Friday, November 25, 2011

Merry F*cking Christmas

Because nothing celebrates the birth of Christ quite like "competitive" shopping and pepper spray

From the LA Times:

In Porter Ranch, a woman pepper sprayed customers at a Wal-Mart in what authorities say was a deliberate attempt to get more "door buster" merchandise. In San Leandro, a Wal-Mart shopper walking to his car was shot and wounded in a suspected robbery early Friday.

At Porter Ranch, 20 customers, including children, were hurt in the 10:10 p.m. incident, officials said. Shoppers complained of minor skin and eye irritation and sore throats.

"This was customer-versus-customer 'shopping rage,'" said Los Angeles Police Lt. Abel Parga.

The woman used the spray in more than one area of the Wal-Mart "to gain preferred access to a variety of locations in the store," said Los Angeles Fire Capt. James Carson.

"She was competitive shopping," he said.

Police are searching for the woman but said they've had trouble getting a clear description of her.

Black Friday sales began at the Wal-Mart at 10 p.m. and featured sales on toys, including $5 Bratz dolls, $10 Wii video games and $29 tricycles.

Witness Matthew Lopez described a chaotic scene in the San Fernando Valley store among shoppers looking for video games soon after the sale began.

"I heard screaming and I heard yelling," said Lopez, 18. "Moments later, my throat stung. I was coughing really bad and watering up."

Lopez said customers were already in the store when a whistle signaled the start of the Black Friday sale at 10 p.m., sending shoppers hurtling in search of deeply discounted items.

Lopez said that by the time he arrived at the video games, the display had been torn down. Employees attempted to hold back the scrum of shoppers and pick up merchandise even as customers trampled the video games and DVDs strewn on the floor.

"It was absolutely crazy," he said.

Excuse me while I weep for the future of our country.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Question For Amanda Marcotte: Who Gets Family Planning Advice from "The Walking Dead"?

OK, I know this is a stupid thing to bring up, but there's something about this post that just completely rubbed me the wrong way.
Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead created a massive internal conflict for me. As explained at Jezebel, the episode featured a character who has discovered her pregnancy, and understandably, considering the zombie apocalypse, feels this isn't the right time to bring a new baby into the world. (She also understandably fears for her own safety, since giving birth in a ditch without medical assistance is associated with a high maternal mortality rate.) So she obtains morning after pills, takes a bunch of them, throws them up, and then, according to TV tradition, decides not to abort because in TV-land, there's never a good reason to have an abortion. No, not even if it means being ripped limb from limb by zombies.

The problem with this storyline, outside the tedious fear of getting letters from irate anti-choicers that dictates TV's near-absolute approach to unintended pregnancy, is simple: Morning-after pills are not abortion. You can't even get abortion pills from a typical pharmacy, since RU-486, the actual abortion pill, is dispensed mainly at doctor's offices.


My honest impression is that whoever came up with this plot also mistakenly thinks that morning-after pills are abortion. If they had intended the misinformation to be a comment on the characters' ignorance, there was no indication of it.

As Erin at Jezebel points out, no matter what the intentions of the writers, what was on screen was simply distracting. It could have been avoided altogether by simply having the character take RU-486 instead of morning-after pills. It's hard to trust the show's portrayal of the larger philsophical and emotional issues around such a traumatic pregnancy situation when they can't even spend five minutes on Google to get the biology right.

I'm calling bullshit for a couple of reasons. First, with all due respect, I don't think anyone is getting family planning advice from "The Walking Dead".

Secondly, it's a drama, it's not a documentary.

Conflict creates drama. The writers are having these characters improvise as best they can with what they have. And that includes limited medical resources. When the Glen character hands the pills to the character who is pregnant, Lori, he asks her if she thinks they will work. She honestly answers, "I don't know".  Next we clearly see her OVERDOSE on the pills - I think it's safe to assume Lori didn't take the recommended dose because she knew she wasn't taking the correct pill. But she's doing the best with what she has, hoping an overdose will somehow work. It's an act of desperation.

It was risky for the show to trust the audience to get that, but I appreciate it's a risk the writers were willing to take. It's one of the reasons I like the show so much.

After that, Lori realizes how conflicted she is, and vomits the pills back up. Then she does what she should have done to begin with and tells her husband she's pregnant (and that she had an affair and all the other crap she's been withholding from him). Rick, the husband, clearly wants the baby, but also tells Lori he would never force her to carry it to term. They talk about it like adults. The word "choice" is bandied about more times than I can count. It's dramatic.

I consider myself a feminist and very pro-choice.  I'm well aware that women's reproductive health is under constant threat these days, so I appreciate how this subject is a sensitive one. Clearly it's one that Marcotte felt strongly enough about that she needed to say something (side note: having a photo of two male writers from "The Walking Dead" laughing - presumably laughing at women - included in that post doesn't help)

Again, with all due respect, this is a really stupid hill to die on.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Your Moment of Occupy Zen

A "making of video" from the #occupy "bat signal" crew.  Inside look at this series of inspirational video projections on the side of the Verizon building on November 17th.

Watch this full screen. And turn the sound up really, really loud.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

International Coverage Of UC Davis Pepper Spray Incident Gives A Whole New Meaning To "The Whole World Is Watching."

It's not surprising, given escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, that the Iranian government would seize on a domestic incident like this and twist it around to serve its own purposes.

Justified or not, this gives the phrase, "The whole world is watching." a whole new meaning, doesn't it?

UC Davis: Speechless

Turn off your TV. Put down the phone.

Just watch.

From reporter Lee Fang, who witnessed the scene last night.

A pretty remarkable thing just happened. A press conference, scheduled for 4:00pm between the UC Davis Chancellor and police with local press on campus, did not end in an hour, as planned. Instead, a mass of Occupy Davis students and sympathizers mobilized outside, demanding to have their voice heard. After some initial confusion, UC Chancellor Linda Katehi refused to leave the building, attempting to give the media the impression that the students were somehow holding her hostage.

A group of highly organized students formed a large gap for the chancellor to leave. They chanted “we are peaceful” and “just walk home,” but nothing changed for several hours. Eventually student representatives convinced the chancellor to leave after telling their fellow students to sit down and lock arms (around 7:00pm).

The video is so quiet you can hear the echo of Katehi's shoes on the concrete. The students remain seated, staring at her with disdain, less than 24 hours after the police Katehi ordered to disperse the protestors forcibly opened the mouths of some of the them to shove pepper spray down their throats.

I'm in awe of these UC students, here and in Berkeley, who have consistently adhered to the principles of creative, non-violent civil disobedience. They've punched through the conscience of a nation, laying bare the militarization of our domestic police force while simultaneously taking control of their own narrative.

These kids can't easily be characterized as "dirty hippies" by the main stream media (although, of course, they're trying) because the the videos show what a bright shining lie that is.

They have focus, purpose. They know why they're there. And now, thanks to their discipline, the rest of the country will too.

We can help. Sign this petition to Governor Jerry Brown, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and the UC Board of Regents demanding Chancellor Katehi's resignation.  

Click on this link to sign.

Then, imagine if you will,  thousands of these silent, reproachful demonstrations happening at corporate headquarters all over the country, on Wall Street, in the halls of Congress. How, well, unnerving that would be.

Yes, we can.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Occupy The Rose Parade" Organizer's Law License Suspended For Theft, Is 9/11 "Truther"

Peter Thottam (in suit and tie) appears at a 2007 Los Angeles "9/11 Truth" rally

Venice resident Peter Thottam recently made headlines when he set up a website, "Occupy The Rose Parade", and put out a call for "'40,000 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters and supporters to come together from across California, New York and rest of the USA & World" to disrupt the Pasadena Rose Parade.

Back in 2010, Thottam made headlines for a far different reason when the Daily Breeze newspaper ran an investigative report on Thottam, who at the time was a candidate for the 53d Assembly District.

As a candidate for the Democratic nomination in Tuesday's 53rd Assembly District primary, Peter Thottam has stressed his financial expertise.

But the Venice resident's financial acumen - and his judgment - has been called into question by his brother and sister in a drawn-out probate case over their late mother's will.

Allegations leveled against Thottam by his siblings in court documents related to the trust set up for them include:

That his brother and sister, Jameson and Elizabeth, were "considering removing Peter as a co-trustee because Peter lost $800,000 playing the stock market and misappropriated rents" from a property belonging to the trust "to cover margin calls on his personal stock account."

That he was "an unsuitable trustee because he was convicted of shoplifting from the UC Irvine bookstore and was previously caught shoplifting from a clothing store on the East Coast and again shoplifting from a store in Mexico where he was subsequently placed in jail."

Prominent on Thottam's website are various links to Paypal. Supporters who can't make the protest in person are strongly encouraged to make donations via an "Occupy The Rose Parade" account.

"We need funds from OWS supporters," writes Thottam,  "to enable us to obtain banners, pamphlets (for on-site distribution), and for the BackBone Campaign's "human float" & other visuals during Occupy The Rose Parade outreach."

Emails sent to potential supporters via a Google listserve also push hard for donations,  "This has the potential to be huge," writes Thottam,  "but it requires as many occupiers as possible putting in $10, $20, in order to make it happen."

Organizers for Occupy Pasadena say they are not connected to "Occupy The Rose Parade" and no mention of Thottam or his plans appear on the group's website.  Occupy Pasadena activists told the Pasadena Star News it's unlikely the Rose Parade protest will get support from their group.

 “Disrupting cherished city traditions is really not an appropriate step to take.”

"It is tempting to leverage all that media, but the parade feels like it's something that is such a part of the fabric of Pasadena that we don't want to go there," said Maddie Gavel-Briggs, 46, of Pasadena, and a activist.

Beyond the public relations concerns, Occupy Pasadena has other reasons to be circumspect. In addition to fiscal allegations, Thottam is prominently involved in the so-called "9/11 Truth Movement", a coalition of loosely-affiliated fringe groups who believe the attack on the World Trade Center was actually a controlled demolition orchestrated by the US government. Thottam participated in a number of 9/11 Truth "conventions" as well as protests, including this action in 2007 during a taping of the HBO show, "Real Time with Bill Maher".

Maher was talking science during a round table panel discussion when the first activist named Randy stood up, held up his smuggled-in sign reading ‘9/11 is a cover up fraud’ and shouted “Investigate 9/11, Nothing else matters” and other comments to the same effect.

Randy was swarmed by show crew members, and Bill Maher scampered into the audience, put his hands on the back of a crew member shouting, “Out, out, out”.

After making his way back on stage, Maher barely got his mic back on when a second activist, Katy Kurtzman stood up and shouted “What about Building 7? What about Building 7, Bill?” Maher stood up and said “I’ll kick your @ss out of here, too!” and producers proceeded to escort Kurtzman out of the audience.

One of the panelists, Joel Stein, LA Times columnist then jokes “I was only allowed two guests so things should be okay after this.” That’s when the third activist, Peter Thottam challenged Maher once again about Building 7 “Tell us what happened to Building 7, Bill!”

As Peter was grabbed and dragged out of the audience, Maher replied, “You are a nut case… Crazy people who still think the government brought down the Twin Towers in a controlled explosion have to stop pretending that I’m the one who’s being naive,” Maher stated. “How big a lunatic do you have to be to watch two giant airliners packed with jet fuel slam into buildings on live TV, igniting a massive inferno that burned for two hours, and then think ‘Well, if you believe that was the cause…’ Stop asking me to raise this ridiculous topic on the show and start asking your doctor if Paxil is right for you.”

Lastly, the Daily Breeze investigative report uncovered a history of firings and theft, the latter which resulted in Thottam having his law license suspended in 2008.

Thottam, an attorney who was admitted to practice law in California in 2000, was suspended by the State Bar for "moral turpitude" in June 2008 in the wake of his 2004 misdemeanor conviction for petty theft for stealing two books worth $71 from UC Irvine, according to court documents.

He was placed on probation for one year and ordered to complete 20 hours of community service and pay $130 in fines and fees by an Orange County court after pleading guilty to the charge.

The State Bar noted that Thottam admitted to a "miscarriage of judgment" because he was suffering a "great deal of stress and sleep deprivation" related to his mother's serious medical problems at the time. She died in July 2004.

Thottam never reported his criminal conviction to the State Bar - his brother reported the incident - something the State Bar Court called the "only aggravating factor" in the case


Thottam was earlier arrested in Mexico in June 2003, an incident described in an August 2003 article by The Village Voice. The alternative newspaper's story warned that getting arrested for even minor crimes in Mexico could result in a lengthy jail stay.

According to the Village Voice article, Thottam was inside a Sanborns department store when his tourist guidebook "disappeared." As he was looking for it, the article stated, he was "nabbed for almost stepping out with a pair of the store's socks in his hand."

That resulted in a four-night stay with 13 other prisoners in a cell designed for four where guards and inmates demanded cash for access to the bathroom, mess hall and other amenities.

"I couldn't get over how surreal it was," Thottam told the newspaper, "all over a pair of socks."

Eventually a friend posted $1,100 bail for him and he "hightailed" it out of the country.


In a phone conversation, Thottam threatened to sue the Daily Breeze "for every penny I can get" if an article was published, and then hung up.

Thottam's brother and sister could not be reached for comment. Their lawyers did not return calls seeking comment.


In at least two of his jobs in the financial realm, Thottam was involuntarily dismissed.

From 1999 to 2001 Thottam worked for the Silicon Valley law firm of Wilson, Sonshani, Goodrich & Rosati before he was fired for "performance-based" reasons, according to the company as reported in an April 2002 article published by the Communications Workers of America.

In the article about the stigma workers carry for being fired rather than being laid off, Thottam claimed he was actually laid off.

Thottam subsequently went to work for the prestigious law firm of O'Melveny & Myers in San Francisco from 2001 to 2002.

Again, Thottam claimed he was laid off according to a March 2002 article in the Daily Journal; the company responded in the article by saying the firm had suffered no layoffs and was, in fact, hiring.

Thottam has refused repeated requests for comment.

Friday, November 18, 2011

UC Davis Police Go "Bull Conner" On Student Protestors

Sometimes there just aren't any words....

This news report includes a different angle, where one officer is clearly heard yelling at the seated protestors, "Move, or you're going to get it in the face! Move!"

The Davis Enterprise reports:

The confrontation took place after UCD held off on enforcing a camping ban overnight Thursday. On Friday morning, a Student Affairs representative delivered a letter from Chancellor Linda Katehi asking the protesters to take down their tents by 3 p.m.

In a second letter, sent to the campus community on Friday night, Katehi wrote that protesters “(offered) us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal.”

The bulk of the protesters chose not to budge....

...At 3:30 p.m., about 35 officers wearing helmets and carrying batons on their hips, some with guns filled with pepper balls, crossed the quad as about 60 protesters chanted “Shame on you!”

“We’re fighting for your children’s education!” yelled one.

Shouting into the crowd noise, Lt. John Pike three times ordered them to clear out under section 409 of the California penal code. The law requires that those taking part in an unlawful assembly disperse.
By the time Pike ordered the police skirmish line forward, the crowd of onlookers had swelled to perhaps 150, many recording the slow-motion confrontation on cell phones.

Officers almost immediately drug three protesters to the ground and pinned them. Many in the ring sat down, arms locked, chanting, while supporters pulled away the tents.

Police took down more protesters, tightening plastic restraints around their wrists.
Some onlookers joined the protesters, chanting “Set them free!” They rose as a group, then, moving to surround the officers, who drew their batons.

Having at least once ordered the sidewalk cleared, so that those arrested could be dragged away, Pike later pepper-sprayed seated protesters blocking the officer’s path from point-blank range.

Some of you may be familiar with an internet axiom called "Godwin's Law", which goes something like this: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches."

I'd like to bring your attention to the very start of the video. The UC Davis officer -  identified as Lt. John Pike - makes a show of "presenting" the can of pepper spray to the crowd before he starts in on the protestors sitting on the grass.

He knew there were cameras. He was showing off. He was proud, defiant, taunting and thoroughly enjoying himself.

So forgive me for invoking Godwin's Law, but in all honesty, that attitude reminded me of the German prison guards one would see in WWII newsreels.

A UC Davis professor has already sent an open letter to Katehi, demanding her resignation.

These students attended the rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

Fortunately for the protestors, UC Davis Police have an entire department devoted to complaints. That is, of course, if they don't mind submitting those to the Lt. Pike, who oversees the department.

Oh,  and by the way, don't expect to read about any of this in the LA Times. They're too busy building a case against the 99% with hit pieces like this.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

They Can't Evict An Idea. Tomorrow Morning We March On Los Angeles

84 year-old Dorli Rainey after she was hit by pepper spray by police at Occupy Seattle.

They came for them in the dead of night, wearing riot gear and carrying assault rifles. Within hours they'd erased any trace of their presence in Zuccotti Park, ripping apart tents, throwing away books, beating, macing, and jailing at will. Not just Occupy Wall Street in New York, but all over the country - Seattle, Portland, Oakland, Chapel Hill and Denver.

In all, over a dozen municipalities coordinated with Homeland Security to crush the occupations.

As was the case in last night's move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.

Local agencies were...advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.

Clearly, the goal wasn't just to evict protestors from from the public square, but to evict the very idea they were protesting for, and to silence those who were willing to put their bodies on the line for the 99%.

They failed miserably.

Thousand occupy Sproul Hall at Cal Berkeley

Less than 24 hours later, 10,000 students and activists marched on Cal Berkeley, the largest protest that college had seen since the Vietnam War. Only a week before, campus police viciously beat back
hundreds of those same unarmed students as they attempted to occupy the commons. But last night they came back, thousands of them standing on the Mario Savio Memorial steps in front of Sproul Hall, renamed for the free speech activist who stood on those same steps in 1964 and electrified the nation with these words:

"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

Folks, corporate greed is still killing good jobs. Congress continues to refuse to tax wealthy corporations and millionaires to fund legislation that will put people back to work. And a Congressional "super-committee" is still considering even more drastic budget cuts.

I apologize for the late notice, but events on the ground are moving very fast. Tomorrow, more than ever, we need you to show the 1% that you can't evict an idea whose time has come.

We need you to put your bodies upon the gears.

November 17, 7:00am
Meet at the intersection of Third and Hope
Downtown Los Angeles

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

VIDEO: UC Berkeley police attack unarmed student protestors

UC Berkeley campus police in riot gear beat back hundreds of unarmed student activists this afternoon as they attempted to set up camp on the college campus.

The tents had been erected on the lawn in front of Sproul Hall after a noon rally and march to protest tuition and fee increases for university students and funding cuts to all levels of public education.

The demonstration is intended to be in the style of "Occupy Wall Street," "Occupy Oakland" and similar protests, and participants planned to set up an encampment that would stand for at least a day.

The protesters had set up the tents on the lawn after a 1:30 p.m. general assembly, and had linked arms and formed a circle around the tents to prevent police from removing the small encampment.

However, around 3:40 p.m., dozens of police in riot gear pushed their way through the human chain using their batons and began taking the tents down.

There were scuffles between the officers and protesters, and the crowd began chanting, "Stop beating students."

This is what non-violent disobedience civil looks like. The students are standing still when the line of cops start prodding and hitting them with their batons.

No one raises their fists. No one retaliates. The students simply stand their ground, then someone says "Stop beating students!". The rest begin chanting, and after a couple of minutes, the cops back off.

Now, contrast this with what vandals and violent anarchists did during last week's General Strike in Oakland, and tell me who we're supposed to be rooting for.

We should all be humbled by this. And inspired.

The Power of Non-violence
Martin Luther King, Jr.
June 4, 1957

From the very beginning there was a philosophy undergirding the Montgomery boycott, the philosophy of nonviolent resistance. There was always the problem of getting this method over because it didn’t make sense to most of the people in the beginning. We had to use our mass meetings to explain nonviolence to a community of people who had never heard of the philosophy and in many instances were not sympathetic with it. We had meetings twice a week on Mondays and on Thursdays, and we had an institute on nonviolence and social change. We had to make it clear that nonviolent resistance is not a method of cowardice. It does resist. It is not a method of stagnant passivity and deadening complacency. The nonviolent resister is just as opposed to the evil that he is standing against as the violent resister but he resists without violence. This method is nonaggressive physically but strongly aggressive spiritually.


Another thing that we had to get over was the fact that the nonviolent resister does not seek to humiliate or defeat the opponent but to win his friendship and understanding. This was always a cry that we had to set before people that our aim is not to defeat the white community, not to humiliate the white community, but to win the friendship of all of the persons who had perpetrated this system in the past. The end of violence or the aftermath of violence is bitterness. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation and the creation of a beloved community. A boycott is never an end within itself. It is merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor but the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption.

Then we had to make it clear also that the nonviolent resister seeks to attack the evil system rather than individuals who happen to be caught up in the system. And this is why I say from time to time that the struggle in the South is not so much the tension between white people and Negro people. The struggle is rather between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And if there is a victory it will not be a victory merely for fifty thousand Negroes. But it will be a victory for justice, a victory for good will, a victory for democracy.

Another basic thing we had to get over is that nonviolent resistance is also an internal matter. It not only avoids external violence or external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. And so at the center of our movement stood the philosophy of love. The attitude that the only way to ultimately change humanity and make for the society that we all long for is to keep love at the center of our lives. Now people used to ask me from the beginning what do you mean by love and how is it that you can tell us to love those persons who seek to defeat us and those persons who stand against us; how can you love such persons? And I had to make it clear all along that love in its highest sense is not a sentimental sort of thing, not even an affectionate sort of thing.


The Greek language uses three words for love. It talks about eros. Eros is a sort of aesthetic love. It has come to us to be a sort of romantic love and it stands with all of its beauty. But when we speak of loving those who oppose us we’re not talking about eros. The Greek language talks about philia and this is a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends. This is a vital, valuable love. But when we talk of loving those who oppose you and those who seek to defeat you we are not talking about eros or philia. The Greek language comes out with another word and it is agape. Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive good will for all men. Biblical theologians would say it is the love of God working in the minds of men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. And when you come to love on this level you begin to love men not because they are likeable, not because they do things that attract us, but because God loves them and here we love the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. It is the type of love that stands at the center of the movement that we are trying to carry on in the Southland—agape.


I am quite aware of the fact that there are persons who believe firmly in nonviolence who do not believe in a personal God, but I think every person who believes in nonviolent resistance believes somehow that the universe in some form is on the side of justice. That there is something unfolding in the universe whether one speaks of it as a unconscious process, or whether one speaks of it as some unmoved mover, or whether someone speaks of it as a personal God. There is something in the universe that unfolds for justice and so in Montgomery we felt somehow that as we struggled we had cosmic companionship. And this was one of the things that kept the people together, the belief that the universe is on the side of justice.

God grant that as men and women all over the world struggle against evil systems they will struggle with love in their hearts, with understanding good will. Agape says you must go on with wise restraint and calm reasonableness but you must keep moving. We have a great opportunity in America to build here a great nation, a nation where all men live together as brothers and respect the dignity and worth of all human personality. We must keep moving toward that goal. I know that some people are saying we must slow up. They are writing letters to the North and they are appealing to white people of good will and to the Negroes saying slow up, you’re pushing too fast. They are saying we must adopt a policy of moderation. Now if moderation means moving on with wise restraint and calm reasonableness, then moderation is a great virtue that all men of good will must seek to achieve in this tense period of transition. But if moderation means slowing up in the move for justice and capitulating to the whims and caprices of the guardians of the deadening status quo, then moderation is a tragic vice which all men of good will must condemn. We must continue to move on. Our self—respect is at stake; the prestige of our nation is at stake. Civil rights is an eternal moral issue which may well determine the destiny of our civilization in the ideological struggle with communism. We must keep moving with wise restraint and love and with proper discipline and dignity.


Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word. It is the word "maladjusted." Now we all should seek to live a well—adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities. But there are some things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon you to be maladjusted. I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to mob rule. I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic effects of the methods of physical violence and to tragic militarism. I call upon you to be maladjusted to such things. I call upon you to be as maladjusted to such things. I call upon you to be as maladjusted as Amos who in the midst of the injustices of his day cried out in words that echo across the generation, "Let judgment run down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." As maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln who had the vision to see that this nation could not exist half slave and half free. As maladjusted as Jefferson, who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery could cry out, "All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." As maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth who dreamed a dream of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. God grant that we will be so maladjusted that we will be able to go out and change our world and our civilization. And then we will be able to move from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man to the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Al Muratsuchi, Torrance School Board Member, To Run In AD66 After Betsy Butler Abandons District

Shortly after Assemblywoman Betsy Butler abandoned her South Bay district to run in the arguably bluer Santa Monica/West Hollywood Assembly district, rumors started to circulate in AD66 that a viable Democratic candidate would soon take her place.

Well I'm happy to announce that Al Muratsuchi, a long-time resident of Torrance and current Torrance Unified School Board member, has stepped up to the plate to the oppose Tea Party candidate, Nathan Mintz, for the 2012 South Bay Assembly race.

Muratsuchi has served on the Torrance Unified School Board for 6 years, serving as its President in 2009. According to Muratsuchi's campaign website, in that time Torrance Unified "has maintained its status as a high-achieving school district despite state budget cuts, consistently delivered a balanced budget of up to $200 million, and embarked on the largest school repair and modernization program in the district's history."

Muratsuchi is also a Deputy Attorney General and a prosecutor with the California Department of Justice since 2001. Before that, he was a prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the Santa Ana City Attorney's Office.

This Saturday, the Torrance Democratic Club will be hosting a meet-and-greet fundraiser for Muratsuchi. Folks, I can't emphasis enough how important it is for us to support him in this competitive race. AD66 could be the key to achieving a 2/3rds legislative Democratic majority in the CA legislature and breaking the stranglehold a Republican obstructionist minority has on our state.

Here are the details.

When: 3pm-5pm Saturday, November 12
Where: 411 Via El Chico, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

RSVP by ordering tickets at this link. Even if you can't make it, please click on the link to make a donation.

Questions? Contact the Torrance Democratic Club at 310-538-0245 or email

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear Occupy Wall Street, It's time to purge the violent Anarchists and Vandals. Love, the 99%.

During Tuesday's General Strike, so-called "Black Block" anarchists vandalize stores and buildings as peaceful Occupiers try desperately to stop them. 
These are anarchists, folks. They are no more a part of the Occupy movement than the Koch Brothers, and will destroy the movement just as quickly if allowed to fester from within.

Occupy's Asshole Problem: Flashbacks from An Old Hippie
Sara Robinson
November 4, 2011

I wish I could say that the problems that the Occupy movement is having with infiltrators and agitators are new. But they're not. In fact, they're problems that the Old Hippies who survived the 60s and 70s remember acutely, and with considerable pain.

As a veteran of those days -- with the scars to prove it -- watching the OWS organizers struggle with drummers, druggies, sexual harassers, racists, and anarchists brings me back to a few lessons we had to learn the hard way back in the day, always after putting up with way too much over-the-top behavior from people we didn't think we were allowed to say "no" to. It's heartening to watch the Occupiers begin to work out solutions to what I can only indelicately call "the asshole problem." In the hope of speeding that learning process along, here are a few glimmers from my own personal flashbacks -- things that it's high time somebody said right out loud.

1. Let's be clear: It is absolutely OK to insist on behavior norms. #Occupy may be a DIY movement -- but it also stands for very specific ideas and principles. Central among these is: We are here to reassert the common good. And we have a LOT of work to do. Being open and accepting does not mean that we're obligated to accept behavior that damages our ability to achieve our goals. It also means that we have a perfect right to insist that people sharing our spaces either act in ways that further those goals, or go somewhere else until they're able to meet that standard.

2. It is OK to draw boundaries between those who are clearly working toward our goals, and those who are clearly not. Or, as an earlier generation of change agents put it: "You're either on the bus, or off the bus." Are you here to change the way this country operates, and willing to sacrifice some of your almighty "personal freedom" to do that? Great. You're with us, and you're welcome here. Are you here on your own trip and expecting the rest of us to put up with you? In that case, you are emphatically NOT on our side, and you are not welcome in our space.

Anybody who feels the need to put their own personal crap ahead of the health and future of the movement is (at least for that moment) an asshole, and does not belong in Occupied space. Period. This can be a very hard idea for people in an inclusive movement to accept -- we really want to have all voices heard. But the principles #Occupy stands for must always take precedence over any individual's divine right to be an asshole, or the assholes will take over. Which brings me to....

3. The consensus model has a fatal flaw, which is this: It's very easy for power to devolve to the people who are willing to throw the biggest tantrums. When some a drama king or queen starts holding the process hostage for their own reasons, congratulations! You've got a new asshole! (See #2.) You must guard against this constantly, or consensus government becomes completely impossible.

4. Once you've accepted the right of the group to set boundaries around people's behavior, and exclude those who put their personal "rights" ahead of the group's mission and goals, the next question becomes: How do we deal with chronic assholes?

This is the problem Occupy's leaders are very visibly struggling with now. I've been a part of asshole-infested groups in the long-ago past that had very good luck with a whole-group restorative justice process. In this process, the full group (or some very large subset of it that's been empowered to speak for the whole) confronts the troublemaker directly. The object is not to shame or blame. Instead, it's like an intervention. You simply point out what you have seen and how it affects you. The person is given a clear choice: make some very specific changes in their behavior, or else leave.

This requires some pre-organization. You need three to five spokespeople to moderate the session (usually as a tag team) and do most of the talking. Everybody else simply stands in a circle around the offender, watching silently, looking strong and determined. The spokespeople make factual "we" statements that reflect the observations of the group. "We have seen you using drugs inside Occupied space. We are concerned that this hurts our movement. We are asking you to either stop, or leave."

When the person tries to make excuses (and one of the most annoying attributes of chronic assholes is they're usually skilled excuse-makers as well), then other members of the group can speak up -- always with "I" messages. "I saw you smoking a joint with X and Y under tree Z this morning. We're all worried about the cops here, and we think you're putting our movement in danger. We are asking you to leave." Every statement needs to end with that demand -- "We are asking you to either stop, or else leave and not come back." No matter what the troublemaker says, the response must always be brought back to this bottom line.

These interventions can go on for a LONG time. You have to be committed to stay in the process, possibly for a few hours until the offender needs a pee break or gets hungry. But eventually, if everybody stays put, the person will have no option but to accept that a very large group of people do not want him or her there. Even truly committed assholes will get the message that they've crossed the line into unacceptable behavior when they're faced with several dozen determined people confronting them all at once.

Given the time this takes, it's tempting to cut corners by confronting several people all at once. Don't do it. Confronting more than two people at a time creates a diffusion-of-responsibility effect: the troublemakers tell themselves that they just got caught up in a dragnet; the problem is those other people, not me. The one who talks the most will get most of the heat; the others will tend to slip by (though the experience may cause them to reconsider their behavior or leave as well).

This process also leaves open the hope that the person will really, truly get that their behavior is Not OK, and agree to change it. When this happens, be sure to negotiate specific changes, boundaries, rules, and consequences ("if we see you using drugs here again, we will call the police. There will be no second warning"), and then reach a consensus agreement that allows them to stay. On the other hand: if the person turns violent and gets out of control, then the question is settled, and their choice is made. You now have a legitimate reason to call the cops to haul them away. And the cops will likely respect you more for maintaining law and order.

Clearing out a huge number of these folks can be a massive time suck, at least for the few days it will take to weed out the worst ones and get good at it. It might make sense to create a large committee whose job it is to gather information, build cases against offenders, and conduct these meetings.

And finally:

5. It is not wrong for you to set boundaries this way. You will get shit for this. " looks a whole lot like a Maoist purge unit!" No. There is nothing totalitarian about asking people who join your revolution to act in ways that support the goals of that revolution. And the Constitution guarantees your right of free association -- which includes the right to exclude people who aren't on the bus, and who are wasting the group's limited time and energy rather than maximizing it. After all: you're not sending these people to re-education camps, or doing anything else that damages them. You're just getting them out of the park, and out of your hair. You're eliminating distractions, which in turn effectively amplifies the voices and efforts of everyone else around you. And, in the process, you're also modeling a new kind of justice that sanctions people's behavior without sanctioning their being -- while also carving out safe space in which the true potential of Occupy can flourish.