17 August 2017


0300 by Jeff Hess

American, by virtue of its entangled roots, is an insanely convoluted language filled with words possessed of multiple meanings and pronunciations. People who aren’t fortunate to learn the lexicon and grammar from birth have a much harder time learning our language than we will ever have learning theirs. Seriously.

One of those words is Right. Right can refer to a side, as in the starboard side of a shit; a direction, turn right at the oak tree; the correct answer, that is the right answer; or a political ideology (a gift from the French Revolution), Republicans are the right-wing and Democrats are the left-wing of American politics.

For me this confusion between the last two meanings led me long ago to to substitute Religious Wrong for Religious Right. Beginning this morning I’m going to adopt the same rule for the Alt-Wrong because of the ludicrous idea asserted in the wake of recent Alt-Wrong/Nazi/White Supremacist/White Nationalist violence and murder in Charlottesville, Virginia that there is an equally criminal and evil Alt-Left.

The opposite of the Alt Wrong is not the Alt Left, it is the Alt Right.

Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution, writes:

We have a president who insists on siding with white supremacists. He will not denounce those with hate in their heart who murdered a young woman for supporting equality. For so many of us, we are now living in a nightmare. It is unconscionable to compare those who fight for equality with those who believe that the color of one’s skin determines superiority.

As I said recently, my heart is skipping beats to think about all that my fore-parents endured to get to this point in time in America’s history. And to have, in the 21st century, the president of the United States not boldly stand up and denounce racial violence is atrocious. Not only does he refuse to condemn the actions of people who would protest the funeral of someone they murdered, but he also dares to try and equivocate the actions of liberal protesters, the so called “alt-left,” with those of Nazis and white supremacists. It is a disgusting false equivalency.

There is no such thing as the “alt-left.” Those who believe Medicare should be available to all Americans are not the same as Nazis. Those who believe that we must fix a broken criminal justice system that is unfair to black, brown and poor are not the same as Nazis. Those who think we should remove statues that were erected as a reminder of white supremacy are not the same as Nazis.

What happens next is crucial for the future of our country. We must stand united for a better life for all, regardless of color, gender, sexual orientation, religion or class. It has never been more clear what the differences between the two sides are. There is the side of justice and the side of injustice. It is obvious what side Trump is on. There are more of us standing on the side of justice and together we will overcome the forces seeking to regress our nation. Our stories are our strength share yours with us. What motivates you to fight for social justice?

In solidarity,

Nina Turner, President
Our Revolution

That which has always motivated me to fight for social justice: the belief that the broader the power base of any society the more comprehensive justice is in that society.

16 August 2017


0800 by Jeff Hess

170816 non sequitur no signal danae trump

Perhaps a nice dacha on the Black Sea…?

16 August 2017


0700 by Jeff Hess

When I am reduced to recognizing that Charles Krauthammer is the adult in the room, then I am forced to recognize that perhaps there is real hope for The United States of America or that we’ve gone past looking into the abyss and been pushed over the cliff. This is what Krauthammer said yesterday:

To critique what [President Trump] did today on the grounds that it distracts from the agenda or was a tactical mistake, I believe, is a cop-out. What Trump did today was a moral disgrace. What he did is he reverted back to where he was on Saturday, and made it very clear that what he read on Monday, two days later, was a hostage tape. Clearly reading off a prompter, saying these denunciations by name of the KKK et cetera—that wasn’t Trump speaking, that was the aids speaking.

Laura Ingraham attempted to push back to little effect. Krauthammer continued:

What Trump is missing here is the uniqueness of white supremacy, KKK, and Nazism. Yes, there were bad guys on both sides. That’s not the point. This was instigated, instituted—the riot began over a Nazi riot, a Nazi rally. And the only killing here occurred by one of the pro-Nazi, pro-KKK people.

The world fought a bloody war over Germany’s National Socialist Party and we need to remember where they came from and where they took us.

Cue Rod Serling…

16 August 2017


0500 by Jeff Hess

16 August 2017


0400 by Jeff Hess

President Barack Hussein Obama just owned the Twitterverse: Obama’s anti-racism tweet after Charlottesville is most liked ever on Twitter.

A tweet by Barack Obama condemning racism in the aftermath of a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has become the most liked tweet ever, with more than 2.9 million social media users so far endorsing the sentiment.

The tweet, quoting the late South African president Nelson Mandela, read: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion.”

The former US president followed the tweet with more from Mandela’s autobiographical Long Walk to Freedom: “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.

“For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

President Donald John Trump has invested in keeping the hate alive.

There is hope, there is Life After Hate.

Listen to What Can I Do To Stop Hate Groups? for what you can do.

President Trump will label the news fake in three, two…

15 August 2017


1200 by Jeff Hess

There are, in the United States of America, at this very moment, high school students who may, after their graduation, chose to enlist and serve in our nation’s armed forces and become the first generational combatants we have ever raised.

This is the legacy of our longest war.

Ralph Nader, in The 16 Year War in Afghanistan—Headlines Tell the Story, writes:

Since 2001 the US has been at War in Afghanistan—the longest war in US history. Headlines concisely tell the story of this cruel boomeranging quagmire of human violence and misery. Below are some newspaper headlines from 2010 to the present to show that a militarized foreign policy without Congress exercising its Constitutional duties and steadfast public engagement will drift on, costing our soldiers’ lives and limbs, nearly three-quarters of a trillion taxpayer dollars, hundreds of thousands of Afghani lives and millions of refugees, with no end in sight.

Here we go—year by year: Continue Reading »

13 August 2017


1200 by Jeff Hess

This has to be the funniest moment of the show’s run. (But the rest are hilarious…)

12 August 2017


1200 by Jeff Hess

When I was an undergrad at Ohio University during the Reagan years, I learned never to date psychology students because they seemed to be focused on finding cures for what ailed them. Oliver Burkeman, writing in his weekly essay This column will change your life for The Guardian expands my epiphany to include the authors of self-help books.

As far as I can establish, no experimental psychologist has ever conducted research into the mental and emotional states of self-help authors, motivational speakers and life coaches. Somebody should. I’m only half-joking: the results may confirm, or put to rest, the nagging suspicion you get from too many books on finding happiness or success that their authors have found neither for themselves. As with the father in Little Miss Sunshine—driven to the edge of breakdown by his failure to find a publisher for his nine-step success programme, Refuse To Lose—one detects the whiff of desperation wafting from self-styled experts who act upbeat at book-signings, then return to their motels to cry into their pillows.

What struck me in Burkeman’s piece was the quote from psychotherapist Sheldom Kopp. In his book If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!, Koop wrote:

It is as if I stand in the doorway of my office, waiting. The patient enters and makes a lunge at me, a desperate attempt to pull me into the fantasy of taking care of him. I step aside. The patient falls to the floor, disappointed and bewildered. Now he has a chance to get up and to try something new. If I am sufficiently skillful at this psychotherapeutic judo, and if he is sufficiently courageous and persistent, he may learn to become curious about himself, to come to know me as I am, and to begin to work out his own problems. He may transform his stubbornness into purposeful determination, his bid for safety into a reaching out for adventure. (p 5)

All solutions must, ultimately, come from within. First we must learn to be courageous, persistent and curious.

12 August 2017


1100 by Jeff Hess

11 August 2017


1000 by Roldo Bartimole

The Ohio Supreme Court ruling really says that Mayor Frank Jackson and Council President Kevin Kelley played an underhanded trickster game not only with the people of Cleveland but with democratic process itself in refusing to count the 20,000 signatures against their voted measure.

Both Jackson and Kelley should be rewarded with one swift kick in the ass out of office. This was a team effort to avoid a public vote.

They had to know that their position to ignore 20,000 signatures was bogus and indefensible. The mayor’s law department challenged Council’s refusal to check the signatures (6,000 plus were required) but the whole mess is a city hall debacle.

It shows clearly what corrupted politics we have in Cleveland.

But I doubt the shell game is over yet.

The combination of Jackson and Kelley in this matter should constitute a criminal enterprise to reward Dan Gilbert with tens of millions of dollars. The County was ready to issue three bond issues totaling $140-million with some bonds not being paid until the start of 2024 with city revenues of at least $88 million and likely more than that from County and other public funds.

This would be in addition to sin tax revenues. The third round of sin tax money totals $25.8 million as of July 17. The two earlier terms of the sin tax totaled $376 million and this does not include hundreds of millions of other public funding.

There’s a money funnel from Jackson and County Executive Armond Budish into the pockets of billionaire team owners. And it comes from your wallet.

We can see that Jackson, Kelley, Britt and most council members work for sports owners and developers, not the screwed citizens of Cleveland.

When will the more than 20,000 signatures—representing 20,000 plus Continue Reading »

11 August 2017


0500 by Jeff Hess

Like many, if not most, Americans I wrestle with how I eat on a nearly daily basis. I’m drawn to food porn (both cooking and dieting books) when I pass the book displays at my local libraries and have to steel myself to not take one more book out. I’ve yet to find better eating advice than that found in How To Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh and Michael Pollan’s Food Rules.

Reading Bee Wilson’s Guardian long-read, Why we fell for clean eating reminds me why I stay away from Instagram. Wilson lede’s:

In the spring of 2014, Jordan Younger noticed that her hair was falling out in clumps. “Not cool” was her reaction. At the time, Younger, 23, believed herself to be eating the healthiest of all possible diets. She was a “gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, grain-free, legume-free, plant-based raw vegan”. As The Blonde Vegan, Younger was a “wellness” blogger in New York City, one of thousands on Instagram (where she had 70,000 followers) rallying under the hashtag #eatclean. Although she had no qualifications as a nutritionist, Younger had sold more than 40,000 copies of her own $25, five-day “cleanse” programme—a formula for an all-raw, plant-based diet majoring on green juice.

Younger is far from alone.

10 August 2017


2000 by Jeff Hess

So, this morning I discovered that the conservatives read poetry. I ought not to be surprised, of course, there’s nothing progressive or liberal about poetry. I can only point to my own ignorance (or perhaps better put, my own indifference) on the subject and say that I’m happy to have corrected my error.

This is one of the benefits of stepping out of the echo chamber and considering the thoughts of those myopically thought of as not like me. From National Review:

Working alone in the house,
I look to the solitary sculls
passing on the river
for a sense that I am
among others. The geese—
my dogs—convene in the yard
near the water. A summer
in which much has passed
is now folded and put away.
The quiet is like a pie
behind glass, uncut.
Jessica Hornik

I was once praised for including poetry at Have Coffee Will Write, but I have allowed that habit to long fall into disuse. Hornik’s poem both makes me think of my own myopia about living among Others and how little poetry I’ve been reading of late. I should correct that.

9 August 2017


1400 by Roldo Bartimole

270809 roldo

What a dull mayoral race this has been so far.

It could put anyone to sleep.

Maybe it’s me and my memory.

I remember the 1977 mayoral race which turned out the incumbent Ralph Perk and sent Dennis Kucinich and Ed Feighan into the final November election day.

Two big issues dominated and the news media—newspapers, radio, TV actually covered the race and made it appear important.

Today it seems there is no churn.

Dennis won on, among other things, the scorching issue of tax abatement.

It was the first at National City Bank, now PNC at the northwest corner of Euclid at E. 9th. It was the first abatement so badly done that even today the setback nature of the building breaks up retail along the street. There is no retail on the ground floor.

Maybe we’re getting far afield.

How about today’s “hot” race that’s being covered principally by the Plain Dealer with the Cleveland Press long gone.

And the PD apparently really isn’t interested in even a mildly hot race. They have already picked their candidate and he’s not a challenger.

I thought that there would be a clear issue for this campaign— Continue Reading »

8 August 2017


1900 by Jeff Hess

The central mission of the Republican Party has been to destroy government’s ability to rein in greed and protect the 99 percent. They now have in a president and top government officials a cadre of individuals who hate government (except when they see a profit to be made) far more than we could imagine. Ralph Nader calls these gleeful individuals: The Wrecking Crew.

Nader writes in Will the Federal Civil Service Defend Us?

As the Trump wrecking crew ramps up its destructive campaign against federal health and safety protections and social services for impoverished, disabled and vulnerable people (young and old) the latest targets of their ire are the federal civil servants who faithfully keep our government functioning here and abroad.

Mind you, the Trump wrecking crew is not going after gigantic corporate welfare programs, giveaways, bailouts and subsidies to big business. Nor are the Trumpsters going after wasteful, inflated government corporate contracts or massive billing frauds on Medicare, Medicaid or other government programs. These egregious examples of crony capitalism, so disliked by conservatives and progressives alike, seem untouchable. While disgraceful, this is not surprising; many of Trump’s nominees benefited mightily from this cronyism before coming to Washington and Trump still benefits due to his refusal to divest.

Given this state of corporatist mayhem, the important question is: Will the federal civil service hold against lawless, dangerous non-enforcement of the laws and arbitrary suspensions of ongoing programs to protect the people from corporate assaults on their safety and economic wellbeing?

These are tough times for career civil servants who have given their all to do the right thing and make government serve the people (If you doubt this, Continue Reading »

7 August 2017


0500 by Jeff Hess

Senator Jeffry Lane Flake, R-Az., (a fourth, no second “e,” spelling for our shared name) wants to be the Republican party’s next faux maverick. Now that the Republican Party is crashing down around his ears, Flake thinks that the way out is to now, NOW? to tell the truth?

Flake, Whining in Conservatives face a crisis. We must now tell and expect the truth for The Guardian, writes:

It is a testament to just how far we fell in 2016 that to resist the fever and stand up for conservatism seemed a radical act. It is a threshold requirement for a conservative to be able to both tell and expect the truth. We must demand and accept nothing less. Assuaging the public with happy talk quite obviously isn’t a conservative thing to do. Viewing the government paternalistically isn’t either.

Once a populist fever abates, truth must fill that void. But it is an ugly fact that the truth doesn’t play well on the campaign trail. Free trade never fares well during campaigns. It’s always easier for a politician to point at a shuttered factory and go looking for a scapegoat rather than tell the truth about modernization, mechanization, automation and the more efficient allocation of capital—all things that have made our lives better. But those things are difficult to explain in a campaign.

Good luck with that senator. The rest of us are ready to take The Leap.

5 August 2017


1400 by Jeff Hess

Subscribe to Rob Redding’s radio show. I have.

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of breaking bread with a man I consider to be, and am honored to call, my third brother, Cavana Faithwalker. Cav has been down home in Alabama for a number months and I was pumped when he let me know that he was back in Cleveland. We met at J Pistone Market where three hours flew by.

Our conversation, as it always does, ranged far and wide, and eventually came around to questions of gun control, the shootings of young black men by police and the noted absence of outrage by the National Rifle Racists Association following the acquittal of Philando Castile’s murderer. Discussing the NRA naturally took us to the events that changed the focus of that organization from one of hunting safety to the defending the Second Amendment in the name of gun manufacturers selling personal arsenals to frightened white men: the open-carry defiance of police power in Oakland California by The Black Panthers in 1966.

At one point in that discussion I said: Nothing is scarier than a nigger with a gun.

Cav’s response was a high five because he knows me and knows that I don’t use the word as a pejorative. We’re brothers.

I’ve long subscribed to the notion that we notice what we’re thinking about so when Dr. Tommy Curry’s story What is a black professor in America allowed to say? popped up two days later on The Guardian, I wasn’t surprised. Steve Kolowich begins the long-read this way:

One Thursday morning in May, Tommy J Curry walked through the offices of the philosophy department at Texas A&M University with a police officer at his side and violence on his mind. The threats had started a few days earlier. “Since you said white people need to be killed I’m in fear of my life,” one person had written via email. “The next time I see you on campus I might just have to pre-emptively defend myself you dumb fat nigger. You are done.” Curry didn’t know if that person was lurking on the university grounds. But Texas is a gun-friendly state, and Texas A&M is a gun-friendly campus, and he took the threat seriously.

Curry supports the right to bear arms. It was part of how he ended up in this situation. In 2012 he had appeared on a satellite radio show and delivered a five-minute talk on how uneasy white people are with the idea of black people talking about owning guns and using them to combat racist forces. When a recording of the talk resurfaced in May, people thought the tenured professor was telling black people to kill white people. This idea swept through conservative media and into the fever swamps of Reddit forums and racist message boards. The threats followed.

Everyone should read the piece in its entire and let me know what you think.

After I finished the piece I forwarded the link to Cav and suggested that we meet again this coming Tuesday for another round of intelligent conversation and I’d like to share your views with Cav.

5 August 2017


1200 by Jeff Hess

Listening to Trump surrogates on the radio attempt to make a nothing burger out of the grand jury empaneled in Washington D.C. this week made me wonder: if there was already a grand jury working on the collusion-with-Russia case that had been working for months, what was the big deal about the news of this new grand jury?

Julian Borger, writing in White House as crime scene: how Robert Mueller is closing in on Trump for The Guardian, makes the difference clear:

The special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US election, former FBI chief Robert Mueller, had been using a sitting grand jury in Virginia to authorise his team’s demands for documents and witnesses. The convening of a separate grand jury in Washington suggests the Mueller team—working in a suite of offices a few blocks’ walk from where the 20-odd jurors sit—is going to be making extensive use of it. It will not be hospitable terrain for the president. Trump won only 4% of the vote in the District of Columbia.

While Trump’s dream team of lawyers can petition for a change of venue (perhaps to Huntington, West Virginia?) once criminal charges are brought, there is no such change possible for a grand jury. Their best bet at this point is, if they haven’t already done so (and they can somehow manage to keep them from being leaked) to draw up the presidential pardons while President Donald John Trump still has that option.

Mueller’s case is inexorably moving into Nixonian territory. Borger continues:

In the Watergate scandal, to which the Russian influence affair is drawing inevitable comparisons, it was the cover-up that ultimately proved fatal to Richard Nixon’s presidency. It is increasingly possible the same fate could befall Trump. On Tuesday, after adamant denials from Trump’s lawyer, the White House admitted that Trump had “weighed in as any father would” in drafting a misleading statement about his son’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer with strong Kremlin and intelligence links. The statement said the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children by US nationals. An email exchange released later by Donald Trump Jr showed that the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was in fact offering damaging material on Hillary Clinton.

Just as a third-rate burglary threw open the doors to the Nixon White House, so to may the now infamous 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, give Mueller and his growing team of financial crimes prosecutors finally give Americans(and the courts access to President Trump’s money maneuvering. According to Borger:

Almost all the 16 lawyers now on Mueller’s team are specialists in money-laundering and other financial crimes, suggesting that the investigation will spend much of its time unwinding the complexities of the Trump and Kushner real estate empires, looking for where the money has come from to keep them afloat. The latest hire, Greg Andres, is a former deputy assistant attorney general who used to run a unit that targeted foreign bribery.

“The Mueller dream-team now has the top 14 financial crimes prosecutors in America,” said Malcolm Nance, a former US intelligence officer and the author of a book on Moscow’s role in the 2016 US election, The Plot to Hack America. Nance predicted that the Mueller investigation would look into every corner of Trump and Kushner’s past business dealings.

“The wheels of justice grind finely and slow but this is a wood chipper, and all these various items and going to get fed into it—Flynn, [Jared] Kushner, Trump, Manafort and anyone who has been assigned to the White House over this period,” Nance said. “Their entire lives are going to be subjected to scrutiny. No one is getting out unscathed. That’s why Trump is so terrified.”

We won’t have full answers until 2018, possibly 2019, but while this investigation continues, and tars every Republican running for re-election next year with a Trumpist brush, the nation’s agenda is set.

5 August 2017


0500 by Jeff Hess

In recent weeks I’ve contacted my senators—Sherrod Campbell Brown and Robert Jones Portman several times to leave messages regarding Trumpcare via both the phone and email. The senators responded to my messages in emails.

The first to get back to me was Sen. Brown on 27 July. Here is what he said:

Thank you for reaching out to me and sharing your thoughts about current proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. I appreciate your views on this matter.

Opponents have had seven years to create a comprehensive ACA replacement plan, and they have yet to produce anything that would guarantee affordable, quality coverage for millions of Americans the way the ACA has. Like most laws, the ACA is not perfect, but instead of kicking people off their health insurance and forcing premiums to skyrocket for everyone, we should be improving the law and making health care more affordable and more accessible for all Americans. Congress should be working to reduce prescription drug costs, strengthen Medicare, and protect Medicaid. And since coming to Congress, I have supported legislation that would accomplish each of these goals and strengthen our country’s health care system.

One current proposal—the Better Care Reconciliation Act—was written by a handful of Senators behind closed doors in consultation with lobbyists from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, but without any input from Ohioans. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the BCRA would result in at least 22 million Americans losing their health insurance. In addition, the BCRA would cause premiums to spike by an average of twenty percent in 2018, causing costs to go up for millions of Americans, especially older Americans who are not yet eligible for Medicare and for those who have preexisting conditions. The BCRA also includes more than $1 trillion in tax breaks for insurance CEOs and the richest Americans, paid for by Continue Reading »

4 August 2017


0800 by Jeff Hess

I’m printing out a copy of the transcripts, high-lightening the good bits and keeping them handy for the next person I see wearing a Make America Great Again ht.

4 August 2017


0700 by Jeff Hess

So, Corey Lewandowski came to Cleveland to court Congress James Bupkis* Renacci and show his undying love for conservative politics money.

As the warmup for his yacht club smoochfest, Lewandowski scored a Renacci-assisted place at the podium of the City Club of Cleveland where he told the paying attendees:

If you want to have a discussion back and forth, we can do that, but let me tell you how that works. When you get the podium, you get to talk as long as you want.

Given the discussion on air and in the press on 19 July, there should be no one surprised at how this turned out.

Lewandowski got defensive when both the audience and local media wanted to know if he was taking money from a payday loan company: Community Choice Financial. People want to know because Lewandowski called for the removal of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director (and former Ohio Attorney General and possible Ohio gubertorial candidate) Richard Cordray last weekend.

One of the areas that Cordray has targeted has been predatory lenders. That, combined with the fear that Cordray could be serious threat to Renacci’s bid for governor, sheds a bright light on why Lewandowski was in Cleveland yesterday.

Writing in Corey Lewandowski Just as Worthless as Expected at the City Club for Scene, Sam Allard offers this take:

Whatever it was that former Republican strategist and deposed cable news commentator Corey Lewandowski hoped to communicate to the paying audience at the City Club of Cleveland Thursday afternoon, the takeaways from this controversial forum will have little to do with his remarks.

How could they? Lewandowski’s speech, and his wobbly answers to seven audience questions, were so destitute of worth and truth that the crowd could do little but sigh and shake their heads as they processed to the elevators after City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop glumly adjourned the forum just as tempers began to flare. The Donald Trump sympathizers in the audience had stumbled upon sporadic moments of applause that never quite rose to the level of rounds, but even they might have found it difficult to defend the charade on anything other than propaganda grounds.

Near the exits, some of the attendees remarked upon the “tension” in the room. Others felt Lewandowski had deflected most of the substantive questions, a feeling we shared and one we’d be remiss not to illustrate:

The third audience question invited Lewandowski to reflect on why Americans should believe anything Donald Trump says “if he can’t even be honest about his golf scores?”

Lewandowski ignored the question and replied that he’d never played golf with Trump, but that he was “probably the best golfer, as a President, that we have ever seen.”

The answer was in keeping with the speech’s fawning tone, in open defiance of seriousness. Among other superlatives, Donald Trump was described as the “greatest political phenomenon of all-time.” He was the best marketer, he was the most successful businessman, he had prevailed in the 2016 primaries against “the greatest Republican field of all-time.”

“In whatever he has sought to achieve,” Lewandowski remarked early on, “he has been successful.”

From where I sit, Lewandowski played The City Club the way President Donald John Trump played The Boy Scouts. Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh apologized for Trump’s speech. My question now is, will City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop do the same?

I suppose that if Lewandowski was good enough for Trump, then he’s good enough for Renacci. Birds of a feather and all that.

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


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