Posts Tagged ‘Dems’

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.

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Why Mail In Voting Does Not Benefit Democrats

April 28, 2020

Just minutes ago the pretend primary was closed in Ohio. Already the major news networks project Joe Biden as the winner. Not hard to project the GOP winner as Dear Leader ran unopposed. Why bother with a projection? Governor Mike Dewine cancelled the originally scheduled March 17 primary via his Health Director, Amy Acton. This occurred the very night before the scheduled election. By March 16, 2020 the primary contest for the Presidential candidate on the Democrat side was down to 2 viable contenders. Anyone planning to vote already had made up their mind by the night before the primary. There was no New Hampshire experience of deciding in the polling booth. The news behind the spectacle news of projected winner is that voter turnout was historically low for a presidential primary (especially compared with 2016). The Ohio legislature determined the new, April 28 primary date by fiat before the end of March. Democrats could have executed their March 17 choices any time after that. They didn’t. They didn’t bother to vote because with every mailed in bill for utilities, credit card, insurance or cable bill is a reminder on the return envelope to “save the cost of a stamp –pay electronically.” And they do. So bothering to express their choice for the Democrat candidate was, yawn, a bit of a bother. Going to the mall, coffee shop, concert or church is an event, an opportunity to see and be seen. Ditto for in person, going to the voting precinct to cast a ballot. One even gets an Ohio heart voting sticker. But Democrats chose not to vote during the mail in pretend election Ohio just had. In the fall there will once again be only two viable candidates for the office of President. In boxing title fights, you have to beat the champ. Dear Leader will bother his GOP base to bother and turn out no matter what the conditions are. In addition he will bother to eliminate the postal service, as we’ve heretofore known it, by the fall  election. The Democrats’ historic, actual, real response to voting by mail (as evidenced by the just completed Ohio pretend election) — why bother? Save a stamp as the major news networks will project a winner before the actual fall voting takes place (as they did in 2016). Why bother?

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.”

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.

 

Questions

March 29, 2020

Today the inhabitants of mother earth are asking questions which have no answers. Analysis has found this to always have been the case, only today the earth’s inhabitants are keenly aware of it. The status quo has always been questions without readily available answers. In a heightened state of consciousness, the status quo becomes news. NPR reports that the national approval rating of the US President’s handling of the Covid 19 pandemic is at 58%. WKYC reported like numbers for Ohioans. Reuters reported that the residents of Wuhan China have been allowed to venture out after being under virtual lockdown. The question remains as to what percentage of people in  the US, along with the citizens of Ohio will quit self isolation if and when the US President says it is safe to do so? The state of New York has joined a long list of other states to defer their primary election until June 2, 2020. Ohio legislators opted for a mail in primary, April 28. The census is also begging for an online/mail in response. With other things on its citizens’ minds, was the legislators’ solution a fair and equitable alternative, or a hurried voter suppression (snail mail turn around time for ballot request, receiving ballot, mailing in ballot, receiving and verifying vote in 4 weeks very short)? Various news outlets have been running autopsies on what happened with the Sanders campaign. 3-25-20 Washington Post  Sean Sullivan’s dissection (Insiders recount how Sanders lost the black vote) interviews many current and past operatives. It ignores the Bloomberg factor (which was viable at the time of the SC primary) and answers its one question with what everyone already knew, way deep in the latter half of the article: “In the eyes of some Sanders aides, there was little he could have done to reverse the loyalty that Biden spent decades building among black voters. Others felt that the campaign misjudged how impactful Biden’s institutional support would be.” The valorization of loyalty above all else is now shared as a priority by both the incumbent GOP candidate and the likely DEM challenger for US President. The institutional disdain of the Democratic Party for Mr. Sanders candidacy goes way back. Bloomberg could buy televised enthusiasm but little else. Sanders could get folks to appear at rallies but not at the polls. And Biden? He got the primary vote. Which got the conservative National Review to headline “Does anyone remember Joe Biden?” (3-24-20). Indeed, without an enthusiastic core of followers, Joe likewise hunkered down with a base that is preoccupied with its own high risk of fatally contracting Covid 19. In a perverse turn, never Democrats like Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, propagandist Glenn Beck and Fox News Brit Hume (and others) have promoted a solution to the threat to capitalism in the US (the economic fallout of the spread of Covid 19) – the country should rid itself of its useless eaters, which just happens to be Biden’s unenthusiastic base. Where is Joe Biden?

 

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?

Whiteness

June 21, 2018

“The National Park Service has approved an initial request for organizers to hold a second “Unite the Right” rally, this time across the street from the White House in August — one year after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Va. The park service has given initial approval to an application from Jason Kessler to hold a “white civil rights rally” on Aug. 11 and 12, as first reported by WUSA9. Kessler, along with white supremacist Richard Spencer and others, organized the 2017 rally, during which a woman was killed.” (‘White Civil Rights Rally’ Approved For D.C. In August, James Doubek, NPR, 6-21-18). In his book, Our Damaged Democracy: We The People Must Act (2018) Joseph A. Califano Jr. writes (pg. 137): “Political spending on television ads has soared from about $2.6 billion in 2008 to $4.4 billion in 2016. In 2008, half of all campaign ads were negative. In 2012, 85 percent of ads paid for by super PACs and other outside groups were negative.” Analysis finds TV ads currently being run for Ohio’s 12thdistrict House of Representatives’ double header (for Tiberi’s replacement August ballot as well as for November’s 2 year expired term). Though some of Troy Balderson’s ads in the May primary appeared negative by making him out to be a Trumpier than thou conservative over his more to the right opponent (Melanie Leneghan), the recent ad offerings are meant to placate independents and moderates. Three video ads are accessible to Newark viewers (who are part of the sprawling district from southeast of Zanesville through New Albany/Upper Arlington, Delaware, and finally ending in greater Mansfield). One video on the website is a general “what a great guy Troy Balderson is”. One on network TV shows an “opioid mom” (“He is the compassionate and caring leader.”) and the other shows a Dublin mom raving about the benefits of the Trump tax cuts and how Troy will maintain them. Not much negative there. Troy’s opponent, Danny O’Connor, has also been running an ad. His primary race was not as contentious as Troy’s so we didn’t see his face on TV but did receive his mass mailings (showing what a great guy he is). The same “need new leadership” video appears on his TV ads as well as his website. Nothing negative there. Before the “outside groups” step in and sully everything, Analysis finds the “innocent” ads quite revealing. Not so innocent was the cell phone video of “Antwon Rose, 17, was shot three times in the back while running from a parked car that was stopped by a police officer, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said, according to the Associated Press.” (Unarmed Teen Fatally Shot by Police While Fleeing Traffic Stop in East Pittsburgh, Mahita Gajanan, Time, 6-20-18). Although Black Lives Matter will only unendingly infer it, whiteness ended another black man’s life. Neither Troy Balderson nor Danny O’Connor will admit complicity in the violent and needless death. Their “vote for me” ads sharply disagree with their alibis. Zanesville, Troy’s political origin, has a very long history of African American population. Non whites account for just over 15% of the population (DataUSA). Wiki gives 13% non white as the population of the 12thdistrict overall. There is not a single non white face (or body) in any of Balderson’s three promotional videos. Nada. Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor doesn’t fair any better with absolutely zero, zip, people of color in his single promotional video. Either non whites don’t vote in the future congressman’s world of whiteness, or black lives don’t matter.

 

We Report, You Decide

March 29, 2017

 

Obamacare will implode. So say the GOP president, congressional representatives and local enthusiasts. The popular media focuses on the incongruity of 8 years active oppositions, and over 60 legislative bills to end the Affordable Care Act. And yet it remains “the law of the land.” Stephen Koff of cleveland.com thinks otherwise. In a 3-29-17 article entitled “Did Republicans sabotage Obamacare? Ohio insurers owed $100M they’ll likely never see” he looks at how any success was undermined in advance. Analysis finds this to be worthwhile, especially considering that the current chief executive interprets government to be by decree, without regard of legislative involvement or intent. Most of his priorities are being promulgated and enforced by executive order. As the chief executive, he would differ little from his predecessors in eliding enforcement of existing laws. Could the implosion of the ACA be one of them? Mr. Koff points out that the ACA, like the expansion of Medicare prescription drug benefits during the Bush presidency, relied on government underwriting of risk for its initial years of operation. “One way of protecting them involved a concept known as a risk corridor, a way to guard insurers against inaccurate projections. At the ACA’s full start in 2014 no one truly knew what the enrollment mix would be — young, old, healthy, sick — and how much insurers would have to spend on medical care.” Koff explains “With risk corridors, insurers made their best estimates when they priced their policies and offered them for sale. The projections were based on actuarial principles and double-checked by state insurance officials and HHS. If insurer projections turned out to be wrong even after all that checking and a company made a big gain, the company would have to share part of it with the losers through the risk corridor program, maintained by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, a division of HHS.” But a funny thing happened on the way to affordable healthcare, “Under risk-corridor rules, no company would give up all its gains, and no company would be able to recoup all its losses. But it could recoup enough to stay in business.” “Obamacare passed narrowly when Democrats had majorities in Congress. Republicans never liked it. So in 2014, as both parties hurried to pass a year-end spending measure that was already overdue, Republicans managed to work in a small but meaningful change to the Obamacare rules — specifically, the risk corridor rules. They required that the risk corridors be self-funding, or what is known as budget neutral. That meant any money paid out to insurers would have to come from money coming in from other insurers. Key to this: CMS would not be permitted to draw from other accounts if the risk corridors lacked enough money. Democrats arguably left themselves open to this change by not being more specific when drafting the ACA. Yet it’s clear Republicans knew this would create problems. Some even bragged about it.” The article quotes one of Ohio’s Senators: “”There’s no question,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, “that efforts to undermine the ACA’s risk corridors program drove insurers out of Ohio’s marketplace and starved our state’s CO-OP of the resources it needed to get off the ground, leading to less competition and higher prices for consumers.”” Newark’s 12th congressional district’s representative chose to address his constituents through a spokesperson: “”Obamacare is fundamentally flawed,” Olivia Hnat, spokeswoman for Rep. Pat Tiberi, said when asked about Republicans using the risk corridors to undermine Obamacare. Tiberi is on the House Ways and Means Committee and chairs its subcommittee on health. “The individual mandate is failing to patients in the marketplace,” Hnat said. “No matter how much the government subsidizes care or props up the insurance market, the individual mandate hasn’t worked and it is just one reason why Obamacare is on an unsustainable path.”” Analysis concludes with the article’s beginning. “The provision slipped into a spending bill in late 2014, after the Affordable Care Act was under way, restricted the government in making payments. As a result, some insurers have been forced to pare down their medical networks, cut their markets or leave Obamacare altogether — contributing to the higher premiums for customers and insurer withdrawals that Republicans point to as proof of the program’s failure. Republicans say they were just preventing an ill-advised insurer bailout because, they say, Obamacare was bound to fail. But Democrats and some health policy analysts say Republicans purposely sabotaged the Affordable Care Act by denying promised payments to insurers at a crucial time.” Analysis ends with those inimitable words of Fox News: “We report, you decide”