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coalition_unwilling's Journal
coalition_unwilling's Journal
May 31, 2012

PSA: Please do not apply for any jobs at wiredtalent.com - really poor

HR practices, as evidenced by this snippet from a tech support help wanted ad on craigslist.org:

Pre-Employment Requirements
o 7-Year Comprehensive Background Check Required and Credit Check Required. DO NOT Apply unless you can pass both a criminal check and a credit check (i.e. your credit is free from current collection accounts)



I emailed to tell them they are insane with their credit check B.S. and that I was going to trash their rep as an employer wherever and whenever I could.


ETA: Got an email auto-response saying they were reviewing my resume. Ugh and double-ugh

May 30, 2012

Another question for Obama and\or his supporters here:

Since my first such question about Obama and the bank bailouts stirred such controversy and lively debate (http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002718381), I thought I would venture a second question:

Does Obama approve or disapprove of the nation-wide crackdown on Occupy that has occurred in the past six months?

My wife and I have discussed this and have arrived at 3-4 possible scenarios:

1) Obama approves of crackdown and has directed DHS and other security organs to cooperate in it.

2) Obama approves but there has been no nationally-coordinated crackdown

3) Obama disapproves of crackdown but has no power to stop it. (Perhaps Obama has even lost control of the levers of the national security services.)

4) Obama disapproves of crackdown in private and is taking private steps to stop it but cannot go public with them.

My wife leans toward #1, while I lean toward #3

Again, I'm not asking this to snark at Obama or his supporters. Were Romney or McCrazy president, Occupiers would no doubt have died by now. And I plan to vote for Obama in 2012 because I've come to hate Romney with a visceral passion.

But I like knowing who my friends are. And I have a hard time seeing Obama as a friend to Occupy, his populist campaign rhetoric notwithstanding.

May 23, 2012

A question for Obama and\or his supporters here:

Why did banks (meaning share- and bondholders) get bailed out but not other segments of and participants in this economy?

I ask this seriously. There must be a reason why a subsection of our society got a bailout that no one else received. Was it to keep the economy functioning? Was there a general fear that without the too-big-to-fail banks, the whole capitalist edifice might totter and collapse?

I ask this question not to snark at Obama or his supporters but out of genuine curiosity. Why did a subset of society get special treatment that the rest of us did not? Seems really unfair and unjust, but there may be reasons of state that I'm msising or failing to understand.

May 21, 2012

Chicago: You've made me ashamed to call myself American

Tonight, as the blood of our patriots flows down the drains of Chicago streets, I must say that I am deeply ashamed to call myself American. I am deeply ashamed that I once called myself a Democrat. I am deeply ashamed that I once saw Obama as representing any kind of substantive change to all the horrors of the years that preceded him.

To the heroes and heroines of today's protest in Chicago, I tip my hat to you. You represent the best that humanity has to offer and I hereby resolve that your bloodshed shall not have been in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

May 14, 2012

The Empire Flails Back - Reflections on Occupy Los Angeles General Assembly -- May 12, 2012

There are times when I really hate Los Angeles. Locked in traffic on the 405 during rush hour, going to a bar or restaurant filled with hipster posers, watching the drivel that passes for local TV news. You can now add to that catalog going to Occupy Los Angeles (OLA) events at Pershing Square downtown. Oh, not because of the occupiers, a valiant group of Children’s Crusaders and ancient 60s hippies, the only groups left in our society with the guts to say the emperor has no clothes. No, I hate going to Occupy Los Angeles events because the Los Angeles Police Department are, well, pigs. Yeah, the waste of taxpayer dollars involved in the ongoing petty harassment of Occupiers, well it finally starts to get to you. You realize there’s a machine out there, a grinder up of anything decent and human. You might have told yourself the LAPD are simply working class stiffs, 99%ers forced to enforce the will and whim of the 1%ers. You might have said that, until you saw what they did on Saturday. And the LAPD had to retreat, cowardly vermin that they are. But not before they had revealed themselves as the class traitors they are. Every taxpayer in Los Angeles should be seriously pissed off that his or her tax dollars are being wasted.

Alma and I had received an invitation via FaceBook to attend a ‘themed General Assembly’ on Saturday afternoon at Pershing Square. Although OLA has regular Gas on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, it holds a themed GA on Saturdays. The theme for the May 12 GA was ‘Alternatives to Capitalism.’ It sounded like it would be an interesting event and, as both Alma and I fashion ourselves Socialists, seemed like an event right up our alley.

For non-Angelenos, Pershing Square is a one-block urban park in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, located about mid-way between City Hall and the financial district on Bunker Hill. Mostly paved concrete with a couple grassy patches, Pershing Square hosts some really cool urban art, as well as a collection point for the derelicts and cast-offs of post-modern capitalism. Since November, Pershing Square ahs served as Occupy Los Angeles’ site for its GAs, now that the camp at City Hall has been violently destroyed by the LAPD.

We arrived right about 1 p.m. and parked in the underground parking structure. When we reached the surface, a group of about 75-100 activists was already there. Tables were set up offering food and various publications and clothing. This was a faint echo of the vibrant barter scene at the original OLA, but it is important to note that no money changes hands at these tables. Goods and services are freely offered and nothing is asked in return. (I always admired OLA’s valiant efforts to feed all comers at its pre-raid City Hall location, in the face of Public Health Department obstructions and more mouths than food.)

The GA began with a few ritualistic invocations offered by Karoline and Elena, the two moderators. Esteban kicked off the GA proper with a brief reading of a definition of capitalism as an economic system where the means of production are privately owned for personal profit. And then the GA was asked to do breakout groups on various questions like whether bosses should be able to terminate workers and whether the current system could be fixed. (I played Devil’s Advocate and answered ‘yes’ to both questions, for the purposes of stimulating debate.)

Various speakers then addressed the GA on the topics of dialectical materialism, on what was wrong with the current system and what if anything should replace it. It was interesting hearing the various socialist and communist organizations’ speakers. I personally overheard representatives from the Freedom Socialist Party, the International Communist Workers’ Party, the International Socialist Organization and the Revolutionary Communist Party (the latter a group I had a passing acquaintance with back in 2004-5). There is as much doctrinal disagreement among these various factions as there is between the Democrats and Republicans. As one example, the ICWP does not believe in evolving from capitalism through socialism to communism but instead jumping straight to communism and abolishing money, whereas the Freedom Socialist Party seems to follow more closely the traditional Western European Socialist tradition of a gradual evolution from capitalism to socialism to communism. When I spoke briefly, I said that the new system needs to be founded on the principle of organizing itself to meet people’s needs rather than satisfying people’s greed, a message that was warmly received probably because I kept it vague as to specifics. I did mention one specific need that capitalism has failed to meet, hunger and used it to take a few shots at the Republican assholes and bullies who would cut children off nutrition assistance in the interest of balancing their budget, while not raising taxes on the rich or cutting the military budget.

In the midst of these discussions by the various attendees, the proceedings were disrupted when a phalanx of LAPD officers entered the park in wedge formation and tried to break down the various tables and tear down the erected banners. Their rationale: OLA had no permit to be selling goods and services. Well, here’s where the ‘communalist’ aspect of OLA becomes pertinent. NO MONEY WAS CHANGING HANDS. Likewise, Los Angeles has an ordinance prohibiting hanging banners from trees on city property. But the banners in question were hung from concrete pillars, not from trees.

As the phalanx first made itself known, the assembled crowd hummed the Star Wars Empire Strikes Back theme -- "Dum, dum, dum, dum da-dum, dum da-dum" and several started chanting “We are not the droids you are looking for.” As the phalanx started trying to remove the banners, the occupiers began chanting at the LAPD, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay. LAPD go away.” I was concerned that the riot squad would be summoned and heads bashed in under the pretext that we were some sort of ‘unlawful assembly’ (the same rationale used when busting up the camp in late November). The 25-30 LAPD officers were easily outnumbered by now by 10-1, as attendance at the GA had grown. While I did not see any officer unholster a firearm, I did see a few officers put their hands on their batons in a rather threatening manner. However, after some heated words between various occupiers and LAPD, the LAPD phalanx retreated back to the street the way it had come. Cost to the taxpayers for this petty harassment: easily $5,000 in wages and overtime, I’m guessing. On the plus side, no occupier was arrested and no one got his or her head bashed in.

I don’t honestly know if the politicians and LAPD leadership are aware that many of Los Angeles’ future political leaders, its current occupiers, are starting to detest the LAPD. At some point, Occupiers will hold the fate of LAPD’s budgets and pensions in its hands and LAPD will have to pray for the very charity and magnanimity it has failed to display. After so much repression, it’s an open question now whether LAPD rank and file will be able to depend on that charity and magnanimity based on its behavior.

When the GA resumed after the LAPD’s harassment had ended, a gentle soft-spoken young man with a British accent made an observation that I found incredibly empowering and liberating. Alluding to the Eastern European literary figures like Kundera and Havel, this gentleman noted that they had always written as though Stalinism was already dead, even when faced with its worst repression. He suggested that Occupy act and communicate as thought the old system is already dead and we merely await the birth of the new system that will take its place. This was said with such a quiet, soft-spoken eloquence and confidence and you had to be listening closely to catch it. But if we stop responding to the Pavlovian stimulus-response pattern offered by capitalism and start modeling the new system, whatever that system may be, the old system will start to lose its power to inflict its horrors upon us. Stirring eloquent stuff – won’t exactly pay our mortgage or keep the deputies from our door if and when BofA forecloses, but still something to think about.

The GA concluded around 4 p.m. when a papier-mache piñata of an ATM machine was attacked by blindfolded OLAers whacking at it with a stick. I was standing on the outskirts of the crowd and only vicariously experienced the catharsis as the ATM piñata withstood several hearty blows before finally disintegrating and disgorging its stash of balled-up colored tissue paper. I’m not sure what all that symbolizes but the crowd clearly got a huge kick out of destroying such a symbol of post-industrial capitalism.

That afternoon, we met many occupiers whom we had known before the raid: Karoline, Elena and Ruth, erstwhile moderators of the GA and stalwarts of the Facilitation Committee, Colin and his K-99% pit bull companion Duncan who unfailingly manned the Welcome Tent before the raid, Gary the indefatigable Labor Committee agitator, Anthony the young occupier still trying to enforce committee accountability – these reunions were like a camp meeting revival in that respect. My heart was again seized with admiration for this group that has sacrificed and suffered so much in pursuit of its dissent with the status quo and vision for a better, alternative future. It is safe to say that, for the most part, those who remain are the serious ones, the most dedicated and the most committed. Gone are the attention seekers, the latter-day Dionysians concerned with drumming their way to paradise. Those who remain constitute a hardened core of visionaries and prophets.

For everything I hate about LA, OLA gives me reason to hope and to hang in here, even when it often seems we have been largely abandoned by our government and left to fend for ourselves. The LAPD and city leaders can harass OLA, it can jail them, it can bash their heads in. But it has not silenced OLA. For how can you silence an idea whose time has come?

May 12, 2012

Why did no one try to stop Romney's attack on Lauber?

As I have been struggling the past couple days with ancient memories of having been bullied in school, one question kept hovering at the edge of my consciousness only to slip away each time I tried to give voice to it.

Here it is:

There were many witnesses to Romney's attack on Lauber. Why didn't anyone try to stop Romney? Why didn't anyone step up and say "This is wrong and must stop"?

I keep flashing on Melville's Billy Budd, where the Christ-like Budd is done in by a conspiracy of silence among his crewmates as to why he struck and killed the villain Claggart and a slavish obedience to the letter of the law at the expense of its spirit by the Captain, de Vere. As with Romney's attack on Lauber, no one spoke up.

Melville's tale is fiction, obviously, and in fiction often lies great truth. But Melville, AFAIK, never answers the question of why good men can remain silent in the face of inhumanity. Why silence equals complicity.

I'd love to hear from the resident psychology experts here, as well as any victims of bullying or anyone with insight into the whole group conformity dynamic.

May 11, 2012

This is why it wasn't 'hijinks':

"As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors. "


Here's what Romney said yesterday to Fox Radio: "“I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks in high school . . . "



Funny (npi) thing, as I read the story yesterday, my eyes filled with tears too, both for Lauber and for remembering what I had to put up with (nowhere near as severe as Lauber's experience).

That was 35 fucking years ago and it never really goes away. It lies dormant until something triggers it.

I still remember my feeling of dread having to go to school each day, this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that there was no escape and nowhere and no one to turn to.

So, Mr. Hijinks, I say "Fuck You" to you and to anyone who still supports you or maintains that what you did was in any way acceptable. Just fuck you.


Source of original quote:


May 10, 2012

Will the bullying revelations force Romney to withdraw?

I wonder what is being whispered in the halls of Repuke power brokers right about now.

Oh, to be a bug on one of those walls.

May 10, 2012

We Are All John Lauber (Romney's HS bullying victim) - edited to include internal link

I am crying this morning for myself and for all victims of school bullying, whether they be victims of homophobia, racism, sexism, anti-intellectualism, or any other pathological -ism. We did NOTHING to deserve it other than exist.


God damn Republicans, those sociopathic pieces of shit.

May 2, 2012

My Return to Occupy Los Angeles May Day, 2012

Alma and I had not been to an Occupy Los Angeles (OLA) event in person since the camp at City Hall was busted up at the end of November, 2011. Yesterday, though, to support the ill-named ‘General Strike’ call, we headed back downtown to join the convergence at MacArthur Park and from there to march past Pershing Square, home of the current OLA General Assembly (GA), to Skid Row at 6th and Main.

Organizers of the May 1 General Strike in Los Angeles built the event around ‘Four Winds,’ groups of people from each of the four cardinal directions all converging at Skid Row. Based on where Alma and I live (near Inglewood), we could have gone with either the South Wind or the West Wind. Being a long-time West-sider and a creature of habit, I chose to hook up with the Westside contingent. (The South Wind group started at the historic intersection of Florence and Normandie.)

The West Wind contingent began at the Pacific Ocean (on Wilshire Boulevard) and had several actions planned as they caravanned to MacArthur Park. Due to some scheduling conflicts, however, Alma and I had to skip all the preliminary actions and join the penultimate convergence at the Park. Our trip there was uneventful and we found a reasonably priced parking garage about 1 block from MacArthur Park on Carondolet St.

We got to the Park at around 1:30 p.m. and on the southwest corner many activists had already gathered. I would estimate turnout there was between 1-200 folks. The Los Angeles Police Department was out in force, with cops on foot, on bicycle, on horseback and in the notorious black and whites lined up in the park and on 6th St. I would estimate there were at least 75 cops there, a figure that seems accurate based on media reports that the LAPD called a tactical alert and had as many as 1,000 officers mobilized for the events.

People continued to meet at MacArthur Park for the next 45 minutes or so and then we began a slow march northward on 6th street towards the downtown. By this point, enough folks had gathered that there was not enough room for all of them on the sidewalk and folks organically moved into the traffic lanes of 6th St. The LAPD cars kept blipping their sirens every 5-10 seconds in a most annoying fashion and driving the wrong way down the southbound lanes of 6th St.
The march towards downtown took us through what I think is now a primarily Latino district of small businesses and urban strip malls. The march also took us past another historic edifice, the Ramparts Division headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department. (More on that below.) As we used the 6th St. bridge over the Pasadena freeway, many activists stopped to hold their signs so that northward bound drivers on the 110 could see them. We received many honks of support from motorists and it was probably a site to see, a human chain stretching the entire length of the bridge.

As we crossed the bridge and entered downtown proper, I noticed the LAPD presence seemed to intensify. Now it seemed at ever intersection there were phalanxes of cops stationed blocking cross street traffic and occasionally blocking us from continuing down 6th street. Eventually though we managed to get to 6th and Main, home of Occupy Skid Row.

“It looks like the drum circle finally won the battle of the wills,” I said to Alma. I was referring to the perpetual annoyance said drummers always posed when we were trying to run General Assembly. The drummers were out in force today and the same circle of latter-day Dionysians were celebrating through dance. Most people, though, were milling about. OLA organizers had set up a Welcome Tent and a Food Tent. As was the practice during the two months of the camp, volunteers were feeding anyone standing in line with no questions asked and no money changing hands. (That is one of my fondest memories of the camp -- the valiant attempts to feed the Occupiers and the hungry in general.)

A couple of my SoCal colleagues from DemocraticUnderground.com showed up (Bob and Mike) and we stood around exchanging anecdotes and discussing what our next plans were. Mike was there as a Legal Observer and taking copious photographs to document interactions between the LAPD and OLA. There were many green-hatted observers from the National Lawyers Guild present and I am eternally grateful to them for the service they provide.

One of the more heart-warming developments is that, while we were assembled at 6th and Main, a large contingent of 2-300 activists for immigrants rights came marching up 5th street heading northward. It was quite a picturesque moment to see this brigade, most of whom carried the same sign.

After we stood around for about an hour, an impromptu march from 6th and Main up through the financial district began. Here is where I know that I am turning into an old activist. The march from MacArthur Park had been about 2 miles and I knew that we were looking at a 2-mile hike back to the car (since I am unfamiliar with how the buses work in the metro area, not having worked there in more than 10 years). As the crowd was walking up Bunker Hill and reaching its peak, the crowd went to veer right past the Wells Fargo headquarters. Alma and I decided to take our leave then and return to the car. We attempted to leave at 4th and Hill and were greeted with yet another phalanx of edgy, muscled-up cops. At first we thought we would not be allowed to leave (as was the case with past encounters with LAPD at Occupy events). Well, the commanding officer asked if we were trying to leave. I said, “Yeah.” “OK,” the commander said, pointing to two LAPD officers, “escort these two down the stairs to 5th Street.” The commander turned back to us. “You can’t congregate here.”

Now were I younger and not already bushed from the 2-mile mark, I might have chosen to take a stand right then and there for the First Amendment right of free speech and assembly. But these police were very edgy. Alma took out her cell phone to snap a picture of the police formation. “Ma’am,” the police commander said, “this is not the time for pictures. You need to leave. NOW!” Very ugly and edgy – he had placed his hand on his baton. So we went down the steps with these two hulking LAPD officers shadowing us behind. Alma was really pissed off and was telling the two cops what bullies they were and how they were tools of the 1%. We reached 5th St. and the two LAPD officers remained standing on the flight of stairs. But I had and have a bad feeling about how things might have gone down had we done a Rosa Parks there. (We found out later that a LAPD officer had been injured by a skateboard, if you believed the media whores on KTLA5, so maybe that was why these cops were so edgy. Of course, KTLA was doing its part to propagate the whore media line, as the reality is that it was Occupiers chanting “We are peaceful” who defused tensions at that intersection.) Very creepy though and the First Amendment is more honored in the breach than in the observance in downtown Los Angeles.

In retrospect, it seemed as if the LAPD was stationing itself to guide the march past those very financial institutions that lay at the heart of OLA’s grievances. Alma and I have scrupulously adhered to the position that the police are members of the working class whose jobs may require them to protect the interests of the 1% at the expense of the 99%. But, after yesterday, my opinion is starting to change and I am now starting to view the police as working class but also as ‘class traitors.’ They are no longer protecting and serving me. They protect and serve the monied interests. So the LAPD and its enablers are hereby put on notice. While I was not ready for my Rosa Parks moment yesterday, its behaviors and attitudes are making inevitable a Rosa Parks moment from me at some point in the future. I had to see this with my own eyes yesterday and have time to think on it but now I will come to future encounters with my eyes opened and a plan in place.

We reached our car on Carondolet and drove home without incident. Later that night I watched a choppy Livestream feed of the night’s General Assembly at Pershing Square. It looked as though there might have been 150-200 people assembled for it. Not bad for a movement that just six months ago appeared on the verge of extinction.

If I had the feeling at times that I was trapped inside a Pirandello script – 1000 Activists in Search of a Cause, if you will – the grievances that animated the Occupy Movement last fall are still there and have not gone away. Notoriously absent from yesterday’s activities were any leaders of the Democratic Party. Good to know that we have all to a large extent been abandoned even by the party that nominally represents working class interests. At least we now know where we stand and that we can expect little help or support from the Democratic Party. It never hurts to know who your friends are (or are not).

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