18 February 2018

ORWELL WEEK 7: NORTH AND SOUTH…

0800 by Jeff Hess

As I mentioned last week, I first read The Road To Wigan Pier a little more than seven years ago after reading Christopher Hitchens rightly praise the writings of George Orwell. The 4,289-word essay, North And South, written in 1937, is also an excerpt from Wigan.

Orwell begins:

As you travel northward your eye, accustomed to the South or East, does not notice much difference until you are beyond Birmingham. In Coventry you might as well be in Finsbury Park, and the Bull Ring in Birmingham is not unlike Norwich Market, and between all the towns of the Midlands there stretches a villa-civilization indistinguishable from that of the South. It is only when you get a little further north, to the pottery towns and beyond, that you begin to encounter the real ugliness of industrialism—an ugliness so frightful and so arresting that you are obliged, as it were, to come to terms with it.

What Orwell describes here reminds me of my own travels in West Virginia and Kentucky when I was growing up along the Ohio River. He continues:

A slag-heap is at best a hideous thing, because it is so planless and functionless. It is something just dumped on the earth, like the emptying of a giant’s dust-bin. On the outskirts of the mining towns there are frightful landscapes where your horizon is ringed completely round by jagged grey mountains, and underfoot is mud and ashes and over-head the steel cables where tubs of dirt travel slowly across miles of country. Often the slag-heaps are on fire, and at night you can see the red rivulets of fire winding this way and that, and also the slow-moving blue flames of sulphur, which always seem on the point of expiring and always spring out again. Even when a slag-heap sinks, as it does ultimately, only an evil brown grass grows on it, and it retains its hummocky surface. One in the slums of Wigan, used as a playground, looks like a choppy sea suddenly frozen; ‘the flock mattress’, it is called locally. Even centuries hence when the plough drives over the places where coal was once mined, the sites of ancient slag-heaps will still be distinguishable from an aeroplane.

Lest we think that such hideous visions are in the past, consider this aerial views of the Alberta tar sands from which Americans will suck energy to power our fantasy visits to Disney theme parks. (Such views are the reason that Ohio Republican legislators want to ban the flying of drones over fracking operations.) Or, closer to home, how about this view of fracking operations in Ohio? For the vast majority of Americans, out of sight is out of mind. However, Orwell continues:

When you contemplate such ugliness as this, there are two questions that strike you. First, is it inevitable? Secondly, does it matter?

In asking these two questions, Orwell takes a surprising turn:

I do not believe that there is anything inherently and unavoidably ugly about industrialism. A factory or even a gasworks is not obliged of its own nature to be ugly, any more than a palace or a dog-kennel or a cathedral. It all depends on the architectural tradition of the period. The industrial towns of the North are ugly because they happen to have been built at a time when modern methods of steel-construction and smoke-abatement were unknown, and when everyone was too busy making money to think about anything else. They go on being ugly largely because the Northerners have got used to that kind of thing and do not notice it. Many of the people in Sheffield or Manchester, if they smelled the air along the Cornish cliffs, would probably declare that it had no taste in it.

Previously…

Coming next week: Spilling The Spanish Beans….

17 February 2018

20 APRIL ’99, 14 DECEMBER ’12, 14 FEBRUARY ’18…

2000 by Jeff Hess

In the minds of most Americans, the insanity of school shootings began on 20 April 1999, before the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were even born. Since then we have endured nearly 20 years of worthless thoughts and prayers while gun manufacturers, with the help of their professional lobbying arm the National Rifle Association, have reaped billions of dollars in profits with the explicit aid of Republicans in Congress scared shitless of losing their cushy jobs if they do the right thing.

Thoughts and prayers haven’t worked.

Good guys with guns hasn’t worked.

Underfunded and intentionally crippled background checks haven’t worked.

Every excuse muttered by a Republican in the past 20 years hasn’t worked.

Many Americans thought that the 20 children, and six adults, murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary would be a turning point. It wasn’t.

This time can be different.

Listen to Sadie Chadwick addressing her president: I don’t want your condolences you fucking piece of shit, my friends and teachers were shot.

Listen to Emma Gonzalez speaking to crowd in Parkland: We call bullshit!

Listen to the people: Vote them out, vote them out, vote them out.

We seem to have tried every other proffered solution. Let’s give vote them out a go.

17 February 2018

THE TWEET HEARD ROUND THE NATION…

1900 by Jeff Hess

180218 sarah @chaddiedabaddie

The students are pissed and they want President Donald John Trump to know how pissed they are. Emily Witt, reporting in Calling [Bullshit] in Parkland, Florida for The New Yorker, writes:

Instead, the people here had gathered for a different kind of national ritual. In Parkland, Florida, after the fatal shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School this Valentine’s Day, the aftermath had at first a familiar pattern: the initial news alerts; then the psychological profiles of the killer; the repetition of “thought and prayers,” the news scrum, this vigil. The funerals would begin the next day, but the long-term prospect was of another lull in the debate until the next act of spectacular violence—a routine so predictable that a couple of days later I saw that someone in Fort Lauderdale had drawn it in imitation of the Krebs Cycle and printed it on a T-shirt. The first hint that something might be different this time came the morning after the shootings, from a Douglas High School sophomore named Sarah Chadwick, who informed the President of the United States, via his favorite medium, in words that quickly went viral, “I don’t want your condolences you fucking piece of shit, my friends and teachers were shot.” In the hours that followed, others joined Chadwick in rejecting the platitudes. On social media, and on live television, the victims were not playing their parts. They were not asking for privacy in their time of grief. They did not think it was “too soon” to bring up the issue of gun control—in fact, several students would start shouting “gun control” within the very sanctum of the candlelight vigil. What was already becoming clear that night, less than thirty-six hours after the shootings, was that the students were going to shame us, all of us, with so much articulacy and moral righteousness that you willed the news anchors to hang their heads in national solidarity. It was a bad week for a lot of reasons, but at least we had evidence of one incorruptible value: the American teenager’s disdain for hypocrisy.

I have to wonder if Dan McLaughlin feels a little differently about his praise of hypocrisy this evening.

Chadwick has since taken down her tweet and apologized for her language, but I think she has nothing to apologize for. I don’t want your condolences you fucking piece of shit conveys a nation’s message quite well.

Witt concludes with the words of Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Douglas (and future politician) whose refrain, I predict, will become a rallying cry.

The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call B.S.

Companies, trying to make caricatures of the teen-agers nowadays, saying that all we are are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submissions when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call B.S.

Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the N.R.A., telling us nothing could ever be done to prevent this: we call B.S.

They say that tougher gun laws do not prevent gun violence: we call B.S.

They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun: we call B.S.

They say guns are just tools, like knives, and are as dangerous as cars: we call B.S.

They say that no laws would have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that occur: we call B.S.

That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call B.S.

In response to Gonzalez’s words, writes Witt, the crowd, in a frenzy, responded with a chant: Vote them out, vote them out, vote them out.

We call Bullshit! In this spring’s primaries and in the fall’s general election: Vote. Them. Out!

17 February 2018

HOPES AND PRAYERS AREN’T ENOUGH, STAND UP…!

1800 by Jeff Hess

180218 ban assault weapons logo
Not unexpectedly, Dennis Kucinich has gotten out in front of the tsunami building in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, mass murder by Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz used a legally purchased AR-15, the semi-automatic version of the military M-16. If Congress had not allowed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to expire in 2004, Cruz would have had a much more difficult (but not impossible) time purchasing the rifle he used to murder 17 and wound 15 others.

Social media savvy students are making this mass shooting different and politicians had better listen. Kucinich and Samples are likely the first to do so in Ohio. From Facebook:

Fmr. Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Akron Councilwoman Tara Samples are working for a statewide ban on ALL assault weapons.

We’ll hold our first rally in Cleveland this Monday, February 19th at noon, on the steps of Cleveland City Hall (601 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114).

Will you be a part of the movement to #BanAssaultWeapons in Ohio?

Our campaign will assist you in organizing your neighborhood to join the #BanAssaultWeapons movement. We’ll provide you with guidance on how to move forward & engage with local gov.

Find out more, sign the pledge today

#ItStartsWithOH #BanAssaultWeaponsNow #PowerToWeThePeople #Kucinich4Ohio

In a news release email, Samples wrote:

Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough.

We can help protect the safety of Ohio’s kids and teachers, and we can do it right now. Join us for a rally to #BanAssaultWeapons Monday at Noon on the steps of Cleveland City Hall (601 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114) to take action.

Ohio teachers are doing everything in their power to protect our children against the dangers of assault weapons. 9 out of 10 schools have ‘shooting drills,’ and many teachers are struggling to find more effective ways to protect their students.

But teachers and students shouldn’t have to see their classroom as a war zone.

We have the power to help protect our kids and educators, Jeff. Now all we need is you. Here’s what you can do to help #BanAssaultWeapons in Ohio:

1. Join us at City Hall Monday at Noon. You’ll be hearing from me, Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich and other speakers, and you’ll meet others passionate about this issue.

2. Share the Facebook event. We want to show state legislatures that Cleveland is united in the call to #BanAssaultWeapons.

3. Sign the pledge. Become a leader in the movement to #BanAssaultWeapons. Organize your community to get a resolution adopted in your city!

We’re fighting for a safer, healthier and happier Ohio, Jeff, and we want you to be there with us. I hope I’ll see you Monday!

Solidarity,

Akron Councilwoman Tara L. Samples
Your candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Ohio

I’m going. How about you?

17 February 2018

MINHAJ: IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, TROLL THEM

1700 by Jeff Hess

16 February 2018

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI (OH-16):
GET UP OFF YOUR KNEES AND DO SOMETHING…

1700 by Jeff Hess

That is my message to my congressman, James Bupkis* Renacci.

Americans don’t need more thoughts and prayers. Americans need lawmakers in congress to do their damn jobs and make laws that allow our children to go to school and learn more than how to react when shots ring out.

There is nothing sacred about the second amendment—read the 21st amendment for some insight there—but the vast majority of Americans aren’t talking about about a constitutional change, we want laws, like the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 that the Republican congress allowed to expire in 2004. Americans want Congress to stop trying to starve the beast with tax cuts and funding silly border walls and use their tax money to protect them from real threats.

We need our members of congress to stop running away chanting thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers as if those three words were some kind of magical incantation.

Congressman Renacci wants to dodge the issue and protect his all-important (clearly more important than the school children in our district) National Rifle Association “A” rating. (Senator Rob Portman also has gets an “A” from the NRA. Senator Sherrod Brown gets an honorable “F.”) In his weekly Renacci Report—not yet available on line at 0600 on 17 February—, he wrote:

My heart breaks at the idea that our children are not safe at school. As a father of three, who I kissed their heads each day I sent them off to school, I’m horrified by the tragedy that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. My prayers remain with those we lost, their families and their loved ones. As we consider what actions can be taken to prevent incidents like this in the future, it is important to keep in mind that these murders were carried out by mentally unstable individuals. We are seeing investigators piecing together warning signs but there is a disconnect that leads to devastation. At a community level we must make a priority to identify and treat mental health conditions.

Renacci is worried about mental health now, because the optics are bad and he’s running for the U.S. Senate, but a year ago, when H.J.Res.40—which made it easier for Americans with mental health issues to buy guns—passed, Renacci voted aye.

Bullshit, congressman, pure, unadulterated bullshit.

As a community, Congressman, we need to ensure that weapons of mass destruction are not available to anyone with a driver’s license that says they’re past their 18th birthday.

Get up off your damn knees and do you damn job!

*After extensive searches, I have been unable to determine what Renacci’s middle initial stands for. Until I can find a reliable reference to Renacci full name, Bupkis will do.

Previously…

15 February 2018

FUNCTIONS WE NEVER TRUST IN PRIVATE HANDS…

1900 by Jeff Hess

180215 derf john backderf privitization government

15 February 2018

ONLY CRIMINALS AND ROGUES FEAR THE LAWYERS…

1800 by Jeff Hess

The vast majority of people grossly misunderstand the line from Shakespeare’s Henry VI: The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers. The line, spoken by a criminal and rebel, is meant in praise of lawyers not to denigrate them. Only the lawless and deceitful fear lawyers.

In the 21st century Jack Cade and Dick the Butcher have been replaced by CEOs of corporations seeking to abuse their power and protect their profits at the cost of the health and lives of the general population. Fortunately, as Ralph Nader details, there are lawyers fighting for the abused, injured and bereaved.

Nader, in Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria– Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People, writes:

I first heard about William M. Shernoff in the mid-nineteen seventies when he was pioneering a field of law known as insurance bad faith litigation. That ‘bad faith’ occurs is when insurance companies deny legitimate claims or try to use deceptive fine print clauses to escape policy coverage. He was starting to collect both compensation for his clients and large punitive damages when the evidence showed insurance companies were imposing these abuses on many thousands of their customers.

One day I called Attorney Shernoff and said that if he would match my $25,000 donation, we could start the National Insurance Consumer Organization headed by the former Federal Insurance Commissioner, J. Robert Hunter, the pro-consumer actuary who served under both Presidents Ford and Carter.

NICO’s Bob Hunter thereafter became the single greatest advocate for consumers against the insurance giants that they have ever encountered. He knew their fraudulent complexities, translated those complexities into plain English, and brought his expertise and pleasing personality to legislatures, courtrooms, and agencies Continue Reading »

15 February 2018

A SIMPLE QUESTION: HOW MANY KILLED IN 2018…?

1700 by Jeff Hess

Well, two questions really:

Question No. 1: How many Americans have Islamic terrorists killed this year?

Question No. 2: How many Americans have Americans killed in mass shootings this year?

The answer to question No. 1 is zero. The answer to question No. 2 is far, far too many and the number grew by 17—with at least five still in critical condition—yesterday.

The best our leadership, in the pocket and thrall of the gun manufacturers and their lobbying arm, the National Rifle Association, has to offer is prayers.

Sorry, shit-for-brains, prayer is a non-starter. No make-believe sky gawd is going to stop any of this. People are responsible and people have to put an end to this corporate insanity.

We spend billions protecting our nation from a maybe threat bogeyman in the form of Islamic terrorists and pretend we can pray away the real threats stalking our school children.

I mean, fuck, how many children; how many mothers and fathers and sons and daughters have to be sacrificed so that Smith & Wesson and Colt and all the rest can continue dealing in death? Yeah, yeah, I know, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and many years ago I was an NRA member, but this shit has to stop.

14 February 2018

I WISH MY GIRLFRIENDS IN SCHOOL HAD AGENTS…

2000 by Jeff Hess

180214 lynn johnston for beteter or for worse girlfriends with agents, michael martha

14 February 2018

GOP SCARE MONGERING BACKFIRES, AGAIN…

1900 by Jeff Hess

I often ask people looking to exclude others or curb civil rights the question: What are you afraid of?

For Republicans, and conservatives generally, they fear is of no longer being in a position to fully enjoying their gawd-given rights of privilege. If everyone has the same special rights and privileges as they do, then they’re no longer special, are they?

Fear has worked in the past—the negros are coming for our daughters, the commies are coming for our daughters, the Muslims are coming for our daughters, the immigrants are coming for our daughters, you get the idea—but recent events suggest that voters aren’t buying that bullshit anymore.

Zaid Jilani, writing in Republican Scare-Mongering on “Sanctuary Cities” Backfires, Democrats Win Big Upset in Florida Special Election for The Intercept, explains:

In a special election on Tuesday, Florida’s Republicans took a page from Ed Gillespie’s playbook and deployed the threat of “sanctuary cities” to scare up the votes to win.

And, as it did in Virginia, the book ended the same way, with Republicans losing at the polls. Democrat Margaret Good beat Republican James Buchanan, son of Rep. Vern Buchanan, 52-45 percent, after Trump had carried the Sarasota district a year ago.

After weeks of dodging forums with the other candidates, Buchanan raised the sanctuary issue in a debate with Good and libertarian Alison Foxall in late January. “I do think as far as sanctuary cities are concerned, we should not have any sanctuary cities here in the state of Florida,” he said. “We shouldn’t be harboring illegal immigrants.”

“We must end sanctuary cities and put a stop to benefits for illegal immigrants,” reads the campaign website.

Good—who based her campaign for office on opposition to school vouchers and support for Medicaid expansion and environmental protection—countered Buchanan by insisting she cares about public safety, but pushed back on what she viewed as a larger assault on local control. “I think it’s important to remember that we are a country of immigrants,” she countered. “But let me be clear, if someone commits a crime in Sarasota or in Florida, they should be punished. And it does not matter what your immigration status is at that point. I think as far as home rule and sanctuary cities goes, that’s yet another example of the legislature trying to tell local governments what to do. And I leave it to local law enforcement and the federal government to follow the law.”

Now, going all immigrants are bad hombres in Florida wasn’t the smartest move, but as Jilani notes, this is an issue in places like Virginia as well.

The point that seems to be lost on conservatives is that this is a crucial law-and-order issue, just not the way they think its is. Allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers free range in a community critically hobbles the ability of local police to do their job. If undocumented immigrants fear deportation if they speak with any law enforcement officials, then real criminals can go free and continue to commit crimes. That’s a lose-lose for any community.

14 February 2018

WELL, THIS CERTAINLY DIDN’T TAKE VERY LONG…

1800 by Jeff Hess

180214 paul nehlen chedder man prince harry meghan markle

14 February 2018

INSIDE THE ALTERNATED MIND OF A CONSERVATIVE…

1700 by Jeff Hess

Hypocrisy is a common theme between both progressives and conservatives. People don’t like being told that they are bad because of a certain trait or behavior when the accuser exhibits that particular trait or practices—often secretly—that particular behavior. Think the phrase: The pot calling the Kettle Black (fascinatingly attribute to Michael Cervantes’s Sancho Panza).

Progressives, in my experience, are quick to marginalize or eject hypocrites from their own ranks, but conservatives are less so. Sin is acceptable as long as the offender: A. maintains a sufficiently low profile, B. mouths the right words and B. casts the right votes. Two issues are prominent in this debate: family values, i.e. sexual impropriety as defined by conservatives and abortion. Conservative may break either taboo with impunity as long as they do so in secret.

Dan McLaughlin, writing in Hypocrisy Is Better Than Its Opposite for National Review, explains:

As I’ve argued for years, what is far worse than hypocritically standing up for good in public while doing bad in private is to let your own private sins deter you from doing good in public. I would much prefer to see a wicked man be a hypocrite and vote for what is right and good, rather than choose consistency and advocate for wrongdoing. And if he finds himself without the courage to be a hypocrite when right and wrong are on the line, well, that’s exactly why private character always matters in public officials.

McLaughlin’s argument, of course, is all about defending against this threat: If you condemn Roy Moore, Rob Porter, &c. &c., then how can you defend President Donald John Trump? That inevitable comparison scares the bejesus out of conservatives. So far Trump has dodged those bullets—and they called President William Jefferson Clinton slick—but as the accusations and evidence piles higher and higher, the shit hill will eventually slide down on conservatives.

Only a hypocrite could find the courage to be a hypocrite; to be brave enough to deny or condemn others for trespasses they themselves commit. I do seem to remember something from my child hood about forgiving our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us?

Sorry Danny, that dog don’t hunt.

14 February 2018

CLEVELAND—THE FINALE OF A 50-YEAR JOURNEY

0500 by Roldo Bartimole

180207 young roldo old roldo

[PART I: 50 YEARS—FREE TO SPEAK WITHOUT RESTRICTION]

In 1965 when I came to Cleveland I gained what became a new insight into how a city operates or doesn’t. It wasn’t just about poverty as I found in Bridgeport. It was a calculated system of injustice, corruption and, most importantly the lesson of Who Rules.

I learned something about how cities are guided and directed by elites determining public interests, mostly for their own benefit.

Law firms, corporate powers, wealthy foundations and the offshoots they created such as the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, Cleveland Now, Cleveland Tomorrow, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and a host of other devices that comprise mafia-style enterprises.

Both secretively and not so furtively they promote and control rule.

Elected officials mostly simply ratifying the major decisions, as generally do the obedient news media.

These processes have taken different forms at different times, which demanding different tactics.

Clearly, the news media act like the street horses of old wearing those eye blinders to keep their sight under control as they move.

Guided thus not to see too much.

It’s difficult to cover 50 years of this criminal behavior. But let’s try at least some.

One ingredient has been Poverty. Cleveland’s poor, especially the black community, has been in an economic depression equal to the Great Depression of the 1930s as long as I have been writing.

It certainly shows up in the disgraceful conditions of today. Reaction has changed, however. Rather than disturbing rioting of the 1960s, we have inner directed violence that reveals itself in senseless killings, gun warfare and death by other means. No rioting. No burning of cities. Not even many irritating protests. The rest of the community can ignore the disorder. And mostly does.

The differing times have called for distinctive tactics of control by those who impose their will on cities and the use their resources.

In 1960s when I arrived on the scene corporate leaders and their Continue Reading »

13 February 2018

THE MEMPHIS GARBAGE STRIKE 50 YEARS ON…

1700 by Jeff Hess

On 12 February 1968, 700 Black sanitation workers—under the slogan I Am A Man—went on strike in Memphis, Tennessee. The strike would last for 65 days, in which time Dr. Martin Luther King would be assassinated while in Memphis supporting the strikers.

Launching an 11-part examination of the events 50 years ago, Kirsten West Savali, writing in Watch: Our Video Series Shares Never-Been-Told Stories of the Memphis Sanitation Workers for The Root, begins:

In Memphis, Tenn., 1968, 1,300 sanitation workers braved the bitter cold to engage in a revolutionary 65-day action to defend their right to personhood. These men struggled against the noose of white supremacy to proclaim their dignity. They stood, shoulder to shoulder, armed with picket signs and perseverance, determined to declare to the world, “I am a man.”

The men had long been subjected to unsafe working conditions and forced to survive without being paid a livable wage. They compromised their health and risked their lives to pick up the trash of people who treated them as if they were disposable themselves. It was the deaths of sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker—who were crushed by a garbage truck on Feb. 1, 1968—that filled the sanitation workers with a sense of urgency.

From Feb. 12 to April 16, 1968, the sanitation strikers fought for liberation. They fought because it was time, as Martin Luther King Jr. said on April 3, the day before he was assassinated, for “America to be true to what you said on paper.” They fought because they knew that in this rich nation, their personhood should be unassailable.

These were men, not “boys,” and in those days, you were not considered a man if you couldn’t provide for your family. You were not a man if the brutal economic and state violence that weighed on your back brought you to your knees—and these men were unwilling to serve as property of the city of Memphis or Jim Crow anymore.

Historically, King’s death overshadowed the strikers, a reality that Savali seeks to correct:

Too often, the sanitation strikers’ experiences lived in the background of King’s assassination, and it is our duty to change that narrative. Each time he came to Memphis, King insisted that the focus be on the 1,300 men as they fought to topple the white supremacist plantation economy holding their families hostage in a supposedly free country.

King, she writes, said:

Now we’re going to march again, and we’ve got to march again in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be and force everybody to see that there are 1,300 of God’s children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That’s the issue. And we’ve got to say to the nation, we know how it’s coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.

Readers can follow Savali’s series, including two additional videos, under the 1,300 Men: Memphis Strike ‘68 banner.

12 February 2018

NUNES’ ROLE IN THE WAR ON OBJECTIVE REALITY…

1700 by Jeff Hess

180213 this modern world tom tomorrow devin nunes carepublicans fake news

What’s a Republican member of Congress to do when the lamestream media refuses to publish their truth? Go around, of course.

David Siders, writing in Devin Nunes creates his own alternative news site: Embattled California congressman finds a way to bypass the mainstream media for Politico, explains:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a relentless critic of the media, has found a way around the often unflattering coverage of his role in the Trump-Russia investigation — by operating his own partisan news outlet.

Resembling a local, conservative news site, “The California Republican” is classified on Facebook as a “media/news company” and claims to deliver “the best of US, California, and Central Valley news, sports, and analysis.”

But the website is paid for by Nunes’ campaign committee, according to small print at the bottom of the site. Leading the home page most recently: a photograph of Nunes over the headline, “Understanding the process behind #ReleaseTheMemo.”

Normally I would say that the story was a non-starter; you know, along the line of politician lies, but Nunes is not the average Republican in Congress, he’s the chair of the Intelligence Committee and President Donald John Trump’s bitch minion.

Siders continues:

The outlet includes stories dating from mid-2017, when it was registered by a Fresno-area communications consultant, Alex Tavlian. Nunes’ campaign has paid Tavlian’s company, Sultana Media, $7,773 since July for “advertising; digital advertising management.”

Reached Saturday, Tavlian said his company registered several domains for Nunes’ campaign. But he said he did not manage “The California Republican” and was unfamiliar with it.

Most of the stories on the site are not about Nunes. But the power to self-publish and to bypass the mainstream media would hold special appeal for a lawmaker who has long complained about “fake news” and “anti-Trump, anti-Republican” coverage.

Nunes has come under intense scrutiny for his handling of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Last month, the editorial board of the dominant newspaper in Nunes’ district, The Fresno Bee, called Nunes “Trump’s stooge,” accusing him of “doing dirty work for House Republican leaders trying to protect President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation.”

Why would Nunes, why would anyone, shamelessly throw their dignity on the dumpster fire? I think the answer is simple. The Sweet Potato Saddam* in the oval office rewards loyalty above all else and, barring some extraordinary occurrence, he will still be a billionaire when he leaves office meaning that those loyal to him now expect to reap extraordinary rewards in the private sector.

Nunes house seat in California is considered safe, but his opponent in the fall isn’t convinced:

Andrew Janz, Nunes’ main Democratic challenger in his reelection bid, did not hold back. Told of the website’s existence by POLITICO, he derided the publication as “typical Devin Nunes.”

“He’s got fake memos, fake websites and fake news,” Janz said. “It’s disappointing to see a member of Congress, especially one who chairs an important committee, spread misinformation to his constituents, who he knows will just eat it up.”

That last is unfortunate really dumb, dissing the people you want to represent is never a winner. I would say Janz just tanked his campaign with that comment. He would have been better to follow the lead of Danica Roem in Virginia.

*I stole this from Michael Arceneaux.

12 February 2018

50 YEARS—FREE TO SPEAK WITHOUT RESTRICTION

0500 by Roldo Bartimole

180207 young roldo old roldo

As we travel 2018, I personally observe a benchmark of 50 years of writing as an independent journalist, staff-less and un-beholden to any one employer or institution. Free!

Yes, it has been a long ride. It’s been a difficult one in many respects.

But nobody made me do it. It was my choice.

More or less, I’m happy with the results.

It’s not easy to explain its significance. In the passage and experiences of 50 years it would be hard to put a value on it, even for me. I hope it has given voice often enough to hidden truths to have been worth the effort.

How did it happen? How did the years—and decades—pass, often to silence or hostility in response to these efforts? I rarely had a large audience. Indeed, it wasn’t aimed at one.

It started April 5, 1968. I can mark the date. That was the day after the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. I made my decision to quit my job and start a newsletter that became known as Point Of Viəw. It started mid-1968, a time of disorder. Who came up with the simple name I don’t remember.

April 5 also happened to be my 35th birthday.

This change for me, however, had been brewing much, much longer than that.

Maybe it really started in my hometown Bridgeport, Connecticut.

I had just returned to the city after escaping its sports department to work at a small town newspaper in Haverhill, Mass. Ironically, owned by the leading right-winger of newspapers of that time: William Loeb. I remember writing a letter to the editor attacking the ultra-conservative John Birch Society. It was printed. My editor, a college friend, realized what I had done. Oh, please don’t do that again! Editor Dave Beaton’s worried warning against writing lest Loeb of the Manchester Union of New Hampshire and owner of the Haverhill newspaper recognize my name as one of his own employees?

I soon left, however, for the job as assistant to the editor of the Bridgeport Sunday Post. It would be the first time a newspaper rehired me. Not the last, however. The Plain Dealer also did.

It was back in Bridgeport that my naive eyes were opened. The 1960 Census Bureau data had become available. So in 1963 I began to examine my home town, Continue Reading »

11 February 2018

IS IT ANY WONDER STUDENTS TAKE LEGAL DRUGS…?

1900 by Jeff Hess

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I have to wonder how much better students would be if we started teaching meditation in kindergarten. We could do that, but then we might just be medicating rather than eliminating the problem.

11 February 2018

WHEN THE WHOLE PRAYER IS JUST TOO LONG…

1800 by Jeff Hess

In his most recent novel—Robicheaux—James Lee Burke’S police officer protagonist, Dave Robicheaux ponders anger, serenity and the real world:

How do you handle it when your anger brims over the edge of the pot? You use the shortened version of the Serenity Prayer, which is Fuck it. Like Voltaire’s Candide tending his own garden or the British infantry going up the Khyber Pass one bloody foot at a time, you do your job, and you grin and walk through the cannon smoke, and you just keep saying fuck it. You also have faith in your own convictions and never let the naysayers and those who are masters at inculcating self-doubt hold sway over your life. Fuck it is not profanity. Fuck it is a sonnet. p. 249

Few people aspire to, let alone attain, this kind of clarity.

This evening I’m pondering the connections between Dave Robicheaux and Don Draper.

11 February 2018

ZIPPER WANTS TO BE LOGAN AND JAKE PAUL…

1700 by Jeff Hess

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You know you’re a slacker when Edgar Zonker Harris has a stronger work ethic than you do. Sadly, I know from experience with my students that Zipper’s fantasy is all too real for those who think that what they see on You Tube is real.

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