16 December 2014


0000 by Jeff Hess

This internal thread concerning events in and about Ferguson, Missouri,
is stuck to the top of the blog, newer, less vital, posts appear below.

Meanwhile, comments on PZ Myers’ Good Morning, America hit 2,394 and
PZ has opened a second comment thread: Later this morning in America

“…How long, O Sovereign Lord…until you judge…and …avenge our blood…they
were told, wait a little while longer.” (Rev. 6:10-11 NIV)

Once again, another unarmed black male was gunned down in Tombstone, America by a racist policeman in broad daylight ,who has no value for black life, and no fear of retribution in white supremacist America. What does White America have to say about this genocide, this ethnic cleansing? What does the Black Church have to say about that? What does it mean to be Black and Christian at this moment, given these conditions? How long, O God, must we wait for someone, even you, to judge and avenge this degradation? What shall we do until…?

I will tell you what must be done. Black America must arm itself against any and all with such moral depravity as to count a black man’s life as less than an animal. We have the right to defend ourselves against any and all, no matter who gets caught in the crossfire and becomes a CIA. Isn’t that the single most heard mantra in America recently–we, Israel, the police officer have the right to defend ourselves. Didn’t I just see that out west when a group of white citizens pointed guns and sniper weapons on border guards? Didn’t I see some politicians support them, and other politicians evade condemning them? Does anyone with half a brain believe that had they been black citizens it would have turned out the same, women and children present or not? Michael Brown was not armed. Michael Brown was running away. Michael Brown had his hands up. Michael Brown was an 18 year old kid on his way to college. Oh, I forgot he was a Big Black Gorilla in the mist.

Surely, I will gain overwhelming support for this idea, even this ideal, by an American majority who loves their guns. I know I will have the tenacious backing of the NRA and all the politicians, Democrat and Republican, that don’t have the courage or conscience to oppose them. An NRA that supports and is silent about a child being taught to use an Uzi that she can’t handle, as a result killing her trainer, certainly will defend the arming of a people being slaughtered in the streets. After 911 they called for all pilots—yes, pilots—to be armed. After Sandy Hook, they called for teachers–yes teachers–to be strapped in the classroom. They wanted citizens to be armed in the movies. Imagine, a gunshot on the screen, one person starts shooting and everybody starts. Yet, they were for it. Surely, they will join me on this one as well. Or, is there something about the hue of my people’s skin that will cause them to flinch? Continue Reading »

16 December 2014


0543 by Jeff Hess

I tear up every time I listen to the glorious 9th…

15 December 2014


1600 by Jeff Hess

roldo halle building 141215

I assume the cheering over the sale of Halle Building will be another example of the shifting of tax burden from the wealthy to the diminishing number of Cleveland homeowners. How many left now?

But who is keeping count. Indeed, who even cares?

Progress is what those who make up the news say it is.

For the former Halle’s department store is the second time around the money merry-go-round. It’s such a party.

“The conversion, which is not expected to begin until at least 2018, would be similar to several other office-to-residential projects in downtown Cleveland catering to a steady influx of young professionals seeking an urban lifestyle,” crowed the eager though clueless editorialists of the newspaper.

The Plain Dealer (or whatever it calls itself today) reported that the building was purchased by K&D Group from Forest City Enterprises.

The building is expected to be converted from offices to some 240 apartments, which will likely be tax abated, so Cleveland homeowners will silently and graciously pick up the slack.

Isn’t that the way it works? Somebody has to pay the heavy tab of City Council and Mayor Jackson’s people. Well? Step up.

Forest City when it bought the building had a deal with the city in which the Council was told that Halle’s would produce a profit for the city.

Honestly, we’ll make money, Voinovich’s people said. I guess he forgot to say which people. Continue Reading »

13 December 2014


0530 by Jeff Hess

non-fiction reading list

9 December 2014


0700 by Jeff Hess

I believe* in a purely material universe that conforms to naturalistic laws and principles.

I believe that the life we have is the only one we will have, that the mind and consciousness are inseparable from the brain, that we cease to exist in any conscious form when we die, and that it is therefore incumbent on us to enable each person to live their one life to the fullest.

I believe in the power of science and reason and rationality to further deepen our understanding of everything around us and to eventually overcome superstition and erase the petty divisions sown by religion, race, ethnicity, and nationality.

I am in awe of the beauty, vastness, and complexity of nature and the universe, and the fact that all arose purely by the working of natural laws.

I believe in the power of ideals such as peace and justice and shared humanity to inspire us to create a free and just world.

I believe in kindness, love, and the human spirit and their ability to overcome challenges and adversity and to create a better world.

I believe in the necessity for credible and objective evidence to sustain any belief and thus deny, because of the absence of such evidence, the existence of each and every aspect of the supernatural.

I refuse to bow, prostrate myself, or otherwise cower before the deities of any religion.

I am neither tempted by the fiction of heaven nor fearful of the fiction of hell.

I choose to live the dignified and exhilarating life of a freethinker, able to go wherever knowledge and curiosity takes me, without fear of contradicting any dogma.

—Mano Singham

Truly one of Cleveland’s treasures.

8 December 2014


2100 by Jeff Hess

frank jackson 130311

It’s difficult, if not impossible; to believe that Safety Director Michael McGrath would declare that he won’t resign without Mayor Frank Jackson’s assent.

It’s Jackson sticking his finger into the eye of Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Just as he did to Ohio Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine and DeWine’s report on the 137-bullet assassination of two blacks after a car chase. DeWine’s report declared the Cleveland Police Dept. and its actions were a “systemic failure” of the police force, just as the Justice Department characterized it. Jackson essentially told DeWine, screw you.

Jackson simply will not admit mistakes.

After that systemic failure Jackson promoted McGrath from police chief to safety director.

Take that, said Jackson, to his critics.

The Mayor takes orders from no one.

Indeed, the more orders, pleas, protests will simply strength his belief that he’s right. The rest are wrong.

He’ll go it alone.

That’s the Jackson I’d watch at City Council Committee hearings. If he wasn’t a member of the committee, unlike most others who entered the room and Continue Reading »

8 December 2014


0800 by Jeff Hess

About two years ago I began regularly reading The Guardian and leaving comments on the occasional story. In June of last year I was made a comment on a Steve Bell cartoon. (I don’t recall the exact comment, but I believe I made some reference to the image on the wall behind President Obama, and I may have compared that image to an elephants tail.)

One of The Guardian’s moderators took offense and put my future comments on moderation.

On 25 June I wrote:

Good evening all,

I posted a comment this afternoon asking if anyone could identify the image behind President Obama’s right shoulder in the Steve Bell political cartoon.

Shortly thereafter the comment was taken down and the notice that my comments were on pre-moderation was posted.

I’ve looked at the community guidelines and can’t discern what my violation might have been.

Whom should I contact to work this out?

Do all you can to make today a good day,

Jeff Hess

The next day a community moderator replied:

Hi Jeff,

You are currently being premoderated for blog spam. We do not allow users to advertise their own blogs in comments, including signatures and other links at the end of posts.

If you continue posting without adding blog links at the end of your posts, and abide by our other community standards, premoderation will be lifted.



And I responded:

Good evening Jonathan,

Thanks for clearing this up. I’ve made the suggested change by linking my blog to my username.

Were both links in my post (the signature line and the closeup of the interesting bit of the editorial cartoon a problem or was it simply the signature line?

Do all you can to make today a good day,

Jeff Hess

Jonathan came back once more:

The separate link you posted was fine and I have unremoved that comment.



On 1 July this anonymous response dropped into my inbox:


Thank you for your mail. Your account was placed in premoderation due to repeated spam-like posts:

7. We will remove any posts that are obviously commercial or otherwise spam-like. Our aim is that this site should provide a space for people to interact with our content and each other, and we actively discourage commercial entities passing themselves off as individuals, in order to post advertising material or links. This may also apply to people or organisations who frequently post propaganda or external links without adding substantively to the quality of the discussion on the Guardian website.

Premoderation is a temporary measure and is lifted once a pattern of posting within the community standards is re-established.

Many thanks

Cif Moderation team

This morning I left a comment on Oliver Burkeman’s most recent post and noticed that nearly 18 months later I’m still in pre-moderation limbo, so I wrote another email:

Good morning,

In 2012 my comments on The Guardian were placed on pre-moderation due to, I believe, the use of a hot-link in my signature line.

Since pre-moderation is a temporary measure applied by moderators to a very small handful of people based entirely on patterns of actual behaviour, and should result relatively quickly in either their posting ability being suspended completely if no improvement is shown, or the filter being removed, and more than two years have passed, I am curious as to when this temporary measure might be resolved.



This time I heard from Matt:


Thanks for your email.

Premoderation status is usually lifted when a moderator is satisfied the account has returned to a pattern of commenting that consistently fits with our community standards.

It is not necessarily linked to time, but more likely the number of comments posted – users vary in how much and often they use the site, so I hope you can understand this. I hope you can continue to use the site and that your account will return to normal status soon.

Best regards,

Community Moderator

8 December 2014


0700 by Jeff Hess

While Ohio Republicans think people have a right to know the names of doctors who perform abortions, they don’t want to extend the same transparency to the those who carry out state-sanctioned killings in our names.

State Rep. Jim Buchy (R-84) writes: Some pieces of legislation can bring out strong opinions on both sides, not so much because of what is actually contained in the legislation, but simply because of its general subject matter. Such might be the case, I believe, for the Ohio House passage of a bill addressing lethal injection here in Ohio.

Whereas the attention given to House Bill 663 understandably revolved around capital punishment, in actuality the bill itself was much more narrowly focused to protecting the confidentiality of the persons who participate in the process of execution by lethal injection.

I, for one, think knowing who is killing in my name is a plus.

8 December 2014


0600 by Jeff Hess

dr pepper time

It’s always nice to encounter scientific backing for advice you’ve been dispensing to your friends for years, whether or not they ever actually asked for it – so I was pleased to learn of a new study lending support to the notion that if you check email less frequently, you’ll be less stressed.

As Jesse Singal explains at Science of Us, researchers at the University of British Columbia instructed two groups of people to treat their email in radically different ways. One was told to keep their email program closed, with notifications off, checking messages only three times a day. The other did what too many of us do instead: kept their notifications switched on, and checked email ceaselessly through the day. The occasional checkers felt less stressed – while the frequent checkers didn’t even have the compensation of feeling any more productive.

This might seem obvious: do a stressful thing less frequently, and you’ll be less stressed. (“Doctor, it hurts when I do that!” “Well don’t do that, then.”) But as the study’s co-author Kostatin Kushlev points out, it’s a bit more intriguing than that: resisting temptations, like checking email, is itself generally an unpleasant and effortful experience. So why did engaging in that activity made people feel better than just checking messages when they came in?

One likely answer is that it reduced the high cognitive costs of task-switching: jumping between different kinds of tasks consumes energy and time, so “batching” is just a more efficient use of your limited capacities. Another is that feelings of autonomy make us happier. When you check email at fixed times, you’re taking control of when it enters your mental world; check it whenever a new message comes in, and essentially email’s controlling you.

Oliver Burkeman writing in Sit back, relax and ignore your email inbox. Nobody expects you to read it all for The Guardian.

My email checks come at 0400, 1200 and 1800…

8 December 2014


0530 by Jeff Hess

8 December 2014


0500 by Jeff Hess

Jess Zimmerman: Hi, Rebecca! First of all, thanks for talking this out with me, and I hope I don’t come off like a jackass. The internet exerts a powerful jackass ray, and lord knows so does talking about race, and we are essentially crossing the streams here. Anyway, after the Ferguson grand jury verdict came down, I tried to spend the night just RTing black folks on Twitter. I felt pretty OK about this approach—borderline smug, to be honest, especially when I saw other white people being like “I’m just going to amplify black voices and not tweet” and I got to pat myself on the back for not announcing it. But I also saw people saying that white privilege means you have an obligation to speak up. I’m not sure how to figure out which is a better approach.

Rebecca Carroll: Whatever your actions as a white person in the current racial climate—a climate that is quickly escalating to a place of irreparable disrepair in terms of productive communication—there still exists a level of comfort, of self-satisfaction, of: I can afford to be smug because my life doesn’t depend on it. It leaves me with the same reaction I have when grown white people tell me they’re taking “baby steps” towards racial awareness.

That’s cool, you go ahead and take your baby steps—take your time. I’ll just keep hoping I don’t get dead. Great then! If you’re a baby, take those steps. If you’re a grown, adult white human living in America right now and you’re not there yet, take bigger steps.

Dear white people: your discomfort is progress. Keep talking about Ferguson—and beyond

8 December 2014


0330 by Jeff Hess

Oliver Burkeman adds

4 December 2014


2200 by Jeff Hess

The solution to the problem of police is that it will require a total change in their culture of operation.

It is clear – has been for the last 45 years going back to the cops and their refusal to accept Carl Stokes as their commander—that it isn’t going to change.

That was made clear also by Mayor Frank Jackson’s response in front of Attorney General Eric Holder when he was asked about the issue of “systemic failures” of his police department. He refuses to take responsibility.

Jackson revealed that he does not intend to come down hard on the police and in particular its leadership. Leadership he has promoted despite the dismal record offered by the U. S. Department of Justice report on the Cleveland Police Department.

“There were officers who did the right thing and there were officers who did the wrong thing. We disciplined those who did the wrong thing.” That was Jackson’s failure to take responsibility.

He once again dodged responsibility for what Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine rightly and clearly found as systemic failure in the 137-bullet Continue Reading »

30 November 2014


1300 by Jeff Hess

roldo 141131

It’s the wrong fight at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.

It’s the wrong fight because we should be offering more and better public services as the trend is to cut wages and reduce services.

It’s the wrong time because we shouldn’t be giving into right wing government, which essentially wants to eliminate public services and have everyone pay top prices to capitalist entrepreneurs.

It’s the wrong reason because we should be looking to raise taxes from the wealth rather than substituting private interests that depend upon profits instead of services for the good of the commonwealth.

Privatizing everything is a way of saying that the common good no longer prevails, no longer has value. We pay individually for everything rather than collectively for the good of all.

I’m talking about Brook Park Mayor Tom Coyne’s desire to privatize a public service. Brett Larkin (former director of The Plain Dealer’s editorial pages and currently a columnist the Northeast Ohio Media Group [the PD’s uber masters, JH]) wants to help his buddy Coyne with this ass backward policy.

Coyne wants to do away the present city’s ambulance service. It seems a small move. But it is a beginning not an ending to this kind of bad policy.

Larkin rightly calls it “the municipal version of Senate Bill 5.” He’s right there.

This is a mini-version of Gov. Kasich’s Republican thrust Continue Reading »

27 November 2014


0330 by Jeff Hess

for better or for worse 141127

Lynn Johnston wrote:

Having gone on several Medical Missions to Honduras and Peru, I am well aware of how little some people have and how much we in North America take for granted. When my kids said they were “starving,” I was grateful that they had no idea what “starving” meant.

How can I obsess so over gaining weight when so many are starving? How did I grow up to be a Jeremy Duncan…?

26 November 2014


2000 by Jeff Hess

ferguson 141126

Grand juries have a way of telling the history desired by those who hold power. Same as history is most often told.

The Ferguson grand jury of Prosecutor Robert McCulloch—who was described by the New York Times as “widely viewed in the minority community as being in the pockets of the police”—seemed to fit the majority’s need to avoid a real exam of the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.

And Justice denied breeds Justice decried.

Those who control keep control. Unfortunately, the reaction often doesn’t really touch those who most deserve the triggered anger. Thus the burning in Ferguson.

When Cleveland’s Hough area erupted in violence in July, 1966, it should have taken no great mind as to why it exploded. It was obvious.

The city and its leaders had already heard a litany of ills. Any incident would have set in motion violence. I had written in 1967 in The Nation magazine with Murray Gruber, then a faculty member at Case Western Reserve, “Cleveland is a recipe for violence.” It was no one’s secret.

“In April 1966, the Civil Rights Commission ripped away Cleveland’s carefully nurtured facade of social progress. Hearings gave the ghetto a chance Continue Reading »

22 November 2014


0500 by Jeff Hess

2004 me and 2014 me…

I’ve invested a great deal of time in recent weeks considering the questions about the next part of my journey as a novelist and journalist, and where I want to take my blogs Have Coffee Will Write and The Writing On The Wal.

Back in 2005, Cleveland alternate news weekly The Scene had this to say about me and Have Coffee Will Write:

CoolCleveland.com may get more press, but Jeff Hess’ Havecoffeewillwrite.com is terabytes above the local competition. His daily posts remind the public of Cleveland controversies long after the local media gets bored and moves on. His continuing series on grassroots efforts to keep Wal-Mart from swallowing every Ohio town is fascinating and more in-depth than anything in the dailies. While this East Side educator’s left-wing philosophy comes off as heavy-handed at times, he does his best not to take himself too seriously – he’ll often post haiku or bumper stickers for a quick laugh, or links to weird news from around the world. If you’re wondering what’s happening behind the scenes in Cleveland or how our town is connected to national news stories, this site is a must-surf.

Similarly, I have always been proud of Angela Gunn’s comment for USA Today about my Walmart blog:

The Writing On The Wal should be on your radar for at least an occasional visit. Think of it as slightly more relevant than keeping abreast of political campaigns. If you have as much political and economic power as most Americans, it likely is.”

Over the past 10 years I have written much on a dazzlingly wide range of topics. When I created Have Coffee Will write, the blog, I didn’t know where I wanted to take this new toy, but the answer came to me at my first Cleveland Bloggers Meetup when blogdaddy creator of Brewed Fresh Daily George Nemeth asked everyone in attendance to introduce themselves and briefly describe what their blog was about.

Put on the spot—deadlines are marvelously clarifying—I decided that HCWW would be about “Dinner Conversation With a Few Good Friends,” and my model became the family dinner table I grew up around where we turned off the television and talked. About anything and everything.

Occasionally I have become obsessed with particular topic such as Walmart and Myanmar.

Of the latter, Eric Vessels had this to say on Plunderbund:

Jeff Hess is publishing a series called “Good Morning Myanmar.” This Burma bit broke me out of a self imposed blog slumber, but Jeff is doing a consistently good job of following up. He is a valuable resource on this—and we all should care about it. And these are just what he couldn’t get to. Nice work Jeff!

As an educator, I learned from one Mona Senkfor, one of my mentors and a dear friend, that too often we pedagogically hop from iceberg to iceberg, pausing only a moment on the very tip and completely missing the huge mass insight and knowledge that lies beneath the water. This was, in part, the rational several years ago for my choosing to read a single book over and over. (This year I’ve read Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable.)

Clearly, what I do well, and what I can continue to do that is of use, is to drill deep on a few topics and hammer away at those topics so that they do not disappear into the news-cycle cesspit. My model here is Cleveland’s protoblogger Roldo Bartimole. Who, for nearly 50 years, has never stopped shining light into Cleveland’s darkest corners.

With the ironically named Black Friday fast approaching, I will first return and descend into the pit that is Walmart. Much has happened, and continues to happen, that I have left unexamined. As for Have Coffee Will Write, expect a few changes, the most noticeable being more focused attention to topics of Social Justice and Advocacy.

I don’t, however, have any wish to deliver monologues—although I can easily listen to myself yammer on. Both blogs will continue to be primarily about conversation, but I need you to make that happen.

Here’s to a second ten years.

17 November 2014


1600 by Jeff Hess

roldo 141117 tucker

I have been attacked! Whacked by a flack no less.

I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to be attacked by a paid flack who was a big Pooh-Bah publisher and editor.

My critic is Brian Tucker the former publisher for Crain’s Business Review, a pro-business weekly. His ad notes,

After 25 years as publisher and editor of Crain’s Cleveland Business, Brian Tucker became vice president and director of corporate affairs at Dollar Bank. The opinions in this commentary are solely his and do not reflect the position of either Dollar Bank FSB or its management.

Even they won’t back him up! But apparently they pay for his comments in Crain’s.

doesn’t want to take responsibility either.

Here’s what Elizabeth McIntyre of Crain’s wrote me after I sent a response to the publication about Tucker’s remarks about me in Crain’s:


Thanks for your submission. Brian Tucker’s column is paid advertising and not an editorial product, therefore I will not be publishing your piece as a letter to the editor. I have, however, forward it to publisher John Campanelli, who said he will share it with Brian Tucker.

Again, thank you,

roldo 141117 crain's

Thanks for sharing Elizabeth.

Before I get into Tucker’s gripe let me say that really what we need here in Cleveland is a federal investigation of the collusion of lawyers, bond counsels, investment bankers, politicians, stadium builders & architects, institutions as the Greater Cleveland Partnership and others who helped put together the financial schemes that keep tapping public resources for private use. You’d think for example accused corrupter Jimmy Haslam’s picture would be all over page one in the probing media. But, oh no, not this Jimmy.

The need for justice and the appearance of vast corruption in the leases and operation of these heavily publicly subsidized facilities to the neglect Continue Reading »

14 November 2014


0630 by Jeff Hess

zits 141110 110610

11 November 2014


1200 by Jeff Hess

[Note: due to time constraints, the copy below has not been fully formated or copy edited. JH]

roldo pd 141111

The latest episode in the Plain Dealer history of shortchanging its readers by the removal of the taping of the single meeting of the Ohio gubernatorial candidates is hardly the first instance of corruption of a free press. It won’t be the last either.

Do we expect that newspapers or other media outlets would be any better or more open than the steady stream of misdeeds by cigarette, automobile, food companies or Jimmy Haslam’s Pilot Flying J, or the countless other corporate or politically corrupt individuals that often grace the pages of newspapers? Or be more open than the NFL hierarchy on the dangers of concussions or the behavior of its people on sexual or other assaults?

Why would the news business be expected to be so much higher-minded than the rest of the society? Because often it isn’t.

Do you trust members of the media have some special divining ability to see corruption and expose it? Do they even see our culture’s defects? Or want to?

Do you think that the top editors of the Plain Dealer rub shoulders, go to lunch, parties and other social events with the citizens of name your low income neighborhood, or do they dine, rub shoulders with some business leader, foundation official, or other “respected” citizen? You know who they talk to most Continue Reading »

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