Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Uninformed In Licking County

April 16, 2020

Politics was once the news. Now Covid 19 has usurped that title. Currently politics is attempting to wrestle the title back to itself. Evidence for this is Dear Leader’s claim of “total authority” to determine when it is over and safe to come out. Would you take his word for it? Since Dear Leader is without a plan, relying mainly on being a “stable genius”, the when has shifted variously – first “Poof” it will just disappear, then 4-12-20 (Easter), now 5-1-20 (has little to do with International Workers’ Day). When it will actually be determined resides with the virus, according to Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Who determines is the politics, only the virus has little regard for democracy. It votes without registering or being qualified. And it votes more than once. The Newark Advocate has once again shifted its coverage of the numbers. When the pandemic first started up in Ohio, the Advocate gave the daily box score of diagnosed infections in Licking County. Then when the numbers increased, the daily show ceased and went to weekly. Now with the numbers approaching 100, the daily tabulation has returned. Why does this matter? In California the Governor, Gavin Newsom, laid out the state’s plan for reopening. It has six major conditions that need to be met for the qualified “all clear” to sound – capacity for testing, isolating, follow up, etc., protection of vulnerable population, the health care system can handle resurgence, therapies are readily available, public institutions can operate while facilitating social distancing, and the ability to quickly reimpose self isolation if necessary. For the sake of generating public confidence, it is a plan based on qualifications that can only be achieved through open and available reporting. As of this writing the Licking County Health Department is reporting 91 cases of diagnosed Covid 19 in Licking County. Does anyone other than the Health Department know where these are located? When the Advocate ceased its daily tabulations Licking County was second to Delaware County in reported cases for the 6 counties adjoining Franklin County (Columbus). Franklin County is one of the major centers of the virus in Ohio. As of this writing Licking is now 4thbehind Delaware, Pickaway, Fairfield counties (in that order). All the counties adjoining Franklin now have almost half as many cases combined as the total in Franklin. The diffusion of the virus is inevitable. Is anyone reporting on this? For a plan based on conditional requirements (like Newsom’s) to work implicates open and accurate reporting. How would one know conditions are being met without such reporting?  Of the 91 current cases, what percentage of cases border Franklin County? Are in Newark? Or are they in Hebron, Hanover or Utica? For the sake of expediency, does the Newark Advocate/Dispatch prefer  the authoritarian “all’s clear” to a thoughtful and engaged reporting of what conditions really are? Crimes are reported by neighborhood, where registered sex offenders reside, as well as notification of habitual DUI’s (yellow license plates), even product safety recalls are grounded in specificity. When it comes to the Covid 19 virus, why are we so uninformed in Licking County?

American Factory

February 15, 2020

The Oscar winning documentary, American Factory, will be screened this coming Thursday eve, 2-20-20, at the USWA Local 244 Union Hall, 350 Hudson Avenue, Newark Ohio. It begins at 7 PM with an open group conversation to follow its airing. This is the February feature for the Third Thursday Film series sponsored by The Freedom School In Licking County. When informed of such group gatherings to watch a flick, the knee jerk response usually runs something like: “I can get that on Netflix. I’ll be sure to watch it.” Analysis determines this pretty much misses the point. In the first half of the 20thcentury a Russian literary critic, Mikhail Bakhtin, introduced the idea of a dialogic reading or viewing. For Bakhtin, when a work or text is considered by more than one individual, a richer, fuller, more complete sense of the work is available to those assessing it. Simply put, an individual person can’t see the back of their own head. But they can see the back of their friend’s head. Together, in conversation, the two can arrive at a richer and fuller understanding of each other’s makeup, which is incomplete when assessed individually. The same can be said for watching a film or reading a book. Dialogical consideration enhances the understanding by filling in the blind spots. Along with countless others, Newark News Analysis has written of the demise of the commons, and the detrimental impact it has made on social interaction in America. The pre-industrial age commons was an open space available to area residents for leisure, congregating, gathering, celebrating, play, etc. The voracious need for workers and consumers by the captains of industry exorcised the state sanction of the commons, essentially eliminating them entirely. Vestiges of this space for communal (common) interaction can be found with neighborhood parks and some city squares. These of course are subject to regulations, hours of admission and limits to interactions (permits). Netflix could be considered as antithetical to the space of the commons. Along with the demise of the commons was the fall of festival, the communal gathering of play, usually located in the space of the commons. Comparisons of play designated within the communal space of contemporary parks and the play found within the notion of festival would be akin to comparing New Orleans Mardi Gras and the NFL or MLB. True, there is a sort of competitiveness found between the tribes or the crews sponsoring individual lines or parades. But this is not the designated and deliberate (specific) competitiveness incorporated within the layout of most parks (individual or group sports). Improving one’s individual jogging time or winning the league tournament is not the stuff of festival. Both bring people together for play but the time and ends of festival differ from that of competitive play. Mardi Gras has no beginning though it does end. Parks have designated times when they can be accessed. The play of competitive sports is predetermined, hence some are better at it than others (some play while others can only spectate). The play of festival is all inclusive and enhanced by diversity. Competitive play results in active participants (players) and passive spectators (fans). Festival play is one of open participation. Festival participants make their play while most competitive sports spectators have it made for them (are not players). Watching American Factory individually on Netflix, with personal phone distractions and preoccupations (multi tasking) is not the same as attending a common space viewing with an active conversation afterwards. Festival makes for a dialogic understanding (celebration) by virtue of its all inclusive and diverse participation. Individual Netflix perusal is incomplete. The blind spots are never even noticed.

Adult Education

January 24, 2020

Like the swallows and Capistrano, global corporate authorities gathered once again in secluded Davos Switzerland this past week. For the rest of us the corporate media represents it as the World Economic Forum with pronouncement made and issued for, you guessed it, the rest of us. Dear Leader attended, of course. Before leaving he too issued a pronouncement representing things in the US as being just all around boffo. We should all be very happy. Aren’t you? Why Greta Thunberg was there is anybody’s guess as she doesn’t fly in that rarefied milieu. Someone, who does, attended along with his boss. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took offense at Thunberg’s lecturing the corporate elites. “U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested that Greta Thunberg isn’t the best person to give advice on economic issues related to climate change — at least not until she goes to college. At a press briefing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mnuchin criticized the 17-year-old environmental activist’s call to divest from fossil fuels immediately, according to the Associated Press. Asked how such restrictions would affect the U.S. economic model, Mnuchin responded, “Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused,” the AP reported. He paused before adding that his comments were “a joke.” “After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us,” Mnuchin said. Thunberg, who has been outspoken about the lack of progress on climate change, tweeted Thursday that “it doesn’t take a college degree in economics” to realize that our remaining 1.5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up.” She did not name Mnuchin but said in a subsequent tweet, “either you tell us how to achieve this mitigation or explain to future generations and those already affected by the climate emergency why we should abandon our climate commitments.”” (‘Who Is She?’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Questions Greta Thunberg’s Economic Expertise at Davos by Sanya Mansoor for Time, 1-23-20). For those of you keeping score at home Thunberg dropped out of Sweden’s version of high school to embrace activism (without much “formal” education in that, either). Mnuchin has a BA from Yale, a father who is a partner at Goldman Sachs, and had his first job with the investment bank Salomon Brothers while still a student at Yale. Secretary Mnuchin feels no need to learn anything about what we all share in common while Thunberg considers each day an opportunity to learn more. Analysis surmises that eventually she will be forced to give an accounting for why she chose to go to Davos. “The corporate state, however, is in trouble. It has no credibility. All the promise of the “free market,” globalization and trickle-down economics have been exposed as a lie, and empty ideology used to satiate greed. The elites have no counterargument to their anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist critics. The attempt to blame the electoral insurgencies in the United States’ two ruling political parties on Russian interference, rather than massive social inequality – the worst in the industrialized world – is a desperate ploy. The courtiers in the corporate press are working feverishly, day and night, to distract us from reality. The moment the elites are forced to acknowledge social inequality as the root of our discontent is the moment they are forced to acknowledge their role in orchestrating this inequality.” (Chris Hedges, America: the farewell tour)

Representation

January 18, 2020

In April of 2013 the Licking County Commissioners announced the demolition of the Children’s Home on East Main Street (2 of the 3 Commissioners continue to this day). The decrepit county jail was spared the wrecking ball (for it’s amusement potential). Today one can go to the Newark Library and peruse the archives for photos of the Home as well as the jail. One can walk a few blocks and look at the jail, point to it, and maybe compare it with the archival photo (something one cannot do with the Children’s Home as only the photos remain). Dear Leader may claim that “It doesn’t matter.” yet there is a difference between the architecture of The Historic Jail on south 4thStreet, and the representation of that and the Children’s Home found with the photographs. The dictionary gives the origins of the word “representation” to stem from the Middle English ‘image, likeness,’ and further back from the Latin ‘bring before, exhibit.’ Social media is just filled with representations. Some post photos of the meal they were served. The representation is not what they had for lunch. Then there are the ubiquitous and ever growing slew of people photo’s, including crime footage as well as celebrations. Many are edited to look good (like the Kardashians). The distinction gets a little fuzzy when we take photos of checks, etc. as documentation (if only they could be edited!). The representation (image) is the thing (exhibit). Analysis found updated fuzziness in a pair of news articles that appeared near simultaneously. National Archives exhibit blurs images critical of President Trump by Joe Heim for The Washington Post appeared 1-17-20. “The Archives acknowledged in a statement this week that it made multiple alterations to the photo of the 2017 Women’s March showcased at the museum, blurring signs held by marchers that were critical of Trump. Words on signs that referenced women’s anatomy were also blurred. In the original version of the 2017 photograph, taken by Getty Images photographer Mario Tama, the street is packed with marchers carrying a variety of signs, with the Capitol in the background. In the Archives version, at least four of those signs are altered. A placard that proclaims “God Hates Trump” has “Trump” blotted out so that it reads “God Hates.” A sign that reads “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women” has the word Trump blurred out.” How does this differ from the Licking County Commissioners’ erasure of the Children’s Home? “Karin Wulf, a history professor at the College of William & Mary and executive director of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, said that to ensure transparency, the Archives at the very least should have noted prominently that the photo had been altered. “The Archives has always been self-conscious about its responsibility to educate about source material, and in this case they could have said, or should have said, ‘We edited this image in the following way for the following reasons,’ ” she said. “If you don’t have transparency and integrity in government documents, democracy doesn’t function.”” Which brings us to the second article, more or less about unedited images (representations) that function, unintentionally, as documents (exhibits). Is their “transparency and integrity” conducive to our democracy? The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It by Kashmir Hill appeared in the NY Times 1-18-20. “Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow hair on their own photos. Then Mr. Ton-That — an Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and provided it to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, ranging from local cops in Florida to the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security. His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.” “In addition to Mr. Ton-That, Clearview was founded by Richard Schwartz — who was an aide to Rudolph W. Giuliani when he was mayor of New York — and backed financially by Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist behind Facebook and Palantir. Another early investor is a small firm called Kirenaga Partners. Its founder, David Scalzo, dismissed concerns about Clearview making the internet searchable by face, saying it’s a valuable crime-solving tool.” Hill ends his article with “Even if Clearview doesn’t make its app publicly available, a copycat company might, now that the taboo is broken. Searching someone by face could become as easy as Googling a name. Strangers would be able to listen in on sensitive conversations, take photos of the participants and know personal secrets. Someone walking down the street would be immediately identifiable — and his or her home address would be only a few clicks away. It would herald the end of public anonymity. Asked about the implications of bringing such a power into the world, Mr. Ton-That seemed taken aback. “I have to think about that,” he said. “Our belief is that this is the best use of the technology.”” How does this differ from the Licking County Commissioners tacitly agreeing to keeping the old jail (for amusement purposes)?

Culture Of Denial

December 14, 2019

“Philosophical skepticism is a philosophical school of thought that questions the possibility of certainty in knowledge.” (Wiki) The classic academic example is usually that of the 18thcentury Philosopher David Hume who used it to analyze cause and effect certainty. The example of two billiard balls colliding can be used. Analysis after the fact can generate a mathematical trajectory for each of the balls. But prior to their colliding? Reason relies on probability, high or low. The skeptical outlook is that prior to their striking we can never really know, with certainty, what will occur. There’s a whole lot more to it than that, but this is a simple blog posting. Over a half century ago French Philosopher Jacques Derrida introduced the analytic approach entitled Deconstruction. “Derrida’s approach consisted of conducting readings of texts looking for things that run counter to the intended meaning or structural unity of a particular text. The purpose of deconstruction is to show that the usage of language in a given text, and language as a whole, are irreducibly complex, unstable, or impossible.” (Wiki) This blog posting could be considered a text. Close scrutiny of its content can be used to show inconsistencies, particularly in meanings and usages of words, phrases, and concepts that may differ in spoken language as well as in meanings agreed to with either (spoken or written). There’s more to it than that. “In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience.” “Empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasizes evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation. Empiricism, often used by natural scientists, says that “knowledge is based on experience” and that “knowledge is tentative and probabilistic, subject to continued revision and falsification”. Empirical research, including experiments and validated measurement tools, guides the scientific method.” (Wiki) Deconstructing the just provided Wiki text on empiricism, one could easily inquire whether theories would need to be tested against observations of the unnatural world? Natural or unnatural observations? Except for Derrida’s, these philosophic insights, approaches, and methodologies are very old. Derrida’s deconstruction begs the question as to whether body cam and doorbell camera recordings are text? If not, then what are they? Likewise for audio recordings and digital records (more data!). Strange things occur when these various methodologies are mixed up in the everyday – deconstruction is used on empirical findings, skepticism is used to undermine inconvenient probabilities, etc. Video shows a young female reporter being touched on her behind by a passing charity fund run participant. He is arrested. Will his defense be that actual “cause and effect” cannot be proved from a deconstruction of the video since it doesn’t show her back side? Within hours of the abomination of the Sandy Hook massacre social media was already flooded with analysis skeptical of the veracity of the news reporting through deconstruction in the form of conspiracy theories. Journalistic accounts certainly are a kind of text. Is this a valid deconstruction? And what happens when reams of scientific research and study are treated as text and systematically deconstructed for commercial gain? We find this repeatedly with global warming, public health concerns such as addiction, gun violence, suicide, environmental conditions, etc. Now we find this fetid philosophic ratatouille en masse with the GOP’s defense of Dear Leader (no smoking gun with the Fifth Avenue doorbell cam video recording). And social/digital media, integral to the dissemination of knowledge with regards to all of these goings on, where is it? The ambiguity of being a “platform” helps it escape responsibility for any of it, virtual or real. Try deconstructing “platform.” Does something stand on it or hover? Can it be found anywhere or is it everywhere? What is the intended meaning? And what is the real meaning? What is not a “platform”? When complex, sophisticated philosophic methodologies are casually treated as internet “platforms”,  unchecked cross media intermingling mix ups occur. What are currently described as “conspiracy theories” grow and thrive in this philosophic incubator. Such a petri dish fosters and sustains the contemporary culture of denial.

Act Like An Owner

November 28, 2019

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

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

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

Free Exercise Of Faith Democracy

November 13, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Self Driving Cars

July 11, 2019

This week ABC News did a small piece headlined Rapid decline in honey bee population ‘unsustainable,’ experts say (7-10-19). No biggie. We’ve seen articles like this covering global warming, environment, bees, algae blooms, etc. for the past two decades. They are chock full of statistics, projections, interviews with pedigreed experts, dire predictions, and sometimes even politicians. Reading them is almost a kind of perverse rote learning, actually reinforcing learned helplessness in those they intend to inform. In short, they are the norm, as seasonal and uneventful as weather news, school lunch menus, or the local festival calendar. Buried deep in the ABC article was “The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it has suspended data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies survey due to budgetary reasons, just weeks after researchers reported that nearly 40% of managed honey bee colonies in the country were lost over the past winter. “The decision to suspend data collection was not made lightly but was necessary given available fiscal and program resources,” a July 1 statement from the USDA read. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service report is only one of three major bee surveys published each year, Mulica [Matthew Mulica, senior project manager at the Keystone Policy Center, a consulting company that works with the Honey Bee Health Coalition] said. The Bee Informed Partnership and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also file reports that are widely used in the industry, he added.” Same day, different news source headlined Intelligence aide, blocked from submitting written testimony on climate change, resigns from State Dept. (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, 7-10-19). “Rod Schoonover — who worked in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research’s Office of the Geographer and Global Issues — spoke before the House Intelligence Committee on June 5 about the security risks the United States faces because of climate change. But White House officials would not let him submit the bureau’s written statement that climate impacts could be “possibly catastrophic,” after the State Department refused to cut references to federal scientific findings on climate change.” “One of the statements White House officials objected to was this observation: “Absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant — possibly catastrophic — harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change.”” As mentioned repeatedly in previous blog posts, the CDC is forbidden by federal law from tracking gun related deaths and injuries. And we all know what happens with White House administrators, managers and spokespeople whose lexicon strays from “wonderful”, “remarkable”, or “amazing”. The privatization of American Government is becoming akin to a new car dealership –- they are always pitch perfect, or rather, what they pitch is always perfect. Their cars never catch fire or roll over in crashes. Indeed, they aren’t in the business of keeping tabs on car crashes. Bad news can be dismissed as fake news since it can’t be officially sourced. See, no one is keeping track. Are you?

Grover Must Be Smiling Today

January 15, 2019

What’s not in the news? An intriguing question indeed. Analysis finds an accounting of the “government shut down” that is not oriented from the perspective of a high school civics class or college political science class to be one answer. How so? Well, what about a perspective that stems from the “all or nothing” fundamental logic of capitalism? Rand Paul is on his way to Canada for a medical operation (Rand Paul to travel to Canada for hernia surgery By Elizabeth Landers, CNN, 1-15-19). “Paul, a respected eye surgeon, has been a vocal critic of socialized medicine. At the height of the Trump administration’s most recent effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act in July 2017, Paul said on Sean Hannity’s radio show: “This is about freedom. This is about whether we as Americans should be free to buy what kind of insurance we want. What’s best for us and our families. And it’s about whether the individual knows best or government knows best. Are we too stupid that President Obama has to tell us what kind of insurance? Does he think Americans are too dumb to make their own decisions?”” “All or nothing” in the sense that this same freedom exists in Canada yet those unable to afford the “open market” of health care can still be healthy through the support of their government (if they choose). Not so here, or at least in the capitalism (without other socialist “competition”) envisioned by Mr. Paul, and many others involved with the government shut down. Oh yes, the shut down. We have hundreds of thousands of employees and affiliated folks out of work. We have hundreds of thousands required to work for no pay. The civics class/poli sci class perspective can’t seem to rectify this disparity. America’s civil war of the 19thcentury supposedly definitively settled slavery as abolished in the United States. Yet, those working are likewise not free to refuse work (sounds a bit enslaving). No, the civics class/poli sci perspective is inadequate. It lacks the substance occurring before our eyes that is not spoken – the growth, evolution, and development of “all or nothing” capitalism (no competition from other ideologies, in whatever way). “Consumerism and capitalism are too often confused with democracy and freedom. They are not the same things.” “For a variety of reasons including economic precariousness, an unresponsive political system, a fear of violence and punishment from and by the state, and a culture of distraction and entertainment, the American people are stuck in a state of learned helplessness. What social scientist and futurist John Feffer has described as “participatory totalitarianism” conditions the American people (and others in the West and elsewhere) to desire and approve of constant surveillance. It has become normalized and incentivized by social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.” (Faced with the “greatest scandal” in our history, what will the American people do? Is America too deeply cocooned in consumerism, too blind or too cynical to take action against a traitor president? Chauncy Devega 1-14-19). “Learned Helplessness” sounds aptly descriptive of the contemporary shut down situation. But it also sounds like a lot of intellectual idealism. After all, since assuming the mantle of leadership, the GOP has improved capitalism by slashing taxes, imposing tariffs (which “levels the playing field” but the consumer pays for it in the end), shrinking the size of government meddling through the elimination of regulations and agencies, and now shutting the government down entirely. Not the stuff of Marvel civics class/poli sci comics! But definitely the stuff of “all or nothing” capitalism, resentful and envious of anything not “privatized.” “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” (Interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, May 25, 2001) “Our goal is to inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We’re sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent’s head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see.” (from the National Review, quoted in The Republican Noise Machine by David Brock, Crown Publishers 2004, pg. 50) Two quotes by Grover Norquist. Wiki gives: “Grover Norquist (born October 19, 1956) is an American political advocate, who is founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, an organization that opposes all tax increases.” Analysis can only conclude that Grover must be smiling today.

 

How Sausage Is Made

August 11, 2018

As Analysis has repeatedly revealed, news media and journalism are for the most part fueled by ads. True, true, true, some news sources have various other means of financing their operations – religious affiliation (Christian Science monitor), grants (NPR and PBS) or hefty subscriber funding. Still, source advertising stains the news, from whatever source. A hefty source of revenue in election years are political ads, something the outlets try to disown on the Zuckerberg model of “we’re only a platform.” So the news becomes the news unwittingly and inadvertently. There appears to be no “outside” this Catch 22 pact with the devil. Yet there is good journalism that pervades this environment of easily dismissed bias. Julie Carr Smyth’s recent AP report (Democrat Richard Cordray says GOP ads in governor race false, 8-10-18) performs the balancing act marvelously. “Lawyers for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray demanded on Friday that Ohio television stations pull a Republican Governors Association ad alleging a consumer agency Cordray led secretly collected and left vulnerable Americans’ personal financial data.” “Spokesman [for the RGA] Jon Thompson said, “We stand by the ad.”” Just another example of the alt right’s victimization by a conspiracy assault on the 1stamendment? Long time news junkies will recall an analogous situation with the John Kerry swift boat ads (recent junkies ought to Google/Wiki this). Veracity of the claims hinged on the opinion of the witnesses, something implicated by time, money and political leanings. He said, she said? Older junkies will recall the sinking of the John McCain challenge to George W’s anointment as GOP presidential standard bearer. Innuendo that McCain was the biological father of a child of color spread throughout South Carolina before the 2000 primary. DNA takes time. The existence/non-existence of truth becomes irrelevant in the short span of a primary. The racist damage left a stench. Guilt by association? Classically, this is referred to as “My opponent’s sister is a thespian.” political smear from the 19thcentury. Thespian “sounds” like lesbian. And the beat goes on, damage done, when accompanied by rhythmic bible thumping. The new and improved digitalized 21stcentury version is called “fake news.” News or “fake news”? Carr Smyth is careful to point this out without actually calling it that. “The ads, paid for by the RGA Right Direction PAC, say Cordray “secretly collected personal information from hundreds of millions of accounts” and didn’t protect it. They also claim the consumer bureau was “hacked over 200 times,” presumably under Cordray’s watch though that’s not directly stated. Cordray’s lawyers wrote station managers that the claims are not true.” “The letter [from Cordray’s lawyers to the stations] notes that Cordray’s successor, Mick Mulvaney, ordered a review of the bureau’s “externally facing” systems when he took over in May and concluded they were well secured and ordered data collection to continue. The letter says the bureau was never “hacked.” Cordray’s lawyers further argue that the bureau’s collection of consumer information was not a secret but extensively debated, including at a public hearing. Cordray also wrote about it in the American Banker, noting in a 2013 op-ed that much of the data the bureau collects was already publicly available.” Carr Smyth is an excellent journalist. In our “everything is up to date in Kansas City” age, data collection and hacking go together like a horse and carriage. “Fake news”, news, or just a reminder of how sausage is made?