Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

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 Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. 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.

Why I Would Prefer Not To (Talk To My Brother)

May 25, 2017

Guns and butter, part of the political choice. Butter comes from the milk of a cow which grazes on the earth. Guns originate with metallic ore, part of the composition of the very same earth that nourishes the cow. Both are a product of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work. Guns and religion, part of today’s American politic. Unlike guns or butter, religion is never considered a “product” of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work. Religion, by definition, is not of this earth though found extensively upon it, and only within the social make up of its human inhabitants. Many human-like behaviors, social or individual, are “found” with other creatures populating the earth. Religion has yet to be identified as one of them. Religion is not attributed to ants, ospreys, whales or the great apes. Today, the American politic swirls around loyalty and fidelity. Religion without these is not. Religion, not being of the earth, begs a different origin. The Judeo/Christian creation myth charges humans with dominion over the earth. It likewise requires fidelity and loyalty by doing what you are told. This link of loyalty and fidelity with “to do what you are told” runs deep within Western social evolution. It is fundamental to law, military organization and government institutions – the stuff of politics. It is not integral to the free market though capitalism is lost without it – the stuff of violence. Religion placates the disparity. For those who have done what they are told, loyalty bestows the social self esteem that bonds a brotherhood. Semper fi. In this all, the gun is very telling. Within the cliché of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is the creation origin account that humans have been given dominion over the earth along with the onus “to do what you are told.” The implication of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work having some say has no cotton with this religious perspective. Guns and religion differ fundamentally from guns and butter in that they are not the same. Guns and butter are products of human interaction with the earth. Guns and religion compliment each other, make demands on each other, excuse each other. Religion sanctions the human to differentiate the gun from any intent. Since it is of the earth over which humans maintain dominion, the gun is unintentional. Only humans are held responsible to do what you are told. And killing is telling some being to die. Along with cows, the gun is part of the dominion humans have been given over the earth, as it (the gun) is of the earth. The gun is simultaneously exceptional in that it enables dominion over the earth. Religion privileges its use by providing an alibi, an excuse. “To do what you are told” is just such an alibi. Loyalty becomes sacrosanct within this brotherhood of the gun. “To do what you are told” now has become a, if not the, political choice. To which Herman Melville’s Bartleby responds “I would prefer not to.” What other response is there when politics has become guns and religion?

Roughage

December 13, 2016

Various news outlets (CBS, NBC, Etc.) have been reporting on the total net worth of president elect Trump’s cabinet picks. Currently the combined total stands at over $14 billion. Remember Jay Hottinger’s Op Ed column in The Advocate educating his constituents on how really big a billion is? Well, Donnie’s cabinet net worth is 30 times that of W’s. And if Rex Tillerson becomes secretary of state, well, like the current stock market, it will be at a record high and climbing. Analysis finds it curious that the prime motivator of our businessman president is making money, something he reminded everyone time and again during the two year campaign (and continues to remind). Analysis feels it could be safely assumed as ditto for his cronies. All well and good, the US has a president who insists on only the best that money can buy. Analysis finds incongruity with OSU’s Urban Meyer receiving a greater salary than the future 45th president of the US of A, as well as any of his cabinet picks. So it obviously can’t be monetary gain that is motivating this crew of international business heavy hitters. What could it be? Trans national corporations (global businesses) have no territorial allegiance (Ireland, Switzerland or the Cayman Islands, it is all one and the same to these corporate “persons”). So patriotism it is not. Whatever it may be is for the pundits to ponder (fodder to bloviate). Analysis is more interested in what happens when “the going gets rough.” Will the 21st century Washington version of Hollywood’s rat pack “get going”? Historic precedent may be of value here. After the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil disaster, another international corporation heavy hitter, BP CEO Tony Hayward, declared “You know, I’d like my life back.” He traded in his BP CEO hard hat for a lesser position as head of Russian operations. Roughage usually contributes to movement.

What The Hell Have You Got To Lose?

October 26, 2016

This election year in the US stands out with its, er, “unique” interpretation of democracy (As Harry Shearer says “We know how to run an election.”). Much has been said and written about the lack of empathy for the conservative GOP on the outcome of the primaries with its presidential candidate (“They got what they deserve.”). Much of that centers around non issue, non existent, non substantive quotes, talking points and headlines proffered by the self same candidate (“Well, it just may be… I don’t know”). Whether it be the overt saber rattling as an outcome of the party’s continuous active resistance to policies not embracing war, the disparagement of people of color, immigrants, “others” etc. after the party’s championing (pre-Scalia’s passing) conservative SCOTUS rulings in favor of dismantling affirmative action, voting rights, pay equity, etc. The latest is the conservative GOP’s squirming and disavowal when it comes to their presidential candidate’s claims of vote fraud; this after years of voter ID legislation, gerrymandering and disenfranchisement efforts – all based on the drum beat of (statistically negligible) “voter fraud!” The raison d’etre of this very blog is to draw the link, to follow the thread between what is large and “out there” (as news, policy, etc.) and what is local, next door, just around the block. Just as global warming is produced by individual (AEP) power plants, cars, trees being cut down (for Amazonian soy bean production), etc. so what the GOP candidate is about that has his party in a tizzy can be found with that same party and electoral process here in Licking County. In terms of leadership, the county commissioner race tops the ticket. The GOP incumbent boasts continuous leadership with the convenient alibi of being part of a troika for anything not. The county is flush with cash, businesses like Amazon are moving in with Jobs! and the courthouse renovations will include built-in Christmas lighting (that will last another 50 years!!!). Unexposed, lest their spirits haunt an otherwise fraud free election, is the lack of affordable housing implicating continuous evictions (for a county with a lower unemployment rate than the state, like working in Manhattan but can’t afford to live there), lack of fixed schedule public transportation to get to all these jobs (which fuels the evictions), lack of funding resulting in the county’s Jobs and Family Services having to “make do” with less and less (to temporarily rescue the folks affected by the lack of affordable housing without adequate transportation to get to the plethora of low paying precarious jobs in the county that Tim built), lack of affordable child care (for the working parent affected by the lack of affordable housing without adequate transportation to get to the plethora of low paying precarious jobs in the county that Tim built), as well as public health services. Most major metropolitan counties (in the US) include these matters within their county public services and provide for them – if not regionally, then locally. But shucks, we’re just a struggling rural county (there’s that city versus rural thread that dominates national analysis of the GOP presidential candidate’s popularity). What does the incumbent commissioner have to crow about? His vast real estate and business expertise, of course. As a sitting Grow Licking County board member (talk about rural! Nothing more rural than “Grow”) he knows a good buy when he sees one. And he has seen more than one. Like his party’s presidential candidate he has spent heavily on building, land, development and gambling interests. The $10 mil “gamble” spent on making private property in Pataskala “Jobs Ready” has been a shrinking violet wall flower as the dance of commerce swirls around it (not to mention the Port Authority futures’ “gamble” on the Diocesan PIME property). The commissioner’s heralding that finally a sizeable bean field of the Pataskala Corporate Park will sell to become an AEP storage facility obfuscates no real estate tax earnings for 15 years. Given the history of photography (from film to digital to smart phone and tablet), computers (from IBM main frame to PC to Dick Tracy, er, Suri wrist watch.) and telecommunications (from line phone to mobile phone to cell phones that operate globally) it is a big “if” whether AEP will be around much after that (remember IBM?). So another “For Sale or Lease. Will build to suit” sign will go up after the abatement runs out. Another savant commissioner coup is the millions spent to find a home for the homeless. No, not those homeless, but the courthouse records which got evicted from their attic roost in the, well, courthouse. They’re certainly not finding a home in the cloud (where the future would indicate they belong), rather two homes (emulating Donald’s know how that tax deductions allow for a second home. Can you say Mar-a-Lago?). Along with his party’s presidential candidate’s penchant for “private” (no, not locker room) wheeling and dealing, the incumbent LC commissioner hosted several “secret” meetings and conversations (in violation of legislation requiring openness and transparency) with the corporations that eventually landed the courthouse work without a contract (nice work if you can get it. The cost elevator clause is to die for!). Which leaves us with the one statement by the commissioner’s party presidential candidate that has had all the professional political pundits, analysts and talking heads miffed – “What the hell have you got to lose?”

On An Aspirin Regimen

September 16, 2016

The appeal that Donnie Trump has for many voters is that he is a businessman, ostentatiously big business. Repeatedly, in media street and diner interviews one hears “it would be a good thing to have a businessman in the White House (not a politician).” In Newark, Grow Licking County, a public/private partnership administered by the Licking County Chamber of Commerce (the largest such in central Ohio) but funded by the county government, is lauded as the success driver for attracting “jobs” to this area (business knows business!). Another public/private partnership in Newark is the Canal Market District Farmers Market, an updated enhanced version of a previous Chamber sponsored market. The new Farmers Market is touted as a success by the Market, the Chamber and local politicians. Customers are reassured that all the vendors have been thoroughly checked out by the Market master and can be trusted to provide safe and reliable products. Central Ohio consumers like to know where their food is coming from, we are told (by the same market master). After all the Dole produce recalls, Chipotle contamination and Jeni’s Ice Cream repeated shut downs, it is heartening to hear that someone is being stringent in requiring that food be handled properly. After all, food is a very BIG business. 9-15-16 Carey Gillam posted “FDA Finds Monsanto’s Weed Killer In U.S. Honey” (Huffington Post). Some excerpts: “In examining honey samples from various locations in the United States, the FDA has found fresh evidence that residues of the weed killer called glyphosate can be pervasive – found even in a food that is not produced with the use of glyphosate. All of the samples the FDA tested in a recent examination contained glyphosate residues, and some of the honey showed residue levels double the limit allowed in the European Union, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. There is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the United States. Glyphosate, which is the key ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s Roundup herbicide, is the most widely used weed killer in the world, and concerns about glyphosate residues in food spiked after the World Health Organization in 2015 said its cancer experts determined glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.” “In addition to honey, the records show government residue experts discussing glyphosate found in soybean and wheat samples, “glyphosate controversies,” and the belief that there could be “a lot of violation for glyphosate” residues in U.S. crops.” “In the records released by the FDA, one internal email describes trouble locating honey that doesn’t contain glyphosate: “It is difficult to find blank honey that does not contain residue. I collect about 10 samples of honey in the market and they all contain glyphosate,” states an FDA researcher. Even “organic mountain honey” contained low concentrations of glyphosate, the FDA documents show.” “The FDA routinely looks for residues of a number of commonly used pesticides but not glyphosate [an herbicide]. The look for glyphosate this year is considered a “special assignment” and came after the agency was criticized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2014 for failing to test for glyphosate.” “Like the FDA, the USDA has dragged its feet on testing. Only one time, in 2011, has the USDA tested for glyphosate residues despite the fact that the agency does widespread testing for residues of other less-used pesticides. In what the USDA called a “special project” the agency tested 300 soybean samples for glyphosate and found more than 90 percent – 271 of the samples – carried the weed killer residues.” “Both the USDA and the FDA have long said it is too expensive and is unnecessary to test for glyphosate residues. Yet the division within the USDA known as the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) has been testing wheat for glyphosate residues for years because many foreign buyers have strong concerns about glyphosate residues. GIPSA’s testing is part of an “export cargo sampling program,” documents obtained from GIPSA show. Those tests showed glyphosate residues detected in more than 40 percent of hundreds of wheat samples examined in fiscal 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.” Monsanto, the business, markets Roundup in conjunction with Roundup ready seeds as intellectual property, requiring a signed contractual agreement to abide by company terms for its use (much as software is sold). Too many instances have been recorded of transgressions, intentional or unintentional (like the wind blowing pollen unto a neighbor’s field producing traceable varieties in violation of the intellectual property agreement), where Monsanto, the business, has sued to protect their brand. Where have we seen that before? Currently Monsanto is being bought out by Bayer, the aspirin folks.