Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

Pat Tiberi – We Hardly Knew Ya

October 21, 2017

Less than two weeks after his recent email contact with his constituents Ohio’s 12th Congressional District’s representative opted to go the way of John Boehner (another Ohio Congressional representative and former Speaker of the House). The Advocate (Pat Tiberi to resign from Congress for Ohio Business Roundtable post Deirdre Shesgreen and Jessie Balmert, 10-19-17) reports: “Rep. Pat Tiberi said Thursday he will give up his House seat and take a job as president of the Ohio Business Roundtable — a surprise decision for the 16-year congressional veteran.” The last mass emailing (10-7-17) was entitled Why I’m Fighting For Tax Reform. Notable: “Right now, my colleagues and I on the House Ways and Means Committee are hard at work translating this framework into legislation—and we are working through this robust process with you in mind. This isn’t about the 1 percent. It is about the middle-class families who sit down at their kitchen table every night and try to figure out how to stretch that last dollar. It is about the entrepreneurs who are looking to open their doors and invest in their employees and communities with new jobs and higher wages. It is about the kids who hope to save enough from their first high school job so they can go to college. And, it is about people like my parents who are looking for a fair shot at the American Dream. Everyone deserves the certainty and confidence they need to get ahead. That is what we can achieve with pro-growth tax reform.” Analysis finds this to be pretty sincere. Indeed, it was followed by “Sincerely yours…” Analysis says we could use some context here. Let’s look at the numbers. Tiberi has over 6 million dollars banked on his re election campaign (which unfortunately he cannot personally utilize). In 2016 his opponent received only approx. 35% of the vote. Analysis finds this indicates real job security. But wait, there’s more! As a US Representative he earned about $175K plus perks and bennies. The retiring head of the Ohio Business Roundtable had a salary (before benefits and perks) of approx. $650K. The new head (Congressman Pat) is projected to make more like $800+K. Unlike the gold in his re election treasure chest, Tiberi will be free to access any of this. “This isn’t about the 1 percent.” But now both he and it are. Prior to that (9-1-17) Pat sent out another mass mailing entitled Tax Reform. Notable: “I spent the August work period in the 12th District listening to and talking with Ohio families, workers and job creators about what reform will mean for them. As we work to put pen to paper, I will be keeping their priorities in mind so that we achieve reforms that help people like you save more of your hard earned dollars.” This was accompanied by various social media and other links chronicling this. Pat preferred scripted pre screened and scheduled office receptions, social media, and telephone conference town hall meetings to actual, impromptu ad lib “listening and talking”. The August 19, 2017 mailing entitled Tomorrow On In Focus highlighted “Tomorrow, I’ll be on “In Focus with Mike Kallmeyer” on the Spectrum Networks to discuss drug trafficking and my bill, the STOP Act, which will close a dangerous loophole in the U.S. postal system that drug dealers are utilizing to ship deadly drugs like fentanyl into our communities.  The STOP Act has the potential to save lives, keep our police officers safe, reduce the strain on emergency responders, and prevent overdoses. Tune in on Sunday and watch a preview on my Facebook page to learn more about how and why I’m fighting for this bill to become law.” Analysis found Tiberi’s 8-31-17 guest appearance at Newark’s Fed Up rally to be in keeping with “Tune in on Sunday and watch a preview on my Facebook page to learn more about how and why I’m fighting for this bill to become law.” Analysis finds it a stretch that in his Fed Up presentation, Tiberi wasn’t already cognizant he would announce departure in less than two months. In July (7-19-17) it was A Simpler Way To File Your Taxes which ended with an inter active link “>>Complete this survey & share your thoughts<<”. Analysis suspects this displaced virtual presence may permit one to sincerely say, “with you in mind,” Pat Tiberi – we hardly knew ya!

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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.

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.”

Letting The Terrorists Win

October 7, 2017

In Texas, a Defiant Mood at an Outdoor Music Festival headlined a New York Times article by David Montgomery (10-6-17).  The Austin City Limits festival opened Friday (10-6-17) in Austin Texas, the first such event following the recent terrorist attack on another music festival in Las Vegas (Yes Virginia, Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist).  Analysis finds notable: “On Friday afternoon, among music lovers and families with strollers flowing into Zilker Park on the shores of the Colorado River, the mood was partly defiant and partly alert and attentive. But mostly, people were unflappable.” “Sandee Fenton, spokeswoman for the festival, said organizers expected 75,000 people in the park each day, with a total of 225,000 fans this weekend. The group offered refunds to anyone who was concerned about attending, but did not say how many were claimed.” “Just inside the entrance Friday afternoon, Joe Dickie and his wife, Beth Cottey, discussed with their son and a friend whether they should go see a performance by Willie Nelson’s son, or a rock band called Royal Blood. The family, who hails from Austin, has come to nearly every Austin City Limits event since its inception in 2002. Mr. Dickie, a technical consultant, said that the four had debated this year whether to attend. “So now that one crazy person has done that, it might inspire somebody else,” he said, referring to the tragedy in Las Vegas. But in the end, he said, the decision was easy. “We feel very secure,” he said. “We’re not going to let it ruin our good time.”” Montgomery quotes Tyler Costolo, 25, who flew in from Boca Raton Florida: ““I’m kind of the opinion things like that shouldn’t change your life,” said Mr. Costolo, wearing a white T-shirt with the name of the band The Front Bottoms. “At that point, you’re letting those kinds of things win.”” None of this would be at all unusual to residents of Israel, France, United Kingdom, Spain, etc. After terrorist attacks that have occurred there one continuously hears (and re hears) the refrain that by showing up, going on with the everyday activities disrupted by the terrorists, one keeps the terrorists from winning. In Newark Ohio there is a different response to the ominous terrorist threat. Newark’s only downtown park, the Newark version of Central Park, surrounds the historic (and recently restored) county courthouse. Previously benches and picnic tables provided relaxing spots for get togethers amid majestic trees on a neatly tended grass lawn. There was even a spacious gazebo for larger organized gatherings. Now we read: “The picnic tables, where downtown employees often ate their lunches or people played cards in the evening, will not return, the mayor [Jeff Hall] said. Security concerns, Hall said, played into the decision to avoid having people sitting at tables, with backpacks, near the government building. Instead, there are more benches, which are further away from the building. The gazebo will be stored for the winter and appear next year on the lawn of the former Children’s Home site, at 771 E. Main St. Private donations will be used to move and store the gazebo.” (Gazebo to move from courthouse grounds to former children’s home site Kent Mallett, The Advocate, 9-26-17). Analysis concludes with that marvelous premonitory quote regarding Newark’s central park by Ryan Bubb in yesterday’s Advocate: “”It’s going to be back better than it was,” he said.” (Newark Council: Gazebo should stay, but will it? Editor Benjamin Lanka,10-6-17)

 

Polarization And Gerrymandering

October 6, 2017

Analysis finds there to be endless speculation, with statistical backing, on “the polarization of America” on the majority of issues facing our children’s future. Whether this is a readily available handle on the news by the news media, or “fake news” promoted by tech savvy raconteurs (both foreign and domestic), or is actually so but impossible to grasp unless you are a main frame computer is a contemporary puzzle. The US Supreme Court is currently hearing a case questioning Wisconsin’s political redistricting. Labeled gerrymandering, the issue is rather one of domination than polarization. Locally, in Newark Ohio, we have the destruction of the courthouse square gazebo which ostensibly is part of the City of Newark’s public domain but sits adjacent the Licking County Courthouse (also a public domain but of the county, not city). Confused? It is all akin to the township trustee positions that some municipal voters get to vote on even though unaffected by any township adjudication. Where is the gerrymandering and polarization in all this when it comes to the Newark City Council, Mayor Jeff Hall, and the voting residents of Newark? A recent editorial, er, report by the Advocate editor, Benjamin Lanka, may shed some light on this (since obviously no one would admit to polarization in Newark let alone gerrymandering with the ward districting supplemented by at large representatives). Entitled “Newark Council: Gazebo should stay, but will it?” (10-6-17) it paints a rather ambiguous picture (THAT is an understatement!). In a nut shell, Lanka goes out of his way to survey each council representative and their views on the matter. All, save one, would prefer the gazebo remain and not be destroyed. All plead powerlessness to stopping Mayor Hall’s action (but for discretely polarized reasons!). The “save one” is none other than Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s son, Ryan Bubb. In the past, Ryan would have been given the benefit of doubt with regard to nepotism, but with the age of the Kushners being part and parcel of the White House administration, the doubt itself is more than doubtful. Commenters to Lanka’s editorial, er, reporting raised the obvious. When Lanka writes “The costs of moving and restoring the gazebo are being paid by private donors.” They ask “who are the private donors?” Analysis speculates it is probably a public private partnership (like JobsOhio) which is not obligated to disclose their “private” parts (so fashionable these days!). Investigative reporting is not this particular Advocate reporter’s forte. Lanka concludes his editorial, er, article by quoting Ryan Bubb: “”It’s going to be back better than it was,” he said.” Priceless! Analysis finds the gerrymandering and polarization of Newark to be a little more readily apparent when one asks a simple question – why has no one suggested (publicly voiced) recalling the mayor if he continues with his administrative action counter the people’s will? All of a sudden the polarization jumps out. The ambiguity of the GOP representative’s we’d-like-it-to-stay-but (“Would I like to see it stay? Absolutely,” Frazier said. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect the authority of the mayor.”) is obviously inevitable (an acknowledgement of the little man behind the curtain in Oz). It is what comes after the “but” that makes for the affirmative statement (we still abide by the GOP power structure). The reticence of the Democratic candidates to generate any action to save the gazebo (initiate a recall) points to the de facto gerrymandering (their very powerlessness). Their positions within their districts are none too secure. Analysis finds (on the national level) talk, reporting and commentary on gerrymandering and polarization to be often times, if not most of the time, couched in terms of economics. However, as the Newark gazebo shows, polarization and gerrymandering are about those who have power, and those who are lorded over. We will have our way because we can. And in this case, we can make the gazebo disappear. “It’s going to be back better than it was.” Now THAT’S power!

How Citizens United Matters In Newark Ohio

October 3, 2017

“Residents rally against move of gazebo from Courthouse Square” headlined today in the Advocate (Kent Mallett, 10-3-17). “Gazebo” will get tagged while “residents” will be taken for granted. After all, residents of a neighborhood association, block watch or school zone will often times coordinate to demand/petition council to address a safety concern, traffic situation, etc. And council will needs be attentive as residents vote, whether they own property or not. They reside in the voting precinct. Who else is there to vote? With Newark City Council’s recent passage of the downtown SID a curious twist has appeared in the neighborhood/council relationship. Essentially, the SID has created a “neighborhood association” which not only can demand/petition council equitably with any other Newark neighborhood, but has the added advantage of being semi-autonomous. The “persons” in this neighborhood are self-governing, something other Newark residential neighborhoods don’t enjoy. Membership has nothing to do with residency, and everything to do with property ownership. The “residents” of this neighborhood are likewise not voters (people with the capacity to vote). They likewise needn’t even reside in Newark (or Licking County for that matter). And yet they can make decisions as to the way their neighborhood is to be. Just as “old MacDonald had a farm” is a complete fabrication of the nature of farms and farming in the US today, so is the sole proprietor, owner-operator “mom and pop” account of business owners and business in downtown Newark. The vast majority of properties owned, businesses owned and conducted are within the structure of corporation (check deed title listings at the county engineers/recorders if you’d like. There is a map that lists who owns which parcel. Few of the names are individual entities). And as we all know, corporations are entities that exist “solely in contemplation of the law.” And thus do not vote. But wait, the highest court in the land ruled that they are “persons” (Citizens United ruling). So, as persons, they can politically organize, be semi-autonomous, and self-govern their neighborhood. What is the cost of admission to this neighborhood association? Well, exactly that. If you have money to spend, you are welcome downtown. Just passing through, keep moving (to another neighborhood). Don’t bring your own picnic to enjoy under the trees, or let the kids run around on the grass, or gather at the Gazebo. Grass, picnic tables and Gazebo are not part of the business plan for these “persons”. From Mallett: “The mayor said the Canal Market Plaza, opened last year just south of the Square, is a better place for concerts and community events, allowing performers and the audience to be under roof, out of the rain or sun. Hall did not attend the council meeting as he was home sick.” “Safety Director Steve Baum explained the gazebo is not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and its presence has become a security issue. “There are problems with homeless people sleeping under it, on it, around it,” Baum said. “Security is not the same for government buildings anymore. Our courthouse lawn is not necessarily the site for certain venues.”” Mallett quotes Carol Floyd, D-7th Ward who inadvertently blurts out what everyone knows but denies: “”I do not want us to become a community of ‘them’ and ‘us.’ I want to be an inclusive community that welcomes everybody, not us — the nice, normal people that don’t want the homeless or those who don’t have very much.” Thanks to the workings of Citizens United, the SID facilitates the downtown neighborhood’s charging admission. Well, OK, no ticket or reservation required. But you’d better bring a credit card or cash.

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.

The New Normal

August 31, 2017

The average citizen resident of Newark pays income tax, and more, and in return expects competent administration of city services like road access, police and fire protection, water, sewer, etc. etc. Not unusual. Residents of municipalities have never had reason to think twice about whether an inappropriately parked car will be ticketed, a vandalized street sign will be repaired, a littered and overgrown lot will be rectified, or that their duly compensated mayor will represent the city as the best there is. Now we read this by the Advocate’s Maria DeVito: “Newark Development Partners board members are seeking to create the district and have gathered permission from the required 60 percent of property owners in the area. The goal is to use property tax assessments from those within the district to pay for services such as parking enforcement, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing. If approved, property owners would pay 7.5 percent of the tax rate applied to the 2016 real property taxable value, providing the district about $110,000 annually. The assessment would first appear on their 2018 property tax bill. The tax would last five years, but could be renewed for an additional five years by the property owners. (New downtown property tax gets initial approval from Newark council, 8-29-17). This is the Special Improvement District Analysis covered in past postings. DeVito’s final words include: “If council approves the district, property owners then elect property owners within the district to a leadership board. The district board determines how much of the available money is devoted to the various services.” On 8-30-17 The Miami Herald’s Kristen M. Clark headlined “DeVos had a public agenda for Florida schools meetings … and a private one”. From the report: “A day after visiting a private religious school and a public charter school in Tallahassee, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spent Wednesday speaking behind closed doors with various education stakeholders, business leaders and advocates in Florida’s capital city. The events were not disclosed on DeVos’ public schedule, as her office deemed them “private” activities.” “Meanwhile, DeVos’ office also did not disclose — nor offer a readout of — a meeting reportedly held earlier Wednesday with about a dozen leaders of business, higher education and advocacy organizations at the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The News Service of Florida reported that DeVos had a “warm reception” there and urged the leaders to “double down” on efforts to expand choices for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.” “She also urged a rethinking of the federal government’s role in the education system. “I think that there’s been an outsized footprint in the last couple, three decades on the part of the federal government in education,” she said. “And it’s my goal to extract us from a lot of those spaces. I will welcome your thoughts on what we need to be doing less of. And if there are areas to be doing more of, what are those areas?”” Shortly after the inauguration Rolling Stone reported; “Betsy DeVos just bought herself a nice little cabinet position. On Tuesday afternoon, most Senate Republicans – all but Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – voted to confirm the billionaire Amway heiress as secretary of education. It cost her $115,000 in personal donations to sitting Republican senators; $950,000 more has flowed in from the DeVos family over the last three-and-a-half decades. And another $8.3 million from the DeVoses has gone to Republican super PACs in the last two election cycles alone. Not cheap! But it got the job done. And no one should expect her family’s financial manipulation of Republican senators to stop there. In fact, if what the DeVoses have done in Michigan is any indication, she and her family are likely just getting started trying to buy Republican support for their radical agenda.” (Betsy DeVos Just Bought Herself a Trump Cabinet Position. She and her family are likely just getting started trying to buy Republican support for their radical education agenda by Tessa Stuart, 2-7-17). Pre-inauguration Politico headlined “Trump rewards big donors with jobs and access Contributors who met with Trump gave about $59 million in support of his campaign and other Republicans, averaging more than $800,000 per donor.” by Isaac Arnsdorf, 12-27-2016. Analysis indicates that America is abandoning government by the people, of the people, for the people in favor of a two tier system that embraces government by and for those who can afford to pay, with the rest becoming those serving, or rather, servicing this government. After all, we are constantly reminded of how we now have become a service driven economy. Newark’s downtown SID confirms the two tier system. This is now the new normal.

Licking County Has No Housing Problem

August 27, 2017

A seemingly mundane article headlined the 8-27-17 Sunday Advocate. County auditor may reject additional borrowing, cites state report by veteran Advocate journalist Kent Mallet reports on the fiscal condition of Licking County and its municipalities. Of note is “The state auditor’s financial health review of the 2016 performance of Ohio cities and counties shows Licking County government with 15 positive outlooks, one cautionary and one critical. The critical category is debt service expenditures to total revenue.” with the usual no problemo rebuttal “The commissioner [Tim Bubb] said he takes seriously the review from the state auditor, but maintains the county is in good financial shape. “It’s something we need to look at, but we’ve borrowed cautiously and have debt service capacity to repay it,” Bubb said. “If repayment was questionable, we probably wouldn’t have done the borrowing.”” Is it a problem? When is a problem a “problem”? Appearing the same day but requiring enormous commitment to read was an in depth Pro Publica/New York magazine publication entitled Is Anybody Home at HUD? By Alec MacGillis (8-27-17). The article describes a mini me version of the White House administration in terms of one of its cabinet positions – HUD. Along with the usual intrigues of nepotism and secrecy (press coverage suppression/manipulation) is a harrowing trail of fiscal activity. Analysis finds the article itself would justify its own post but must note only some of what is relevant: “HUD has long been something of an overlooked stepchild within the federal government. Founded in 1965 in a burst of Great Society resolve to confront the “urban crisis,” it has seen its manpower slide by more than half since the Reagan Revolution. (The HUD headquarters is now so eerily underpopulated that it can’t even support a cafeteria; it sits vacant on the first floor.) But HUD still serves a function that millions of low-income Americans depend on — it funds 3,300 public-housing authorities with 1.2 million units and also the Section 8 rental-voucher program, which serves more than 2 million families; it has subsidized tens of millions of mortgages via the Federal Housing Administration; and, through various block grants, it funds an array of community uplift initiatives.” Some giving rather ambiguous clarity as to the thinking, direction and leadership of its head, Ben Carson, would be: “On March 6 [2017], Carson arrived for his first day of work at headquarters. In introductory remarks to assembled employees, after he’d gotten the mic back from his wife, he surprised many by asking them to raise their hands and “take the niceness pledge.” He also went on a riff about immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, capped by this: “That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”” ““You know, governments that look out for property rights also tend to look out for other rights. You know, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of all the things that make America America. So it is absolutely foundational to our success … On Sunday, I was talking to a large group of children about what’s happening with rights in our country. These are kids who had all won a Carson Scholar [an award of $1,000 that Carson has sponsored since 1994], which you have to have at least a 3.75 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and show that you care about other people, and I said you’re going to be the leaders of our nation and will help to determine which pathway we go down, a pathway where we actually care about those around us and we use our intellect to improve the quality of life for everyone, or the pathway where we say, “I don’t want to hear you if you don’t believe what I believe, I want to shut you down, you don’t have any rights.” This is a serious business right now where we are, that juncture in our country that will determine what happens to all of us as time goes on. But the whole housing concern is something that concerns us all.” [5-2-17 speech to the American Land Title Association]” with the more recent clarification “(Just last week, Carson said, in the wake of racially tinged violence in Charlottesville, that the controversy over Trump’s support of white supremacists there was “blown out of proportion” and echoed the president’s “both sides” language when referring to “hatred and bigotry.”)”. Oh, the fiscal element in all this – “After word emerged in early March that the White House was considering cutting as much as $6 billion from the department, Carson had sent a rare email to HUD employees assuring them that this was just a preliminary figure. But as it turned out, Carson, as a relative political outsider lacking strong connections to the administration, was out of the loop: The final proposal crafted by Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney called for cutting closer to $7 billion, 15 percent of its total budget. Participants in the Section 8 voucher program would need to pay at least 17 percent more of their income toward rent, and there’d likely be a couple hundred thousand fewer vouchers nationwide (and 13,000 fewer in New York City). Capital funding for public housing would be slashed by a whopping 68 percent — this, after years of cuts that, in New York alone, had left public-housing projects with rampant mold, broken elevators and faulty boilers.” The previous day (8-26-17), reporting for AP, Jeff Martin and Robert Ray headlined Homeless wary as Atlanta closes its last-resort shelter. Of note: “For decades, as many as 1,000 people with nowhere else to turn could come off the street at Peachtree and Pine, no questions asked. But years of litigation wore down the shelter’s operators. After epic battles against the city, tuberculosis, bed bugs and other hazards, the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless settled out of court and sold its enormous industrial building to Central Atlanta Progress, a downtown business group.” “Atlanta, however, is closing Peachtree-Pine without having first developed the capacity to replace it, said Anita Beaty, who retired six months ago as executive director of the task force. “It’s a terrible mistake,” Beaty said. “The forces in Atlanta who don’t want homeless people visible — and certainly not on Peachtree Street — are extremely powerful.” The shelter occupies some the most valuable real estate in the South, a few blocks from the 55-story Bank of America Plaza, the city’s tallest skyscraper. Its occupants mingle with business executives and theater patrons on a stretch of Peachtree that includes the iconic Fox Theatre and the Georgian Terrace Hotel, where Clark Gable and other Hollywood stars stayed for the Atlanta premiere of “Gone With The Wind.” “All they want to do is build high-price housing that most people are not going to be able to afford, and that’s not just down here — that’s everywhere in the country,” said Anthony Murphy, 68, who has lived at Peachtree-Pine since 2011.” And the concluding “Having “low-barrier” shelter beds available to people who have been told they can’t stay elsewhere is a matter of life and death, said Carl Hartrampf, who has run the task force since Beaty left. “I believe they’re going to find out they need more than they think.”” Analysis indicates likewise.

 

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?