Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Strike For A Living Wage

September 27, 2022

            Two articles appeared within the same week, same online publication, that share an uncanny relation with each other. From the headlines, one would think the two had little to nothing in common. “On strike for a better world: Labor conflict is coming — and the ruling class will fight back hard Biden thinks he has averted a rail strike — for now. But the elites can’t crush massive discontent forever” was published in Salon 9-21-22. It is by journalist and former global war correspondent Chris Hedges. It features an archival black and wide photo prominently showing a row of Construction Workers Union members picketing, holding signs reading “Strike for a living wage”. In the article Hedges examines the history of labor strikes, the uber wealthy that opposed them, and the correlation with today (Analysis finds it way too much, too many to be brief). On 9-24-22 Salon published “”You are going to hear our voices”: Rev. William J. Barber on the midterms and the road ahead Don’t fear the word “poor,” Barber says: If poor people voted in large numbers, that would change everything” by Bob Hennelly, a reporter for the Chief-Leader. It features a recent photo of Reverend Barber delivering a sermon in Selma, Alabama. Hennelly’s article is an interview with Barber following a keynote address by the latter to the American chapter of the World Student Christian Federation delivered recently at Princeton University. Again, too much, too many to be brief. One “fact” is clear throughout the interview: most are reluctant to self-identify as poor. As a potent voting block they are “used” (politically) by those not poor. Organized politically, they would be capable of enormous, comprehensive, and real change (But how?). On its face it appears the two articles, one history based and the other a contemporary interview, would share little in common. Analysis reveals a curious and prescient overlap. The archival image at the onset of Hedges’ article says it all. He follows this up with: “Today, the top 10 percent of the richest people in the United States own almost 70 percent of the country’s total wealth. The top 1 percent control 31 percent of the wealth. The bottom 50 percent of the U.S. population hold 2 percent of all U.S. wealth. Infrastructure is outdated and in disrepair. Public institutions, including schools, public broadcasting, the courts and the postal service are underfunded and degraded.” “Workers, bereft of union protection and lacking industrial jobs, have been forced into the gig economy, where they have few rights, no job protection and often earn below the minimum wage. The rise in global food and energy prices, coupled with the weakening of democratic institutions and impoverishment of workers, have become a potent recipe for revolt. Weekly earnings, adjusted for inflation, decreased by 3.4 percent from August 2021 to August 2022, and real hourly earnings fell by 2.8 percent in the same period. Hourly earnings, adjusted for inflation, have fallen for the past 17 months.” Hennelly quotes Barber: “If you look at the number of poor people — 52 million without a living wage, 140 million [overall] — you have to talk to them as human beings. Second of all, say to them, “I am not here to ask you to vote. I am here for you to join a movement that says there’s something wrong with our policies that this many people can be left disinherited.” Thirdly, I am asking you to believe that democracy is not just an idea, but democracy and justice are on the ballot. So who you are going to elect is going to determine health care. It is going to determine if you can push them to do the right thing because if people who get elected tell you upfront, “Don’t come to me about a living wage, don’t even talk to me,” then you don’t have a real chance with them. And lastly, let people know how much power they have. There is not a battleground state where the presidential election has been decided within three percentage points where poor and low-wealth people don’t make up 45 percent of the electorate.” “Yes, we have done some things on climate change — historic things. Great. Yes, we have done some things with Medicare and pricing on the drugs. Great. But you can’t dismiss what was left off: voting rights and a living wage. You have to tell people, “Give us the kind of majority where we can’t be overturned easily and we will deal with that — we will deal with the filibuster. We will give you a living wage.”” Analysis finds that a living wage is the one things that never turns up on all the corporate media coverage/polling with regard to the upcoming midterm elections. Inflation, the economy, the war, Roe, etc. all are put forth as “what people want.” And those running to be elected collaborate with this same made up narrative. A living wage is an unspoken, assumed outcome of the correct choice on the ballot. “Strike for a living wage!”

The Weather

July 24, 2022

            “The weather” was once The originating topic of conversation when two strangers or mildly acquainted individuals would meet. Family get-togethers were often marked by talking about “the weather” amongst siblings, perhaps estranged. Analysis finds it was not as much about being the safe cliché that it is, but rather, of a starting point held in common (much as the starting mark of a race is held in common by all the contestants. After the race begins, there is no commonality). The news of the past week has been of extraordinary extreme heat, both here in the US as well as abroad.  And yet, though “the heat” may be a topic of conversation held in common, the weather is not. Joe Manchin, for example, believes the weather in West Virginia differs substantially from that in New England, Texas or the state of Washington. Americans there have nothing in common, except suffering the extreme heat. The weather, taken as a unified system, much as Google, Meta or the market on Wall Street can be considered as a system, is not possible for Mr. Manchin, along with many other political leaders (primarily GOP). “We can’t do anything about the weather” creeps in the age old saw. Analysis finds this to be based on a reliance of the deus ex machina excuse, essentially a belief in the hand of providence at work behind the scenes of a system. Analysis finds it uncanny how this dovetails with many other politically legislated and executive actions conceived and acted upon as articles of fundamental faith. Originally, the GOP adamantly denying global warming was about some mumbled reasoning that the scientific evidence was not completely there. With the extreme heat, the horrendous and prevalent wildfires, the catastrophic flooding in places that haven’t ever experienced such (and hurricane season has just begun!), the GOP position on climate change has evolved, much as the science of global warming has evolved. For the GOP today, God, guns and babies shows up with even something as common as “the weather.”

White Kid With A Gun

November 21, 2021

            Local news of note this past week was the scheduled Third Thursday Conversations sponsored by The Freedom School in Licking County (11-18-21). It was well attended, primarily by folks deeply committed and involved with various community action groups. As this event took place the evening before the acquittal of the white kid with a gun, the immediate concern felt by everyone was the abysmal voter turnout in Newark with the election held earlier this month. Though not the focus of conversation throughout the evening, it lurked in the background like a malevolent spirit, a truly bad stench that could not be ignored. The next day’s acquittal of the white kid with a gun provided little surprise to conscientious students of American (and world) history as well as culture. On a micro level Analysis found this to replicate what was already written in this blog’s 12-9-18 post entitled Polarity And The Burning Of The Reichstag. In this case, instead of a large political apparatus instigating the creation of a catastrophic conflict in order to use force to justify an illegitimate resolution to the manufactured conflict, one found the essential “manufacture a conflict, find oneself losing (failing), commit murder, and claim self defense.” [For those of you keeping score at home, within the purview of an instituted government with an established justice/security mechanism, vigilantes exist only in response to a manufactured conflict. The rest of the script reads as written on any playground] This movie has played, and been playing, many times before. Analysis references the George Zimmerman defense in the murder of Travon Martin (the white kid with a gun was losing to the black kid with the Skittles who was winning). Which brings us back to the spirit lurking behind the scene, the bad stench which cannot be extinguished. With l8% of Newark’s registered voters determining 80% of the folks governing for the city of 50,000+, it only stands to reason that 82% of citizens who could exercise what democracy privileges them (a say in their governance) chose to say “Why bother?” We’ve all heard the high school STEM teachers say that nature abhors a vacuum. The nature of politics is that it adores a vacuum. Where democracy is absent, authoritarianism fills the void immediately. Analysis finds the 82% complicit in fostering an authoritarian government for the rest of us. Imagine, a white kid with a gun could be the way America governs itself; all in the name of self defense at that!

It’s Football Time

September 17, 2021

            Roar, roar. The fans are back in the stands. America’s beloved cultural pastime is back. Roar, roar. Football forms character, team loyalty, and leadership ability. All in the face of adversity! Want to be a stand out? Include football on your résumé. Mike Gibbons touts his football background as reason to nominate him to run as the GOP candidate to fill Portman’s senate seat. And what about Anthony Gonzalez? Groomed in the gridiron of the Horseshoe by the best (and most highly remunerated) football program in the country, Gonzalez parlayed his “name recognition” to pull in a US Rep seat from north east Ohio. Folks were a bit disappointed that he unquestioningly subscribed to the Trump agenda during his tenure but salvation came after the January 6, 2021 terrorist takeover of the Capital. Gonzalez voted to impeach the former president. Perhaps a modicum of leadership and character rubbed off on the former star OSU wide receiver. Until, that is, the news on 9-16-21 announced that he would not run for reelection, essentially caving to the vitriol of the Trump dominated GOP. “What he’s saying: “Please know that every word has meant the world to me and given me hope that the chaotic political environment that currently infects our country will only be temporary,” Gonzalez said in announcing his retirement. “While my desire to build a fuller family life is at the heart of my decision, it is also true that the current state of our politics, especially many of the toxic dynamics inside our own party, is a significant factor in my decision,” he added.” (Julia Sclafani for Axios, GOP Rep Gonzalez retires in face of Trump-backed primary, 9-16-21) “”I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” Gonzalez told The New York Times of Trump. “Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal.” Of the broader GOP, Gonzalez said. “politically the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now.”” (CNN’s Chris Cillizza, This retiring Republican just handed more power to Donald Trump, 9-17-21). Analysis shows the obvious — if you can’t win, you stop playing; unless you believe the “Most of my political energy will be spent… (along with fellow football great O.J. Simpson)”. Which begs the question “What team was he on?” Was it his party (the GOP), his constituents that he represented, or his sense of what is morally right? To highlight Mr. Gonzalez’s callowness (though his “football” background would never allow for such a description) Analysis considers North Carolina’s Reverend William J. Barber whose Moral Mondays were opposed by jailing’s and death threats (including his own), all in the name of standing for what is morally right. Now THAT’s a leader and team player. Roar, roar.

Vigilante Justice – it’s not your grand dad’s variety anymore

September 2, 2021

            The news today was of the SCOTUS 5-4 decision to let stand, for the time being, a new Texas law outlawing abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy. What makes the law unique and different from other state early pregnancy termination legislation is that it also outlaws state enforcement of the law’s mandate by government entities. It does, however, make provisions for a kind of citizen arrest, allowing for civil suits to be executed on anyone violating the law through being involved with the facilitation of an abortion after 6 weeks. This citizen enforcement, through civil suits, is a kind of vigilante justice in that the prosecution, as well as the police power, is left up to individual citizens. In the case of the Texas law, these vigilantes would be the collective of citizens found in the various right to life organizations. And Governor Abbot’s vigilante posse is saddled up and ready to ride. The AP’s Stephen Groves headlined “GOP-led states see Texas law as model to restrict abortions” (9-2-21) signaling that other states with GOP legislatures and governors are ready to follow suit (especially given the SCOTUS imprimatur). Based on its track record with ALEC and other “model” legislation, Ohio will no doubt join the other ditto heads. Today news pundits and analysts have parsed the SCOTUS decision with an eye on Roe v Wade. Analysis shows there is more at stake than that since at its core the law is about outlawing something locally which is currently legal federally by means of locally legitimated vigilante justice. It is the obverse of present day marijuana legislation locally made legal while federally being illegal. What if the federal law allowed for marijuana (or alcohol) possession/consumption and the local (state) law was modelled after the Texas anti abortion legislation that just went into effect? No government enforcement allowed but individual citizens could sue anyone aiding, abetting, or providing marijuana (sold or shared) with a minimum award guaranteed (essentially a bounty for enforcing the law). Hitting closer to home, or rather the homeless, we have Newark Ohio’s Mayor Jeff Hall who is all for homeless shelters, as long as they are not in the city of Newark. What if the GOP dominated city council would oblige the Mayor a’ la the Texas model? SCOTUS has ruled repeatedly that being homeless is not illegal. The Newark city council, with the mayor’s approval, could now enact a legitimate end run, forbidding government enforcement but allowing any citizen or posse to sue anyone who provides comfort, aids or recognizes the homeless within the city of Newark. This legal methodology could also be used to reintroduce legitimate redlining and racial segregation. The possibilities are endless. Vigilante justice – it’s not your grand dad’s variety anymore.

Live Free Or Die

August 29, 2021

            “Live free or die.” May be the New Hampshire state motto, but it could also be applied to the logic of many staunch anti vaxxers. In characteristic analytic gallows humor fashion, Analysis wonders if, at the funerals of anti vaxxers who have succumbed to Covid 19 (recently Caleb Wallace in addition to the previous passing of Marc Bernier, Dick Farrel, David Parker, et al.), attendees didn’t casually remark that the deceased died doing what they loved – being free. Liberty IS an oft repeated core rationale of those opposed to vaccines. “Mitt Romney to unvaccinated: ‘Your liberty affects my health.’” By Bryan Schott for The Salt Lake Tribune (8-27-21) gives one pro vax rebuttal by a former presidential candidate: “The most vocal anti-vaccine and anti-mask citizens like to point to individual liberty to justify their choices, Romney said. “People say, ‘I want my liberty.’ Well, your liberty affects my health. When that occurs, we have to come to some sort of agreement,” he said. Romney also favors vaccine mandates for private businesses. If he was still in the private sector, he said he would require his employees to be vaccinated or be responsible for getting tested every week.”CNN EXCLUSIVE ‘Something has to be done’: After decades of near-silence from the CDC, the agency’s director is speaking up about gun violence by Elizabeth Cohen, John Bonifield and Justin Lape, CNN (8-28-21) “For the first time in decades, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the nation’s top public health agency — is speaking out forcefully about gun violence in America, calling it a “serious public health threat.” “Something has to be done about this,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in an exclusive interview with CNN. “Now is the time — it’s pedal to the metal time.” This summer alone has seen a spree of gun injuries and deaths, and the weekends have been especially violent, with an average of 200 people killed and 472 injured by guns each weekend in the United States, not including suicides, according to an analysis done by the Gun Violence Archive for CNN. That’s nearly 3.4 people shot every hour every weekend.”The scope of the problem is just bigger than we’re even hearing about, and when your heart wrenches every day you turn on the news, you’re only hearing the tip of the iceberg,” Walensky said. “We haven’t spent the time, energy and frankly the resources to understand this problem because it’s been so divided.” Kinda sounds like Walensky is talking about the same subject that Romney is. Not. Romney is on a slippery slope. He is cognizant of the rational basis of public health regulations and licensing (everything from air quality to machine safety to beauty shops) which is why he unabashedly states “your liberty affects my health.” But he is oblivious to the inadvertent kinship he forms with Walensky. After all, accounting for gun related deaths/hospitalizations, regulating ownership as well as availability, etc. is very much akin to keeping tabs on Covid deaths/hospitalization, requiring masking, vaccines and/or tests, etc. Then, again, Walensky’s low key “it’s been so divided” keeps the Republican Romney ever ready to jettison reason for the sake of maintaining ties with “live free or die.” 

Top News Story

August 11, 2021

            The top news story of the past week(s) has been…? The top news story of the past week(s) has been the trickle of information into the workings of Donald Trump’s attempted coup. The current misinformation cartel headed by one and the same ex president. The current workings of what formerly was known as the party of no but now is recognized as the party of know nothing. The edgy existence of the Democratic party in these days of Victor Orban adulation (is any alternative actually being championed?). The bizarro world of swift retribution for the 11 victims of Governor Cuomo’s sexual malfeasance after over 4 years (and many more accusations) involving Donald Trump resulting in his lionization for eliding any response! All of the above. None of the above. No, Analysis finds that the top news story, the one that affects Newark directly and indirectly is the continuous news of the Covid 19 virus, now in its newest incarnation, the Delta variant. What can one say after a public threat has been politicized even more than the state of Israel? One could joke, of course, of how undesirable it would be to attend a closed door conference with attendees Rand Paul, Ron DeSantis, and Greg Abbott, all of whom would insist on their right to stink up the room by farting. But the Covid pandemic is no joke. There’s nothing to analyze for anyone who recognizes that deer jump fences, mice can’t read Keep Out signs, and that airborne pathogens affect everyone, no matter their rights or political preference. The Democrats have no champion to rally behind to counter the totally authoritarian threat (yes Virginia, the virus is calling the shots, no pun intended). Meanwhile, like sergeant Schultz, the GOP knows nothing in order to fig leaf their complicity.

Silly Summer Shorts

June 27, 2021

            What better time than the start of summer to note disparate reportings that say nothing about each other, yet a whole lot about the world we inhabit. Like the start of summer with its faux nostalgia, the stories all reinforce that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The first story hearkens back to 2016 and the spectacle known as the Trump rally. Then wannabe president held mega, as well as MAGA, events that seemed to attract a cult like following. Many, at the time, pointed out how akin to deadheads these followers were. Deadheads (Grateful Dead aficionados) would travel long distances and put up with great inconvenience in order not to miss an appearance of their favorite band. The world’s largest disorganized religion it was referred to at the time. Well the ex president is back with a rally in Ohio this past week. “’Trying to save American democracy’: Donald Trump returns to rally stage in Ohio” (Michael Collins, USA Today, 6-27-21) covered the June 26 affair in Wellington Ohio. Like cleveland.com did back in 2016, Collins interviewed attendees, revealing the enormous distance and troubles they endured to be able to attend the ex president’s celebration of the Big Lie. Deadheads indeed! “Ohio House passes bill increasing penalties for disobeying or distracting police”  by Anna Staver for the Cols. Dispatch (6-25-21) shows that learning went out the window long before school let out for the summer. “House Bill 22 would expand the crime of obstructing justice to include not following a lawful order, distracting an officer or getting within about an arm’s length of an officer without permission. Violating these statutes would be a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine. But the crime could rise to a fifth-degree felony if a person’s actions risked physical harm. The penalty would be up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.” House Bill 22 proponents conveniently elided the lessons to be learned from the almost half century old War on Drugs (America’s real longest war?). Expansion of the crimes and increasing the jail time/punishment only resulted in greater misery (those incarcerated and fined) as well as greater drug use. The more things change, in terms of those representing “the people”, the more they remain the same; the stuff of CRT! Finally, the oxymoronic summertime solution (and quote) to a problem that isn’t a problem, but rather a condition, goes to Michelle Newman (Newman: The conundrum of the Tuesday Farmers Market, guest column The Advocate, 6-27-21). Seems participation in the Tuesday Canal Farmers Market is a bit “off” (an understatement, to say the least!). “The truth of the matter is that we need customers to attract more vendors, but more vendors to attract customers.” (the Indian Mound Mall suffers from the same condition) To paraphrase the big bucks economists, it looks like the market is trying to tell you something, Michelle. 

“I’m sorry it’s been so uncomfortable for you to listen to my truth.”

June 13, 2021

            A funny thing happened on the way to spending $3 million on street paving in Newark this week. Newark residents were told to “Shut up. We know better.” at a City Council Street Committee. The incident was so news worthy that the local paper (?) promptly wrote an editorial for the Sunday edition. This in itself was newsworthy (call the Dispatch! On second thought, fuhgettaboutit. They also are a Gannett publication). “Our view: Newark council Republicans wrong to cut off public input” (the Advocate 6-13-21) basically said “Tsk. Tsk. This is no way to run a government.” It referenced the original report by Kent Mallett, 6-9-21, headlined “Newark council committee cuts off public testimony on road repairs”. In that report Mallett shares “The meeting lasted 40 minutes, with council members and the city engineer speaking for about 30 of those minutes. A local Eagle Scout and a Grant Street resident were allowed to speak before the meeting adjourned.” “William Koser, an Eagle Scout working on his Citizen of Community Merit Badge, urged the city to pave roads, such as Countryside Drive, instead of spending money on continual patching.” And “Before the adjournment, Rebecca Speake, a Grant Street resident, said, “Grant Street connects 79 to Williams. We do get quite a bit of traffic on that street. I’m sorry it’s been so uncomfortable for you to listen to my truth. I’m pretty frustrated.”” The bulk of Mallett’s report covered the brouhaha of “City Councilman Doug Marmie, R-6th Ward, made a motion to adjourn the meeting after one speaker and less than 10 minutes, saying the meeting was unfair because the speakers would only be from a couple wards.” This was eventually (after the fairness folderol) followed by “Marmie’s motion failed with a 3-3 vote. But, Councilman Jonathan Lang, R-5th Ward, later made a motion to adjourn and changed his vote, after addressing a 5th Ward concern about Countryside Drive.” All of which was an accumulation of little lies made possible by the tight Republican embrace of the Big Lie – you know, the fairness, the “public” in “public meeting”, the rules of order, etc. All of which caught the eye of the editorial board. None of which their editorial reveals as concerning them in terms of lies and truth. Something that Rebecca Speake couldn’t keep quiet about. “I’m sorry it’s been so uncomfortable for you to listen to my truth.” At which point the GOP majority committee men adjourned their meeting.

More Hannah Arendt [Again]

January 5, 2021

[This is a Newark News Analysis re-post  from 6-22-17. Given the events of these first weeks of 2021, the writing and insights are even more appropriate]

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.”