Tag Archives: Sacramento

His name was Stephon Clark, young father of two, and we failed him fatally

Image result for Stephon Clark

The rather opportunist Al Sharpton plans to attend the funeral of Stephon Clark (pictured above) in my city of Sacramento, California, on Thursday. Clark, the 22-year-old father of two, was shot to death by two Sacramento police officers on March 18 but had had only a smartphone in his hand. A little-discussed wrinkle in this racially charged incident, however, is that one of the two cops who shot Clark to death is black, as is Sacramento’s police chief.

As I’ve noted before, you have to take these cases of cops killing black men case by case. There is no one-size-fits-all narrative, as politically convenient and personally satisfying as such narratives may be.

For instance, Eric Garner, in my book, was murdered, choked to death by a thug posing as a police officer.

And Walter Scott by any reasonable person’s book was murdered, shot in the back as he ran away from a coward posing as a police officer.

Both black men were unarmed. Garner’s “crime” for which he was put to death by cop was illegally selling cigarettes on the street, and Scott’s was a broken brake light. The cop who murdered Garner remains free, while the cop who murdered Scott sits in prison (albeit he technically was found guilty of civil rights violations, not of murder).

Again, each case must be taken by itself. The Michael Brown case, for instance, spawned a movement that was based on some lies, probably especially the ubiquitous “[my] hands [are] up — don’t shoot!” meme.

The Barack Obama/Eric Holder U.S. Department of Justice’s own final report on the Michael Brown matter found that the physical evidence, including the autopsy of Brown, corroborated white cop Darren Wilson’s version of what had happened, which is that “gentle giant” Brown had not tried to surrender to him with his hands raised in the air, but instead had attacked him and tried to take his pistol from him.

The last page of the Obama/Holder DOJ report concludes:

… As discussed above, Darren Wilson has stated his intent in shooting Michael Brown was in response to a perceived deadly threat. The only possible basis for prosecuting Wilson under section 242 would therefore be if the government could prove that his account is not true – i.e., that Brown never assaulted Wilson at the SUV, never attempted to gain control of Wilson’s gun, and thereafter clearly surrendered in a way that no reasonable officer could have failed to perceive.

Given that Wilson’s account is corroborated by physical evidence and that his perception of a threat posed by Brown is corroborated by other eyewitnesses, to include aspects of the testimony of Witness 101, there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat.

Even if Wilson was mistaken in his interpretation of Brown’s conduct, the fact that others interpreted that conduct the same way as Wilson precludes a determination that he acted with a bad purpose to disobey the law. The same is true even if Wilson could be said to have acted with poor judgment in the manner in which he first interacted with Brown, or in pursuing Brown after the incident at the SUV.

These are matters of policy and procedure that do not rise to the level of a Constitutional violation and thus cannot support a criminal prosecution. Cf. Gardner v. Howard, 109 F.3d 427, 430–31 (8th Cir. 1997) (violation of internal policies and procedures does not in and of itself rise to violation of Constitution).

Because Wilson did not act with the requisite criminal intent, it cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt to a jury that he violated 18 U.S.C.§ 242 when he fired his weapon at Brown.

VI. Conclusion
For the reasons set forth above, this matter lacks prosecutive merit and should be closed.

Indeed, case closed. Legally, anyway, but the myth of Michael Brown lives on, because the myth still is politically useful and personally satisfying to so many.

Unfortunately, in the Brown case the black community rallied around the wrong case. If I had ever tried to take a cop’s gun away from him (or her), I wouldn’t expect to be sitting here typing this sentence — and I am a white male.

The Brown case unfortunately immediately was turned into an inherently-racist-and-murderous-white-cop-vs.-inherently-innocent-young-black-man-guilty-only-of-being-black myth. According to the DOJ report on the Brown case, bystanders had lied through their teeth about what they had witnessed — very apparently in order to perpetuate the lie that every time a white cop shoots a black male, it only can be rooted in racism (and not, say, in very immediate self-defense because the black male is trying to take your gun from you).

The recent shooting death here in Sacramento of 22-year-old black man Stephon Clark also has some wrinkles that aren’t convenient to the aforementioned narrative that (only) white cops shoot young black men willy-nilly: One of the two cops who are reported to have shot Clark to death is black (see here too), as is Sacramento’s police chief, Sacramento native Daniel Hahn.

Hahn has said that he suspects that Clark was the man reported to have been breaking the windows of vehicles in a Sacramento neighborhood on March 18 before he was confronted by two cops in his grandparents’ backyard and shot to death.

All that Clark had in his possession, however, was a smartphone, and from the police helicopter video of the shooting, I cannot see that it was necessary for Clark to be shot even once, much more 20 times.* (A police body-camera video of the shooting that also was released does not give any more insight than does the helicopter video, other than that the cops apparently were trigger-happy; I struggle to even see Clark in the body-cam video at all until a while after he has been shot and is on the ground.)

I am not an expert in the excusable use of police force, but in the videos I don’t see Clark raising anything in the direction of the police officers or otherwise appearing to pose an immediate threat to them; I only see him being shot many times, apparently even after he already has fallen to the ground.

In the police helicopter video, before he is shot by the two cops it certainly looks like Clark isn’t up to any good, but running from police, probably especially if you are a black man, isn’t in and of itself indicative that you are dangerous and/or criminal; it always could be that you’re simply scared of being shot 20 times.

And even if Clark is guilty of having committed property crimes, there are penalties for that — and those penalties don’t include summary execution.

And it’s probably fair to say that many if not most white (and many other non-white) people do need to learn that human life — all human life — is far more important than is fucking property.

All of that said, it largely to totally has been ignored in the local protests over Stephon Clark’s shooting death that one of the cops who shot him — and the city’s police chief — are black. And I have to suspect that that’s because those two pieces of information aren’t convenient to the narrative that it’s only ever white cops and white chiefs of police who unjustly shoot and who support the unjust shootings of black men.

Sacramento has had some localized protests since Clark’s death, but it’s not at all like the city has been shut down, and to my knowledge not one person even has been hospitalized because of the protests. So it’s not like Sacramento has been enveloped in a conflagration, and many more Sacramentans have been touched by the heavy local media coverage than those who actually have been touched by any of the localized protests.

And again, I have to wonder if that outcome might have been different — if the protests might even have turned deadly — if Sacramento’s police chief weren’t black and if one of the two cops who shot Clark weren’t black. Does the race of the actors, rather than the acts themselves, matter that much? I suspect that it does.

Nonetheless, we need to continue to have the discussion about race and policing, and we have to examine where racism and police culture overlap, because very apparently there is a police culture that all cops can get sucked into, regardless of their race, and very apparently part of that police culture is the underlying belief that black lives do not matter as much as do white (and other non-black) lives.

And unnecessary police shooting after unnecessary police shooting amply proves that we must develop — and require the use of — non-lethal ways of neutralizing those we suspect of having committed a crime and/or of being about to commit a crime.

And for fuck’s sake we must stop executing people on the spot for property crimes, and we must hold every human being’s life as sacred. And we must prosecute — really prosecute — cops who don’t value human life, just as we prosecute the criminals who don’t value human life.

If we learn nothing else from the case of Stephon Clark, we need to learn that much.

*Since almost everyone in the world but I carries a smartphone, it seems to me that cops now have complete immunity to mistake or “mistake” smartphones for hand-held weapons. That is something with which we must as a society grapple — and fix.

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I finally get to feel the Bern at a rally (and, Bernie takes his 19th state today)

Reuters photo

Capital Public Radio image

About 15,000 supporters of Bernie Sanders, yours truly included, gathered at a rally for him in Sacramento, California, last night, as seen in the photos above. (I’ve seen a crowd estimate of more than 20,000, but 15K is the official media estimate.) Sanders hopes to put California, the nation’s most populous and thus most delegate-rich state, into his win column when it votes on June 7. Below is how the map of the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary race looks now, with the addition of Bernie’s win of West Virginia today (Bernie’s wins are in green, and the states that have yet to vote are in gray):

File:Democratic Party presidential primaries results, 2016.svg

Wikipedia graphic

Last night I was really feeling the burn (in my lower extremities) as I waited in line, standing the entire time, for at least two full hours to see Bernie Sanders give a speech at the rally for him at a stadium here in Sacramento. It was the first time that I saw Bernie in person.

My friend and I arrived at the venue around 5:00 p.m., waited in a long, long line several people wide for a long, long time, finally got to sit down on the bleachers directly across from the stage, listened to some pre-Bernie remarks, including remarks by actor and activist Danny Glover, and then listened to Bernie speak from about 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and then waited in the parking lot for about an hour before we could get the car out.

It was much like a rock concert, and it was a long night.

It was something that I wouldn’t want to do all the time, but I’d do it again. Candidates like Bernie Sanders don’t come along very often — and do as well as he has done — and who knows when (or even if) I’ll have another chance to attend a mass rally for a truly progressive presidential candidate?

From where I sat Bernie looked like a white-haired insect, and the sound system could have been better, but it was great being among such a diverse, young, jazzed crowd, and I think that I went more for the ambiance of the crowd than for Bernie’s words, with which I’m already familiar.

Unlike we’ve seen at the Trump/KKK/neo-Nazi rallies, last night I saw not one act of violence or even a verbal altercation — seriously; I viewed nothing that wasn’t peaceful.

Yes, there were some senior citizens and some middle-agers, of course, but the average age probably was somewhere in the mid-20s (no more than in the early 30s, I’d say), all races were represented, there were a lot of womenfolk there (although there were, I do believe, statistically significantly more men than women, probably at least 55 percent men to 45 percent women), and it was great to see at least two gay couples who were not shy with their public displays of affection (methinks that you won’t see that at a Der Fuehrer Trump rally [no, ’phobe, the gay couples weren’t doing anything that you wouldn’t see a straight couple doing in public]).

There was the hippie-dippy element, of course, and the college student element, of course, but also the working-class and the professional class element, and overall, again, it was quite a diverse crowd of thousands, including a lot of children playing on the grass of the stadium’s field.

I won’t regurgitate Bernie’s speech, as he didn’t really say anything that he already hasn’t, but I will note that he promised to take the fight to the convention in Philadelphia in late July (which I fully support; it’s the Billarybots who despise democracy and meaningful civic engagement), and that with every mention by Bernie of “Trump,” the crowd loudly booed as though they were booing a Disney villain — we Berners do not like Donald Trump, and he does not stand to get our vote in November — and the crowd also booed, quite appropriately, and, I thought, hilariously, every time that Bernie mentioned “Secretary Clinton,” who, if Trump is Scar (“The Lion King’s” Scar is a usurping fascist, so that’s an apt comparison), at least is on the level of Cruella de Vil (you know, stealing delegates instead of Dalmatian puppies…).

In his speech last night Bernie probably understated how steep is the hill that he still climbs, with Billary still leading him by almost 300 pledged delegates, but I and millions of others of his supporters admire that he is running the entire course of the presidential primary race and is not quitting because his opponent is ahead, and that he still is bringing the limelight to the progressive cause that long has been abandoned by the Clintonian “Democrats” (whose members of course include our Caretaker in Chief, President Hopey-Changey).

Later in his presidential campaign Bernie adopted the slogan “A future to believe in,” and indeed, we Berners are looking to the future, and for us it’s not a cult of personality (if you can call that thing that Trump possesses a “personality”) or all about winning one presidential election, but is about the long-term advancement of progressivism.

And we are advancing. Indeed, Bernie’s win in West Virginia today (by double digits in the reporting thus far) brings his total to 19 states won — again, impressive for a “fringe” candidate. (I wondered last night why Bernie was in Sacramento with West Virginia voting today, but he apparently had figured that he was safe in West Virginia and wanted to work toward winning California.)

I felt the burn last night to feel the Bern because U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders sure feels like an historic and a transformational candidate, not like a run-of-the-mill candidate. Indeed, the self-proclaimed (little-“d”) democratic socialist has won 45 percent of the pledged delegates thus far in the Democratic Party primary race — and as we watch end-stage capitalism continue to crash and burn, apparently democratic socialism already is rising from the ashes.

P.S. If you are a resident of California, you may register (or re-register) to vote in the June 7 primary election no later than on Monday, May 23. You do not have to have lived in California for any specified length of time to register to vote in California; you need only have made California your home to be able to vote in the state. The state’s pretty-easy-to-use online voter registration (and re-registration) website is here.

Note that in order to cast a vote for Bernie on June 7, you must be registered as a Democrat or as what is called a “no party preference” voter. (“No party preference” often is called “independent,” but note that the American Independent Party in California is an actual third party and therefore registering with it does not make you an “independent.” Those registered under the American Independent Party may not vote for Bernie on June 7!)

To change your party affiliation, if you need to, you must re-register (again, no later than on May 23).

In California you must be registered at your current residence, so be sure to re-register (you can do so at the link above) if you have moved but have yet to register to vote at your new address. Even if you have moved just across the street or next door or even to a different apartment within the same complex, you need to re-register.

And don’t assume that the state Department of Motor Vehicles or the U.S. Postal Service automatically updated your voter registration for you — in order to be safe and not sorry on Election Day, always complete a free-standing voter registration (or re-registration) process on your own!

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Privacy rights sacked for one old racist’s scalp

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano

Associated Press photo

In this late 2010 photo, Donald Sterling and his former mistress, V. Stiviano, watch Sterling’s team, the Los Angeles Clippers, play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA pre-season basketball game. Apparently, in a vengeful move, Stiviano released illegally recorded racist comments made by Sterling, and a nation that no longer is bothered by blatant violations of privacy has mostly overlooked this element to the scandal, which I find chilling. 

Soon-to-be-former Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling strikes me as a racist asshole. Probably the best thing that we can say about him is that he has far many more days on this planet behind him than he has ahead of him. So let’s agree on that, since that may be all that we can agree on in this post.

The thing is that I have a real problem with the way that Sterling has been publicly tarred and feathered. How you do something, and how something comes about, do matter.

First of all, I agree wholeheartedly with fellow leftist Ted Rall that Sterling’s privacy rights very apparently were violated. As Rall notes in a column he recently wrote for aNewDomain.net (the links are Rall’s):

… Yet there’s a major part of the Sterling story that American journalists aren’t covering. One that’s just as important as the reminder that racism is still thriving in the executive suite — a suite whose profits derive mostly from African-American players, and whose boss has a half-black, half-Mexican girlfriend, no less.

What about Sterling’s privacy rights?

They tell us privacy is dead. Online, between the NSA and the public’s failure to take to the streets to bitch about the NSA, privacy is probably finished.

But what about a private phone call?

V. Stiviano, Sterling’s 31-year-old former mistress, appears to have surreptitiously recorded the call, baiting him into making disgusting remarks for the record and releasing it to the media, including the gossip sites TMZ and Deadspin, in retaliation for a $1.8 million lawsuit filed last week by Sterling’s wife. Mrs. Sterling is seeking the return of an apartment, cash and several cars — communal marital property under California law — that Sterling gave Stiviano.

Contextually, this is more gossip than journalism, closer to the ranting Alec Baldwin voice mail to his daughter tacklessly released by ex-wife Kim Basinger, than anything like WikiLeaks. We aren’t supposed to know about this. [I mostly agree with this, but when you leave a voice mail, you know that you are being recorded, and so that is a critical difference from being recorded without your knowledge or consent.]

What’s being ignored amid a firestorm of controversy so out of control that even the president of the United States felt compelled to weigh in on this matter so beneath the dignity of his office is this: Sterling’s privacy rights have been violated, both legally and morally.

Which is not good for him. Much more importantly, it’s terrible for us. …

I will add that in criminal law, there is the concept of the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” This means that evidence against a person that is obtained illegally — such as by violating one’s constitutional right to privacy — may not be introduced into the courtroom. If you did not obtain the incriminating evidence legally — constitutionally — you may not use it against the individual.

Further, as Rall goes on to note in his column:

… First, the legal issue: California, where this call almost certainly took place, requires the consent of both parties in order to record a phone conversation. Stiviano risks a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. (There doesn’t appear to be a penalty for making the recording public. California’s state assembly should consider one.) …

I, for one, hope that a district attorney prosecutes Sterling for her criminal act (although I doubt that that will happen, because of the race-charged politics of this matter), and I hope that Sterling sues Stiviano in civil court for having violated his right to privacy. (Um, he certainly can prove that he has sustained damages…)

I make this stance not to support a racist, as the race hustlers will accuse me (and there are so-called race hustlers of every race), but I make this stance to support the principle that a blatant violation of another’s constitutional right to privacy — such as recording him or her during a phone call and then publicizing the surreptitious recording of that phone call — should be punished. If it isn’t punished, then it means that privacy, and the law, mean nothing. (I know…)

Many certainly want to make an example of Sterling where racism is concerned — more on this shortly — and these same people, if they truly support our constitutional rights, which even blatant racists possess (just as they possess free-speech rights), should be fine with the privacy-rights-violating Stiviano’s being made an example of also.

Rall continues:

… Then there’s the moral question.

I have no beef with TMZ. When reporters find news, it is their duty to report it no matter where it comes from or who, it hurts. I’m a purist on this point: I don’t think WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden had any moral duty to protect intelligence secrets, not even the identities of spies, when they released classified U.S. government documents.

My problem is that nobody else seems to have a problem with recording private conversations and releasing them to the media.

As we learned from The People vs. Larry Flynt, society must defend its worst scumbags from having his rights violated, or everyone else risks losing theirs too. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where every stupid thing I blather over the phone is potential fodder for public comment, Twitter wars and cause for dismissal from work.

Until we descend into the Stasi-like “Lives of Others” dystopia into which the NSA seems determined to transform the Land of the Formerly Free, everyone — including racist douchebags like Donald Sterling — ought to enjoy a reasonable presumption of privacy on the telephone. …

Yup.

And how about some due process? It was unseemly to have even the president of the United States calling for Sterling’s scalp before it was even concluded whether or not it was Sterling’s voice on the illegal recording. (Like most others, at this point I more or less am taking Sterling’s non-denial as fairly solid confirmation that it was indeed his voice that illegally was recorded, but at this point, if we value the truth, we will admit that we still have no actual evidence that it was indeed Sterling’s voice. [If Sterling has confessed, then OK, I stand pretty corrected, but I haven’t seen news of such a confession yet, if there is such news.])

And of course the mayor of my city (Sacrament0), former NBA player Kevin Johnson, had to insert himself into the whole Sterling mess, publicly declaring today, “I hope every bigot in this country saw what happened to Mr. Sterling.”

Johnson reportedly has been “a leading spokesman for NBA players during the Sterling controversy.”

I don’t know — the mayor of my city making such a threatening statement strikes me as thuggery. That’s a loaded word, thuggery, I know, but does Johnson’s public proclamation — his public threat exactly foster reconciliation among the races? Or does it only deepen racial divisions? Was Johnson, with his public statement — his thinly veiled threat — utilizing love or fear?

It was unseemly and unstatesmanlike, methinks, for Johnson to wave Sterling’s scalp in his hand as he did, and I can tell you, having lived in Sacramento during Johnson’s tenure as mayor (he’s now in his second term), that Johnson has done little for the city (California’s capital) outside of his personal interests.

Johnson apparently cares only about basketball (he recently was quite instrumental in denying us Sacramentans the ability to vote on whether or not there should be public funding for a new basketball arena that has been shoved down our throats by Johnson & Co.) and the ambitions of his wife, the infamous Michelle Rhee, to destroy teachers’ unions and turn our public schools into for-profit schools.

(And perhaps you should know that contributing to my use of the term “thuggery” above is the fact that from Day One, Johnson has pushed his so-called “strong-mayor” initiative, a rewrite of city governance that would greatly increase his power and decrease the power of the city council. Johnson has been pushing for this right since he took office. Kevin Johnson always has been, and always will be, all about Kevin Johnson and more pure, raw, political power for Kevin Johnson. He’s yet another example of why former jocks almost never should be handed the reins of power.)

I suppose that I digressed there (but I view Johnson as corrupt and dangerous as he is ambitious, and so I believe in educating people about what he’s really all about), but I come back now to the concept of the fruit of the poisoned tree: If it was even legal to do so, was it fair for Donald Sterling to have been punished as harshly as he was* for something that he said during a phone conversation that he had thought was private but that illegally was recorded by the other party, apparently for revenge? (Why else would you record a phone conversation, in whole or in part, except to use the recording later, such as by releasing it to other parties or by threatening to release it to other parties?)

I highly doubt that not one of the many black (and other non-white) Americans (prominent and non-prominent) who have publicly (and privately) slammed Donald Sterling for his racism never has uttered anti-white sentiment (and/or other racist sentiment) in a private communication with another individual.

How would any of them like it if a recording of them engaging in such talk in private were made public?

In the Sterling affair I just don’t see a national quest for justice and for racial reconciliation. I see Sterling as the stand-in for all old white bigots. Indeed, the size of his punishment indicates that Sterling is being punished not only for his own crimes, but for those of many, many others. (Indeed, Kevin Johnson directly proclaimed today, in his characteristically self-serving grandstanding, that he publicly was waving Sterling’s scalp as an example to “every bigot in this country.”)

That’s not fair, and making a scapegoat of Sterling — while ignoring the fact that his constitutional right to privacy blatantly was violated — won’t improve race relations in the United States of America. Indeed, it might make them worse.

Racism is institutionalized, is deeply ingrained, within the United States of America, and the racial hatreds in the United States are not only one way, whites hating blacks, but also run the other way, blacks hating whites, and of course the other races also engage in race-based hatred, and so we have many possible permutations of raced-based hatred in the U.S., and there is no quick or easy fix to this ugliness.

Electing a black president (twice) sure hasn’t helped very much — as Tavis Smiley remarked in October, “The data is going to indicate, sadly, that when the Obama administration is over, black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator category” — and neither will punishing one old white bigot by dangling him in the public square for all to see and revile.

P.S. I listened to the clip of Kevin Johnson again, and the fuller, more accurate quote is: “I hope every bigot in this country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling and recognizes that if he can fall, so can you.”

Wow. Is that really the tone that we want to set for interracial reconciliation? And what does this mean, exactly? That from now on all of us can expect to have our phone conversations recorded, because all is fair in interracial warfare?

*Yes, it seems to me that imposing upon Sterling the maximum allowable $2.5 million fine, banning him from the NBA for life, and forcing him to sell his team for something that he said in an illegally recorded phone conversation probably is too harsh a punishment for the crime, a crime that he could not even be criminally tried for, since the evidence against him was obtained illegally and unconstitutionally.

It seems to me that we’re no better than Sterling if we celebrate his downfall, which has been orchestrated so underhandedly, and that when one person’s privacy so casually can be violated, then none of us has any privacy.

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Anarchists attack white supremacists. Hell, yeah!

Updated below (on February 29, 2012)

CHP officers hurt by Occupy protestors

Sacramento Bee/sacbee.com photo

Members of the apparent white supremacist group “South Africa Project” arrive at the California State Capitol today. The group very apparently is using real and/or fabricated killings of whites by blacks in South Africa as a cover to push a white supremacist agenda. The sign with the apparently PhotoShopped image of the injured little white girl reads, “Genocide cannot be justified” — something that is awfully interesting to hear a group of white people proclaim. But today, it’s white people who are the victims, you see.

I work near the California State Capitol building here in Sacramento, and I noticed during my lunch break today that there was a decent-sized group of people demonstrating on the Capitol grounds. This is common at the Capitol; protests, demonstrations and gatherings there are so common there that they’re easy to ignore. California is, after all, the nation’s most populous state and there are a million causes and issues, and throngs of people often travel to the Capitol for their causes.

A co-worker of mine told me as I was returning from my lunch break that members of the Occupy movement were protesting some white supremacists at the Capitol. I should go check it out, he said. My lunch break was over, so I couldn’t, but all the same, where there are white supremacists gathered it’s probably volatile and therefore your safety might be put in jeopardy, so even if I’d had the time to check it out, there is a good chance that I wouldn’t have.

But I read the headlines afterward.

Reportedly, some members of the Occupy movement threw bottles and other objects at the white supremacists as the white supremacists were leaving the Capitol grounds. (Unfortunately, I missed all of this.) Reports The Associated Press today (text in bold is my own emphasis):

Sacramento, Calif. — At least two law enforcement officers were injured [today] during a clash with members of the Occupy movement who were at the state Capitol to counter a rally by a group protesting violence by blacks against whites in South Africa.

The clash erupted in the afternoon as California Highway Patrol and Sacramento police officers were escorting about 35 members of the South Africa Project to a parking garage after their protest outside the Capitol building.

About 50 members of Occupy Oakland began throwing cans and bottles at the South Africa group and at the officers. The Occupy members then clashed with the officers as people with the pro-whites group hurried into the parking garage.

“It was the activists across the street engaging the officers,” said CHP officer Sean Kennedy.

Two officers suffered minor injuries and were taken to a hospital. CHP Capt. Andy Menard said one officer who was struck in the face by an object was released from the hospital. The second officer was getting X-rays after apprehending a person suspected of throwing objects, Menard said.

Kennedy said the officer who was struck by an object was showing signs of possibly being affected by some type of chemical or pepper spray.

The CHP arrested three members of the Occupy group on suspicion of disobeying an officer.

The violence abated after a large contingent of law enforcement arrived at the scene, about a block from the Capitol.

The clash followed a tense afternoon during which peace officers kept the two groups separated outside the Capitol.

Members of the South Africa Project were trying to draw attention to what they said is black-on-white violence in that country. Organizers said similar demonstrations were planned in other states and elsewhere in California.

The group was mostly male and white, some with shaved heads and prominent tattoos.

Many of the Occupy protesters, some wearing hoods or masks, said they came from the San Francisco Bay area to counter what they called a racist group affiliated with former Louisiana Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Occupy protesters had been cursing at the South Africa Project rally and at officers keeping the two sides apart.

Ryan Stark, 26, who said he is part of Occupy Sacramento, said he joined the protesters challenging the South Africa Project protesters because there needed to be a showdown.

“I didn’t throw anything … but these sorts of demonstrations need to happen,” he said, referring to the counter protest. “They do have the right to say what they want, but we’re not going to let it fly.” …

“South Africa Project” apparently is new. There is no entry for it in Wikipedia, and Wikipedia has an entry for fucking everything. However, the group’s shitty website gives me the impression that the group indeed is a white supremacist group that is using the real and/or fabricated killings of white South Africans by black South Africans (because white South Africans never have killed or otherwise oppressed any black South Africans) not only as a cover for pushing white supremacism, but as a tactic to stir up hatred — and probably violence — against blacks by whites here in the United States.

And The Associated Press’ description of the “South Africa Project’s” demonstrators — “mostly male and white, some with shaved heads and prominent tattoos.” Hmmm. Does that sound like anyone we already know and love?

(Hey, if you think I’m being inaccurate or unfair, look at the group’s own pictures of its little dog and pony show at the California State Capitol today on its own bad website and then draw your own conclusions.)

That is not free speech, the incitement of race-based violence, even if such incitement is communicated in code (as the white supremacists, including Repugnican Tea Party presidential contenders, like to communicate these days).

Therefore, in my book, white supremacists who are trying to spread their disease of race-based hatred in public don’t deserve personal protection in public.

The cops who got mildly hurt today got hurt because they were protecting, shielding — dare I say, thus even aiding and abetting — the white supremacist scumbags. (And if the cops now are being pepper-sprayed back, as the AP news story seems to suggest, well, maybe that’s what you call karma…)

Also, let’s be clear: The description of the Occupy/“Occupy” protesters who threw the objects — “some wearing hoods or masks” — sounds to me like a description of anarchists, who are a group that is distinct from the Occupy movement, and a group that pre-dates the Occupy movement by years.

Hey, if you don’t trust me, here is photographic evidence of the Occupy/“Occupy” protesters who counter-protested the white supremacists at the Capitol State Capitol today:

CHP officers hurt by Occupy protestors

Sacramento Bee/sacbee.com photo

“WHITE POWER IS HORSE SHIT.” I love that sign. Anyway, with the exception of a few, including Captain America, which is a hoot (really — I think that someone wore that costume to counter-protest white supremacists is pretty fucking funny), those “Occupy” protesters are wearing black and they have their faces covered, which is the garb of the typical anarchist — and not the garb of the typical Occupy protester.

Anarchists often infiltrate left-leaning gatherings and raise hell. That’s their thing; peaceful protests that don’t change anyfuckingthing because they don’t threaten the status quo are not the anarchists’ cup of tea.

I can’t say that I blame them for not demonstrating “nicely,” in a way that does not offend the powers that be — and thus in a way that is utterly ineffectual. We claim that we have free speech in the United States, but such “free” speech in reality often if not usually means only speech that cannot jolt the status quo. And the status quo sure the fuck needs jolting.

I have nothing against the anarchists. Anyone who goes after white supremacists who dare to spew forth their filth in the public square is fine with me, and the imagery of a bunch of supposedly bad-ass white supremacists fleeing from a mob of Occupy/“Occupy” protesters (most if not all of them actually anarchists) — the way that blacks have had to flee from mobs of white supremacists — is gratifyingly amusing.

And who knows? When/if the shit really hits the fan, I might join the anarchists’ ranks. (Black is slimming anyway…)

But, for the time being, it’s unfair and inaccurate that the corporately owned and controlled mainstream media continue to refer to fairly obvious anarchists as members of the Occupy movement when, in fact, these anarchists might not claim the Occupy movement and/or the Occupy movement might not claim them.

Your typical member of the Occupy movement does not pelt plutocrats or white supremacists or their witting or unwitting protectors, cops (many of whom are white supremacist themselves, or who at least protect and serve the white power structure), with objects.

Not yet, anyway.

P.S. Does any of this remind anyone of the American Civil War? Is this what we are headed toward — a rematch of the Civil War? Might we be presented with the opportunity to crush the white supremacists once and for all?

Update (February 29, 2012): “South Africa Project’s” home page has been updated since I first wrote about it. Now, there is a video that prominently features notorious white supremacist David Duke on the hate group’s home page. (I guess that they’re not bothering to pretend anymore.) The hate group’s home page also now features an image of a little white girl praying, accompanied by this text: “Dear Lord, please protect my big brother and my daddy and my uncles and my oupa [grandfather?] from those savages that are raping and murdering us.”

Wingnuts, not known for their subtlety, are fine with exploiting children to try to advance their ignorance and hatred — this little girl never asked to be exploited like this, and could not agree to such use of her image, since she is too young to consent, is too young to understand racism and white supremacism, but is at the total mercy of adults — and it strikes me that a child in the Middle East certainly might pray to God that the killings and maimings and other violent abuses and the wrongful incarcerations of their family members by white occupiers comes to an end. (Ditto for Palestinian children…)

At any rate, after Apartheid* in South Africa, I just can’t feel sorry for the white people there. Anything that might be happening there now that disfavors whites probably would be what you call karma, and karma is always just.

*Wikipedia notes of Apartheid:

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced by the National Party governments of South Africa between 1948 and 1994, under which the rights of the majority non-white inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy and Afrikaner minority rule was maintained. Apartheid was developed after World War II by the Afrikaner-dominated National Party and Broederbond organizations and was practiced also in South West Africa, which was administered by South Africa under a League of Nations mandate (revoked in 1966), until it gained independence as Namibia in 1990.

Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times. However, apartheid as an official policy was introduced following the general election of 1948. New legislation classified inhabitants into four racial groups (“native”, “white”, “coloured“, and “Asian”), and residential areas were segregated, sometimes by means of forced removals. Non-white political representation was completely abolished in 1970, and starting in that year black people were deprived of their citizenship, legally becoming citizens of one of ten tribally based self-governing homelands called bantustans, four of which became nominally independent states. The government segregated education, medical care, beaches, and other public services, and provided black people with services inferior to those of white people.

Apartheid sparked significant internal resistance and violence as well as a long trade embargo against South Africa. Since the 1950s, a series of popular uprisings and protests were met with the banning of opposition and imprisoning of anti-apartheid leaders. As unrest spread and became more violent, state organisations responded with increasing repression and state-sponsored violence.

Reforms to apartheid in the 1980s failed to quell the mounting opposition, and in 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid, culminating in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, which were won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela. The vestiges of apartheid still shape South African politics and society.

So: According to the hate group “South Africa Project,” we are to feel sorry for whites in South Africa today, despite their long history of depriving black South Africans of their equal human and civil rights, based upon their race. We’re to cry in our beer for these white supremacists. We are to focus on their more recent woes and totally ignore the crimes against humanity that they perpetrated upon others over a very long period of time.

Again, one word comes to mind:

Karma.

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Stormtroopers gone wild! Part 3!!!

Jesus fuck. First, on Tuesday, a tiny 84-year-old woman was among non-threatening individuals pepper-sprayed by the pigs in Seattle:

Seattle Police officers deploy pepper spray into a crowd during an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Westlake Park in Seattle. Protesters gathered in the intersection of 5th Avenue and Pine Street after marching from their camp at Seattle Central Community College in support of Occupy Wall Street. Many refused to move from the intersection after being ordered by police. Police then began spraying pepper spray into the gathered crowd hitting dozens of people. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo)  MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; TV OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Seattle activist Dorli Rainey, 84, reacts after being hit with pepper spray during an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Westlake Park in Seattle. Protesters gathered in the intersection of 5th Avenue and Pine Street after marching from their camp at Seattle Central Community College in support of Occupy Wall Street. Many refused to move from the intersection after being ordered by police. Police then began spraying pepper spray into the gathered crowd hitting dozens of people. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo)  MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; TV OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Associated Press photos

Then, on Thursday, a tiny 20-year-old woman, who also is non-threatening, was blasted with pepper spray by the pigs in Portland, Oregon:

A police officer uses pepper spray on an Occupy Portland protestor at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland Ore., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Randy L. Rasmussen)

Associated Press photo

Now, closer to home, a pig at the University of California at Davis, which is near my home base of Sacramento, has created the latest viral video. Yesterday the pot-bellied pig casually pepper-sprayed a group of young protesters who were doing nothing but sitting on the ground and refusing to move. Here is a screen grab —

In this image made from video, a police officer uses pepper spray as he walks down a line of Occupy demonstrators sitting on the ground at the University of California, Davis on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. The video - posted on YouTube - was shot Friday as police moved in on more than a dozen tents erected on campus and arrested 10 people, nine of them students. (AP Photo/Thomas K. Fowler)

Associated Press image

— and you can watch the video here.

The Sacramento Bee reports that UC Davis’ chancellor has called for a review of the pepper-spraying, but I’m thinking that what really needs to happen is that the cop who did it needs to have his motherfucking fascistic ass kicked. Hopefully, his personal safety is now at stake. He does not deserve personal security.

Our violent pushback against the 1 percent’s routine violence against the 99 percent of us probably will have to begin with their thugs, who are just as treasonous as are the 1 percent, although there’s no reason that we can’t also go directly after the treasonous 1 percent themselves.

It’s time to roll out the guillotines and make some heads roll.

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Notes on the nationwide occupations

Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrators hold placards Zuccotti Park

An Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrator stands in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in New York

An Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrator holds a sign in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in New York

Reuters photos

These are my kind of people: The powers that be won’t admit it, but prolonged anti-plutocratic protests in our nation’s cities like these (the photos above were taken today in New York City) embarrass our nation’s plutocrats in the eyes of the world. That is why sustained protests are effective, although an all-out second American revolution would be the ideal.

I have yet to get my ass down to Sacramento’s Occupy Wall Street effort, Occupy Sacramento, but I support the participants and the protesters 100 percent, and I hope soon to support them more than just in spirit, but to support them practically. They don’t appear to be going away soon — they even have a website with a calendar of events — and their website has listed things that they need to have donated to them, including the basics, such as food, water and toiletries. I can do that much, if I can’t join them for long periods of time, since I work full time.

As Ted Rall points out in his book The Anti-American Manifesto, there are levels of support of revolutionaries. Even if you are able to support the participants of the Occupy Wall Street movement only in spirit, that’s still much better than opposing them.*

Many of us, I think, myself included, have been watching and waiting to see how all of this is going to pan out, and thus far it seems that it’s panning out to be the true people’s movement that the “tea party” traitors only pretended to be.

And I say that from direct observation. In February, at the California State Capitol here in Sacramento, I attended a pro-labor, pro-working-class rally in solidarity with the public-sector unions that were (and that remain) under attack in Wisconsin, and across the street from us was a much-smaller contingent of uninvited, treasonous “tea party” counterprotesters, many of them with videocameras, obnoxiously voicing their opposition to labor unions, very apparently wanting to provoke a physical response from us so that they then could post to the Internet their selectively edited video clips of “unprovoked” labor-union “thuggery.” (I wrote about the event here.)

The vision of those of us who are pro-labor and pro-working-class is that everyone should have a living wage, good benefits and good working conditions. The apparent “vision” of the “tea party” traitors is that almost everyone should be without these things and should be miserable. Those of us who are pro-labor and pro-working-class want to raise all boats; the “tea party” traitors don’t want us to own even viable boats. They want only a handful of us to own yachts while the rest of us sink or swim.

Labor unions, seriously weakened over the past several decades already, probably are the last barrier between bad and even worse, the last barrier — short of all-out bloody revolution — preventing all of us from becoming serfs to our corporate feudal overlords.

Yet the “tea party” traitors gladly would destroy that barrier. They claim that they follow in the footsteps of the early American revolutionaries who opposed the oppressive British monarchy, which profited obscenely from the early Americans’ labors, yet today’s “tea party” traitors do not oppose, but aid and abet, the oppressive corporatocrats and plutocrats, who are today’s monarchs, as stupidly as chickens aiding and abetting Colonel Sanders. Which is why I call them traitors: because they are. They support the status quo, they support the powers that be over their fellow Americans. Under their “vision” things only can get much, much worse.

Which is why the “tea party” already is pretty much dead: The insanity of “revolutionaries” fighting on behalf of our corporate oppressors is evident to even the dullest among us.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, on the other hand, feels like something else. It’s not a bunch of treasonous troglodytes in tri-corner hats pretending to have the monopoly on patriotism and Americanism. It’s a bunch of normal, working-class Americans, many if not most of whom now have nothing else to lose. At rope’s end, they now find themselves out in the streets.

Our young people especially have nothing to look forward to unless the current system of inequity, built up over decades (starting, most notably, with Ronald Reagan, whom President Hopey-Changey fucking worships, unsurprisingly) to benefit a select few at the expense of the vast majority of the rest of us,  is not reformed/“reformed,” but is replaced.

And people who have nothing to lose are, let me tell you, dangerous to the status quo.

That, I think, is why the “tea party” traitors never felt like much more than a national irritant: the “tea party” traitors, for the most part, aren’t desperate people, aren’t people with nothing else to lose. They’re just a bunch of tools who are trying to prop up the crumbling system of rule by the stupid white man, who incredibly stupidly believe that the way to improve things is to continue to do what you’ve been doing all along — only with even more force and fervor.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, however, feels like an incipient hurricane, one that, if it grows to its full potential, can — will — alter the national sociopolitical landscape forever.

The Occupy Wall Street movement might seem to have come out of nowhere, but that’s not the case. While we Americans have been focused on differences such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, ethnicity, etc., what almost all of us (indeed, 99 percent of us, the protesters say) have in common is that over at least the past several decades, those in power, gradually and behind the scenes, have been stacking the deck increasingly in their favor and against ours.

To name just a few of their deck-stacking victories, they have the U.S. Supreme Court, which has deemed corporations to be people, on their side; they have most of the members of the U.S. Congress in their pockets in a system in which paying off legislators isn’t called what it is — bribery — but is called “campaign finance”; they own and operate even President Hopey-Changey, who can’t make enough of them his economic advisers; and because of all of this, the functions of our nation’s laws and our nation’s law enforcement (and our nation’s military, too, of course), over decades, have been grossly contorted from benefitting and protecting us, the people, to delivering even more of our commonwealth into the hands of the super-rich few.

It’s much like how a virus hijacks a cell and changes the cell’s normal functions over to the replication of more viruses, benefiting the virus but eventually destroying the cell.

And our presidential elections under the political duopoly of the increasingly indistinguishable Coke Party and Pepsi Party have become such a fucking national joke to the point that about the only people who can become excited about them are the rich and the super-rich who have poured their millions and millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of the money-whores who, once in the White House, would sell us out the most.

Again, this isn’t a system that you can “reform.” This is a system that you can only raze. And then you start over again.

Anyway, here are more thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which at this point we can call a movement:

It’s fine that everything isn’t hammered out yet. Probably the No. 1 way to try to kill an individual’s or a group of individuals’ enthusiasm for creating something new — and thus to preserve the status quo, even though the status quo even literally is killing all of us — is to point out that he or she or the group doesn’t have every future move choreographed yet.

So fucking what? Getting there is more than half of the fun, and things do happen organically, if we just let them unfold and don’t panic that we don’t have a clear roadmap yet.

The early American revolutionaries surely didn’t have everything all mapped out, and to a huge degree their efforts were a shot in the dark (sometimes even literally). Yet it was their hunger for freedom from their oppression that kept them going, even against the fear of not knowing what the future would hold for them, including potential retaliation from their oppressors, including even their execution.

It’s perfectly OK to employ corporately produced and delivered goods and services in our fight against corporate oppression. In fact, it’s not just OK, it’s pretty unfuckingavoidable. Early into the Occupy Wall Street movement, the “tea party” traitors and/or their sympathizers put this “clever”  image out there:

down with evil corporations

Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s so fucking funny!

OK, yes, in a capitalistic system such as ours, by definition corporations/capitalists own and control the means of production. Therefore, most of the products and services in such an economic system would have been produced and delivered by corporations/capitalists. Duh.

But this is the problem: Those relative few who own and control the means of the production of goods and the delivery of services are slowly killing the rest of us (global warming is just one example, but probably the most [literally] glaring one), and they have taken over so much of the people’s business and so many of the people’s natural interests that it has left us, the people, fairly powerless, and has put us at their mercy. (The massive British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, on the sidelines of which the U.S. government sat fucking helpless, is a stark example of this.)

We, the people, need to own and control the means of the production of essential goods and the delivery of vital services and/or, at the very, very least, exercise meaningful, substantial, democratic oversight of capitalist production and practices to ensure that the net effect of this capitalist activity is not to our common detriment, but is to our common benefit. It’s a fucking lie that the corporations are going to police themselves. They’re not. Their only concern is ever-increasing profiteering. They don’t give a flying fuck about what happens to the rest of us as the result of that.

But the “humorous” image above does apparently unintentionally illustrate the degree to which corporations have infiltrated our lives. Of course, the image apparently assumes that corporations (the majority of them, anyway) are benevolent and that the Occupy Wall Street protesters just don’t know how great they have it. In order to try to prevent the slaves from revolting, the masters always tell the slaves how much the slaves need them, don’t they?

Anyway, it’s perfectly fine — and, as I said, fairly unfuckingavoidable — to use the goods and services produced or delivered by corporations in the fight against against corporate greed, in our fight against the ongoing corporate feudalization of the United States of America. This isn’t “Avatar” where we’re the natives and we can use only what we find in nature, for fuck’s sake. (Besides, if we did that, they’d only criticize us for our bongos and for our loincloths…)

Speaking of which, um, what’s wrong with bongo drums? Anyone who doesn’t mimic the consumeristic clones portrayed in corporate advertising isn’t a human being worthy of dignity and respect? It seems to me that the point of a revolution is freedom — which of course includes the freedom to be the way that one wants to be and the freedom to do what what wants to do as long as he or she isn’t harming anyone else.

The system won’t be changed from within, won’t be changed by cooperating with it. (Try to cooperate with it, and it will only co-opt you.) The protesters should keep their bongos and wholeheartedly reject the idea that the way to win this budding revolution is to don a three-piece-fucking-suit and act just like the assholes whom they want to overthrow.

The corporate media prostitutes who with straight faces call themselves “reporters” and “journalists” are owned and controlled by their corporate pimps, so it’s not like they’re ever going to be on our side anyway. Let them find the colorful members of Code Pink and the one person in the crowd who brought his or her bongo drums and put that kind of stereotypically negative image out there. (I love Code Pink, by the way. The members of Code Pink have balls, which is why they are so widely hated by cowardly, corporation-obeying sheeple.) Once the people’s revolution were complete, there would be no more treasonous corporate media anyway — which is why the self-preserving, self-interested corporate media portray in a negative light anything that threatens their continued parasitical existence.

The use of violence should never be taken off of the table. “Peaceful” this, “nonviolent” that — that kind of wussy talk makes me want to vomit. When did the so-called 1 percent ever rule out the use of violence against the rest of us? Indeed, when they’re not using actual violence against us, such as with police brutality or even just threatening to sic the National Guard on us, they are employing socioeconomic violence against us every fucking day (yes, Americans die every day because they do not have access to adequate health care, shelter, food, clothing and other basic necessities, almost all of which are controlled by our loving corporations).

Of course I don’t advocate wanton, willy-nilly violence in the street that is for the amusement of the perpetrators rather than for the greater cause. But I can think of no major world revolutions that did not take place without at least the credible threat of violence. The treasonous plutocrats aren’t just going to give us back what they stole from us over decades because we nicely ask them to do so. (Ted Rall and I are in agreement on this, and if you haven’t read his Anti-American Manifesto yet, you should — and you can get it for less than $10 on amazon.com [which, yes, is a corporation that for now is an/the avenue for most of us to most cheaply purchase books].)

Speaking of violence, whose side are the cops on? Increasing incidents of police brutality raise this question. (Didn’t the actions of the cops during Hurricane Katrina demonstrate to us whose side they are on?) Let’s fucking face it: Most cops are just paid security guards for the rich and the super-rich. And to add insult to injury, we, the people, pay the salaries of these security guards who work not for us, but who work for the rich and the super-rich.

Let me just say this: When the shit really hits the fan, those cops (and yes, members of the military, too) who still are trying to protect our oppressors instead of protecting us will be identified by the masses for who they are: agents of the oppressors. The cops might have some weaponry and some skill in using it, but we, the people, can get weapons, too, and we vastly outnumber the cops.

(I fully support the Second Amendment, because you never know when/if you will need to defend yourself, but I believe in the judicious use of firearms and other methods of force. I’m not one of the ignorant, fearful gun nuts who believes that the best way to solve virtually every conflict or threat or to get what you want is with a gun, but at the other extreme, “judicious” doesn’t mean that you rule out the use of force in every single conceivable situation, and thus a belief in blanket nonviolence is bullshit.)

Buckle up! Any budding revolution could fizzle, I suppose, but the Occupy Wall Street movement seems different. It seems like it’s here to stay for at least the foreseeable future.

Minimally, the Occupy Wall Street movement seems to be striking fear into the cold hearts of those sellouts who call themselves “Democrats” and “liberals” who had thought that they could shit and piss upon their base indefinitely. Maximally, the Occupy Wall Street movement will result in the second American revolution that we have needed for a long, long time — a revolution that will be only as bloody as the treasonous plutocrats and their supporters (who include the “tea party” traitors and those cops and members of the military who attack the American people in defense of the plutocratic traitors) necessitate.

Those sellouts who call themselves “Democrats” and even “liberals” don’t dare openly criticize the Occupy Wall Street movement, since the Occupy Wall Street movement consists of the millions and millions of us who are pretty fucking pissed off that we were promised “hope” and “change” but have seen only the gap between the rich and the poor widen since President Hopey-Changey took office in January 2009.

Wall-Street-weasel-coddler-in-chief Barack Obama has not a shred of credibility left, so I don’t see Team Obama successfully co-opting the Occupy Wall Street movement for Obama’s re-election campaign. Obama can’t now openly oppose Wall Street without only drawing even more attention to the fact that he’s been in bed with the Wall Street weasels since before he took office.

It’s safe to assert, I think, that the audaciously arrogant Obama and his henchpeople never saw the deeply politically embarrassing Occupy Wall Street movement coming, and that they’re still scrambling to figure out how to respond to it. (They will, I surmise, do their best to pretend that the new movement doesn’t even exist, since it wasn’t in their 2012 re-election playbook, and they will continue to pretend that we’re still in 2008, when “hope” and “change” weren’t just empty campaign slogans. The best slogan that they could come up with for 2012 would be something like “Really This Time!” — but how many would buy it?)

Defeating faux progressives like Obama & Co., I might argue, is even more of a coup for us actual progressives than is defeating blatant right-wingers, because if even phony progressives won’t be tolerated any longer, how could blatant right-wingers be tolerated any longer?

Finally, support your local revolutionaries! It seems to me that unless they can do something grandiose, many if not most people don’t do anything at all. The net result of this is that no one does anything. There are plenty of things that you can do that don’t cost (much) money. If it’s not feasible for you to camp out at one of the occupation sites across the nation, as it isn’t for me, you still can talk to your friends, family members and associates in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. You can blog in support of the movement and otherwise assert your support for the movement on the Internet.

If the movement isn’t perfect, at least it’s Americans getting off of their asses and into the streets in order to redress their grievances, which is loooong overdue.

When you hear some assbite defend the corporations, such as with the “funny” graphic above, you can call him or her on his or her shit.

If you can give money or other necessary resources to the occupiers, why not? While writing this longer-than-usual blog post I gave $25 to Occupy Sacramento (my name is on their donors’ page, which is kind of cool). I’d rather be camping out with them, but giving them a donation is better than doing nothing at all.

At the bare minimum, if you don’t want to help to create a better world, if you are too fearful and cowardly and/or too lazy and/or too self-interested and/or too uncreative and untalented to help to alter the status quo, then the least that you can do is to stay out of the fucking way of those of us who are trying to make a difference.

P.S. As many have noted, one of the simple ways that you can fight back is to withdraw every penny that you have in any bank and to use only credit unions, not banks. I’ve used only credit unions for more than a decade now, and I’m quite happy with credit unions’ service.

*Occupy Sacramento’s donations page first lists this as the kind of support that it is seeking:

Spiritual

It’s not all about money; you can also support us by sharing the movement with your friends and family. Make a post on Facebook letting us know that you have our backs. Call the mayor and let [his office] know you support this movement.

I am pleased that Occupy Sacramento lists spiritual support first. It is a statement of faith that from spiritual support, material support naturally follows. And that’s not just faith; that’s observable fact.

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Assorted shit (gay pride month edition!)

Homophobes take another blow

File photo of judge Vaughn R. Walker speaking ...

Reuters photo

Former federal Judge Vaughn Walker (pictured above in April), who last year correctly ruled that to prohibit same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, came out after he retired from the federal bench in February. Homophobes  shamelessly had challenged the ability of Walker, who had been appointed by the first President George Bush, to be able to rule fairly on same-sex marriage, but today another federal judge, who also was appointed by the first President Bush, affirmed that Walker did not inappropriately rule on the case.

If I could say two words to the “Christo”fascists who still oppose legally recognized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, it might be something like this: “Surrender, Dorothy!”

Same-sex marriage in all 50 states is going to be a reality within the next decade, most likely. So for the supposedly freedom-lovin’ wingnuts to keep expending their time, money and energy trying to stop the inevitable — life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and justice for all — is a fucking waste. (If they were true Christians, they’d spend their time, money and energy helping people, as Jesus Christ instructed his followers to do, instead of trying to keep others down so that they can feel better about their miserable selves.)

Today the homophobes suffered a significant defeat when federal Judge James Ware rejected their “argument” that another federal judge, the now-retired Vaughn Walker, should have recused himself from ruling on Proposition Hate — the anti-same-sex-marriage proposition that passed narrowly in California in November 2008 — because he has been in a long-term same-sex relationship himself.

Walker — who, like Ware, was appointed by the first President George Bush — correctly ruled last year that Prop Hate violates the protections granted to all Californians by the U.S. Constitution.*

(When judges who were appointed by Repugnican presidents are ruling against the haters, the haters’ days are numbered, methinks.)

As The Associated Press notes, today’s ruling that Walker had no reason or obligation to recuse himself from ruling on the matter of same-sex marriage “does not settle the legal fight over Proposition 8. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering whether Walker properly concluded that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry violates their rights to due process and equal protection.”

But the ruling does make it much more difficult for the homophobes to try to pick and choose the judges who hear their bullshit homophobic arguments.

To the “Christo”fascists and other assorted wingnuts, only conservative, heterosexual, “Christian” white male judges should be able to rule on anyfuckingthing. Indeed, in Ware’s ruling he noted that female and non-white judges historically have been accused of not being able to rule impartially in certain cases — a right-wing “argument” that the law rejects.

“The sole fact that a federal judge shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with other members of the general public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be affected, is not a basis for either recusal or disqualification,” Ware wrote in his ruling.

Indeed, one easily could counter-argue that a heterosexually married (or perhaps even a heterosexual but single) judge should recuse him- or herself from ruling on same-sex marriage, but how far would that argument get?

Ironically, in their homophobic attacks on Walker, the pro-Prop Hate crowd only further proved that non-heterosexuals in the U.S. routinely face bigotry, hatred and discrimination — which is going to speed up, not slow down, the eventuality of same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

But this fact apparently escaped the homophobic abject fucktards, who are capable only of stupidity, fear and hatred, not of reason.

Black homophobes still suck ass

Tracy Morgan

Associated Press photo

“Comedian” Tracy Morgan, pictured in March, has apologized for having said some hateful things that you really can’t apologize for, not credibly, anyway.

Way back in 2005 I posted a piece titled “Black Homophobes Suck.”

Among other things in that piece (which I think you should read if you have the time), I wrote about how a so-called leader in the black community actually wrote in a letter to me that being gay or lesbian might be a choice or it might be a “birth defect” and closed the letter with, “Take care of yourself health wise,” an apparent reference to her apparent belief that all gay men must have HIV or must be just about to contract HIV, since all that being a gay man means is taking cock up the ass as often as possible.

Alas, little has changed since 2005.

In the news recently has been black “comedian” Tracy Morgan’s anti-gay rant during a recent stand-up performance that you can’t just apologize for.

According to an audience member, among many other things, such as suggesting the President Barack Obama has been as pro-gay as he has been only because he is pussy-whipped, Morgan stated that being gay or lesbian is a choice and that “if his son [were] gay he better come home and talk to him like a man … or he would pull out a knife and stab that little [nigger] to death.”

Morgan also reportedly made the unfunny, already-made (by comedian Carlos Mencia, long, long ago) “joke” that if gay men can take a dick, they can take a joke — ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

The audience member further stated that

The sad thing is that none of this rant was a joke. [Morgan’s] entire demeanor changed during that portion of the night. He was truly filled with some hate towards us. As far as I could see, 10 to 15 people walked out. I had to fight myself to stay seated, but I knew if I got up … he won.

I understand where this man, the audience member, is coming from: When someone tells an anti-gay joke/“joke,” you can tell what kind of space it’s coming from, whether it’s truly a joke or whether it’s coming from a space of bigotry and hatred and meanness.

The routine of Carlos Mencia that I saw on television years ago that I just made reference to did not strike me as coming from a space of actual hatred of gays, so it did not repulse me. Similarly, some years ago, the creators of “South Park” created an episode in which a classroom gerbil named Lemmiwinks must save his own life after having been inserted into a gay man’s rectum, for fuck’s sake.

On the face of it, that’s pretty fucking homophobic and stereotypical (I am one gay man who knows of no other gay man who ever inserted a small mammal into his rectum), but the way in which the episode was done does not give me the impression that the creators of “South Park” actually are homophobic. Therefore, I was able to laugh at the episode, even if at least on the face of it it’s pretty fucking homophobic. (Anyone who truly believes that gerbils are a routine part of the gay man’s sexual repertoire probably is beyond help anyway, so I can’t even really knock the “South Park” creators for having put out a negative and damaging view of gay men, even if they aren’t homophobic themselves.)

Anyway, Tracy Morgan sounds like he’s as out of control as is his character on the NBC show “30 Rock,” and after his homophobic rant, I don’t think that I can watch that show anymore (I’ve watched several of the early episodes via the Internet, mainly because I love Tina Fey and a co-worker recommended the series to me).

I hope that NBC dumps Tracy Morgan. After all, any star of any major network show who made blatantly racist (or, say, anti-Semitic) remarks in seriousness should expect to get fired, so why not Morgan?

Also in the news, it recently was reported that U.S. Rep. Allen West, a black Repugnican whose district is in Florida, recently fired an intern for having sent an unauthorized pro-gay Tweet in response to Tracy Morgan’s homophobic rant. (I read the Tweet, and it seems to me that it could have been meant sarcastically, which actually would make it an anti-gay message, but whatever…)

The reportage of the firing of West’s intern notes that West has called same-sex marriage “an oxymoron.”

Gee, that’s nice. There was a time when pro-slavery white supremacists would have called the term “a free black man” an “oxymoron.” (Just as white supremacists might call being born black a “birth defect.”)

As long as your own freedoms and liberties and rights are secured, that’s all that fucking matters, right?

I wrote way back in 2005: “Black homophobes will attack injustice that affect them — racism — but fuck the rest of us minority groups. They don’t have a problem with oppression in general; they have a problem only with being oppressed themselves.”

Nothing has changed, has it?

Some have actually suggested that we non-heterosexuals visit with members of the black community to convince the homophobes within the black community that we are deserving of their approval or respect or the like.

I say: Fuck! That! Shit! We non-heterosexuals shouldn’t have to fucking grovel on our hands and knees for equal human and civil rights any more than blacks ever should have had to or should have to today.

We non-heterosexuals should boycott all black homophobes, just as we would boycott any other homophobe, regardless of his or her race. I, for one, won’t spend a penny on anything that has Tracy Morgan in it. (That won’t be hard to do, since Tina Fey, certainly not Morgan, is the creative genius behind “30 Rock,” and since Morgan isn’t, in my estimation, remarkably talented anyway.)

And I invite black homophobes to commit some introspection and to ask themselves why it’s so fucking important to them to be able to have one historically oppressed minority group that even they, also members of a historically oppressed minority group, can shit and piss upon — and whether or not this is moral.

Still not much to be proud of

It’s “gay pride” month, but the corporatization of the gay and lesbian “community” continues.

It’s interesting: While gay men and lesbians (and other non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals) proclaim that they won’t take it from the heterosexists and the homophobes anymore, they’ll still gladly bend over for the corporations.

Memo to the gay and lesbian “community”: The corporations don’t love us.

In October 2009 I posted on my blog “An Open Letter to Joe Solmonese,” who is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, and I e-mailed a copy of the open letter to the HRC.

In the letter (which, I think, you should read, if you have a few minutes), among other things, I criticized the HRC for accepting corporate money from corporations that, while they might have pro-gay-and-lesbian-et.-al. policies (at least on paper), are harmful to human beings and to the planet.

In the fall 2009 issue of HRC’s membership magazine (titled Equality), I noted, I saw full-page ads for Chevron, Shell Oil, American Airlines and Citigroup — corporations that, respectively, are killing the planet with the continued production of fossil fuels, drastically underpay their employees (their pilots, in the case of American Airlines), and, as Wall Street weasels, are partially responsible for the Wall Street meltdown that has tanked our nation’s economy.

I seem to remember getting some e-mail reply from HRC — not from Joe, of course, but from some lackey — stating that HRC supports those corporations that at least pay lip service to being pro-gay-and-lesbian (my words, not hers), and that if I have a problem with this, then I can have my subscription to Equality canceled.

I didn’t ask to have my subscription canceled, thinking that it would just run itself out, but I’m still getting the magazine even though I stopped giving HRC money a long time ago, disgusted by its corporate ass-licking and its selling out of the gay and lesbian community to the fucking corporations.

Nothing has fucking changed, because in the current (spring 2011) issue of HRC’s Equality is a full-page ad for — wait for it — that paragon of corporate responsibility — keep waiting for it — drum roll, please! — British Petroleum!

Yes, my non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming brethren and sistren, BP loves us!

(Along with the full-page ad for British Petroleum in the current issue of Equality are full-page ads for Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Chase, Chevron and Deloitte, all banking fraudsters, planet destroyers and Wall Street weasels. And American Airlines has another full-page ad.)

Not just to pick on HRC.

Locally, Sacramento’s annual gay pride festival earlier this month for the first time ever got rained out, which, naturally, resulted in low attendance, and the organizers of the festival subsequently actually apparently unashamedly and unabashedly sent out a fundraising e-mail asking people to just fork over $40-something because the festival didn’t recoup its costs this year (and they calculated that the average person would have spent $40-something at the festival were it not for the rain).

Well, the festival was held two weeks earlier this year than it was last year, increasing the chances of rain, it seems to me, but that aside, the fundraising e-mail actually read: “Pride 2011 was always going to be different for many reasons. Our corporate sponsorship support was the highest ever, with over two dozen sponsors this year. We invested in more marketing and promotion to hit the far reaches of our area to bring as many LGBT people and our supporters to [Sacramento] on June 4th….”

The first thing that the e-mail lists is the “highest-ever” “corporate sponsorship.”

Why has the gay and lesbian “community” become so fucking dependent upon corporate sponsorship over the years?

Can we not do anything on our own without corporate handouts, for which there are always strings attached?

Is bigger always better? Do we have to do everything huge? Is a huge amount of money necessary for every endeavor? Can nothing be home-grown? (Ironically, it seems to me, if the organizers of the rained-out Sacramento gay pride festival hadn’t focused on making the event so huge, the rain-related losses wouldn’t have been as huge. The bigger things are, the harder they fall.)

Anyway, I replied to the shameless fundraising e-mail with this: “Maybe the Rain Goddess was pissed off over that record-level corporate sponsorship, the selling out of the LGBT community to profits-over-people corporations by the same people who claim to care about and to be helping the LGBT community. Just sayin.'”**

(Unsurprisingly, I haven’t received a response to my response, and no, I don’t claim that I always play along nicely with the other kiddies in the sandbox…)

This gay pride month, if it were up to me, the gay and lesbian “community” would ponder this question: How are we of the gay and lesbian (and bisexual and transgendered and…) “community” doing ourselves a favor by fighting for equal human and civil rights for all non-heterosexuals (and for all non-gender-conforming individuals) while further enslaving ourselves and others to our corporate overlords, who have only their profits, not our best interests, at heart?

But I’m not queen just yet

*In his ruling, Walker concluded:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis [emphasis mine] in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Indeed, that you just don’t like a whole class of people is not sufficient cause to deny this class of people equal human and civil rights as guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution.

**Not even to pick only on the gay and lesbian “community” in Sacramento — other festivals in Sacramento have been ruined by a corporate omnipresence, such as a recent festival for Asians and Pacific islanders here in Sacramento that I recently attended at which McDonald’s and Wells Fargo had prominent presences. (Indeed, McDonald’s provided the only place to sit down to eat — provided that you were eating McDonald’s, of course, because I don’t know about you, when I think of Asian and Pacific islander food, I immediately think of McDonald’s.)

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Stop lynching Cornel West and hold Barack Obama accountable for once

 Harsh words: Professor Cornell West, seen here with then-senator Barack Obama on the campaign trail in New York, has turned on the president

So many black progressives have been thrown under Barack Obama’s bus (Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod, et. al.)  that the bus no longer can move an inch. Let’s not add the corpse of Cornel West (pictured above with Barack Obama when Obama was campaigning for the White House) to the under-bus body count.

Left-wing activist and scholar Cornel West is under fire for, among other strong statements, recently having called President Barack Obama “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats,” adding, “And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”

I have no real problem with those words because I have no problem with the truth. The truth is the truth, even if only one person in a thousand (or ten thousand or a hundred thousand or a million or…) is willing to utter it in a sea of lemmings. (Or, as Ted Rall aptly calls Obama’s allegedly left-of-center followers, “Obamabots.”)

The only exception that I can take to calling Obama “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats” is that I don’t know that it’s necessary to emphasize “black.” A mascot of Wall Street oligarchs or a puppet of corporate plutocrats is a problem, regardless of the mascot’s or puppet’s race, sex, sexual orientation, religious orientation, age, etc.

Maybe West emphasized “black” because at least on some level he expects a fellow black man to be progressive, like he is. But, as West himself has acknowledged, Obama “[grew] up in a white context,” so “all he has known culturally is white.”

Because Obama is not the descendent of African slaves and because he was raised by his white mother’s family, it is unfair for descendents of African slaves, like West, to expect Obama to be a carbon copy of themselves*, and, it seems to me, because he is half white and half black, it always has been Obama’s own prerogative to embrace one half more than the other, even if he had a choice in the matter, but, given his upbringing, I don’t see that he had much of a choice. (Children don’t get to pick who raises them.)

My problem with Obama is that he has betrayed his progressive base. He made campaign promises — promises that I took seriously, not cynically, as in the assertion that all politicians make and then break their promises, and so you’re stupid if you believe otherwise — and then he systematically proceeded to break his promises, denouncing his left-wing critics as hopelessly delusional about political reality as he did so (and his “bots” dutifully, blindly follow his lead in that).

Obama promised “hope” and “change,” and because of his promises I gave him hundreds of dollars and my vote. But instead of “hope” and “change,” we still have an economy in shambles, we still hand over billions of dollars to corporate welfare recipients, and we still give the war profiteers billions of our tax dollars via the bogus warfare in the Middle East and elsewhere while the American empire rots from within here at home.

Oh, but we got Osama bin Laden! But that and a quarter won’t even buy us a Coke and a smile.

I don’t claim to agree with West on everything, because I don’t know everything that he has proclaimed, but I like him. I saw him speak here in Sacramento (where he was raised) some years ago, and I was moved by his talk about the black American experience to the point that I got tears in my eyes. (Unfortunately, I was one of the only white people in the audience, and maybe even the only one, and brother West was, for the most part, preaching to the choir; those who really should have been there, who really needed to be there, were not there. [But doesn’t it almost always seem to go that way?])

Yes, I consider Cornel West to be a brother, but I am concerned that perhaps he and I define the term “brother” differently. I consider someone who shares my progressive values and worldview to be my brother or sister, regardless of his or her race, age, sexual orientation or even religious orientation. As a fellow democratic socialist, I consider West to be my brother. But, because I am white, would West call me “brother”? I would like to think so, but I’m not certain.**

I can’t know what it’s like to be a descendent of black slaves, and I would never, like Bill Clinton or at least John Kerry did, insinuate that I, who although I’ve always been middle class was born into some degree of white privilege, truly feel black Americans’ pain. I have not walked in their shoes, so I cannot, and so I do not, make that claim. (Bill Clinton was called by many as “the first black president,” and Kerry once stupidly stated that he wanted to be “the next black president.” I find such faux familiarity to be disrespectful as well as false.)

Even if he would not call me “brother,” I am not going to jump on the bandwagon of throwing Cornel West under the bus like Barack Obama threw his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, under the bus, and then Van Jones and then Shirley Sherrod. I think that such rhetoric as that of Salon.com editor Joan Walsh (who was a staunch Billary Clinton ’08 supporter before she became an Obamabot) that West has had a “tragic meltdown,” not only is overblown but is deleterious to progressivism.

Walsh writes of “the unrealistic left” (which is, I surmise, akin to the Obama administration’s “professional left”) and proclaims:

I’m on record saying that despite my disappointments on the economic and civil liberties front, I support Obama’s re-election: He’s as progressive a leader as we’re able to elect right now, and if you have issues with him – as I do – it’s time to work to elect strong Democrats at the state and local level. I’m pro-Obama – and also pro-reasonable organizing efforts to push him left.

“[Un]reasonable.” “[Un]realistic.” These are interesting terms. Fucking fact is, Obama had the nation’s good will and both houses of Congress controlled by his party for two fucking years, and he squandered that rare opportunity to push through a progressive agenda.

For that alone he does not deserve re-election, but sellouts — Obamabots — like Walsh, who actually make such statements as “despite my disappointments on the economic and civil liberties front, I [still] support Obama’s re-election” since Obama is the lesser of the politically viable evils, are destroying what’s left of the left.

How can we actual leftists have “unrealistic” expectations when so-called “Democratic” sellouts like Obama don’t even try? How can you know what’s possible and what’s impossible to achieve, what is realistic and what is unrealistic, when you surrender from the very fucking beginning? The establishment Democrats almost always surrender before the game even begins. Meanwhile, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors roll out such radical ideas as decimating Medicare. Yes, they are stupid, but they’re bold.

As the Repugnican Tea Party traitors succeed in pushing the nation’s politics further and further to the right, Obamabots like Joan Walsh help the wingnuts by contributing to the rightward drift of the Democratic Party, which began under Bill Clinton, by excusing anything and everything that establishment/Clintonesque Democrats do or don’t do, simply because they use the “Democratic” label — and because these Democrats in name only are, the Obamabots assert, the best that we can do. (And besides, what do you want? A Repugnican president?)

That Barack Obama isn’t as bad as are the Repugnican Tea Party traitors who want to be president just doesn’t fucking cut it for me. He’d have to do much better than that for me to give him another penny or my vote again.

Obama’s new campaign in which you can buy a T-shirt or a mug displaying his birth certificate and the words “MADE in the USA” under his portrait —

— is clever, but the nation needs an awful lot more than more clever Obama campaigns right now, and on the heels of having been punk’d by the “hope” and “change” campaign, I, for one, am just not in the mood to fall for yet another clever Obama campaign. (Although if I were working on the Obama campaign, my snappy slogan might be something like: “Barack Obama 2012: Really This Time!”)

I suppose that I have to give props to Team Obama for finding a way to turn the pathetic and racist birth certificate bullshit into a fundraising campaign, but I cannot, in good conscience, give Team Obama even a penny, as clever as the new campaign is.

At some point this sellout shit has to stop. I, for one, don’t want to be responsible, even minutely, for its perpetuation — even by buying one of the clever T-shirts or mugs.

But back to brother West.

Let’s not make him into a scapegoat for the serious failings of Barack Obama as president of the United States of America. Instead, let’s continue to talk about identity politics versus political ideology and what roles they have and what roles they should have in rescuing the American experiment from the edge of the abyss.

As a gay man, for instance, while it would be great to have a gay or lesbian president, I’d much rather have a heterosexual president who actually is progressive than a gay or lesbian president who, like Obama, is too cowardly or too personally comfortable (or both) to pursue a progressive agenda.

Similarly, I’m not impressed by the mere fact that Obama is the first actual (half-)black president. There are plenty of wingnutty black men, such as (not in any certain order) U.S. Supreme Court “Justice” Clarence Thomas, recently booted Repugnican National Committee chair Michael Steele, former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (who delivered the pivotal state of Ohio to George W. Bush in 2004 much as how Katherine Harris had delivered the pivotal state of Florida to Bush in 2000), and presidential aspirants Herman Cain and Alan Keyes, and I’d never want any of them anywhere near the White House, not because of the color of their skin, but because of the content of their character. (On that note, I once saw Al Sharpton speak here in Sacramento [in early 2005, I believe it was], and I still remember his quip that “Condoleezza Rice [yet another black wingnut, as well as a war criminal] is of my color but is not of my kind.”)

The problem with Barack Obama isn’t that he isn’t “black enough.” The problem is that he isn’t progressive enough — and that he had promised to be progressive, but broke that promise.

That is the discussion that we need to be having instead of kicking around brother Cornel West.

P.S. I highly recommend the article on Cornel West by Chris Hedges that stirred the West brouhaha. It is here. In the article, Hedges quotes West as having said other things that are making people butt-hurt, such as that Obama “feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want,” which to me more or less seems to be true, whether it’s considered politically correct or not, but Hedges also quotes West as having said other things that aren’t being repeated as much as are his “controversial” statements, such as

“This [Obama’s presidency] was maybe America’s last chance to fight back against the greed of the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats, to generate some serious discussion about public interest and common good that sustains any democratic experiment.

“We are squeezing out all of the democratic juices we have. The escalation of the class war against the poor and the working class is intense. More and more working people are beaten down. They are world-weary. They are into self-medication. They are turning on each other. They are scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful.

“It is a profoundly human response to panic and catastrophe. I thought Barack Obama could have provided some way out. But he lacks backbone.”

and

“Can you imagine if Barack Obama had taken office and deliberately educated and taught the American people about the nature of the financial catastrophe and what greed was really taking place?

“If he had told us what kind of mechanisms of accountability needed to be in place, if he had focused on homeowners rather than investment banks for bailouts and engaged in massive job creation, he could have nipped in the bud the right-wing populism of the tea party folk.

“The tea party folk are right when they say the government is corrupt. It is corrupt. Big business and banks have taken over government and corrupted it in deep ways.

“We have got to attempt to tell the truth, and that truth is painful. It is a truth that is against the thick lies of the mainstream. In telling that truth we become so maladjusted to the prevailing injustice that the Democratic Party, more and more, is not just milquetoast and spineless, as it was before, but thoroughly complicitous with some of the worst things in the American empire.

“I don’t think in good conscience I could tell anybody to vote for Obama. If it turns out in the end that we have a crypto-fascist movement and the only thing standing between us and fascism is Barack Obama, then we have to put our foot on the brake. But we’ve got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties….”

Yup. This perhaps was our last chance to turn it around, and Obama thus far has only blown it. Ironically, West could have been talking about himself when he noted that the people “are turning on each other,” “scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful,” because right now they’re scapegoating West instead of confronting Obama, who apparently likes the presidency only for its perks. He certainly has no stomach for the hard work that a truly progressive president has before him or her.

Anyway, I also recommend Chris Hedges’ book Death of the Liberal Class, which is about “liberal” sellouts like Joan Walsh who in their cowardice, laziness, selfishness and hypocrisy aid and abet the right wing in the right wing’s destruction of the nation and the planet.

*West also remarked that “Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, [with] white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.”

“Deracination”? Is an identification with a history of slavery required to be considered to be black? Is Obama really required to identify with the descendents of black slaves when he is not such a descendent and was not raised by the descendents of slaves? Is this not demanding too much of Obama?

**West has referred to economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman as “brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman,” and so I tend to believe that his definition of “brother” is about ideology, not race, but he also has referred to Obama as “brother,” yet rather clearly disagrees with Obama’s politics, so I am uncertain as to his own personal definition of the term.

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Manufacturing labor-union ‘thuggery’

In its losing battle to destroy labor unions (right after it promised the nation to get the jobs back), the Repugnican Tea Party is using the same old tattered page from its playbook: Play the victim (while being the victimizer).

Drunkard Repugnican Tea Party leader John Boehner proclaimed yesterday in typical Repugnican Tea Party rhetoric, “We’ve given them [unionized public employees] a machine gun and put it right at the heads of the local officials, and they [the local officials] really have their hands tied.” (I am a unionized public employee and don’t own a machine gun, nor am I into bondage. Just sayin’.)

The wingnuts employ the term “thug” (as in “union thug”) and its derivatives and synonyms ad nauseum in their current campaign of union-bashing.

Of course, it helps if you provoke the members of the pro-labor side. You know, to “prove” what “thugs” they (we) inherently are. Which is what I watched a bunch of “Tea Party” traitors do here in Sacramento at the California state Capitol on Saturday (on which there were pro-labor gatherings of various sizes in all of the states’ capitals in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin).

I estimate that on Saturday there were at least 1,000 pro-labor protesters at the California Capitol in the second pro-labor rally there within the same week, and about 100 “Tea Party” traitors who also were there, across the street, for no other apparent reason than to provoke the pro-labor side.

(Anticipating the presence of the “Tea Party” antagonists, I brought a sign with me that on one side read: “‘Tea Party’ Traitors’ ‘Founding Father’ is BENEDICT ARNOLD!” with a portrait of the infamous traitor below, and on the other side was featured a graphic of a coiled rattlesnake under which were the words: “DON’T TREAD ON THE WORKING CLASS!”)

From across the street, the “Tea Party” traitors, one of them in a three-cornered hat with a tea bag hanging from it, and at least two of them with bullhorns, heckled us pro-labor protesters for more than an hour and a half. Among many things, they repeatedly played that song with the lyric, “Na na na na hey hey hey good-bye!” (you know, in celebration of their anticipated destruction of the labor unions), rubbed their eyes in order to call us crybabies, and in general acted like the right-wing fucktards that they are.

We on the pro-labor side, among other things, chanted at the “Tea Party” traitors that they are “fascists!” (because they are), chanted “Shame on you!” (for their treason against the working class), and, when the “Tea Party” traitors quite stupidly chanted, “The party is over!”, those of us on the right side of the debate chantingly responded: “The Tea Party is over!”

(At one point, one of the “Tea Party” traitors with a bullhorn actually informed us that we “are living in the past.” Which is pretty fucking funny coming from a “Tea Party” dipshit whose cohort is wearing a three-cornered hat and who [by definition] wants to drag us back to the Dark Ages.)

I don’t assert that the “Tea Party” traitors don’t have the First Amendment right to attend pro-labor gatherings. They do.

But what they do is intentionally provoke the pro-labor side with the hope of getting photos and/or videorecorded footage of someone on the pro-labor side getting physical — and then they post this on the Internet as “proof” of “unprovoked” “union thuggery.”

Which is exactly what they did on Saturday.

Again, I watched the “Tea Party” traitors bait those of us on the pro-labor side for more than an hour and a half, and apparently at one point a member of the Teamsters got into a very brief shoving match with a “Tea Party” traitor.

One of the “Tea Party” traitors captured video of this and put the video clip on YouTube, and the shoving match happens so quickly that if you blink, you’ll miss it.

Of course the “Tea Party” traitor who posted the brief altercation on YouTube posted it without any fucking context whatsofuckingever. You don’t see any footage of the “Tea Party” traitors there relentlessly baiting the pro-labor side. You see only the altercation itself, as though it had occurred in a fucking vacuum. Because if you saw the context within which the altercation happened, the right-wing claim about those “union thugs” would lose its strength.

The mainstream media, too, though, love conflict.

A photographer for the Sacramento Bee managed to get this dramatic photo just before the aforementioned brief shoving match began:

Protest photo.jpg

The guy on the left is the Teamster and the guy on the right is the “Tea Party” traitor. Their brief shoving match happened in my vicinity, and I didn’t even witness it, that’s how brief it was; I didn’t even learn of it until after I went home and saw the photo on the Bee’s website (and then the wingnut’s short videorecording of it on YouTube).

While admittedly it’s a great news photo, it certainly isn’t representative of the events on Saturday. I never witnessed anything like this in the more than an hour and a half that I was there.

I don’t know the Teamster who is photographed above, but I do remember seeing him at the pro-labor gathering on Saturday. He did strike me as somewhat of a little pit bull whom you wouldn’t want to mess with, but I have no clear idea of what happened between him and the “Tea Party” provocateur.

And to be fair and balanced, I will report that some on the pro-labor side shouted some things at the “Tea Party” traitors that they (probably) shouldn’t have, such as “cocksuckers!” and (via a bullhorn) an unfunny empty threat that the “Tea Party” traitors had five minutes to clear out (a thinly veiled threat of violence, even though no reasonable person would have taken it seriously).

But as much fun as it might be, you cannot, in fairness, paint all of the members of a group as the same based upon the actions of a few members of that group. Every group of size has its outliers.

Further, when someone’s livelihood is threatened (or he perceives it to be threatened), and you then heckle him about this fact, oh, guess what? He just might respond physically — especially if he is prone to physically acting out when he is angry.

But you don’t get to intentionally provoke someone and then, when he finally snaps and gets physical, claim that he inherently is violent or unhinged or the like and that you are as innocent and pure as the driven snow! Which is what the “Tea Party” traitors have done in this case.**

Frankly, the “Tea Party” traitors who did their best for more than an hour and a half to enrage the pro-labor side were lucky that all that happened was a brief shoving match that they then got to post on YouTube wholly out of context. At one point on Saturday, I truly wondered whether or not the pro-labor side might actually surge across the street and attack the “Tea Party” traitors who were baiting them/us, but alas, they/we did not, and overall, those on the pro-labor side showed remarkable restraint (to the disappointment of the camera-wielding “Tea Party” traitors [real “warriors” for their “cause”], I’m sure).

Tip: If you have a videorecording device (I don’t), it wouldn’t hurt to bring it with you if you anticipate a contingent of “Tea Party” traitors showing up at your event (and if your event is about promoting the public good, then you probably will see some “Tea Party” traitors there to promote their agenda). You at least could show that the “Tea Party” traitors do their damnedest to try to get a violent response to their venom and bile from their opponents.

Many if not most of the “Tea Party” traitors I saw on Saturday were taking photos or video, primarily in order to intimidate us, from what I could tell (it didn’t work), but also they probably hoped to be able to post any photo or video footage of a “Tea Party” traitor being attacked/“attacked” by a “union thug” — you know, like obtaining a scalp.

In a court of law, however, I don’t know how you could claim to be an innocent victim after you first had provoked your attacker relentlessly in the hope that he would attack you. (Judge Judy would slap you upside the head for that kind of shit, methinks.)

And in the court of public opinion, the members of the jury need to know that the “Tea Party” traitors are doing their best to capture photographic “evidence” of all of that supposed unprovoked “union thuggery” out there in order to support the Repugnican Tea Party’s national propaganda campaign that unprovoked “union thuggery” is rampant — very apparently in order to turn the undecideds against members of labor unions.

Just don’t expect to see any of this “evidence” of “union thuggery” presented within its context of the relentless baiting by “Tea Party” traitors that precedes it.

Because that would fuck up the fairy tales that the treasonous wingnuts are trying to sell.

*The Bee’s crappy “reportage” of Saturday’s event undercounted the pro-labor side at only 400 people and overcounted the “Tea Party” traitors at 150. No way was the actual ratio anything like 400:150. It was much more like 10:1. (As I noted recently, it seems to me that the mainstream media don’t hesitate to undercount the center-left, anticipating no real backlash, but probably are terrified to undercount the center-right, and thus inflate their numbers in order to be safe from right-wing backlash.)

**And in others. See Salon.com’s Alex Pareene’s recent reportage on this phenomenon here and here.

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The art of protest is dead

Well, apparently not in Wisconsin, and very apparently not in the Middle East, but here in Sacramento, California, and throughout much if not most of the rest of the nation, I surmise, it is.

Last night I attended the solidarity-with-the-workers-of-Wisconsin gathering at the California state Capitol here in Sacramento. It was a great turnout, especially given that the gathering was in support of the working people several states away and was not about anything that immediately is occurring here in California.

The Sacramento Bee put the turnout at 2,500, but, while I’m no expert at estimating crowd size, I would estimate that there were at least 4,000 people at the peak of the turnout.

The turnout was impressive, but the organization of the protest (which barely can be called a “protest,” since it was so tame) was sad.

The organizers had had at least a few days to organize, but the sound system was for shit. It sounded like they were using technology along the lines of Mr. Microphone. Unless you were within maybe a dozen yards of the individual speaking at the moment, you couldn’t hear anything but muffled sounds.

Old labor-movement songs (from the 1930s, I believe they were) were sung. So old that few there knew the lyrics. Hell, why not use some old protest ditties in Latin? The labor movement sorely needs to update itself. The history of the labor movement is important, but when you are singing decades-old songs, it makes you appear to those who are unfamiliar with labor-movement history (which is the majority of Americans) to be, um, irrelevant…

Once the organizers of last night’s “protest” got the crowd that they wanted to get, they apparently didn’t know what to do with it. There was no coordinated march, the chants and the singing were weak (in no small part because of the practically non-existent sound system), and, although the event was billed as a “candlelight vigil” for the embattled workers of Wisconsin, what appeared to be portable stadium lights brightly lit up the protest area the whole time and never were dimmed, making an actual candlelight vigil impossible.

And a candlelight vigil implies that you’re going to be there for at least two or three hours, but by around 6:45 p.m., only 45 minutes after the event began, it was over and the crowd started to disperse. Shit. The protesters in Wisconsin have been at it for more than a week now; we couldn’t do a full hour last night?

Predictably, a small group of “Tea Party” traitors — most of them old and white and just mean (one of them had a sign advising us unionized workers to “man up,” when what the traitors really want us to do is to bend over) — were across the street from us last night. I estimate that there were no more than 20 of them there at a time. (The Bee put their number at 35. My guess is that the mainstream/corporately owned and controlled media don’t mind underestimating the size of crowds of those of us who are left of center, but that they are much more generous when estimating the number of wingnuts, since they don’t want the wingnuts harassing them that they were undercounted.*)

I hate “Tea Party” traitors. To give you an idea of what utter incorrigible asswipes these people (and I use the word “people” very loosely) are, the Sacramento Bee has reported that a local “Tea Party” ringleader named Mark Williams had planned to have “Tea Party” traitors wear labor-union shirts (specifically, the purple shirts of the state’s largest and most powerful labor union, Service Employees International Union [to which I belong]) and to act in ways to shed a falsely negative light on us pro-labor-union protesters.

The Bee reports that Williams had blogged (in part) about his plan to infiltrate last night’s protest:

Our goal is to make the gathering look as greedy and goonish as we know that it is, ding their credibility with the media and exploit the lazy reporters who just want dramatic shots and outrageous quotes for headlines. Even if it becomes known that we are plants the quotes and pictures will linger as defacto truth.

See, just as the members of the right wing have no problem with such things as stolen presidential elections and bogus wars, truth doesn’t matter to them — just the appearance of truth, or, as Williams put it, the “defacto [sic] truth.” (Faux wingnut Stephen Colbert calls this “truthiness.”)

If we labor-union members truly inherently are so “greedy” and “goonish,” then why would “Tea Party” traitors need to don labor-union garb and act like greedy goons? Wouldn’t our greedinees and our goonishness be self-evident? Why would our supposed greediness and goonishness need a boost?

Anyway, word of Williams’ dirty plot leaked out, and SEIU warned its members of it via Facebook (and maybe Twitter, too), which apparently explains why I saw not a single purple T-shirt there (which at the time I found strange, since at that time I wasn’t aware of Williams’ plot; it was only after I got home from the gathering last night that I read about it).

As I have established, I loathe the “Tea Party” traitors, and as the “protest” was dispersing last night, from across the street I yelled at the “Tea Party” traitors who were there to counter-protest something like this: “Tea Party traitors! The ‘founding father’ you follow is Benedict Arnold! You fight against the working class and you support the rich!”

Immediately a thuggish white male member of the California Highway Patrol (California’s state police, who have jurisdiction over the Capitol grounds) and an apparent “security” team member (also a thuggish young white male) for one of the unions that had “organized” the “protest” who looked and acted like a fucking bouncer both tried to shut me up, trying to use their imposing presences, the threat of violence, to intimidate me into silence.

Sadly and pathetically, I had to remind both of them (who apparently spend much more time in the gym than reviewing the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution) that I simply was exercising my First Amendment rights, to which they had no coherent response.

I was across the street from the “Tea Party” traitors and I had made no movement toward them. I had not threatened them with violence. I had not tried to pelt them with rocks or anything like that. I simply had shouted at them what I thought of them. From across the street.

(That violence might ensue from spoken words at what is supposed to be a “protest,” for fuck’s sake, does not mean that it’s legal to infringe upon a citizen’s First Amendment rights.)

But so cowed have we Americans become that apparently even at a “protest” you aren’t to — gasp! offend anyone! You are to stand obediently like cattle in your designated “protest zone” (which our police state actually has instituted in many of our cities) and be nice. Definitely no shouting at the opposition! (Especially if you aren’t a wingnut, to whom much more latitude is given, since wingnuts are professional “victims.”)

So: Only as long as “protests” are rather ineffective and inoffensive, they are allowed.

What’s the fucking point of “protests,” then?

And why do cops and soldiers and other authoritarian types think that they’re such hot shit when testosterone-fueled tools for the powers that be is all that they actually are? They’re exploited just like the rest of us are, yet they apparently believe that they’re superior. They need to ask themselves — and we need to ask ourselves — for whom they really, ultimately are “keeping the peace.”

From my experience last night and from other “protests” at the California state Capitol and elsewhere in Sacramento, I surmise that the (vast) majority of Americans today have no real idea of how to protest. Having been divided and conquered and trained from diaperhood to look out only for our own interests (capitalism, after all, encourages the screwing over of others for the enrichment of oneself [survival of the fittest, you know!]), most of us are at a fairly total loss as to how to come together to effect change.

Even at a public “protest,” we think that we must be “polite.”

And if we dare to be “impolite,” a member of the police state, official or self-appointed, like the sellout sheep-herding dog that he or she is, quickly will intimidate us to get back in line with the other sheeple.

Thing is, when you don’t allow the people a viable, meaningful means of expression, it seems to me that you are asking for it. You are asking for the pressure to build and build and build — until the volcano blows.

At which point the sheeple will scratch their heads and ponder aloud about “senseless,” “incomprehensible,” “unpredictable” acts of violence that, given the police state that we inhabit, which inhibits anything even remotely threatening to the status quo, actually were pretty fucking comprehensible and fucking predictable.

*Similarly, the Bee gave the news story of the event only seven paragraphs, two of which it devoted to the vastly outnumbered “Tea Party” traitors (you know, to be “fair and balanced”). Had it been a “Tea Party”-sponsored protest of even a third of the same size, instead of a labor-union protest of the size that last night’s was, I’m confident that the Bee’s coverage would have been more thorough.

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