Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Steve Bannon Declares Jihad On Infidels

October 18, 2017

Writing for Alternet, Ivy Olesen headlined “I went undercover at a boot camp for young conservatives — here’s what I learned; The Leadership Institute teaches young people how to mobilize for conservative candidates” (10-17-17). Provocative and intriguing! Must read. But Analysis digresses. Equally provocative was a Salon article by Chauncey Devega covering the Values Voter Summit (subject of Analysis previous post) headlined “Birth of a new fascism? Trumpers meet theocrats at right-wing Christian conclave: Roy Moore says “the people of God are rising up,” while Sebastian Gorka hints at a sinister new alliance”. Alabama’s current GOP Senate candidate, Roy Moore, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and (again) former presidential adviser Sebastian Gorka spoke to the assembled faithful after the apprentice president. Devega quotes Moore: “”When you forget God, you can forget politics. When you forget God you forget, just like it says, your heritage, your rights, your freedoms.” “We forget that what they really want to do in this land is remove the knowledge of God. That won’t happen, as far as I can see, because I think the people of God are rising up in this land today. In 2016 we were given a new lease, a new reason, and it’s upon us now. This is not complicated.”” But still a digression. How to get a handle on this? Devega also quotes Gorka: “The left has no idea how much more damage we can do to them as private citizens, as people unfettered.” Damage, to private citizens? Writing for Time (10-15-17) Alana Abramson also covered the Values Voter Summit and headlined: “’This Is Our War.’ Steve Bannon Tears Into GOP Agenda”. She writes of/quotes Bannon addressing the conservative faithful: “”This is not my war, this is our war,” the Breitbart CEO and former chief White House strategist told cheering attendees at the annual convention. “And you all didn’t start it, the establishment started it. I will tell you one thing — you all are gonna finish it.” Noting that the group had a “lot of fights ahead,” Bannon said it was crucial to take on the GOP establishment before effectively turning their energy towards progressives, especially since the current crop of GOP lawmakers do not appreciate President Trump. This disrespect, Bannon said, was evidenced when Senator Bob Corker told the New York Times last week that Republican lawmakers were privately concerned about Trump’s ability to lead the country. Bannon seemed to insinuate that unless Republican lawmakers spoke out against Corker, they would face insurgent primary challenges. Bannon also derided Corker, who he called a “piece of work” for speaking negatively about Trump while soldiers were serving overseas.” In a (9-7-17) 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose Bannon says: “They’re going to be held accountable if they do not support the President of the United States. Right now there’s no accountability. … They do not support the President’s program. It’s an open secret on Capitol Hill. Everybody in this city knows it.” Rising up? Damage to private citizens? War!? Disrespect and lack of appreciation for the apprentice president? Support the President’s program? Much has been written and said about the de facto lack of a plan or program with regard the current administration so this is certainly puzzling, cryptic at the least. Perhaps Ivy Olesen can help clarify these double voiced speeches; double voiced in the sense that to some they mean what is on the surface, to others they are coded messaging. Near the end of a very long article Olesen writes: “This is when I realize that what Ivy [Ivy El Zaatari, the Leadership Institute organizer/instructor] means is that Conservatism appeals to people on a level above facts: religion. Conservatives are skipping right over the whole logic bit and get straight to the good stuff. Ivy is hinting around about “philosophy,” because, like she said, “I’m talking about Conservatives, not Republicans. [..] They talk about their Bibles as much as their Constitution.” Sell ‘em a fantasy, and one with a moral, religious backing as well. Ivy has been trying to get it through our heads that the fear of God is how you can get people to vote against their best interests.” Analysis concludes with the obvious — Steve Bannon declares jihad on infidels.

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You Will Not Replace Us

October 15, 2017

Americans and their relationship with God (religion) is kinda like that between parents and teenagers. Americans, qua Americans only on account of their Constitution, know better than others that it was drawn up with emphasis on keeping the two separate, one out of the other. Teenagers, told no by their parents, will eventually act out. Well, ya gotta do it anyway. This past week a major event of this sort took place that literally flew under the media radar in terms of emphasis. Seems whether Ivana is the first lady or Rex Tillerson called his boss a “moron” was more significant than the fact of who spoke to the Values Voter Summit for the third time, this time as apprentice president, and what was said. In 2015 he spoke as a presidential wannabe. 2016 found him speaking as a candidate for president. 2017 found a deliverance speech. The Values Voter Summit is put on directly by the Family Research Council which in turn was spawned by James Dobson, Focus On The Family. “Co-sponsors of the event included other Christian political action groups, such as AFA Action (part of the American Family Association), the Heritage Foundation, Liberty University, Liberty Counsel and Gary Bauer’s organization American Values.” (according to Wiki). Wiki describes the Family Research Council: “FRC promotes what it considers traditional family values, by advocating and lobbying for socially conservative policies. It opposes and lobbies against equal rights for LGBT people (such as same-sex marriage, same-sex civil unions, and LGBT adoption), abortion, divorce, embryonic stem-cell research and pornography.” Controversy surrounds not only the apprentice president when it comes to the terms of the “traditional family values” of the FRC as well as the organization itself being classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. And yet the apprentice president has deigned to grace the Summit now three times, with little fanfare on his latest appearance. Analysis thought it would be more than pertinent to consider the text of the 2016 speech with that of 2017 (transcripts from Politico and the White House Press Secretary). In both speeches the bible is quoted once, at the start of 2017 and at the end of 2016 (a twist of the theater’s admonition to always leave ‘em laughing – in this case praying!). “Amazing, amazing group. One of the greatest privileges of my journey has been the time I’ve spent with the evangelical community.” at the start of 2016, “It’s great to be back here with so many friends at the 2017 Values Voter Summit, and we know what that means. We know what that means. America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened and sustained by the power of prayer.” Overall, 2016 comes across as a stump speech with the primary focus on political agenda, if you only vote for me. This agenda is the one currently being executed, though couched in an ersatz religious perspective for the consuming audience. Many of that time’s news headlines were from this conference (“What have you got to lose?”, being able to say “radical Islamic terrorism,” and the statistically flawed math in terms of job numbers and budget amounts) and some were never picked up on (“or one of our great generals that we have today – General Flynn, who’s here someplace I love General Flynn”). A hefty portion was Hillary bashing with Obama thrashing given equal time. Tribute was paid to Phyllis Schlafly’s early endorsement. “We are all equal, and we all come from the same Creator. If we remember that simple fact, then our future is truly limitless. There is nothing we as Americans can’t do.” and “Our nation today is divided. Nobody likes to say it, but we’re living in a very, very divided nation. It will be our faith in God and his teachings, in each other, that will lead us back to unity.” are the closest things to actual articles of “religious” faith put forward by the then candidate speaker. 2017 the apprentice president gives a deliverance speech, again following the political agenda promised a year earlier but this time self-congratulating what is (in his estimation) their accomplishment. Little of this captured the mainstream media coverage’s imagination (“president of the Virgin Islands,” “We’re saying “Merry Christmas” again.”). Except, this time the speech is slathered with religiosity, referencing the founding fathers (like Washington and Franklin) and being filled with articles of faith and their bearing on the upcoming political challenges. Unlike the media, Analysis finds these relevant and pertinent. “And they [hard working Americans] make sure that the future of their children has God involved in it.  So important to them.” “As long as we have pride in our country, confidence in our future, and faith in our God, then America will prevail.” “We know that it’s the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities. And above all else, we know this: In America, we don’t worship government — we worship God. Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face.” “We will defend our faith and protect our traditions.” “We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.” Analysis finds a Reader’s Digest condensed version would sound a lot like “You will not replace us.”

Another Kim K Fundraiser

September 29, 2017

We are all familiar with the yearly Fed Up! rally and its continuous mantra of addiction is a disease. Even the medical profession recognizes this and has designated addiction treatment a specialization, like cardiology, rheumatology. We likewise are aware of and applaud the first step initiative of the Newark NARI program. “President Trump said last month that he will officially declare the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” but he has yet to issue a formal declaration. The commission chaired by Christie has called on Trump to take such a step. An initial report from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Abuse and the Opioid Crisis noted that the approximately 142 deaths each day from drug overdoses mean the death toll from the epidemic is “equal to September 11th every three weeks.”” (First lady listens and learns about opioid crisis, Darlene Superville, AP 9-26-17). “Opioid epidemic” is not hard to understand though incredibly hard (and costly) to treat. So the 9-26-17 Newark Advocate headline, Commissioners get judge’s approval on federal lawsuit against opioid distributors (Kent Mallett) is welcome news indeed. “The commissioners obtained on Thursday the approval of Licking County Common Pleas Court Judge David Branstool to use outside counsel to file the lawsuit against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors: McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp.” “[LC Prosecutor Bill] Hayes said last week the goal of the lawsuit is to force distributors to better regulate the drugs and help in the resolution of the opioid epidemic. Any settlement money could be used for law enforcement and treatment facilities, Hayes said.” “The Licking County Coroner’s office reports 20 confirmed drug overdose deaths this year, as of Sept. 12, in the county. At least 11 were the result of opiates or opiates combined with other drugs. There were 17 confirmed drug overdose deaths in the county in all of 2016. The county commissioners last week approved resolutions declaring opioids a public epidemic and authorizing prosecution against the distributors. “We are taking this action today because the costs of this opioid crisis have overwhelmed our ability to provide for the health and safety of our residents,” [LC Commissioner Duane] Flowers said in a written statement. “Homes have been broken and families torn apart by this epidemic, which has claimed victims from all walks of life.”” Notice the slippage? For those of you keeping score at home Attorney General Jeff Sessions is often referred to as the nation’s top cop. Mini me prosecutor Bill Hayes fills a parallel capacity in Licking County. And Bill is no fan of NARI, indeed has come out against it in his 2016 election campaign (and has yet to appear at a FED UP! rally). Yet Mallet writes “Any settlement money could be used for law enforcement and treatment facilities, Hayes said.” Sounds a lot like a Kim K fundraiser where 90% of contributions may go to law enforcement and 10% to treatment. Analysis wonders where the epidemic is.

What We Have Learned

September 22, 2017

The sports news usually runs a headline like “What we have learned after week two of the NFL (or NBA, etc.).” Analysis finds news of the last few weeks to be fast and furious, and all over the map. Indeed, much news focuses on one “event” while ongoing events simply are elided. So what have we learned in the last couple of weeks of news? One thing for sure is that Americans have learned that news coverage is a professional activity. No, not the high esteem for journalistic excellence that used to sell print productions, but at least that hurricanes and what they leave behind are not “fake news.” This implies that those reporting it are not a fake news service. All of which enabled not only Rand Paul but the AP to run a headline story like “Trump hits GOP foes of health bill, Sen. Paul calls it fake” (9-22-17). We have learned that Newark’s Jay Hottinger will speak at a FED UP! rally while sponsoring stand your ground legislation and House Representative Pat Tiberi will speak at the same rally while legislating to get rid of Medicaid (where’s the fake in all this?).  We have learned that even though (factually) over 40% of residential housing in Newark is non-owner occupant, the city council of Newark would prefer that those persons owning “real” property do the governing, whether they reside in Newark or are even flesh and blood people with a birthday (Special tax coming for downtown Newark after Newark City Council approval, The Advocate, Maria DeVito, 9-21-17). We’ve learned that local, state or national, we prefer our administrators to be wealthy.  We’ve learned that if the administration’s cabinet is made up of billionaire’s appointed on the sole qualification of being determined to undermine that office, well, it actually happens (be it with Devos, Sessions, Price, Perry, etc.). A curious thing we’ve been learning but continue to deny is the importance of branding. Anything of Obama origin is quickly dismissed, replaced by the self-same policy or directive only now with the apprentice president’s specific logo on it (like the apprentice president’s Houston visit ball caps). DACA, Korea, Syria, health care all roll on with the self same administration, only a different brand name. We’ve learned categorically that this is because there is no “plan”. There is no plan for DACA (limbo was never imagined as a “plan”), there is no plan for the Syrian imbroglio (still the same US involvement as before the change of administration), no plan to confront, contain or reduce rising healthcare costs (let alone create greater inclusion), no plan to deal with the Korean peninsula (unless one defines playground name calling as a strategy). And now, on a near nightly basis we are learning about pop culture’s definitive version of the Viet Nam War (The Vietnam War: A film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick – PBS). What we haven’t learned, yet, is that there is no definitive version of history – something the recent brouhaha over confederate monuments reinforces (that they were manufactured and installed for historically different reasons at historically different times). Much of what is now revelatory in Novick’s and Burns’s flick, was contemporary news at the time it happened. Then it wasn’t labeled “fake”, but rather dismissed as irrelevant or outright denied. What we have learned is that current climate change denial, racism in America denial, income gap disparity denial, health care denial, all parallel the historic denials of the Ike through tricky Dick era that the Burns Novick film covers. After all, isn’t that what we have learned?

An Inconvenient Truth

August 19, 2017

August 9, 2017 Time’s Katy Reilly headlined Senator Suggests McCain Voted Against Obamacare Repeal Because of His Brain Tumor. “Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, suggested Tuesday that John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis might have affected his decision to vote against GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Again, I’m not going to speak for John McCain. You know, he has a brain tumor right now, that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning — some of that might have factored in,” Johnson said in an interview Tuesday on AM560 Chicago’s Morning Answer, which was published by CNN on Wednesday.” Evidence of McCain’s blood clot procedure that revealed a glioblastoma tumor were visible on his forehead above his left eye. Johnson’s speculation apparently stemmed from that physical evidence. But what if there was no scar, no visible interface with the presence of illness or medical procedure? Cleveland.com’s Peter Krouse headlines Cuyahoga County’s top judge, John J. Russo, and Prosecutor Michael O’Malley moving ahead on justice reform (8-18-17). “Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Administrative Judge John J. Russo asked a question of his audience on Friday at the City Club of Cleveland. What’s the largest hospital in Ohio? “The institution,” he said, before waiting for an answer. And by that he meant he meant jails and prisons. While a federal consent decree requires Cleveland police officers to become better trained at dealing with individuals with mental health issues, the county also is better served by having drop-off points where police can take those individuals in lieu of jail. Russo said Common Pleas Judge Hollie Gallagher and County Law Director Robert Triozzi are among those working to bring support services to those drop-off points and that a model in use in Broward County, Fla., will be studied.” Analysis found this from the Broward County’s Policy 508 (updated May 17): “The purpose of this policy is to direct Department sworn personnel through a continuum when handling situations involving individuals in need of mental health services, especially in cases where an arrest may not be the best course of action. When an officer responds to a mentally ill person call or during the course of any investigation determines that they are dealing with a mentally ill person, they may initiate any of the following procedures. The goals of the Mental Health Policy are to provide immediate response to and management of situations where the mentally ill are in a state of crisis; prevent, reduce and/or eliminate injury to both the consumer and the responding officer; find appropriate care for consumers; reduce consumer recidivism and to insure the individual receives the proper mental health services and the proper diversionary steps are taken for the safety and welfare of the mentally ill person or others.” This is something that Newark, along with Licking County and its prosecutor, would be well advised to consider. After all, most illness does not announce itself with a mark on the forehead. Is it the business of the police to consider the nature of a disturbance? Do they need to be trained in that? Are we asking them to be more sensitive, more insightful than ordinary citizens? Analysis finds these questions very relevant. Answering them might reveal an inconvenient truth (to quote past VP Gore). Reporting the same day for the same cleveland.com, Eric Heisig headlines Akron federal Judge John Adams investigation explores the line between meanness and possible mental illness. From that report: “These [various previous stated] events, along with other antisocial behavior are chronicled in a pair of disciplinary decisions publicly released this week that give insight into why a special investigative committee ordered Adams to undergo a mental health evaluation by an expert the committee hired. A panel from the federal judicial conference sanctioned Adams and again ordered him to undergo the evaluation, which he has so far refused to do.” “An investigation into Adams — plucked from the Summit County bench and appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003 — began in February 2013. Four federal judges in the Northern District of Ohio made a formal complaint to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The appeals court formed the special committee – itself a rare step, as numbers from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts show that four or fewer special committees have been formed annually in recent years to investigate the thousands of judges in the federal system nationwide. The special committee worked in secret — though many lawyers and court watchers knew about the probe – and a hearing was held in 2015. All the while, Adams continued to hear criminal and civil cases, and the appeals court continued to review Adams’ cases. Throughout this time, the appeals court overturned several of his rulings, removing him from a decade-old lawsuit involving Akron fighters and a criminal case in which a defendant said he did heroin with members of Adams’ family. The special committee’s findings led to the 6th Circuit Judicial Council’s decision to discipline Adams in February 2016. They reprimanded him and decided that he could not hear any court cases for two years.” “The special committee believed that Adams might suffer from an impairment that prevents him from maintaining professional relationships with his colleagues, prevents him from taking on the responsibilities as a member of the court and causes him to make “unfounded and destructive attacks against his colleagues,” the Judicial Council’s decision says. After Adams refused to undergo the exam, the special committee’s psychiatrist looked at provided information provided and concluded there is “a reasonable basis for concern as to Judge Adams’ mental or emotional state,” the decision says. “The data available so far do not suggest a mental state of psychotic proportions, but do suggest significant personality traits that may have contributed to the current concerns,” it continues. The 6th Circuit Judicial Council wrote that Adams should retire if he continued to refuse to undergo the ordered mental health exam. Adams appealed, and the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States took up the case. That panel released its decision Monday and mostly upheld the Judicial Council’s findings and discipline, absent taking away Adams’ docket.” Analysis reveals that ordinary citizens, voters, need to be cognizant of this possibility not only with those suspected of violating the law but also with our elected and appointed officials. Well trained law enforcement officers will provide immediate medical care for those suffering apparent (or suspected) physical impairment or trauma. Now we are requesting such acuity and appropriate response for a not easily diagnosed mental dysfunction. And what of those we’ve elected? Do we ever allow for any health condition other than a readily apparent and diagnose-able physical ailment?

 

Charlottesville Ain’t The Sharks And The Jets

August 16, 2017

Leonard Bernstein wrote the music to West Side Story in the 1950’s. The story was based on the template of Romeo and Juliet, only instead of Shakespeare’s rivalry of the Montague’s and Capulet’s, Bernstein considered that of the Jets and the Sharks. Ethnographers are likely to point out that this template is somewhat universal with actual examples from America’s own history, like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. Indeed, West Side Story could also be staged as a sports rivalry (the Jets and the Dolphins), or an intrigue between two college basketball or NASCAR dynasties. However, Analysis finds it a bit disconcerting when the apprentice president of the United States appropriates this same template to address the ongoing tragedy which happened in Charlottesville Virginia this past week. Nazi’s and their opponents are not like the Montagues and Capulets. There is a difference, both in the engagement as well as the correct use of the cultural template. Suffice to say it is not a sporting event, nor a literary play. Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel and the future apprentice president’s mentor, Roy Cohn, may have mastered the insinuation of equivocation for purposes of disparagement during the McCarthy “Communist investigations” but the real politic of this methodology ultimately failed America. This tactic relies on eliminating difference in favor of the cultural template utilized in story telling. Successful, it absolves one of the “rivals” of guilt, while assigning guilt to the other (a perverse interpretation of “equal justice for all”). The apprentice president has utilized this argument form many times as a “real estate” tycoon as well as in his primary/general election run. He continues with it now during his Charlottesville “do overs”. Analysis shows he will likely call for another “do over” explanation (and probably many more). In the case of Charlottesville, the template as explanation is totally inadequate. It is very, very convenient for quick, deadline oriented media. Nazi and KKK ideology has history, actions and deeds which cleave to a rigid perspective and interpretation. The opposition is diverse, even disparate. Much as the folks who run in the various races-for-the-cure fund raisers, the opponents of Nazi’s are unified by a determination to stop the spread of a known carcinogen. The inevitability of confrontation and clashes leads folks like the apprentice president to simplify and equivocate the “rivalry” in terms of the cultural literary template. Cohn’s ghost calls out “they’re both the same, equally bad.” However, there is a deafening silence when it comes to defining or narrating the “other side’s” history and continuum, word and deed, position and ideology. To do so would be to speak of anarchists, something that folks like McCarthy made sure would not see the light of day, let alone media presence. Professor David Graeber was fired by Yale University for having done anthropological field work with various anarchist groups and actions in the late 90’s, early 2000’s. You remember the various world bank, international monetary fund forums disrupted by anarchists in cities like Seattle, Washington, Quebec and numerous overseas occurrences? Gonzo journalism it wasn’t but his involvement and study resulted in an excellent academic anthropological book entitled Direct Action: an ethnography. Recommended reading if one would like to understand the antifa which operate on the principle of the black block (which also requires a bit of understanding as it is not just folks with tiki torches chanting anti-semitic babble). Folks like Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover would prefer Americans associate anarchism with bomb throwing and Sacco and Vanzetti. Events like Standing Rock present more current incarnations of “anarchy”. As Graeber pointed out, anarchists are primarily interested in local governance issues. They eschew oppression of any kind and prefer local governance to be resolved within a framework of consensus – so that each represents themselves and all feel they have been heard, all feel the resolution is not at their expense (no 50 senators and the vice president to produce a majority, in order that majority rules). The rest flows from that (their disregard for national government, for multi national capitalism, etc.). Charlottesville ain’t the Sharks and the Jets.

If Not Democracy, Then What?

July 31, 2017

Newsweek lifted an article from RobertReich.org entitled INTRODUCING DONALD TRUMP, THE BIGGEST LOSER by (who else?) Robert Reich, 7-31-17. Those not familiar with Reich will recall he was part of the Clinton cabinet and now is (like a lot of former government heads) an academic. Well, to cut to the chase, he writes articles and essays telling folks what they need to know and think, the big picture, and giving out forewarnings. Describing our apprentice prez as a “loser”, by a former cabinet member of all people, is a bit jaw dropping. No, not because he chose to identify the apprentice president with winning and losing (which we already know), but rather for stooping to the apprentice president’s level of dialogue and discourse (“He’s a loser.”). First our political leaders have degraded to expletives, exaggeration, and unsubstantiated innuendo. Now our academics? Reich’s article is another essay (by many) illuminating that the current administration’s priority is winning/losing rather than any ideology or policy commitment. Analysis finds itself in that same company having written/posted likewise.  Reich lays out a sterling argument referenced impeccably with accurate current events and observations (his own as well as those of others). With his summation he writes “Anyone who regards the other party as a threat to the nation’s well being is less apt to accept outcomes in which the other party prevails – whether it’s a decision not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or even the outcome of a presidential election. As a practical matter, when large numbers of citizens aren’t willing to accept such outcomes, we’re no longer part of the same democracy. I fear this is where Trump intends to take his followers, along with much of the Republican Party: Toward a rejection of political outcomes they regard as illegitimate, and therefore a rejection of democracy as we know it.” America and democracy? Like bacon and eggs, bread and butter, Kardashians and Extra – hard to imagine one without the other. “Rejection of democracy”? Naaa. Same day NPR produced New Florida Law Lets Residents Challenge School Textbooks (Greg Allen, Morning Edition 7-31-17). From the transcript: “Keith Flaugh is a retired IBM executive living in Naples, Fla., and a man with a mission. He describes it as “getting the school boards to recognize … the garbage that’s in our textbooks.” Flaugh helped found Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a conservative group that fought unsuccessfully to stop Florida from signing on to Common Core educational standards. More recently, the group has turned its attention to the books being used in Florida’s schools. A new state law, developed and pushed through by Flaugh’s group, allows parents, and any residents, to challenge the use of textbooks and instructional materials they find objectionable via an independent hearing.” There is an elaboration of Florida Citizens’ Alliance agenda and methodology followed by: “Flaugh says he’s just as concerned about how textbooks describe U.S. history and our form of government. “I spent over 20 hours with a book called ‘United States Government,'” he says. He found more than 80 places where he believes the textbook was wrong or showed bias, beginning with the cover. Its subtitle is “Our Democracy.” “We’re not a democracy, we’re a constitutional republic,” Flaugh says.” The dictionary gives the following definition for the word “republic”: “a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.” Fair enough. Analysis wonders about the elected part and whether Mr. Flaugh is taking something for granted (are we all?). If the representatives and the president aren’t determined through election by the people (which hold supreme power), then how does it come about? Who determines winners and losers? If not democracy, then what?

 

When Ya Gotta Get Your Fix

July 29, 2017

The latest full week episode of The Apprentice President cannot go unmentioned. Tumultuous would be an understatement. The weekly show began with many platitudes and pronouncements, Boy Scout Jamboree, a mass rally in Youngstown Ohio, a Twit directive on military preparedness, staff melodrama (all shook up) and the eventual demise of Trumpcare, totally elided by the apprentice prez himself (I’m not going to own it). Not part of the show, but part of the ratings, was the recent Gallup Poll indicating current approval/disapproval, nationally as well as by individual states. In Ohio, the disapproval/approval rating is statistically even given any margin of error (48% disapprove, 47% approve of the apprentice prez. The rest are undecided, whatever that means). Analysis reflects on the approval folks, especially their affirmative “Give him a chance”. Chance has been given, and still undying loyalty and promotion followed the Youngstown mass rally (which was well attended). The rally brought out the typical and expected speculation by the various news/media organizations regarding the being of such a phenomenon (unprecedented in that it is officially described as a 2020 re-election event). An oft repeated mantra of news pundits is that when the apprentice president hits a “tipping point” the crowd size will diminish, the disapproval ratings will increase. This mantra is aging fast, being almost 3 years old. The latest variation of this same mantra is the chickens-coming-home-to-roost one. When the factories aren’t back, when the jobs don’t materialize, when health care isn’t available or is unaffordable, etc. then the approval/disapproval equity will shift. This line has been borne out as inaccurate with the disparity between the “undying” mass affection shown the apprentice president in Youngstown, and the abysmal performance chaos of the last 6 months. The conventional wisdom interpretation is that apprentice president fans don’t really care about outcomes and performance. They like the show because they are so fed up with the politics governing America and (as evidenced by the Medicaid recipient electorate of Kentucky) prefer self inflicted damage to being without, a kind of retro “Let it bleed.” Analysis likens this to high school fund raisers where folks pay a buck, don safety glasses, and take a whack at a car with a sledge hammer. Eventually the car becomes inoperable, an expense to dispose of. But heck, it felt so good to destroy it! And it was all perfectly legal and sanctioned (for a good cause, even). Globally, historically this is nothing new. We’ve witnessed it time and again, this destroying, this purging of the status quo (because it feels so good to off them) and the cataclysmic change it spawns. It is infrequent (and unfulfilled) for America where historically this high has been tempered by the sobriety of our constitutional form of government. Americans don’t care for such a self-image. In a sense it can be spoken of as a kind of death wish. Freud referenced it as a death drive. Wiki gives an assessment which supports conventional wisdom’s interpretation of the “undying” loyalty of apprentice president fans – “In a sense, the death drive is a force that is not essential to the life of an organism (unlike an “instinct”) and tends to denature it or make it behave in ways that are sometimes counter-intuitive.” Analysis finds it little wonder that many of the private lives of these selfsame fans are touched and plagued by the unwanted scourge of the opioid addiction epidemic. It likewise could be described as “a force that is not essential to the life of an organism (unlike an “instinct”) and tends to denature it or make it behave in ways that are sometimes counter-intuitive.”

More Hannah Arendt

June 22, 2017

Although Hannah Arendt writes about events from 70 to 200 years ago in The Origins Of Totalitarianism (1951, 1958, 1966), something of today jumps out with almost every page. Contemporary political savants argue endlessly over how the party system is faring, who is winning/losing, why, and what the results of this spell out for the American people (as well as people of the world). In a paragraph referencing utilitarianism and governance (pg 347) she ends with:  ““Scientism” in politics still presupposes that human welfare is its object, a concept which is utterly alien to totalitarianism.” She footnotes this with: “William Ebenstein, The Nazi State, New York, 1943, in discussing the “Permanent War Economy” of the Nazi state is almost the only critic who has realized that “the endless discussion . . . as to the socialist or capitalist nature of the German economy under the Nazi regime is largely artificial . . . [because it] tends to overlook the vital fact that capitalism and socialism are categories which relate to Western welfare economics” (p.239)” She begins the next paragraph with: “It is precisely because the utilitarian core of ideologies was taken for granted that the anti-utilitarian behavior of totalitarian governments, their complete indifference to mass interest, has been such a shock.” On page 350 she writes “Totalitarian movements use socialism and racism by emptying them of their utilitarian content, the interest of a class or nation. The form of infallible prediction in which these concepts were presented has become more important than their content. The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error.” She elaborates this. On page 350 she writes “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such.” Which she footnotes with “Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s Rise to Power, Boston, 1944, underlines Hitler’s “phenomenal untruthfulness,” “the lack of demonstrable reality in nearly all his utterances,” his “indifference to facts which he does not regard as vitally important” (pp. 368, 374). –In almost identical terms, Khrushchev describes “Stalin’s reluctance to consider life’s realities” and his indifference to “the real state of affairs,” op. cit. Stalin’s opinion of the importance of facts is best expressed in his periodic revisions of Russian history.” She concludes this small foray into utilitarianism and objective interests in “traditional” Western forms of governance and what she believes occurs with totalitarian forms: “For masses, in contrast to classes, want victory and success as such, in their most abstract form; they are not bound together by those special collective interests which they feel to be essential to their survival as a group and which they therefore may assert even in the face of overwhelming odds. More important to them than the cause that may be victorious, or the particular enterprise that may be a success, is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.” Tonight’s nightly national news covered the crowds lining up overnight for the apprentice president’s Iowa rally, very much like they used to do outside stores for Black Friday Sales. The camera panned to a little girl who yelled out “Build a wall!” No matter that at the recent (6-14-17) Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum Dr. Jim Johnson, in his talk on the Browning and Greying of America and its impact on business and the economy, carefully pointed out that the median age for whites is early forties, for immigrants and people of color upper twenties and early thirties. Who will help populate the workforce and consumer economy of tomorrow? No matter that the GAO, as well as others, describe self inflicted damage from much social legislation and executive action. (to paraphrase Arendt’s pg. 350 quote from the Nazi Primer “We shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of economics” [original “genetics”]). No matter that “the jobs are never coming back,” and that the coal mining museum in Kentucky has solar panels on its roof. “More important . . . is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.”

Why Donald Trump Needs People To Be Poor

June 6, 2017

In his inimitable, deeply personal manner Newark’s US Representative, Pat Tiberi, emailed his constituents a survey. “What are your priorities to create jobs? Your priorities are my priorities. Your thoughts are important to me.” followed by the GOP house menu. The survey presents the appearance of propriety as the party is now the government, no need to bother. The party itself is now evolving with the “old” guard (McCain, Kasich, etc.) and the new populist/nationalists, again, presenting the appearance of being irreconcilable. Trump came in forming a weird coalition of uber wealth (his cabinet is the richest ever) and those who appear to have not so much (really?). Those who appear to have not so much either find their modicum of success to be a plateau or are without success altogether. Each triumphs the Trump presidency for a different reason. All the statistics from the “Occupy” days haven’t disappeared and the ubers’ wealth is superfluous, i.e. it is not generating more wealth. The not so’s find their overcapacity to work is, in an odd way, superfluous, i.e. that there either is not better compensation for their work, or the expenditure of greater work effort will not greatly improve their economic position. Recent developments in the automotive sector may help shed some light on this. The last couple of years have shown continuous and steady sales of various automotive products. In spite of this, Ford sacked its CEO and is restructuring for change. GM is pondering splitting its stock like airline seating – first class and coach. According to classic capitalist theory, nothing is awry. An investor purchases a scrap of paper and yearly the company selling the paper pays out a dividend. Where’s the hitch? What is destabilizing the auto companies is that the value of the piece of paper hasn’t gone up. In short, the superfluous wealth tied up with this “investment” is not promising a large enough return. Put crassly, the money needs to make more money. In today’s global economics, the auto industry is akin to the stationary industry of 50 years ago. Making an envelope is not all that complicated. Though there once was a steady demand for paper envelopes, nothing would make the producer’s stock price rise dramatically, as the competition was equally adept at producing envelopes. Imagining Ford and GM to be making envelopes brings us back to the weird coalition that supports Donald Trump. The ubers demand a greater return on their wealth. The not so’s would like a greater return on their participation in this enterprise. Unlike colonial imperialist times, no new market or supplier will magically manifest itself in today’s global economics. Everyone, everywhere has access to a mobile device which will tell them what something on Ebay can be gotten for. So the classic “buy cheap, sell dear” model is well worn. Other approaches are available that will make America great again and cause stock value to rise (saving jobs but not necessarily creating them). Early on in their schooling children are taught the Disneyland version – discover something everyone wants and you’ll be a star. This is John Kasich’s methodology in dealing with the drug epidemic in Ohio through research funding. Another approach is by making what is public private, and vice versa. The health care debate swirls around this interpretation, and now the Trump presidency is calling for it with appeals to make America’s infrastructure great (and private)  again. But the tried and true (historical) approach to increasing the value of what you already have is to make sure others ain’t got it. Exclusivity is priceless. This technique increases the value of superfluous wealth without the risk of needing to expend it, creating something new, or tying it up in mundane, long term low yielding envelope company stock. The likewise tried and true method of making people poor (making sure other’s ain’t got it) is through creating an other, someone who is predetermined to be without. The without can be anything from job skill capacity, place of residence, genetic background, right language or learning, etc. This is the glue that bonds the coalition of uber wealth and those who appear to have not so much. Each are looking to enhance the value of what they have, at the expense of some other. Neither are very happy with what envelope sales generate. Analysis concludes by reminding the reader that “creating an other, someone who is predetermined to be without” is the classic definition and function of racism.