28 July 2015


0005 by Jeff Hess

bernie meeting map

How does it feel to make history? Only weeks into Bernie’s campaign, a movement has risen up to take this country back from the billionaire class. It’s exploding in all 50 states, blue and red, in big cities and small towns.

When they write history books about this, you will be able to say, “I was there.” Your friends can be there too, if you forward this email to them—no matter where in the country they live.

What you’re looking at is over 3,146 events, with more than 75,000 RSVPs! This level of organizing and participation is completely unprecedented; nothing like this has ever existed at this early stage of a presidential campaign–—period.

Our opponents have the billionaires on their side, but we have the people—if you bring them. Do that by forwarding this email to your friends so that they can see all the events in their area and be a part of this historic moment. Or click here to share with them on social media.

We’re all looking forward to this incredible nationwide party and Organizing Kickoff. We’ll hear from Bernie via live video, we’ll share our stories, have fun getting to know each other and begin organizing to win this election.
Many events have filled up. But there are still open spaces in just about every city and town because so many amazing supporters have been posting new events right up until today.

Don’t leave your friends out—forward this to anyone you think should meet Bernie.

See you Wednesday! It is an honor to participate alongside of you in this movement.

I’m headed to Seven Hills.

bernie store

I gave Bernie $100 today (24 June). How about you?

28 July 2015


0000 by Jeff Hess

top of mind

Racism in America… Global Warming… Raif Badawi…

27 July 2015


1300 by Jeff Hess

And why I’m supporting him with both my time and my money.

Dear Jeff,

As I travel across the country, I am constantly struck by the level of enthusiasm and engagement there is for the political process. Everywhere I go, from Portland, Maine to Phoenix, Arizona, Americans are ready to discuss the critical issues facing our country. And this Wednesday night, July 29th, over 70,000 individuals have signed up to attend organizing meetings in their communities.

It is clear to me that people are taking this primary very seriously, and as an early supporter of our campaign, you have a unique role to play in our success going forward.

In that light, let me be very blunt and tell you why I am running.

This country faces more serious problems today than at any time in modern history, and establishment politics will not successfully resolve them.

Corporate greed is rampant, and the very rich keep growing richer while everyone else grows poorer. Despite an explosion in technology and a huge increase in productivity, the middle class continues to disappear, most Americans work longer hours for lower wages, and 45 million live in poverty.

The skyrocketing level of income and wealth inequality is not only grotesque and immoral, it is economically unsustainable. It is unconscionable that 99% of all new income goes to the top 1%. It is absurd that the top one-tenth of 1% own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, and that one family (the Waltons of Walmart) has more wealth than the bottom 130 million Americans.

As a result of the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, the billionaire class is spending huge amounts of money to buy candidates and elections. We are now witnessing the undermining of American democracy and the rapid Continue Reading »

27 July 2015


0800 by Jeff Hess

Here in Cleveland we have the Cleveland Police Force, the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Force, the Regional Transit Authority Police Force, the, well, you get the idea. Why do we have so many police forces? I have no feckin’ idea, but the plethora of authority figures, all reporting to and trained by disparate hierarchies cannot be a good way to police.

A transit police officer has pepper-sprayed a crowd in Cleveland protesting the arrest of a 14-year-old at a Black Lives Matter conference inspired by police brutality.

The incident occurred near Cleveland State University in the city’s downtown where the first Black Lives Matter conference was taking place. More than 1,200 participants spent the weekend organizing and discussing a range of social justice issues.

According to the Greater Cleveland regional transit authority, its officers were taking an intoxicated teenage bus rider to a police station just as the conference was ending about 5pm. A large crowd blocked the squad car and tried to get the youngster out. One of the officers turned and began pepper-spraying the crowd.

Other law enforcement agencies responded, including Cleveland police department. The youngster was taken examined in an emergency medical service unit, and released to his mother about 6pm.

No arrests were made. The transit authority did not release the officer’s name. The agency’s officers are not affiliated with the city’s police department.

I’ll grant you that an intoxicated 14-year-old on a bus is never good, but we have allowed our police forces to become so out of control that even when they’re doing their jobs, mayhem ensues. Imagine how bad this might have become if the participants had not just completed a weekend of seminars on social justice?

26 July 2015


2000 by Jeff Hess

26 July 2015


2000 by Jeff Hess

Again, a comedian has to step forward to tell Americans how fucked up we are.

I remember when I worked at the food co-op in Athens, Ohio, that much of the produce we had wasn’t all that pretty, but no one cared. I don’t know that this is the case, but I imagine that farmers might have intentionally packaged fruits and vegetables that they couldn’t sell to groceries or regular people for sale to the hippies.

We don’t want to eat vegetable that look like mutants. Take the case of the grossly misnamed baby carrots. Farmers that might have thrown away strangely shaped or colored carrots in the past can now process them into very cute baby carrots that everyone (well, not me, but, you know) loves to nibble on.

If you’d like to see the process in action, watch people buying sweet corn as they open the ears looking for those without blemish.

26 July 2015


1100 by Jeff Hess

No, not in the 2016 election, though I think Sanders would trounce Cruz there, but in a perfectly legal debate on the floor of the United States Senate.

Bernie Sanders could participate in a one-on-one, leftwing versus right debate with Ted Cruz during the presidential primary, without violating restrictive rules set by the Democratic and Republican national committees. The two senators would just have to face off at their workplace, the US Capitol.

The first debate of the extended primary election will see the top 10 Republican candidates in a field of 16 face off in Cleveland on 6 August, in an event hosted by Fox News. Both parties have made clear that if candidates appear in unsanctioned debates, they will be barred from any official debates.

But staffers for both the DNC and RNC confirmed that the restrictions on presidential debates do not apply to debates held on the floor of Congress.

Sean Spicer, the chief strategist for the RNC, told the Guardian: “Senate business would not be a violation.”

Now that would be a bit of CSPAN I’d watch.

25 July 2015


1700 by Jeff Hess

Felonious Munk might be the comedic twin to Ta-Nehisi Coates. This week I’ve begun reading Coates second book—I’ve long been a fan of his blog posts and magazine articlesBetween The World And Me.

Coates is a brilliant writer and thinker and I was only on page seven when I was compelled to stop, re-read and re-read again. Here is what brought me up short.

Americans believe in the reality of race as a defined, indubitable feature of the named world. Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. in this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage, or the Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as beyond the handiwork of men.

But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming the people [Coates here is referencing the people noted by President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, JH ] has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible—this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.

At the tip of that hierarchy we Americans place The English, who are, themselves, a lesser inbred mongrel people awash in Pictish, Gaelic, Anglo, Saxon, Norman, &c. bloods ruled by a marginally exclusive line of aristocrats. Have you ever wondered why we go to such pains to link every president, including President Barack Hussein Obama, to English monarchs?

The essence of being white is the self delusion, regardless of your station in life, that your particular heritage imbues you with some measurable quality of superiority over others. Or, as illustrated by a story told me by a friend regarding an uncle’s assessment of his station in life: I may be poor, but at least I’m no damn nigger.

Racism allows us to feel better about our shitty lives by pretending we’re not at the bottom.

24 July 2015


1000 by Jeff Hess

My first Fortress of Solitude, my first man cave, was in the basement of the house where I spent my teenage years. My best friend Don Ritenour and I worked the transformation in a few days over the summer of 1972, transforming what had been a basement playroom into a bedroom sanctuary that I didn’t have to share with my younger brother.

In typical teenager fashion the room was dark and I burned a lot of candles while I listened to my Cat Steven’s eight-tracks—Sitting is still a meditative favorite—and tried to figure out the universe.

While I still spent a great deal of time that summer in the woods and fields west of Marietta, Ohio, I remember an attempt to create garden in my dark hold. I had this idea of collecting interesting fungus, mushrooms, and transplanting them to a box so there would be life and growth there below the ground. I failed.

Reading Oliver Burkeman this morning—Nature And Nurture—gave me some insights to that experiment.

Office workers who glimpse a tree or two are both happier and more productive; in one analysis, of a university building in Oregon, workers on the greenery-facing side took 19% fewer sick days. If you’re treated in hospital for bipolar disorder, the evidence suggests, you’ll be discharged several days sooner on average if your room is naturally lit. Pupils do worse in tests in windowless classrooms. Even looking at photographs of natural scenes lowers blood pressure. Taking things to a seemingly absurd extreme, German researchers reported last year that merely seeing a green rectangle for two seconds led to measurable improvements on creative tasks, compared with rectangles of white, grey, blue or red.

What’s going on? The green-rectangle researchers thought it might be some subconscious association with the idea of growth, and therefore creativity. But the dominant explanation remains that of “biophilia”, coined by EO Wilson, which he described as our “urge to affiliate with other forms of life”—probably because we evolved to function best in nature-rich settings. As Lance Hosey points out in The Shape Of Green, there’s even one version of this idea, called the Prospect/Refuge Theory, according to which we’re happiest looking out at nature from places of safety, with a good view of predators and no need to watch our backs. Perhaps seeing the woods from your kitchen window can be more enjoyable than tramping through them.

I have never again sought a subterranean stronghold. (Although I am thinking in this moment on my years within the steel walls of the USS Bainbridge and how important spending time topside became.) I prefer to work in rooms filled with natural light and, when the temperatures are not too hot or cold, really like working on our back deck where I can look up to see all that transpires in our Wee Meadow.

24 July 2015


0500 by Jeff Hess

23 July 2015


0800 by Jeff Hess

I firmly believe that getting a four-year (or six-year) education in Journalism or Writing is time and effort better spent elsewhere. If my graduate self could have had a beer or two with my new freshman self the single piece of advice I would have imparted was that a good editor can teach you all you need to know about writing in a few weeks. The rest is all practice.

That is why James Rhodes’ piece (via Zen Pencils, thank Gav) resonates with me. What he says about playing the piano directly links to writing a novel.

What if you could know everything there is to know about playing the piano in under an hour (something the late, great Glenn Gould claimed, correctly I believe, was true)? The basics of how to practise and how to read music, the physical mechanics of finger movement and posture, all the tools necessary to actually play a piece—these can be written down and imparted like a flat-pack furniture how-to-build-it manual; it then is down to you to scream and howl and hammer nails through fingers in the hope of deciphering something unutterably alien until, if you’re very lucky, you end up with something halfway resembling the end product.

Rhodes goes on to deliver what I consider a dangerous piece of advice for writers:

What if rather than a book club you joined a writer’s club? Where every week you had to (really had to) bring three pages of your novel, novella, screenplay and read them aloud?

Why is that dangerous? While writing groups are good for shaming you into producing work to read at the weekly sessions they can bury you in worthless advice from people who don’t know more than you do. The only opinions concerning your work worth a tinker’s damn are those of people willing to, based upon their evaluation of your writing, cut you a check. Never trust family members, close friends or the random stranger when they tell you how good you are. They have an agenda, a good one, but an agenda nonetheless.

Be suspect, as well, of criticism you pay for. I have received good and bad advice from agents and writers more published than myself over the years. Learn to tell the difference.

Rhodes concludes with a reference to the title of his essay.

The government is cutting music programmes in schools and slashing Arts grants as gleefully as a morbidly American kid in Baskin Robbins. So if only to stick it to the man, isn’t it worth fighting back in some small way? So write your damn book. Learn a Chopin prelude, get all Jackson Pollock with the kids, spend a few hours writing a Haiku. Do it because it counts even without the fanfare, the money, the fame and Heat photo-shoots that all our children now think they’re now entitled to because Harry Styles has done it.

Charles Bukowski, hero of angsty teenagers the world over, instructs us to “find what you love and let it kill you”. Suicide by creativity is something perhaps to aspire to in an age where more people know Katie Price better than the Emperor concerto.

My own best advice: be willing to walk down Main street naked.

23 July 2015


0500 by Jeff Hess

zenpencils 150722

Gav writes:

James Rhodes is a British concert pianist. Largely self-taught, Rhodes has released five best-selling albums and is known for his refreshing performances that ignore the usual formality and tradition of classical music. Rhodes never performs in a suit, holds his concerts in non-traditional venues and entertains the crowd with stories about famous composers and how they affected his own life in between pieces. You can watch his insane talent on display in a number of videos on his YouTube channel.

The passage used in the comic was taken from a column Rhodes wrote for The Guardian in 2013. It’s one of the most fantastically motivating articles I’ve ever read and I highly recommend you read the entire piece.

As a starving novelist, I understand…

22 July 2015


1700 by Jeff Hess

roldo glenville 150722

Another police car video of the arrest of a black woman that led eventually to her death, supposedly a suicide days later in a Texas jail, once again dramatizes the lack of professionalism in police departments throughout the nation.

Sandra Bland, a 28-year old woman in Texas to start a dream job at a black college, three days later was found hanging in a Texas jail.

The inability of the officer caught by the dashboard camera to act reasonably and professionally, calls attention to both the dictatorial nature of police response and inability to perform a simple policing act. A changing lanes infraction ends in the death of a young woman. Really unbelievable.

We here in Cleveland have seen this ineptitude in the 137-bullet car chase ending in two deaths and the killing of Tamir Rice in what amounts to an execution. And the nation has seen the same often enough to claim a crisis in respect and/or trust.

[The Counted marks 18 killed in Ohio and 644 in the whole United States so far in 2015; that is nearly four times the number murdered by homegrown terrorist Timothy McVeigh in 20 years ago. JH]

Similar unnecessary—and often deadly—confrontations around the nation now have become commonplace as police and citizen videos expose what before remained hidden.

It is becoming an epidemic requiring a radical solution NOW. There cannot be peace in American cities if this continues.

Policing must change. Drastically.

The times call for extraordinary police recruitment procedures and rigorous training of potential police that stresses attention to service rather than authoritarian controlling. Police face stressful situations. Those they contact are also under Continue Reading »

22 July 2015


1200 by Jeff Hess

It’s been a busy week in Wally World: the Universe’s source of cheap plastic crap from China. On The Writing On The Wal—the blog USA Today says should be on its readers’ radar—I continue my singular work dedicated to drawing back the curtain on the Bentonvile Behemoth’s corporate disinformation and other flackery.

THE CHICKENS MAY BE BACK FOR WALMART… Just as the cost of acquiring a new customer is a magnitude greater than that of retaining an existing customer, Americans, and Walmart, are learning that bringing jobs back to the United States will be… Keep reading…

HOW IMPORTANT IS A ONE PERCENT TAX…? A sales tax of one percent means buyers pay a penny on the dollar, a dime on $10 and a whole dollar on $100. Is that enough to make customers shop elsewhere? Does such a tax confer an unfair disadvantage… Keep reading…

HOW WALMART FIGHTS BELOW THE BORDER… San Antonio, Texas-based grocer H-E-B has long competed with Walmart in Texas, but 18 years ago, after Walmart took a six-year lead by forming an alliance with Mexican retailer Grupo Cifra, H-E-B… Keep reading…

WALMART AND AMAZON DESERVE EACH OTHER… If there is a company I dislike as much as Walmart then the winner of that distinction is Amazon. So, I take perverse delight when the two monsters face off in grudge matches… Keep reading…

WALMART SHRUGS…? In reading about Walmart Labs—Igor not included—I discovered the tidbit that Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King is a fan of Objectivist and Libertarians’ sociopathic pixie dream girl, Ayn… Keep reading…

WALMART, AMAZON AND JET…? OH MY…! Just when the grudge match between Walmart and Amazon is heating up, a third contestant, Jet, dives in swinging. Sarah Halzack, in Jet is here. Let the price wars begin for The Washington Post writes… Keep reading…

WALMART GETS ENTITLEMENTS…? In reading yet another story about Walmart battling local governments, this time the matter involved on-again, off-again, on-again liquor permits in Pomona California, I came up short at in the third paragraph… Keep reading…

Previously on Walmart Wednesday

22 July 2015


0800 by Jeff Hess

17 July 2015


0700 by Jeff Hess

In other Badawi news: This could be Raif’s chance – ask for his freedom.

16 July 2015


1600 by Jeff Hess

guardian 150716

The Guardian today offers five lessons for organizing taken from a meeting sponsored by 350. The lessons are all good and I think they may be universally applied to all causes.

  1. You don’t need to be an expert to get involved
  2. First give yourself legitimacy
  3. Put your ego aside
  4. Plan for reinvestment
  5. Have hope—and keep going

If you’re inspired and want to start or join a divestment campaign, don’t worry. 350.org have created a new how-to guide. It’s been designed to help you pick a target, choose your tactics, engage your decision makers – and ultimately win your own fossil fuel divestment campaign.

Central to the divestment case is that we’re not talking about giving up fossil fuels today or even tomorrow. What we are saying is the we need to put our investment dollars not in finding and extracting more carbon from the ground—to do so would push us past the tipping point in terms of Global Warming and Climate Change—but rather investing those funds in renewable and alternative energy sources.

Keep Carbon In The Ground…

15 July 2015


1200 by Jeff Hess

It’s been a busy week in Wally World: the Universe’s source of cheap plastic crap from China. On The Writing On The Wal—the blog USA Today says should be on its readers’ radar—I continue my singular work dedicated to drawing back the curtain on the Bentonvile Behemoth’s corporate disinformation and other flackery.

WALMART WOULD MAKE JOE STALIN PROUD… Under the communist regime of Joseph Stalin, workers were encouraged, seriously encouraged, to work off the clock for the good of the party. This meant working after their shifts, working on weekends… Keep reading…

DID CHUCK NETZHAMMER SET WALMART UP…? When I first heard the story of Walmart refusing to make a cake decorated with the Confederate battle flag but then agreeing to create an ISIS battle flag in icing I immediately thought of James… Keep reading…

WALMART SAYS JUMP…! So, this morning I registered on Walmart’s Jobs in U.S. Manufacturing Portal. I’ll cruise around on JUMP later today and let you know what I find… Keep reading…

WHO BUYS BETTER-QUALITY AT WALMART…? Walmart’s re-invigoration of the Made in the USA campaign has attracted attention downunder where writer Nick Carey thinks: Wal-Mart is taking its ‘Made in America’ initiative to the extreme. (Not… Keep reading…

WALMART MAKES A BUSINESS DECISION… This story about Elaine Glidewell and a class ring she ordered from a Walmart in Forth Smith, Arkansas, is why I don’t get all warm and fuzzy when Walmart takes a right action… Keep reading…

MOODY’S, YES THAT MOODY’S, LIKES WALMART… Hold onto your wallet, no, seriously, hold onto your wallet, credit rating agency Moody’s goes all counter-intuitive and likes Walmart. From The Motley Fool this morning… Keep reading…

ENGAGING IS NOT HIRING… So, 18 corporations band together to engage, not hire an average of 5,556 young people each over the next three years. Lots of public relations bells and whistles, not a lot of even marginal substance. Big Whoop… Keep reading…

WALMART SUED FOR GENDER DISCRIMINATION… Walmart has been better than many in implementing fairness policies on a number of issues including same-sex marriage and benefits. There are still a few bugs in the system and, unfortunately… Keep reading…

Previously on Walmart Wednesday

15 July 2015


0600 by Jeff Hess

Two days after I wrote about the kind heart of Roeland Park, Kansas, police officer Mark Engravelle and his actions in a Walmart parking lot, we get this story about Engravelle’s evil and unqualified brother, Deputy Frank Serio and his actions in a Walmart parking lot.

An Orleans Parish sheriff’s deputy shot at a suspected shoplifter Tuesday afternoon (July 14) while working an off-duty security detail at the Walmart store on Behrman Highway, authorities said.

No one was struck by bullets fired from Lt. Frank Serio’s weapon, authorities said. The suspected shoplifter, identified by police as 34-year-old Austin Thompson, is in custody and facing charges of attempted theft and aggravated assault of a police officer, New Orleans police said.

Phil Stelly, a spokesman for Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office, said Serio attempted to stop a suspected shoplifter when he saw that individual reach into his waistband while crouched between parked cars. Serio, fearing for his safety, fired four shots at the individual, Stelly said.

Now comes the outragious bit:[The suspect] pulled a silver object from his waistband when confronted by the deputy, [NOPD 4th District Commander Shaun] Ferguson said, prompting the deputy to open fire. That object turned out to be a cellphone, Ferguson said.

Yep, Serio, chasing down a shoplifter, drew and fired four shots at the shoplifter when he mistook a cell phone for a weapon. What ought he have done? First, take cover; second, call for assistance; third, do all he could to clear civilians from any potential field of fire; and finally, demand the suspect drop whatever he had in his hands, raise his hands where the deputy could see that his hands were empty and step out from cover.

If that isn’t policy for the Orleans Sheriff’s department then there is a serious problem there.

This is not the first time such events have unfolded at this particular Walmart.

The Behrman Highway Wal-Mart was the scene of another deputy-involved shooting in February of 2014, when a sheriff’s deputy working security at the store fired at a suspected robber’s car.

14 July 2015


0700 by Jeff Hess

There is no topic, perhaps, that Roldo Bartimole has written about more in the past 30-plus years than the great cash sucking sound of Cleveland’s sports team owners.

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