So Much for That First Amendment Thing…

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi thinks this is the appropriate response to a peaceful sit-in.

The cops say they feared for their lives because of the crowd that was gathering around them. Seriously? Look at that photo. Look at this one:

What do you see? A dozen students on the ground looking at their feet, and some onlookers all holding up cameras at a respectable distance – you’ll note the other cops aren’t looking terribly worried. The cop casually saunters over and pepper sprays the people sitting down, which is odd since supposedly they were afraid of the people who were standing up.

It’s obvious they weren’t afraid of the crowd.  I mean, look at them!

But for the sake of their argument, let’s say they were deathly afraid of all the cell phone cameras behind them, recording this brutality from 20 feet away. If they feared for their safety from the crowd surrounding them, then why didn’t you pepper spray the crowd? Why would they turn around and spray a bunch of kids sitting on the ground, doing nothing except looking at their feet?

Here’s another shot, taken right before the kids get pepper-sprayed. Notice how the cops are in fear for their lives from the very dangerous children sitting down quietly on the cement, doing absolutely nothing.

And here’s another photo. These are the same kids who are being pepper sprayed in the photos above. Look at these kids. This is the scene that caused the police to “fear for their lives” and attack these kids. (Not the terrorist fist jabs.)

These are cops. They’re trained in how to use their weapon with precision, and only when necessary. And we’re to believe that these cops, in the heat of what appears to not be a very scary moment, accidentally attacked the people who weren’t even threatening them? They used their weapon on the wrong crowd of people. This could have been their guns they were using. We’ve got cops who don’t even know how to pick the right crowd of people to fire at. If they’re this bad as cops, they should all be fired on the spot.

“If you look at the video you are going to see that there were 200 people in that quad,” said UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza. “Hindsight is 20-20 and based on the situation we were sitting in, ultimately that was the decision that was made.”

Spicuzza is a liar and should be fired. And 20/20 is just hindsight, it’s about fifteen multi-million dollar lawsuits. And her job.

It is not a happy day at the UC Davis Facebook page.

The cop doing the pepper spraying has been identified:
Lieutenant John Pike

Feel free to let this neanderthal know how you feel. Twitter is alight with it.

There is clearly no justification for that this uniformed thug did. I wonder how the parents of those students feel after seeing this? Their children were holding a peaceful sit-in and they got pepper-sprayed. How do alumni feel? He’s a university cop. UC Davis owns Pike’s actions.

I’m sorry, but this has gone too far. This has happened in police department after police department across this country without repercussion. Our police look like the goons in Russia, China, and countries throughout the middle east—you know, the ones we’re so intent on bringing democracy capitalism to.

UC Davis staff and administrators reportedly watched and did nothing while the police attacked. They didn’t even offer to get medical help for the students afterwards. Take note kids, when you’re trying to decide which school to attend, UC Davis probably isn’t a good choice. And it’s probably not a good place for alumni to donate money to, since money (or the withholding of same) seems to be the only thing that effects change in the world.

UCD paramedics later treated with saline the eyes of 11 protesters; two were taken to Sutter Davis Hospital. Nearby, one young woman sat on her knees, crying with her eyes shut and pink streaks of Pepto-Bismol and water running down her cheeks.

Kristin Koster, a post-doctoral lecturer, used a scarf dipped in another home remedy, Maalox and water, to help Dominic Gutierrez, who was barely able to open his eyes.

He was sprayed, he said, when he tried to shield others with his jacket.

Koster said that she was “horrified” by both the actions of police and the inaction of staff and administrators standing nearby who did not seek medical assistance for those hurt until asked.

UC Davis faculty members are now calling on university Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to resign. Here’s a brief except of the letter (read the entire thing here) that was submitted to the Chancellor by Nathan Brown, Associate Professor of English at UC Davis:

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

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and Police Chief Annette Spicuzza. You are responsible for it. Lt. John Pike should be summarily fired and you should resign immediately.

Our Fuck-You System of Government

From Ted Rall:

Anti-Occupy Crackdowns Highlight Lack of Services

Governments are supposed to fulfill the basic needs of their citizens. Ours doesn’t pretend to try.

Sick? Too bad.

Can’t find a job? Tough.

Broke? Can’t afford rent? We don’t give a crap.

Forget “e pluribus unum.” We need a more accurate motto.

We live under a fuck you system.

Got a problem? The U.S. government has an all-purpose response to whatever ails you: fuck you.

During the ’80s I drove a yellow taxi in New York. Then, as now, there were no public restrooms in the city. At 4 in the morning, with few restaurants or bars open, the coffee I drank to stay awake posed a significant challenge.

It was—it is—insane. People pee. People poop. As basic needs go, toilets are as basic as it gets. Yet the City of New York, with the biggest tax base of any municipality in the United States, didn’t provide any.

So I did what all taxi drivers did. What they still do. I found a side street and a spot between two parked cars. It went OK until a cop caught me peeing under the old elevated West Side Highway, which later collapsed due to lack of maintenance. Perhaps decades of taxi driver urine corroded the support beams.

“You can’t do that here,” said the policeman.

“Where am I supposed to go?” I asked him. “There’s aren’t any restrooms anywhere in town.”

“I know,” he replied before going to get his summons book from his cruiser.

The old “fuck you.” We create the problem, then blame you for the results.

I ran away.

In recent days American mayors have been ordering heavily armed riot police to attack and rob peaceful members of encampments allied with Occupy Wall Street.

Like NYC, which won’t provide public restrooms but arrests public urinators, government officials and their media allies use their own refusal to provide basic public services to justify raids against Occupations.

In the middle of the night on November 15th NYPD goons stormed into Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. They beat and pepper-sprayed members of Occupy Wall Street and destroyed the books in their library. Citing “unsanitary conditions,” New York’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, then told reporters: “I have become increasingly concerned…that the occupation was coming to pose a health and fire safety hazard to the protesters and to the surrounding community.”

Four days before the police attack The New York Times had quoted a city health department statement worrying about the possible spread of norovirus, vomiting, diarrhea and tuberculosis: “It should go without saying that lots of people sleeping outside in a park as we head toward winter is not an ideal situation for anyone’s health.”

So why don’t they give the homeless some of the thousands of abandoned apartment units in New York?

Anyway, according to the Times: “Damp laundry and cardboard signs, left in the rain, have provided fertile ground for mold. Some protesters urinate in bottles, or occasionally a water-cooler jug, to avoid the lines at [the few] public restrooms.”

Of course, there’s an obvious solution: provide adequate bathroom facilities—not just for Occupy but for all New Yorkers. But that’s off the table under New York’s Fuck you system of government.

Doctors noted a new phenomenon called “Zuccotti cough.” Symptoms are similar to those of “Ground Zero cough” suffered by 9/11 first responders.

Zuccotti is 450 feet away from Ground Zero.

Which brings to mind the fact that the collapse of the World Trade Center towers released 400 tons of asbestos into the air. It was never cleaned up properly. Could Occupiers be suffering the results of sleeping in a should-have-been-Superfund site for two months?

We’ll never know. As under Bush, Obama’s EPA still won’t conduct a 9/11 environmental impact study.

Sick? Wanna know why? Fuck you.

One of the authorities’ most ironic complaints about the Occupations is that they attract the mentally ill, drug users and habitually homeless.

To listen to the mayors of Portland, Denver and New York, you’d think the Occupiers beamed in bums and nutcases from outer space.

When mentally disabled people seek help from their government, they get the usual answer: Fuck you.

When people addicted to drugs—drugs imported into the U.S. under the watchful eyes of corrupt border enforcement officers—ask their government for help, they are turned away. Fuck you again.

When people who lost their homes because their government said “fuck you” to them rather than help turn to the same government to look for safe shelter, again they are told: “Fuck you.”

And then, after days and years and decades of shirking their responsibility to provide us with such staples of human survival as places to urinate and defecate and sleep, and food, and medical care, our “fuck you” government has the amazing audacity to blame us, victims of their negligence and corruption and violence, for messing things up.

Which is why we are finally, at long last, starting to say “fuck you” to them.

Dear Republicans

From the Great Orange Satan:

Republicans: We need to talk.

I know you and I don’t see eye to eye on many things. We hang out with different crowds, we listen to different music, we have different interpretations of pretty much every event that has ever happened from the Big Bang onwards—but I’m worried about you. We, the whole of non-Republican America, are worried about you. Heck, I even know people in other countries that are worried about you.

You can be forgiven for Sarah Palin. I know that was mostly McCain’s fault, and you didn’t have a lot of say in that. His staff looked around for someone who they thought could better appeal to the base, and that’s who they came up with. You should have been insulted by that, but I’ll at least grant that it wasn’t your decision to make, it was his.

But that was 2008, and this is 2012. And the decisions you’ve been making this time around are entirely up to you, and, well … let’s just say that most of the rest of us are pretty disappointed in you right now.

Your first serious non-Palin flirtation of this election cycle was with Michele Bachmann. Really? You could choose from among the ranks of the entire conservative movement, and you said “yeah, Michele Bachmann, I guess.” I don’t mean to be cruel, but that’s when most of us realized that this little ideological obsession of yours had turned into a full-fledged, self-destructive addiction. You’d gone and cracked, right then and there. I realize that you have to work with the candidates that present themselves, and not the ones you’d actually choose on your own, but Michele Bachmann was already known far and wide as, well, a crazy person. She’s Palin, after Palin drank an entire bottle of whiskey and drove her car into the side of a DMV office. She doesn’t have political beliefs so much as she has spasms; everything she disagrees with is elevated to the level of America-killing communist apocalypse. There’s no volume control on that knob. Her sole area of expertise is in the area of hand-waving panic over things she knows nothing about: Ask her for the barest details and she’s dumb as a post.

So fine, that was the first one. First loves are often not well-planned things, though; there’s some leeway there. Let’s look at the rest of your candidates.

Rick Perry.

No, let’s just pause there for a moment. Rick. Effing. Perry.

You’re pulling our legs, right?

Let’s all remember that it was your punditry, your own establishment figures, that pushed hard to get Rick Perry in the race. This wasn’t a case of a candidate foisting themselves upon you, this is a guy you actually picked to represent conservatism. Holy Freaking Hell, Republicans, what is that about? Let’s look at the attributes he brings to the campaign trail. First: dumb as a post. I know I just said that about Bachmann, but Perry forced us all to reconsider that, because compared to Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann looks like the freaking Einstein of conservatism. You know, if you folks believed in atoms and such. If Bachmann is as dumb as a post, then Rick Perry is as dumb as the dirt you dug out of the ground to make the hole to put the post in. He has an I.Q. 10 points lower than composted leaves. We’re talking about a guy whose convictions run so very deep that, on a good day, he’s lucky if he even remembers what they are.

Oh yeah, I’m going there. I don’t care how bad a debater you are, if you say that as president the first thing you’ll do is abolish these three federal agencies that are wrecking the country, but you can’t actually remember what the hell they are, you are stone-cold stupid.

Which brings up the second possibility: That if you can’t remember these three things you earnestly believe in, perhaps you don’t actually believe anything at all, and are just saying whatever your handlers told you to say. I have to admit, that might make for a better representative of conservatism: It worked out just fine for George W. Bush. Bush never cared about a damn thing, he just left everything to Cheney, or Rumsfeld, or Rove. Economy? Yeah, whatever. War with who? Sure, let’s go for it. Freedomz and stuff.

Make no mistake here, I haven’t ever forgiven you for Bush. Listening to that dimwit speak for five minutes should have convinced you what a mistake it would be to let that barely functioning manchild play with the entire free world like it was his personal Jenga game, and his first few public appearances were when you and I parted ways for-freaking-ever. But Perry, now? Rick Perry, who is the dumber version of George Bush? The less principled version? The less eloquent version? If that’s who your leading pundits wanted in the race, if that’s the be-all, end-all conservative savior (emphasis on the end-all, I guess), then who is it going to be after eight more years? A goddamn vase full of geraniums?

It makes you look bad. It makes you look dumb. It makes you look like, well, like a party so thoroughly detached from their mental capacities that they would actually look up to a guy like Rick Perry as being their brain trust.

So Rick Perry launched himself with a fanfare, but was last seen plummeting back through the atmosphere, hair-shield glowing red from the heat, his last words a sheepish “oops.” Bold move, there, and so Herman Cain is your next big thing. Let’s just skip the whole part about him possibly being a sexual predator. I think you’re probably wrong to dismiss those allegations: The list of politicians who have repeatedly denied such-and-such only to be thoroughly disgraced when such-and-such was proven to be true is at this point a very, very long one, and I think your heart is going to be broken on this, but let’s talk about something less contentious. Let’s talk about “9-9-9” for a minute, shall we?

You know what one of those 9s stands for? A national sales tax. Now, he explicitly points that out during every single goddamn debate, so if you didn’t know that, it’s time for a whole separate conversation, so I’m going to assume that you, everyone in the Republican base, are fully aware of it.

Let’s reflect on that. The one absolute in the modern Republican party, the one and only principle, the single Great Rule of Modern Conservatism that may never be breached, on penalty of dark, unspeakable Cthulhu-administered punishments, is no new taxes. Or old taxes. Or half-new, half-old taxes. No taxes of anything, ever. If you raise taxes, Zombie Reagan will rise up from the grave and punch you straight in the mouth. If you even talk about raising taxes, members of your party will start digging up Zombie Reagan so that he can get a good head start.

So here comes Mr. Pizza Executive Guy, and the lynchpin of his entire brilliant non-functional monster-deficit-creating economic plan is to institute a nine percent national sales tax on every damn thing you buy, ever. From cars to carrots, you’re going to pay a new tax of nine cents on every dollar, in addition to all the sales taxes you might pay now. In exchange for that, you get the grand deal of also paying a nine percent income tax no matter what your current tax bracket. (Don’t make enough to pay taxes? You do now, suckers.) For everyone but the top of the income scale, it’s a huge increase in taxes. And the less you make (are you retired? unemployed? gainfully employed, but simply not rich?), the worse off you are.

Here’s my question. How is it that the party that would rather put all of government through a wood chipper than raise taxes one thin dime finds themselves enthralled with a guy proposing the biggest, most regressive, most intrusive possible new tax? Nine percent of every purchase you ever make, you’re not only fine with that, but you clap and shout and say “hell yeah, sign all of us small-government, keep-yer-hands-off-our-wallet conservatives up for that!”

What, are you stupid? The current choice you’re trying to mull over is between a possible sexual assaulter who wants to institute a nine percent national tax on everything you buy, and a guy so dumb that he’d actually sign onto that tax as a good idea if someone slipped him a little blue notecard telling him so.

That’s not a political party. That’s a alcohol-fueled dare gone horribly wrong.


You Might Be a Republican If…

You think doing these things result in a better society:

  • Elimination of EPA
  • Elimination of Education
  • Elimination of Energy Dept
  • Elimination of Commerce Dept.
  • Elimination of Planned Parenthood
  • Elimination of NPR
  • Privatizing Social Security
  • Privatizing Medicare
  • Lower taxes on the rich, raise taxes on the poor
  • Trying to strip Union Worker Rights
  • Trying to criminalize abortion and miscarriages
  • Executive orders to mandate 12 yr old girls take HPV vaccines.
  • Emergency Financial Manager Law that allows the state to fire city elected officials and install a dictator.
  • Running fake democratic candidates in Recalls

Yeah, Republicans sure do run on a platform for creating a better society! /sarcasm.

This Was Me Last Night

It was a rough day. I had to deliver and set up some PCs in our Colorado Springs office.  I don’t mind the COS office or going there; it’s actually being in Colorado Springs that I hate. I always feel like I need to shower—in bleach—after spending any time there. It seems every car is plastered with little Jeebus fish or American flags or more commonly, both. The gay hate group Focus on the Family is based there. The Christianist indoctrination facility, more commonly known as the Air Force Academy, is located there. Constitution Avenue is a major thoroughfare.  In short, the whole “God-Country-Family” thing hangs in the air like a poison fog to this little freedom-lovin atheist homo (who actually has read the Constitution, no doubt unlike 99% of the people who live there).

It only took me until around 1 pm to get my work done, so after I said my goodbyes to the office manager and had her verify that everything was set up to her satisfaction, I decided to head out in search of lunch before returning to Denver.  I was in the mood for some Jack-in-the-Box tacos and knew there had to be a JIB somewhere in this overweight fast-food-on-every-corner town.  A quick Google search confirmed that and I set off.

On the way there, I encountered a big white 4×4 driven by an old man who was obviously functioning on only two or three brain cells.  He had a “CAIN 2012” sticker plastered on the rear window of the cab (along with with the usual jeebus fish and american flags on the bumper). Seriously? Herman Cain? The wannabe Groper-in-Chief? I only wish I had a voice that would carry far enough for me to yell out my window and ask the douchebag how he would feel if it was his daughter’s skirt Cain were reaching under. As expected, when the light changed, he took off pedal-to-the-metal. Three brain cells and a small penis! It was a twofer!

But back to lunch, Ben and I have had terrible luck at the three JIBs in Denver. Service is abysmally slow (even when there’s no one else in the restaurant!), orders are delivered missing items, and the people who work there just don’t seem to give a damn about any of it.  I’m not sure I’d be any different if I were in that position, but c’mon people. If corporate gets enough complaints about a store you aren’t going to be working at all. And encountering the same attitude at three different stores?  (Believe me, we’ve let Jack know how awful our experience has been.) For that reason I wasn’t holding out much hope COS would be any different.

I was pleasantly surprised. It was like a JIB in Phoenix. I placed my order and the food was ready (and hot, which is also unusual) within only a few minutes.

Fighting a burgeoning headache that started earlier that morning, I arrived back at our main office at 3 pm, giving me only an hour to get caught up on whatever tasks had been accumulating in my Inbox during the day. Thankfully it had been a pretty quiet in my absence.

Right before I left for the day, Ben texted and asked if I wanted to meet him at the Starbucks on Colorado on my way home. I texted back yes, but by the time I got there the day had just overwhelmed me and I asked if we could just go home instead. He said that was fine; he wasn’t making much headway on his paper anyway.

After a truly unremarkable dinner at the neighborhood Heidi’s where I was asked, “Do you want that hot pastrami hot or cold?” (SERIOUSLY) we walked back home and I popped a couple Advil hoping that would finally kill the headache. Since it was Friday night (yay!) I had every intention of remaining awake and getting caught up on what was stored in the TIVO. Instead, I was sound asleep on the sofa minutes later. I think I woke up around 7:30 and sleepily told Ben I was going to bed. I was out the minute my head hit the pillow and slept for the next twelve hours…