14 October 2016


0700 by Jeff Hess

13 October 2016


0500 by Jeff Hess

I thought America would brush off the Trump-Bush tape because so much equally, or even more, hideous material had already been revealed in the past year and my assessment of the effect of Trump’s locker room talk—despite what other have very publicly claimed, I have heard plenty of such talk (particularly in the Military) before—was that this too would blow over.

Boy, was I wrong. Or maybe not.

David A. Graham, writing in Independents and Women Bail on Trump, Giving Clinton a Double-Digit Lead for The Atlantic, tells us:

With less than a month to go until Election Day, Donald Trump’s standing has plummeted with likely voters, falling from a dead heat just two weeks ago to a double-digit deficit behind Hillary Clinton, according to a [Public Religion Research Institute]/The Atlantic poll released Tuesday.

Clinton holds a 49-38 lead over the Republican. Two weeks ago, a previous PRRI/Atlantic poll found Trump and Clinton tied at 43-43. Following the first presidential debate in Hempstead, New York, the Democrat broke out to a 47-41 lead. She has now built on that lead.

That’s the bad news for Trump. The worse news is that this poll likely does not include the full impact of a video, published Friday afternoon by The Washington Post, in which Trump boasts about sexually assaulting women. The poll was conducted Wednesday through Sunday, meaning some respondents were interviewed before the video’s release and some afterward. It also does not take into account the second presidential debate, in which Trump’s performance drew widely varying reviews.

The even worser news is that a hailstorm of sweaty gym shoes may be about to pummel The Donald.

Nigel M Smith, in Demand mounts for Trump Apprentice tapes that may hold ‘far worse’ footage for The Guardian, writes:

The repercussions were swift following last Friday’s leak of the Access Hollywood tape, in which Donald Trump can be heard bragging about sexually assaulting women: House speaker Paul Ryan told fellow Republicans that he would no longer defend the party’s nominee, while hordes of party members distanced themselves from Trump’s comments with some—including Senator John McCain—even saying they could no longer vote for Trump.

Supposedly, things could get even worse for the Republican nominee.

Following the release of the footage by the Washington Post, Bill Pruitt, a producer on the first two seasons of The Apprentice, the NBC reality show Trump hosted from 2004-2015, tweeted that there are “far worse” behind-the-scenes tapes of Trump on the program. Emmy award-winning producer Chris Nee has alleged that Trump says the n-word in the recordings.

Yet, I have thought so many times that Trump was toast that I feel gun shy, expecting him to come striding out from the exploding bombs and rockets like some movie monster the heroes thought was certainly dead.

Cognitive dissonance is a very strong psychological force and I think that nothing short of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell standing on the capital steps with the entire Republican Caucus arrayed behind them—joined by George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and their entire cabinets—holding We’re With Her signs is likely to send Trumpzilla back into the deep.

12 October 2016


0600 by Roldo Bartimole

It’s not who the Plain Dealer endorsed. It’s how.

The choice is enough to question the seriousness of top editors.

Atop the Forum page, this past Sunday’s editorial section of the PD, was a 7-inch deep, page-wide photograph of a smiling LeBron James. He is holding, of course, a basketball. What that has to do with a Presidential election you decide.

The photo proclaimed with these words: “In the matter of our endorsement for president of the United States of America…” and then opposite James’ smiling face, “We agree with his choice: Hillary Clinton.”

What more proof would you need?

What does he have to do with the Presidential election, you may also ask?

Really nothing. Absolutely nothing.

It was the introduction to a “most unconventional endorsement,” we are told by Chris Quinn, vice president of content and writer of the endorsement. (VP, whatever happened to editors by the way?) Please bring them back, Advance Ohio, and stop this corporate speak.

Even Quinn apparently recognized the folly of his approach, writing, “Yes, this is a stunt, a gimmick.”

Are we going high school, Chris?

Sports have long become the model of this daily newspaper. It’s so much easier to put out a sports paper than a newspaper.

They can’t seem to avoid this kind of lowering the quality of journalism in town.

“We say, quite simply, we agree with LeBron James’ choice of Hillary Clinton,” Quinn writes of the PD‘s endorsement of the former Senator and Secretary of State.

Do you really have to hang this decision on the choice of a sports hero? Don’t we have enough pandering of sports figures?

By the way, editorial board member Kevin O’Brien was one of a couple of board members who didn’t write his take on this election.

Hard to believe that hard-right Kevin couldn’t come up with a reason to vote for the deplorable Donald Trump.

By Roldo Bartimole…

12 October 2016


0400 by Jeff Hess

Trevor needs to watch Mad Men. (Watch No. 4 closely for the signature Don Draper move.)

11 October 2016


1200 by Roldo Bartimole

If Clevelanders vote to increase the income (payroll) tax two things will happen that won’t be very helpful to the city. In my opinion anyway.

The ballot issue asks for a 25 percent increase in the 2 percent regressive payroll tax. Much too much. That means 2.25 percent of your first earned dollar—and every one after—goes to the city.

What does it say to us or me at least?

First, it will encourage Mayor Frank Jackson to run for re-election next year. Why not? The coffers will be full for spending—full speed ahead.

It would be an unprecedented fourth four-year term for Jackson. It would make him—a sleepy, sloppy city leader—the longest serving in the city’s history. Four more years of caretaker government.

What a vacancy of leadership we are experiencing.

Second, it will serve to grease the skids for East Cleveland to join Cleveland.

This will be done with little proper examination by anyone.

The city of Cleveland should not have to absorb all of E. Cleveland without some compensation. East Cleveland certainly doesn’t have it. Only the State Continue Reading »

11 October 2016


0400 by Jeff Hess


I own a copy of Richard Bach’s Illusions and while I wouldn’t call the book life-altering, I did learn a bit of wisdom from what Bach had to share. That was why when I read Oliver Burkeman’s Good advice from bad people this morning I was pleased to read him quote Bach: You teach best what you most need to learn.

That line has always resonated with me because I think that writers, like psychologists, are using their exchanges with others, their processes, to explore their own questions, and we are not candidates for canonization. Burkeman writes:

Many of [Good Advice From Bad People author Zac] Bissonnette’s subjects are criminals, or mentally ill. But he touches briefly on a more fascinating possibility: what if it’s precisely because some people have big problems, in a given domain, that they end up so forcibly telling others what to do about it? In its original Freudian sense, “projection” is a woolly notion, but the contemporary psychologist Roy Baumeister suggests one way it might work. When you’re keen not to think certain thoughts about yourself, you’ll make them “chronically accessible” to your mind, so they’ll be the first things you reach for when analysing what’s wrong with others. Lance Armstrong could have settled for being a cheat; instead, he was a cheat who banged on about integrity.

The irony is that the resulting advice can be great. The best investment strategy, Bernie Madoff once said, is to resist the urge to play the system and put your money in index funds. He was right; it was investing your money with Madoff, the ultimate system-player, that was wrong. “You teach best what you most need to learn,” wrote Richard Bach, though he presumably didn’t have Ponzi schemers in mind.

Leaving aside criminals and charlatans, you could argue we’re better off taking advice from those who’ve struggled with whatever they’re addressing. It’s a cliche that “all therapists are crazy”—and there’s evidence they really do have more direct experience of mental illness than others—but that’s not necessarily bad. It means they’re personally invested.

Perhaps this is why Alcoholic’s Anonymous continues to be popular despite the program’s abysmal success rate: we trust the sinner more than the saint.

10 October 2016


1900 by Jeff Hess

*That’s what she said:

It must be so hard to make 24 hours of television without saying the words: cunt, snatch, cooter, silk purse, spicy taco, hoohoo,, trim, vajayjay, bearded clam, front bottom, nether region, sin grotto, red lobster, beaver, fur burger, downstairs retreat, honey pot, inner sanctum, yoni, sugar walls, peach blossom, lady treasure, roast beef curtains, gray garden—Oh! I almost forgot the most important one: box.

Of all the Jon Stewart Daily Show alumni, I think Samantha Bee is, by far, the best.

8 October 2016


0400 by Jeff Hess

My first-draft mantra is I’m OK when the writing sucks. No one ever wrote a perfect first draft. Hell, no one ever wrote a perfect 10th, 100th or 1,000th draft. The work gets better with ever pass, but at some point you have allow the editor to pry the manuscript from your fingers. I once had an editor who literally ripped pages from my typewriter when we were on deadline. What I wrote wasn’t pretty, but the words did the job.

Oliver Burkeman, writing in The pessimist’s cure for procrastination for The Guardian get all philosophical on the concept.

There’s nothing new in the observation that perfectionism leads to procrastination, but too often we perfectionists are secretly proud of our affliction: we’re convinced that this time, finally, if we pulled out all the stops, we might get things exactly right. The bracing Gnostic response is: forget it. Creation is imperfect by definition; to bring something into being is unavoidably to screw it up. It’s not a question of “embracing failure”, but of seeing there’s no option but to embrace failure. I’m pretty sure the Gnostics didn’t intend it as motivational advice, but that’s the effect it has on me: it’s far easier to get things done, and to take interesting risks, if you’ve already failed. There’s no point worrying things might go wrong when they already have.

Burkeman goes all Gnostic because of an essay by Costica Bradatan Why Do Anything? A Meditation on Procrastination as part of The New York Times’ The Stone series. Bradatan begins:

“The world,” we read in the Gnostic Gospel of Philip, “came about through a mistake.” The demiurge who made it “wanted to create it imperishable and immortal,” but eventually he “fell short of attaining his desire, for the world never was imperishable, nor, for that matter, was he who made the world.” The Gnostics believed nonexistence to be a mark of perfection, and coming into being a form of degradation.

Basilides, one of the most intriguing figures of early Gnosticism, believed that the highest attribute of divinity is its inexistence. By his own account, Basilides was a theologian of the “nonexistent God”; he referred to God as “he who is not,” as opposed to the maker of the world, trapped in existence and time.

Gnostic thinking takes us to a privileged ontological realm: the state of perfection that precedes actualization. That which is yet to be born—be it the world, a person, a piece of furniture or a piece of writing like this one—may be nothing, but at this stage it is at its utmost. Its nothingness is fuller and richer than any ordinary existence. To fall into existence is to enter time, and with time comes decay, aging and death.

Or, as we might suggest today: Life sucks, then you die.

Yet, even if we do not choose to embrace nothingness, nothingness itself may choose to embrace us. It may not be that we don’t have anything to do, or that we’re bored, or that we would rather do it later, but just that we don’t see the point of it all. In our idleness we intuit a cosmic meaninglessness, which comes along with the realization that, with every action, we get only more entangled in the universal farce.

Perhaps the most intriguing form of idleness is one nearly all of us are intimately familiar with: procrastination.

I think that if some of my students were to read this, particularly the bit about cosmic meaninglessness, there might be a bit of a revolt at the high school. Bradatan continues:

Idleness is difficult to find in a pure state. Indeed, in a certain sense, it eludes us because, at its most radical, idleness tends to devour its devotees. But procrastination is a different business altogether: It is not only more available, but also more dynamic, just as the procrastinator is a more dramatic figure than the idler, who is as ascetic and immobile as a pillar saint.

The drama of procrastination comes from its split nature. Just like the architect from Shiraz, the procrastinator is smitten by the perfect picture of that which is yet to be born; he falls under the spell of all that purity and splendor. What he is beholding is something whole, uncorrupted by time, untainted by the workings of a messed-up world. At the same time, though, the procrastinator is fully aware that all that has to go. No sooner does he get a glimpse of the perfection that precedes actualization than he is doomed to become part of the actualization process himself, to be the one who defaces the ideal and brings into the world a precarious copy, unlike the architect who saves it by burning the plans.

The procrastinator contemplates his deed and realizes all its future imperfection, but — fallen creature, “man of the world,” part of the “infamy of Creation” that he is — he must do it. The procrastinator is both contemplator and man of action, which is the worst thing to be, and which is tearing him apart.

What procrastination betrays is above all an anxiety of creation: It pains us unbearably to realize that, for all our good intentions, we are agents of degradation, that instead of creating something that stays whole and incorruptible, we by our very doing make it “perishable and mortal,” in the words of the Gnostic author of the Gospel of Philip. Procrastination and mourning are tied tightly together: for to procrastinate is to mourn the precariousness of your creation even before you bring it into the world.

The only cure is the work. Horribly, tragically flawed as we know any effort might be, the work is the approach to the perfect and like Achilles we can approach the finish line, but are doomed to never break the tape.

7 October 2016


0600 by Jeff Hess


7 October 2016


0500 by Jeff Hess

On Wednesday, I wrote about another African American high school football player threatened with murder by lynching for the crime of exercising his free speech rights under our Constitution. The day before Monument Mountain Regional High School principal Marianne Young gathered her charges for a New England tradition, the town community meeting.

Heather Bellow, reporting in In wake of lynching threat, Monument principal, students, say school has racial tension, issues for The Edge, writes:

Monument Mountain Regional High School Principal Marianne Young told students at [Tuesday]’s assembly that, in grappling with a recent racist threat and its aftermath at the school, she’s had to do some deep diving within.

“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” she said, adding that her recent comments to the press about the incident, and “decisions,” may not have “represented the school.”

Young didn’t go into details about an incident — still under investigation by the school, local police, and possibly the FBI — in which a white student threatened to lynch an African-American student because, during the national anthem at an away game, he kneeled to protest national police killings of black men.

Young, however, confirmed what up to now was reported as an allegation. “Somebody did, in fact, say a horrific, indefensible racist comment.”

Students were not passive listeners at the assembly.

Student Senate President Teddy Michaels, a senior, addressed the 500-plus student body.

“There are bigots and racists in the world,” Michaels said. “But Monument doesn’t have to be the way the world is out there…we can influence our community by the way we treat others and ourselves.”

He said he didn’t want his fellow students to grow up and “look back…embarrassed” by what went on at the school. He echoed Young: “This is not about individuals — it’s about us all.”

He quoted Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.”

And Michaels spoke to what many in the Monument and general communities have expressed, especially on social media, since the incident came to light.

“There is racial tension at the school; that is undeniable,” he said.

Yes, lately the stories have ripped loose from safe moorings of privilege and the perception that we are a right-thinking Berkshires.

I have to wonder why I haven’t heard of a similar assembly at Brunswick High School.

6 October 2016


0600 by Jeff Hess

6 October 2016


0500 by Jeff Hess

So, this morning as I was checking traffic I noticed a visitor from the Ohio page of Ron Gunzburger’s Politics 1 where Have Coffee Will Write is included in a list of political blogs in Ohio. Looking at the list I wondered how many were still active.

The first blog I clicked on was Right Angle Blog, because back in the day blogger Matt Naugle was particularly nefarious. I was very pleased to see that Naugle must have allowed the registration to lapse around six years ago and the blog is now an online gambling gateway.

I went to Ohio’s flagship political blog, Plunderbund, next and was pleased to see that the blog is alive and well.

Word Of Mouth, sadly, has also gone the lost registration route, and now sports ads in German (Auf was muss man beim Umzug achten?). Scott Bakalar, Henery Hawk, Kelly Boyer Sagert, Brian Hazelett and the rest of the Secret Squirrels were always some of my favorite bloggers.

Buckeye State Blog is now an advertising site for lighting.

Well, you get the idea. I really need to find a way to keep Have Coffee Will Write and The Writing On The Wal safe until our cephalopod overlords take down the interwebs.

6 October 2016


0300 by Jeff Hess

5 October 2016


0700 by Jeff Hess

I have railed of late about XBATs—my acronym for Xenophobic Bigoted Anonymous Trolls—and their cowardly attacks on athletes like Colin Kaepernick and Rodney Axson, along with an ever-growing list, for taking a knee in protest at the singing of a national anthem that celebrates a nation where black men and boys can be summarily executed in our streets.

My indifference to sports is infamous and I never heard of Etan Thomas until this morning, he has long been fighting this battle.

Etan Thomas, writing in What Kaepernick Started: A Former NBA Player Reflects for The Progressive tells us:

Today, I take my hat off to Colin Kaepernick for everything he is enduring, especially now in the age of social media. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry can develop what I call “Twitter courage” and type a hateful, evil condemnation of Colin Kaepernick. As Dave Zirin, sports writer and my co-host on the radio show The Collision: Where Sports And Politics Collide, has put it:Twitter is the white hood of the twenty-first century. It’s where bigots revel in their anonymity and rage against the current, where people can be both hateful and cowardly.

Thomas shares Zirin’s observation fairly far down in his piece which opens:

Seeing all of the venom spewed at NFL player Colin Kaepernick takes me back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Today, even Republicans admit that there were no weapons of mass destruction, no direct connection to 9/11, and no reason to invade Iraq. But back in 2003 it was thought to be anti-American, even treasonous, to speak out against the Iraq invasion. I was playing for the Washington Wizards in the nation’s capital and simply couldn’t keep quiet about what I saw as blatant disrespect to our troops—sending them to die because of deliberate lies perpetuated by then-President George W. Bush. I began reciting my poems at rallies and marches around Washington, D.C. Sometimes thirty or forty people came. At other times, hundreds or even thousands showed up. I delivered each poem with the same tenacity no matter the size of the crowd. Here is an excerpt from one of my poems, titled “Bring Our Heroes Home”:

Out of the ashes of Iraq come soldiers dressed in fatigues of fire
wearing helmets secured in smoke
They’ve choked off the lies spewed out of the mouth of a burning bush
The true warrior’s existing wake
Who’s flames burned them at the stake
Cremated their bodies
And stuffed them in an urn wrapped in red, white, and blue…

Rummaging through a forest set ablaze by one lethal match
With witty catch phrases forever attached to the side of their kingdom
Operation Iraqi Freedom Links to Al Qaeda Eminent Threats
And weapons of mass destruction…

They’ve been skillfully thrown into the lion’s den
Out of the frying pan and into the furnace
Their courage exceeds any measuring stick
But they can hear the footsteps of death creeping around the corner
For they’ve been led into the eye of the storm
Transformed into peacekeepers
Lending a helping hand for the poorly planned post-war strategy…

I attempted to get my message out to the papers, but nobody wanted to cover it. I tried The Washington Post and The Washington Times, since those papers covered our team. But I was met with a resounding no.

Then, at one particular anti-war rally, I performed a poem called “The Field Trip.” I named some ten Republicans I wanted to take on a field trip to see the results of their policies. My piece went viral before going viral was a thing. There was no social media or Twitter back then, but soon the story of the rally was everywhere.

All the criticism being leveled at Kaepernick takes me back to those days and the hate mail delivered to me at the then-MCI Center (now Verizon Center). I played with Michael Jordan and Gilbert Arenas, so I saw guys get stacks and stacks of fan mail delivered to them every day. I would get a few letters here and there, but after that rally I started getting boxes. Some of the letters were supportive, but a lot of them were filled with anger and hate.

Those letters, now replaced by emails, Snapchats and Tweets, are still filled with anger and hate from the XBATs, but brave athletes are not deterred.

What’s beautiful to see is how Colin Kaepernick’s message is spreading and how it is resonating with so many athletes, from high school football teams to Howard University cheerleaders. [snip]

What’s almost more impressive is how this message is resonating with high school athletes who, as we know, are greatly influenced by professional athletes. They are watching, learning, and taking stances of their own. Not because it’s a new fad as some sports commentators remarked, in a feeble attempt to discredit and demean this movement, but because they have their own experiences with injustice. Some have stood in the face of adversity, hatred, and threats of physical harm.

A Brunswick, Ohio, high school football player named Rodney Axson Jr. was threatened with lynching and called the N-word by his white teammates after he knelt to protest racism on Friday, September 2.

Garfield High School’s football team and coaching staff, along with more than a half-dozen West Seattle High School players, took a knee while the national anthem played before their Friday night game.

They were not intimidated by critics including Trent Dilfer, Dabo Swinney, Kid Rock, Tony La Russa or Kate Upton. Nor did they stand down when Mike Ditka, Jim Harbaugh, Vikings offensive lineman and Kaepernick’s former teammate Alex Boone, Jason Whitlock, Boomer Esiason, Victor Cruz, Tiki Barber, U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, and Shaquille O’Neal all used their platforms to discredit, condemn, and ridicule Colin Kaepernick and other athletes for having the moral courage to stand up for what they believe in. One would think they would be just as vocal in condemning social injustice and the countless murders at the hands of the police that have gone unpunished. More than two dozen black people were killed during encounters with police in just the first six weeks after Kaepernick began protesting.

Where is their condemnation of that?

Where indeed.

5 October 2016


0500 by Jeff Hess

Republicans understand that their worst enemy is high voter participation. Here in Ohio our Secretary of State Jon Husted got smacked down for attempting to prevent pesky voters from, well, voting.

To our immediate west, Indiana’s Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson, is following Husted’s lead by shutting down the local manifestation of Patriot Majority’s successful voter registration organization: the Indiana Voter Registration Project.

Spencer Woodman, writing in Police Raid Indiana’s Largest Voter Registration Office Following Fraud Accusations From GOP for The Intercept, explains:

State police raided the offices of Indiana’s largest voter registration operation Tuesday morning, a dramatic step in a fast-developing investigation that police say is about voter fraud and election activists say amounts to a Republican-backed attack on access to the ballot in the Hoosier state.

According to organizers, nearly a dozen police entered the Indianapolis offices of the Indiana Voter Registration Project with a search warrant and seized multiple computers, the personal cellphones of employees and paperwork relating to the group’s get-out-the-vote operations in the state.

The group alleges that police told a worker she was not allowed to film the raid and attempted to block workers from access to counsel, said Jeff Macey, the attorney representing the IVRP. He called me from his car parked across the street from the voting offices he said he was unable to enter.

With its headquarters stripped of essential equipment, the registration drive’s future is suddenly uncertain.

Remind you of 2008 and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now?

What I found particularly egregious was how the State Police were able to keep anyone from recording the raid on their phones.

[Dave Bursten, the chief public information officer for the Indiana State Police] said that the police had come to collect cellphones and did not want to give targets of the investigation time to delete evidence that might be contained within the devices.

So, if police think that the cell phone you’re recording their bad behavior on is evidence, they can just take your phone away from you?

Expect to see this tactic spread like wildfire in the coming weeks.

5 October 2016


0400 by Jeff Hess

5 October 2016


0300 by Jeff Hess

On Monday I posted about death threats made to another high school student who took a knee. Yesterday, the principal of the school where the threat was made held an assembly.

Heather Bellow, reporting in Monument Mountain High School to hold assembly over lynching threat; FBI involved for The Edge, writes:

In the wake of a violent threat made to an African-American student last week at Monument Mountain Regional High School, school and Berkshire Hills Regional School District officials will tackle the matter in an all-school assembly in the gymnasium tomorrow, Tuesday [yesterday, JH].

Meanwhile, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were at the school last Friday after being somehow made aware of the incident in which the student reported he was threatened by another student with a “lynching in the woods,” a hanging and a beating. But FBI Boston division spokesperson Kristen Setera said she couldn’t confirm or deny that an investigation is in progress.

The FBI’s involvement would come under the realm of civil rights or hate crimes violations.

Monument Principal Marianne Young said that, at the assembly, school officials would deal with the incident in a general way. “We’re going to talk about what the school has experienced, and about how to address our own shortcomings and remain committed to one another,” she said.

Reader Eoin Higgins let me know yesterday that The Eagle disabled comments a few weeks ago. The Edge has not.

4 October 2016


0600 by Jeff Hess

Stuart Miller, reporting in Do Not Resist: new film shows how US police have become an occupying army for The Guardian, writes:

Craig Atkinson’s documentary about police militarization, Do Not Resist, is filled with unsettling scenes like the one where a Swat team destroys a family’s home during a drug raid that nets small amounts of loose marijuana. But the most disturbing scene transpires during the relative placidity of a seminar when a hugely successful lecturer tells a room full of police officers: “We are at war and you are the frontline.

“What do you fight violence with? Superior violence. Righteous violence. Violence is your tool … You are men and women of violence.”

The speaker, Dave Grossman, is a retired army lieutenant colonel with a packed national speaking schedule. In the film, Grossman also promulgates the notion that one perk of violent encounters is that police often say that afterwards they have the best sex of their lives, which Atkinson, in an interview, sees as parallel to promising virgins to a suicide bomber.

“I wanted to show how ubiquitous his philosophy is and how it has been adopted throughout law enforcement,” says Atkinson, whose movie won best documentary feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. It opens in New York on Friday and then gradually rolls out. (Grossman refused to be interviewed for this story.) “I don’t think they should be incentivizing law enforcement to commit violence. This is a rape and pillage philosophy versus a protect and serve philosophy.”

Justin Hansford, an assistant professor at St Louis University school of law, says this mentality has long existed but that the 9/11 attacks created a new level of fear among citizens and police and timidity among the politicians who should be preventing this escalation. “It’s a jambalaya of all the wrong ingredients,” he says.

The seemingly endless police killings—from Ferguson to Tulsa and Charlotte—are directly linked to this issue, Hansford and Atkinson say.

Militarization is a huge problem, but there is a deeper sickness present that makes the danger far, far worse.

I cannot say this enough times. As a nation we must immediately take these two steps:

First, no police involved shooting should be handled by internal affairs or a local district attorney with a pet grand jury. Only an independent prosecutor should be allowed to investigate and, if found appropriate, prosecute those involved. So far this year, The Guardian’s The Counted project has listed the names of 814 people killed by police in our nation.

Second, every county ought to have a police review board with the power to fire police chiefs. The panel should consist of elected volunteers representing the diverse communities in the county. I would recommend no more than five members on such a board. The board must have subpoena power to compel testimony at open meetings. The board must not be allowed to meet in private in any sense. The volunteers would be elected annually and serve for no more than two years.

These two steps are not the solution, but they’re one hell of a good beginning.

4 October 2016


0400 by Jeff Hess

We cannot afford to sink another well, dig another mine nor build another pipeline. Full stop.

This summer we set yet another temperature record for Earth. Sadly, the record is not likely to stand for more than a year. Oliver Milman, writing in Planet at its hottest in 115,000 years thanks to climate change, experts say for The Guardian, explains:

The global temperature has increased to a level not seen for 115,000 years, requiring daunting technological advances that will cost the coming generations hundreds of trillions of dollars, according to the scientist widely credited with bringing climate change to the public’s attention.

A new paper submitted by James Hansen, a former senior Nasa climate scientist, and 11 other experts states that the 2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times, following a warming trend where the world has heated up at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years.

This rate of warming is bringing Earth in line with temperatures last seen in the Eemian period, an interglacial era ending 115,000 years ago when there was much less ice and the sea level was 6-9 meters (20-30ft) higher than today.

As Oil Change International wisely encourages: When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Traditional climate policy has largely focused on regulating at the point of emissions, while leaving the supply of fossil fuels to the market. If it ever was, that approach is no longer supportable. Increased extraction leads directly to higher emissions, through
lower prices, infrastructure lock-in, and perverse political incentives. Our analysis
indicates a hard limit to how much fossil fuel can be extracted, which can be implemented only by governments: No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built, and governments should grant no new permits for them [emphasis mine, JH].

Continued construction would either commit the world to exceeding 2°C of warming, and/or require an abrupt end to fossil fuel production and use at a later date (with increasing severity depending on the delay). Yet right now, projected investment in new fields, mines, and transportation infrastructure over the next twenty years is $14 trillion – either a vast waste of money or a lethal capital injection. The logic is simple: whether through climate change or stranded assets, a failure to begin a managed decline now would inevitably entail major economic and social costs

We need to be the Earth’s keepers lest the Holls Doyles of the world will leave us no Earth to keep.

3 October 2016


0600 by Jeff Hess

So, Xenophobic Bigoted Anonymous Trolls exist in what some would consider a bastion of liberalism: The Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, vacation spot for Boston’s elite and mecca for lovers of fall foliage. Then there’s Monument Mountain Regional High School home of the Spartans.

Eoin Higgins, in FBI “aware” of reported racial threat at Monument Mountain for The Berkshire Eagle writes:

The Great Barrington Police Department is investigating a hate speech threat in Great Barrington’s Monument Mountain Regional High School and the FBI is aware of the case.

“The FBI heard about the incident and also called us to inquire and offer any assistance,” Police Chief William Walsh said in a statement. “We are keeping them advised of the investigation.”

The investigation concerns an incident from last week around a school football player’s protest. On September 23, at a game in Athol, a player “took a knee” during the nation anthem. The following Monday, September 26, another student in the high school said he would “lynch” the player and “use his body for target practice.”

The student reported the incident to school authorities. Superintendent Peter Dillon confirmed to The Eagle that the school’s administration is looking into the matter.

As of this report no internal action has been taken at the school, pending the results of a school investigation. Requests for comment from Principal Maryann Young on Friday were not returned.

“Taking a knee” has become a popular form of protest in the months since backup San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for The Star Spangled Banner during a practice game in August. The protest has spread across the National Football League and to high schools across the country.

Reactions like the one at Monument have been isolated but have occurred in other high schools. In Brunswick, Ohio, senior Rodney Axson received death threats, including lynching threats, after he took a knee in early September.

FBI Boston office spokeswoman Kristen Sereta confirmed to The Eagle that the department knows about the situation.

“We are aware of the incident,” Sereta said in a statement.

Sereta could not confirm or deny the existence of any FBI investigation of the matter, citing Department of Justice policies.

There are no comments yet on the story, but perhaps The Eagle has a policy of banning local XBATs.

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