Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

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.”

Analysis Goes Way Back In The Way Back Machine

June 18, 2017

“Totalitarian movements are possible wherever there are masses who for one reason or another have acquired the appetite for political organization. Masses are not held together by a consciousness of common interest and they lack that specific class articulateness which is expressed in determined, limited, and obtainable goals. The term masses applies only where we deal with people who either because of sheer numbers, or indifference, or a combination of both, cannot be integrated into any organization based on common interest, into political parties or municipal governments or professional organizations or trade unions. Potentially, they exist in every country and form the majority of those large numbers of neutral, politically indifferent people who never join a party and hardly ever go to the polls.

It was characteristic of the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany and of the Communist movements in Europe after 1930 that they recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who never before had appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods into political propaganda, and indifference to the arguments of political opponents; these movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been “spoiled” by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the power of reason. This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with other parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.”

pg.311-312, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, 1951

Fundraisers

June 5, 2017

Mention the name Kirkersville today around central Ohio and the response is similar to the mention of other names in other parts of the country, like Waco, Orlando, or Virginia Tech. For readers unfamiliar with Kirkersville, an individual with a history of violence related offenses (and incarceration) shot and killed two unrelated women co workers of a nursing home as well as the village police chief. The shooter was likewise shot and killed in the calamity. A search of  the perpetrator’s home in Utica turned up a veritable arsenal of firearms and ammunition. The tragedy that unfolded in Kirkersville has been reported, updated, re-reported and analyzed, all in hopes that “it will never happen again.” Laws are being “introduced” to facilitate this. This past weekend, in addition to more post-event investigative reporting, the Newark Advocate dedicated another Sunday editorial to Kirkersville. Newark News Analysis dares to call attention to a regular daily Advocate feature from June 2, 2017 (prior to the editorial but after the tragedy in Kirkersville). The Local News Briefs calls attention to local events, announcements, news items that are published in the public interest. The following appeared on the same day, sharing the same column space, separated only by two sundry announcements (a street closing and a summer reading series):

Chipotle having Kirkersville shooting fundraiser

NEWARK – A benefit day for the families of the three victims of the Kirkersville nursing home shooting will be Tuedsay, June 6, at the Chipotle Restaurants in Heath, Newark, Reynoldsburg and Blacklick.

Customers who tell the cashier they are supporting the fundraiser will have 50 percent of their purchase divided between the families of Eric DiSario, Marlina Medrano and Cindy Krantz.

Gun raffle supports Utica K-9 Unit

UTICA – A gun raffle and fundraiser to support the Utica Police Department K-9 Unit will have a drawing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Utica Fire Department.

First prize is a SAI Saint Tactical AR-15, second prize is a RFM-870 Combo, third prize is a Ruger American 9mm and fourth prize is a Glock 26 CGW. Other door prizes will also be given.

Tickets are $10 and are available at the police department and Utica Mill and Hardware Store.

 

Newark News Analysis finds the Newark Advocate’s de facto editorial stance to be no stance at all. Cosmetic tweaks are demanded while the status quo remains unchallenged. Who does the Advocate advocate for?

El SID And The Poppies

June 1, 2017

The current imbroglio obsessing Newark’s City Council is the future of marijuana in Nerk (whatever became of affordable housing? public transportation? drug addiction rehabilitation? Let alone street paving?). After dissing the local voters’ initiative to “decriminalize” its possession, the council now must wrestle with what to do with a medical legalization of this substance by the legislature (meant, at the time, to stave off a statewide citizen’s initiative). Having hemmed and hawed as long as they could, the good folks in the state’s executive branch need to finally implement the medical marijuana legalization. Ditto for Newark’s City administration. Analysis has already posted about the head slapping irony of citizens wanting something, voting for it (going through the democratic process of self governance) only to find their elected officials deciding something else is in the constituents’ best interest (another episode of Father Knows Best). Stealthily lurking behind all this is the gentrification of downtown Newark. This ongoing epic saga has unfolded over the past 10 years with nary a citizen vote. Conservative blame was needed as “conservative” by definition means “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc. or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change” (none of which are found with roundabouts or a covered, block long outdoor entertainment loading dock). That nasty old federal EPA fit the bill marvelously, serving as a catalyst for all this “Federally mandated” change (kinda like “America First” being “printed in China”). So downtown Newark was, by hook or crook, going to be changed, gentrified. No one would vote on it. Everyone (who didn’t get to vote) would pay for it. The latest is the SID (Special Improvement District). This is a plan or rather, a gentrification technique whereby “property owners would pay 7.5 percent of the tax rate applied to the 2016 real property taxable value, providing the district about $110,000 annually. The assessment would first appear on their 2018 property tax bill. The tax would last five years, but could be renewed for an additional five years.” “Property owners must petition city council to create the district. The petition must be signed by the owners of 60 percent of the frontage feet along public rights of way in the district, or 75 percent of the square footage of real property in the district.” (Downtown property owners asked to join new taxing district, The Newark Advocate, Kent Mallett , 5-22-17) “The goal is to use property tax assessments from those within the district to pay for services such as parking maintenance, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing.” One of this blog’s first entries was in March of 2013, Ownership Of Downtown Newark. That research covered the area of this Newark SID. It revealed that close to 24% of the “property owners” within the area were either government entities or religious ones (neither of which would be assessed). At that time Park National Bank owned nearly 10% of all this area property (banks in total about 13%). Which leaves less than two thirds of the property owners to pay the SID. Why is a SID an integral part of gentrification? To increase property values (for the non voting property owners of the district – in 2013 Analysis also found that of the remaining not government, religious, or bank property owners, few were individually named, most were corporate legal entities) rents need to be higher across the board (like the neglected house on the block determining neighborhood value). A SID does specifically that. As a tax, it increases the property owner’s costs which in turn increases the operating expense for any business located there. Marginally profitable businesses will exit as they did prior to the large scale construction of downtown several years ago. Ditto for any other renters (i.e. residential tenants). Upscale enterprises (with capital backing) move in and, Voila! The SID has functioned perfectly as planned. In the meantime Newark’s City Council will wrestle with the tsunami of legalized marijuana while this disenfranchised mandate will pass like shit through a duck.

Why I Would Prefer Not To (Talk To My Brother)

May 25, 2017

Guns and butter, part of the political choice. Butter comes from the milk of a cow which grazes on the earth. Guns originate with metallic ore, part of the composition of the very same earth that nourishes the cow. Both are a product of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work. Guns and religion, part of today’s American politic. Unlike guns or butter, religion is never considered a “product” of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work. Religion, by definition, is not of this earth though found extensively upon it, and only within the social make up of its human inhabitants. Many human-like behaviors, social or individual, are “found” with other creatures populating the earth. Religion has yet to be identified as one of them. Religion is not attributed to ants, ospreys, whales or the great apes. Today, the American politic swirls around loyalty and fidelity. Religion without these is not. Religion, not being of the earth, begs a different origin. The Judeo/Christian creation myth charges humans with dominion over the earth. It likewise requires fidelity and loyalty by doing what you are told. This link of loyalty and fidelity with “to do what you are told” runs deep within Western social evolution. It is fundamental to law, military organization and government institutions – the stuff of politics. It is not integral to the free market though capitalism is lost without it – the stuff of violence. Religion placates the disparity. For those who have done what they are told, loyalty bestows the social self esteem that bonds a brotherhood. Semper fi. In this all, the gun is very telling. Within the cliché of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is the creation origin account that humans have been given dominion over the earth along with the onus “to do what you are told.” The implication of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work having some say has no cotton with this religious perspective. Guns and religion differ fundamentally from guns and butter in that they are not the same. Guns and butter are products of human interaction with the earth. Guns and religion compliment each other, make demands on each other, excuse each other. Religion sanctions the human to differentiate the gun from any intent. Since it is of the earth over which humans maintain dominion, the gun is unintentional. Only humans are held responsible to do what you are told. And killing is telling some being to die. Along with cows, the gun is part of the dominion humans have been given over the earth, as it (the gun) is of the earth. The gun is simultaneously exceptional in that it enables dominion over the earth. Religion privileges its use by providing an alibi, an excuse. “To do what you are told” is just such an alibi. Loyalty becomes sacrosanct within this brotherhood of the gun. “To do what you are told” now has become a, if not the, political choice. To which Herman Melville’s Bartleby responds “I would prefer not to.” What other response is there when politics has become guns and religion?

Move Over Golden Calf, There Is A New American Idol

May 11, 2017

The other morning, as part of the ongoing reality TV show called Our Government, an interviewed Texas congressman justified the apprentice president’s firing of the FBI director by saying James Comey was getting too much face time on TV. As FBI director he shouldn’t be so popular. News broadcasters, who make up the interviewers, often attribute the apprentice president’s electability to popularity, on being a populist. Recently Ohio’s Secretary of State and newest Ohio Governor wannabe spoke in Newark on Monday the 8th (Husted addresses Newark GOP on Ohio governor’s race, Newark Advocate’s Sydney Murray, 5-10-17). Covering the speech Mr. Murray writes: “But before he entered a life of public service, he was adopted as a baby and grew up in a working class family in the small town of Montpelier, Ohio. At one point, Husted said his dad lost his job and they had to leave Ohio, something he doesn’t want for anyone else’s family. “I want to help Ohio. And more importantly the people, with a bright future, and no matter how you grew up, I wanna make sure that Ohio is a place where you can live the American Dream.” Husted said.” On 5-7-17, writing for McClatchy, Julie Carr Smyth headlines “Ohio elections chief Jon Husted joins 2018 race for governor”. Ms. Carr Smyth reports “Capitalizing on divisive remarks that came back to haunt high profile Democrats, the Republican says Barack Obama was right when he said midwesterners cling to religion and guns and that Husted’s family “would firmly fit in Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables.’” Clinton used the reference in her presidential campaign against Donald Trump, whom Husted voted for.” Analysis of these short bits of insight shows that in addition to voting Jon Husted intends to emulate the apprentice president’s formula for success. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! And like the apprentice president’s penchant for exaggeration and hyperbole, he likewise intends to outdo the current governor’s formula (being a mail man’s son from McKeesport Pa. aw shucks and all). Analysis finds this all creates a new form of reality show government, where the contestants for public office will each try to out populist the other. This revival of the American Idol campaign for popular support will leave the discerning electorate aghast at the derogatory costuming of contestants, the various made-up sets masquerading as the current conditions of the state of Ohio, capped by each idol’s uplifting songs of redemption for a future state-wide resurrection. “no matter how you grew up [with or without guns and religion], I wanna make sure that Ohio is a place where you can live the American Dream.” Amen.

The State Of The State Of Ohio’s Opioid Epidemic

April 6, 2017

A blizzard of angst filled soul searching follows the presidential election, current administration, continuing to this day with “how did this happen?” Etc. Many are not so surprised, more bemused in that all of this was in plain sight. Intentions as well as actions today are simply a continuance of what was stated, promised, and actively displayed before. ‘Nuff said. Within his recent (4-4-17) State of the State address, Ohio’s Governor John Kasich’s lips pronounced “Ensuring that we have the basics in place — fiscal strength, lower taxes, proper regulation — opens the door for us to sell our state across the nation and across the world.” This mantra was repeated multiple times, even more through fragments. Sounds pretty clear. No mystification of priorities, intent, or course of action here. He also had this to say about Ohio’s Opioid drug epidemic, though he didn’t call it that (Name thing I guess. Been there, done that with the current pres’): “Last year, Highway Patrol troopers had their largest single heroin, meth and prescription pill seizures. Ohio was one of the first states to create prescribing guidelines for doctors. We’ve linked our medical providers into our pharmacy system to slow doctor shopping and for the first time we’re registering pharmacy technicians. We’ve expanded access to the overdose-reversal drug to first responders, pharmacies and families of those addicted. And we created Start Talking! to encourage more adults to talk to children about the dangers of drugs. In all, we’re spending nearly $1 billion a year.” And “That’s why today I’m asking the Third Frontier Commission to provide up to $20 million to help bring new scientific breakthroughs to the battle against drug abuse and addiction. These funds will target existing, proven ideas that simply need an extra push to be brought to the fight — ideas like using a simple device that connects to someone’s ear that can relieve pain and block the effects of opiate withdrawal.” Finally “We love our children and care about our neighbors, so we’ve got to deliver this message to them: “Don’t do drugs or you will destroy your life and you will destroy the purpose for which the good Lord created you.”” Not a word, or dollar, for rehabilitation. Analysis considers the implications of this abdication of leadership, the vacuum formed by Kasich’s overriding priorities, intent, and course of action. Indeed, historically US public health epidemics have been met by an equally public response of sanatoriums, recovery centers, and public health initiatives (all notably absent with the governor’s approach). History has lectured us extensively on what happens in a leadership vacuum (South East Asia, Syria/Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). Add to that Kasich and the GOP’s historic preference (and reliance) on a religious response to education, social welfare and public health concerns. Here is some of what Kevin Lewis O’Neill writes in an essay entitled “On Hunting” (Critical Inquiry Spring 2017):

““We hunt men,” Alejandro said, “to save them.” Locked up inside a Pentecostal drug rehabilitation center for his use of crack cocaine, Alejandro participates in his pastor’s hunting parties or grupos de caceria. At the outer edges of today’s war on drugs, Christian vigilante groups scour the streets of Guatemala City with singular intent: to pull users out of sin by dragging them into rehab. And so, in the middle of the night, when the capital is an absolute ghost town, three or four recovering users drive with their pastor to the house of an active user.” “As a part of economic restructuring – which has included the privatization of state enterprises, the liberalization of trade, and the relaxation of government regulation [sound familiar?]– less than 2 percent of Guatemala’s total health budget addresses issues of mental health, with its hospitals flatly denying medical service to those patients seeking support for substance abuse.” “Pentecostal drug rehabilitation centers, when taken in the aggregate, have six thousand beds.” “Guatemala’s prisons sit at 250 percent capacity; the hospitals do not accept users; and Guatemala’s only mental institution understands drug use to be well outside the scope of its mission.” “More important than numbers, however, are the visceral truths that Pentecostal Christianity promises its people: Salvation is real; hell is eternal; and Jesus loves you. Another imperative also follows. Often stamped onto Pentecostal print media, with an allusion to sin as well as the hunt, it announces: escape for your life. One effect of this faith is a growing network of informal and largely unregulated Pentecostal drug rehabilitation centers. These sites warehouse users against their will inside of onetime garages, factories, and apartment buildings. Each has been repurposed for rehabilitation with razor wire, steel bars, and iron gates. Inside, pastors practice teoterapia, or theological therapy. This is a mix of Pentecostal theology, twelve-step programming, and self-help psychology. Its working assumption is that captivity will give way to conversion. It does not. Yet this bald fact has not slowed down the growth of these centers, and for good reason. Again, these centers provide a practical solution to a concrete problem. Drug use is up. State resources are down. And Pentecostalism is the discourse of change. [Sound familiar?] The net result is a shadow carceral system infused with Pentecostal imperatives about not just sin and salvation but also about who can be hunted and why. It is a theological construction that carries concrete consequences. Today more Guatemalans find themselves literally tied up in Pentecostal drug rehabilitation centers than locked up in maximum-security prisons.” Lest the reader think that, not being Pentecostal or Guatemalan, Ohio’s Governor along with the current US Attorney General are not in the hunt. Au contraire, “there are some thirty thousand men in Philadelphia alone with warrants out for their arrest.” (O’Neill)

The Current State Of The State Of Poverty

March 27, 2017

 

The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies released its State of Poverty 2016 report last week. The first part is a synopsis of sorts, the final pages are the statistics and tables for each category, area, etc. Of note:

The FPM [Federal Poverty Measure] is based on annual household income, and as such, fails to distinguish between longterm and short-term poverty. Using a monthly poverty threshold along with data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a national household survey designed to track participants over multiple years, the Census Bureau estimates the number of Americans experiencing chronic and episodic poverty. The chronic poverty rate is defined as the percentage of the population in poverty every month in a 36-month period, whereas episodic poverty is defined as those in poverty for at least two consecutive months in a 36-month period. [Ohio has a] 16% official annual poverty rate, 32% episodic poverty rate. The episodic poverty rate in the United States is twice as high as the official annual poverty rate. Asset poverty is a measure of the financial cushion needed to withstand a financial crisis (i.e. medical emergency, job loss, etc.) and stay out of poverty for three months. Assets can be liquid or non-liquid. Liquid assets are those which can be easily exchanged for cash (e.g., gold, savings accounts, government bonds). Nonliquid assets typically must be sold (e.g., cars, homes, businesses). A household is considered asset poor if its combined assets are worth less than three months’ living expenses at the federal poverty level (FPL) threshold. Similarly, a household is considered liquid asset poor if its liquid assets alone are insufficient to meet those expenses. Nearly half of Ohio households lack the liquid assets needed to stay out of poverty for 3 months.

A family of two adults and two school-age children in Ohio needs an annual income of at least 146% of the federal poverty level to be self-sufficient. A single parent with 2 children must work 109 hours per week to reach self-sufficiency at minimum wage. A family of one adult, an infant, and a preschooler needs to earn at least $45,715 a year to be self-sufficient. Nearly one third of households led by a single female live in poverty; that rate increases to 43.1% among single women with children under 18. Married couple families where neither spouse works still have a lower poverty rate (9.3%) than single female householder families where the householder works full time.

Food insecurity, defined by the USDA as limited or uncertain access to adequate food, affects millions of people nationwide and hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. Children are particularly affected by food insecurity; nearly one-quarter of Ohio’s youth are food insecure and 20% of those children are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). However, college students are also affected. Twelve Ohio colleges and universities have food pantries on campus.

Grandparent caregivers often struggle financially since many already live on a fixed income that does not increase when they gain custody. Nearly one in three grandparent households live in poverty while less than one in five traditional parent households are in poverty. Ohio has nearly 40,000 grandparent-caregiver households. One in five grandparent caregivers live in poverty According to a national report, one in three grandparent caregivers who are solely responsible for their grandchildren, without parent involvement, live in poverty. The poverty rate for grandparents decreases in older grandparents (those 60 and older).

Over the last 15 years, the population of Ohio has grown by only 2.4% but the poor population has grown by 54.1% Urban areas have seen a decrease in population over the last 15 year period but a substantial increase in population in poverty Suburban areas have seen the largest increase in poor population between 2000-2015, at 76.0%

 

Some specifically Licking County Statistics:

From 2015:

Overall poverty rate of 12.6%

Children under 18   17.4%

Seniors 65 and older   5.1%

Family poverty rate   9.2%

Married couples with related children   7.4%

Single women with related children   41.9%

Childhood food insecurity rate 2014   21.8%

Children both food insecure and ineligible for food assistance in 2014   7.4%

K-12 students receiving free or reduced price lunch 2016   37.2%

Population receiving SNAP 2015   13%

Population enrolled in Medicaid December 2014   22%

Population having no health insurance 2015   9.1%

Unemployment rate in 2015   4.4%

 

 

 

 

Who Are The Thousands Of Ohioans Using Marijuana?

February 28, 2017

Cleveland.com just headlined “Who are the 700,000 Ohioans receiving health insurance under Medicaid expansion?” by Rich Exner (2-28-17). It is an insightful synopsis of a state report by the Department of Medicaid for the Ohio General Assembly. Along with the requisite statistics, like “Among the 702,000 added to Medicaid: 43.2 percent were employed. 55.8 percent were men. 71.5 percent were white; 24.8 percent were black. 13.1 percent had at least a four-year college degree. 15.7 percent were married.” there was something that jumped out. “Before [Medicaid expansion in 2014]: Until the change, Medicaid was generally restricted to adults with income of less than 90 percent of the poverty level and only if they were also a parent, pregnant or disabled. After: Medicaid coverage was expanded to Ohioans age 19 to 64 with incomes at or below 138 percent of the poverty level. The threshold for a single person in 2016 was $16,394. The state reported 702,000 people were insured as a result of the expansion.” In this post Analysis would like to make use of a term entitled “the blue laws”. Wiki gives “Blue laws, also known as Sunday laws, are laws designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious reasons, particularly to promote the observance of a day of worship or rest. Blue laws may also restrict shopping or ban sale of certain items on specific days, most often on Sundays in the western world.” The day before Cleveland.com reported the statistics packed Medicaid report, the AP reported “Sessions: More violence around pot than ‘one would think’” by Sadie Gurman and Eric Tucker (2-27-17). In line with White House methodology on immigration and refugees, voter fraud, etc. the article states “”Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think,” Sessions said. The comments were in keeping with remarks last week from White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who said the Justice Department would step up enforcement of federal law against recreational marijuana. Sessions stopped short of saying what he would do, but said he doesn’t think America will be a better place with “more people smoking pot.”” Before his confirmation hearings to become the US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions views were well known (as indicated in a previous blog posting). Upriver of that, before the November elections, the Ohio General Assembly staved off citizen’s initiatives by legalizing medical marijuana. In the same spirit of citizen initiative, the citizens of Newark voted to minimize the illegal status of marijuana possession within the municipality. As of the present (2-28-17) it is impossible to obtain or possess medical marijuana within the State of Ohio. The will of the Newark electorate is likewise irrelevant. “Before [Medicaid expansion in 2014]” those actually able to be covered by Medicaid were few and far between. Would it be fair to say that this was a “blue law,” “laws created to enforce strict moral standards.” (Wiki); a policy put in place at the time to “shame” the citizenry to claim ownership of their personal health? Some vehement agitation surrounds the current Medicaid debate. Little surrounded Sessions confirmation, nor surrounds the foot dragging and obfuscation of the Ohio Legislature as well as the actions of the Newark City Council and Mayor’s administration regarding marijuana legalization. Analysis finds the unifying force presented when blue laws are on the books to be a mystification. Was America great then because of “laws created to enforce strict moral standards.”?

Newark Income Tax OMG

July 16, 2016

An iconoclast is described by the dictionary as someone who attacks beliefs and institutions as being superstitious or in error. Over a decade ago Bruno Latour made a play on this with the term “iconoclash” to describe what he felt was the attack on beliefs and institutions worldwide. For Latour, situated in France, this had a lot to do with the tensions between Christian France and former colonial subjects entitled to citizenship but definitely not Christian (many of whom were second and third generation, born in France). Religious (of various beliefs) were attacking religious (of not their belief) as well as secular institutions (such as the state, corporations, etc.), and vice versa (secularists were attacking each other as well as the religious, etc.). The world was on the attack! In the inimitable style of Donnie Trump, Analysis would say that we may be. Then again, simple logic shows we may not (“I don’t know.” D.T.). To read news coverage and commentary, Donnie may be right. Then again he may not. Ostensible reasons for things like Donnie’s own wall (and many other “projects”), PAC ads for the 2016 election, the Black Lives Matter demonstration, the Brexit vote, etc. are all couched in terms of competition and contention – attack or defend. Do people go in the voting booth with such an inflated sense of potency, effectiveness and aggression? Or could something else be at play, invisible behind the curtain of the secret ballot? Latour misses the mark in our time. But he does offer an insight into what most of the high dollar media is missing. The corporate giants like to frame the referendum as a sporting competition – Britons competed to decide in or out. The out won showing the strength of the discontent, the desire to tear down the institution of the EU as in error. With the 2016 POTUS election, it is the match up of the “outsider” versus the “establishment” (bound to defend the practices of her predecessor). Kinda like a heavy weight title fight, huh? Locally, the Newark income tax increase was likewise framed when first initiated a couple of years back. The local media proclaimed the competitive effectiveness of the entire process with “The people voted it down.” But iconoclash it is not, for the next morning everyone gets up and goes to work at the same institutions with the same belief systems all neatly in place. Analysis finds something else to be at play here, something akin to iconoclash but only in appearance. The Brexit vote, the Black Lives Matter message, the statistical dead heat of two radically different presidential candidates may not be about attacking, or tearing down. The statisticians “dead heat” may not be based on “equal distaste for the candidates.” The Brexit vote, the 2016 POTUS statistics, Black Lives Matter, Newark’s income tax referendum may, in fact, be rather a statement of disbelief than one of active effectiveness, potency and aggression. Statements of disbelief usually follow the straight forward OMG of twitter. Choosing to use more characters, they are embellished with irony. Some may even descend to actual cynical commitment. But they are statements of disbelief and incredulity, not attacks on institutions or beliefs based in error or superstition. Analysis shows it is possible to disbelieve something without attacking it or tearing it down. The Black Lives Matter demonstration may be a statement of disbelief regarding the distribution of “equal justice for all” by those paid to ensure it. Brexit may have been the absence of belief in the effectiveness of EU membership (though the next morning everyone expected the same jobs, ease of travel and buying/selling of goods). The “statistical” 2016 POTUS dead heat may rather reflect equal disbelief in Donny’s simplistic nationalism as well as Hillary’s convoluted globalism. And in Newark, a no vote may not be about people wanting to have their infrastructure maintained. It may just be a statement of disbelief that revenue raised by the tax will actually be spent on the intended reason for the tax. After witnessing (repeatedly) how contributions made to NGO’s (like the Red Cross, Wounded Warriors, etc.) are spent for other matters than the one’s the donor intended, AND witnessing the preferential distribution of available funding by state, local county and city government to business related enterprises, a statement of disbelief is not only reasonable, but quite appropriate.