23 July 2016


0000 by Jeff Hess

There are a number of stories that I come back to again and again. My friend Eric Vessels once wrote that I do a consistently good job of following up, and Scene Magazine said that my daily posts remind the public of Cleveland controversies long after the local media gets bored and moves on.

So, that is what I’m attempting to do here with three stories: our ongoing conversation on Racism in America, the vital need to slam the brakes on Global Warming/Climate Change and the struggle to free Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

While this post is stuck to the top of my blog as a constant reminder to my readers and myself, new stories on many other topics do appear below.

Enjoy. Think, Discuss, Act…

top of mind

End Racism Xenophobia in America… Stop Global Warming… Free Raif Badawi…

the counted

24 July 2016


1200 by Jeff Hess

big coral

24 July 2016


1100 by Jeff Hess

After playing Hillary Clinton’s stooge as chair of the Democratic National Committee and ensuring her coronation next week, Hillary Clinton (through unnamed party officials ) has kicked Debbie Wasserman Schultz to the curb. Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge will chair next week’s convention in Philadelphia.

Theodore Schleifer, Eugene Scott and Jeff Zeleny, reporting in Debbie Wasserman Schultz not presiding over Democratic convention for CNN write:

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will not speak at or preside over the party’s convention this week, a decision reached by party officials Saturday after emails surfaced that raised questions about the committee’s impartiality during the Democratic primary.

The DNC Rules Committee on Saturday named Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, as permanent chair of the convention, according to a DNC source. She will gavel each session to order and will gavel each session closed, a role that had been expected to be held by Wasserman Schultz.

“She’s been quarantined,” another top Democrat said of Wasserman Schultz, following a meeting Saturday night.

CNN wants to blames the mass email leak—which Hillary is spinning as the fault of the Russians but The Intercept hangs on hacker Guccifer 2.0—but I think that is just the convenient excuse.

Hillary Clinton has no friends, only allies (and a spouse) of convenience.

No one is safe.

24 July 2016


1000 by Jeff Hess
  • Taxpayers Really Do Subsidise Walmart’s Wage Bill saved 410 days ago.
  • Why I Hate the Internet found so many readers saved 69 days ago.
  • The Persuasion Reading List saved 69 days ago.
  • Impossible To Ignore saved 67 days ago.
  • Walmart milk plant gets $10.7 million tax breaks, ups job estimate saved 64 days ago.
  • Let’s give up the… charade: Exxon won’t change its stripes saved 63 days ago.
  • 17th-century adult colouring-in book ready for modern hues saved 63 days ago.
  • Snowden calls for whistleblower shield after claims by new source saved 62 days ago.
  • How the Pentagon punished NSA whistleblowers saved 57 days ago.
  • A capacity to move voters’: can California be Sanders’ golden state? saved 56 days ago.
  • This is my exercise in shoveling out the blogpile…

    24 July 2016


    0700 by Jeff Hess

    doonesbury 160724

    I wonder if Mike realizes that when he went all in for John Anderson in 1980 that he was one of the butterflies that helped to produce Hurricane Donald?

    24 July 2016


    0500 by Jeff Hess

    The ignorant, the disingenuous and people who make their living selling what other people produce fall may back on some form of the dictum: There are lies, damn lies and statistics whenever their pitch is challenged.

    Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

    To help the rest of us spot the frauds, David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge and president elect of the Royal Statistical Society writing for The Guardian offers Our nine-point guide to spotting a dodgy statistic.

    I love numbers. They allow us to get a sense of magnitude, to measure change, to put claims in context. But despite their bold and confident exterior, numbers are delicate things and that’s why it upsets me when they are abused. And since there’s been a fair amount of number abuse going on recently, it seems a good time to have a look at the classic ways in which politicians and spin doctors meddle with statistics.

    Every statistician is familiar with the tedious “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” gibe, but the economist, writer and presenter of Radio 4’s More or Less, Tim Harford, has identified the habit of some politicians as not so much lying—to lie means having some knowledge of the truth—as “bullshitting”: a carefree disregard of whether the number is appropriate or not.

    So here, with some help from the UK fact-checking organisation Full Fact, is a nine-point guide to what’s really going on.

    When politicians bullshit us they:

    1. Use a real number, but change its meaning;
    2. Make the number look big (but not too big);
    3. Casually imply causation from correlation;
    4. Choose their definitions carefully;
    5. Use total numbers rather than proportions (or whichever way suits their argument);
    6. Don’t provide any relevant context;
    7. Exaggerate the importance of a possibly illusory change;
    8. Prematurely announce the success of a policy initiative using unofficial selected data;
    9. If all else fails, just make the numbers up.

    Spiegelhalter concludes:

    We deserve to have statistical evidence presented in a fair and balanced way, and it’s only by public scrutiny and exposure that anything will ever change. There are noble efforts to dam the flood of naughty numbers. The BBC’s More or Less team take apart dodgy data, organisations such as Full Fact and Channel 4’s FactCheck expose flagrant abuses, the UK Statistics Authority write admonishing letters. The Royal Statistical Society offers statistical training for MPs, and the House of Commons library publishes a Statistical Literacy Guide: how to spot spin and inappropriate use of statistics.

    They are all doing great work, but the shabby statistics keep on coming. Maybe these nine points can provide a checklist, or even the basis for a competition—how many points can your favourite minister score? In my angrier moments I feel that number abuse should be made a criminal offence. But that’s a law unlikely to be passed by politicians.

    While here in the former colonies, we have Politifact with the infamous Pants On Fire! rating, locally we have Roldo Bartimole as our master of the numbers for cutting through the bullshit. If you want an education on how the rich and the powerful (often through their political minions) use all nine of the tools devote your reading time to what he’s written over the years.

    24 July 2016


    0430 by Jeff Hess

    keef 160714

    24 July 2016


    0400 by Jeff Hess

    Oscar Wilde reportedly lamented on the insertion and deletion (or perhaps the deletion and the insertion) of a single comma that made up the entirely of his day’s work writing. To someone who is not a writer, that must sound like the height of absurdity, and they might be right, but there we are.

    Mark Haddon, writing in ‘I’m not a terribly good writer, but I’m a persistent editor’ for The Guardian, shares:

    The problem, I think, is that I’m not a terribly good writer. I am, however, a very persistent and bloody-minded editor (who, providentially, happens to be married to an even better editor). I’m also ruthless about culling anything that isn’t working. I throw away at least three quarters of what I write, then I draft and redraft what remains until hopefully, somewhere between versions 15 and 25, something happens. That frisson you get when you read your words back and they seem to have been written by someone—or something—that is not quite you. A rightness like a heavy oak door clicking softly home on to its latch.

    In the age of the word processor this is a problem for people who aren’t writers. Before word processors (think about that term a bit, we don’t call a lathe a metal processor or a table saw a wood processor) there was constant evidence of a writer’s labor: piles of paper on the floor or in the wastebasket. Now that, for the most part, is all gone. Perhaps for the good, perhaps for the ill, I’m uncertain.

    I can spend four hours at the keyboard, having written, and then deleted thousands of words, and be left with a single sentence, or a blank screen. I know what I’ve done, and perhaps that must be good enough, because, as Walter Mosley reminds me each and every morning:

    The act of writing is a kind of guerrilla warfare; there is no vacation, no leave, no relief. In actuality there is very little chance of victory. You are, you fear, like that homeless man, likely to be defeated by your fondest dreams.

    But then the next day comes, and the words are waiting. You pick up where you left off, in the cool and shifting mists of morning.

    24 July 2016


    0300 by Jeff Hess

    24 July 2016


    0200 by Jeff Hess

    Tristan Rader at the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus emails:

    We have two very important Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus events coming up that I wanted share with you.

    This Thursday, 28 July at 5 p.m.—Ride The Vote: This is a voter registration event starting at the RTA’s Windermere Station, to ride the rails and register voters all the way to the Airport Station and back again. Bring $5 for an all-day pass. We will provide all the materials including clipboards and voter registration forms.

    Wednesday, 7 September—Senator Nina Turner and other inspiring speakers on Building The Progressive Movement and how we can tap into the power we all have when we come together. Then use that power to change our world. More info and RSVP HERE

    There will be other events in August that will be posted upon our return from the convention in Philly.


    Tristan Rader

    23 July 2016


    0700 by Jeff Hess

    23 July 2016


    0600 by Jeff Hess

    As a young second-class petty officer stationed in San Diego (living in Chula Vista, which borders on Mexico) I went south more than a few times. One trip, riding in the back of Bugsy Boatright’s yellow Toyota pickup, took me to Hunan’s in Ensenada. We were celebrating someone’s birthday and in the course of the afternoon and early evening we consumed a lot of tequila.

    In the parking lot, as we were preparing to leave, an expatriate backed into Buggsy’s truck. The damage was minimal, but still a confrontation arose. The local police were summoned and before we knew how we got there, we all found ourselves outside the local police station.

    While Bugsy and the guy who did the damage were in side, the rest of us stayed on the street where another expatriate when off on how us gringos came down here and raised hell causing problems for guys like him who just wanted to enjoy the margarita vibe in peace. Without really thinking about what I was doing, I talked to the guy, got him to tell me about life in Ensenada. We talked. He mellowed and I actually learned a bit.

    Afterwards, one of my shipmates told me he was impressed with how I deescalated the situation. I didn’t think much about what I had done at the time, but reading Tom Dart’s ‘Verbal judo’: the police tactic that teaches cops to talk before they shoot brought the memories back.

    Dart writes:

    Bored with his life in academia, George “Doc” Thompson left his prestigious career and went on to teach a million police officers to ask questions first and shoot later.

    Thompson was a judo black belt who ran a dojo, studied rhetoric and persuasion at Princeton and had a PhD in English literature. But after 10 years of teaching university classes, Thompson wanted a change. He took a sabbatical and decided to become a cop, working the midnight shift as a patrol officer in New Jersey.

    The father of a tactical communication style known as “verbal judo”, he wrote his first book on the subject in 1983 and became a successful law enforcement trainer.

    “Anybody can teach English,” he said in one of his training video from the 1990s. “Not anybody can talk a knife out of somebody’s hand.”

    I referenced two characters from the television show Blue Bloods because the two brothers—Danny and Jamie—are polar opposite in the way they handle criminals. Danny is an old-school detective who gets on top of a situation, shouting and making demands in a confrontation. Jamie, a rookie patrolman, negotiates, does his best to defuse the situation. Some will argue, perhaps correctly, that Jamie simply hasn’t been on the job long enough and that, given experience, will turn into his big brother. Doc Thompson is the real-world case for not giving in to the cynics.

    In the current context of tensions inflamed by a series of police shootings of African Americans and of cops killed in revenge attacks, the use of verbal de-escalation to defuse combustible encounters has rarely seemed so important—or so under threat.

    More than 30 years ago, Thompson codified what he saw as common sense: using tactical language calmly under pressure to achieve a clearly defined goal—with the priority of keeping officers safe.

    “I simply used my academic background to put words to what great cops have always done,” he said. “Verbal judo is not the flavour of the month. It’s been around for 200 years. Great sheriffs never ran a town badmouthing people and put people down and disrespected people; they’d have been shot out of the saddle.”

    Thompson’s research found that almost every injury came from an escalation in a situation, rather than from the officer arriving when violence was already underway.

    “We know that the most deadly weapon we carry is not the .45 or the 9mm, it is in fact the cop’s tongue … A single sentence fired off at the wrong person at the wrong time can get you fired, it can get you sued, it can get you killed,” said Thompson.

    Thompson died in 2001, but the lessons he learned and taught continue.

    Joel Francis, a former police officer in New York, is a national instructor at the Verbal Judo Institute, teaching techniques he deployed on the beat. His clients are private companies, as well as law enforcement departments. “Our calendar is pretty full,” he said.

    “There’s so many times when people are screaming and yelling and you just go to them: ‘Hey, buddy, how you doing? My names’s Sergeant Francis, I’m with NYPD, I noticed that you’re really upset, now what’s going on with you, is there any way I can help?’” he said. “What’s the expression on your face, what’s the tone of your voice? A lot of it has to do with keeping yourself calm. We have to have some sort of a professional language to use, and that’s what verbal judo really supplies.”

    He added: “We know that we can always use the strong arm of the law to make them comply, but we’re trying to give our officers tools that will generate voluntary compliance.”

    Makes a hell of a lot of good sense to me.

    23 July 2016


    0500 by Jeff Hess

    23 July 2016


    0400 by Jeff Hess

    Miles Goodrich, writing for 350.org, emails:


    Watching the Republican National Convention unfold this week was chilling.

    In an often-ridiculous horror show, Republicans officially nominated a climate-denying racist for President and a puppet of the Koch brothers as his VP. They also introduced the most regressive, bigoted party platform this country has seen in decades, attacking most of what the climate movement has been working so hard to achieve.

    This week scared me, but it also bolstered my resolve: We must defeat the Republican’s hateful, divisive political rhetoric, willful denial of the crises we face, and catastrophic platform—while also demanding more ambitious climate action from the Democrats.

    To do that, we’ve got to organize. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be organizing bird-dogging actions, turning folks out to vote, and sharing stories online—and we need your help.

    Take the pledge: I will take action to stop Trump and make sure the Democrats get serious about climate change.

    This election is undeniably ugly, offering hard choices for climate activists who want to see fossil fuels kept underground. But it’s also undeniable that the Republican platform put in action would set this country back decades—decades that we can’t afford.

    The Republican platform ratified this week in Cleveland looks like a Christmas wish-list for the fossil fuel industry. In a lot ways it is, since many of the delegates who wrote it have taken thousands of dollars from the worst polluters in the world, including Exxon. In the hottest year ever, the Republicans call for:

  • Constructing the Keystone XL pipeline
  • Abandoning the Paris Climate Agreement
  • Scrapping the Clean Power Plan
  • Fracking and drilling on our public lands
  • Mining as much coal as possible
  • And that’s not to mention the long list of policies that would set back racial, economic, and social justice for thousands of Americans.

    We know that we can shift what’s politically possible in this country. The climate movement’s tireless bird-dogging efforts during the primary resulted in Hillary Clinton’s opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline and Atlantic drilling. Next week, we expect the Democrats to ratify the strongest climate platform to date, thanks to the leadership shown by local activists across the country fighting to #keepitintheground. But we’ve still got a ways to go.

    We can’t let a climate-denying racist into the White House next year, and we’ve got to hold the Democrats to their promises.

    Take the pledge to act and organize this election, so that we can make sure to keep you plugged in.


    Miles and the 350 Action team

    P.S. Yesterday, hundreds of Americans took a stand against hate and denial. You can see a couple photos from the Stop Trump actions, and from the Movement for Black Lives actions.

    Previously in The Guardian emails…

    Keep Carbon In The Ground…

    23 July 2016


    0300 by Jeff Hess

    FROM: MARSHALL@dnc.org
    TO: MirandaL@dnc.org, PaustenbachM@dnc.org, DaceyA@dnc.org
    DATE: 2016-05-05 03:31
    SUBJECT: No shit

    It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.

    FROM: DaceyA@dnc.org
    TO: MARSHALL@dnc.org, MirandaL@dnc.org, PaustenbachM@dnc.org
    DATE: 2016-05-05 12:23
    SUBJECT: Re: No shit


    Amy K. Dacey
    Chief Executive Officer
    Democratic National Committee

    Yes shit.

    Score another point for transparency and Wikileaks.

    Sam Biddle writes in New Leak: Top DNC Official Wanted to Use Bernie Sanders’s Religious Beliefs Against Him:

    Among the nearly 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, released Friday by Wikileaks and presumably provided by the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” is a May 2016 message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall. In it, he suggested that the party should “get someone to ask” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his religious beliefs.

    That would have played well with Marshall’s Southern Baptist peeps, but with the under-45 voters who came out for Bernie and now have one additional reason to tell the Democratic National Committee in general and Hillary Clinton in particular, to go fuck themselves, not bloody likely.

    22 July 2016


    0900 by Jeff Hess

    first dog 160722

    22 July 2016


    0800 by Jeff Hess

    Ralph Nader, in An Open Letter to President Obama—Domestic Catastrophic Risk Demands Action Behind the Talk, writes to President Barack Hussein Obama:

    President Barack Obama
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, D.C. 20500

    July 22, 2016

    Dear President Obama:

    As Senators, you and Joe Biden were leaders in highlighting the threat of America’s hazardous chemical plants—and in calling for solutions that included moving these facilities to inherently safer technologies. In 2006, you bluntly stated “these plants are stationary weapons of mass destruction spread all across the country.”

    Unfortunately, three years after the West, Texas, ammonium nitrate explosion, after you spoke at a memorial service for the 15 deceased individuals, and after you issued an executive order demanding action, your EPA has released a proposed rule that does too little to require a shift to safer technologies.

    That is outrageous, given the risk of more catastrophes by negligent accident, natural disaster, sabotage, or terrorism. Since the West, Texas tragedy, which federal investigators recently determined was deliberately set, there have been more than 430 chemical incidents and 82 deaths. The EPA has identified 466 U.S. chemical facilities that each put 100,000 or more people at risk.

    In 2005, the Homeland Security Council estimated that a major attack on just one of these chemical facilities would kill 17,500 people and injure tens of Continue Reading »

    22 July 2016


    0700 by Jeff Hess

    There has been a political conspiracy meme running this election year(s) that Donald Trump is actually in cahoots with the Clintons, more effectively than anyone could have imagined, to destroy the traditional Republican candidates and then self-destruct so that Hillary can dance into the White House. Or, maybe the run is all a prank gone bad.

    We’ve passed so many moments where we’ve thought, OK, he’s toast, that I can’t say that anymore. The hate is working for Trump and, barring some extraordinary event, he will crush Hillary and become President of the United States in a Nixonian landslide.

    All of that is prelude to the most bizarre nomination acceptance speech of my lifetime when Donald Trump plagiarized this guy.

    Jon Schwarz, reporting in Donald Trump’s Convention Speech Rings Terrifying Historical Alarm Bells for The Intercept, writes:

    Donald Trump’s speech accepting the Republican nomination for president will probably go down as one of the most frightening pieces of political rhetoric in U.S. history.

    Even for people who believe the danger of genuine authoritarianism on the U.S. right is often exaggerated, it’s impossible not to hear in Trump’s speech echoes of the words and strategies of the world’s worst leaders.

    Trump had just one message for Americans: Be afraid. You are under terrible threats from forces inside and outside your country, and he’s the only person who can save us.

    The scariest part is how Trump subtly but clearly has begun melding together violence against U.S. police and terrorism: “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities,” he said, “threaten our very way of life.”

    This is the favorite and most dangerous message of demagogues across all space and time. After all, if we know our external enemies are deeply evil, and our internal enemies are somehow their allies, we can feel justified in doing anything at all to our internal enemies. That’s just logic.

    In Donald Trump’s Long Rant Thrilled David Duke, But Alienated Many Others also for The Intercept, Robert Mackey writes:

    As Donald Trump shouted for 76 minutes on Thursday night about how horrible everything is in the dystopian fiction he’s confused for America, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan found himself nodding along in agreement.

    So the white supremacist David Duke, who was nearly elected governor of Louisiana in 1991 by channeling white resentment, posted a rave review of the address on Twitter.

    Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better! —David Duke, 22 July 2016

    We can say that the David Dukes out there are few and far between and that the vast majority of Republican voters must surely be appalled by what they’ve seen here in Cleveland and heard last night. I’m not so sure.

    Still, Mackey finds a couple of reasonable Republicans to quote:

    Trump’s long, error-riddled address — which began with the boast that he’d won 14 million votes (or 2.8 million less than Hillary Clinton) — went down less well with critics of the candidate, including members of his own party like Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, and Stuart Stevens, who ran Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012.

    He is summoning primal forces of anger/fear, displaying leadership without moral guardrails, religious principles or civic responsibility. —Michael Gerson 22 July 2016

    Give him credit for this: is a dark, disturbed man & he sees in the country what he sees in the mirror. —stuart stevens 22 July 2016

    Come November, however, how much do you want to bet that Gerson and Steven will, along with all the other high-profile Republicans who stayed home from the convention, at best, stay home or, more likely, walk into the voting booth and vote against Hillary by voting for Trump?

    Andrew Sullivan’s live blog of the speech is equally depressing.

    Once again, Bernie shows with this tweet how to really stand up and be an American:

    Trump: “I alone can fix this.” Is this guy running for president or dictator? —Bernie Sanders 22 July 2016

    If I can’t vote for Bernie and Nina, perhaps I’ll be able to vote for Jill and Nina.

    21 July 2016


    0700 by Jeff Hess

    As if anyone needs the final little nudge to convince them that both parties are fucked because they’re both so far up the asses of the billionaires that Charon gets more sunlight, then consider this headline from The Intercept: Chamber of Commerce May Prefer Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump.

    Zaid Jilani writes:

    The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday signaled that the big-business community is still undecided between newly minted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Chamber President Tom Donohue’s statements to Fox Business News on Wednesday morning represented an astonishing break from the organization’s nearly invariable support for Republican candidates.

    “Trump talks about some important things in energy and taxes and financial areas,” Donohue said. “Hillary perhaps has more experience and businessmen like that—businessmen and women like that—but I don’t think that’ll be decided until you hear the speeches here and next week and you see the first debate, and I think people will start to move more clearly to where they’re going to vote.”

    More experienced, riiggghhhhtttttt. Jilani gets down to the core reason in the next paragraph.

    Chief among Donohue’s complaints about Trump was his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    “We need a trade deal that opens markets for us,” Donohue complained. “I like where he says we’ve got to get a little tougher on some of the fulfillment. But you want to stop trade? You want to get rid of NAFTA? NAFTA is 14 million jobs in the United States.”

    The Chamber spent tens of millions of dollars backing GOP candidates and attacking President Barack Obama during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. Although the organization remains supportive of congressional Republicans, it has clashed with Trump over international trade agreements. Trump has said the Chamber should “fight harder” for workers.

    Donohue has also suggested that presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would implement the TPP—a major chamber priority—despite her current position of opposing the agreement.

    I am really, really hoping for that Jill Stein, Nina Turner ticket in November.

    (Yes, the story is still the most read on Have Coffee Will Write.)

    21 July 2016


    0600 by Jeff Hess

    bolling 160721

    *Harvard Lawless School…

    Next »