30 March 2017

PRESIDENT BUSH: THAT WAS SOME WEIRD SHIT

1300 by Jeff Hess

Yashar Ali, reporting in What George W. Bush Really Thought of Donald Trump’s Inauguration for New York Magazine writes:

The inauguration of Donald Trump was a surreal experience for pretty much everyone who witnessed it, whether or not they were at the event and regardless of who they supported in the election. On the dais, the stoic presence of Hillary Clinton — whom candidate Trump had said he would send to prison if he took office — underlined the strangeness of the moment. George W. Bush, also savaged by Trump during the campaign, was there too. He gave the same reason for attending that Bill and Hillary Clinton did: to honor the peaceful transfer of power.

Bush’s endearing struggle with his poncho at the event quickly became a meme, prompting many Democrats on social media to admit that they already pined for the relative normalcy of his administration. Following Trump’s short and dire speech, Bush departed the scene and never offered public comment on the ceremony.

But, according to three people who were present, Bush gave a brief assessment of Trump’s inaugural after leaving the dais: “That was some weird shit.” [Emphasis mine, JH] All three heard him say it.

And here we are at day 71.

30 March 2017

THIS IS SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK ON STEROIDS…

0500 by Jeff Hess

WATCH PART ONE FROM A YEAR AGO…

Here’s what The Atlanta Journal Constitution had to say about the passage of HB 827, Georgia’s Rape Kit bill:

It had the overwhelming support of bipartisan lawmakers, buy-in from law enforcement and hospital groups, and backing from Gov. Nathan Deal. And yet legislation to require police to find and count untested sexual assault evidence almost didn’t become law in Georgia this year.

The rape kit bill, which Deal is set to sign into law Tuesday, proves yet again that even the most seemingly innocuous proposals can stir up major controversy under the Gold Dome.

“You get personalities involved. You get personal feelings involved. You get power struggles — I’ve seen it happen over and over again,” said George Hooks, a legislative historian who spent 32 years in the state Senate. “Sometimes that gets good legislation blocked. This time it didn’t.”

The legislation was spurred in part by an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation last year that found more than 1,400 kits went untested at Grady Memorial Hospital — even though victims wanted them transferred to law enforcement. Police had failed to pick them up, and the hospital was keeping them on the mistaken belief that federal regulations barred their release.

Reporter Greg Bluestein details how the process was saved from the hurt feelings of state senator Renee Unterman:

It seemed on the fast track after it breezed through the House on a 160-0 vote in late February, but it was blocked in the state Senate by state Sen. Renee Unterman, a Buford Republican who surprised, then enraged, supporters of the bill by digging in as the pressure mounted.

Unterman, who serves as chairwoman of the Senate health committee charged with vetting the legislation, contended there was no need for a statewide measure to solve a problem arising from an Atlanta hospital, although untested rape kit evidence was found across the state. She said a federal grant was funding work to clear the backlog.

She also accused Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb, the main sponsor of the bill and considered a rising star in his party, of politicizing the debate. In an interview, Unterman repeatedly pointed to her record shepherding women’s rights issues through the Legislature and said she was unfairly painted as an obstacle for opposing a measure she felt wasn’t necessary.

”The Democrats used it. They exploited the issue, and they used it as a wedge issue. I think that’s pretty sad that they politicized something as volatile as rape,” said Unterman, until this year the sole Republican woman in her chamber.

“If anyone could step up to the plate and do something about it,” she said, “I’m the one who would have done it.”

Soon, the opposition became the butt of late-night talk shows. Political satirist Samantha Bee lampooned her by name on her TBS show “Full Frontal,” and Unterman and her Republican allies were bombarded with emails and social media messages urging her to change her stance. It quickly raised the stakes and made the debate a national story line.

See? Revolution works!

30 March 2017

WHAT YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING FRIDAY NIGHT…

0400 by Jeff Hess

170330 bernie sanders elizabeth warren our revolution live stream

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the anti-Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton of American politics.

Reporting for The Boston Glovbe, James Pindell writes in Warren, Sanders to appear together at Boston rally Friday:

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren will join Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for a political rally in Boston that will join the nation’s leading political progressives under one roof.

The rally, sponsored by Sanders’ political non-profit Our Revolution and Raise Up Massachusetts, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Orpheum Theater in Downtown Crossing.

The rally will end an active day in the area for Sanders. Earlier in the day he will give a speech and take questions at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Dorchester. Later, he will attend a book signing at MIT.

Sanders and Warren have worked closely alongside each other in the Senate, but many of his supporters were disappointed that she never endorsed his presidential campaign in 2016.

I was one of those Warren supporters who was deeply disappointed by her failure to endorse the candidate who could have made a difference. Hopefully we’ll see that change tomorrow night.

30 March 2017

THIS IS WHAT FAKE NEWS LOOKS LIKE…

0300 by Jeff Hess

170329 derf white middleclass suburban man walmart wankermart

No. Not Derf’s cartoon, this.

I’ve long been an advocate for buying local, for keeping the money I spend in the local economy and not sending my dollars out of state and out of the country to benefit people who are not my neighbors. This morning I was going to post Derf’s work with a link to the rationale for shopping local. I Googled economics of buying local expecting to find a link like this—Buying Local: How It Boosts the Economy—got surprised by the links that came out on top:

Karen Selick, The Buy-Locally-Owned Fallacy;
‘Buy Local’ Is Really Bad Economics;
Why Buy Local?; and
The Buy Local Fallacy.

Clearly, the number of people encouraged by the Buy Local story is growing and those who benefit most from Global Capitalism are paying shills to do their best to muddy the waters. Recently I was looking for a particular object—a three-by-five file box that was at least 12-inches deep—and I took the time to check locally first. I didn’t find what I wanted (and I still didn’t go to Office Max or some other big box store to look), but I did have a conversation with a local owner about why I was taking the time to look locally when I could find the item on line with a few mouse clicks. (Shopping at Amazon is actually worse than shopping at Walmart.)

The owner was appreciative, but I was surprised that she was not familiar with the buy local philosophy. Everyone needs to be better informed because we can’t let the Global Capitalists turkeys get us down.

29 March 2017

TRUMP DECLARES WAR ON AMERICA, THE WORLD…

2300 by Jeff Hess

Sure, I’m posting a video from a comedy show hosted by a South African, but the message is deadly (literally deadly) serious. President Donald John Trump in ending the fake war on coal has declared war on all Americans and the rest of the world. To pretend he’s saving 70,000 jobs (which we should not simply destroy but replace with meaningful, well-paying employment) President Trump has thumbed his nose at the 650,000-job growth industry: renewable energy and issued a great fuck you all to every citizen of the planet who enjoys breathing.

Spring is going to be a lot hotter in Washington this year.

From Jamie Hern at 350.org:

Friends,

Donald Trump’s attacks on people and planet are getting bolder by the day. So are we.

Yesterday he issued an executive order to try and rip apart the Clean Power Plan, the moratorium on coal mining, and other protections for our basic rights to clean air and water. And last week he approved the federal permit for Keystone XL.

On April 29th there will be a full-scale mobilization against every part of Trump’s vicious fossil fuel agenda, and we will show the strength and determination of our opposition.

Today is exactly one month until the Peoples Climate March happening in Washington, DC and across the country, and 100,000 people have already signed up. We want you with us—go here to join this epic wave of action.

If you need help getting to DC, there’s a bus stopping near Cleveland—To find a bus to get to DC, go here.

Trump’s actions are a disaster for all of us—but they hurt low-income communities, communities of color, and workers the most. Trump and his administration’s climate denial is racist, classist, and flat out dangerous.

None of these things are a done deal – no matter what Trump says. It would take a year to get to dismantling the Clean Power Plan and expand coal mining the way Trump wants. The Keystone XL pipeline still needs a permit in Nebraska to get built.

The Trump Administration wants to shock us into despair and inaction, but since inauguration we’ve seen what can happen when people in this country mobilize: Trumpcare? Withdrawn. Muslim ban? Blocked. Next we’re taking on Keystone XL, coal expansion, rollbacks to our basic rights to clean air and water—Trump’s entire fossil fuel agenda.

People power works. At the Peoples Climate March, we can show our determination and unity, and transform it into real political power.

The Trump Administration will not be able to keep its promises to their fossil fuel industry backers. Clean energy is on the rise everywhere you look. We will continue our unshakable opposition on the ground, and in the courts—every pipeline, every coal mine, every time.

Game on.

Jamie

My own representative, Jim Renacci (OH-16) should be paying very close attention.

28 March 2017

WE RISE BY EMBRACING COLLATERAL BENEFIT…

1200 by Jeff Hess

I’m doing a bit of catching up this morning, enjoying the different rhythm of Spring Break, and one of the items in my reading pile is a Guardian long-read by Rebecca Solnit: Protest and persist: why giving up hope is not an option, from 13 March.

The beginning of the piece is a primer for those new to the ideas of social and political protest, but she foreshadows her destination when she remembers recent history and writes:

An old woman said at the outset of Occupy Wall Street “we’re fighting for a society in which everyone is important”, the most beautifully concise summary of what a compassionately radical, deeply democratic movement might aim to do.

I agree. Occupy was to millennials, perhaps, what the anti-war movement was to me and my fellow boomers. In many ways we lost our way in the ’70s and ’80s, but even then protest, the desire to fight for that society in which everyone counts, smoldered and even, at times flared, as Solnit describes.

We work towards that perfect society by studying the past; by building on the strategies and organizing principles of others. Solnit asks:

But what were the strategies and organizing principles they catalyzed?

The short answer is non-violent direct action, externally, and consensus decision-making process, internally. The former has a history that reaches around the world, the latter that stretches back to the early history of European dissidents in North America. That is, non-violence is a strategy articulated by Mohandas Gandhi, first used by residents of Indian descent to protest against discrimination in South Africa on 11 September 1906. The young lawyer’s sense of possibility and power was expanded immediately afterward when he traveled to London to pursue his cause. Three days after he arrived, British women battling for the right to vote occupied the British parliament, and 11 were arrested, refused to pay their fines, and were sent to prison. They made a deep impression on Gandhi.

He wrote about them in a piece titled Deeds Better than Words quoting Jane Cobden, the sister of one of the arrestees, who said, “I shall never obey any law in the making of which I have had no hand; I will not accept the authority of the court executing those laws …” Gandhi declared: “Today the whole country is laughing at them, and they have only a few people on their side. But undaunted, these women work on steadfast in their cause. They are bound to succeed and gain the franchise …” And he saw that if they could win, so could the Indian citizens in British Africa fighting for their rights. In the same article (in 1906!) he prophesied: “When the time comes, India’s bonds will snap of themselves.” Ideas are contagious, emotions are contagious, hope is contagious, courage is contagious. When we embody those qualities, or their opposites, we convey them to others.

She opens the third act of her piece with the line that grabbed me:

There are terrible stories about how diseases like Aids jump species and mutate. There are also ideas and tactics that jump communities and mutate, to our benefit. There is an evil term, collateral damage, for the people who die unintentionally: the civilians, non-participants, etc. Maybe what I am proposing here is an idea of collateral benefit.

She continues:

What we call democracy is often a majority rule that leaves the minority, even 49.9% of the people – or more if it’s a three-way vote—out in the cold. Consensus leaves no one out. After Clamshell, it jumped into radical politics and reshaped them, making them more generously inclusive and egalitarian. And it’s been honed and refined and used by nearly every movement I’ve been a part of or witnessed, from the anti-nuclear actions at the Nevada test site in the 1980s and 1990s to the organization of the shutdown of the World Trade Organization in late 1999, a victory against neoliberalism that changed the fate of the world, to Occupy Wall Street in 2011 and after.

We don’t protest in a vacuum. Our revolutions always build on the revolutions of the past and like those who forget History in general, we ignore lessons learned at our peril. The latest permutation on the theme came with the decision of an independent, socialist senator from the tiny state of Vermont to stand up and tell a few people that there was a better way. Bernie lost, but in losing he birthed the rise of other organizations like the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, Our Revolution, Indivisible and many, many others, all with the intent to deflate the orange gasbag. Solnit writes:

The only power adequate to stop the Trump administration is civil society, which is the great majority of us when we remember our power and come together. And even if we remember, even if we exert all the pressure we’re capable of, even if the administration collapses immediately, or the president resigns or is impeached or melts into a puddle of corruption, our work will only have begun.

That job begins with opposing the Trump administration but will not end until we have made deep systemic changes and recommitted ourselves, not just as a revolution, because revolutions don’t last, but as a civil society with values of equality, democracy, inclusion, full participation, a radical e pluribus unum plus compassion. As has often been noted, the Republican revolution that allowed them to take over so many state houses and take power far beyond their numbers came partly from corporate cash, but partly from the willingness to do the slow, plodding, patient work of building and maintaining power from the ground up and being in it for the long run. And partly from telling stories that, though often deeply distorting the facts and forces at play, were compelling. This work is always, first and last, storytelling work, or what some of my friends call “the battle of the story”. Building, remembering, retelling, celebrating our own stories is part of our work.

And concludes:

To believe it matters—well, we can’t see the future. We have the past. Which gives us patterns, models, parallels, principles and resources, and stories of heroism, brilliance, persistence, and the deep joy to be found in doing the work that matters. With those in our pockets, we can seize the possibilities and begin to make hopes into actualities.

We can choose the path of collateral damage by doing nothing or, we can risk and maybe, just maybe succeed for a time and create that collateral benefit that will carry the fight for that society where everyone is important.

28 March 2017

WE’RE DOOMED IF THEY FIGURE OUT THE FRIDGE…

0400 by Jeff Hess

170328 cats dogs intelligence ordering online wiley miller non-sequitur

Forget computer screens and ordering online. I’ve often remarked to Mary Jo that if either Buster or Gillighan ever figure out that the door to the refrigerator opens the same way as every other door in the house—both dogs are adept at pawing open other doors—we’re doomed.

28 March 2017

WE’RE NOT ALL IN PROTEST TODAY, BE THERE…!

0300 by Jeff Hess

From Steve Holecko and the Cuyaghoga County Progressive Caucus:

Just a reminder about today’s We’re Not All In Protest, upcoming Cleveland City Council Committee hearings on the the Q renovations and something you can do at home.

We’re Not All In Protest Outside County Council Building as they vote inside to hand out Corporate Welfare to the Q, today, March 28 from 4 to 7 pm at Cuyahoga County Administrative Headquarters, 2079 E. 9th St. Cleveland 44115

Sadly, County Council is expected to approve the Q renovation deal at their March 28 meeting at 5 pm. Ever seen traffic on East 9th street between 4 and 7 pm on a weekday? Let’s have a large street presence with signs and maybe banners to show the folks going home during rush hour what’s happening inside the County Council Building and what we think of it. Suggested sign: Neighborhoods First: Corporate Welfare Last but if you have another idea feel free to use it. Although we are not likely to stop County Council’s approval of the deal with this protest remember it goes to Cleveland City Council next and the deal cannot go through without their approval.Remember also that they’re all up for re-election this year and as the narrow 9-7 vote for the Dirt Bike Scam showed there may be some dissension in the ranks. A large presence Tuesday will help set the stage as they discuss the deal the next few weeks. Our friends from SEIU #1199 will be joining us for this event. Please RSVP here.

We’re Not All In Presence at Cleveland City Council Committee Meeting today, March 28 and Tuesday, April 4 from 9 am to noon at Cleveland City Hall, 601 Lakeside Ave. Cleveland 44114. The Development and Sustainability Committee will be meeting to discuss and hear testimony concerning the $88 million Corporate Welfare giveaway to billionaire Dan Gilbert for the Q renovations project. The bill must be voted on favorably in this committee before it goes to the rest of City Council or it dies. Let’s try to stop it here! CCPC will be giving testimony at the April 4 meeting. Let’s try to have a large presence to support our testimony and to show we oppose the deal. If you can make it to these meetings please wear your CCPC t-shirt if possible. Something else you can do at home: Contact the committee members and voice your opposition to the deal. Committee members are Anthony Brancatelli (216 664 4233), Phyllis Cleveland (216 664 2309), Brian Cummins (216 664 4238), TJ Dow (216 664 2908), Kerry McCormick (216 664 2691) and Terrell Pruitt (216 664 4944). Please RSVP here.

Steve Holecko
CCPC Political Director
440 220 1874

27 March 2017

FOR MY DAD, WHO DROVE ONE OF THE GIANTS…

0700 by Jeff Hess

At timemark 0:57 a father an son stand at a crossing while a giant chugs past. The narrator says, Lucky the boy who could one day say he had seen them in action. My father not only was lucky enough to see the giants in action, but in Fairmont, West Virginia, where he lived for the first 14 years of his life, his father arranged for him to actually to take the throttle and move a B&O Big Boy 4-8-8-4 from one end of the rail yard to the other and back again.

(Almost like father like son, I got to see a Big Boy, traveling under its own steam heading east through Athens, Ohio, when I was a student at Ohio University. The B&O tracks ran along the south border of the campus and I was visiting a friend in an apartment one spring afternoon when I heard the distinctive sound—I know the sound because a regular feature of our family vacations was to visit and ride attractions featuring live steam—of a steam engine coming down the track. I stepped onto the balcony just in time to see the Big Boy round the curve and roll through the campus at about 10 mph. She wasn’t pulling any cars so I figured she was headed to the B&O Museum.)

The Steampunk genre of Science Fiction has been very popular for a couple of decades now, but those tales cannot capture the majesty of the real steam marvels. They weren’t environmentally friendly (they carried 25 tons of coal as fuel) and they would be replaced by the diesel-electric after WW II, but the Big Boys (like the HMS Victory from the 19th century) represented the pinnacle of a technology that transformed the United States.

26 March 2017

FISCAL RAPE OF CLEVELAND/COUNTY TAXPAYERS

1400 by Roldo Bartimole

170324 roldo corruption
Between Progressive Field, First Energy Stadium and Quicken Arena, and the Republican National Convention at the Q, the city of Cleveland provided more than 100,000 hours of extra police protection downtown in 2016.

To be exact, 100,767.75 hours of police time were expended downtown through the last pay period of 2016, according to the city of Cleveland.

From which neighborhoods did these police services come?

The 100,000 hours means, at 40-hour weeks, more than 2,500 weeks of work by Cleveland police were expended downtown, a small part of the City of Cleveland. There are, we know, 52 weeks in a year.

That suggests 48 years of service in one year were provided to downtown. At least the RNC costs were supported by funding outside the city. And these figures don’t count the normal police protection given downtown.

The late Art Modell put it most succinctly when he admitted: “We are 32 fat-cat Republicans who vote socialist (on football).”

Of course, our city and county government is dominated by Democrats, not Republicans. Democratic politicians, led by County Executive Budish and Mayor Jackson, service the richest in this poor, declining city and county. Figures showed this week that the county continues to lose population. These costs fall upon fewer and fewer citizens.

The city provided the numbers of police services as follows for extra police hours:

—RNC related: 76,970 hours.
—Cleveland Indians: 6,891.5 hours.
—Cleveland Browns: 4,960.75 hours.
—Cavaliers & other related events at Quicken Arena: 11,945.5 hours.

Last year the city provided more than 34,000 hours of extra police service to the three sports facilities.

(I noted recently that the three sports facilities escaped paying $20 million of property taxes in the most recent year. They have been given the additional perk of Continue Reading »

26 March 2017

WHAT I’M READING NOW: BERNIE TO EDUCATION…

0300 by Jeff Hess

First up this morning, Trevor Timm on Everyone loves Bernie Sanders. Except, it seems, the Democratic party. My takeaway:

In other words, [the DNC elite are] doubling down on the exact same failing strategy that Clinton used in the final months of the campaign. Sanders himself put it this way in his usual blunt style in an interview with New York magazine this week – when asked about whether the Democrats can adapt to the political reality, he said: “There are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats.”

Next, Russ Feingold says that If Gorsuch is confirmed, the legitimacy of the US supreme court won’t recover. The problem is not Gorsuch (GOR such) but rather the high-jacking of the confirmation process by Senate Republicans:

Never before has Senate leadership so openly and intentionally played political games with our highest court. Already, the legitimacy of the supreme court has taken a severe blow because of it. But, if Gorsuch is confirmed, it would lock in a dangerous precedent from which the legitimacy of our highest court might never recover.

Senate Democrats, led by Bernie Sanders, will not go down with out a fight.

Third on my list this morning is Russel Berman’s The Republicans Fold on Health Care where this quote nails the problem:

As the prospect of a loss became more real on Friday, the frustrations of GOP lawmakers loyal to the leadership began to boil over. “I’ve been in this job eight years, and I’m wracking my brain to think of one thing our party has done that’s been something positive, that’s been something other than stopping something else from happening,” Representative Tom Rooney of Florida said in an interview. “We need to start having victories as a party. And if we can’t, then it’s hard to justify why we should be back here.”

Turning to one of my top three journalists, Matt Taibbi writing in Trump The Destroyer, I liked:

During the election, Trump exploded every idea we ever had about how politics is supposed to work. The easiest marks in his con-artist conquest of the system were the people who kept trying to measure him according to conventional standards of candidate behavior. You remember the Beltway priests who said no one could ever win the White House by insulting women, the disabled, veterans, Hispanics, “the blacks,” by using a Charlie Chan voice to talk about Asians, etc.

Now he’s in office and we’re again facing the trap of conventional assumptions. Surely Trump wants to rule? It couldn’t be that the presidency is just a puppy Trump never intended to care for, could it?

Mmmm, could be!

Fourth and fifth on my list are two pieces from The Atlantic’s Educational Eden series focusing on the when and what students learn. I start with Fixing America’s Broken School Calendar by Hayley Glatter, Emily DeRuy, and Alia Wong. Continuing to structure school calendars based on a 19th century agricultural schedule is madness. This is what a 21st century school calendar should look like:

Students will be in school year round, with the equivalent of eight weeks of vacation distributed throughout the year—two weeks every season. This will diminish the frequency and extent of summer learning loss, reduce the need to review at the start of the school year for certain subjects, and provide more time and opportunities to go into more depth in the curriculum. Summer will not be a time for parents to worry about what they are doing with their children, especially for elementary- and middle-school students, as it will be no different from the fall, winter, or spring.

Finally, as to the question of what, the trio asked educators to imagine their classroom utopia and recorded the responses in Schools Aren’t Teaching Students What They Need to Know. My best find was this:

Sure, there’s a baseline of what kids should know before graduating. Every student will be able to read and think critically. Every student will understand enough math and science to navigate the world around them. Every student will be exposed to the arts and to strategies that address their well-being, both physically and emotionally.

And of course, while high standards aligned with what kids need to know and do are important, we will ensure that kids are learning to love learning, [Emphasis mine, JH] not merely to recite facts. That requires giving them space to explore, play, and find out about themselves and each other.

What do you think I ought to be reading…?

25 March 2017

ADVICE FOR REVOLUTIONARIES FROM THE ROTR…

0800 by Jeff Hess

170324 first dog on the moon racoons of the resistance resist Andrew Marlton

25 March 2017

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI (OH-16):
REPRESENTATIVE JIM RENACCI IS TOAST IN 2018…

0700 by Jeff Hess

There are three kinds of Republicans in our House of Representatives: there are the members of the Freedom Caucus who publicly stood up and said they would vote No on Trumpcare because of their Conservative principles (like Jim Jordan (OH-4); there are those members who publicly stood up and said they would vote No on Trumpcare because they represented districts with large blocks of voters who would be devastated by the pro-death panel legislation (like David Joyce (OH-14); and there are members, like my own Jim Renacci, who prayed that if they kept their heads down they would weather the shit storm that was Trumpcare.

Duck and cover never works.

Next year Renacci will either win the Republican primary and face a Democratic opponent in the general election for governor of Ohio (a very unlikely scenario) or he will stand for re-election as congressman for Ohio’s 16th district. In either case, he will lose. He will lose because any member of the House who didn’t stand up and publicly announce his No vote on Trumpcare will be counted as a yes vote and no amount of special pleading about the vote never taking place will change that.

Last year I gave more than $1,000 to the campaign to elect Bernie Sanders as President of the United States of America. Next year I now pledge to give an equal or greater amount to whoever Renacci faces in the general election.

Previously…

25 March 2017

NO WONDER TRUMP HATES SESAME STREET…

0500 by Jeff Hess

Part of President Donald John Trump’s wish list proposed federal budge includes the elimination of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other vital federal agencies. I know that I’m attributing a grandly petty motive here to President Trump, but grandly petty seems a pretty appropriate description of the inner workings of a man who seems to be channeling his inner Aria Stark.

25 March 2017

THE DONALD CAN DO NO WRONG…

0300 by Jeff Hess

Continuing in his role as petulant two-year-old of the Free World, President Donald John Trump is pointing fingers at everyone except himself following the spanking delivered yesterday by his own party. David Graham, reporting in It’s Never Trump’s Fault: Speaking after the collapse of the Republican health-care bill, the president assigned blame to plenty of parties but cast himself as a mere bystander for The Atlantic, writes:

He said Democrats should come up with their own bill. [Uh, Donny, you do know that Obamacare is the Democrats bill, right? JH] “I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because they own Obamacare,” he said, referring to the House and Senate Democratic leaders. “They 100 percent own it.”

Trump was very clear about who was not to blame: himself. “I worked as a team player,” the president of the United States said, demoting himself to bit-player status. He wanted to do tax reform first, after all, and it was still early. “I’ve been in office, what, 64 days? I’ve never said repeal and replace Obamacare within 64 days. I have a long time. I want to have a great health-care bill and plan and we will.”

Strictly speaking, it is true that Trump didn’t promise to repeal Obamacare on day 64 of his administration. What he told voters, over and over during the campaign, was that he’d do it immediately. On some occasions he or top allies even promised to do it on day 1.

Clearly the President wasn’t read the memo about Republicans being all about bootstraps and taking responsibility.

Trump’s quick disavowal of any role in the collapse fits with an emerging pattern: The president never takes the blame for anything that goes wrong. What about his claim that President Obama “wiretapped” him?

“All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it,” Trump said during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week. “That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”

How about his claim, during the presidential campaign, that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination?

“Well, that was in a newspaper,” he told Time’s Michael Scherer this week. (The National Enquirer, to be specific.) “No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper.”

The ruling by a federal court in Washington state against Trump’s Muslim travel ban? The work of a “so-called judge,” Trump tweeted, and even he preemptively dumped the blame for any future terror attack on the courts for a decision that “essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country.”

There are no bucks on President Trump’s desk.

24 March 2017

HONESTLY, DON’T YOU FEEL MUCH SAFER NOW…?

1900 by Jeff Hess

170317 ruben bolling tom the dancing bug trump protects americans

24 March 2017

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI (OH-16):
A BRIDGE TOO FAR IS NOT REPUBLICANS’ END…

1800 by Jeff Hess

I think that comparing today’s events to Waterloo is way over the top. President Donald John Trump is far from finished (although I think Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, whom I’d cast as Ahab in this saga, may be done). If we have to reach for a military metaphor, perhaps Operation Market Garden and the bridge too far may be more apt.

President Trump sadly is attempting to blame Democrats for his failure to herd cats, but former Speaker John Boehner called this weeks ago when he said:

In the 25 years I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time, agreed on what a healthcare proposal should look like. Not once.

David Frum, writing in The Republican Waterloo: conservatives once warned that Obamacare would produce the Democratic Waterloo. Their inability to accept the principle of universal coverage has, instead, led to their own defeat for The Atlantic, offers some long-view perspective.

Seven years and three days ago, the House of Representatives grumblingly voted to approve the Senate’s version of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats in the House were displeased by many of the changes introduced by Senate Democrats. But in the interval after Senate passage, the Republicans had gained a 41st seat in the Senate. Any further tinkering with the law could trigger a Republican filibuster. Rather than lose the whole thing, the House swallowed hard and accepted a bill that liberals regarded as a giveaway to insurance companies and other interest groups. The finished law proceeded to President Obama for signature on March 23, 2010.

A few minutes after the House vote, I wrote a short blog post for the website I edited in those days. The site had been founded early in 2009 to argue for a more modern and more moderate form of Republicanism. The timing could not have been worse. At precisely the moment we were urging the GOP to march in one direction, the great mass of conservatives and Republicans had turned on the double in the other, toward an ever more wild and even paranoid extremism. Those were the days of Glenn Beck’s 5 o’clock Fox News conspiracy rants, of Sarah Palin’s “death panels,” of Orly Taitz and her fellow Birthers, of Tea Party rallies at which men openly brandished assault rifles.

Frum was fired for that writing that blog post.

In retrospect, I have to confess to considerable sympathy for my employers’ point of view. A think tank is not a university, a haven for disinterested thought. It exists to advocate, and I had contradicted my institution’s advocacy on the most sensitive point at the most sensitive time. Being right was no excuse. If anything, being right aggravated my offense.

The demand for message discipline reached its zenith in the conservative world in the months before and after ACA passage, and I was by no means the only person to fall afoul of it. From the libertarian Cato Institute, from the National Center for Policy Analysis, from Heritage—about half-a-dozen people were and would be forced to leave for expressly ideological reasons before and after me. And why not? If during the Obama presidency we did indeed—to borrow the mighty phrase of Theodore Roosevelt’s— “stand at Armageddon to battle for the Lord!” there could be no room in such a host for warriors who questioned the merits of the cause or the prudence of the generals.

Tonight, Trump and Ryan have both been disciplined—by We The People. This spanking, however, is not an expulsion. This is one battle in a long fight and the billionaire masters of the Republican Party are not slinking back to Mordor. Republicans have other fights—Trump has already said that cutting taxes for the wealthiest people is his next priority—but there are those who will want to go back into the health-care breach and Frum believes they are delusional:

On the strength of their vow to eliminate the ACA, Republicans would win election after election, culminating in the stunning capture of all the elected branches of government in November 2016. From time to time, some old veteran would recall my 2010 prediction that the law would endure and smilingly wonder if I wished to reconsider.

I never did, for the reasons that the whole world has witnessed in real time over this week of Obamacare’s 7th anniversary.

Some of the conservatives who voted “no” to the House leadership’s version of repeal may yet imagine that they will have some other opportunity to void the law. They are again deluding themselves. If the Republican Party tripped over its own feet walking across this empty ballroom, it will face only more fearsome difficulties in the months ahead, as mid-term elections draw closer. Too many people benefit from the law—and the Republican alternatives thus far offer too little to compensate for the loss of those benefits.

The last sentence, of course, is key: Too many people benefit from the law

Here is precisely what would happen in 2018 if Trumpcare were passed. Every single Republican who voted to repeal Obamacare would face political advertisement after political advertisement featuring the tragic sufferings and deaths of the constituents they’d kicked to the curb. Every day they would see the devastated faces of spouses, mothers, fathers and children whose lives have been destroyed because their elected representative took away the health care that was keeping their loved ones alive.

They may still face those ads. They should face those ads.

Just as I will not forget that my representative Jim Renacci was not on the list of Republicans ready to vote no on Trumpcare, We The People will not forget who stood on the right side this day.

Previously…

24 March 2017

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI (OH-16):
GO TO YOUR PHONE NOW AND CALL JIM RENACCI…

0300 by Jeff Hess

President Donald John Trump thinks he’s King Henry V, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan his Duke of Exeter and my representative in the House, Jim Renacci is relegated as that brave yeoman.

Following the president’s failure yesterday to bully and bribe enough Republicans into accepting that the steaming pile of shit gathered by Ryan, and blessed to be known for years as Trumpcare, was worth risking the ire of important constituencies like senior citizens represented by the American Association for Retire People, Ryan postponed the vote in the hopes that enough middle-of-the-night, backroom deals could gather the 216 votes needed to finally, after seven years of promises, replace Obamacare with Trumpcare. (I imagine that Ryan is at least thankful that his name will not be associated with pathetic legislation.)

Today, Ryan and Trump think they can beat 216 votes out of he Republicans in the House. We each can directly influence only one member. In my case that is Rep. Jim Renacci. If you, like me, live in Ohio’s 16th Congressional District, call Renacci now at:

Washington 202.225.3876
Wadsworth office 330.334.0040
Parma office 440.882.6779

[Update @ 0629: Again, Rep. Renacci’s Washington office voicemail box is full, but I left this message at both his Wadsworth and Parma offices: Good morning, this is Jeff Hess from Ohio’s 16th Congressional District calling to ask that Rep. Renacci think first about the Ohioans living in the 16th District and vote NO on any healthcare legislation that comes to the house floor today. Thank you.]

[Update @ 0741: Since Renacci’s Washington voicemail box is still full, I took the second option and email him. Here’s what I said:

Good morning,

I tried to call the Washington office this morning (and yesterday morning, but the voicemail box was full both days.

Email is a poor second option, but I want to encourage Rep. Renacci to do the right thing for the voters in Ohio’s 16th District (and considering that he has thrown his hat in the ring for governor, all of Ohioans) and vote NO on Trumpcare today.

Thank you,

Jeff Hess]

Let Renacci know that kicking 300,000 Ohioans to the health insurance curb is not a good idea.

Previously…

23 March 2017

FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS WE CANNOT ALTER…

0700 by Jeff Hess

Ralph Nader, in Reason and Justice Address Realities, writes:F

It is not just Donald Trump whose rhetoric is chronically bereft of reality. Politicians, reporters, commentators and academics are often similarly untethered to hard facts, albeit not for narcissistic enjoyment. There are many patterns of fact, relevant to a subject being discussed, that are off the table—either consciously or because they are deemed inconvenient. Rarely are there omissions due to the facts being hard to get or inaccessible.

That in mind, here are a few examples that warrant our scrutiny:

Consider the immense public attention to health insurance and health care and the recent struggles over Obamacare and now Ryancare. Conspicuously absent from the dialogues that pundits, politicians and reporters carry on is that the third leading cause of death in the U.S. is “medical error.” According to a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine report last May, over 250,000 people lose their lives yearly in U.S. hospitals from “diagnostic errors, medical mistakes and the absence of safety nets” to stop hospital-induced infections, incompetent personnel, dangerous mixes of prescribed drugs and more. Yet in the debate surrounding the health care industry, this huge annual human casualty toll is unmentioned and, for many, intentionally “off the table.”

From a financial perspective, all the coverage of the costs of health insurance and health care excludes at least an estimated $340 billion (according to, among other sources, the leading expert, Professor Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard University) Continue Reading »

23 March 2017

SCARY WAS SO MUCH MORE SIMPLE THEN…

0500 by Jeff Hess

170323 derf newt gingrich scary man true story

Next »