Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

Revolving Door

April 25, 2021

            Ever wonder why the candidate who has raised the most money, has the biggest war chest, is considered to be a front runner for being elected? Despite SCOTUS Citizens United ruling that money speaks, it still remains that money doesn’t do the voting. Or does it? “The Licking County Commissioners approved on Thursday an Alternate Energy Zone for a 512-acre Harrison Township site proposed for a 108-megawatt solar field.” (Licking County Commissioners OK Alternate Energy Zone for solar field; more on horizon Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate 4-25-21). No end to where the public revenue of this project will be distributed in this reporting. Similar articles outlining new corporate investment surrounding Newark usually travel down the road of tax credits, abatements, etc. with no promises of who will get what (“some risk involved”). Why not this one? Could it be that taking credit for “real” market forces at work (Amazon, Google and others need the electricity) rather than the contrived “subsidized” pie-in-the-sky creations is being usurped by GOP county commissioners who otherwise treat climate change/global warming as a preferred whipping boy? But Analysis digresses. Of course we are all familiar with the “revolving door” complaint when it comes to national administration, also state as well as local. How often is it the case that someone appointed to lead a regulatory body, or department has previously been salaried as part of what that body or department manages or administrates (what George W. Bush referred to as its “customers”)? And then, with a new administration (or just time passing), the same gov’t administrators go to work in the private sector for those they previously regulated. But what about elected officials, representatives of the people? Recent news was that central Ohio US Representative Steve Stivers has opted out of running for re-election, as well as seeking a senate run to replace Rob Portman. Stivers has agreed to a leadership role with the state’s Chamber of Commerce that salaries him at twice what he is making now. Just reward for services rendered? We’ve seen this movie before. Several years ago US Rep Pat Tiberi opted not to run and assumed a leadership position with the Ohio Business Roundtable. The similarities are uncanny. Both white men had accumulated vast war chests for whatever position they would run for. Both opted to “double down” on their earnings rather than continue to “represent” the fine people of their district. Both no longer “fight” for their constituents’ values. Why should they? After all, they’ve made it to the top of the public service leadership ladder where they can now be more “quietly effective.” The unmentionable underwear in all this is, of course, where did all the accumulated war chest donations come from? Hint: the very lobbying groups who lured them away to higher salaried positions represent these folks; you know, the people who contrive all the tax credits, abatements, etc. for the sake of “job creation.” Analysis will let Cardi B, who btw nailed it, have the last word: “this is why people gotta vote, elect better people cause you got these dumb asses representing states.”

What Will Newark Do If Trump Doesn’t Leave?

September 6, 2020

            David Brooks is a writer. He has written several books as well as a weekly op-ed column for the New York Times, part of the Times “both side-ism” approach to covering the news. On a political spectrum he would be somewhere around conservative/centrist/moderate. He also appears as a foil to the liberal Mark Shields on the PBS Friday Newshour commentary (as well as on election coverage, etc.). So it came as a bit of a surprise to read the title of his 9-3-20 Times’ op-ed: What Will You Do If Trump Doesn’t Leave? Sure, Bernie Sanders can broach the same topic eliciting “That’s Bernie” yawns. But Brooks? In his essay, Brooks assumes his paper’s both side-ism coverage of the various street demonstrations around the country and that they are increasingly actively involving both sides (the truth being that the Proud Boys and Prayer Patriots have been actively agitating in Portland for years, not just the past 100 days). White supremacy aside, and the affinity of these groups to side with and be embraced by law enforcement (after all, like the police, they are carrying firearms), none of this will go away with the election of a new president. Brooks’ point is will you choose a side? His response was to point to the outrage and mass street gatherings in Belarus (as well as Ukraine, Chile, etc.). Would you be willing to go to the streets for the sake of democracy, the Constitution and country (and not just one side)? What is striking about Brooks, and Sanders, and so many others recent concern about what will occur if our Dear Leader questions the legitimacy of the outcome (which he has been continuously laying the groundwork for just such a response), relies on his paramilitary (which he has continuously been instigating and affirming), and decides to change the Constitutional interpretation of what is the legitimate transfer of power (which he has been collaborating with his attorney general to reset what was previously assumed as lawful) is that most Americans are totally oblivious of this evolution, this development in American history. It has only been recently, in the last half year, that the media will immediately call out misinformation, disinformation as a lie, untrue, not backed up by facts and actuality. The word “fascist” still elides the lexicon. Speaking of fascism, what will Newark do if Trump doesn’t leave?

Meanwhile

June 5, 2020

The state legislature in Ohio has been busy with what must matter. Unhappy with Governor Dewine and Dr. Amy Acton’s leadership on the Covid 19 pandemic, they tried to suppress their capacity in the future. That went nowhere so the knives came out for what else the legislators could slice and dice to suppress. Funny, how if you can’t contribute positively there is always the option of negation to make you feel like you are being proactive (Householder’s “grow a pair” comments while shooting a TV and all!). Andrew J. Tobias has been following the progress of Ohio HB680 for cleveland.com in a series of articles. Introduced by Rep. Cindy Abrams (GOP southwest Ohio) it projected eliminating early voting the weekend just prior election day, also no mass mailings of absentee ballot application by the Secretary of State, as well as spelled out how, when and in what manner the Governor could reset the November 2020 election. This flies in the face of the original legal settlement enabling early voting. It likewise dissed the plans and intention of Ohio’s Secretary of State (“The proposal runs counter to a plan by Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who has sought to expand early voting for the November election, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic. His plan includes giving people the option to request a ballot online, and providing postage-paid envelopes to voters with ballot applications and actual ballots.”). The bill faced some push back. The final version passed the House 6-4-20. It already is a modification of a similar Senate bill, so no biggie “hammering out” a compromise. The question remains “will Dewine sign it?” What’s in the final version, you ask? Still limits the how, when and in what manner the Governor can “update” any election to accommodate conditions (like Covid 19, obviously, but less obvious would be civil or economic turmoil). Tobias writes: “House Bill 680 also shortens the deadline to request a mail-in ballot by four days — it’s now a week before Election Day — and bars Secretary of State Frank LaRose from providing voters with postage-paid envelopes along with their ballot applications and blank ballots. LaRose, a Republican, had proposed providing the envelopes to encourage mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.” Early voting the weekend prior election day remains as per legal settlement between the state, ACLU and NAACP. Tobias also notes: “The bill was approved by a 60-35 party-line vote. It adopts language previously passed by the Ohio Senate in a separate bill prohibiting any public official from changing the time, place or manner of an election. All the ‘yes’ votes were from Republicans, and the ‘no’ votes were from Democrats.” Analysis can’t fail to appreciate the emphasis on Democracy and voting tackled by the legislature in the midst of a growing pandemic, economic depression, and widespread civil upheaval re: police in America. The latter demonstrations are usually prefaced by platitudes of “election is the best hope for change,” “real power comes through the ballot box,” and “voting is how you make a difference,” etc. Meanwhile, those in power have other ideas as to how, when, where, and in what manner Democracy takes place.

And The Creep Goes On

April 12, 2020

Man-made climate change is not news. The scientific community has been studying it and notifying the world about it for nearly a half century. Geologists label the current era as the Anthropocene to designate the effects of man on the environment. Geologists talk in terms of large periods of time, with sudden occurrence evidencing change being rare (volcano, meteorite strike, etc.). The change within “climate change” is slow and, for the most part, barely noticeable. Referencing historic records, natural records (ice cores, etc.), and statistical data makes the change jump out and allow for projections. Analogous change takes place when a democracy slides into authoritarianism though there are no records or statistical data to reveal the movement. Any history is always the history of current time being made (news). The change taking place is likewise so slow as to be barely noticeable. In the US the current national conversation on mail-in voting gives a stark illustration of the authoritarian creep taking place within America today. Free market capitalism frames the debate as a competition, a partisan “free choice.” Nothing could be more obfuscating. In Ohio, as in other states, the dominant GOP has relied on mail-in voting as the “compromise” to the Dems demand for early voting, wide spread polling places, Sunday voting, and same day registration/voting. The authoritarian creep comes to the fore when what actually occurs is considered, not the rhetorical cover meant to obfuscate the factual change. In the past week’s propaganda briefings, Dear Leader has reiterated his opposition and disdain for mail in voting, returning to the voter fraud mantra that his earlier administration’s defunct, disbanded and discredited voter fraud commission could not reveal (but like the Emperor’s clothes, the Emperor is sure it is there). “The president fiercely criticized mail-in voting as “horrible” and “corrupt” during the White House coronavirus task force’s daily news conference Tuesday [4-7-20], but also conceded that he voted by mail in Florida’s primary last month. Trump offered no legitimate explanation for the discrepancy between his position on mail-in voting and his personal voting habits, but insisted “there’s a big difference between somebody that’s out of state and does a ballot, and everything’s sealed, certified and everything else.” In other instances of mail-in voting, however, “you get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room, signing ballots all over the place,” Trump claimed. “You look at what they do, where they grab thousands of mail-in ballots, and they dump it. I’ll tell you what — and I don’t have to tell you, you can look at the statistics — there’s a lot of dishonesty going along with mail-in voting, mail-in ballots,” he continued, adding: “I think if you vote, you should go.”” (Trump: GOP should fight mail-in voting because it ‘doesn’t work out well for Republicans’, Quint Forgey, Politico, 4-8-20). How is one to grasp such a contradiction (especially in light of the same Dear Leader advocating Americans wear masks but he himself will not)? White House rejects bailout for Postal Service battered by coronavirus by Jacob Bogage for the Washington Post contributes more factual evidence of authoritarian activism. “Trump threatened to veto the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or Cares, Act if the legislation contained any money to directly bail out the postal agency, according to a senior Trump Administration official and a congressional official. “We told them very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill if [money for the Postal Service] was in it,” the Trump Administration official said. “I don’t know if we used the v-bomb but the president was not going to sign it, and we told them that.”” Funding would run out by the end of spring without a loan provision included in the CARES Act. “Without the loan, which still has not been approved by the Treasury Department, USPS would be “financially illiquid,” by Sept. 30, according to estimates provided to lawmakers.” “And while the Trump Administration and Mnuchin pushed through private-sector bailouts in the Cares Act — $350 billion to the Small Business Administration loan program, $29 billion to passenger airlines and air cargo carriers, and economic incentives for the construction, energy and life sciences industries, among others — Mnuchin has signaled any postal relief funds in a “Phase IV” stimulus package currently under negotiation would amount to a poison pill.” Nothing would benefit Dear Leader’s authoritarian aspiration better than privatizing the USPS (particularly during the start up of the fall Presidential balloting). Akin to the demise of net neutrality, various “competing” mail delivery services would make for all the more reasons to invalidate a mailed in vote (limited service, hierarchical pricing,  uncommitted and insecure service, etc.). Though not privatized, the recent primary election in Wisconsin gave clear evidence to what patchwork requirements and deadline commitments result in. Analysis finds further evidence of authoritarian creep when the Republican Governor of Ohio shut down the March 17 primary and was challenged by the Democrats  over the legality of his move, the Trump appointed SCOTUS refused to hear it and let Mike Dewine have his way. When the Democratic Governor of Wisconsin opted to do the same, the SCOTUS deigned to consider the Republican challenge and voted 5-4 to allow the election to proceed. Oho is left with a pretend election at the end of April (all mail-in balloting). To vote in said pretend election requires multiple mail-in documentation hoops to jump through. The actual ballot itself is rife with opportunities of invalidation on grounds the envelope was not sealed properly, enough information/verification was not or incorrectly provided, lacking correct postage, etc. Like the hanging chad election outcome in the 2000 SCOTUS decided presidential race, there is ample grounds for ambiguous interpretation of outcome. In short, mail-in voting offers no panacea for the future of Democracy in America. It does, however, open a window on the continuous creep of authoritarianism within the current workings of the established, two party reliant system.

 

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

 

Free Exercise Of Faith Democracy

November 13, 2019

Newly re-elected Newark City Council Person Mark Fraizer has just been (s)elected to fill Scott Ryan’s Ohio House Representative position by a select elected group of Republican Party Leaders. This, after Scott Ryan conveniently chose to relinquish his position well after the November 4 election. Analysis finds it is all about democracy and choosing a party, not a person, to fill a representative post (City Council or Ohio House). As noted in this blog’s July 7, 2017 posting, Fraizer (who at that time was cohabiting with 7 “children with fur coats”) was successful in bringing the big top down, on insinuations of animal cruelty training. Now he is joining it (the big top, not the training) (well, OK, maybe the training too). Speaking of circuses and Republicans, Laura Hancock for cleveland.com headlines: “Ohio lawmakers clear bill allowing students to turn in inaccurate work in name of religion – second anti-science bill in a week” (11-13-19). “If public school students turn in work saying the earth is only 10,000 years old, they cannot be penalized under Ohio House Bill 164 if it’s their religious beliefs.” “Teachers can only grade on “substance and relevance,” according to an analysis of the bill by the legislature’s nonpartisan staff. House Bill 164 is the second measure lawmakers have advanced that flies in the face of science.” The bill has been sent to the senate according to Hancock. For those of you keeping score at home, the other bill, which has been sent to the house, is Senate Bill 155, “a bill that would require doctors to tell women 24 hours before a medication abortion that there is a procedure that can reverse it. The procedure is widely criticized by the medical community as unethical and lacking sufficient evidence that it works.” Hancock writes: “HB 164, known as the Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019, also:

Requires public schools to give students the same access to facilities if they want to meet for religious expression as they’d give secular groups.

Removes a provision that allows school districts to limit religious expression to lunch periods or other non-instructional times.

Allows students to engage in religious expression before, during and after school hours to the same extent as a student in secular activities or expression.

Prohibits schools from restricting a student from engaging in religious expression in completion of homework, artwork and other assignments.”

“Aaron Baer, president of the Citizens for Community Values, a Christian conservative organization, said that it will protect students from discrimination. “Speaker of the House Larry Householder is continuing to show his strong leadership and care for Ohio’s children and religious freedom,” he said in a statement. “HB 164 comes at a critical time in the culture and protects the right of Christian and non-Christian students alike to freely exercise their faith.” In the past, newly (s)elected Ohio House Representative Mark Fraizer has vehemently stood up for the rights of his furry friends. Will Mr. Fraizer likewise extend the same passion in fighting for the rights of young Pastafarians to “freely exercise their faith”?

 

Learned Helplessness Spectatorship

October 19, 2019

The News has been prominent of late. No, that’s an understatement. Akin to a Punch and Judy show, or a 1920’s burlesque, it mesmerizes while stupefying. The power plays, between power players, completely normalizes the 99% / 1% economic makeup of the US of A. Everything that is being done appears totally out of reach of the ordinary person who admits their learned helplessness through the total passivity of mere spectatorship. The “anti-globalism” GOP expand their political control through buying and selling on a global scale while the “down home” Democrats insist on economic viability to account for a leadership position on their stage. Either way, whether it be the international 1% financing “populist” agendas or the “aw shucks” home spun buying their way to exclusive representation, Analysis discerns it to be democracy of money (matters), not people (matters). Peripheral to the News of late, receiving mere sound bytes and then readily dismissed for the preferred gaslight melodrama of grandiosity, is the drips and drabs of democracy uprisings from around the world. These are not “revolutions” in the sense of overthrow or toppling but rather affirmations that people matter. Without researching dates and times for specificity (which only invites correlation), Analysis can draw attention to the over 4 month, near continuous street demonstration for universal suffrage in Hong Kong. During that time there have been short lived as well as sustained actions in Egypt, France, England, Mexico, Poland, Ecuador, Chile, Venezuela, South Korea, Russia, and most recently Lebanon and Guinea (as well as others). The closest thing to “people matter” actions in the US are the recent union labor engagements – the UAW as well as city educators in Chicago. The news treats these more as an inconvenience than reflective of human priority. The mega bucks Ohio HB6 battle is much more deserving of media attention than the intricacies of the UAW / GM livelihood determination. Or so Analysis finds the News emphasis to indicate. The nepotism of the ruling 1% is much more titillating to spectate than the livelihood issues of employee “surrogate parent” teaching in our schools. Or so Analysis finds the News emphasis to be. The learned helplessness of the American spectator came out most clearly in the recent meme of Nancy Pelosi and Dear Leader at their recent White House meeting. Most significant is what didn’t appear in the news making image (the absence of women and people of color / ethnic origins in a room full of primarily older white males). Analysis finds it significant not because it did not represent the actual “people matter” make up of the US, but because it was subsumed in the normalization of learned helplessness spectatorship – “we can’t do anything about it.” Can’t we?

Fire Service Kabuki

September 22, 2019

“The British are coming! The British are coming!” What American wasn’t introduced to that at some point in their childhood? The Disneyesque version has a patriot traveling through the land “warning” his fellow citizens of an impending British invasion. The more sobering, and less fanciful, historic account has it that this was no “warning” but rather a prearranged communication mechanism of a previously devised and agreed to plan. Exit Disney world and fast forward to contemporary Trumpland (equally as fantastic as the Disney magical kingdom). “The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!” What Ohio registered voter’s household hasn’t received such a mailing from Ohioans For Energy Security? “In the coming weeks, don’t give the Chinese government your personal information, email, cell phone, address or sign your name on their petition.” It’s the last part (“sign your name on their petition”) that is the buried lead. After all, the only voters who have not received the mailing would be those who were recently purged. The voter rolls are accessible public data. Why bother with an expensive and ungainly petition drive to acquire easily accessible data? “Don’t sign their petition attacking House Bill 6!” appears elsewhere on the mailing. Ohioans For Energy Security insinuates that Chinese shareholders in petroleum centered companies want to monopolize Ohio’s energy sources; the presumption being that OFES, and their backers, are “clean” of such pollution. Journalists, pundits, researchers and academics find that global investors are just as much vested in First Energy (the prime recipient of HB6’s largesse) as in the natural gas and other energy suppliers; the inherent nature and definition of “global economics”. All agree that such an aggressive marketing campaign to deny a petition, before it is a petition, is unprecedented. And there’s much at stake. Number crunchers show that the owners of the nuclear and coal fired power plants stand to gain 20 to 30 times the couple million dollar cost of the “Chinese are coming” marketing drive (should HB6 remain unchallenged). So what is happening here? Back to Trumpland. On the day of his inauguration in 2017, the newly sworn in president officially kicked off his reelection campaign. The subliminal messaging of this marketing tactic was “You don’t need to bother with any organized resistance or opposition to my regime as my reelection is inevitable in 2020.” Today’s latest news (9-22-19) is that Alaska has dismissed a GOP presidential primary in 2020 (along with several other states who already have made that commitment). There are 3 GOP challengers for a spot on the ballot. The overt message is one of “No need to bother with a fundamental process of democracy as the course of events is inevitable, and invincible.” Analysis finds the same mechanism at work with the high energy marketing trying to dissuade voters from engaging with a petition to place the question of HB6 on the Ohio ballot in 2020. Also in the news this week was the uptick in commitment of American troops to Saudi Arabia, for their defense. When asked by the media why this was such a priority, Dear Leader replied “They [the Saudi’s] pay cash.” The same seems to apply with Ohioans For Energy Security. The cash HB6 guarantees them is hard to pass up. No need to bother with any organized resistance or opposition. Cash is king. The outcome is inevitable, and invincible. Saudi Arabia is, after all, a monarchy. And on the local level we find the kabuki of “public discussion” of authorizing the capital expenditure of a new fire station on Sharon Valley Road. The question of funding for staffing all fire and EMT service in Newark is happening amongst the kabuki administrators and “civic leaders”  behind the curtain, out of sight, No need to bother with a fundamental process of democracy as the course of events is inevitable, and invincible.

What We Could Learn From Ongoing Events In Hong Kong

August 17, 2019

8-15-19 Kent Mallet writing for the Newark Advocate headlined: Licking County Board of Elections rejects petitions from 10 potential candidates. Among the many irrevocable rejections (“The deadline for write-ins to file for the November election is Aug. 26, but those who had rejected candidate petitions cannot file as a write-in candidate.”) was “Valerie Mockus, the lone candidate for Hebron mayor, left six of seven circulator statements completely blank, which board members described as a “fatal flaw” on her petition, which was rejected.” We Americans pride ourselves on our democracy and love the leadership it inspires. Mallett’s short article speaks of the almost methodical assumption that “it will all play out” that underpins the workings of democracy in the US of A. In the case of Mockus, the city of Hebron will decide upon a civic leader by means other than democracy. Current federal leadership in Washington has been regularly described as a government of complacency by various pundits. Mallett’s reporting shows the complacency is much more widespread and systemic than just at the highest levels of governance. Locally, leadership just assumes the democratic process will play itself out as intended. And it is intended to be competitive, right? Analysis finds the Democrat party’s run for the White House with over 20 entrants and multiple staging of “debates” reinforces this competitive framing given to our democracy. Overtly and covertly we are reminded that, of course, the selection of a leader is sooo important that the only way to do it is to duke it out in public (and over the media “air waves”). Like Coke or Pepsi, McDonalds or Burger King, paper or plastic, who will be Mr. or Mrs. Number One? Unspoken is that many functional democracies around the world rely on coalitions, not individual charismatic leaders. Leadership in those democracies centers on the leader’s ability to draw up and maintain coalitions of support for programs, policies and direction. Analysis finds it to be not so far fetched to frame the Democrat’s national candidate debates in terms of how those on stage create consensus and agreement amongst each other to form coalitions. That would whittle the mind numbing score of candidates down to a few that represent their coalitions most effectively. Sounds more than reasonable given they are all of the same party, with the same ultimate aspirations, doesn’t it? Where do we find this actually playing out? Writing for Reuters, James Pomfret, Greg Torode, Clare Jim, and Anne Marie Roantree report Rudderless rebellion: Inside the Hong Kong protesters’ anarchic campaign against China (8-16-19). [Names used are representative designations, not identities] “With slogans such as “Free Hong Kong” and “Hong Kong is not China,” Ah Lung and his fellow protesters have made clear they reject a future in which Hong Kong is inexorably absorbed into the mainland giant, eventually becoming just another Chinese city.” “Under the “one-country, two-systems” formula, China promised Hong Kong it would enjoy autonomy for 50 years after its handover from Britain in 1997. Unlike those who negotiated the deal, for young protesters born after the handover that deadline will fall in the middle of their lives. And, as Beijing tightens its grip on Hong Kong, the future they see careening towards them is that of an authoritarian mainland China with curbs on the freedoms and rights they now enjoy.” “”We can’t retreat or the authoritarianism will worsen,” said Tsang, referring to the Chinese government. “This is not about me. This is for Hong Kong, my home city.”” Incongruous as it may seem, the aspirational reasons that unify the folks of Hong Kong parallel those of the US Democratic party and its current spectacle of leadership selection. But the Reuters article repeatedly stresses and establishes the leaderless nature of the Hong Kong upheaval! “Along with other prominent democrats in the city, Wong has been seen at protests by Reuters being shouted down by activists who say they don’t want the movement hijacked by any single leader or group. “I’m quite happy people are saying we should not rely on any specific political leader to lead this movement,” Wong told Reuters.” “It’s not an issue of having “no leader, it simply means that everyone is a leader,” said one 22-year-old Hong Kong student based in Britain who helps run “antielabhk,” an Instagram page that includes details about protests that has amassed more than 50,000 followers. The student asked not to be named.” Analysis finds it amazing that the seeds of such an alternative outlook on the democratic process of self governance (alternative to the capitalist marketing “McDonalds vs Burger King”) were made apparent in none other than Newark in the run up to this year’s City Council primary. In a mini replication of the national race, the GOP had no contenders while the Dem’s had more than enough available candidates. Few readers may remember but in the media “debate” to discern candidate “differences” prior to the voting, one candidate embodied the alternative approach to the assumed marketing competitiveness for “leadership.” Sharing the overall aspirations of a better Newark (akin to Hong Kong’s lovers of democracy), Democrat Daniel Crawford chose to be in coalition with Jen Kanagy, rather than in competition. He urged voters to vote for the latter if left with only a choice between the two. How refreshing it would be if such genuine leadership and sensibility could be found within the national Democrat party’s 20 plus candidates for president. Instead of a “Pepsi vs Coke” marketing debate, it would be a real time performance of “Let’s work together for a better US.”

 

 

 

 

Knowledge, Preoccupations, And Distractions

August 6, 2019

We all know what the news headlines have been and currently are. Indeed, the saturation point on “the news” must have been reached. The news has again become “the news” (a curious twist of vulture capitalism where the system feeds upon itself!). USA Today headlined: ‘Unbelievable’: New York Times slammed for front page headline after Donald Trump speech (Jordan Culver, 8-6-19). The furor regards the headline (“Trump urges unity vs. racism.”) deceptively portraying the president’s response to tragedy without noting his own implication in the violence (“Very fine people on both sides”). Or at least that is what outrages the critics. The headline gave a synopsis of what occurred (the President’s post massacre address). Isn’t that the stuff of newspapers and the media? The critics insist on context (What implicates Donald Trump in the killings while cloaked in official immunity). The context of this news story being “the news” is likewise not given. 8-5-19 The Wall Street Journal (amongst others) reported: GateHouse Media Parent to Buy Gannett for $1.4 Billion Deal combines largest owner of U.S. newspapers by titles and the largest newspaper group by circulation (Cara Lombardo, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg). Who’s their competition? Who’s the competition in Ohio? Gatehouse will now control just about ALL the local news services in Ohio, including Newark and Columbus (Gatehouse already owns The Dispatch while Gannett owns the Newark Advocate and papers in surrounding towns). Monopoly will dictate where we pay attention (i.e., on the NY Times’ headline). Already there is no local “office” of Newark’s only local news service. Now all editorial decisions re: content and layout will ultimately be located outside the community ostensibly covered. Benjamin Lanka may be “the editor” of The Newark Advocate. Readers can’t help but notice how many stories have his name in the byline as the reporter. Too much time on his hands? Justifying the management paycheck? Analysis finds that when it comes to big services, big news items, readers and subscribers of Gatehouse publications will be more than adequately served. As we see with the Murdoch family’s Fox News (and News Corp which includes Wall Street Journal), the product and service will be supplied with priority given to brand over content. Analysis shows the local will become fluff, filler (Newark is a top Ohio hometown, Newark is addressing what civic leaders deem to be problems, the need for more development, etc.). Just as there are no longer any local phone calls (all require an area code designation), so there will no longer be any local news, local investigative reporting, local interest stories, unless it will tie in with the corporate brand emphasis. The reporting will no longer go where the story takes us but where the brand requires us to be. Analysis finds this to further indicate the encroachment of authoritarianism in a culture with a history of democracy. Hong Kong isn’t an island of enlightenment. In a Democracy, the local authorizes the city, state or nation. In an authoritarian nation, state or city, the authorities determine the local, what it should think, believe and focus on, what it should know. News media monopolies evidence that trend.