11 February 2017


0400 by Jeff Hess

170214 bernie sanders chuck schumer letter health care

10 February 2017


1000 by Jeff Hess

Is there a possibility that even King Mob I (President Andrew Jackson) might advise King Mob II that he’s going to far in confronting the judiciary and criticizing the obligation of the branch to exercise the checks and balances defined by our Constitution? Jackson infamously took on the Supreme Court Of The United States’ decision in McCulloch v. Maryland.

Jeffrey Rosen, writing in Not Even Andrew Jackson Went as Far as Trump in Attacking the Courts for The Atlantic, explains:

President Trump’s attacks on the federal appellate judges considering a constitutional challenge to his immigration ban—he called the proceedings “disgraceful” and the courts “so political”—has provoked widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum. Even Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, said the criticisms were “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”

Some might look for a historical precedent for Trump’s attacks in the alleged comments of Trump’s hero Andrew Jackson, who criticized Chief Justice John Marshall’s decision in a case involving the Cherokee Indians. “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it,” the former president allegedly said. In fact, Jackson, whose portrait hangs in Trump’s office, provides no historical support for Trump’s unprecedented personal assault on the motives of judges evaluating the constitutionality of his executive orders. Jackson criticized Marshall on constitutional, rather than political, terms, and he ultimately required Congress and the states to acknowledge the Supreme Court’s authority to interpret the Constitution, rather than threaten to disregard it.

Jackson’s constitutional clashes with Marshall were precipitated by the most important constitutional clash of the early republic, involving the Bank of the United States. At Alexander Hamilton’s urging, Congress established the First National Bank of the United States in 1791 and the Second National Bank in 1816. States, who feared competition with their own banks, insisted that the National Bank violated principles of federalism and exceeded Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce.

Rosen concludes

:…Nothing in Jackson’s constitutional legacy compares with President Trump’s attempts to malign the motives of individual judges or to suggest they are merely politicians in robes. On the contrary, Jackson challenged the Supreme Court on constitutional, rather than political, grounds, insisting on his own power to interpret the Constitution in ways that differed from Chief Justice Marshall, but ultimately avoiding a direct conflict with the Supreme Court and requiring Congress and the states to accept the authority of federal judges to expound the Constitution. For this reason, Jackson—like other presidents who clashed with the Supreme Court, including Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman—preserved and acknowledged the independence of the judiciary and encouraged citizens to respect it.

Does Trump really want this fight, or is this really Steve Bannon pulling the strings again?

10 February 2017


0800 by Jeff Hess

Fast forward to 7:24 to get right to the debate.

From Our Revolution:

On Tuesday night, Senators Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz debated on CNN about Obamacare and the future of health care. Ted Cruz had a difficult time answering the questions posed to him on what Republicans would do if they repealed the Affordable Care Act. Bernie pointed out that 20 million more people got insurance under the Obamacare. It’s not a plan to just tell them sorry.

One of my proudest moments throughout the presidential campaign was the fact that so many people wanted to improve upon Obamacare, not repeal it. We were mocked by the establishment for our belief that we could organize a movement for single-payer health care, but the critics soon realized there was a large movement being built around it.

A single payer medicare-for-all solution is possible if we organize and make health care a top issue in the 2018 elections.

In America, if you are rich you have access to the very best health care in the world—for the rest of us, it was a crap shoot until Obamacare came along. And while the Affordable Care Act made improvements in health care for the vast majority of Americans, there are still millions who can’t access affordable health care. Every Continue Reading »

10 February 2017


0600 by Jeff Hess

170210 joe maldonadoa cub scouts boy scouts scouting transgender

I have no doubt that Joe Maldonado will uphold the Cub Scout Promise to do his best.

Scouting is changing and that is all very good.


10 February 2017


0500 by Roldo Bartimole

Why is the Plain Dealer handling Mayor Frank Jackson with velvet gloves?

The mayor’s absurd stance on Public Square—that terrorism is a reason for keeping Superior Avenue closed, putting public transit in a hammerlock—is laughable.

Where’s the cartoon for this sham?

Jackson’s is a stubborn position without merit. It’s absurd and someone should say so.

He needs a public spanking.

Jackson’s ridiculousness brings back memories of Mayor Ralph Perk who wanted a national convention here and to dodge the lack of hotel rooms wanted a boat docked on Lake Erie to accommodate visitors. That too was laughable.

The new report on transit use of Public Square says a closed Superior means the loss to RTA is $805,000 a year. And costly lost time for customers.

Maybe the behind-the-scenes people at the Greater Cleveland Partnership should be asked to explain why they don’t want buses on Public Square.

It has been apparently easy for the GCP, its corporate sponsors and any mayor to arm twist RTA since the transit outfit serves primarily people who need to get around without their BMWs or other fancy cars.

They’re easy to push around.

RTA has been extorted before. RTA financed $13 million for the walkway from Tower City to the Q and Progressive field. Why should transit money be used for the convenience of the teams, without reimbursement?

Further, when the corporate people wanted to build the nearly useless Waterfront Line, they wanted it now! Pronto! So RTA was forced to finance the $69 million money-losing rapid line from its own budget resources. RTA could have received federal funding for most of the project. However, that would mean environmental studies and therefore delays. So RTA got pushed into financing the whole thing to meet the opening of the Rock Continue Reading »

10 February 2017


0400 by Jeff Hess

170210 tom the dancing bug ruben bollings trump memo illegals

If a company is hiring illegal aliens to do jobs that belong to American citizens, then is that not treason? Do they not deserve our contempt and condemnation? Ought they not to be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law? Of course they do!

10 February 2017


0300 by Jeff Hess

At a political meeting this past week I got to see just how great the level of denial among old-line Democrats is when a woman told the group that she felt uncomfortable and wasn’t sure she was in the right place because the conversation had turned to taking over the Democratic Party from the inside. I could see her discomfort. She appeared on the edge of a panic attack perhaps arising from the fear that she had inadvertently slipped into a political twilight zone where marching in lockstep with the orders from the Democratic National Committee was not the safe and sane path she believed.

She was right. Taking back our country from those who wish to dismantle every progressive gain made in the past 100 years will not be for the faint of heart. Doing more of the same will not work.

This morning I’m reading Glenn Greenwald’s Tom Perez Apologizes for Telling the Truth, Showing Why Democrats’ Flaws Urgently Need Attention at The Intercept. Greenwald ledes:

The more alarmed one is by the Trump administration, the more one should focus on how to fix the systemic, fundamental sickness of the Democratic Party. That Hillary Clinton won the meaningless popular vote on her way to losing to Donald Trump, and that the singular charisma of Barack Obama kept him popular, have enabled many to ignore just how broken and failed the Democrats are as a national political force.

An endless array of stunning statistics can be marshaled to demonstrate the extent of that collapse. But perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence is that even one of the U.S. media’s most stalwart Democratic loyalists, writing in an outlet that is as much of a reliable party organ as the DNC itself, has acknowledged the severity of the destruction. “The Obama years have created a Democratic Party that’s essentially a smoking pile of rubble,” wrote Vox’s Matthew Yglesias after the 2016 debacle, adding that “the story of the 21st-century Democratic Party looks to be overwhelmingly the story of failure.”

A failed, collapsed party cannot form an effective resistance. Trump did not become president and the Republicans do not dominate virtually all levels of government because there is some sort of massive surge in enthusiasm for right-wing extremism. Quite the contrary: This all happened because the Democrats are perceived—with good reason—to be out of touch, artificial, talking points-spouting automatons who serve Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the agenda of endless war, led by millionaires and funded by oligarchs to do the least amount possible for ordinary, powerless citizens while still keeping their votes.

No in my United States of America. I didn’t risk my life in the service of my nation for 11 years to quietly allow what I fought for just disappear into a billionaires bottom line. Greenwald continues:

What drove Bernie Sanders’s remarkably potent challenge to Hillary Clinton was the extreme animosity of huge numbers of Democrats—led by its youngest voters—to the values, practices, and corporatist loyalties of the party’s establishment. Unlike the 2008 Democratic primary war — which was far more vicious and nasty but devoid of any real ideological conflict—the 2016 primary was grounded in important and substantive disputes about what the Democratic Party should be, what principles should guide it, and, most important of all, whose interests it should serve.

That’s why those disputes have not disappeared with the inauguration of Trump, nor should they. It matters a great deal, perhaps more than anything else, who leads the resistance to Trump and what the nature of that opposition is. Everyone knows the popular cliché that insanity means doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes; it illustrates why Democrats cannot continue as is and expect anything other than ongoing impotence and failure. The party’s steadfast refusal to change course even in symbolic ways—We hereby elevate by acclamation Chuck “Wall Street” Schumer and re-install Nancy “I’m a multimillionaire and we are capitalists” Pelosi — bodes very poorly for its future success.

This, for me is the nut: Bernie voters were robbed, not by Bernie, but by that cadre of New Democrats who think they can be just progressive to placate the 99 percent while groveling at the feet of their oligarch masters.

No more.

All of this is preamble to what Greenwald really wants to write about: why we must all work our butts off to see that Keith Ellison is the next chair of the Democratic National Committee. As I would expect, Greenwald forms a far superior argument as to why Ellison is the right person at the right time for progressives, and I’ll leave him to convince you. Greenwald concludes:

One can spend all of one’s time and energy denouncing Donald Trump. But until the systemic causes that gave rise to him are addressed and resolved, those denunciations will do little other than generate social media benefits and flattering applause from those already devoted to opposing him. Focusing on and attempting to counter the fundamental flaws of the Democratic Party is not a distraction from #TheResistance; it is a central priority, a prerequisite for any kind of success.

We the people, the 99 percent, need Keith Ellison.

9 February 2017


0300 by Jeff Hess

News and events from the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus:

CCPC Valentine’s Day Doubleheader

Game 1 (Pregame)—Sending All Our Love to Senator Portman: A CCPC and Indivisible Guide Project. We hope you can pick up the sarcasm! We should not be happy with Portman’s support of the Swamp Cabinet. Now we want to be sure that Portman knows that the people he is supposed to represent DO NOT support his choice for Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. Here’s what you can do:

1) Find a sheet of paper and an envelope;

2) Write a letter to Senator Portman voicing your opinion about the Supreme Court choice. One handwritten, or typed, and signed page is enough. BE SURE to include a few questions so that his staff will have to take the time and respond. ALSO include a return address so you can get a response;

3) Fold the letter and seal it in an envelope;

4) Write “Senator Portman” on the front of the envelope AND your return address (again) in the top left; and

5) Return it to one of these locations:

  • Harvard Community Services Center @ 18204 Harvard Ave. Cleveland between 6:30 and 8:30 pm today.
  • Starbucks @ 12405 Cedar Rd. Cleveland Heights between 1 and 4 pm Sunday.
  • CCPC Office @ 11910 Detroit Ave. Lakewood anytime via mail slot Continue Reading »
  • 8 February 2017


    0400 by Jeff Hess

    After the election of President Donald John Trump, sales of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 soared. I think that a homegrown American novel is the one that deserves a wider and closer readership. In 1935 Sinclair Lewis wrote his semi-satirical novel: It Can’t Happen Here:

    The novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a politician who defeats Franklin Delano Roosevelt and is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and “traditional” values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes a plutocratic/totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS. The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion.

    I thought of Lewis’ work, which I read in high school, as I read Peter Maass’ What Slobodan Milosevic Taught Me About Donald Trump for The Intercept this morning. Maass begins:

    During his inaugural address, Donald Trump deployed rhetoric that was familiar to anyone who spent time in the Balkans in the 1990s. “You will never be ignored again,” Trump thundered, with Congress as his backdrop. He expanded on the idea a few days later, during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security, where he said, “To all of those hurting out there, I repeat to you these words, we hear you, we see you, and you will never, ever be ignored again.”

    Trump’s message was a variation, directed at his largely white constituency, of the you-shall-not-be-beaten-again rhetoric used with malignant effect by Slobodan Miloševi? during the collapse of Yugoslavia. Trump is not Milošević and the United States is not Yugoslavia, of course, but the echoes between these paragons of national shamelessness reveal the underlying methods and weaknesses of what Trump is trying to pull off.

    In 1987, Milošević was sent to Kosovo to soothe angry Serbs who felt threatened by Albanians who dominated the province. A low-profile communist official at the time, Milošević visited a municipal office and spoke to a crowd of unhappy Serbs who had gathered outside. Milošević was uncertain as he addressed them, but everything changed when he voiced a nationalist message they had never heard before: “No one will be allowed to beat the Serbs again, no one!” he said.

    The crowd began to chant his name. Even though he remained cold (he had almost no charisma), it was a decisive moment in which he realized the political usefulness of tapping into the resentments of Serbs who felt slighted by other identity groups in Yugoslavia. This had been a taboo, and he broke it. When Milošević returned to Belgrade, he took up the banner of Serb nationalism and ousted his low-energy mentor, Ivan Stambolić. He provoked other republics to secede from Yugoslavia, and this led to years of warfare and war crimes.

    This is the bit, however—to hear why, listen to Sebastian Gorka own Marco Werman on yesterday’s The World—in Maass’ piece that gave me chills:

    Milošević created his own reality. I have never interviewed Trump but I have an unforgettable memory of what it’s like to sit in a room with a gaslighter-in-chief and try to pin him down. I was one of the few American journalists whom Milošević spoke with before he was overthrown and extradited to a war crimes trial in The Hague, where he died of a heart attack in 2006.

    Milošević was shameless in lying about obvious truths. “We are blamed for a nationalistic policy but I don’t believe that our policy is nationalistic,” he said. “If we don’t have national equality and equality of people, we cannot be, how to say, a civilized and prosperous country in the future.” As we spoke, the military forces he had organized were continuing to lay waste to Bosnia, encircling Sarajevo and other major cities with medieval-style sieges.

    We sat together for 90 minutes, with nobody else in the room. Though he didn’t have the bluster of Trump—Milošević was a quiet and controlled speaker, with just occasional flashes of anger that were tactical, not impulsive—he was a master of the alternative fact, even in the face of someone who knew they were lies, because I had reported from Bosnia on the crimes perpetrated by military forces under his control. When I later wrote a book about all this, I described Miloševi?’s relationship to the truth in a way that I now realize fits Trump, too.

    I would have had better luck trying to land a punch on a hologram. Milošević existed in a different dimension, a twilight zone of lies, and I was mucking about in the dimension of facts. He had spent his entire life in the world of communism, and he had become a master, an absolute master, at fabrication. Of course my verbal punches went right through him. It was as though I pointed to a black wall and asked Milošević what color it was. White, he says. No, I reply, look at it, that wall there, it is black, it is five feet away from us. He looks at it, then at me, and says, The wall is white, my friend, maybe you should have your eyes checked. He does not shout in anger. He sounds concerned for my eyesight. I knew the wall was black. I could see the wall. I had touched the wall. I had watched the workmen paint it black.

    Comparisons of political leaders are of limited usefulness, because no two are exactly alike—they bring to mind Tolstoy’s line about unhappy families, each is unhappy in its own way. Milošević was whip smart, disciplined, and he wasn’t a narcissist in the way of Trump. He didn’t have a lot of public meetings, his face wasn’t plastered on Serbian media, and he spent most evenings at home with his wife, a hard-line professor named Mira Milošević who was also his principal confidante. And no matter what Trump does, I don’t believe the United States is heading for the kind of violence that Milošević knowingly steered Yugoslavia toward.

    Yes. Lewis was wrong in 1935. Fascism did not come to The United States of America (though there were those like Charles Lindbergh who thought we ought to stay neutral or even side with Nazi Germany in the World War); it didn’t happen here. Then.

    Now? I don’t think we can afford to wait and see.

    8 February 2017


    0300 by Jeff Hess

    David Smith, writing in Jeff Sessions: uproar as Republicans exploit procedure to silence Elizabeth Warren for The Guardian, explains:

    Senate Republicans voted on Tuesday night to silence Elizabeth Warren for reading out a letter from the widow of Martin Luther King during a debate over Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination for attorney general, eliciting furious response from Democrats.

    Speaking on the Senate floor, Warren quoted from 30-year-old correspondence from Coretta Scott King relating to Sessions’ failed judicial nomination in the 1980s. It was part of a barnstorming speech by the Massachusetts Senator against Sessions’ suitability for the post and attacking his record on civil rights.

    Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, objected that Warren had broken Senate rules that prohibit one member impugning the conduct of another. Senators then voted 49-43 to uphold a ruling in McConnell’s favour.

    Shame! Shame! Shame!

    Here’s what Coretta Scott King wrote in 1980:

    Dear Senator Thurmond:

    I write to express my sincere opposition to the confirmation of Jefferson B. Sessions as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama. My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting. Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.

    I regret that a long-standing commitment prevents me from appearing in person to testify against this nominee. However, I have attached a copy of my statement opposing Mr. Sessions’ confirmation and I request that my statement as well as this be made a part of the hearing record.

    I do sincerely urge you to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Sessions.


    Coretta Scott King

    Again: Shame! Shame! Shame!

    7 February 2017


    0600 by Jeff Hess

    Billionaire and educational lightweight, Betsy DeVos faces a split senate and the near certainty that only the tie-breakeing vote of Vice President Mike Pence can seat her as the Secretary of Education, a post she is most certainly not qualified for.

    From Our Revolution:

    Last week, you made over 10,000 calls and logged 40,000 minutes on the phones asking Senators to use the full 30 hours of debate time in opposition to Trump’s unqualified cabinet nominees—and they listened.

    Right now, Senate Democrats are holding the floor for 24 hours and all through the night to oppose Betsy DeVos’ confirmation to Secretary of Education.The vote count in the Senate currently stands at a 50/50 tie.

    You could make the call that changes the vote on our next Secretary of Education. Will you call your senators and encourage them to vote against the confirmation of Betsy DeVos? The Republicans cannot afford another defection, and we cannot afford Betsy DeVos.

    If you believe in quality education for all people and rejecting big money influence in politics, this is your chance to make your voice heard and impact Continue Reading »

    7 February 2017


    0500 by Jeff Hess

    Ralph Nader could have been addressing any meeting of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus with this essay.

    Nader, in Citizens Getting Justice Done, writes:

    Far from the corrosive political circus unfolding in Washington, DC, local citizen groups are improving conditions for the people in their own backyards. Although they receive almost no national media attention, these stalwart citizens work tirelessly to make their country a safer, cleaner and more just place to live. One shining example of such a citizen is Tom “Smitty” Smith of Texas, who has advanced this noble work for the last 31 years.

    As director of Public Citizen’s Texas office (see citizen.org), Smitty has an uncanny civic personality that has helped win victory after victory for the people of the Lone Star State.

    Here is his basic, motivating philosophy: “The only way to beat political corruption and opposition is with organized people. Time after time I have seen a small group of citizens organize and speak out, and change happens. Our job as citizens is to take back our government and keep our government open, honest and responsive.”

    Smitty is too modest to add that this is what he’s done for the past three decades working out of Austin, Texas. He is a symbol of integrity and hard work, walking the corridors of the state capitol with his signature big white cowboy hat.

    Smitty practices what he preaches! He has co-founded and mentored 13 nonprofit organizations including Solar Austin, Clean Water Action in Texas, Texas Ratepayers Organized to Save Energy and the Sustainable Energy & Continue Reading »

    7 February 2017


    0400 by Jeff Hess

    Last evening at the Middleburg Heights meeting of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, those in attendance were asked if the organization ought to reach out to Trump voters. Some thought we should, but I preferred the option of gathering in all the disaffected and ignored progressives in our communities first. Perhaps some Trump voters can be enticed back to reality—…that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away according to Philip K. Dick—but I think there are a lot of people willing to respond first before we put all that energy into changing the minds of people who think reality is subjective.

    170207 non sequitur wiley miller subjective reality fox news

    7 February 2017


    0300 by Jeff Hess

    I’m sorry, not really, but I couldn’t help playing off of Sarah Palin’s hopey-changey quip from Tea Party convention in 2010.

    Our Revolution, and the very vocal and always present push back to President Donald John Trump’s wrong-headed belief that he’s the CEO of a corporation and not the head of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States of America—two very different jobs Mr. President—is forcing a little sunshine into Trump’s private movie.

    Amanda Holpuch, in Obamacare: Trump pushes back plan to replace legislation as popularity grows for The Guardian, ledes:

    Donald Trump’s comments on Sunday suggesting that a replacement for Obamacare may not arrive until 2018 coincides with crowds turning out to pressure Republicans not to scrap the system too hastily.

    On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly promised one of his first actions as president would be to simultaneously repeal and replace the landmark healthcare legislation – a plan that was heartily endorsed by Republican lawmakers.

    And as recently as mid-January he told the Washington Post he was near completing a plan which would provide “insurance for everybody”, without revealing details.

    But in a Fox News interview that aired Sunday night, Trump said of replacing Obamacare: “In the process and maybe it will take till sometime into next year, but we are certainly going to be in the process. It’s very complicated.”

    He continued to say it would “statutorily take a while” to get a new healthcare plan.

    “We’re going to be putting it in fairly soon, I think that, yes, I would like to say by the end of the year at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year,” Trump said.

    Will this piss off his base? Nah, they’re so deep in their cognitive dissonance that being hunted by cyborg billionaires couldn’t shake their support.

    6 February 2017


    1000 by Jeff Hess

    I’ll be attending the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus membership meeting this evening in Middleburg Heights. In addition to talking about Representative Jim Renacci and Ohio’s 16th Congressional District, I’ll be adding my letter to Senator Rob Portman encouraging him to vote no on the appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of The United States. Here’s copy of my letter:

    The Honorable Rob Portman
    United States Senate
    Washington DC 201510

    6 February 2017

    Dear Senator Portman:

    I write to you this morning to encourage you to vote no on the appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of The United States.

    There are several reasons why I feel Judge Gorsuch is a bad choice for our highest court, but I would like to focus on one that I think will speak to you and your family: the Constitutional right of members of our LGBTQ community to fair and equal access to all rights enjoyed by citizens. In Obergefell v. Hodges, a divided court ruled on 26 June 2015 in favor of all citizens’ rights—as guaranteed by the 14th amendment to our Constitution—to enter into legal union of marriage.

    The right to same-sex marriage is now the law of the land, but Judge Gorsuch, and his influence on his mentor, Justice Anthony Kennedy, could threaten that ruling, and others not yet before the court, in ways that will cause very real harm to members of the LGBTQ community.

    I ask you today to carefully consider what a Justice Gorsuch would mean to your family and the families of all Ohioans.

    Thank you.


    Please write your own letter…

    6 February 2017


    0300 by Jeff Hess

    Jonathan Freedland’s First on the White House agenda—the collapse of the global order. Next, war? for The Guardian was recommended to me by someone whose opinions I esteem. Freedland’s litany of existential threats rising from the presidency of Donald John Trump—and Trump’s Gríma Wormtongue Steve Bannon in particular—are real.

    …Steve Bannon, the man rapidly emerging as the true power behind the gaudy Trump throne. Given Bannon’s influence – he is the innermost member of the president’s inner circle and will have a permanent seat on the National Security Council, a privilege Trump has denied the head of the US military—it’s worth taking a good look at the books on his bedside table.

    Close to the top of the pile, according to this week’s Time magazine, is a book called The Fourth Turning, which argues that human history moves in 80- to 100-year cycles, each one climaxing in a violent cataclysm that destroys the old order and replaces it with something new. For the US, there have been three such upheavals: the founding revolutionary war that ended in 1783, the civil war of the 1860s and the second world war of the 1940s. According to the book, America is on the brink of another.

    You’ll notice what all those previous transformations have in common: war on an epic scale. For Bannon, previously impresario of the far-right Breitbart website, that is not a prospect to fear but to relish. Time, which has Bannon on the cover, quotes him all but yearning for large-scale and bloody conflict. “We’re at war” is a favourite Bannon slogan, whether it’s the struggle against jihadism, which Bannon describes as “a global existential war” that may turn into “a major shooting war in the Middle East”, or the looming clash with China.

    Freedman goes on to bring global events in The European Union (Brexit), Eastern Europe (Putin), Asia (China) and the Middle East (ISIS) into focus as greater threats. His conclusion, however, is wrong, or at least wrongheaded. He writes:

    All this leaves liberals and the left in an unfamiliar, unwanted position. Progressives seek progress: their preferred stance is advocating for change, for improving on the status quo. But the great shifts of 2016 have left them – us – in a new place. Suddenly we find ourselves campaigning not for what could be, but for what was.

    That is giving up. Trump and his Grima Wormtongue will not be stopped by progressives digging in and trying to hold onto anything. As General George S. Patton told his troops, we’re not holding anything. Our Revolution is not about clutching our past successes. Our Revolution is about advancing the progressive agenda on every front. Let Trump, Bannon and the Koch brothers try to hold onto their pathetic trophies.

    Not, perhaps, since the presidency of Richard Milhous Nixon have the citizen of the United States of America faced such a crisis. We will not come out of this better without a fight.

    We all must decide, just whose side we’re on.

    5 February 2017


    1100 by Jeff Hess

    From the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus:

    Tell Senator Portman you Oppose Trump’s Supreme Court Pick.

    On Tuesday, February 14th (Valentine’s Day), the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus and Indivisible Cleveland are delivering 1,000 handwritten “We love America and oppose Judge Gorsuch” notes to Senator Portman’s office.
    Please, handwrite or type a note to Senator Portman. Some of the reasons people give for opposing Judge Gorsuch for the Supreme Court are these positions:

  • Arguing against working people and for large corporations;
  • Opposing equal protection for LGBTQ Americans;*
  • Ruling against women’s access to basic health care;
  • Holding theories that oppose clean water and air, safe food and medicines.
  • [*I think that, given that his son, Will Portman, came out six years ago and that as a result of conversations with his son, Rob Portman publicly changed his position on same-sex marriage four years ago, this argument is particularly significant to Senator Portman. On Valentine’s Day would this father support a Supreme Court nominee who might make his son’s marriage to the man he loves illegal? JH]

    Write a short letter, one to three paragraphs. Put your name and address on the envelope, and if you can, put your contact information in the letter. Also ask questions in the letter that will force Portman’s staff to think before they answer. Get family and friends to also write.

    How to get your letter to us:

  • Hand it to us at the CCPC Congressional District meeting at which you receive this request.
  • West siders can drop it in the mail chute of the CCPC office, 11910 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, until noon on Monday, 2/13.
  • East siders can drop it off at:
  • —The Coffee House Cafe, 4–7 p.m., Tuesday, February 7th, 11300 Juniper Rd. Cleveland. Continue Reading »

    4 February 2017


    0400 by Jeff Hess

    So, writing in a letter-to-the-editor in my hometown newspaper, The Marietta Times, my representative in Congress, Jim Renacci, (R-OH), expresses concern about saving coal jobs in Ohio. Here’s a question: how many coal jobs are there in Renacci’s district?

    I may be wrong, but I’ve been unable to identify any active coal mines in Ohio’s 16th District. Why is Renacci suddenly so interested in coal jobs? Perhaps because the owners of Ohio (and other) mines are making contributions to Renacci’s war chest? Perhaps because he owes favors to representatives who—like fellow Republicans Brad Wenstrup (OH-2), Bob Gibbs (OH-7) and Steve Stivers(OH-15)—do have active coal mines and coal miners in their districts? Given the choice of The Marietta Times, however, my money is on Bill Johnson (OH-6).

    Renacci’s letter is as good an example of fawning misdirection and obfuscation as can be found. Take just his opening paragraph:

    Coal has provided almost half of America’s electricity over the past decade. [That is, of course, no justification for continuing that reality. Would Renacci agree that since a Democratic President governed our great nation for the past eight years, somehow that reality ought to have been perpetuated? I think not. JH] This affordable natural resource [Coal is now more expensive (and getting more so daily) than solar power. JH] is an integral part of our domestic energy portfolio, and technological improvements mean coal is burning cleaner today than ever before. [Thanks to decades of stringent Federal regulations and the Environmental Protection Agency that President Donald John Trump (and Renacci) seek to dismantle. JH] In fact, coal plants built today can be [But are not likely to be, thanks to additional costs/draw downs on profits. JH] as much as 99% cleaner than ones built 40 years ago. [In 2011, coal burning plants in the United States dumped 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide into our air. If we were to magically make those plants 99 percent cleaner, then we would reduce those emissions to 17 million tons of carbon dioxide. Better, if we had the ability to force (through regulation) the coal companies to actually do that, but still not acceptable. JH]

    I could go on and on and on. Fisking Renacci’s letter is like shooting the proverbial barreled fish.

    Jim Renacci has no interest in protecting jobs other than his own. He is only interested in protecting the profits of his corporate masters. If my representative were actually interested in protecting jobs, and not profits for billionaires, then he would sponsor a bill providing for the education and support of coal workers so as to minimize the disruption of their lives and the lives of their families and their communities as we rapidly wean our already great nation off of coal and redirect our efforts to 21st century industries and growth.


    4 February 2017


    0300 by Jeff Hess

    I’m fond of suggesting that any day you wake up is a good day. The rest is all gravy. John Burnside, writing in Writing is what I steal from the usual flow of things for The Guardian’s My Writing Day series takes a similar line’

    In the final analysis, that probably says it all: a good writing day is a day with the fewest interruptions, mixed with a sense of gratitude, just for being able to put pen to paper.

    I need to work on framing my day to minimize those interruptions.

    3 February 2017


    0900 by Roldo Bartimole

    It looks as if the Plain Dealer wants to start a bandwagon effect for the re-election of sub-par mayor Frank Jackson. He’s a man who has overstayed his welcome. My opinion.

    Columnist Mark Naymik in a piece today—Mayor Frank Jackson can’t be a reluctant candidate if he wants to win fourth-term—made it appear that Jackson has worked miracles with financing. Hardly.

    The prominent front page Forum piece is accompanied by a 6-1/2 inch deep, page wide head shot of a serious, somber Frank Jackson.

    Nice if you can get it. Jackson has been getting it from the Plain Dealer. For much too long.

    Naymik labels Jackson a “reluctant” candidate. I’d say he’s a guy who likes the trapping of city hall much too much. Reluctance doesn’t suit him.

    He’s no tax magician either.

    Truth is he’s raised taxes with a 25 percent payroll tax, successfully backed a 15-mill school property tax increase (twice), inaugurated a tax on city garbage pickup, strongly backed a 20-year extension of the sin tax for sports billion and millionaires, colluded in the sales tax increase for the convention center/med mart & county hotel, and backs a hefty new bond borrowing for some unnecessary fix-up of the Quicken Arena, which will cost tens of millions of dollars without touching the $260-million sin tax take.

    He’s a tax hawk. Is there a highly regressive tax he doesn’t like? He’s been a toady to the powerful.

    To say nothing of the shabby job he’s done governing the city.

    Jackson’s indifference to the costs of his closing of Superior Avenue to RTA buses shows his limited vision. He laughingly raised the threat of a terrorist attack Continue Reading »

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