14 June 2017

ROLDO ON RALPH NADER RADIO TODAY, 17 JUNE…

1200 by Jeff Hess

Roldo Bartimole will be a guest on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour Saturday, 17 June, to discuss his pieces on the Quicken Loans Arena deal: THEY’RE LYING ABOUT QUICKEN ARENA DEAL—IT IS A FRAUD and DIRTY DEED DONE BY CORRUPTORS.

In 2014, Ralph Nader called Roldo:

Arguably Cleveland’s greatest investigative reporter of the past half century.

I will post the exact time when that information becomes available.

14 June 2017

5 STEPS TO PREPARE FOR/DEFEAT COMING SHOCKS…

0500 by Jeff Hess

Sorry, I cannot get the captions turned off.

I per-orderd my copy of No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need back in April and I expect to read the book in the next week.

Meanwhile, Klein, in How to Resist Trump’s Shock Doctrine for The Intercept writes:

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about shock. Ten years ago, I published “The Shock Doctrine,” an investigation that spanned four decades from Pinochet’s U.S.-backed coup in 1970s Chile to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

I noticed a brutal and recurring tactic by right wing governments. After a shocking event – a war, coup, terrorist attack, market crash or natural disaster – exploit the public’s disorientation. Suspend democracy. Push through radical “free market” policies that enrich the 1 percent at the expense of the poor and middle class.

The administration is creating chaos. Daily. Of course many of the scandals are the result of the president’s ignorance and blunders – not some nefarious strategy.

For her piece, Klein uploaded the video above that focuses on five vital steps for those wishing to resist the shock doctrine.

Step 1: Know what’s coming.
Step 2: Get out of your home and defy the bans.
Step 3: Know your history.
Step 4: Always follow the money.
Step 5: Advance a bold counter-plan.

All the steps are vital, but over the years I’ve noticed that among the politically active, adherence to Step 3 seems the most lacking. Forget most of what you may learned in public schools. That is sanitized and shallow at best. Seek out historians who tell a different story from what you learned in school. Carefully consider what they have to say and weigh their scholarship against the misnomer of common sense.

13 June 2017

POLITICIANS TO CITIZENS: SIT DOWN, SHUT UP…!

1500 by Jeff Hess

Headlines are tricky and single words, or even letters, can shape or destroy a message. The head on Sam Allard’s latest piece for Scene—Council Weighs in on City’s Ballsy Legal Maneuver in Q Deal: Suing Itself>—is a fine example of the former. Allard writes:

[Cleveland] city leaders (Mayor Frank Jackson, Council President Kevin Kelley, the law department, perhaps others) have worked tirelessly to ensure that the citizens of Cleveland will not have a say on… the proposed arena renovation that will commit otherwise unencumbered admissions tax revenue at the Q from 2023-2034, along with money from the county, Destination Cleveland, and the Cavs. The city referendum only concerns the city’s contribution. Taking the matter to the Supreme Court is an attempt to legally justify the circumvention efforts. It can only [emphasis in the original, JH] be explained in the context of the city’s desire to prevent a referendum.

The only option that We The People have to counter egregious legislation or political maneuvering between elections is the referendum. Take away that right and the balance is destroyed.

12 June 2017

ENGLAND, BREXIT AND THATCHER IN THE RYE, OR
THE POLITICS OF HOPE VS. THE POLITICS OF FEAR…

0800 by Jeff Hess


I think Great Britain just gave us a preview—if we last that long—of our own mid-term elections. If you voted for President Donald John Trump, how do you trexit?

The biggest winner in the ill-conceived snap election was hope for a better world. Mehdi Hasan, writing in Jeremy Corbyn Is Leading the Left Out of the Wilderness and Toward Power for The Intercept, writes:

It is no exaggeration to say that the British Labour Party leader has changed progressive politics in the UK, and perhaps the wider West too, for a generation. The bearded, 68-year-old, self-declared socialist has proved that an unashamedly, unabashedly, unapologetically left-wing offer is not the politics of the impossible but, rather, a politics of the very much possible. Last Thursday’s election result in the UK is a ringing confirmation that stirring idealism need not be sacrificed at the altar of political pragmatism.

In these dark, depressing times of Trump and Brexit, of the fallout from the Great Recession and the rise of the far right, Corbyn has reminded us that a politics of hope can go toe to toe with a politics of fear. Millions of people will turn out to vote for a leader who preaches optimism over pessimism, who offers inspiration instead of enervation.

The key to understanding the politics of hope is to remember the energy of our own 2016 primary battle between Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hilary Clinton. Young voters turned out for Bernie but stayed home when told by the Democratic National Committee to take their Clinton and like it. Hasan continues:

Corbyn has proved that the much-maligned young can be a force for change. Younger voters are not lazy, indifferent or apathetic, as the conventional wisdom goes, but will in fact come out in their droves for a leader who motivates and excites them; who gives them not just something to vote for — be it a scrapping of tuition fees or a higher minimum wage or a new house-building program — but something to believe in. A common struggle, a better future, a more equal society. Because something always beats nothing.

Corbyn has showed how it is possible for progressives to build a coalition between the young, people of color and cosmopolitan liberals on the one hand and, yes, those dreaded white working class communities on the other. It is a fiction to claim that leaders on the left must choose between them, or play one marginalized group off against another. White ex-UKIP voters in the north of the country returned to Labour last week in their hundreds of thousands. [Emphasis mine, JH]

This comes our own possibility if we drop the name calling and embrace all of the 99 percent.

The much-mocked Corbyn had a very clear plan from the very beginning. “The politics of hope are not an inevitable reaction when politics fails,” he declared in a speech at the London School of Economics in May 2016. “The politics of hope have to be rebuilt.” Rebuilding, the Labour leader explained, required three things. First, “a vision to inspire people that politics has the power to make a positive difference to their lives.” Second, “trust – that people believe both that we can and that we will change things for the better.” Third, “the involvement and engagement of people to make the first two possible.”

Corbyn, like Bernie Sanders before him, succeeded on all three fronts. He mobilized huge numbers of people to get organized, attend rallies, knock on doors. He upended the old political and economic orthodoxies, refusing to embrace austerity, or demonize immigrants, or push for foreign wars. And guess what? It turns out that you don’t have to triangulate to win 40% of the vote. Nor do you have to kowtow to the reactionary and illiberal agendas of the Mail or the Murdoch-owned press to win marginal seats in Middle England.

Neither Corbyn nor Sanders won their elections. But they came so close. Give them a bit more time. “One more heave” is no longer a political pejorative.

One more heave indeed.

11 June 2017

ALBERT CAMUS ON DEATH, GOD AND FREEDOM…

0600 by Jeff Hess

I went on a bit of a Camus jag a few years ago, reading The Stranger, The Myth of Sisyphus and several other of his essays and then earlier this year, at the recommendation of Charles Johnson in his The Way Of The Writer, I began reading Camus’ notebooks.

Doing so led me this morning to come up short reading a piece by Oliver Burkeman because he used a marginal note from Camus as his conclusion on the subject of death. Burkeman wrote:

Ultimately, the only solution may be the one suggested by Albert Camus, scribbled in the margins of one of his notebooks: “Come to terms with death. Thereafter anything is possible.”

I couldn’t find the quote, so I emailed Burkeman and he pointed me Camus notebook dated between September 1945 and April 1948. With the help of Google Books I was able to find the quote on page 151 of Camus’ Notebooks: 1942-1951, translated from the French and annotated by J. O’Brien.

There is but one freedom, to put oneself right with death. After that, everything is possible

Camus, however, continues, writing:

I cannot force you to believe in God. Believing in God amounts to coming to terms with death. When you have accepted death, the problem of God will be solved—and not the reverse.

I’ve found that to be true, having long ago come to the conclusion that death is simply a dreamless sleep from which we never rise. Able to dismiss fantasies of afterlifes and rewards for good behavior, I’ve also solidified my position as an Atheist.

10 June 2017

RED LINES, BUSTED BLOCKS AND MOVING ON UP…

1200 by Jeff Hess

Back at the end of March I mentioned Todd Michney’s book Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Cleveland, 1900–1980. The book is well worth the reading time—specially if you live in Cleveland/Cuyahoga County—but if you a strapped, Michney emailed me to let me know that Belt Publishing had just added an article to their online magazine:

A distillation of research completed for my book on Cleveland’s African American middle class, more accessible to a popular audience and having contemporary policy implications.

Michney begins:

The trim, brick and wood colonial at 15508 Talford Avenue is unassuming. Located in the southeasterly Lee-Harvard neighborhood, the house was built in 1947 and comes in at just under 1,200 square feet. Modest by today’s standards, it represents an earlier, post-World War II dream of suburban single-family housing – and stands as an object lesson on the troubling history of race and housing inequality in Cleveland.

Lee-Harvard is a ‘suburb in the city’—one of several outlying neighborhoods fitting that description that lie within Cleveland’s municipal boundaries. Most of Talford Avenue’s initial residents were Czechs, Italians, Hungarians, Poles, and Jews who moved from closer in, identifiably ethnic neighborhoods—like Mount Pleasant, Corlett, and Glenville—chasing a more affordable version of the suburban lifestyle to be had in Shaker Heights, Maple Heights, and Garfield Heights. Many were young families striving after this newly-available version of middle-class respectability. Some of the men were veterans of World War II who now worked as skilled tradesmen or small proprietors.

If you can’t find time to read the book, read the article.

9 June 2017

WHAT COMEY SAID AND HOW COLBERT REACTED…

0400 by Jeff Hess


9 June 2017

WHEN A CELEBRATION BECOMES HURTFUL…?

0300 by Jeff Hess

I’ll confess that in my ignorance, I sometimes don’t get why someone is offended, but I’m a 62-year-old white guy living in the United States of America privileged by an accident (no, really, I was an accident) of birth, so that’s not an uncommon state.

When I read The Central Student Association’s apology for playing the transphobic Take A Walk On The Wild side, however, just couldn’t see the harm. Here’s what they said:

It’s come to our attention that the playlist we had on during bus pass distribution on Thursday contained a song with transphobic lyrics (Lou Reed, Take a Walk on the Wild Side). The playlist was compiled by one of the Executives with the intent of feeling like a road trip from the 70s and 80s. The song was included solely on those terms and made in ignorance as the person making the list did not know or understand the lyrics.

We now know the lyrics to this song are hurtful to our friends in the trans community and we’d like to unreservedly apologize for this error in judgement. We have committed as an organization to be more mindful in our music selection during any events we hold. We will be meeting to discuss how we can create better playlists in the future. If you have gone through this process before or have any advice on creating more inclusive playlists, we’d love to hear from you (csapresident@uoguelph.ca).

If there are students or members of the campus community who overheard the song in our playlist and were hurt by its inclusion and you’d like to talk with us about it and how we can do better, we welcome that. We also recognize you may not want to talk with us and we acknowledge that it is not your responsibility to educate us. Please know that we are taking the steps to educate ourselves further to ensure this error is avoided going forward.

What was hurtful? This:

The lyrics appeared to be “problematic” because the “dehumanise and fetish” transgender people by suggesting they are “wild”.

Please.

The comments suggest that I was not alone.

Why do people insist on apologising for things on behalf of other people. There was nothing remotely transphobic about the song. It was observational lyrics written by a musical poet. I am trans and i wish so called well meaning people would stop apologising on my behalf. Get over yourselves. —Roisin Red Zen Pitman

Funny how times change. When this song came out it was considered a very trans positive statement. The phobics were outraged that it mentioned trans women in a favorable light. —Karen

Meh… I’m trans and I loved that song when I was younger, and I loved Lou Reed too (still do). —Elagabalus

FFS. This is ridiculous. This is a part of LGBT history that should be embraced. A singer songwriter who was on our side and singing openly and non judgementally about a culture that at the time it was written would have been absolutely vilified by nearly all in society. This knee jerk censorship and decontexualisation is just plain wrong and frankly sinister, and completely disrespectful to those who have come before us who have contributed to us having the greater freedoms we have today. —Gavin

Is this generational? Perhaps. Historical context, however, still counts for a lot to me.

8 June 2017

THE SINS CHILDREN LEARN FROM THEIR FATHER…

0300 by Jeff Hess

Dan Alexander, reporting in How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business for Forbes, writes:

The best part about all this, according to Eric Trump, is the charity’s efficiency: Because he can get his family’s golf course for free and have most of the other costs donated, virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer. “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” Trump tells Forbes.

No the best part, is how Eric Trump lied and added to his dad’s bottom line:

That’s not the case. In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.

Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.

Amazingly, as Alexander details, Eric actually set out to do what was right, until his father reminded him: you’re a Trump:

Mr. Trump had a cow. He flipped. He was like, ‘We’re donating all of this stuff, and there’s no paper trail? No credit?’ And he went nuts. He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s my son or not—everybody gets billed.’

This is the man sitting in the oval office.

Very, very sad.

7 June 2017

THIS IS HOW DEMOCRACY ENDS…

1000 by Jeff Hess


So, this is what I’m readng this morning:

…Russian hacking may have penetrated further into U.S. voting systems than was previously understood. It states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks…

That’s the lede for Top-Secret NSA Report Details Russian Hacking Effort Days Before 2016 Election by Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito, Sam Biddle and Ryan Grim writing for The Intercept.

From where I sit, this is the biggest story from The Intercept, or any news organization, since Edward Snowden. The piece continues:

This NSA summary judgment is sharply at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial last week that Russia had interfered in foreign elections: “We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so.” Putin, who had previously issued blanket denials that any such Russian meddling occurred, for the first time floated the possibility that freelance Russian hackers with “patriotic leanings” may have been responsible. The NSA report, on the contrary, displays no doubt that the cyber assault was carried out by the GRU.

The NSA analysis does not draw conclusions about whether the interference had any effect on the election’s outcome and concedes that much remains unknown about the extent of the hackers’ accomplishments. However, the report raises the possibility that Russian hacking may have breached at least some elements of the voting system, with disconcertingly uncertain results.

Breaking news: Russian President Vladimir Putin lies!

More to the point, the run-up to the election much was said about he unhackability of voting machines which I repeatedly discussed with friends, was never the issue. First Secretary of the Communist Party Josef Stalin famously quipped (attributed to Stalin by his personal secretary Boris Bazhanov in his 1980 memoir—Memoirs of the former secretary of Stalin):

I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how.

If Uncle Joe were running an election, he wouldn’t care about voting machines, he would go after the far fewer, and more easily tampered with, central machines that actually count the votes.

The NSA has now learned, however, that Russian government hackers, part of a team with a “cyber espionage mandate specifically directed at U.S. and foreign elections,” focused on parts of the system directly connected to the voter registration process, including a private sector manufacturer of devices that maintain and verify the voter rolls. Some of the company’s devices are advertised as having wireless internet and Bluetooth connectivity, which could have provided an ideal staging point for further malicious actions.

As described by the classified NSA report, the Russian plan was simple: pose as an e-voting vendor and trick local government employees into opening Microsoft Word documents invisibly tainted with potent malware that could give hackers full control over the infected computers.

But in order to dupe the local officials, the hackers needed access to an election software vendor’s internal systems to put together a convincing disguise. So on August 24, 2016, the Russian hackers sent spoofed emails purporting to be from Google to employees of an unnamed U.S. election software company, according to the NSA report. Although the document does not directly identify the company in question, it contains references to a product made by VR Systems [Lower in the story, describes the company this way: VR Systems doesn’t sell the actual touchscreen machines used to cast a vote, but rather the software and devices that verify and catalogue who’s permitted to vote when they show up on Election Day or for early voting. JH], a Florida-based vendor of electronic voting services and equipment whose products are used in eight states [California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. JH].

The spear-phishing email contained a link directing the employees to a malicious, faux-Google website that would request their login credentials and then hand them over to the hackers. The NSA identified seven “potential victims” at the company. While malicious emails targeting three of the potential victims were rejected by an email server, at least one of the employee accounts was likely compromised, the agency concluded. The NSA notes in its report that it is “unknown whether the aforementioned spear-phishing deployment successfully compromised all the intended victims, and what potential data from the victim could have been exfiltrated.”

That was Step One. Step Two followed at the end of October.

on October 27, [the Russian government] set up an “operational” Gmail account designed to appear as if it belonged to an employee at VR Systems, and used documents obtained from the previous operation to launch a second spear-phishing operation “targeting U.S. local government organizations.” These emails contained a Microsoft Word document that had been “trojanized” so that when it was opened it would send out a beacon to the “malicious infrastructure” set up by the hackers.

The NSA assessed that this phase of the spear-fishing operation was likely launched on either October 31 or November 1 and sent spear-fishing emails to 122 email addresses “associated with named local government organizations,” probably to officials “involved in the management of voter registration systems.” The emails contained Microsoft Word attachments purporting to be benign documentation for VR Systems’ EViD voter database product line, but which were in reality maliciously embedded with automated software commands that are triggered instantly and invisibly when the user opens the document. These particular weaponized files used PowerShell, a Microsoft scripting language designed for system administrators and installed by default on Windows computers, allowing vast control over a system’s settings and functions. If opened, the files “very likely” would have instructed the infected computer to begin downloading in the background a second package of malware from a remote server also controlled by the hackers, which the secret report says could have provided attackers with “persistent access” to the computer or the ability to “survey the victims for items of interest.” Essentially, the weaponized Word document quietly unlocks and opens a target’s back door, allowing virtually any cocktail of malware to be subsequently delivered automatically.

According to [Jake Williams, founder of computer security firm Rendition Infosec and formerly of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations hacking team], if this type of attack were successful, the perpetrator would possess “unlimited” capacity for siphoning away items of interest. [Emphasis mine, JH]

Nothing, absolutely nothing is more vital to a democracy than the security of the voting process. Tamper with that enough and the democracy becomes a fiction.

7 June 2017

CRY HAVOC AND LET SLIP THE WATCHDOGS…?

0900 by Jeff Hess

Ralph Nader in Obama: Launch Watchdogs in Washington, writes:

After eight grueling years in the White House, ex-president Barack Obama looked forward with his wife Michelle to a deserved, extended rest and vacation. Nearly five months later, he’s enjoying the company of the rich and famous at their secluded mega-retreats so much that a generally sympathetic media has begun to describe a playboy’s leisure.

Since leaving office, the former self-styled community organizer has yachted with Tom Hanks and Hollywood mogul David Geffen, gone kite-surfing with billionaire Richard Branson at Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, enjoyed the hospitality of designer Michael S. Smith in Southern California, turned up at the Mid-Pacific Country Club in Hawaii, journeyed to Tetiaroa in French Polynesia where, it is reported, he wants to write some of his memoir—part of a $65 million double book deal with Michelle.

In late April, he enjoyed a $400,000 pay day for a speech before a Wall Street firm, followed by an undisclosed fee for speaking in Milan, Italy. The former First Couple stayed at a “restored eight hundred year old village” owned by John Phillips, a former lawyer for the powerless turned multi-millionaire.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, DC, where the Obamas have purchased an $8 million home, Donald Trump is dismantling with cruel gusto as much of Obama’s legacy as he can. Obama spent his last months in office, with his lawyers, striving to Trump-proof his legacy.

However, apart from a few general statements objecting, without mentioning Trump, to the White House’s ban on people entering the United States from six majority Muslim countries, which is heading to the Supreme Court, and to Trump’s Continue Reading »

6 June 2017

NO CONTENT FROM OLD MEN…

1200 by Jeff Hess

5 June 2017

MAKING DEMOCRATS ELECTABLE AGAIN…

1200 by Jeff Hess

In the 21st century’s second decade the surest path to election to public office boils down to repeating four words as often as possible to voters: I’m not a Democrat.

I’ve been chastised by Democratic Party operatives for decades—I think the first time was in 1985 after I first moved to Cleveland—for proudly calling myself an Independent. I’ve only voted for one presidential candidate twice (James Earl Carter in 1976 and 1980) and I turned my back on the party’s nominees in 2009 after President Barack Hussein Obama followed the lead of President William Jefferson Clinton by turning his back, not on those who made him president, but rather on those who voted him into that office.

New Democrats need an old message, the message that saw President Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected four times.

Matt Taibbi, writing in The Democrats Need a New Message for Rolling Stone, has some ideas on what that message ought to be:

Unsurprisingly, the disintegrating Trump bears a historically low approval rating. But polls also show that the Democratic Party has lost five percentage points in its own approval rating dating back to November, when it was at 45 percent.

The Democrats are now hovering around 40 percent, just a hair over the Trump-tarnished Republicans, at 39 percent. Similar surveys have shown that despite the near daily barrage of news stories pegging the president as a bumbling incompetent in the employ of a hostile foreign power, Trump, incredibly, would still beat Hillary Clinton in a rematch today, and perhaps even by a larger margin than before.

Read that last sentence again:

…Trump, incredibly, would still beat Hillary Clinton in a rematch today, and perhaps even by a larger margin than before.

How does that happen? Simple, President Trump is not a Democrat. The excuses for the winingness of that are seemingly endless and pointless. Taibbi continues:

America is obviously a deeply racist and paranoid country. Gerrymandering is a serious problem. Unscrupulous, truth-averse right-wing media has indeed spent decades bending the brains of huge pluralities of voters, particularly the elderly. And Republicans have often, but not always, had fundraising advantages in key races.

But the explanations themselves speak to a larger problem. The unspoken subtext of a lot of the Democrats’ excuse-making is their growing belief that the situation is hopeless—and not just because of fixable institutional factors like gerrymandering, but because we simply have a bad/irredeemable electorate that can never be reached.

This is why the “basket of deplorables” comment last summer was so devastating. That the line would become a sarcastic rallying cry for Trumpites was inevitable.

Ever since I moved to the Democratic Party echo chamber that is Cuyahoga County in Northeast Ohio I have faced an uphill battle trying to convince that the deplorables I grew up with in Washington County, Ohio, were anything but. My personal challenge has become a national problem. Taibbi writes:

[T]he “deplorables” comment didn’t just further alienate already lost Republican votes. It spoke to an internal sickness within the Democratic Party, which had surrendered to a negativistic vision of a hopelessly divided country.

Things are so polarized now that, as Georgia State professor Jennifer McCoy put it on NPR this spring, each side views the other not as fellow citizens with whom they happen to disagree, but as a “threatening enemy to be vanquished.”

The “deplorables” comment formalized this idea that Democrats had given up on a huge chunk of the population, and now sought only to defeat and subdue their enemies.

The people I grew up with—hell I have a sister-in-law who has been twice elected Marietta City Auditor as a Republican—are not deplorables.

Taibbi concludes:

You can’t just dismiss people as lost, even bad or misguided people. Unless every great thinker from Christ to Tolstoy to Gandhi to Dr. King is wrong, it’s especially those people you have to keep believing in, and trying to reach.

The Democrats have forgotten this. While it may not be the case with Quist, who seems to have run a decent campaign, the Democrats in general have lost the ability (and the inclination) to reach out to the entire population.

They’re continuing, if not worsening, last year’s mistake of running almost exclusively on Trump/Republican negatives. The Correct the Record types who police the Internet on the party’s behalf are relentless on that score, seeming to spend most of their time denouncing people for their wrong opinions or party disloyalty. They don’t seem to have anything to say to voters in flyover country, except to point out that they’re (at best) dupes for falling for Republican rhetoric.

But “Republicans are bad” isn’t a message or a plan, which is why the Democrats have managed the near impossible: losing ground overall during the singular catastrophe of the Trump presidency.

The party doesn’t see that the largest group of potential swing voters out there doesn’t need to be talked out of voting Republican. It needs to be talked out of not voting at all. The recent polls bear this out, showing that the people who have been turned off to the Democrats in recent months now say that in a do-over, they would vote for third parties or not at all.

People need a reason to be excited by politics, and not just disgusted with the other side. Until the Democrats figure that out, these improbable losses will keep piling up.

Bernie Sanders (and across the pond, Jeremy Corbyn) provide that reason. We all need to listen and heed their message.

Our survival depends upon doing so.

4 June 2017

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI (OH-16):
STAND WITH AMERICA, OR THE ONE PERCENT…?

0500 by Jeff Hess

So, is Rep. Jim Bupkis* Renacci in favor of clawing back a few of those 13 million clean energy jobs President Donald John Trump just shipped to China, or does he think exporting experts to France is a good idea?

*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.

Previously…

3 June 2017

SOME THINGS YOU CANNOT AFFORD

1600 by Roldo Bartimole

Can Cleveland continue to lose population and keep three major league sports teams?

The answer: NO.

Something has to go. Or some team has to go.

Which one? I don’t know.

But within the decade one will go.

In the meantime a stalemate seems to continue on the funding of the expansion of the Quicken Arena.

This sneaky deal gives Dan Gilbert a brand new venue to compete, not against other teams, but other event venues in Cleveland. Why are we paying for it?

The City Council and Mayor Frank Jackson have until June 7th to decide if a compromise can be had with the forces that gathered an amazing 20,000 plus signatures to put the issue of the city’s funding portion ($88 million at least) to the test of voters. The city now rejects the citizens.

If a compromise isn’t hit the Greater Cleveland Congregations will go to court to force recognition of more than the 20,000 Cleveland signers of the petition, gathered with the help of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus and unions. The GCC Continue Reading »

1 June 2017

PRESIDENT SACRIFICES MOTHER EARTH TO HIS EGO…

0700 by Jeff Hess

31 May 2017

THIS MAY BE THE ACME OF DERF’S THE CITY

0600 by Jeff Hess

170531 derf john backderf disney mickey mouse

30 May 2017

PROFITING FROM ILLNESS IS JUST WRONG…

1500 by Jeff Hess

I have tried to make the case before that there are certain universal services that ought not be subject to profit. At the top of my list are education and healthcare. When a profit motive is introduced to either—no matter how well intentional or meaning—they are corrupted. When the question shifts from “how best can we serve those who need our services?” to “how best can we increase shareholder value?” then the organization can no longer be trusted.

Ralph Nader, in End the Greedy Silence—Enough Already, writes:

It is time Americans rise up against the corruption, inefficiency, and cruelty of our healthcare system and tell its corporate captors and Congress—Enough Already!

For decades other countries have guaranteed universal health insurance for all their people, at lower costs and better outcomes (President Truman proposed it 72 years ago in the US). When are we going to break out of this taxpayer-subsidized prison built by the giant insurance companies, drug Goliaths and monopolizing hospital chains?

How long is Uncle Sucker going to pay through the nose for gouging drug prices, patient-denying health insurance companies and all the brutal fine print rules in consumer contracts whose trap doors are maddening tens of millions of Americans?

Deductibles, exclusions, waivers, co-pays, corporate immunities from injured patients, disqualifying changes in patients’ status and just plain stonewalling are just some examples of this cruel madness.

Not to mention the endless electronic bills with their inscrutable codes and unchallengeable charges—that is if you can get anyone on the phone to answer your questions. Billing fraud and abuses alone cost us up to $330 billion Continue Reading »

29 May 2017

JUST ONE WORD FOR JAMES BUCHAL: ALTAMONT…*

0600 by Jeff Hess

The cheers, jeers and chants of candidate Donald John Trump’s campaign rallies continue to bring out Americans on the fringe. In the past there have been assaults and beatings, but now a pathetic hate-fueled white man unable or unwilling to take a breath, has killed to upstanders and injured a third in Portland, Oregon.

Portlandia can never be the same again.

Jason Wilson, reporting in Portland Republican says party should use militia groups after racial attack for The Guardian, writes:

Multnomah County GOP chair James Buchal… told the Guardian that recent street protests had prompted Portland Republicans to consider alternatives to “abandoning the public square”.

“I am sort of evolving to the point where I think that it is appropriate for Republicans to continue to go out there,” he said. “And if they need to have a security force protecting them, that’s an appropriate thing too.”

Asked if this meant Republicans making their own security arrangements rather than relying on city or state police, Buchal said: “Yeah. And there are these people arising, like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.”

Asked if he was considering such groups as security providers, Buchal said: “Yeah. We’re thinking about that. Because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.”

Buchal ran for Oregon attorney general in 2012 and has stood for election to Congress and the state legislature. The Oath Keepers are described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the US”, recruiting current and former military and law enforcement personnel. They have recently appeared at rallies from Berkeley to Boston, standing with activists from the far right, activists holding what were once fringe positions who have recently risen to national prominence.

The Three Percenters are described by Political Research Associates as “a paramilitary group that pledges armed resistance against attempts to restrict private gun ownership”. They were a highly visible presence in Burns, Oregon, before and during the occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge by rightwing militia early in 2016.

Buchal told the Guardian it was important not to become involved with extremists, and said that on the Three Percenters website, “right there on the front page there is what looks like a solid commitment to this not being about race at all”.

The president, responding to the murders said fucking tweeted:

The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.

This is the response of a 14-year-old schoolgirl, not the leader of the free world.

*For those who don’t remember…

28 May 2017

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI (OH-16):
MEET ONE OF ENERGY TRANSFER’S PARTNERS…

0500 by Jeff Hess

When corporate mercenaries thugs strike are Americans safe? There is a long history in the United States of corporations using private armies to destroy those who threaten their profits. The latest permutation of this abomination comes in the form of Energy Transfer Partners’ (builder of the Dakota Access and Rover—here in Ohio—pipe lines) hiring of TigerSwan: A shadowy international mercenary and security firm, to thwart the peaceful assembly of American citizens seeking to protect their sacred religious heritage and safe drinking water for their families.

My representative in Congress, Jim Bupkis* Renacci, remains silent on the Rover pipeline and I can only assume that that silence is an endorsement of unleashing TigerSwan on his constituents—and, since he seeks the governorship of Ohio—the entire state.

Alleen Brown, Will Parrish and Alice Speri, reporting in Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies” for The Intercept, write:

TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.

Internal TigerSwan communications describe the movement as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” and compare the anti-pipeline water protectors to jihadist fighters. One report, dated February 27, 2017, states that since the movement “generally followed the jihadist insurgency model while active, we can expect the individuals who fought for and supported it to follow a post-insurgency model after its collapse.” Drawing comparisons with post-Soviet Afghanistan, the report warns, “While we can expect to see the continued spread of the anti-DAPL diaspora … aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield and active coordination between intelligence and security elements are now a proven method of defeating pipeline insurgencies.”

More than 100 internal documents leaked to The Intercept by a TigerSwan contractor, as well as a set of over 1,000 documents obtained via public records requests, reveal that TigerSwan spearheaded a multifaceted private security operation characterized by sweeping and invasive surveillance of protesters.

This is not just an event happening on the other side of the globe in Iraq or Afghanistan. This is not an atrocity occurring in another state half-way across the country. This is a corporate bad actor that, if protests get out of hand and threaten profits, has the will to unleash these thugs on Ohioans who think the Rover pipeline is bad for Ohioans.

This is how TigerSwan thinks:

One report, dated February 27, 2017, states that since the movement “generally followed the jihadist insurgency model while active, we can expect the individuals who fought for and supported it to follow a post-insurgency model after its collapse.” Drawing comparisons with post-Soviet Afghanistan, the report warns, “While we can expect to see the continued spread of the anti-DAPL diaspora … aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield and active coordination between intelligence and security elements are now a proven method of defeating pipeline insurgencies.”

Pay close and careful attention to the language here: American citizens seeking to protect their land, their water and their heritage from rapacious corporate greed are following the jihadist insurgency model and with the continued spread of the anti-DAPL diaspora … aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield is needed.

Not in my Ohio.

*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.

Previously…

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