19 November 2017

TRAISTER ON TAIBBI AND SMOKING-HOT SKANKS

2000 by Jeff Hess

I have written much before about my recognition that as a native-born white male in the United States I am, by no merit of my own, the recipient of a level of privilege that places me near the pinnacle of humanity. In the past I have always focused on the white part of that categorization, but national events in the past month have me thinking much more about the male part.

Rebecca Traister, writer-at-large for New York Magazine, has written a long-read on the topic—thank you Mano Singham—that I find insightful. There is much there, but I wanted to pull out one bit because the man discussed is someone I’ve long admired: Matt Taibbi. In Rebecca Traister on the Post-Weinstein Reckoning, she writes:

The progressive journalist Matt Taibbi recently published a lengthy apology/explanation in which he despaired that the public reappraisal of the work that established him (in particular, a book about Russia that he now says is satirical and includes accounts of pushing women under the table for blow jobs, of telling them to lighten up when they object to such high jinks) is coinciding with the publication of his book about the death of Eric Garner. It’s the kind of important book that he’s been working toward writing for 30 years, he laments. Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of all the women who’ve wanted to be writers for 30 years, who’ve yearned to make the world a better place by telling stories of injustice, but who haven’t had the opportunity in part because so much journalistic space is occupied by men like Taibbi: dudes who in some measure gained their professional footholds by objectifying women — and not just in big, bad Russia. Take the piece Taibbi wrote in 2009 about athletes’ wives. “The problem with the Smoking-Hot Skank as a permanent life choice,” he opined, “is that she eventually gets bored and starts calling up reporters to share her Important Political Opinions.” Taibbi may feel demoralized because the hilarious misogynistic stylings of his youth are now interfering with his grown-up career, but lots of women never even got their careers off the ground because the men in their fields saw them as Smoking-Hot Skanks whose claim to having a thought in their heads was no more than a punch line.

Men have not succeeded in spite of their noxious behavior or disregard for women; in many instances, they’ve succeeded because of it. They’ve been patted on the back and winked along — their retro-machismo hailed as funny or edgy — at the same places that are now dramatically jettisoning them. “The incredible hypocrisy of the boards, employers, institutions, publicists, brothers, friends who have been protecting powerful men/harassers/rapists for years and are now suddenly dropping them,” says one of my colleagues at New York, livid and depressed. “What changed? Certainly not their beliefs about the behavior, right? Only their self-interest. On the one hand, I’m so happy they’re finally being called out and facing consequences, but there’s something so craven and superficially moralizing about the piling on by the selfsame people who were the snickerers and protectors.”

There is an argument that bad men—never bad women or bad people—can do great works, but now I have to consider what even greater works might have been done but for the privilege of bad men.

One of the practices in many families sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner is to ask the question: what are you most thankful for this year?

I wonder just how many people will admit that they’re thankful for the unearned privileges given to them?

18 November 2017

BANNON WANTS TO BURN EVERYTHING DOWN…

2000 by Jeff Hess

Jonathan Tobin, writing in Roy Moore Proves Outrage May Not Be Dead for National Review, ferrets-out Steven Bannon’s endgame:

So it’s worth asking why the Breitbart CEO not only has failed to distance himself from [U.S. Senate Candiate Roy] Moore now that he’s become politically radioactive but is doubling down on his candidacy in the face of a media feeding frenzy and condemnations from many Republican officeholders.

The answer has very little to do with the question of Moore’s guilt, the strong case built against him by the Washington Post, or the new accusation from a women who claims he assaulted her when she was 16. Nor is it about the judge’s unconvincing denials or the difficulty of replacing him on the ballot with weeks to go before the special election. Rather, it is the result of Bannon’s political credo, which conceives of politics as a form of warfare in which no quarter can be given. To Bannon, this battle is not about Moore’s fitness for public office but instead is a conflict with both the media and establishment Republicans that he believes must be won by any means available.

But to what end? Tobin responds: total victory.

…It’s fair to ask why no one at Breitbart is asking the same question about Bannon’s determination to defy not only the establishment but the country’s growing awareness of sexual-harassment cases. The reason the Breitbart folks are sticking with their man isn’t their spurious claims that Moore is being treated unjustly, or that the Post story wasn’t bulletproof against the libel lawsuit Moore is disingenuously threatening. Rather, it is rooted in the belief that conservatives fight in a gentlemanly manner while their liberal opponents go for blood while engaging in the politics of personal destruction, and that this must change if the country is to be saved.

If not David Byrne, then perhaps Bannon considers Arnaud Amalric to be one of his personal heroes.

17 November 2017

MANUFACTURING CONSENT FOR THE CONSENTING…

2000 by Jeff Hess

I first read Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media when I was a magazine editor working for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in the late ’80s. I was only five years out of journalism school and the book reminded me of why I had become a journalist. I didn’t immediately quit HBJ, but Herman and Chomsky fueled my search for better work. A review of the 2002 update (I ordered a copy this morning) of the 1988 original reads:

In this pathbreaking work, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky show that, contrary to the usual image of the news media as cantankerous, obstinate, and ubiquitous in their search for truth and defense of justice, in their actual practice they defend the economic, social, and political agendas of the privileged groups that dominate domestic society, the state, and the global order.

Based on a series of case studies—including the media’s dichotomous treatment of “worthy” versus “unworthy” victims, “legitimizing” and “meaningless” Third World elections, and devastating critiques of media coverage of the U.S. wars against Indochina—Herman and Chomsky draw on decades of criticism and research to propose a Propaganda Model to explain the media’s behavior and performance. Their new introduction updates the Propaganda Model and the earlier case studies, and it discusses several other applications. These include the manner in which the media covered the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and subsequent Mexican financial meltdown of 1994-1995, the media’s handling of the protests against the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund in 1999 and 2000, and the media’s treatment of the chemical industry and its regulation. What emerges from this work is a powerful assessment of how propagandistic the U.S. mass media are, how they systematically fail to live up to their self-image as providers of the kind of information that people need to make sense of the world, and how we can understand their function in a radically new way.

Herman died last week at age 92 (his final piece—Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies—appeared this summer in Monthly Review) and Matt Taibbi published his remembrance through the lens of Marketing Consent. Taibbi wrote:

Manufacturing Consent was a kind of bible of media criticism for a generation of dissident thinkers. The book described with great clarity how the system of private commercial media in America cooperates with state power to generate propaganda.

Herman’s work was difficult for many to understand because the nature of the American media, then and now, seemed at best to be at an arm’s length from, say, the CIA or the State Department. Here is how the book put it:

“It is much more difficult to see a propaganda system at work where the media are private and formal censorship is absent.”

The central thesis of Manufacturing Consent was that there were worthy and unworthy victims (U.S. citizens devastated by hurricanes in Texas and Florida are worthy, those citizens in Puerto Rico, not so much) in deciding what stories to publish/broadcast.

In Manufacturing Consent, written during the Cold War, the idea was expressed thusly: One Polish priest murdered behind the Iron Curtain earned about a hundred times as much coverage as priests shot in Latin America by American-backed dictatorships.

The Polish priest was the worthy victim, the Latin American priests unworthy.

So Americans learned to be furious about atrocities committed in Soviet client states, but blind to almost exactly similar crimes committed within our own spheres of influence.

The really sad part about the Herman/Chomsky thesis was that it didn’t rely upon coercion or violence. Newspapers and TV channels portrayed the world in this America-centric way not because they were forced to. Mostly, they were just intellectually lazy and disinterested in the stated mission of their business, i.e., telling the truth.

Early in his piece, Taibbi touches on a theme that strikes close to home:

We don’t censor the truth in America, mostly. What we do instead is ignore it. If a lone reporter wants to keep banging a drum about something taboo, like contracting corruption in the military, or atrocities abroad, he or she will a) tend not advance in the business, and b) not be picked up by other media.

Therefore the only stories that tended to reach mass audiences were ones in which the basic gist was agreed upon by the editors and news directors of all or most of the major media companies.

In virtually all cases this little mini-oligarchy of media overlords kept the news closely in sync with the official pronouncements of the U.S. government.

Remind you of anyone you know (or really need to know) in Cleveland?

16 November 2017

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI (OH-16):
ARMED BIKERS ACTING AS YOUR SECURITY…?

2000 by Jeff Hess

[Update @ 0416 on 17 November—Finally, another journalist has picked up the story: Sam Allard, reporting in Bikers for Trump are Not Congressman Jim Renacci’s Private Security Detail for Scene, writes:

According to Renacci spokesman James Slepian, they were not. Bikers for Trump weren’t serving as security guards at the Nov. 4 event, nor have they been retained by Renacci’s campaign in any capacity.

So, the next question has to be: if their not private security, and they weren’t invited by the host or Renacci, what were they doing there?]

171114 bikers for trump john leonard james bupkis renacci

So, I don’t know why this story isn’t being played more broadly, but reading my local free weekly newspaper, The North Royalton Post, this evening I can across this headline: Bikers for Trump eject serial protester from Renacci campaign event. Reporting for The Post, staff writer Bob Morehead writes:

It was supposed to be a routine stump speech to a hand-picked, friendly crowd, Nov. 4.

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci was at the Galehouse Tree Farm to reinforce his bid for Ohio governor in 2018. The event was billed as a “Fall Meet and Greet” with small business owners and farmers.

“The congressman plans on speaking about the need for positive change of the business climate in Ohio and how his ideas will help small business and farmers in Ohio grow and expand,” the advance notice read.

Before Renacci arrived and took the microphone, though, there was a disturbance in the back of the room.

“I guess Mr. Renacci doesn’t want to answer questions from his constituents,” a man shouted.

The man, later identified as John Leonard, 59, of Medina, then shouted “Get your hands off me! I’m leaving! Get your hands off me!” and was pushed, jacket over his head to restrain his arms, out of the building by an armed member of Bikers for Trump as another member of the group opened the door.

The story was first posted on Saturday, 4 November, and updated no Wednesday 8 November.

Now, nearly a week later, I just checked and found no mention of the story except in the original.

How is it possible that a candidate for governor of the State of Ohio can have, or allow, armed members of a motorcycle club to act as his private security and get no notice from statewide media?

Has everyone forgotten Altamont?

15 November 2017

DIE & THEY STILL DON’T TELL TRUTH ABOUT YOU

1500 by Roldo Bartimole

171115 roldo stokes forbes pov point of view

All this praise being heaped on Carl Stokes by the news media and many others is a bunch of bullshit.

Why?

Because it comes after he’s been dead more than 20 years and it doesn’t fit how he was treated when he was the first black mayor of Cleveland.

In other words, when it really counted.

At a press conference Stokes said:

There is hardly a place in this community where two or more persons join that their disgust in the two newspapers is not expressed. Rich people, poor people, black and white people. There is a serious erosion of confidence in the truthfulness, the integrity and he sincerity of the newspapers. And yet, what recourse do the people have as a source of news? None, really.

It’s a good reading of the media today, too.

I could tell him today what recourse he has.

Be dead for some 20 years.

The phonies come and maybe tell some of the truth about you. But they don’t know the truth because they didn’t tell it in the first place.

News media find telling the truth very difficult. First Amendment or not.

Stokes left town in disgust. Does anyone say that?

His press secretary Dick Murway told me at the time:

He felt (the corporate leaders) had deserted him and Cleveland, and they simply didn’t want conflict. With few exceptions Stokes felt that they were more concerned about not rocking the boat rather than seeking solutions. He became more and more conscious of his blackness and this disturbed the business establishment.

I wrote at that time in a piece in Business & Society Review about corporate responsibility in Cleveland:

Stokes has provided a safe trip through the late 1960s and into the 1970s in a city where urban eruptions had become rather common place.

It’s good to have a counter-history to the regular news media.

Before Stokes left, he laid the ground for an organized political structure that would empower black politics. It was called the 21st District Caucus where his brother Continue Reading »

14 November 2017

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI (OH-16):
ARMED BIKERS ACTING AS YOUR SECURITY…?

2000 by Jeff Hess

171114 bikers for trump john leonard james bupkis renacci

So, I don’t know why this story isn’t being played more broadly, but reading my local free weekly newspaper, The North Royalton Post, this evening I can across this headline: Bikers for Trump eject serial protester from Renacci campaign event. Reporting for The Post, staff writer Bob Morehead writes:

It was supposed to be a routine stump speech to a hand-picked, friendly crowd, Nov. 4.

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci was at the Galehouse Tree Farm to reinforce his bid for Ohio governor in 2018. The event was billed as a “Fall Meet and Greet” with small business owners and farmers.

“The congressman plans on speaking about the need for positive change of the business climate in Ohio and how his ideas will help small business and farmers in Ohio grow and expand,” the advance notice read.

Before Renacci arrived and took the microphone, though, there was a disturbance in the back of the room.

“I guess Mr. Renacci doesn’t want to answer questions from his constituents,” a man shouted.

The man, later identified as John Leonard, 59, of Medina, then shouted “Get your hands off me! I’m leaving! Get your hands off me!” and was pushed, jacket over his head to restrain his arms, out of the building by an armed member of Bikers for Trump as another member of the group opened the door.

The story was first posted on Saturday, 4 November, and updated no Wednesday 8 November.

Now, nearly a week later, I just checked and found no mention of the story except in the original.

How is it possible that a candidate for governor of the State of Ohio can have, or allow, armed members of a motorcycle club to act as his private security and get no notice from statewide media?

Has everyone forgotten Altamont?

14 November 2017

GOP CANDIDATE ROY MOORE’S DREAM LAW…

1900 by Jeff Hess

When Roy Moore steps down/gets booted from the United States Senate, he might be considering a move to Baghdad.

The family values of the religious wrong in Iraq appear to be more in line with those of Moore (and Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler) than the majority of Americans.

If Moore finds Iraq to be too, well, Middle Eastern, he might consider a NATO country closer to home: Turkey:

Activists and opposition politicians in Turkey have rounded on a law that allows Muslim clerics to conduct civil marriages, describing it as a blow to women’s rights and secularism and part of an ongoing effort to impose religious values on a polarised society.

The law allowing “mufti” marriages was passed by parliament and Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, then published in the country’s official gazette on Friday, despite protests by civil society activists and opposition lawmakers. Last month, Erdo?an declared the bill would be passed “whether you like it or not”.

Supporters of the law point out that it does not change the requirements for a legal civil marriage. They say it does not create a loophole that allows child marriages or polygamy, and simply makes it more convenient for citizens who are religiously observant.

And, as his religious-wrong supporters here in the 21st century continue to clearly demonstrate, they’re all about convenience for the religiously observant.

14 November 2017

SADDLE UP…! MOVE OUT…!

1800 by Jeff Hess


John Oliver explains…

14 November 2017

THE LEGACY OF SF&F GREAT OCTAVIA BUTLER…

1700 by Jeff Hess

I remember discovering Octavia Butler back in 1976 at The Amber Unicorn, a fantasy and science fiction bookstore then doing business in San Diego, California (the store has since moved to Las Vegas). My habit was to spend no more than $20 per payday on new paperback books. In 1976 that would buy six to eight books.

At the time Butler was a unicorn herself, a female, African-American Science Fiction writer in a world dominated by white men and her Patternmaster series was ground-breaking on many levels. Butler died in 2006.

Ashley Nkadi, writing in A Guide to Fantasy and Science Fiction Made for Black People, by Black People for The Root, shows just how far SF&F (never Sci-Fi, Ashley, please) has come:

Since the beginning of time, when we have not been included, we have created our own. HBCUs, black-owned businesses, black houses of worship, black social organizations and The Root itself are fruits of our resilience and creativity in the face of adversity. The books Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-fi and Fantasy Culture and The Encyclopedia of Black Comics are fantastic evidence of this rich hub of black art. To further elaborate, here is an inclusive (and intersectional) guide to black art and artists in the genre to support, ranging from emerging to longtime favorites.

I was particularly taken by Dark Matter, a 448-page anthology that: introduces black science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction writers to the generations of readers who have not had the chance to explore the scope and diversity among African-American writers. What caught my eye was the inclusion of W.E.B. Du Bois, alongside Butler and many others, in the collection. I had no idea.

13 November 2017

TONIGHT I’LL BE WATCHING WE THE PEOPLE 2.0

0000 by Jeff Hess

From the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus:

We the People 2.0—The Second American Revolution

A new democracy movement is building elevating community and nature rights over corporate rights. We the People 2.0 – The Second American Revolution is a film featuring CELDF’s Thomas Linzey, Ben Price, and Tish O’Dell, with stories from across the country—including Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oregon – where people and communities are organizing to protect against fracking and other harmful corporate practices. CELDF is partnering with them to build the Community Rights Movement to make real the promise that we live in a true democracy, where “we the people” are the key decision-makers for our own communities. Hosted by CELDF and Brecksville—Broadview Heights Democratic Club
WHEN: November 13, 2017 at 7pm—9pm
WHERE: North Royalton Public Library—5071 Wallings Road, North Royalton

CONTACT: Steve Holecko or 440 220 1874

See you there…

12 November 2017

A HYPOTAXIS RUN-ON SENTENCE BUMBLING ABOUT…

2300 by Jeff Hess

Oddly enough, I’m reading Mark Forsyth’s The Elements of Eloquence—Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase and on Friday I read chapter 11: Hypotaxis and Parataxis (and Polysyndeton and Asyndeton). Forsyth wrote:

There’s nothing wrong with parataxis. It’s good, simple, plain, clean-living, hard-working, up-bright-and-early English. Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma’am.

“Orwell liked it. Hemingway liked it. Almost no English writer between 1650 and 1850 liked it.

“The alternative, should you, or any writer of English, choose to employ it (and who is to stop you?) is, by use of subordinate clause upon subordinate clause, which itself may be subordinated to those clauses that have gone before or after, to construct a sentence of such labyrinthine grammatical complexity that, like Theseus before you when he searched the dark Minoan mazes for that monstrous monster, half bull and half man, or rather half woman for it had been conceived from, or in, Pasiphae, herself within a Daedalian contraption of perverted invention, you must unravel a ball of grammatical yarn lest you wander for ever, amazed in the maze, searching through dark eternity for a full stop.

“That’s hypotaxis, and it used to be everywhere. It’s hard to say who started it, but the best candidate was a chap called Sir Thomas Browne.

The abomination that Oliver quotes—and that appears below—is not an example of Browne’s genius. Forsyth writes:

Browne gave to the English language the glory of the preposterously long sentence that nobody in their right minds would ever say aloud, sentences that are intricate games, filled with fine flourishes and curious convolutions. Such sentences have a remarkable quality: civilization.

There is nothing civilized in the speech of President Donald John Trump:

Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart—you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you’re a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it’s four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.

This is Day 296 of the Presidency of Donald John Trump.

12 November 2017

REALLY BIGLY, AMAZINGLY BIG, CONSEQUENCES…

1900 by Jeff Hess

171112 doonesbury trump 2011 corresponsdants dinner

Clearly Garry Trudeau is a regular reader of Have Coffee Will Writes.

(Don’t I wish…)

11 November 2017

ON THE 11TH MONTH, 11TH DAY, 11TH HOUR…

1100 by Jeff Hess

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

—Major John McCrae, May 1915

9 November 2017

WHAT IS THE LINE ON ROY MOORE’S DEMISE…?

2000 by Jeff Hess

So, now, according to Jonah Goldberg at National Review, we have an idea of where conservatives may (I’m not as certain as Goldberg) draw the line on bad behavior. In Saving Roy Moore Isn’t Worth It, Goldberg writes:

I suppose it’s good that some Republicans see this as a bridge too far. But it’s a little hard for me to focus on that upside when you think about what they considered to be acceptable until now.

Still, it’s good to know where the line is. You can set up shady charities for profit. You can call for religious tests and champion theocracy. You can cutely flirt with the idea that homosexuals have no rights—I don’t mean gay marriage, but the right to life — you can be removed from the bench, twice, you can demonstrate a thumbless grasp of the issues central to the Trump agenda: This is all acceptable for many conservatives. But, molest a little girl? That at least is too much.

But not for everyone. The state auditor of Alabama says that this sort of thing was allowed in the Bible, don’t you know.

Showers across America are working overtime.

We must stop, for at least a few seconds, to consider whether or not anyone would give a shit about what Moore did 38 years ago if we didn’t live in the world of Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo

8 November 2017

SPENCER IS A (DANGEROUS) WHINY LITTLE TWIT…

2000 by Jeff Hess

Richard Spencer is a whiny little twit, but he’s a dangerous whiny little twit. That’s why Gary Younge finally decided that interviewing the wasted mass of human genome was important. In Why interviewing Richard Spencer was a risk worth taking, Younge explains:

In July this year, I interviewed the American white supremacist Richard Spencer, for a documentary on the roots of white anxiety in America. In the course of our exchange he claims that Africans contributed nothing to civilisation (they started it), that Africans benefited from white supremacy (they didn’t) and that, since I’m black I cannot be British (I am). A clip of that interview that has now gone viral.

The most common response to that video has been a variation on the theme of physical retribution (“I can’t believe you didn’t punch him”; “I’d have punched him”; “Someone should punch him”). That’s not my style. But beyond that, many have raised the issue that I raised all those years ago – “Why give him a platform?” “Who stands to gain from this?” These are reasonable questions. Indeed I asked it myself, on camera, before I interviewed him, saying: “I’m quite conflicted about interviewing Richard Spencer. Ordinarily, giving someone like that oxygen is something I think journalists shouldn’t do.”

So why did I? Well, the primary reason was journalistic. The documentary seeks to unearth the roots of white anxiety in America and how that is affecting the nation’s politics. Given US president Donald Trump’s record of race-baiting it seemed like racism should be in the mix. There were some things we did take off the schedule—like an interview with the Ku Klux Klan—because we felt they did not represent anything significant. But Spencer seemed to have a different currency. He coined the term “alt-right” – a synonym for the extreme right. Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist at the time of the interview, used to run Breitbart News (and since his resignation from the post does again), which he boasted was a platform for the alt-right.

I prefer alt-wrong, but that’s just me. Younge continues:

Having established that we would interview him, the next question was: how. For the risk remains that in giving him time we legitimise him as acceptable mainstream actor and dignify his views as being both reasonable and credible.

Throughout this trip, and throughout my career, I have met many people with views I’ve found objectionable. My general strategy is to let people speak for themselves and faithfully relate what they say—challenging only factual inaccuracies—in the hope that I can draw out why they think what they think. To be as empathic as I can, in the hope that I can work out where they are coming from.

But it was my view, shared by the team, that this was different. Spencer’s supremacist views are well-known. So while we would put Spencer on camera, the aim would be to challenge his views not indulge them. The aim was to be civil but firm. My first question—“You want to create a nation of dispossessed white people. Is that right?”—was hardly a curveball.

What did we expect? From what we had seen before, he would appear charming and reasonable while giving his egregious and offensive views an intellectual gloss. He would find it in his own interests to be believable and engaging, and my task would be to get the mask to slip.

What we did not expect was that he would be ignorant, historically illiterate, incoherent and personally insulting. The reason I called time on the interview was because Spencer was spent—beyond baiting me, he had nothing to offer, and frankly, I had no desire to hang around a white supremacist conference a second longer than I had to.

I’ve become accustomed to 21st-century racism being far more sophisticated, and we were concerned about giving him a platform. We didn’t anticipate that he’d bring the gallows and the rope and finish the job himself in such ostentatious fashion. By the end of the interview I don’t think anybody is in any doubt about what his views are. The risk resides in whether, having seen the interview, people are more likely to identify with him and his views or less. On balance, given his performance and the response, we think it was a risk worth taking

Younge’ documentary, Angry, White and American, airs tomorrow night in England. I’m hoping that Younge’s work becomes available online shortly thereafter.

8 November 2017

VOTERS LEFT LITTLE CHOICE BUT TO CHOSE DRIFT

1100 by Roldo Bartimole

The mayoral election is over. The result is painful.

Cleveland shows it is pathetically off course.

We witnessed the obituary of public governance.

Tragedy and farce.

Once again the winner vote was stay-at-home. Of 262,047 the number who voted for either mayoral candidate was 59,622, or 22.7 percent.

That’s 77 percent of Clevelanders didn’t bother to vote for mayor. How loudly does that speak of what people think of their city government?

It says, who cares?

Can we actually drift four more years?

Frank Jackson isn’t going to attract talent.

Change would be welcomed. Sadly, not at all assured.

We can expect the continued employment of too many hacks. The hiring of clearly abusive “friends” seems a policy.

A whole decade and more of lethargy takes its toll. The needs of the city remain in neutral. Developer and major league team owners exempt.

Naturally.

Jackson will not attract the talent we need. He deals in retreads. And not good ones.

It really attests to the truth of Carl Stokes’ “Promises of Power” as a Continue Reading »

6 November 2017

WHY WE CONTINUE TO HAVE MASS SHOOTINGS…

2000 by Jeff Hess

171106 david french national review prayer mass shooting

David French writes:

When you see a mass murder unfold on the television screen or read about it online, let me tell you the single-most important and effective thing you can do in response. It also happens to be the single-most important and effective thing you can do on a sustained basis to turn the hearts of evil men, to strengthen the courage and resolve of good men and women, and to inspire the ideas and actions that bring change. You can pray.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know—not think, know—that French’s response would have been very different if Devin Patrick Kelley hadn’t been a white male christian?

I doubt that French, or anyone at National Review, suggested that prayer was the proper response when the person with a gun didn’t look like Kelley.

5 November 2017

JOHN OLIVER OUGHT TO HAVE TALKED TO ROLDO…

2200 by Jeff Hess

Yes, Amazon’s HQ2 feeding frenzy inspired John Oliver to do yet another of his insightful pieces on how clueless politicians have bought into the false idea that throwing tax dollars at already really wealthy people will create jobs, really good paying jobs (like mining coal), but, as the most recent tax bill illustrates, our elected officials don’t really have a clue as to how to save any jobs other than their own.

I moved to Cuyahoga County in November, 1984 and in the last 33 years Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have thrown hundred of millions (billions?) of tax dollars at the our local plutocracy. Can anyone say, with a straight face, that all that tax money has been a good investment for anyone other than our local plutocrats?

Consider just these three portions of Roldo’s recent posts:

Cuyahoga County has released its bond prospectus showing more than $140 million to be borrowed for the Quicken Arena expansion.

The issue that never got the vote it deserved. Politicians, corporate interests and even citizen action forces jilted citizens of a voice on a give-away to seven times billionaire Danny Gilbert, all around capitalist money-grabber.

The sordid deal was made after the city refused to examine for validity more than 20,000 gathered signatures (some 6,000 valid were needed) calling for a vote on the subsidy deal and after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the city must examine the signatures. City Council, under Mayor Frank Jackson’s pressure, had voted to provide some $88 million of city money to the expansion. Council then refused to validate signatures. Some 22,000 Clevelanders didn’t matter.

It’s an old saying, but a relevant cliché: the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Let me be blunt. I think the squeaky wheels in this town have skewed the priority agenda of community needs. The squeaky wheels in recent years have been the sports teams, art, bicycles, towpaths, lakefront parks, convention centers, fancy bridges, downtown housing—all in some way worthy causes, most of them causes of middle and upper class desires. [I guess you could add Public Square and a dirt bike track since. RB].

However, these voices—many good—have championed these needs incessantly. The echo of that chorus overwhelms needs that have no vocal champions. These other voices are seemingly now passé and off the community agenda. These would voice the needs of the powerless, in essence, the poor.

We don’t pay attention to the past. So we repeat it. To our disgrace and heavy cost.

The latest Quicken Arena deal—$282 million in all—repeats the mistake of feeding the beast. Further, it opened a new source of tax revenue, ignoring the voted sin tax receipts. As of the end of March, the sin tax has produced $3,742,748.30 this year.

But finally, in this mayoral election year, there is push-back. Real resentment to this latest money grab.

And a political climate of despair fed by crime, unemployment and the usual array of social problems among so many here.

If you think jobs come from politicians, read the record and then think again.

5 November 2017

WELCOME TO THE PARADISE PAPERS…

1600 by Jeff Hess

For a taste of the papers, see Trump commerce secretary’s business links with Putin family laid out in leaked files.

For the more visual examination of all this tax avoidery, there’s First Dog On the Moon.

5 November 2017

TWEET LIE ONE, LIE TWO, LIE THREE, LIE FOUR…

1500 by Jeff Hess

Every time I think that maybe I should reconsider my canceling my Twitter and Facebook accounts—which I did back in 2013—I’m reminded by journalists I trust just how bad the two platforms are for the intellectual health of anyone.

Writing in Four Viral Claims Spread by Journalists on Twitter in the Last Week Alone That are False for The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald details exactly how these four lies gathered traction on Twitter and, as the quote regularly attributed to Sir Winston Churchill suggests, quickly gained a commanding lead.

The four lies examined by Greenwald are:

Viral Falsehood #1: The Clinton/DNC agreement cited by Brazile only applied to the General Election, not the primary.

Viral Falsehood #2: Sanders signed the same agreement with the DNC that Clinton did.

Viral Falsehood #3: Brazile stupidly thought she could unilaterally remove Clinton as the nominee.

Viral Falsehood #4: Evidence has emerged proving that the content of WikiLeaks documents and emails was doctored.

The corrections/retractions/explanations are all out there, but the damage is done.

Platforms are not benign. They must be made to beheld accountable.

This brave new world is looking really cowardly, and Donna Brazile isn’t having it.

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