 1.8-mile tunnel for buses and trains that would bypass the city center’s narrow streets. The $5.4 billion proposal, the costliest transit project in Nashville’s history, was to be funded by raising the sales tax city residents pay by one percentage point, to 10.25 percent, and raising other business taxes. A coalition of Nashville businesses urged voters to endorse the spending as vital to a region projected to grow to almost 3 million people by 2040, an increase of 1 million.” “Central to the work of Americans for Prosperity is i360, the Kochs’ data operation, which profiles Americans based on their voter registration information, consumer data and social media activities. The canvassers divided the neighborhoods into “walkbooks,” or clusters of several dozen homes, and broke into teams of two.” “Their data zeroed in on people thought to be anti-tax or anti-transit and likely to vote.” Etc. Etc. Etc. And, lest we forget, the (dark) money behind it all: “In Nashville, Americans for Prosperity played a major role: organizing door-to-door canvassing teams using iPads running the i360 software. Those in-kind contributions can be difficult to measure. According to A.F.P.’s campaign finance disclosure, the group made only one contribution, of $4,744, to the campaign for “canvassing expenses.” Instead, a local group, NoTax4Tracks, led the Nashville fund-raising. Nearly three-quarters of the $1.1 million it raised came from a single nonprofit, Nashville Smart Inc., which is not required to disclose donors. The rest of the contributions to NoTax4Tracks came from wealthy local donors, including a local auto dealer. Both NoTax4Tracks and Nashville Smart declined to fully disclose their funding.” Sound familiar? (hint: the VW union organizing effort subverted in like manner, in same state) A new trail of tears? Thursday evening, June 21, 2018 the Freedom School will air their last film of the series – You Got To Move: Stories of Change in the South (7:00 PM GMP Hall 350 Hudson Ave Newark). “In this recently re-released film from 1985, film maker Lucy Massie Phenix interviews people who describe how they learned to set aside their fears and work for change in their own communities on issues as varied as voting rights, segregation, union organizing, strip mining and toxic waste.” (from the promo) Given the ubiquitous use of “latest technology,” like i360, by both political parties as well as special interest groups like the NRA and Americans For Prosperity (all brought to you by the makers of Citizens United), what the local Newark Freedom School offers bears a striking resemblance to the local native garb worn by some of the Central American refugee children pictured on the screens of Americans’ visual device of choice – small pinpoints of genuine intimate color and style awash in a sea of generic conformity made possible by the latest technology.

I Scream For Ice Cream

June 17, 2018

One of the first more extensive voting polls since the May primary came out this past week. The Enquirer/Suffolk poll as well as the Quinnipiac University poll showed the Ohio governor’s race (4 months away) to be a statistical dead heat. Who is Rich Cordray? GOP pundits like to scoff that even vanilla ice cream is more interesting. At the same time Mike DeWine isn’t exactly Mister Charisma. Most do agree that Cordray is essentially an unknown (especially if one wants to “bank” on the post Parkland massacre young voter surge), while DeWine rivals reality TV with his preponderance of on stage appearances for “things that really matter.” Only no one remembers what he’s done. A bit of a Johnny-come-lately with the opioid addiction crisis, choosing to sue manufacturers and distributors only after witnessing the success other states were having at doing it (and making sure not to offend Dublin based Cardinal Health). Likewise way late on the ECOT scandal, and whatever happened with the Rhoden family massacre in Pike County when Mike’s best pugnacious face was on the news almost every night? Analysis finds the current race for governor to be very curious once you step away from the hype. It may actually revolve on policy and issues this time, something refreshing given the personality politics on the national level. How so? A recent cleveland.com article (6-15-18) is quite informative. Is Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s boast about jobs gains accurate? by Rich Exner covers the current Ohio Governor’s, and past presidential wannabe’s, recent boast that “Ohio is now creating jobs 48 percent faster than the national rate since the start of the year.” Exner immediately notes “Ohio jobs have increased this year at a faster rate than the country as a whole, for the first time since Kasich took office in 2011, cleveland.com found in reviewing the data.” He then goes on to quibble about the veracity of Kasich’s claim given it is about a half percent increase in job growth (whether that increase is 48% higher, etc.). In short, whether that half a point is itself 48% higher than previous lackluster performance. The pertinence to the excitement of our current “unknowns” vying for governor is buried at the bottom of the article. Exner includes the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics covering the Kasich years:                                                                                                           “2011 – U.S. 1.6 percent; Ohio 1.56 percent.

2012 – U.S. 1.6 percent; Ohio 1.5 percent

2013 – U.S. 1.7 percent, Ohio 1.5 percent.

2014 – U.S. 2.2 percent, Ohio 1.8 percent.

2015 – U.S. 1.9 percent, Ohio 1.1 percent.

2016 – U.S. 1.6 percent, Ohio 0.8 percent

2017 – U.S. 1.5 percent, Ohio 0.6 percent.

2018 (through May) – U.S. 0.7 percent, Ohio 1.2 percent.”                                                   Kasich, the made for TV personality, touted Ohio’s robust and vigorous job growth during his presidential wannabe years and beyond. After all, he was a commentator for Fox prior to his running for governor in 2010, as well as is currently much in demand as a foil for the Dear Leader. Had he not been a made for TV personality pre any of the elections, the veracity of his claims may have had some significance and bearing on the outcome. THAT is precisely the excitement of the current Ohio Governor’s race between two veritable bland as vanilla ice cream personalities.

Not Voting Is Government By Other Means

June 13, 2018

News out of SCOTUS this past week affected Ohio and the rest of the nation. Almost every news source covered the story. For this essay Analysis will reference New York Times’ Supreme Court Upholds Ohio’s Purge of Voting Rolls by Adam Liptak (6-11-18). For those of you keeping score at home the ruling concerns Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, No. 16-980. The “Husted” is Jon Husted, current Ohio Secretary of State as well as current candidate for lieutenant governor in the upcoming 2018 election (timing is everything). For the namesake of the Institute on the obverse side WIKI gives “In response to the 1963 Children’s Crusade and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, A. Philip Randolph, former head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, an early black trade union, and Bayard Rustin, founded the APRI to forge an alliance between the civil rights movement and the labor movement. These efforts got them on the master list of Nixon political opponents.” (obviously not running for anything). Lots of handwringing and OMG accompanied this story in terms of national elections, voter suppression as an instrument of one party domination, etc. In an ambivalent gesture of affirmation with regard to these concerns Husted tried to minimize them by asserting Ohio would not “enforce” the ruling until after the fall election (appearance of conflict of interest and all). His official response (according to the NY Times): ““Today’s decision is a victory for election integrity,” Mr. Husted, a Republican, said in a statement, adding that “this decision is validation of Ohio’s efforts to clean up the voter rolls” and could “serve as a model for other states to use.”” (A veritable “C’mon down” call on The Price Is Right). Writing for the majority “Federal law, Justice Alito wrote, “plainly reflects Congress’s judgment that the failure to send back the card, coupled with the failure to vote during the period covering the next two general federal elections, is significant evidence that the addressee has moved.”” (from whence most of the outrage flows given that statistically, not as many people as get purged move within that period of time – in Ohio or elsewhere.) The Times relays his succinct reasoning: ““The dissents have a policy disagreement, not just with Ohio, but with Congress,” he wrote. “But this case presents a question of statutory interpretation, not a question of policy. We have no authority to second-guess Congress or to decide whether” Ohio’s notification program “is the ideal method for keeping its voting rolls up to date.” “The only question before us is whether it violates federal law,” Justice Alito wrote. “It does not.”” Analysis finds the reasoning to be flawless. Eliding the “political” questions of voter suppression, rigging the game through voter ID, or “use it or lose it” requirements, or discount double check those weekly mailings that all look like official car warranty, healthcare, or government benefit notices, Analysis finds the significance of the ruling more in line with the economic stimulus endeavors following the financial meltdown during the Bush administration. How so? Given the ruling and the current Ohio Secretary of State, it is difficult to ascertain what percentage of Ohioans eligible to vote are registered and really can vote, especially if they haven’t voted. One figure from 2012 gives 70% registered. It is important to bear in mind that in addition to the countless ways to register  (library, DMV, etc.) there is also the political theater of interest groups energetically soliciting the remaining 30% to register at large public gatherings (festivals, rallies, etc.). Yet after the registration comes…what? It is akin to all the unmarried couples who live together and introduce their significant other as their “fiancé.” No one bothers to equally forcefully get people to the polls to vote in innumerable local elections. Why? Because most elections concern mundane local concerns, not the stuff of national news (and populist outrage). Analysis finds the significance of the ruling, its stimulus character, to be that to change the “Congress’s judgment that the failure to send back the card, coupled with the failure to vote during the period covering the next two general federal elections, is significant evidence that the addressee has moved” doesn’t require changing the US congress. It does require changing one’s local Ohio representative or senator which requires actually voting in the mundane local elections that determine these members of the Ohio legislature. Not only does voting make the ruling moot (since the registered voter is active) but also makes it possible to improve the state’s voting policy to be more inclusive (EZ). According to the NY Times “The case concerned Larry Harmon, a software engineer and Navy veteran who lives near Akron, Ohio. He voted in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections but did not vote in 2012, saying he was unimpressed by the candidates. He also sat out the midterm elections in 2010 and 2014. But in 2015, Mr. Harmon did want to vote against a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and found that his name had been stricken from the voting rolls. State officials said that they had done so after sending Mr. Harmon a notice in 2011 asking him to confirm his eligibility to vote and that he did not respond. Mr. Harmon said he did not remember receiving a notice, but he was dropped from the voter rolls.” As pointed out in a past blog post, no government is politics by other means. Not voting is government by other means. By not bothering with mundane local elections, Mr. Harmon inadvertently affirmed Ohio’s purge policy.

 

 

 

 

Genuinely Authentic Destination

June 11, 2018

Week end of June 10, 2018 found The Newark Advocate become an oxymoron. OK, the politically correct term would be the newspaper became an antinomy. Highlight of the week end news, with articles, photos and video, was Newark Pride 2018. A rather lame attempt to “support” this was made by the Sunday (6-10-18) Our View editorial, Big things ahead for Newark’s past, future (written by the editorial board; a collaborative effort indeed!). Kurt Snyder’s Hundreds spread positive message during Pride (6-10-18) covered the Saturday’s festivities in the Canal Market District “before later heading to Thirty One West and the Denison Art Space. Attendees enjoyed music, dancing and fellowship on a hot, sunny afternoon.” The previous evening, Saturday’s revelers creatively resisted the Licking County Commissioners refusal to light the court house by shining gelled rainbow colored flashlights over its west side (also covered by The Advocate in photo’s, etc.). In the Our View editorial, the editorial board feigned support for multiculturalism by highlighting the great “tourist” draw to be found in the greater Newark area. “And while we all will get a new way to look to the stars, an effort to appropriately showcase our history got a major boost. The U.S. Department of the Interior made a formal invitation to make the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks the next United States nomination for World Heritage designation. Sites with such a designation include the Great Wall of China, Statue of Liberty, Vatican City, the Taj Mahal and Yellowstone National Park.” Wow! The editorial board makes it sound like Newark has finally made it to the Bigs. Don’t put your flashlights away just yet. Further on the same board writes of the increase in tourism to other such sites in the U.S. and finally “Giving people who visit the earthworks a place to eat, shop and sleep is critical to maximizing its potential. The conceptual plan for the former Meritor site is one intriguing idea for how to do this. Turning the vacant and contaminated site into an inclusive visitors center would be amazing, but it would not be cheap. Frankly it would be impossible for Newark, Heath and Licking County to develop the site to its potential without assistance from the state and federal governments.” Kurt Snyder wrote “Long-time Newark residents and those new to the area were equally pleasantly surprised at the positivity throughout the afternoon. Pride organizers were disappointed during the spring the Licking County Commissioners refused to light the courthouse for the event, and it caused division across Licking County and on social media.” But this is much more than an oxymoron of LC Commissioners (and the Newark mayor’s office) choosing to enact the will of “the people” to mean “our people.” May 25, 2018 Time.com’s MONEY put out clic bait entitled This Is the Best Park in Every U.S. State. Ohio finds that park to be Washington Park adjacent to Cinci’s Over The Rhine area. “Newly renovated and expanded less than six years ago, Washington Park is at the heart of Cincinnati. The park’s amenities include a playground, a dog park, and a “civic lawn” used for concerts and cultural events. During summer months, locals can grab a craft beer or glass of wine on the Southwest Porch and play games like chess (using an oversized set) and ping-pong.” Google the park and one sees something very familiar. Indeed, it is so central to the park (“a “civic lawn” used for concerts and cultural events”) that MONEY’s photo also includes it. The “it” is a gazebo that looks a lot like the one that used to grace Newark’s downtown “tourist” destination. Money’s short paragraph also seems to accurately describe what was once the courthouse square before Jeff Hall and Tim Bubb prioritized “security” at the cost of an expendable “civic lawn.” Other news of the past week included business owners of various downtown entities not finding their locations to be enough of a business draw and pulling out. Antinomies like an “inclusive visitors center” while  city (and county)  governments choose to enact the will of “our people” certainly don’t “spread [a] positive message” of what “is critical to maximizing its [marketing] potential.” As MONEY pointed out, a “civic lawn” is an irresistible gathering place, a genuinely authentic destination without the covert guile of profit design.

 

Not A Winner, Try Again

June 6, 2018

“The number of hate groups rose to 954 in 2017, from 917 in 2016. Within the white supremacist movement, neo-Nazi groups saw the greatest growth – soaring by 22 percent.” (Southern Poverty Law Center) In the May 27, 2018 blog post, Thoughts And Prayers, Analysis described fascism as “thinking associated with myth, fiction, duplicity, violence and the incessant manufacture of enemies.” The new Oxford American dictionary (on this operating system) gives “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization. • (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.” as a definition for Fascism. But that only rather further describes the activity (than defines it) so the dictionary supplements its “definition” with history: “The term Fascism was first used of the totalitarian right-wing nationalist regime of Mussolini in Italy (1922–43), and the regimes of the Nazis in Germany and Franco in Spain were also fascist. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach.” The same dictionary defines demagogue quite succinctly, “a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.”  In that same May 27 blog post Analysis referenced Timothy Snyder’s account of history entitled The Road To Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (2018). Early on (pg. 16) Snyder writes: “The fascism of the 1920s and 1930s, [Ivan] Ilyin’s era, had three core features: it celebrated will and violence over reason and law; it proposed a leader with a mystical connection to his people; and it characterized globalization as a conspiracy rather than as a set of problems. Revived today in conditions of inequality as a politics of eternity [think Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day], fascism serves oligarchs as a catalyst for transitions away from public discussion and towards political fiction; away from meaningful voting and towards fake democracy; away from the rule of law and towards personalist regimes.” Much closer to today he writes (pg. 269-270) “To proclaim “America First” was to deny any need to fight fascism either at home or abroad. When American Nazis and white supremacists marched in Charlottesville in August 2017, Trump said that some of them were “very fine people.” He defended the Confederate and Nazi cause of preserving monuments to the Confederacy. Such monuments in the American South were raised in the 1920s and 1930s, at a time when fascism in the United States was a real possibility; they memorialized the racial purification of Southern cities that was contemporary with the rise of fascism in Europe. Will Rogers, the great American entertainer and social commentator of his time, saw Adolf Hitler in 1933 as a familiar figure: “Papers all state that Hitler is trying to copy Mussolini. Looks to me it’s the KKK he’s copying.” The great American social thinker and historian W.E.B. Du Bois could see how the temptation of fascism worked together with American myths of the past. He rightly feared that American whites would prefer a story about enmity with blacks to a reforming state that would improve prospects for all Americans. Whites distracted by racism could become, as he wrote in 1935, “the instrument by which democracy in the nation was done to death, race provincialism deified, and the world delivered to plutocracy,” what we call oligarchy.” In his Epilogue summation Snyder further defines the workings of fascism while valuing the counter virtues necessary for democracy: equality, individuality, succession [think inauguration], integration, novelty [think new ideas, disruptive process], and truth. (pg. 278-279) “That no country stands alone is the truth of integration. Fascism is the falsehood that the enemy chosen by a leader must be the enemy for all. Politics then begins from emotion and falsehood. Peace becomes unthinkable, since enmity abroad is necessary for control at home. A fascist says “the people” and means “some people,” those he favors at the moment. If citizens and residents are recognized by law, then other countries might also be recognized by law. Just as the state requires a principle of succession to exist over time, it needs some form of integration with others to exist in space.” According to the SPLC neo-Nazi groups grew by 22% from 2016 to 2017. Analysis is a firm believer in the colloquialism that “nothing comes from nothing.” History, as practiced by folks like Snyder, is grounded in facts and events that cannot be disappeared (as with a Kent State parking lot). Culturally, facts are not as readily available to account for what contributes to the attraction that fascism holds for current Americans. Given the descriptions and definitions of fascism just surveyed, Analysis would like to proffer a condition, atmosphere, or milieu that cultivates a fascist outlook completely unawares. Video games have a long history within formative youth culture and beyond – all those players who are forever young (the eternity thing). The shoot ‘em up variety differ from their sports or skill contemporaries by always requiring a creation myth or fiction as an alibi. Virtual violence is de rigueur to participate. The core duplicity is that the player never actually dies. There is no game over. It can always be repeated ad nauseam (a bizarre interpretation of a politics of eternity where nothing ever really progresses but always returns as a threat). Central to all of these games, whether early variations or the latest incarnation, is the incessant manufacture of enemies. Everything is defined in terms of enemies and threats. Needless to say, the player’s enemy is always determined by the unseen leader, the game’s creator.

I Beg Your Pardon

June 5, 2018

This Thursday, June 7, 2018, in Newark there will be a short town hall meeting on Addiction and Recovery. It is at Newark high school from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. There will be a panel of speakers, folks actively involved with the everyday of the subject on behalf of some institution or organization meant to address the issue. Some attending will likewise be given the opportunity to speak, address the panel or ask questions. Serendipity would have it that the New York Times presents an inquiry which gets to the heart of the tragedy: She Went to Jail for a Drug Relapse. Tough Love or Too Harsh? (Jan Hoffman, 6-4-18). “Should an addict’s relapse be punished with a criminal sanction?” “In Commonwealth v. Julie Eldred, the [Massachusetts] justices, presiding over the state’s highest court, are wrestling with whether this condition of her probation amounts to cruel and unusual punishment for an offender with a substance use disorder. In reaching a decision, expected imminently, the justices must weigh competing scientific studies. Is addiction a brain disease that interferes with one’s capacity to abstain? Or a condition, rather than a disease, that is responsive to penalties and rewards?” Prior to a knee jerk response, Analysis bears in mind other aspects from the article: “Ms. Eldred’s lawyers rely on a 1962 United States Supreme Court case, Robinson v. California, which struck down a statute making it a crime for a person “to be addicted to the use of narcotics” — noting that while selling or possessing illegal drugs was against the law, the state could not punish people solely for the status of their illness.” “Law enforcement officials argue that the threat of jail protects not only offenders but society from potentially more drug-related crimes. Yet numerous addiction specialists say that the criminal justice system is the most blunt and clumsy of instruments for addressing a public health disaster.” “In a brief supporting the prosecution, psychiatrists, psychologists and legal scholars assert that the brain-disease model is contested. Changes in brain structure from drugs do not necessarily translate into an inability to resist them, they said. With carrot-stick prompts, many addicted people can choose to abstain. And, prosecutors said, two such prompts include an expunged record for completing probation or, for relapse, jail. A brief submitted by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals on behalf of 3,400 drug courts noted that the success of these programs depends on a judge being able to apply graduated sanctions, to propel a defendant through treatment.” On the town hall panel will be institutional health and addiction specialists (people paid to be there) as well as those employed by law enforcement and the courts (also paid to be there); the former experts on disease but not so with the law, the latter officers of the law but uncertain of pathology. Analysis is disinterested in the answer. Like it or not the court will decide. Whether that happens in Ohio is a completely other question. Analysis is interested in the disposition of those asking the questions. A disposition assuming the “inevitability” of the disease diagnosis doesn’t translate into inevitable material outcomes, only a rather insecure sense of self righteousness. Those embracing this “inevitability” need also consider embracing the mundane (and political) nitty-gritty of changing the law, and those employed or elected to interpret it. The law itself is no guarantor of security. And as we all know way too well, innocent folks have been convicted, even executed, by solemn, dutiful, and sober officers of the law.