Posts Tagged ‘2020 Election’

The Question Of Secret Service Protection Entitlement

November 6, 2020

            The dominant news of the past week has been, regrettably, overshadowed by lesser affairs. The Covid 19 coronavirus has come roaring back, pretty much throughout the US. Most residents of Newark, Ohio and America have set their attention on the recent presidential election. This is unfortunate. Virus spread is unaffected by willfulness, the very essence of democratic process. True, true, true, mindful activity (like wearing a mask, etc.) does have a profound effect on the spread of viruses. But you don’t need Jon Kabat-Zinn to tell you that willfulness is not the same as mindfulness. Analysis finds the mixed bag of news from the past week to be full of little caveats of insight. Mike Dewine’s early success (and kudos) with regard to his handling of the coronavirus in Ohio went south with his caving to the political pressure of Trumpers following the resignation of Amy Acton. Now he’s in over his head without a clue, or a handle, on how to deal with the pandemic. Infections have sky rocketed 5 fold state wide from the previous weeks. But the economy is open which makes the Trumpers glad. Analogous to the virus, the Trumpers will not go away, no matter the election outcome. Much as Bernie (with Jimmy Fallon) accurately predicted the election week just past, so Bernie bros forecast the ineffectualness of the Biden candidacy. True, true, true, normal, calm and decency are valuable, especially now. But what was the first thing Mitch McConnell said after the Obama Biden win of 08? The number one priority is to get rid of Obama. McConnell, like the Trumpers, isn’t going to just disappear because there is a new administration. The national news coverage, along with some GOP politicians, is suddenly shocked at what a blatantly mendacious person Dear Leader is. What took you so long? Or rather, where have you been? The continuous lying will not cease because he is out of office. Analysis can only conclude that decent Americans have 4 years, and only 4 years, to get  Donald Trump imprisoned, on whatever charges – tax evasion, sexual assault, genocide (the pandemic deaths), corruption, whatever. After that, like the coronavirus, he will come roaring back full of lies, misinformation, disinformation, overt corruption and criminality. The question, not asked by the national news outlets, is whether a former president of the US is entitled to Secret Service protection while sitting in jail. Analysis finds supreme irony in all this. A Bernie Sanders welfare state legitimizes entitlement while a fascist Trumpist state denigrates entitlement, valorizing personal responsibility and self reliance in all matters.

Return To Normalcy

April 20, 2020

“America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate,” Joe Biden? Nope. Warren Harding 100 years ago during the 1920 presidential contest (which he won). “Return to Normalcy” was his campaign slogan. (Joe Biden’s ‘Return to Normalcy’ Campaign Has Echoes of 1920 by Ryan Teague Beckwith, Bloomberg, 4-11-29). Beckwith writes that the nation was traumatized by the enormous mechanized butchery of WWI, the loss of a half million people due to the Spanish Flu, and 8 years of a very unpopular (and disliked) president. Writing for New Yorker magazine just at the start of the currently pervasive Covid 19 pandemic, Erich Lach headlined: Joe Biden, the Normalcy Candidate, Keeps Winning in Abnormal Times (3-18-20). He writes of Biden in 2019: “He was the normalcy candidate. He asked voters not to look ahead, to potential policies like Medicare for All or free public colleges, but to look back, to the Obama Administration and its relative stability. Wouldn’t a restoration be nice? Let’s remember who we are.” Then his description for mid March 2020: “In polls, voters said that they liked the policy ideas put forward by Sanders and others. But, at polling places, they went for Biden.” His succinct last line gives the wistful: “But now, with many Americans shut up in their homes, or soon to be, many voters continue to say that a return to normal sounds pretty good.” Does it? Two Americans who have steadfastly stuck with their assessment (repeatedly over years), and have not been shy about voicing it, are Anthony Fauci and Bernie Sanders. Fauci would disagree about a rosy return to “normalcy” anytime soon. His sober prognostication on the future of handshakes when greeting forebodes any future “return to normalcy.”  In a NY Times Op Ed (Bernie Sanders: The Foundations of American Society Are Failing Us, 4-19-20) Sanders underlines the current fundamentals: “We are the richest country in the history of the world, but at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, that reality means little to half of our people who live paycheck to paycheck, the 40 million living in poverty, the 87 million who are uninsured or underinsured, and the half million who are homeless.” “The absurdity and cruelty of our employer-based, private health insurance system should now be apparent to all. As tens of millions of Americans are losing their jobs and incomes as a result of the pandemic, many of them are also losing their health insurance.” “In truth, we don’t have a health care “system.” We have a byzantine network of medical institutions dominated by the profit-making interests of insurance and drug companies.” “Further, while doctors, governors and mayors tell us that we should isolate ourselves and stay at home, and rich people head off to their second homes in less populated areas, working-class people don’t have those options. When you are living paycheck to paycheck, and you lack paid medical and family leave, staying home is not an option.” He ends with: “If there is any silver lining in the horrible pandemic and economic collapse we’re experiencing, it is that many in our country are now beginning to rethink the basic assumptions underlying the American value system.” Analysis finds the longing for “normalcy” to include the desire for a normal presidential election in November. If that should ever materialize in any “normal” sense is dubious, given the aberrant preliminaries. Either way Analysis finds it is shaping up to be a contest of mythic proportions – the myth of “Make America Great Again” versus the myth of “Return To Normalcy.”

Trump Lite

March 12, 2020

Joe Biden’s on a roll. Seemingly, out of nowhere, his campaign was “revived” and assumed front runner status. Analysis stresses “seemingly” because the negative logic found in the “nowhere” was one of sustained, “Anyone but Bernie” corporate press coverage in the past year. Like the workings of dark matter (or money for that matter), the shaping of public opinion was there in the “nowhere” while the large enthusiastic crowds were not to be found at Biden’s rallies or fund raisers. Now the negative logic (“Anyone but Bernie”) has shifted to the positive logic of the Democrats’ great need to coalesce around a single candidate. Even South Carolina’s super delegate “king maker,” James Clyburn, is keen on suspending the primary electoral process and anointing the king. Shades of 2016! The real fun begins with imagining one or more Biden/Trump televised debates. Some of the gold which could be mined by late night hosts would include the rambling irrelevances both men are prone to, the non-existent events each hearkens back to shamelessly (and, unlike for Hillary Clinton, unaccountably), the verbal gaffes, mispronunciations and brain farts, and the lack of actual policy projections through relying on going way back in the way back machine for answers to present day problems – The Donald’s Make America Great Again and Joe’s Bring Back The Status Quo. Political journalists won’t point out the similarities between Obama’s tapping Goldman Sach’s Tim Geithner for Treasury Secretary after the 2008 meltdown, Trump’s Steve Mnuchin, and Biden’s corresponding probability of a Michael Bloomberg or Jamie Dimon (in keeping with the previous status quo, of course). “Good for some but not everyone” echoes throughout not only Trump’s current response to the Corona Virus pandemic, but also with Biden’s projected expansion of the ACA, which has been gutted by the courts and legislatures (Who is going to pay for it, and how?). Analysis surmises the debates will end up as a macho lucha libre slug fest between two masked-to-cover-only-the-grey wheezers. Their appeal will be for a WWE Smackdown decision as to who is the hero and who is the heel. The choice for the viewer will be totally commercial — a mythic America Great time versus an equally mythic Status Quo pre-Trump time. Few will consider the day after inauguration in the upcoming marketing of Trump and Trump Lite.

 

C U And US

February 28, 2020

The daily news of “the 2020 Presidential election,” with all its analysis, projection and punditry, borders on boredom (noun, the state of being bored. Bored, adjective, feeling weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity). The GOP has its anointed candidate. The Democrat’s don’t. Amidst their embarrassment of riches they cannot seem to coalesce around a single precious gem, hence the ongoing contested spectacle. Each attempts to out-differentiate the other. All claim difference with today’s front runner, Bernie Sanders. Even Mr. Sanders’ closest kin, Elizabeth Warren, asserts major difference from Mr. Sanders. Analysis can’t help but wonder what the situation would be if there were two democratic socialist candidates in the contested field of Democratic Presidential wannabe’s. There are, after all, two self-funded billionaires. There are two women. There are two flyover country aspirants. And two east coast senators. What if there were two democratic socialists? Being able to imagine two greatly clarifies the muddled contested Democratic spectacle. What is grossly apparent, but goes completely unseen, would become categorized as one of many (two), and therefore not novel or unique. The “naturalness” of two of a kind (two self-funded billionaires, two Midwesterners, etc.) would offset the current outrageous audacity of difference presented by Mr. Sanders. After all, it is difference within ubiquity that becomes the natural prey of bullies. But who is the bully? In 2010, just a couple of years after George Bush’s financial meltdown, barely one year into the Obama Presidency, and well before the ACA or Occupy Wall Street, the SCOTUS handed down its Citizen United ruling, essentially extending the rights of personhood to corporate entities (on the basis of the 14thAmendment to the US Constitution). Money is speech. This was greeted with much handwringing, consternation and prognostication by the pundits and political class. What would become of our political process in this American democracy? Well, we’ve witnessed it. Voices, organizers and rallies by self-funded billionaire candidates are, yawn, part of the boring political spectacle (see “feeling weary…” above). Which brings us to the obvious that an imagined pair of democratic socialists would reveal: all the currently vying candidates for president of the US in the 2020 election, save one, want to reserve a place at the table for corporate persons (even though they don’t vote). Some want all the chairs filled by corporate persons (like the incumbent). Some a lot, some a few, some not many but still feel a need for their presence at the governing table. The only one who doesn’t believe that corporate persons (who do not vote) have a place at  the table in the governance of democracy is the democratic socialist. Right now there is only one. What if there were two?

Food For Thought

February 6, 2020

During the past mayoral election of November, 2019, just over 26% of Newark’s registered voters took the time, made the effort to vote. The number of votes re-electing the incumbent mayor was equal to 10% of the population of the city as a whole, 16% of those registered to vote. Yawn was the collective reaction. Indeed, the numbers were even less than previous years; in other words the downward trend is considered the norm. Oh, but the recent brouhaha in Iowa is definitely not a yawn. In all the “new tech is the answer to all our problems” reviews, the real news was that voter turnout in the Democratic caucus was also down. “According to a NBC News entrance poll, even first-time voters — the young backbone of the progressive forces — dipped below past years as well. In 2008, first-time voters soared to 57%, thanks to the enthusiasm over Barack Obama’s campaign; last night, an estimated one in three voters was a newcomer. And it gets worse: Past turnouts were already at such cringe-worthy lows. In 2016, only 15.7% of Iowa’s voting-eligible population took part in the caucus. Our record turnout, thanks to Obama’s campaign in 2008, clocked in at 16.1%.” (Forget Iowa’s stupid app: Democrats can’t ignore the dismal turnout if they hope to win My caucus in Iowa City had 60 fewer people than four years ago. Tepid turnout will re-elect Trump for sure, Jeff Biggers, 2-5-20, Salon) In an interview with USA Today’s Nichelle Smith (‘Overwhelm the system’ to thwart voter suppression, Stacey Abrams counsels blacks, 2-4-20) Abrams responds with “I think there are two pieces to focus on. One is ensuring that voter suppression does not have its intended effect, which is by making it more difficult to vote, people decide not to bother trying. Our goal through Fair Fight and Fair Fight 2020 is to ensure that people know about the obstacles that are being placed in their way, but (are encouraged to) vote in even larger numbers to overwhelm the intention of the system. The best way to defeat voter suppression is by having such a high turnout that the barriers to voting have limited effect. The second piece I want people to pay attention to is the 2020 Census. While people don’t often think of that as a voting rights issue, it’s directly related not only to the allocation of congressional leaders, but to how the (voting district) lines are drawn for school boards and for city council and county commissions and state legislatures.” Analysis wonders where the barriers are in Newark. Even more pressing is why has no one noticed? But in terms of the greatly hyped aspirations of the Democrats with regard to the 2020 presidential election it gets even more messy. Buttigieg and Sanders came out of Iowa neck and neck. Between the two of them is the actual “showed up to caucus” backing of over half of Iowa’s Democrat nominating participants. Immediate news out today gives Sanders an enormous campaign contribution haul in January, 2020. Active, engaged participation is there and yet Jeff Biggers  can still, quite accurately, write “The real discussion, post-Iowa, is whether Tom Perez’s Democratic Party can galvanize the necessary vision, enthusiasm and opposition to beat Donald Trump in November — or not. Will an entrenched party leadership under Perez allow Sanders, Warren or Buttigieg to rise in the front ranks? It’s about the Democratic Party uniting around a bold vision that not only challenges the empty promises of Trump’s economic claims, devastating environmental rollbacks, and reckless immigration and global policies, but inspires new and dispossessed voters to show up on Election Day. Battered by the trade wars, a farm crisis and historic flooding, Iowa should not have been a tough playing field to rouse enthusiasm. Rising health care costs and climate change remain the top two priorities of caucus-goers. But with Democratic leadership that has refused to allow debates on climate change, stacked the convention committees with members of the corporate establishment, and eased debate requirements for billionaire Michael Bloomberg, you have to wonder:” Analysis also wonders how such pressing issues could drive turnout in a national election and yet not exist at all in a local mayoral contest just one year prior. Food for thought

 

Act Like An Owner

November 28, 2019

Pulitzer Prize winning author and investigative reporter David Cay Johnston ended a conversation with Chauncey DeVega (11-27-19) by saying:

“Nov. 3 is coming. We have the power, it’s our country, we own it. We own our government. We should act like owners. What we’re seeing in Donald Trump, who is just the symptom of deeper problems, is the wages of 40 years of people renting out their interest in the government, saying, “Let somebody else take care of it. We’re going to behave like renters.” We can’t do that if we want to be a free people. The American people must be civically engaged. Having to go vote and volunteer some time is nothing compared to all of those gravesites in the Philippines, in France and in Germany, of American soldiers who died for this country. All those Americans in the Union who died in the Civil War. To not be a citizen is to disrespect what they gave up their lives for. We need to take the responsibility of being a citizen seriously. Not just talk. Not just griping on the internet. Act like an owner. It’s important.”

Analysis finds this statement to contribute a partial accounting for the dismal results of the recent Newark Ohio city wide election; dismal, not in the sense of outcome but for the historic low voter turnout, in an election determining three at large city council representatives as well as the mayor‘s office. “Voter participation in the Newark mayoral race fell to the lowest level in a quarter century, with fewer than 10,000 votes cast for the first time since at least 1991. Mayor Jeff Hall, a Republican, won a third term with fewer than 5,000 votes in a growing city of 50,000 residents and 30,000 registered voters. Voter turnout in the city dropped to 27.6%, down from 36% in 2015, and 43% in 2011. Turnout in mayoral election years varied from 41% to 48% from 1995 through 2011. In 1995, when the city had 6,000 fewer residents, 12,300 voted, or 48%. This year, only 8,403 voted for mayor.” (Kent Mallet, The Advocate, Voter turnout in Newark hits quarter century low in mayoral elections,11-24-19). Analysis doesn’t know where to begin. For all the rhetoric and reassurance by the Democratic candidates of engaging the community and being out in the neighborhoods the fact remained that they just couldn’t get people to come out and vote. This resonates ominously on a state wide as well as a national election level. What good is all the talk of “electability,” bemoaning gerrymandering and vote suppression when you can’t deliver existing registered voters to the polls, not to even entertain the vote itself? Perhaps the emphasis and focus is awry. It is common knowledge, reinforced by US Census data, that almost exactly half of Newark residential housing is non-owner occupant. By correlation one could legitimately surmise that half the registered voters are renters. Maybe the actual and real challenge coming up in 2020 is overcoming the “Let somebody else take care of it. We’re going to behave like renters.” disposition prevalent in America today (and ever growing). With an incumbent who spends lifetime’s of presidential salaries on golf and potential Democratic Party candidates vying for the nomination to oppose him including multiple billionaires, no wonder the American electorate feels inclined to “Let somebody else take care of it. We’re going to behave like renters.” It appears to be no more than a replacement of one landlord for another. Few non-GOP politicians are cultivating the message that “it’s our country, we own it. We own our government. We should act like owners.”. Rather it’s “if we win, we can stop being renters.” Really (and if we lose?)? “We need to take back our country.” Like it wasn’t always ours? And even varying articulations of “negotiating a better deal.” Sounds a lot like renewing a rental agreement to begin with! Analysis finds it to be no coincidence that the Democrat party’s challenge in 2020 is one of displacing an actual and for real landlord. But then what? The real challenge remains one of “We need to take the responsibility of being a citizen seriously. Not just talk. Not just griping on the internet. Act like an owner.”