15 August 2015


1200 by Jeff Hess

I’m thinking that he had lived, Ronald Reagan would not recognize where the crazies have taken the party he thought he had brought back from the Nixonian cliff. While the Republican Party is great for Comedy Central and others making a living from political humor, I don’t see how this can be any good for the country.

Matt Taibbi, in Inside the GOP Clown Car, for Rolling Stone writes:

In the modern Republican Party, making sense is a secondary consideration. Years of relentless propaganda combined with extreme frustration over the disastrous Bush years and two terms of a Kenyan Muslim terrorist president have cast the party’s right wing into a swirling suckhole of paranoia and conspiratorial craziness. There is nothing you can do to go too far, a fact proved, if not exactly understood, by the madman, Trump.

Except, of course, The Donald is far from being a madman, and that is what really scares me. Taibbi continues:

Politics used to be a simple, predictable con. Every four years, the money men in D.C. teamed up with party hacks to throw their weight behind whatever half-bright fraud of a candidate proved most adept at snowing the population into buying a warmed-over version of the same crappy policies they’ve always bought.

Pundits always complained that there wasn’t enough talk about issues during these races, but in reality, issues were still everything. Behind the scenes, where donors gave millions for concrete favors, there was always still plenty of policy. And skilled political pitchmen like Christie, who could deftly deliver on those back-room promises to crush labor and hand out transportation contracts or whatever while still acting like a man of the people, were highly valued commodities.

Not anymore. Trump has blown up even the backroom version of the issues-driven campaign. There are no secret donors that we know of. Trump himself appears to be the largest financial backer of the Trump campaign. A financial report disclosed that Trump lent his own campaign $1.8 million while raising just $100,000.

If The Donald wants to loan another $98.2 million, what’s to stop him?

15 August 2015


0900 by Jeff Hess

So, images crowds of protesters engulfed in clouds of tear gas result in uncomfortable images of militarized police earning their Michael Brown Bonus. Sound waves, however, are invisible and military contractor LRAD is cashing in on that fact with police forces across America.

Lee Fang, writing in Acoustic Cannon Sales to Police Surge After Black Lives Matter Protests for The//Intercept tell us:

During a company conference call with financial analysts last week, Tom Brown, the chief executive of LRAD, a military contractor, informed investors that sales were rolling in, not just from Chinese government agencies and the U.S. Navy, but also from American law enforcement.

LRAD manufactures an acoustic cannon that can be used either as a mounted loudspeaker or as a weapon to fire deafening noises at crowds of people.

Over the last year, following a wave of protests over officer-involved killings of black Americans, LRAD has seen an uptick in inquiries from police departments around the country.

Brown told financial analysts in a May conference call about the “renewed interest” from police departments. “A lot of grant money starts to flow to law enforcement, and we’re getting a lot of inquiries” following protests, he said. One inquiry he mentioned came from the Maryland Sheriff’s Department following the protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray.

Speaking to investors, LRAD executives explained that their product was on site in Baltimore, on loan from Montgomery County, Maryland, though officers ended up not using it on demonstrators. But, the LRAD executives added, the New York Police Department used the cannon as a loudspeaker to order demonstrators in Union Square who were holding a solidarity protest in support of the Baltimore actions to disperse.

So, what does a LRAD sound like?

15 August 2015


0800 by Jeff Hess

ferguson bonus 150815

Every time I think that we’ve seen the last stupid police officer, that we’re turning a corner on institutional racism in America, along comes another clueless cop to burst my bubble. This is the reason why we need Black Lives Matter, because to people like Todd J Bakula, Black lives are just a way to score a great weekend with his wife.

Steven W Thrasher, in Missouri police officer brags about spending ‘annual Michael Brown bonus’ for The Guardian, writes:

St Louis County police are investigating a Facebook comment in which one of their officers appears to brag about the extra income he earned while working during protests in Ferguson which marked the one-year anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown.

Officer Todd J Bakula, known as “TJ”, appears to be showing off about extra money earned while part of a massive police response throughout this week with the anniversary demonstrations of Brown’s death, which saw St. Louis County cops working long hours.

“I decided to spend my annual Michael Brown bonus on a nice relaxing bicycle ride trip to Defiance,” a Missouri recreation destination about 40 miles from Ferguson, Bakula wrote on his personal Facebook page under the name TJ Thekoola. “Eating dinner now and staying at a bed and breakfast tonight.”

After reviewing the Facebook post, Shawn McGuire, media relations officer at St Louis County police, confirmed to the Guardian by email that “Police officer Bakula is a patrolman with the St Louis County police department.”

“We understand the post is controversial,” McGuire said.

A white cop is jubilant because he scores his Michael Brown Bonus and gets to take a sweet vacation with his wife and the best word you can think of is controversial? Me thinks that Shawn McGuire is just sad he didn’t get his Michael Brown Bonus.

15 August 2015


0500 by Jeff Hess

[Update at 1556 on 18 August—Lee Glendinning, Editor, Guardian US, was kind enough to send me a note regarding my concerns about the Kayla Mueller story. The correction would have been more than sufficient. Glendinning writes:

Hello Jeff

This wording has been changed, and a correction note placed in the piece.

Thank you for your note, and for reading.

Best wishes


Yet another example of the class act that is The Guardian.]

[Update at 0733—I just checked the Kayla Mueller story and discovered this: This headline and body text of this article were amended on 15 August 2015 to clarify that Kayla Mueller was raped while in captivity. The headline and lede now read:

Kayla Mueller was raped by Isis leader before her death, officials say.

The late American hostage Kayla Mueller was repeatedly raped by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group, US officials have said.

Mueller, an aid worker, was held for a time by Islamic State financier Abu Sayyaf and his wife, Umm Sayyaf. Baghdadi reportedly took Mueller as a “wife”, and repeatedly raped her when he visited, her parents Carl and Marsha Mueller were told.

My email, posted below, must have been one of thousands flooding the Guardian’s in-boxes.

Good on you Guardian.]

The Guardian this morning (no comments allowed) has a story about Kayla Mueller with the headline: Kayla Mueller forced to have sex with Isis leader before her death, officials say.

The lede to the story, based partially on an Associated Press wire story, is:

The late American hostage Kayla Mueller was repeatedly forced to have sex with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group, US officials have said.

Mueller, an aid worker, was held for a time by Islamic State financier Abu Sayyaf and his wife, Umm Sayyaf. Baghdadi reportedly took Mueller as a “wife”, and repeatedly forced her to have sex with him when he visited, her parents Carl and Marsha Mueller were told.

So, three times—once in the head and twice in the lede, we are told that Mueller was forced to have sex.

What the bloody fuck, Guardian? Mueller was raped. Repeatedly. Why the fucking euphemism?

I sent this email to Matt Sullivan, deputy head of news for Guardian US at 0543:

Good morning Mx. Sullivan,

I’m gobsmacked. In your piece concerning Kayla Mueller, three times, once in the head and twice in the lede, you use the phrase “forced to have sex.”

She wasn’t “forced to have sex,” she was “raped.” Repeatedly. The word “rape” only appear in the text of the link for the story:


As a journalist I can think of no intelligent reason for the use of a euphemism here. None.

I would have left this objection as a comment, but none were permitted on the story.

Do all you can to make today a good day,

Jeff Hess

15 August 2015


0400 by Jeff Hess

Last Tuesday I wrote about watching the documentary Fed Up, a film exploring the obesity epidemic in America and the central role played by sugar in that national disaster. This morning, while reading about Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir, a Mauritanian sentenced to death for the crime of writing an article critical of the prophet Mohammed, I was drawn to the click bait in the right-hand column: What Eating 40 Teaspoons of Sugar a Day Can Do to You. Anahad O’Connor writes:

Soda has been a major target in the debate over sugar and its role in the obesity crisis. But high levels of added sugars can be found in many seemingly healthful foods, from yogurts to energy bars and even whole-grain bread.

A new movie called “That Sugar Film” seeks to educate consumers about the hazards of consuming too much added sugar, which can be found in an estimated 80 percent of all supermarket foods. The new documentary stars an Australian actor-director, Damon Gameau, who modeled his movie after “Super Size Me,” the 2004 film that followed Morgan Spurlock as he consumed an all-McDonald’s diet for 30 days.

In “That Sugar Film,” which first had its debut in Australia this year, Mr. Gameau gives up his normal diet of fresh foods for two months to see what happens when he shifts to eating a diet containing 40 teaspoons of sugar daily, the amount consumed by the average Australian (and an amount not far from the 28 teaspoons consumed daily by the average American teenager). The twist is that Mr. Gameau avoids soda, ice cream, candy and other obvious sources of sugar. Instead, he consumes foods commonly perceived as “healthy” that are frequently loaded with added sugars, like low-fat yogurt, fruit juice, health bars and cereal.

Growing up I remember my mother sprinkling tab sugar on my tomato soup (which already has already has 10 grams of sugar per half cup serving) and my grandfather sprinkling the same on my half a grapefruit. Neither food needs added sugar. That is not what Gameau is demonstrating. Instead, he’s gone after the sugar in foods we would never add sugar to at the table.

I recently did the calculations based on the recommendation that no more than 5 percent of my calories come from sugars. My weight-loss calorie consumption target (216.5 this morning, down 1.3 pounds from yesterday) is 1,600 calories per day. Five percent of that is 80 calories per day. That works out to 20 grams (4 calories per gram) of sugars from processed foods per day. That is a hard target to hit once you start reading labels. The easiest way to do so is to simply not eat processed foods.

The first food category to fall of my consumption list was fruit juice. I drank 200 ml of grapefruit juice daily (14 grams of not-added sugar and 135 ml of carrot juice another 7.3 grams. Those two together blow my goal. So, they’re gone. That leaves my half a power bar, 2.5 grams of sugar (morning snack with my coffee at 0400); 45 grams of granola, 10.5 grams (breakfast at 0800) and tomato soup, 25 grams (lunch) for a total of 35.5 grams of processed sugar. That is 178 percent of my target.

The soup has to go too. Now I have a moral dilemma. I have four cases of Campbell’s healthy choice (yeah, right) tomato soup in my larder. Do I throw the cans away (that would be difficult for me) or donate the cans to a food bank and contribute to the sickness of the person eating the soup?

14 August 2015


0900 by Jeff Hess

Bill McKibben convinced then Guardian Editor Alan Rushbridger to take on what has become Rushbridger’s legacy: Keep Carbon In The Ground.

McKibben is convinced that Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who will address Global Warming and Climate Change. He writes:

Why is the next presidency so important?

There are many answers to that question, but one is that the next president will be the first to come to office in a world where solar panels are cheap. That’s potentially a very big deal, if leaders take full advantage of it.

For a quarter century now, scientists have been very worried—scared to death, in fact—about climate change. It’s the biggest thing that’s happened on our planet in the course of human history: the Arctic is melting, the oceans are acidifying, and the weather has turned dangerously weird almost everywhere.

And so we’ve fought at every turn: against tarsands mining (Bernie was the key guy on Capitol Hill in the Keystone fight) and mountaintop removal coal mining, against new coal ports and frack wells, for a serious price on carbon. It’s gone well; we’ve built a real movement, one that drew 400,000 people to New York (including one Vermont senator) for the biggest demonstration about anything in long time in this country.

But the fossil fuel industry, in its endless effort to keep the profitable status quo — even if it destroyed the planet — always had one ace in its hand: the fact Continue Reading »

14 August 2015


0800 by Jeff Hess

doonesbury 150814
Previously and the follow up, Alice is fine.

14 August 2015


0700 by Jeff Hess

In the latest in the Keep Carbon In The Ground… campaign, Emma Howard writes:

Today in the Guardian, almost 1,000 health professionals from around the world have come together to ask the Wellcome Trust to move their money out of fossil fuel companies on ethical grounds. They have signed a letter calling on the multi-billion pound health charity to divest from fossil fuels in the name of one of the most fundamental principles of medical ethics: “do no harm.”

The Wellcome Trust says it is “dedicated to improving health by supporting bright minds in science, the humanities and social sciences, and public engagement”—so a call by hundreds of minds in the health profession could have the biggest impact of all.

The text of the ‘Do no harm’: Medical professionals urge Wellcome Trust to end fossil fuel investments The Guardian letter to the members of The Welcome Trust reads:

Dear members of the Wellcome Trust executive board,

We write as concerned health professionals and academics in relation to the Guardian’s Keep it in the ground campaign calling on the Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation to divest from the world’s 200 largest fossil fuel companies over the next five years.

The Wellcome Trust is an outstanding philanthropic institution whose work has a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of millions worldwide. We congratulate the Trust on its leadership in promoting and funding research into the impacts of climate change, and hope that this work will continue to grow in line with the urgent threat to human health and survival. However, we were disappointed to learn of the Trust’s decision to continue to invest in fossil fuel companies.

It is uncontested that the majority of carbon reserves listed on stock exchanges must remain underground if we are to avoid exceeding a 2C rise in Continue Reading »

14 August 2015


0400 by Jeff Hess

By presenting the American public with a never-ending penguin march of frighteningly crazy white (mostly) men (mostly) the Republican Party lowers the bar so far as to make whichever white man (not mostly) gets the vote here at the convention next summer seems downright reasonable.

To make that strategy work, the operatives have to push and push and push everyone toward the wrong-wing cliff so that the sacrificial crazies can stay in the spotlight as long as possible. One what they do that is to bandy about cute catch phrases that belittle anyone who refuses a sufficient amount of crazy. This cycle the word du jour is cusckservative.

“Cuckservative”: noun, portmanteau of cuckold and conservative, pejorative internet slang. A conservative who is not conservative enough for some other conservatives, with implications of cowardice and sexual impotence and/or deviance.

The term “cuckservative” caught the eye of puzzled observers this week amid the froth of commentary floating around the race to become the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

It has been dubbed a sign of a “raging civil war” tearing the Republican party apart, “the GamerGate” of white supremacists, and a meme expressing “a certain kind of contempt”. But the dictionaries have yet to step in, leaving readers to take it apart more or less on their own.

The basics are simple: cuckold, a man with an adulterous wife or partner, and conservative, which in context means someone on the spectrum of 21st-century Republican thought.

The insult’s most general gist is conservatives accused of bowing to one non-conservative idea or another, eg immigration reform, should feel humiliated, their ideology adulterated.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is thus accused of cuckservatism for supporting a path to citizenship for immigrants, rather than the “big, beautiful wall” to enclose the United States, as endorsed by Donald Trump in last week’s GOP debate.

Radio host Rush Limbaugh alluded to the meme in praise of Trump on Wednesday, saying that “if Trump were your average, ordinary, cuckolded Republican, he? would have apologized by now” for criticizing Fox News host Megyn Kelly.

Way to push those not crazy enough (like Mx. Kelly?) to be called a conservative Mx. Limbaugh.

13 August 2015


2100 by Jeff Hess

dilbert 150813

13 August 2015


1900 by Jeff Hess

mr ms mx

I adopted their as a singular pronoun when I was in college after learning that the word had had that role in the 19th century, becoming a plural pronoun in the 20th century. My decision was driven both by a desire to be gender sensitive and because I could not stand the convoluted he/she, him/her &c.

Using my Merriam-Webster dictionary on line today, I came across this:

Last month, news broke that the Oxford English Dictionary added a new honorific for inclusion in their dictionaries: the gender-neutral Mx, used as a title for those who do not identify as being of a particular gender, and for those who are transgender—or, for people who simply don’t want to be identified by gender.

Pronounced to sound like mix or mux, the title Mx. (which, like other honorifics, is styled without the period in British English) is used increasingly on various official forms in the UK, including driver’s licenses and banking documents.

Although the earliest print evidence of Mx. is from a 1977 issue of an American magazine called Single Parent, the title has not seen much official or published use in the US. It did, however, appear twice in recent days in The New York Times: a June 4th article noted Mx. as someone’s preferred honorific, and a June 5th article all about Mx. made it clear that the June 4th use was an exception. The title simply isn’t familiar enough to the newspaper’s readers to be fully adopted.

Do we need to know the gender of someone we’re told about: report to Mx. Jones at 3 p.m. or Mx. Smith will see you now? Do we need any honorific at all if everyone gets the same honorific? Is this to become our Citizen or Comrade?

I’m inclined to make the shift, but somehow the x just makes me wince.

What do you think?

13 August 2015


1600 by Jeff Hess

[Update at 0858 on 14 August: Chromosome answered my question. The circle is part of the WMCSM’s .5 child (note the plate to WMCSD’s left.) which makes my use of red here a bit prescient (and icky).]

derf 150813

Usually I have no problem with Derf’s art, but I’ve been staring at White Middle Class Suburban Daughter’s left hip/side trying to figure out what the circle (I added the color) is meant to represent.

Suggestions anyone?

13 August 2015


1500 by Jeff Hess

[Update at 0725 on 14 August: Mano Singham comes at Mx. Trump from a different angle in Thinking the unthinkable.]

From Will Rogers to Lenny Bruce to George Carlin to Jon Stewart, American comics (and others) seem to better understand and articulate the nuances of American politics than all the pundits. Add Scott Adams to that list.

Adams has nailed Donald Trump and laid bare his hidden-in-the-open secrets:

If you’re keeping score, in the past month Trump has bitch-slapped the entire Republican Party, redefined our expectations of politics, focused the national discussion on immigration, proposed the only new idea for handling ISIS, and taken functional control of FOX News. And I don’t think he put much effort into it. Imagine what he could do if he gave up golf.

As far as I can tell, Trump’s “crazy talk” is always in the correct direction for a skilled persuader. When Trump sets an “anchor” in your mind, it is never random. And it seems to work every time.

Now that Trump owns FOX, and I see how well his anchor trick works with the public, I’m going to predict he will be our next president. I think he will move to the center on social issues (already happening) and win against Clinton in a tight election.

Adams’ conclusion—that Trump will be our next president—is scary as hell, but I can’t fault his logic.

13 August 2015


1300 by Jeff Hess

roldo 150813

A sales tax goes out of business.

Don’t clap.

Another one—of the same shade—goes into effect. August 1.

July 2015 ended the 15-year sin tax we suckers voted for a decade-and-a-half ago. And the total take for the sin tax as of the end of last month was $135,421,613. Cash received.

That’s a lot of money for the pockets of Dan Gilbert, Jimmy Haslam and Larry Dolan, our sports owner welfare clients. They take it with a smile.

The information sheet sent by the County notes that the “account balance is $22,912,487. Wonder how they’re going to spend what’s left over?

The Plain Dealer, our main source of public information, doesn’t pound these figures home. Oh, they’ll tell you, as Mark Naymik did recently, that there’s a problem but it’s stated in a rather meaningless way. The TV stations are not much more than team cheerleaders. Empty news calories; Jim Donovan cheerleaders.

So we continue the charade.

August 1 started the new 20-year sin tax. The old tax, ended in July, collected from Cuyahoga taxpayers at $135-million. The first sin tax in 1990 collected $240 million, making the total take $375 million. That’s not peanuts from a Continue Reading »

12 August 2015


1200 by Jeff Hess

bernie 44 percent 150812

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has rocketed past longtime front-runner Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, a stunning turn in a race once considered a lock for the former secretary of state, a new Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll shows.

Sanders leads Clinton 44-37 percent among likely Democratic primary voters, the first time the heavily favored Clinton has trailed in the 2016 primary campaign, according to the poll of 442 Granite-Staters.

Vice President Joe Biden got 9 percent support in the test primary match-up. The other announced Democrats in the race, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia Gov. Jim Webb, barely register at 1 percent or below.

The live interview phone poll was conducted Aug. 7-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

12 August 2015


1200 by Jeff Hess

It’s been a busy week in Wally World: the Universe’s source of cheap plastic crap from China. On The Writing On The Wal—the blog USA Today says should be on its readers’ radar—I continue my singular work dedicated to drawing back the curtain on the Bentonvile Behemoth’s corporate disinformation and other flackery.

SO, DOUG MCMILLON’S WHOLE PACKAGE IS… Yesterday, in WHAT INCOME INEQUALITY LOOKS LIKE…, I wrote about the wage gap between some employees, like Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, and business owners, like the Koch Brothers, and called that… Keep reading…

DID WALMART IMPLY A RAISE TO $15 AN HOUR…? Walmart has made stupid media and public relations decisions in the past that have blown up in the company’s face. After watching the commercial several times, and reflecting on just how many fecking… Keep reading…

WILL WALMART CHANGE NIGERIAN EMAILS…? I’ve written before about Walmart in Africa and about the experiences of a Nigerian selling ethnic cuisine to Walmart customers. Now I read about Nwike Ojukwu concerns surrounding Walmart’s entrance… Keep reading…

WALMART IS A RACE TO THE BOTTOM… Yesterday I wrote about Nwike Ojukwu’s views on Walmart coming to Lagos State, Nigeria. Ojukwu had reservations. Today, a second African voice, that of Chidi Oguamanam, also writing for Sahara Reporters… Keep reading…

ARE WALMART PAY RAISES BACKFIRING…? I confess, that while I had, and continue to have a number of concerns regarding the pay raises for hourly workers at Walmart announced early in the year, I did not consider that the raises, and how… Keep reading…

WALMART ICE CREAM WON’T MELT…? Before I get to the real story here, I have to share Walmart’s response as to why one of the company’s Great Value ice cream sandwiches didn’t melt after 12 hours out-of-doors in a Southern Ohio summer. Here’s what… Keep reading…

REMEMBER THOSE ASIA SUBCONTRACTOR TIFFS…? Walmart—and to be fair, many other garment wholesalers and retailers doing business in Asia—has long been rightly pilloried for the way workers making all that cheap plastic (wearable) crap from ChinaKeep reading…

NEW YORKERS POLLED ON WALMART… Are politicians, and their Union backers, depriving New York City residents of the joys and benefits of shopping at Walmart. A poll taken by Quinnipiac University seems to make that case. Greg David, reporting in… Keep reading…

Previously on Walmart Wednesday

12 August 2015


1000 by Jeff Hess

I first wrote about Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate on 14 March, at the beginning of my consideration of The Guardian’s Keep Carbon In The Ground campaign. I ordered a copy of Klein’s book from the library and waited nearly five months for my request to be filled.

That was a huge mistake. I ought to have bought a copy—an error I have since corrected—that day.

What follows are my notes from the introduction of the book (pp. 1-28) as compiled in My Electronic Chapbook. More will follow in the coming days. Don’t wait for my notes, however, buy the book today. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring galvanized my own environmental awareness in 1969 when I was a high school freshman. I’ve read many books on ecology and the environment since, but none come close to the clarity and call to action as Klein’s.

She is an amazing, focused and clear writer with a vital message to share. My fervent wish is that what she has done here will have the same effect on people as did Carson’s descriptions of those silent robins.

Slavery wasn’t a crisis for British and American elites until abolitionism turned it into one. Racial discrimination wasn’t a crisis until the civil rights movement turned it into one. Apartheid wasn’t a crisis until the anti-apartheid movement turned it into one.

In the very same way, if enough of us stop looking away and decide that climate change is a crisis worthy of Marshall Plan levels of response, then it will become one, and the political class will have to respond, both by making resources available and by bending the free market rules that have proven so pliable when elite interests are in peril. p. 6

So my mind keeps coming back to the question: what’s wrong with us? What is really preventing us from putting out the fire that is threatening to burn down our collective house?

I think the answer is far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe—and would benefit the vast majority—are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process and most of our major media outlets. That problem might not have been insurmountable had it presented itself at another point in history. But it is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made the decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when those elites were enjoying more unfettered political, cultural and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s. Indeed, governments and scientists began talking seriously about radical cuts to greenhouse gas emissions in 1988—the exact year that marked the dawning of what we call globalization, with the signing of the agreement representing the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship between Canada and the United States, later to be expanded into the North American Free Trade Agreement with the inclusion of Mexico. p. 18-9.

[Free trade] was always about using these sweeping deals, as well as a range of other tools, to lock in a global policy framework that provided maximum freedom to multinational corporations to produce goods as cheaply as possible and sell them with as few regulations as possible—while paying as little taxes as possible. Granting this corporate wishlist, we were told, would fuel economic growth, which could trickle down to the rest of us, eventually. The trade deals mattered only in so far as they stood in for, and plainly articulated, this broader agenda.

The three pillars of this new era are familiar to us all: privatization of the public sphere, deregulation of the corporate sector and lower corporate taxation, paid for with cuts to public spending. p. 19

The bottom line is what matters here: our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. p. 21

Because, underneath all of this is the real truth we have been avoiding: climate change isn’t an issue to add to the list of things to worry about, next to health care and taxes. It is a civilizational wake-up call. A powerful message—spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts and extinctions—telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet. Telling us that we need to evolve. p. 25

When fear like that used to creep through my armor of climate change denial, I would do my utmost to stuff it away, change the channel, click past it. Now I try to feel it. It seems to me that I owe it to my son, just as we all owe to ourselves and one another.

But what should we do with this fear that comes from living on a planet that is dying, made less alive every day? First, accept that it won’t go away. That it is a fully rational response to the unbearable reality that we are living in a dying world, a world that a great many of us are helping to kill, by doing things like making tea and driving to the grocery store and yes, okay, having kids.

Next, use it. Fear is a survival response. Fear makes us run, it makes us leap, it can make us act superhuman. But we need somewhere to run to. Without that, the fear is only paralyzing. So the real trick, the only hope, really, is to allow the terror of an unlivable future to be balanced and soothed by the prospect of building something much better than many of us have previously dared hope.

Yes, there will be things we will lose, luxuries some of us have to give up, whole industries that will disappear. And it’s too late to stop climate change from coming; it is already here, and increasingly brutal disasters are headed our way no matter what we do. But it’s not too late to avert the worst, and there is still time to change ourselves so that we are far less brutal to one another when those disasters strike. And that, it seems to me, is worth a great deal. p. 28

This last awakened me like a plunge through ice. In the past week I have turned off my radio because of stories concerning animal deaths from Global Warming. This is why I chose to put the end of the Rite of Spring clip from Fantasia at the top of this post. Watching this video makes my heart hurt in ways that the images did not when I first saw the movie more than a half-century ago.

As I’ve grown older I have found myself increasingly affected by stories and videos involving injury to animals. This is perhaps driven by my own very deep relationship with a mutt named Buster.

I, we all, must heed Klein’s call-to-arms, to not turn away, to use the fear while we can yet save the only home we have: Earth.

12 August 2015


0800 by Jeff Hess

I have a new favorite word this morning: decroissance. The word appears in a footnote on page 93 of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate. Klein writes:

In French, decroissance has the double meaning of challenging both growth, croissance, and croire, to believe—invoking the idea of choosing not to believe the fiction of perpetual growth on a finite planet.

This book has become No. 19 on my list of the NINETEEN BOOKS THAT HAVE SHAPED MY WORLD. In my universe, this may be the bookend to Rachel seminal book Silent Spring.

11 August 2015


1300 by Jeff Hess

Bernie Sanders writes:

Climate change is an unprecedented planetary emergency. If we don’t act aggressively now to combat it, there will be major and painful consequences in store later: rising oceans that inundate coastal areas, bigger superstorms like Hurricane Sandy, worsening droughts, out-of-control wildfires, historic floods that come year after year, rising food prices, and millions of people displaced by climate disasters. It’s not a future any of us wants to imagine.

But despite how difficult the problem is, the basics of how we should respond to it are actually not that complicated: we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and move to 100 percent renewable energy—and we need to act immediately.

That’s why I cannot understand why some Democratic presidential candidates have refused to take a stand against the Keystone XL pipeline. Keystone XL would transport millions of gallons of some of the dirtiest oil on the planet—oil that scientists tell us we simply cannot burn if we want to stop the worst impacts of climate change. As former NASA scientist James Hansen has said, building Keystone XL would mean “game over” for the climate.

A decision on Keystone XL could come at any moment, and that’s why it’s so important you make your voice heard through our campaign today:

It’s no big surprise that in recent years, most major Republican politicians have chosen to deny that climate change even exists. Republicans in Congress have Continue Reading »

11 August 2015


1200 by Jeff Hess

It’s never too early it seems for political navel gazing.

So who do you think will run for mayor of Cleveland in 2017? And does it matter since mayors don’t run the town.

Mayor Frank Jackson, in his third term, was to me Neighborhood Councilman. He took care of his ward. As mayor, he’s the Downtown Mayor. Can’t explain the dramatic change.

Not too early to think about this because another term from Mayor Jackson could be— despite all the hype about CLE aglow—devastating for the city. Things are bad. They can, however, get worse. Believe me. I’ve seen it happen over and over again.

Jackson won’t say he wouldn’t run for another historic 4th term. He’s going to have to be dynamited out of City Hall.

Cleveland is Political Center for GOP presidential candidates and the media circus they draw. We’re part of the Big Nonsense now. So let’s make it more spectacular (as in a spectacle).

Let’s start with the obvious candidates and their positives and negatives.

Jeff Johnson: He has the felony record over his head. But he has the experience of many years in city politics. He’s always shown unusual courage. I’ve Continue Reading »

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