Posts Tagged ‘Normal’

In The Presence Of Myths

May 8, 2022

            In America, today is celebrated as Mothers Day. It is no coincidence that America’s First Lady met up with Ukraine’s First Lady on this unofficial state holiday. Although the news of Ukraine has been “The News” for quite a while now, it was displaced this week by the auspicious SCOTUS leak re: Roe V Wade, declared as “settled law,” being overturned. Analysis finds it no coincidence that the leak was made the week prior to the celebration of Mothers Day. Ostensibly, the draft of Justice Alito’s opinion has been around for the last 2 or more months. In terms of “the culture wars,” what would be a better time to give a peek to this writing on the wall? All the Sunday yak shows, editorials and comedy commentaries are centered on this dominant news. Analysis finds the timing to be perfect. It is no coincidence, no getting away from it, that “the conversation” is framed and couched  in terms of motherhood (much as “conversations” re: marijuana or firearms are framed in terms of “gateway drugs” or 2nd Amendment Rights). Tradition, found in the use and meaning of words and concepts, sets the stage and frames “the conversation” no matter how much factual evidence may indicate a completely other scenario. Analysis finds it to be no coincidence that the convenience of the appeal to tradition is the foundation of the appeal of Conservatism. Fact based science or argument requires much more work. “The good life” shouldn’t involve work. As Graeber and Wengrow end their book, The Dawn of Everything, “We know, now, that we are in the presence of myths.” (p. 526)

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The Role Of Flo In Learned Helplessness

January 2, 2022

            “Since winning a third term in 2019, Mayor Jeff Hall has faced some difficult times, including the death of Police Chief Steve Baum in March and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” (Newark Mayor: Tough times in ’21; new leaders, housing, developments in ’22. Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate, 1-2-22). There’s an insurance company ad running currently in the media. In it Flo is trying to get a focus group to talk about the product they’ve just had the occasion to watch on the big screen monitor. Their response is “what product?” They have no clue what it is about since the video featuring the product seemed too much like an ad. They just block out ads that appear on screen. Mallett’s Sunday front page article would absolutely fit in perfectly with Flo’s promotion. Who reads this stuff? Unless you are integral to the operation of the GOP favorite’s machine (as Human Resource Director Bill Spurgeon must be), own properties in town (like Service Director Dave Rhodes) or are key to their development (as in Mark Mauter, Development Director), there isn’t much there for you. Sure, Covid is in the opening line, but other than being addressed as an inconvenience to the efficient operation of the business, er, city, it is regarded as a painless nuisance. When did you ever hear Mayor Hall come out and say “I feel your pain”? Suffering the pandemic akin to suffering the opioid/meth epidemic? Naaa. Any mention of the residents of Newark, the actual people, any insights on addressing their concerns or issues? Nada. As Mallett’s headline succinctly and pithily states, there isn’t anything covered that would fall outside the purview of the Newark good ole boy’s patronage network of property and largesse. Mallett affirms this by quoting the Mayor himself: ““Your job is always to try to hire within and try to see where your talent is,” Hall said. “I think that’s preferred. To properly manage this town, you’ve got to know the town. A lot of times you can attract people from outside the community, as larger cities do, and they don’t understand the culture, sometimes, in the community. I think they need to understand Newark pretty well. So, you’re always looking internal to see what can work.” (Kinda sounds like something Sparta Mississippi Police Chief Gillespie would say. Newark = Sparta? Naaa. Couldn’t be.)  Analysis finds it to be an understatement to speculate that most local readers just shut out this political ad. The three time mayor is pretty well counting on this. It is included in his plans to run for a fourth term.

Another Lesson In The Reproduction Of A Learned Lack Of Imagination

November 6, 2021

            The 2021 election was this past week. All 8 Newark City Council seats were contested. All 8 went Republican though two races involved incumbent Democrats and one open seat was previously Democrat. The national news spotlight was on what took place in states like Virginia, New Jersey, or cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, etc. Their spin and prognostications were all about the upcoming 2022 mid terms as well as 2024 presidential election. But Newark reality speaks even more sadly than any of these Nostradamus’ crystal ball gazing’s. Conventional analysis swirls around turnout, charisma and politics as a game. The Licking County Board of Elections gives county wide registered voter turnout at 24.2% of total eligible. Since the GOP won, there is no talk of fraud or the election being rigged. Low turnout seems to favor the GOP. Yet precinct statistics show that is primarily who turned out, with the 1st and 7th ward having a percentage of eligible voters casting ballots at just above 11%, and the  5th showing a close to 30%. Margin of victory, even with low turnout, was consistent with the state average of 55% to 45% (with Newark roughly 60/40). Flag loyalty (party designation) appears to continue as the dominant factor in voting preference. This was evidenced by the veritable lack of charisma with the majority of winning candidates. Given a police line up, most voters who cast ballots couldn’t pick out their next batch of city government, let alone individual ward representative. Veritable unknowns now decide for the residents of the 1st and 7th district. Again, low turnout has much to do with where to reside made by aspiring politicos. Finally, politics as a game. If it were so, then the next two years will witness a game played with all the playing pieces having the same color and significance. A perverse kind of equality by virtue of no difference. And that’s where Newark’s outcome speaks sadness. Difference has no seat on the 2022 Newark City Council. Difference will have no representative to plead its case, promote its ideas. Nothing to temper power or ambition. Main street has become a one way. Analysis finds a learned lack of imagination to be the primary reason for the abysmal voter turnout. Newark’s 2021 election results provide another lesson in the reproduction of a learned lack of imagination. Will a lack of imagination help solve the city’s very real problems in 2022?

Where’s Waldo, Er, Jeff Hall?

July 16, 2020

On 7-15-20 Ohio’s Governor Mike Dewine appealed to Ohioans to redouble their efforts in measures to counter the spread of the new coronavirus. Essentially, he said it was out last chance. We wouldn’t get another. The Ohio version of the pandemic would be out of control otherwise. Coincidentally, the 7-12-20 Sunday Newark Advocate editorial was “Our view: Licking County leaders must lead on coronavirus response.” They write “Our elected leaders must set an example for the rest of the community in how we respond to this crisis.” This was followed by some practical suggestions. No mention of what to do if you are losing, something Dewine’s leadership is ready to take on. Again, the Advocate editorial board pontificates: “Our elected leaders must be seen taking the coronavirus seriously. Why should residents wear masks when they don’t see their community leaders doing the same?” The Advocate editorial totally missed that the elected leaders of Licking County are indeed taking the coronavirus VERY seriously. They immediately self isolated and have maintained their distance from any public leadership whatsoever. Their self isolation insures invisibility which is just all too obvious. Unlike Dewine, they don’t wish to be associated with any sort of a losing effort. Give them a new building in an industrial park to crow over, or the opening of a shuttered restaurant. But anything outside of business and money making? Naaa. Analysis finds this in keeping with their track record. Public transit has been hemmed and hawed forever in Newark, no leadership there. Court evictions from sub standard housing requiring stricter codes, no leadership there. Lack of leadership on housing results in increasing number of citizens without shelter. This contributes to food insecurity, child neglect and abuse, and increases in addictive behavior. All from a lack of leadership on the part of those elected to lead. But then again, that would be leadership involving something other than the economic, money making kind.  Analysis also finds the Advocate complicit in glaringly eliding the absence of Newark’s elected leaders during this time of overwhelming crisis in Ohio (at least according to the Governor). This too is in keeping with the paper’s track record. Just as no one wants to be the leader on the losing side, so no one wants to be a cheerleader for that leadership. Give us a good business success story to cheer on instead. Otherwise, mums the word. The Advocates editorial board grossly failed to elaborate that leadership is multifaceted. It also has to do with sober projections of actions needed when things don’t look promising. The Advocate favors and stresses economic success and competence, especially at election time. As Dewine embodied, visible, present, at risk leadership is needed primarily when our side is not winning.

MIA

May 22, 2020

In one of the recent Le Show broadcasts Harry Shearer posed a rhetorical question in regard the journalistic/cultural slant on the current Economic Depression. He made the observation that for the last 2+ months all the articles, talking heads, etc. speak of the “economy shutting down.” In actuality, according to Mr. Shearer, only half the economy has shut down. In addition to certain segments of the economy which are booming (i.e. Amazon), the financial sector hasn’t exactly withdrawn into a shell. As of this writing the DOW is only 10% off from its all time high. Shearer has a point. Pre Covid 19 debt obligations have not “shut down” or disappeared. Credit card companies, mortgage servicers, utilities, etc. all still post their bills and collect on them (electronically, so convenient! Save a stamp and all). They, along with the Wall Street financiers, are doing OK, thank you. So it was curious to read the Washington Post article headlined: “U.S. taxpayers might lose money helping companies. Economists say it’s a good thing. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged this week that some of the $500 billion in aid to companies might not be repaid.” As the article pointed out, Obama’s TARP Act, meant to address George W. Bush’s financial meltdown of 2008, lost some taxpayer money “But overall, TARP ultimately made several billion dollars as most companies repaid the loans and some of the stock the government took as collateral turned out to be worth a good bit more when it came time to cash in.” Trump/Mnuchin’s CARES Act isn’t structured around repayment or collateral. Besides, who would report if it failed? We’ve become so inured to Dear Leader’s policies and practices of big business – the firing of those deemed disloyal, the hiring of corporate executives to regulatory positions, the dismissal of regulations, the neglect of institutions, etc. – that we don’t notice their presence (or absence) in our everyday surrounds. Nothing comes from nothing, and what is favored nationally is ditto found locally. In a 5-19-20 article, Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlined “Licking County Chamber announces Facebook grant for local small businesses”. “The Licking County Chamber of Commerce announced it will coordinate a $100,000 grant from Facebook to help support small businesses battling through economic challenges.” In the text Mallett quotes LC Chamber Pres and CEO Jennifer McDonald and Facebook’s Community Development Regional Manager Amber Tillman, and no one else. 5-22-20 Mallett headlines “Downtown Newark survey shows public uneasy about reopening businesses amid coronavirus”. “A Downtown Newark Association survey showed considerable uncertainty and unease about reopening businesses after a two-month shutdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.” Again, he presents a stenographic rendition of the survey, quotes DNA President Trish Newcomb, and no one else. What do we elect civic leaders for? Where’s Newark’s Mayor Jeff Hall in all this? What about LC Commissioners Tim Bubb, Duane Flowers and Rick Black? Is there no interest that the Facebook grant money be distributed fairly, equitably and appropriately by those elected to insure such? Is there no want of direction, guidance and leadership on prudent measures for safely interacting within the war footing of a Covid 19 response? Have we become so lock step and attuned with the abdication of leadership and direction on the Federal level by our Dear Leader, as well as the journalists covering him, that we are OK with our own local MIA’s? Analysis finds that Harry Shearer  is right. Only half the economy shut down with the spread of Covid 19. The business half is still running everything. Only now they are doing it so overtly that the corporate news journalists don’t even bother with any other reality.

If That Just Don’t Beat All

May 5, 2020

The front page of the online edition of the New York Times for Tuesday, May 5, 2020 was an accurate barometer of the contemporary situation. On the left hand side the NY Times headlined “Infection Rates Show the Threat of Coronavirus Is Not Fading.” The top story line beneath the headline read “The U.S. is seeing at least 25,000 new cases per day, an increase of 2 to 4 percent. There have been more than 1,000 daily deaths for over a month.” On the right hand side, sharing equal billing was the headline “Wall Street set to gain amid signs of optimism.” The reflection of today was not limited to the NY Times exclusively. The same day The Wall Street Journal headlined an article with “Why Home Prices Are Rising During the Pandemic”. Again same day, different news source, USA Today headlined “Essential worker just means you’re on the death track”. The headlines for today are as polarized as the politics that surrounds them. Ohio’s Governor Dewine’s daily update on the Covid 19 situation in Ohio showed an increase in cases along with an increase in mortalities. As of this writing Licking County increased to 133 from a previous day’s 130, and the previous to that 114. Yet contrary to the Governor’s initial rationale for nixing the Arnold, halting the March primary and closing public institutions, etc., all systems are go for reopening, without the curve ever reaching a peak. It doesn’t matter? Or is something else at play here? During the Arab oil embargo of the 1970’s it was the simplistic “supply and demand” explanation. During the Reagan recession of the 80’s it was “too many dollars chasing too few goods.” In the 90’s it was the dot com bubble with its enterprising entrepreneurs self justifying mega dividends. W’s regime righted itself with a war economy after 9/11. The chickens came home to roost with his end of term meltdown on the bundled, junk sub-prime securities. B Rock rescued everything through compensating the source of the loss with the mantra of “we can’t let the system fail.” And now this. THIS appears to be the complete unbridled, shameless operation of the market with no other considerations. There is no rhyme or reason, no attempt to justify or rationalize any of it (“Supply and demand” or “too many dollars chasing too few goods” etc.). Those accustomed to making money off whatever situation find no difference in the current situation. Those who always had to pay, no matter the situation, find no difference today except that now it also includes paying with their lives. The polarization reveals itself for what it is: the US as an economy versus the US as a society.

Why Mail In Voting Does Not Benefit Democrats

April 28, 2020

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

Death Cult For Cutie

April 26, 2020

In addition to the over 16,000 lies, fabrications, and misinformation by Dear Leader over the past 3+ years (as witnessed by the Washington Post) there should now be a new category – Gaslighting.  This blog has covered various individual occurrences in the past. With the Covid 19 pandemic playing out historically (as part and parcel of Dear Leader’s regime) the incidence of gaslighting has grown in number and frequency. Dear Leader, who has complete authority, declares something to be, only later to declare it isn’t. There are too many to analyze in any manner adequate to give full investigative insight. The latest incident, originating with the 4-23-20 press briefing (the internalizing of disinfectant and light as therapy for those ensnared by Covid 19), displaced the previous gaslighting of the week (or even day). This displacement of in depth investigation of historic occasions of gaslighting trivializes the practice and its otherwise significant and serious consequences. But then, that is exactly how gaslighting is supposed to work! One historic occurrence of Dear Leader’s ongoing practice of gaslighting was/is his lukewarm embrace of the federal guidelines (to stay at home, maintain social distancing, etc.) as well as the individual states’ authority to mandate and implement them. This was immediately followed by overnight tweets of “liberate” such and so state. This likewise was in coordination and conjunction with various statehouse anti-stay-at-home rallies, funded and/or organized by fundamentalist conservative GOP groups (prompting some pundits to brand this as akin to a kind of astro turf tea party). Analysis finds careful study of the iconic image from the 4-15-20 Lansing Michigan statehouse protest to be revealing of more than just the right of dissent. The protesters appear to all be male, and white. In addition to wearing urban and rural “street” clothes, there is a smattering of camo. They hold various flags and signs, as well as carry assault rifles and prominently displayed side arms (for all the honest world to feel). Some are wearing what appear to be bullet proof vests, what on other nationalities could also be described as bomb (suicide) vests. In short, this is a quite cohesive group. If this were Chechnya, Afghanistan, Syria or Columbia, no debate they would be described as paramilitary. But Lansing Michigan? What does membership in such a group implicate? To be a part of the military is to actively agree that someone must die, preferably not one’s own. Who can forget Arlo Guthrie yelling “I want to kill!” as a parody of Army recruitment in Alice’s Restaurant? Or the scene in Patton of the general saying the soldier’s duty is for the other side to “die for their country.” Or Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick suggesting that some old people need to  die to save the American economy. Or, more recently, that “there are more important things than living”? Or Dear Leader saying that 100,000 Covid 19 deaths would be a good thing. Analysis finds it indubitable that this group, loosely affiliated or not, is certainly paramilitary (Al Quida, Isis, and Al Shabaab are likewise loosely affiliated). Membership in the group implicates that someone must die, preferably not a group member – someone else. This fits right in with Dear Leader’s gaslighting of urging people to wear masks, but “I won’t wear one.” Or the use of hydroxychloroquine as therapy. Or the recent internalizing of disinfectant as a cure (akin to Jim Jones’ kool aid). Or opening up states for economic reasons. Etc. Someone needs to die for there to be membership under Dear Leader’s total authority.

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Return To Normalcy

April 20, 2020

“America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate,” Joe Biden? Nope. Warren Harding 100 years ago during the 1920 presidential contest (which he won). “Return to Normalcy” was his campaign slogan. (Joe Biden’s ‘Return to Normalcy’ Campaign Has Echoes of 1920 by Ryan Teague Beckwith, Bloomberg, 4-11-29). Beckwith writes that the nation was traumatized by the enormous mechanized butchery of WWI, the loss of a half million people due to the Spanish Flu, and 8 years of a very unpopular (and disliked) president. Writing for New Yorker magazine just at the start of the currently pervasive Covid 19 pandemic, Erich Lach headlined: Joe Biden, the Normalcy Candidate, Keeps Winning in Abnormal Times (3-18-20). He writes of Biden in 2019: “He was the normalcy candidate. He asked voters not to look ahead, to potential policies like Medicare for All or free public colleges, but to look back, to the Obama Administration and its relative stability. Wouldn’t a restoration be nice? Let’s remember who we are.” Then his description for mid March 2020: “In polls, voters said that they liked the policy ideas put forward by Sanders and others. But, at polling places, they went for Biden.” His succinct last line gives the wistful: “But now, with many Americans shut up in their homes, or soon to be, many voters continue to say that a return to normal sounds pretty good.” Does it? Two Americans who have steadfastly stuck with their assessment (repeatedly over years), and have not been shy about voicing it, are Anthony Fauci and Bernie Sanders. Fauci would disagree about a rosy return to “normalcy” anytime soon. His sober prognostication on the future of handshakes when greeting forebodes any future “return to normalcy.”  In a NY Times Op Ed (Bernie Sanders: The Foundations of American Society Are Failing Us, 4-19-20) Sanders underlines the current fundamentals: “We are the richest country in the history of the world, but at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, that reality means little to half of our people who live paycheck to paycheck, the 40 million living in poverty, the 87 million who are uninsured or underinsured, and the half million who are homeless.” “The absurdity and cruelty of our employer-based, private health insurance system should now be apparent to all. As tens of millions of Americans are losing their jobs and incomes as a result of the pandemic, many of them are also losing their health insurance.” “In truth, we don’t have a health care “system.” We have a byzantine network of medical institutions dominated by the profit-making interests of insurance and drug companies.” “Further, while doctors, governors and mayors tell us that we should isolate ourselves and stay at home, and rich people head off to their second homes in less populated areas, working-class people don’t have those options. When you are living paycheck to paycheck, and you lack paid medical and family leave, staying home is not an option.” He ends with: “If there is any silver lining in the horrible pandemic and economic collapse we’re experiencing, it is that many in our country are now beginning to rethink the basic assumptions underlying the American value system.” Analysis finds the longing for “normalcy” to include the desire for a normal presidential election in November. If that should ever materialize in any “normal” sense is dubious, given the aberrant preliminaries. Either way Analysis finds it is shaping up to be a contest of mythic proportions – the myth of “Make America Great Again” versus the myth of “Return To Normalcy.”

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?