12 March 2017


0900 by Jeff Hess

12 March 2017


0700 by Jeff Hess

The Standing Rock Sioux, and thousands of supporters, came to Washington D.C. to continue the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline and for the protection of safe drinking water. Nathalie Baptiste, reporting in Thousands of Dakota Access Pipeline Activists Came to Washington—They aren’t done fighting for Mother Jones, writes:

On Friday morning, thousands of indigenous nations and environmental activists descended on Washington, D.C. for what they called the Native Nations Rise march and rally. The 1.5 mile march from the US Army Corps of Engineers headquarters to the White House was the culmination of a week-long event that included cultural workshops and panels. Protesters wore traditional garb and danced, while speakers in the adjacent park rallied the audience by leading marchers in “We stand with Standing Rock” chants.

Their primary cause? Fighting against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a controversial 1,172 mile-long pipeline that will eventually carry crude oil through North Dakota to Southern Illinois. The route will cross through Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s land multiple times, threatening their water source and despoiling sacred land. Indigenous activists and their allies began fighting the pipeline in 2015, but their most serious set back took place immediately after the inauguration when President Trump signed executive orders to advance approval of the pipeline. This week, a federal judge signed an order refusing to halt the construction.

Similar protest marches in support of clean water and the Indian rights spread across took place in Colorado, New Jersey, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Montana, Washington and New Hampshire,

The election of Donald John Trump to the Presidency of the United States of America is possibly the greatest unifying force ever for environmentalists and progressives.

11 March 2017


1200 by Jeff Hess

Ralph Nader, in An Open Letter to Congressman John Conyers on HR 676, writes:

Congressman John Conyers
2426 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

March 10, 2017

Dear Congressman Conyers,

Some of us are wondering why the 64 members of the House who have signed on to HR 676—the single payer/full Medicare for all legislation—have not individually or collectively put this proposal on the table. Since the media is all over the drive by the Republicans to replace or repair or revoke Obamacare, there is an obvious opening to make HR 676 part of the national and Washington dialogue. After all, this proposal is more comprehensive, more humane, more efficient and greatly simpler for the millions of Americans who are fed up with complexity and trap door fine-print. Your 64 or more cosigners come from around the country, where they can make news locally on a health insurance policy that is supported by about 60 percent of the American people, according to a recent Pew survey. When 60 percent of the American people can support single payer without a major effort to publicize and support it by the Democratic Party, that’s a pretty good start wouldn’t you say?

In today’s Wall Street Journal, no friend of single payer, the lengthy lead editorial closes with these words:

The healthcare market is at a crossroads. Either it heads in a more market-based direction step by step or it moves toward single-payer step by step. If Republicans blow this chance and default to Democrats, they might as well endorse single-payer because that is where the politics will end up.

Do the Wall Street Journal corporatist editorial writers have more faith in the energy and initiative of the cosigners of your bill than the cosigners of your bill do?

At long last, let’s get going on HR 676 besides nominal support by its cosigners.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader
PO Box 19367
Washington, DC 20036

11 March 2017


0500 by Jeff Hess

170311 first dog on the moon racoons of the resistance resist Andrew Marlton


11 March 2017


0300 by Jeff Hess

I wrote too late, but in the immortal words of Senator Jame Blutarsky, Nothing is over until we decide it is, so I’ll forgive the editors at The Guardian and welcome them to the resistance. The editors, in The Guardian view on Bernie Sanders: a voice worth hearing, write:

If the Democratic party is to offer hope, grit and stamina for the battle ahead with Donald Trump, it needs leadership. In his Guardian interview Bernie Sanders, the Democratic-allied senator from Vermont, makes a strong claim to provide that to a party that is in its worst state since the 1920s. The stakes could not be higher. The senator rightly calls out the US president for attempting to destroy the credibility of the American political system—using lies so that he can run it unchallenged as well as unhindered by the moral obligation to exercise power in an informed way.

So, how do The Guardian’s editors think President Donald John Trump may be thwarted?

[Mr. Sanders] is clear that the Democrats should become a bottom-up party again and reconnect liberals with the concerns of ordinary working Americans. This means the party has to consider how to prevent wages from sinking and prevent jobs from being exported. It needs to make the case to white-collar workers, who are frightened of being downsized themselves, that paying taxes to provide benefits for all is a necessary act for social stability.

It will require a political project that flattens America’s dizzying inequalities and stops the secession of the successful. Democrats should question why globalisation is producing a world economy in which an attempt by a nation to prevent the immiseration of its workers may result only in depriving them of employment. What Mr Sanders is saying is that Democrats should face the unpleasant truths about themselves, but not take those truths as the last word about America’s chances for happiness.

The Democratic party must have more agency and less spectatorship. Democrats made America more than just an economic and military giant. They showed the world their nation was also a force for good. Mr Sanders is helping us to remember that.

The election of Clintonista Tom Perez to head the Democratic National Committee was a strong move away from all of the above. Part of the resistance agenda must be the demand for Perez to step down and for the man who can lead the party in the correct direction—Deputy Chair Keith Ellison—to assume the post he ought to have been elected to in February.

10 March 2017


0700 by Jeff Hess

170310 bernie sanders trump lies

The norm in American presidential politics is for failed candidates to fade into the background, to lick their wounds.

Thankfully that is not the case with Senator Bernie Sanders. Ed Pilkington, reporting in ‘Trump lies all the time’: Bernie Sanders indicts president’s assault on democracy for The Guardian (you can read the full transcript here), writes:

Bernie Sanders has launched a withering attack on Donald Trump, accusing him of being a pathological liar who is driving America towards authoritarianism.

In an interview with the Guardian, the independent senator from Vermont, who waged a spirited campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, gave a bleak appraisal of the new White House and its intentions.

He warned that Trump’s most contentious outbursts against media, judiciary and other pillars of American public life amounted to a conscious assault on democracy.

“Trump lies all of the time and I think that is not an accident, there is a reason for that. He lies in order to undermine the foundations of American democracy.”

Sanders’ warning comes 50 days into the Trump presidency at a time when the country is still reeling from the shock elevation of a real estate businessman and reality TV star to the world’s most powerful office. In that brief period, the new incumbent of the White House has launched attacks on former president Barack Obama’s signature healthcare policy; on visitors from majority-Muslim countries, refugees and undocumented immigrants; and on trade agreements and environmental protection programs.

Bernie needs our help, all of our help, if We The People, together, united and indivisible, are to save The Republic.

10 March 2017


0500 by Jeff Hess

10 March 2017


0400 by Jeff Hess

[Update @ 0649: This headline just popped into my inbox—Chief Environmental Justice Official at EPA Resigns, With Plea to Pruitt to Protect Vulnerable Communities.]

So, I read the news yesterday and the headline above was the first thought that came to my mind after I read that President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency head, and more to the point, former attorney general for Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt said:

I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that [Carbon Dioxide is] a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.

Pruitt, who in his former job sued the EPA (I wonder how House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte feels about such frivolous suits?) 14 times clearly care more about serving his corporate masters than he does the American people.

Facts no longer matter in this case. Remember that the tobacco industry managed to suppress the links between the use of tobacco and various cancers for more than 50 years. Articles like the one cited above or the email I received from 350.org this morning are only preaching to the choir. The scales of justice are being tilted by billions of petrodollars on one side and the existential survival of modern society (and possibly the human race) on the other.

We can no more reason with the climate deniers (at least not until Mar-A-Lago disappears under the waves) than we can a petulant child.

Mass resistance is the only tactic that may work. Get started here, and here and here…

10 March 2017


0300 by Jeff Hess

170307 non sequitur wiley miller giant squelchy

Need inspiration? Start here, and here and here…

9 March 2017


0700 by Jeff Hess

A few years ago, during Black History Month, one of my students of Anglo-Saxon lineage asked: Why don’t we have have White History Month? I replied, We do, they’re called January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December at which point several of the non-Anglo-Saxon students in the room exchanged fist bumps and high fives.

I understand. When for all your history you’ve been on top (literally, in many cases) any change that threatens that privileged space is scary. I got another lesson on how scary the world has become for white privileged males like myself yesterday when Mary Jo sent me Danuta Kean’s Women’s history month promotion sees bookshop ‘silence men’s voices’ from The Guardian. Kean writes:

A bookshop in Ohio has made a graphic illustration of the position of female writers by leaving only books by women visible to its customers. The change, made to mark women’s history month, has provoked an angry reaction in some quarters, with accusations of sexism and censorship.

Eight members of staff at Loganberry Books in Cleveland turned the spines and covers of books by men to face the wall in the shop’s 10,000-title fiction section. Harriett Logan, the bookstore’s founder and owner, told the website Heat Street the intention was to illustrate how women’s voices were drowned out.

“In essence [we are] not just highlighting the disparity but bringing more focus to the women’s books now, because they’re the only ones legible on the shelf,” she told the online magazine. She added that although she had conceived the display to make a point, when completed it had an even stronger impact than she had expected.

Good on Logan. I’ve shopped several times at Loganberry books (although I must confess, I buy most of my books from Mac’s Backs) Just as people afraid of change see the phrase: Black Lives Matter and see White Lives Don’t Matter so, apparently did people discover Logan’s promotion and see a threat to their own safe space. Kean continues:

The shop has divided opinion online. Novelist Susan Petrone tweeted: “If @loganberrybooks had just done another display for #WomensHistoryMonth, nobody would be talking about gender disparities,” while thriller writer Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, tweeted: “Wouldn’t it be interesting to try this with your own TBR pile for a while? Might try it with mine.”

However, not all reactions were positive, with complaints that Logan should be running a “men’s history month” [See above, JH] to balance the promotion, and that the display was not about women’s voices, but about “hating men”. Editor and writing coach John Ettorre tweeted: “Simply unbelievable. Promoting women’s voices by symbolically silencing men’s. By an independent bookstore! Shame on you, Harriett.” He added: “Did they settle on this path after deciding burning books by men was just too over the top? I’m stunned.” [Emphasis mine, JH]

Logan responded to Ettorre’s comments by inviting him to the shop. “Come visit,” she tweeted back. “It is quite striking—eye opening. and, obviously, temporary.”

Some complained the move was a form of censorship that “insulted customers” and made it difficult for them to find an item. “This dumb broad is why so many women-run businesses go belly up,” one poster replied to a comment on Heat Street about the practicality of the display.

I’ve known John Ettorre as a writer, blogger and fellow supporter of Cleveland’s Blogfather and journalism treasure Roldo Bartimole for more than a decade and I’m also stunned. I did not think that John would write such a tone-deaf message. His tweet puts him in nefarious company, as a read of the comments on the Heat Street illustrate.

The shame, John, is on you, not Harriett.

9 March 2017


0400 by Jeff Hess

That lawsuits—like the one from infamous Stella Liebeck—are only filed by greedy ne’er do wells seeing fast money in suing big corporations with deep pockets hoping for go-away money, is a matter of dogma among a large segment of economically disadvantage (i.e. not on the Forbes’ 400 list) Americans. The dogma, of course, is pure bullshit. The disadvantaged, or as John Steinbeck labeled them, the temporarily embarrassed, want to keep their options open so that some slacker doesn’t take their money when they get rich.


Ralph Nader, writing in Bad Bob Goodlatte Blocks Your Day In Court, details how temporarily embarrassed Republicans in Congress–like Ohio’s Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-04)—are voting to keep the riff raff out of their handler’s courts.

Why does House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (Rep. VA) want to fast-track legislation overhauling civil litigation that protects all Americans—including those in his Congressional District, who simply wish to have their day in court when wrongfully injured or cheated by the very corporations to whom Chairman Goodlatte is beholden? Does he distrust judges and juries that have fairly adjudicated disputes for years? Does he hate the American people?

As with many issues, it is about campaign money from the big business members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its cruel chief, Tom Donohue. But it is also about being inebriated with the secure power that gerrymandered electoral Continue Reading »

8 March 2017


0500 by Jeff Hess

8 March 2017


0400 by Jeff Hess

So, I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to Milo Yiannopoulos in much the same way I rarely notice other drama queens and attention sluts. Matt Taibbi, however, writing in Milo Yiannopoulos Isn’t Going Away for Rolling Stone, makes an important point in his conclusion:

A dynamic that all good swindlers understand is that once you’ve gotten a person to make one embarrassing decision, it’s easier to get him to make the next one. A person who loses 10 grand trying to buy the Brooklyn Bridge is a good bet to spend 20 more chasing the loss. Con artists call this “reloading.”

The Trump phenomenon has been like this. Megachurch moms and dads across the country grit their teeth when the “grab them by the pussy” tape came out, quietly convincing themselves that “locker-room talk” was less horrifying than a Hillary Clinton presidency.

When they cast their votes weeks later, it was like a secret transgression that bound them to the new leader. This counter-intuitive brand of politics is very effective. It’s why no one should be too quick to put this week’s seeming fiasco with CPAC in the Republicans’ loss column.

One would think the last thing you’d want to do if your intent was to hold a fragile Republican coalition together is pitch Milo Yiannopoulos as a defender of family values. Why would the Mike Pence crowd ever rally behind a Brit with frosted hair who brags about getting blowjobs from priests? It seems preposterous.

But watch it work. A week from now, the same conservatives who are beating their breasts about Yiannopoulos now will go crawling back into the Trump camp to fight the hated liberals on a dozen other issues. They will look weak and indecisive, and privately will be demoralized, while the Trump/Bannon/Milo crew will look like poker players who won a bluff. It’s always about the next news cycle with these people.

Trolling doesn’t take brains. But it works, and it will keep working, until we learn to see through the provocations in real time.

I’m not sure failing to see through the provocations is the challenge here. I think we see the provocations, we just don’t invest the time to take a few deep breaths because in the time those breaths take, the story has morphed and moved on and we have a new provocation to process. Over the years I’ve learned that trolls understand how to avoid questions by asking other, often unrelated questions, of their own. They behave like Ritalin-deprived adolescents unable to focus more than 30 seconds on thoughts that don’t fit their personal happiness narrative.

Crafting a response in real time presumes that the provocateur gives a shit about the response.

Milo, and his ilk don’t.

They just need to believe that they matter.

7 March 2017


1900 by Roldo Bartimole

170207 roldo dan brady george forbes pov vol 20 no 3 a

Dan Brady used to be a man of the people.

Now he’s servant of the anti-people. A stooge.

Fallen deeply for the Establishment he once made his reputation by opposing.

Nothing could be worse.

Here is his quiet spanking of civic protest of the Quicken Arena give-away:

“It’s become very clear that after listening to our friends who we like and who we agree with, that they have very little understanding of what the county presently does and how it spends its money,” Brady said at a meeting on the give-away of city AND county money to billionaire Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavilers.

Talk about spin.

Stomping on what little civic action there is in this town is an act of treachery.

I’ve written about Brady and his opposition to deals just like this one.

Here’s one 1989 situation under a headline: Brady bristles Forbes.

I wrote:

Dan Brady continues to be the single council member who directly questions the authority of Council President George Forbes. He does it in a rather quiet manner. Sometimes simply asking a question.

Forbes bristles each time.

Brady fought Forbes’s dictatorship.

I say this because now is the time for some strong political leadership. Brady, the County Council, toady County Executive Armond Budish, the hapless Kevin Continue Reading »

7 March 2017


1700 by Jeff Hess

170307 henry gomez buzzfeed

More than a ten or so years ago, when Cleveland’s blogger scene was much tighter than today, Henry Gomez was known as one of the good guys. Cleveland journalism is diminished by his loss, but I can’t say I’m surprised that he’s moving out and up.

In fact, I’m surprised that the move took this long.

Now I have a reason to read BuzzFeed.

6 March 2017


1100 by Jeff Hess

My favorite class in Journalism School was Dr. Dru Evarts’ Media And The Law. We spent a lot of time in that class on the two most important topics for any journalist: libel and slander.

When I first heard this weekend about President Donald John Trump’s accusation that President Barack Hussein Obama directed the tapping of Trump’s private office phones in Trump Tower, I immediately asked: did the sitting president just libel his predecessor?

Phil McCausland, reporting in Analysis: Does Obama Have Grounds to Sue Trump for Libel? for NBC News, writes:

President Donald Trump’s newest pivot might be his way to divert attention from his own Russia troubles by leveling a Watergate-level conspiracy allegation at former President Barack Obama.

But this latest assertion that Obama ordered illegal surveillance of Trump Tower during the 2016 election — tweeted without evidence — could get the president into some legal hot water.

Although the law provides a great deal of leeway for political speech, that protection is not all encompassing. And because of the way Trump has leveled unsubstantiated accusations at Obama, he may have libeled his predecessor.

“He’s basically stating that Mr. Obama committed crimes, and to state that somebody has committed a crime when it’s false is clearly defamatory,” said Benjamin Zipursky, who teaches defamation law at Fordham University Law School in New York.

“The question is: Is there enough evidence of serious reckless disregard to send that case to a jury?” Zipursky added. “I don’t know what a court would decide on that, but there is some evidence of recklessness.”

Does the president know that he can’t just make shit up?

6 March 2017


1000 by Jeff Hess

6 March 2017


0700 by Jeff Hess

That President Donald John Trump lied about President Barack Hussein Obama having Trump’s offices in Trump Tower tapped is disturbing, but not scary. What is scary is that the President of the United States believes that his offices were tapped because of a bit of fake news he heard second (third? fourth?) hand via Breitbart News.

Fake news has real world, possibly catastrophic, consequences. Michael Schmidt, reporting in Comey Asks Justice Dept. to Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claim for The New York Times, writes:

The FBI director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment. Sarah Isgur Flores, the spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment.

Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration.

The White House showed no indication that it would back down from Mr. Trump’s claims. On Sunday, the president demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Mr. Obama had abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies before the 2016 presidential election. In a statement from his spokesman, Mr. Trump called “reports” about the wiretapping “very troubling” and said Congress should examine them as part of its investigations into Russia’s meddling in the election.

Glenn Kessler, reporting in Trump’s ‘evidence’ for Obama wiretap claims relies on sketchy, anonymously sourced reports for The Washington Post outed the fake news:

President Trump’s explosive allegation that former president Barack Obama wiretapped him is based on—what?

That has been the question ever since Trump sent provocative early-morning tweets over the weekend, because he and his staff have provided no evidence.

At The Fact Checker, we require the accuser to provide the evidence for a dramatic claim. We asked Saturday and received no answer.

However, in calling for a congressional investigation of apparent Russian meddling in the election to also look into Trump’s allegation, White House press secretary Sean Spicer on March 5 referred to “reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations.” That suggests the tweets were based on media reports, not information the president might have received from inside the government.

Our colleague Robert Costa has reported that White House aides have internally circulated an article on Breitbart titled “Mark Levin to Congress: Investigate Obama’s ‘Silent Coup’ vs. Trump.” Breitbart is a right-leaning news organization that is a rather unreliable source of information. Often the material that is published is derivative and twisted in misleading ways.

However, a White House spokesman told The Fact Checker that the White House instead is relying on reports “from BBC, Heat Street, New York Times, Fox News, among others.” He provided a list of five articles.

Of course, as Jon Schwarz reported in If Trump Tower Was Wiretapped, Trump Can Declassify That Right Now for The Intercept, the President has an easy answer:

If in fact Trump Tower was wiretapped during the 2016 presidential campaign, as President Trump claimed in several tweets Saturday morning, he can do much more than say so on twitter: Presidents have the power to declassify anything at any time, so Trump could immediately make public any government records of such surveillance.

According to a report in the BBC, citing unnamed sources, a joint government task force was formed in spring of 2016 to look into an intelligence report from a foreign government that Russian money was somehow coming into the U.S. presidential race. In June the Department of Justice, part of the task force, asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for a warrant to intercept electronic communications by two Russian banks.

However, the BBC’s report says, the FISA court turned the application down.. The Justice Department then asked again in July with a more narrowly drawn request, which was again turned down. Justice then made a third request for a warrant on October 15, which was granted.

None of this involves wiretapping Trump Tower. However, it is possible that Trump picked that up from a Breitbart article that in turn relied on a Heat Street piece that claimed the warrant was issued because of evidence of links between a “private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower” and a Russian bank. In fact, the server in question, set up by a marketing company hired by Trump, was physically located in Philadelphia.

I see the hand of Steve Bannon and his handlers in all this.

I’m reminded of the scene in Broadcast News where Albert Brooks plays the intelligent Cyrano to William Hurt’s pretty but dumb Christian as he sits in his living room, feeding the news to the on-air Hurt’s talking head mouthing the news. There is a Howdy Doody/Charlie McCarthy quality to the delivery as Brooks realizes that what he says is being repeated on national television.

Steve Bannon now, apparently, has the same power. Bannon can make shit up and reliably depend upon the hapless President tweeting whatever silly message he wishes to send.

If that doesn’t scare the holy fucking shit out of you, you’re lost.

6 March 2017


0300 by Jeff Hess

5 March 2017


1300 by Jeff Hess

So, in speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference on 24 February, President Donald John Trump said:

We have authorized the construction, one day, of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. And issued a new rule. This took place while I was getting ready to sign. I said, who makes the pipes for the pipeline? Well, sir, it comes from all over the world, isn’t that wonderful? I said, nope, it comes from the United States or we’re not building one. American steel. If they want a pipeline in the United States, they’re going to use pipe that’s made in the United States, do we agree? [Emphasis mine.]

Except when they don’t. From the Associated Press, reporting in Keystone, Dakota Access pipelines won’t use US steel despite Pres. Trump’s pledge, writes:

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that’s due to language in a presidential directive Trump issued in January. The directive applies to new pipelines or those under repair. Sanders said it would be hard to do an about-face on Keystone because it’s already under construction and the steel has been acquired.

Do think the fact that much of the already purchased steel traces back to a Russian company plays at all in this?


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