18 April 2016


0300 by Jeff Hess

jeff hess mandalas

One of the superficial, but fun, aspects of the Internet is becoming acquainted with all the people with whom you share a name. I created Google alerts years ago for versions of my name and those of my blogs Have Coffee Will Write and The Writing On The Wal to stay on top of what was being said. On the side I get to learn about some of the other Jeff Hess’ out there. This morning Google alerted me to the man behind Jeff Hess Art, the experimental artist pursuing innovative media and processes to produce new effects and perspectives on Mandala Of The Day.

What a wonderful gift for a Monday morning.

17 April 2016


0700 by Jeff Hess

doonesbury 160416

Wiley Miller offers his on take on The Donald this morning

17 April 2016


0600 by Jeff Hess

Getting the Democracy-perverting cash from corporations and the billionaire class out of politics is vital to preserving We The People, unless, that is, your election depends upon cash from corporations and the billionaire class.

Glenn Greenwald, in To Protect Hillary Clinton, Democrats Wage War on Their Own Core Citizens United Argument for The_Intercept, writes:

For years, THE Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United was depicted by Democrats as the root of all political evil. But now, the core argument embraced by the Court’s conservatives to justify their ruling has taken center stage in the Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders—because Clinton supporters, to defend the huge amount of corporate cash on which their candidate is relying, frequently invoke that very same reasoning.

The crux of the Citizens United ruling was that a legal ban on independent corporate campaign expenditures constituted a limit on political speech without sufficient justification, and thus violated the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. A primary argument of the Obama Justice Department and Democrats generally in order to uphold that campaign finance law was that corporate expenditures are so corrupting of the political process that limits are justified even if they infringe free speech. In rejecting that view, this was the key argument of Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the five-judge conservative majority (emphasis added):

For the reasons explained above, we now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.

Does that sound familiar? It should. That key argument of the right-wing justices in Citizens United has now become the key argument of the Clinton campaign and its media supporters to justify her personal and political receipt of millions upon millions of dollars in corporate money: “Expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption”—at least when the candidate in question is Hillary Clinton.

Greenwald continues, arguing persuasively that Hillary takes the conservative justice’s argument a step further.

Indeed, the Clinton argument actually goes well beyond the Court’s conservatives: In Citizens United, the right-wing justices merely denied the corrupting effect of independent [emphasis in original, JH] expenditures (i.e., ones not coordinated with the campaign). But Clinton supporters in 2016 are denying the corrupting effect of direct campaign donations by large banks and corporations and, even worse, huge speaking fees paid to an individual politician shortly before and after that person holds massive political power.

Meanwhile, while Hillary piles up millions $2,700 at a time (the legal limit for an individual donation) and much larger donations going to Super PACs Bernie continues to raise his millions through individual citizens, from We The People, $27 at a time.

17 April 2016


0500 by Jeff Hess

field of vision 160417

From Field_Of_Vision, the documentary film division of The Intercept_ comes When Speaking Is Difficult, a documentary by AJ Schnack, that explores the subject of mass shootings in a way only cinema can do.

This film is similar to The Guardian’s The Counted, in that documentary is an ever growing work in progress.

John Thomason, in a companion piece to the documentary: What We Know and Don’t Know About Mass Shootings and Gun Deaths, writes:

Strip malls, movie theaters, schools, grocery stores—the images in Speaking Is Difficult, the new film by Field of Vision co-creator AJ Schnack, are ordinary but serene. Wherever we live, these are the places where we routinely expose ourselves to the wider world. The film punctures this calm familiarity with grainy audio documenting past traumas. The details we can ascertain from these 911 recordings are sparse — a white male shooter, an unknown number wounded—but we all know how to fill in the blanks. In one sense, we’ve seen this movie before.

As the title suggests, these public massacres are hard to talk about. This is not just because they are frightening, horrific, and unpredictable, but also because in empirical terms we just don’t know that much about them. “There is a dearth of comprehensive, authoritative data on multiple-victim homicide incidents, either committed wholly or partially with firearms,” the Congressional Research Service lamented in its July 2015 report on what have recently become known as “mass shootings.” Given all that we don’t know, how can we hope to answer Gabrielle Giffords’s call to action at the end of Speaking Is Difficult, to prevent the kind of killing that very nearly took her life?

By transforming ourselves from bystanders to upstanders.

As the CRS was preparing its report, amateur researchers, frustrated by the lack of information about these seemingly regular massacres, began to take matters into their own hands. In the first major real-time effort to compile a record of every mass shooting in the United States, a group of anti-gun Reddit users found that these events occurred once per day, on average, in 2015. The Washington Post picked up their findings in August, and for the rest of last year major news outlets ran headlines declaring that mass shootings were happening every day in the United States.

But was it true? That depends on how you define “mass shooting.” Because these researchers counted any event in which four or more people were shot, the vast majority of their database entries appear conceptually distinct from the largely random public killings documented in Speaking Is Difficult. They include armed robberies, gang shootouts, and familicides. As of the end of last year, shootings in private residences accounted for more than two-thirds of the entries, and the majority of cases involved the murder of a family member or intimate partner. Very few of the shootings made the national news.

Which is why you should bookmark the page for this documentary. An informed populace is an armed (with facts) populace.

Make the weekly watching of the film an important part of your routine, because it is.

16 April 2016


0800 by Jeff Hess

record march temp 160416

That’s the way the drumbeat of record temperatures has come to feel, but the drummer can be made to stumble and, in time, Sarah Palin and her ilk notwithstanding, fall silent.

Damian Carrington, reporting in

March temperature smashes 100-year global record

for The Guardian, writes:The global temperature in March has shattered a century-long record and by the greatest margin yet seen for any month.

February was far above the long-term average globally, driven largely by climate change, and was described by scientists as a “shocker” and signalling “a kind of climate emergency”. But data released by the Japan Meteorological Agency shows that March was even hotter.

Compared with the 20th-century average, March was 1.07C hotter across the globe, according to the JMA figures, while February was 1.04C higher. The JMA measurements go back to 1891 and show that every one of the past 11 months has been the hottest ever recorded for that month.

Data released released later on Friday by Nasa confirmed last month was the hottest March on record, but the US agency’s data indicated February had seen the biggest margin. The Nasa data recorded March as 1.65C above the average from 1951-1980, while February was 1.71C higher.

Yes, this is an El Nino year and the climate deniers will dance with glee when 2015-2016 proves to be a new high water mark for the next few years. None of that must matter. The billionaires and their minions want to suck as much cash out of the looming disaster as they can. We are the ones who will pay for their greed.

16 April 2016


0500 by Jeff Hess

First, at the gut level this story is yawner. Ted Cruz, as Solicitor General of Texas, tried to make dildos illegal? Of course he did, he’s Ted Cruz.

Second, I can’t believe that Larry missed a perfect protest moment. Years ago I took part in a campaign intended to humiliate then-leader-of-Myanmar General Than Shwe by inundating him with women’s panties. What Larry ought to have done was to call for tens-of-millions of Americans who both think Ted Cruz would be almost as bad for America as Donald Trump, and own a dildo they’re willing to sacrifice for the cause, to mail that dildo (or dildos) to Cruz campaign headquarters at:

Cruz for President
P.O. Box 25376
Houston, TX 77265

I disagree, however, with Larry’s reaction to Bono’s call to deploy comedians against ISIS. Ridicule of politicians has a long history. Perhaps the best example I know come from George Orwell’s essay: England Your England where he explained why British soldiers don’t goose-step.

Larry’s guest, Bassem Youssef, however, was dead on when he suggested that Bono ought to have suggested any number of Middle Eastern comedians who could do a better job of making fun of a culture they understood than the three comedians Bono mentioned. (To be fair, I doubt that the panel would have recognized Ahmed Ahmed, Maz Joran, Aron Kader or Dean Obeidallah.)

So, got a spare dildo around the house? Think Ted Cruz is a dildo?

Make the connection.

15 April 2016


1300 by Jeff Hess

Bernie writes:

Yesterday the CEO of Verizon said that I was “contemptible.” He doesn’t like that yesterday I walked the picket line with striking Verizon workers, or that I think Verizon needs to pay its fair share in taxes.

Verizon’s attack reminded me of what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in New York City in 1936:

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.

Like FDR, I welcome the contempt of Verizon’s CEO. I welcome the hatred and contempt of every Wall Street banker, hedge fund manager, pharmaceutical lobbyist and fracking executive trying to stop our campaign.

I visited FDR’s gravesite this week while I was campaigning in New York. I took the time to reflect on his presidency, and how he stood up to the powerful interests on Wall Street who wrecked the nation’s economy and sent our country spiraling into the Great Depression.

FDR thought big. When people said that Social Security was impossible, he defied them and created the safety net we have today. When people told him that he couldn’t rein in Wall Street greed, he signed the Glass-Steagall Act into law.

Today we are thinking big, and the billionaire class is telling us what we’re doing is impossible. People keep underestimating us, and we keep proving them wrong. Let’s show them again on Tuesday in New York’s primary.

Contribution to our campaign today and ensure that we can win New York’s primary, the Democratic nomination, and the White House.

I’m going to be on stage for tonight’s Democratic debate in a few hours, and I know that with your support, we can win.

Nothing is impossible.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

15 April 2016


1200 by Jeff Hess

bernie rome 160415

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, reporting in Bernie Sanders stresses ‘common good’ in Vatican attack on capitalism for The Guardian, writes:

A small group of American Sanders fans living in Rome descended on the Vatican for the occasion. Holding a sign that read “Rome is Berning”, supporter Linda Lauretta, a native of New Jersey who spent years in upstate New York before her move to Rome two years ago, swore that she would get involved in a write-in campaign for Sanders if he was not the Democratic nominee.

“I won’t vote for Clinton. For several elections now I’ve voted for the lesser of two evils,” she said. “Not doing that any more.”

Me either Linda.

15 April 2016


1200 by Jeff Hess

bernie new york

15 April 2016


0800 by Jeff Hess

Ohio (my home state) Governor John Kasich is looking more and more like the Republican Party’s great not-crazy hope. Don’t believe that lie.

Ralph Nader, in For Republican Survival—Kasich is Ready writes:

To avoid an historic tumble in the November elections, what should the Republican Party do at its July 18-21 nominating convention, if “Doubtful Donald” Trump and “Terrible Ted” Cruz cancel each other out?

Their best chance is to nominate the remaining man in the race—Ohio Governor, John Kasich who polls better than Hillary Clinton who, in turn, polls better than both Trump and Cruz. (Bernie Sanders polls better against all the Republicans.)

Many of the Convention delegates may be in high heat and playing with the irresistible, venomous, masochistic fervor. This would be okay with the Democratic Party that would enjoy the televised spectacle of the GOP imploding. But, if cool heads are bent on rescuing the Party from the brink, here is the case they can make for Kasich.

In what is the most backdoor endorsement of a presidential candidate that I am aware of, Nader goes on to demonstrate why John Kasich is the best the Republican Party has to offer (and what does that say about the party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt?) to the voters in 2016. Nader concludes:

Kasich has won only one state primary—defeating Trump in his state of Ohio. But, he has been on the modest upswing in recent primaries and receiving more press for being a comparatively sane voice amidst the shouting and overtalking of his fellow candidates.

I saw three versions of Kasich on the debate stage. Kasich, the advocate for reason, negotiation and compromise. Kasich, the presentation of himself—experienced, knowledgeable and steady. And Kasich, pulled down by the madness of the stage to say some “wild and crazy” things, especially about his proposed military policies.

He seems relatively scandal-free, has a fine family and can talk folksy because he is folksy. The biggest operating problem in his campaign is not being able to raise enough money to match his major competitors.

Donald Trump won’t get the necessary 1237 delegates to gain the majority—assuming they all stay with him—at the Convention. Neither will Cruz, even with his machinations amongst the delegates which have outmaneuvered the underorganized Trump to date.

Who is left? House Speaker Paul Ryan seems to mean it when he says he’s not interested in the nomination. Mitt Romney will be seen as a retread with continual plutocratic baggage in a year of progressive resurgence. And Jeb Bush has already been rejected by Republican voters in the primaries, notwithstanding his best known name and massive campaign funds.

Kasich is the remaining, vetted default option.

Suck on that Republicans.

15 April 2016


0600 by Jeff Hess

That is all…

14 April 2016


1200 by Jeff Hess

Lauren Gambino, writing in Bernie Sanders rally in New York strikes at heart of establishment for The Guardian, reports:

“Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” came the chanting. When Brooklyn’s native son walked through the arch at Washington Square Park he was greeted by one of the largest crowds of his presidential campaign.

Bernie Sanders, the 72-year-old socialist Democrat from Vermont, whose rabble-rousing campaign has unexpectedly complicated Hillary Clinton’s path to the party’s nomination, strode to the podium and looked out.

“There are a lot of people here tonight!” he shouted, his voice cracking. His campaign estimated that 27,000 people attended the event.

Under a starless New York sky, Sanders gave mostly the same speech he’s been giving to supporters across the country: the American people have lost a voice in their own democracy.

“It is not just about electing a president,” Sanders said. “It is about creating a political revolution. It is about creating a government which works for all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors.” The crowd exploded in applause.

From his perch in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, a liberal neighborhood filled with college students, Sanders eviscerated the big banks of Wall Street and the “billionaire class”, many of whose residences overlook New York’s Central Park.

Yet Sanders’s speech was imbued with a sense of urgency ahead of next week’s crucial primary. Polls consistently show Clinton beating him by double digits in her adopted home state. A blowout here would cripple his chances of catching up to Clinton’s more than 200-delegate lead, and even a win may not be enough.

“This is a tough race for us,” Sanders acknowledged at the end of his speech. “But you know what I think? When I look out at the thousands of people who are here tonight, the thousands of people we saw in Buffalo and Syracuse and Rochester, I think we’ve got a surprise for the establishment.”

Yes we do!

14 April 2016


0600 by Jeff Hess

14 April 2016


0300 by Jeff Hess

In 19687 I was a geeky 8th grader with special science privileges at a rural school in rural Southeastern Ohio. I and my friends spent long days outside and in the surrounding woodlands of Warren Township. We got to see up close and personal some of the air and water pollution that came from the plants along the Ohio River. In particular I remember one plant closest to my home where the chemical stench was so strong that I would try to hold my breath while we drove past along Route 7.

I got good at holding my breath, but you still have to breathe at some point. I didn’t know about Global Warming and Climate Change then. I was too close to the problem to understand. The American Petroleum Institute, however, knew well what kind of life I would be facing in 2016.

Oliver Milman, reporting in Oil industry knew of ‘serious’ climate concerns more than 45 years ago for The Guardian, writes:

The The oil industry’s knowledge of dangerous climate change stretches back to the 1960s, with unearthed documents showing that it was warned of “serious worldwide environmental changes” more than 45 years ago.

The Stanford Research Institute presented a report to the American Petroleum Institute (API) in 1968 that warned the release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels could carry an array of harmful consequences for the planet.

The emergence of this stark advice follows a series of revelations that the fossil fuel industry was aware of climate change for decades, only to publicly deny its scientific basis.

“Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000 and these could bring about climatic change,” the 1968 Stanford report, found and republished by the Center for International Environmental Law, states. “If the Earth’s temperature increases significantly, a number of events might be expected to occur including the melting of the Antarctic ice cap, a rise in sea levels, warming of the oceans and an increase in photosynthesis.

“It is clear that we are unsure as to what our long-lived pollutants are doing to our environment; however, there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe.”

The study, written by scientists Elmer Robinson and RC Robbins, adds that accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere could cause “serious worldwide environmental changes”.

The scientists estimated that CO2 in the atmosphere could reach 400 parts per million by 2000. In fact, CO2 levels broke that milestone last year, recording their largest leap on record.

13 April 2016


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 NO LONGER LARGEST RETAILER… Walmart is no longer king of the hill in the retailer universe, and the Bentonvile Behemoth didn’t lose that coveted spot to Amazon. No, the new behemoth is China’s Alibaba Group. There is no hint of this at… Keep reading…

SO, WHAT IS WALMART THINKING…? Jon Springer, reporting in Walmart on ‘Reimagining the workforce’ for Supermarket News writes: As one of the world’s largest employers, Wal-Mart Stores has an obligation to help not only its own workers to achieve upwardKeep reading…

NO GOLD WATCH FOR FRANK SWANSON… What does Walmart give one of those employees that the company so badly wants to achieve upward mobility and satisfaction in their jobs after an employee works for the company 19 years and 355… Keep reading…

WALMART SLIPS TO NO. 3…? HOW…? WHERE…? Coming on the news that Walmart is no longer the No. 1 global retailer comes a parallel story that in one market, the Bentonvile Behemoth has dropped to No. 3. There are qualification and plenty of… Keep reading…

WALMART IS EVVIIILLLL… Well, yes, Walmart is evil, but not in the way conspiracy kook C. Ervana would like you to believe. I ought not to be surprised that the conspiracy theories surrounding the mysterious closing of five stores last year continue; after… Keep reading…

A LIFE IS WORTH MORE THAN THIS… So, this is why, despite the ruling a week ago by a court in Utah, Walmart’s policy demanding that employees not engage in confrontations with customers is the only sane policy there is. Your life is not worth even a cart… Keep reading…

FOLLOWING THE WALMART MONEY TO HILLARY… I’ve known about the connections between Walmart and the Clintons since the beginning and if there is one reality in the 2016 Democratic Party race, Hillary Clinton has never met a wealthy donor she… Keep reading…

WHY DIDN’T WALMART’S REVENUES CLIMB…? Last week I noted that for the first time in decades, Walmart’s revenue failed to keep the Bentonvile Behemoth at the top of the retail food chain. Analysts are spinning their own take on the event and Daniel… Keep reading…

Previously on Walmart Wednesday

13 April 2016


0700 by Jeff Hess

So, the 1994 crime bill, introduced by Joe Biden, voted for by Bernie Sanders and supported by then First Lady Hillary Clinton, has come back to haunt Hillary who is counting on a majority of Black voters coming out for her, not only in the primaries, but critically in the November election. This week, potential First Gentleman Bill got irate with Black Lives Matter protesters. For a man who served two of the most contentious terms in the White House of any president, and who got impeached for his efforts, Bill did not handle the situation well.

Here’s my question: is Bill, as others have suggested, doing his best, in the most subtle way he knows, to maintain his alpha dog status and not be relegated to baking cookies in the White House?

12 April 2016


1600 by Roldo Bartimole

Are we at the lowest point of political leadership since the mid 1960s when white ethnics politically controlled Cleveland? And thought they would coast on. Surprise! It didn’t last a half decade.

Cleveland was a city of 750,000 strong. But also a city showing the decline that was to come.

What to do?

Surely, the behind-the-scene Establishment understood new ideas and leaders were needed. However, the Establishment doesn’t like upheaval. It would much rather manipulate. By keeping its role private. Behind the scenes.

The Cleveland Foundation, always significant, even created and funded a side foundation, the Greater Cleveland Associated Foundation, to deal with urban problems. Its elite members didn’t want to be too closely involved in, as they saw it, “the Negro problems.”

The usually all-important news media – essentially the Plain Dealer and Cleveland Press then – were way behind the times. Missing the boat with all-white staffs. They did suspect the times were changing and that they were lacking. It’s hard to catch up.

Now in 2016 the newspaper and media are feeble and less relevant. Far less powerful than in the 1960s when two profitable newspapers competitively duked it Continue Reading »

12 April 2016


0700 by Jeff Hess

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12 April 2016


0600 by Jeff Hess

I’ve known about the connections between Walmart and the Clintons since the beginning and if there is one reality in the 2016 Democratic Party race, Hillary Clinton has never met a wealthy donor she wouldn’t suck up to. Walmart heiress Alice Walton fits Hillary’s bill perfectly.

Marlena Fitzpatrick Garcia, reporting in Hillary Clinton Received a Massive Donation From Walmart Heiress for Alternet writes:Hillary Clinton’s campaign finance records show the wealthy Walmart heiress, Alice Walton, donated $353,400 to Clinton’s “Victory Fund.” The six-figure donation contrasts Clinton’s campaign messaging as a workers’ ally. Walmart stands out for its oppressive labor practices and corporate greed behavior. Before that Alice Walton contributed $25,000 to the Ready for Hillary political action committee.

The former first lady and secretary of state has been endorsed by multiple labor unions [Their leadership, not the rank-and-file, JH] including Service Employees International Union, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, and the National Education Association.

“One of the greatest issues of the coming election for president of the United States and perhaps the most burning issue for progressives in this nation is the involvement of corporate money and how it corrupts the system,” the Daily Kos said in a January article titled “Hillary, Walmart and the Revolving Door.”

Unlike many other elected officials, Clinton has refused to publicly denounce Walmart over the company’s pay scale and anti-union policies. She gave her critics ammunition when campaign treasurer Jose Villarreal attended a fundraiser discussion and dinner hosted by Ivan Zapien, Walmart’s vice president of corporate affairs in Mexico. Zapien, who previously served as the company’s top lobbyist in Washington, maxed out in personal contributions to Clinton’s campaign last year.

Bernie, however, is a different story.

Bernie Sanders has called out the Walton heirs and Walmart’s labor practices as a prime example of how greedy corporate behavior harms workers and costs billions in tax dollars. Forbes estimates that despite Walmart being one of the wealthiest corporations in history, the company costs taxpayers roughly $6.2 billion per year due to substandard wages. As a result, many workers depend on public assistance to meet basic needs.

“Today Walmart is the largest private sector employer in America. Yet many, many of their employees are forced to go on food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing that you pay for through your taxes because the Walton family refuses to pay their workers a living wage,” Sanders said.

Clearly, the union leadership is selling out their constituents. Seems like a good time to hold union elections as well.

12 April 2016


0400 by Jeff Hess

counted 160412

Jon Swaine, reporting in The Counted so far: you ask, we answer for The Guardian, writes:

Guardian US is continuing in 2016 to record every death caused by law enforcement officers—something that no government agency has done, even as unrest has rocked several American cities following controversial fatal encounters with police.

This award-winning investigation, titled The Counted, last year prompted the FBI to promise to overhaul its discredited voluntary reporting system. Separately, it led the Department of Justice to launch a new program for counting police-involved deaths, mirroring the Guardian US project and drawing directly on its findings.

Among The Counted’s many striking findings were that young black men are being killed by police at nine times the rate of other Americans, and that African Americans killed by police were twice as likely as white people to have been unarmed.

Because there is no national database of police killings, the tally is largely fueled by citizens alerting The Guardian to local events. Swaine continues:

What questions do you have for our reporters about the project? At 1pm ET on Tuesday 12 April, Guardian US reporters Jon Swaine and Jamiles Lartey will be talking about the project live—you can tune in at facebook.com/TheCounted.

Before then, you can submit your questions about the use of force by US police and related issues, either via Twitter using the hashtag #AskTheCounted, by emailing us directly at thecounted@theguardian.com or commenting below. Then, visit The Counted’s Facebook page on Tuesday at 1pm ET, where we’ll be answering those questions, live.

We are all citizens, we are all journalists, we are all responsible for what happens in our names.

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