One Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

January 23, 2022

            The latest big news out of Licking County this past week also happened to make the national news. Intel is projecting to build (and install) a 20 billion dollar chip manufacturing facility (no, not the crunchy kind). It is to be located on the western border of Licking County with Delaware and Franklin Counties, just north of the New Albany business park complex. For someone visiting from Mars (no, not Elon Musk) it would only naturally look like an extension of Les Wexner’s New Albany (minus the white fence). Remember the multi million dollar freeway extension built specifically to link Les’s Easton with New Albany? But this digresses. Intel put out many “artist’s renderings” of the proposed project (does any reader recall the excitement over the artist renderings of the proposed “affordable” housing to be located behind Walmart on N. 21st St?). Most are from a drone cam point of view (surveillance is so today!). The prominent one being circulated the most shows a 7 story main building with the fab units receding to the zero perspective point in the back, and the main building surrounded by acres of parking lots (and cars) in the foreground. There is not a public transit kiosk or Disneyesque monorail terminal to be found. So much for IT being concerned with a carbon footprint, or building with the latter part of the 21st century in mind. No, it’s all going to happen by car over freeways, most of which lie outside Licking County. It is a race to the Los Angeles freeway rush hour bottom (or Boston, NYC, Chicago, or even, gasp, Cols.). But the breaking news announcement was staged in Newark, the county seat that identifies itself as just a small, all American town in the middle of a rural Ohio county. The fab plants’ location is a huge feather in the red MAGA cap of the county’s three GOP commissioners. It is something to continue the “Aw Shucks’ rural (us) vs urban (not us) identity paddy cake that has been going on for decades. Since the plant is on the margins of New Albany, and has access to CBus amenities, urban problems like affordable housing, child care, public transportation, hunger or access to medical care are someone else’s (what me worry?). The “Aw Shucks” rural small town of Newark can maintain its timeless aura, and appeal (like the pedestrian friendly downtown “destination” for which you need a car to access). Just so long as the 3,000 projected Intel employees pay the county taxes. JobsOhio has seen to it that Intel and its executives won’t.

The Role Of Flo In Learned Helplessness

January 2, 2022

            “Since winning a third term in 2019, Mayor Jeff Hall has faced some difficult times, including the death of Police Chief Steve Baum in March and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” (Newark Mayor: Tough times in ’21; new leaders, housing, developments in ’22. Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate, 1-2-22). There’s an insurance company ad running currently in the media. In it Flo is trying to get a focus group to talk about the product they’ve just had the occasion to watch on the big screen monitor. Their response is “what product?” They have no clue what it is about since the video featuring the product seemed too much like an ad. They just block out ads that appear on screen. Mallett’s Sunday front page article would absolutely fit in perfectly with Flo’s promotion. Who reads this stuff? Unless you are integral to the operation of the GOP favorite’s machine (as Human Resource Director Bill Spurgeon must be), own properties in town (like Service Director Dave Rhodes) or are key to their development (as in Mark Mauter, Development Director), there isn’t much there for you. Sure, Covid is in the opening line, but other than being addressed as an inconvenience to the efficient operation of the business, er, city, it is regarded as a painless nuisance. When did you ever hear Mayor Hall come out and say “I feel your pain”? Suffering the pandemic akin to suffering the opioid/meth epidemic? Naaa. Any mention of the residents of Newark, the actual people, any insights on addressing their concerns or issues? Nada. As Mallett’s headline succinctly and pithily states, there isn’t anything covered that would fall outside the purview of the Newark good ole boy’s patronage network of property and largesse. Mallett affirms this by quoting the Mayor himself: ““Your job is always to try to hire within and try to see where your talent is,” Hall said. “I think that’s preferred. To properly manage this town, you’ve got to know the town. A lot of times you can attract people from outside the community, as larger cities do, and they don’t understand the culture, sometimes, in the community. I think they need to understand Newark pretty well. So, you’re always looking internal to see what can work.” (Kinda sounds like something Sparta Mississippi Police Chief Gillespie would say. Newark = Sparta? Naaa. Couldn’t be.)  Analysis finds it to be an understatement to speculate that most local readers just shut out this political ad. The three time mayor is pretty well counting on this. It is included in his plans to run for a fourth term.

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!

Another Lesson In The Reproduction Of A Learned Lack Of Imagination

November 6, 2021

            The 2021 election was this past week. All 8 Newark City Council seats were contested. All 8 went Republican though two races involved incumbent Democrats and one open seat was previously Democrat. The national news spotlight was on what took place in states like Virginia, New Jersey, or cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, etc. Their spin and prognostications were all about the upcoming 2022 mid terms as well as 2024 presidential election. But Newark reality speaks even more sadly than any of these Nostradamus’ crystal ball gazing’s. Conventional analysis swirls around turnout, charisma and politics as a game. The Licking County Board of Elections gives county wide registered voter turnout at 24.2% of total eligible. Since the GOP won, there is no talk of fraud or the election being rigged. Low turnout seems to favor the GOP. Yet precinct statistics show that is primarily who turned out, with the 1st and 7th ward having a percentage of eligible voters casting ballots at just above 11%, and the  5th showing a close to 30%. Margin of victory, even with low turnout, was consistent with the state average of 55% to 45% (with Newark roughly 60/40). Flag loyalty (party designation) appears to continue as the dominant factor in voting preference. This was evidenced by the veritable lack of charisma with the majority of winning candidates. Given a police line up, most voters who cast ballots couldn’t pick out their next batch of city government, let alone individual ward representative. Veritable unknowns now decide for the residents of the 1st and 7th district. Again, low turnout has much to do with where to reside made by aspiring politicos. Finally, politics as a game. If it were so, then the next two years will witness a game played with all the playing pieces having the same color and significance. A perverse kind of equality by virtue of no difference. And that’s where Newark’s outcome speaks sadness. Difference has no seat on the 2022 Newark City Council. Difference will have no representative to plead its case, promote its ideas. Nothing to temper power or ambition. Main street has become a one way. Analysis finds a learned lack of imagination to be the primary reason for the abysmal voter turnout. Newark’s 2021 election results provide another lesson in the reproduction of a learned lack of imagination. Will a lack of imagination help solve the city’s very real problems in 2022?

The Underlying Myth Of Paid Family Leave

October 30, 2021

            The demise of paid family leave within the framework of the barebones Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill reveals some of the myths surrounding this issue. The paid media journalists are mostly focused on the broad scale economics and political ramifications of its inclusion/exclusion. Generalizations are made as to who will benefit, and who resists its inclusion. But the real myth of caregiving, and the myth of how it works within the everyday of American healthcare, is not investigated. For many in Newark, reliance on Licking Memorial Health Systems is a default position – driving out of town is time consuming and costly. Besides, for many outpatient procedures, it requires someone to drive you there and back. In other words, it requires a caregiver. And that is where the myth comes in. So “what else is new,” you say, “that is precisely what the conversation re: paid family leave is about?” And so the myth is discretely formatted and grounds the “conversation.” In an article from 2014 (Singles nation: why Americans are turning away from marriage) WNYC cites Bureau of Labor statistics showing 50.2% of Americans to be single. A Sept. 2020 Pew Research finding showed that 31% of those over 18 are not married, living with a partner or in a committed romantic relationship. The recent 2021 US Census shows that 45.5% of those over 18 years old are unmarried. The myth that is not assailed within the “conversation” (and that grounds it while framing it) is that of the assumed existence of a caregiver to begin with. The health care “system” (as in the name “Licking Memorial Health Systems”) takes that (existence of a caregiver) for granted, assumes it, even practically requires it (or that its services be purchased). Yet, for any of one third to one half of Americans, the existence of a caregiver within their day to day life is not a given. It only goes to show how much to the ideological right our “conversation” has centered itself when the issue of “caregiver’ is grounded in a family situation (for which it is named), all the while upwards of one half of Americans live their everyday lives not exactly within such a context. Hence the resistance to the inclusion of Paid Family Leave within the reconciliation bill is precisely from the health care system which stands to lose part of its market share on the realignment of the provision of caregivers, that the system’s services require as well as commercially provide. Hence its demise has been met with a mostly “does not apply to me” shrug by almost half of Americans.

Punch And Judy 2021

October 25, 2021

            In a news exclusive, Rolling Stone headlined: “Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff” (Hunter Walker, 10-24-21). The article swirls around the accounts of two anonymous individuals involved with the planning and organizing of rallies and events prior to the grand finale of January 6. The members of congress included “Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)” as well as Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Walker reports that in an email to Rolling Stone “Nick Dyer, who is Greene’s communications director, said she was solely involved in planning to object to the electoral certification on the House floor.” “Dyer also suggested the public is far more concerned with issues occurring under President Joe Biden than they are with what happened in January. “No one cares about Jan. 6 when gas prices are skyrocketing, grocery store shelves are empty, unemployment is skyrocketing, businesses are going bankrupt, our border is being invaded, children are forced to wear masks, vaccine mandates are getting workers fired, and 13 members of our military are murdered by the Taliban and Americans are left stranded in Afghanistan,” Dyer wrote.” Analysis finds that to be a pretty gloom and doom, negative and dire to say the least, assessment of America today. Shelves were empty, unemployment was skyrocketing and businesses were going bankrupt in 2020 when Biden wasn’t President. Just trying to steer the conversation like Youngkin is doing with school board controversies in Virginia? Perhaps. But Analysis is intrigued by the description of America presented by Dyer, not in the strategies of rhetoric. What if it is true? If it were true, one would expect the repercussions to be pervasive, across the board. September 2021 unemployment rate was at 4.8%, the lowest since before the pandemic. Supply chain issues are causing shelves to be emptied. Economist point to the pent up demand creating a tsunami of buying as one of the factors involved with this gap (and our methodology is as old as the extinct Sears Roebuck catalogue – we order it and expect it to arrive on demand). As for businesses going bankrupt, as of this writing the S&P was at 35,700. It has and continues to rise. In the past that would be an indicator of confidence in the ability to make money in America. But wait, didn’t we just assume that Dyer’s description of America was true? If the dire assessment is so, that conditions in America suck, then what creates the rising value of stock certificates, continuously increasing the wealth of the 1% who own most of it? Analysis finds a disjunct between what Dyer says (as spokesman for MTG) and what the financial wealth actually being made and determined says. Analysis finds that, true or false, Dyer is trying to steer the conversation (and have MTG benefit from the fear and anxiety it creates). But Analysis also finds that, true or false, the controversy and strife caused by “the conversation” has not dampened the ability of the wealthy to make more money from their money. It seems that the greater the chaos and crisis, the more opportunity there is to reap financial reward for those not caught in the fray. Analysis finds it all to be an obverse Punch and Judy Show, where the puppet masters are heartily enjoying (and benefitting from) the spectacle of their audience pulling each other’s strings while beating themselves senseless.

Didactic Interlude

October 10, 2021

            This year’s Nobel Peace Prize recognized two journalists, Dmitry Muretov and Maria Ressa, “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace” No coincidence that here, in the polarized politics of the US of A, journalists are the favored whipping boy of diverse ideologies. Here, in central Ohio, journalism is essentially whatever the Gannett corporation dictates it should be, retaining ownership of just about all the small town papers as well as the Columbus Dispatch (and many more outside the state’s center). How does all this square up — ”the precondition for democracy,” the media being the source of the demise of democracy, and the monopoly on what locals are privy to see and know about their small towns? Today’s Newark Advocate provides some insights as to how this is. The headline “Newark south end residents say they live in fear in their neighborhood” (Kent Mallett, 10-10-21) is pretty sensational. It effectively positions the reader’s response. The extensive article starts off with “South end Newark residents say they live in fear of people they see on the streets who may be on drugs or struggling with mental health issues, probably homeless, and possibly stealing from the area.” It then transitions to being about a “problem” (the source of the fear), and what is being done about it (the community’s response). This then transitions into how the problem is being dealt with by the city (the community) which covers police and carceral services as well as non city behavioral health resources. Mayor Jeff Hall, who is on record as being opposed to spending any city resources to address the problem, is quoted by Mallett: “Mayor Jeff Hall told the residents, “I’m sorry that’s going on in your neighborhood. It is a complicated issue, it’s not an easy one to fix, but that doesn’t mean we ignore it. We’ll have discussion. When you come in, we talk about it, so it’s not to deaf ears, trust me, we do talk about it.”” The bulk of the article bemoans a lack of police resources, the Covid challenge at the County jail, and the hope for a new outreach program through Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio. Interwoven throughout the reporting is the underlying tacit understanding that homelessness, and the homeless, are “the problem” (for if they had a residence they wouldn’t be generating fear throughout the neighborhood). “It is a complicated issue.” (Newark Mayor Jeff Hall) Really? If your gas gauge shows empty, you fill up with gas to solve the problem. Speaking of which, the city promoted the destruction of perfectly sound, inhabitable community housing stock for the sake of the development of an urban truck stop on N 21st street (with no provisions for replacement). Mallett does let this slip (just barely) with: “The federal moratorium on evictions ended recently, and Licking County evictions have increased from 136 in the first quarter of the year to 158 in the second quarter to 219 in the third quarter.” But this is followed up by a one line nod to a grassroots effort to address this debacle. Analysis finds the bulk of the article to perpetuate the misinformation that homelessness and the homeless are “the problem” not able to be solved by city government resources. It furthers the misconception that evictions, as well as being without a house, are inextricably linked with criminality, mental health, and a lack of moral compass (aka personal responsibility). “It is a complicated issue.” (Mayor Jeff Hall) Bull shit. Other cities, both here in the US of A as well as abroad, have dealt with it through providing housing for those without any. In Newark the misinformation molding the perception of those finding themselves without a house is reproduced and perpetuated by a monopolistic news journalism which bolsters the ideological polarity that undermines “the precondition for democracy.” Nowhere in Mallett’s report was any alternative view, approach or outlook on the matter of housing those without a house presented. Across the US of A (as well as elsewhere) the problem is being addressed and met. Why not here?

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.”