November 15, 2011

Seems like old times in Berkeley

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 6:01 pm

Striking students pass through Sather Gate
Striking students gather on Sproul Plaza Tuesday.
Music was part of the program at Sproul Plaza Tuesday

The fact that broadcast news media want to cover an issue in about 90 seconds works to the advantage of the Conservatives because most voters don’t want to get a complete picture of a complex issue and the student strike at University California Berkeley will provide an example of how the rush to oversimplify destroys journalism’s reason for being.

In the Sixties the University system in California was an outstanding opportunity for young people in that state to acquire an affordable education.

In the Seventies, Prop 13 was sold to home owning voters as a way to save money. The property tax had provided the funds for affordable educations. When Prop 13 passed, businesses saved large amounts of money when that tax was eliminated from their overhead expenses. Did they pass the savings along to consumers?

Wealthy families are used to expecting that their kids will be college educated and become industry management. The potential for middle and low class families sending their children to college may have seemed like the underclasses were stealing opportunities for large salaries from them so it behooved the wealthy to put the cost of education beyond the capability of the middle and lower class.

The fact that Prop 13 benefited business immensely made its passage a double payoff for the wealthy.

Can an explanation of how the passage of Prop 13, more than 30 years ago, caused the current student unrest, be reduced to a few words that fit on a bumper sticker?

Can the opposing force’s message of “Reduce taxes, increase jobs” be refuted on a bumper sticker?

So today students strike to make the point that they want the opportunity for an affordable education just like there was in the Sixties and the people who don’t want to restart a tax burden they managed to eliminate just say “trickle down” and dupe the voters who don’t examine the history of an issue.

To the best of this photographer/columnist’s ability to cover the start of the UCB student strike on Tuesday, November 15, 2011, we can report that we did not see a single instance of any student burning his draft card.

Doesn’t that prove conclusively that change has been delivered, just as promised?

What is Twirling Around in Herman Cain’s Head?


November 14, 2011

Photo update from Occupy Oakland

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 5:32 pm

DWP workers doing clean-up tell the story visually.
Officers from SF relieve the Oakland PD
Protester is shown Monday morning in Oakland

On Monday morning, November 14, 2011, DPW crews in Oakland were at Frank Ogawa Plaza cleaning up the debris from the former site of the Occupy Oakland encampment.
The columnist/photographer observed officers from San Francisco relieving the Oakland PD (in riot gear) on the perimeter of the “crime scene,” sometime between 8 and 9 a.m.
A small number of protesters tried to block the intersection of Broadway and 14th St. A sergeant from the Oakland PD told them they would be arrested. They moved. No arrests could be seen.
News photographers and TV crews focused on the DWP workers doing their jobs.

The height of Western Civilization: Economic chaos, climate disaster, pedophilia & drones?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:55 pm

Remember all the wonders of ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and ancient Rome, those amazing cradles of Western Civilization? Remember Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Newton, Copernicus and Einstein — fathers of modern science, culture and art? Do the names Thomas Jefferson, Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King Jr ring a bell — men who gave birth to our modern ideals regarding justice?

And what about Western Civilization’s many miraculous offspring — such as life-saving medicine, outstanding universities, electricity, the telephone, moving pictures, human beings landing on the moon, the airplane and central heating?

While babysitting my three-year-old granddaughter Mena the other day, I was suddenly overwhelmed by her wonderfulness. “I’m thinking that what you have produced here is probably the height of Western Civilization!” I exclaimed to my son Joe when he came to pick her up later. “Mena is smart, kind, positive, curious and creative. She’s perfect.”

And then I looked over at my son, who is the prime example of a perfect loving and caring father. “Oh hell, Joe, you are the height of Western Civilization too!”

I’m so proud to be a member of a society that can produce such outstanding, high-quality youth as these ones.

Sadly, however, what Western Civilization is really going to be the most remembered for among future historians — if there will be any left, that is — is going to be climate disaster, planet-wide radioactivity, an economic crisis of epic proportion, greedy and grubby leadership, grand-scale human subjugation, pedophilia and pornography, waterboarding, voting-machine fraud and the bloody and anonymous disfigurement and death of hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children by monstrous drones, gristly cluster bombs and nightmare-quality uranium-enhanced weaponry that maim and kill indiscriminately.

Is it too late to change?

PS: When my daughter Ashley was in first grade back in 1994, I wrote a book that her class could read in preparation for their big spring camping trip up to Tilden Park. The moral of its story was that people learn by doing — and that we are NOT stuck in our set ways forever but truly are able to change. (And also, perhaps, that if civilization as we know it is destroyed by our greedy and inept leaders, there’s still a slim chance that we might still be able to survive by living off the land?) Anyway, here’s my tale (illustrations are included below, free of charge):

Ms. Brown’s First Grade Class and the Great Outdoors

Let’s explore some of the facts we might know and the feelings we might have about city life. Let’s then compare them with the facts we might know and the feelings we might have about the Great Outdoors.

Here’s a fact: All the first graders in Ms. Brown’s class know pretty much everything they need to know regarding the rules of city life. You all know how to flush a toilet, buckle a seat belt, brush your teeth, turn on a television, get dressed, get on and off a school bus, bicycle to the corner and turn on and off the kitchen light.

You know how to make a bowl of cereal. You know how to answer the telephone, how to open the door and how to eat your vegetables. You know when bedtime is. You know when to get up. You know where to put your boots away. You know where to find the ice cream section when you go to the grocery store.

You know who to tell when you see a bad guy. You know who to ask for help with your homework. You know what to do when you are at school. You know what to do when you are at home.

You know a lot about city life.

But what about feelings? Most of you feel at home in the city. Most of you feel pretty familiar and comfortable with the rules and ways of city life. Right? Right.

Here’s a fact: There are no televisions, cars, lights, telephones, toilets, refrigerators, houses, bicycles, schools, streets or video games in the Great Outdoors. They don’t even have Barney!

Life in the Great Outdoors is very different from life in the city.

There are a lot of fun things to do in the Great Outdoors, but they are fun in a different way than the fun things you find in a city. There is dirt in the Great Outdoors. Lots and lots of dirt. There are trees. There are creeks and rivers. There are bushes, plants and grass. There is lots and lots of fresh air.

There are almost no people. There is lots of room to run around in. There is a lot of silence and a lot of interesting sounds. There are animals and birds in the Great Outdoors. And the Great Outdoors has a whole new set of rules that are completely different from the rules of city life.

But what about feelings? You might not feel familiar with this new set of rules. You might wonder how you are going to learn all the new rules of the Great Outdoors. You might feel doubtful. You might feel scared. You might feel curious. You might even feel EXCITED by the chance to learn about a new way to survive successfully in a whole new place, to go to and beat a whole new level in the game of life!

Here’s a fact: If you spend time learning about the Great Outdoors, you can learn a lot.

But what about feelings? Even if you only spend an hour or two a week learning about the Great Outdoors, sooner than you think you can learn enough to feel comfortable there — to feel as much at home in the Great Outdoors as you do in the city.

(This book is dedicated to the memory of Ms. Denise Brown, teacher extraordinaire, the best teacher ev-ah)


November 13, 2011

Herman Cain’s Lie Detector Test


November 11, 2011

The Party of Oops!


November 10, 2011

“Badges? Badges? We don’t gotta show you no stinkin’ badges!”

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 5:30 pm

These tents were gone by Thursday morning.
These steps are a famous protest site from the Sixties.
This tent was taken down minutes later.
The media (mostly) missed the incident that was part of protest history.

On late Wednesday afternoon, events at UCB went to warp speed. Police moved in and arrests were made. Protesters assert that videos that showed Police brutality are available online. Things had calmed down by early evening. Some protesters asserted that the police were not wearing their badges during the arrests.

Old Berkeley protesters might remember a time when a similar allegation resulted in a political cartoon in the Berkeley Barb that used a famous line from the movie “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” as a caption.

According to reports on KCBS news radio, tents were removed and more arrests were made about midnight.

Thursday morning, things were calm again.

A tent was set up and occupied by Naomi SantaCruz close to the Mario Savio historic plaque. Students were told to move it. They complied. The tent was set up at the very edge of Keay Davidson’s class on the relationship between University of California and the nuclear weapons laboratory.

About 10:36 a.m. PST on Thursday, November 10, 2011, an incident occurred and a scuffle ensued. A protester was led away by officers. Students began to chant “Police brutality, police brutality” but the law enforcement officers chose to ignore the students’ suggestion.

When Thursday’s incident occurred the TV crews being paid to record any news as it happened, were (apparently) caught off guard and the event had occurred before they could start “rolling.”

Could the tumult possibly have been much greater if the school had fired it’s football coach?

Super Cain vs. Reality


“Some things never change”: Student protests at UC Berkeley

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Jane Stillwater @ 2:15 am

On tonight’s news, they featured various segments covering protests at Occupy Oakland, Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Denver, Occupy Seattle, Occupy New York, Occupy Austin, Occupy Chicago, etc. And tonight I was also a part of “Occupy Cal”. And the university police charged into a mass of student demonstrators like they were going after bank robbers or bad guys instead of just students protesting HUGE tuition hikes. And the students stood their ground on Sproul Plaza against great odds.

The police seized tents and banners from the students — and what do you know? The students seized them right back!

And, later, when there was a lull in between various attacks on students, I had a chance to talk to some of the cops. “Are other local police forces involved in this operation — or is it only the U.C. police?”

“Just the university police, ma’am. Not the city police. But the chancellor stated that he would not allow tents to be erected on campus.” And so the chancellor apparently chose to give an order to take the tents down.

Bad choice.

“I used to protest here at this very same spot back in the 1960s,” I then told the boys in blue.

“Some things never change,” one cop replied. Well, guess what? Things had pretty damn well better change — or else!

Or else what?

Or else there will be a hit-and-run type of protest movement from the rest of us 99% — that will go on and on and on at different places daily all over America until things DO start to change. The corporatists don’t have the money or the manpower to control all of us everywhere. A non-violent hit-and-run guerrilla protest movement? Yay.

And I just heard that U.C. Santa Cruz students have also gone out on strike.

And will a plaza or university or town square or bank near you be next?

PS: U.C. students in Berkeley are very well-represented by their district’s councilperson, Kriss Worthington, who was also on Sproul Plaza, backing his young constituents up. Here’s what he told the Berkeley Daily Planet tonight:

“At the home of the Free Speech Movement, the UCPD appears to have suppressed Free Speech again! Please join us in questioning this behavior and challenge the UCPD to respect the Free Speech Rights of Occupy Cal.”

Worthington then went on to admonish Chancellor Birgeneau and UC police chief Calaya for their violent actions against non-violent protestors. “I wanted to bring to your attention that banners with Free Speech content appear to have been seized by UCPD in front of Sproul Plaza. …It is hard to imagine that such an act could occur at the exact location in Berkeley where the Free Speech Movement began.” Worthington nailed it exactly.

“You can imagine that the sense of irony will not be lost on the public, that the UCPD violated the Free Speech rights of protesters at this particular location. …These students have made a firm commitment to no violence and no vandalism. The University should be commending the thousands of students that are participating. For many, this could be their very first political protest of their life. They are protesting specifically for additional financing for the University of California. The University should support this enthusiasm and help encourage this to be an effective protest that helps the University and our country.”–By-Councimember-Kriss-Worthington

PPS: Of course it is unacceptable that police are violently shutting down freedom of speech at the very spot where the Berkeley Free Speech Movement was born. But even more unacceptable is the fact that free speech movements all over the United States are also being shut down — here in America, in the Land of the Free.

I mean, seriously. With Veterans Day almost upon us, we can only speculate why our heroic troops fought and died in foreign wars — if the very Freedom that they fought so hard for abroad is being violently shut down right here at home.


November 9, 2011

Occupy Mario Savio Steps

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 7:30 pm

Protester speaks to students
Bankers get blame again
Sign says it all.
Just like old times?

On Wednesday, November 09, 2011, students at University of California expanded the OWS protests to a location that has earned a place in the Protestors Hall of Fame.

The steps in front of Spraul Hall, where Mario Savio made history, were where the Students as University of California Berkeley decided to hold their OWS activities and rally.

The early afternoon phase of the new protest was calm and under heavy police observation.

‘V’ for Victory


November 7, 2011

The Case of the missing Gonzo Journalism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 6:45 pm

The typewriter looked very familiar
Getting the poster makes seeing a good movie even better
The movie produced a deja vu moment.

Seeing Johnny Depp, in “The Rum Diary,” portraying a rookie Hunter S. Thompson in Puerto Rico pounding away on a portable typewriter, we were again inspired to renew our efforts to draw attention to causes such as the effort to Save Richardson Grove State Park, “one of the 100 finest state parks in America” (according to a brochure from, and also draw attention to the environmentalists’ alarm that some gold mining activity in the area posed a threat to Yosemite National Park. We scaled back our goals and settled for spending a day taking photos of the November 2, 2011, General Strike in Oakland, and then posting them online, but wished we could do better.

Wouldn’t it be much more Gonzo if we still had an influential voice and a portable typewriter to bang out a column lamenting the fact that while Conservatives are shameless in their efforts to shield the rich from their civic duty of paying any taxes, the Liberals are being inundated by a tsunami of outrageous simultaneous assaults on causes that would (subjunctive mood) draw the scorn and vituperative sarcasm of Hunter S. Thompson, if he were still alive?

Would Hunter find humor in the oxymoron that while President Obama was winning the Nobel Peace Prize, bringing justice to Osama bin Laden (as Dubya had promised America he would do), giving the orders to get the troops out of Iraq (in compliance to commitments made by Dubya), and dealing with Ghadafi while the Republicans are constantly trying to tar and feather the President with an image as a lazy, no-good, shiftless, black bum?

While posting the photos of the General Strike, we checked our e-mail and leaned that our wish to be the fellow behind the Gonzo typewriter wasn’t so farfetched after all. A friend back in “the old country,” just South of the ’bu (= Malibu) sent us an e-mail saying:
“At one point, a girl came over & started asking me about a slim Olivetti typewriter I had: was it made in or before 1960? You might remember this item, Bob: lightweight, manual, somewhat anonymous, portable & only 2″ thick: you sold it to me back in 1997.
Now I know this model really came out in the early 1970′s, designed by Ettore Sotsass of Milan, I believe, but being the salesman I am, I replied, “Yes ma’am, this unit did indeed come out in 1960.” We haggled just a bit on price, & I let her have it for $25. With the sale complete, I asked, if she didn’t mind telling me, what she was going to do with it? She smiled & told me that she was the propmaster on a feature film set in 1960.
Well, Bob, I just saw “Rum Diary” last night, & Johnny Depp is writing with your typewriter! It has one big hero shot 1/2 hour from the end where they pull in real close, & it’s your typer, Bob! To fit the exegeses of the story, which in part is about American business’ despoilation of paradise, they had to have him using an American typewriter, so they refitted a REMINGTON ES nameplate in place of the OLIVETTI one, but it’s definitely your machine: the indispensable tool for the travelling journalist.
So—a young Hunter S. Thompson is portrayed beginning his legend using YOUR typewriter.
Does it get any better than this, Bob?
Oh, and the movie’s great.”

Yikes! The portable typewrite we had used in our efforts to imitate Hunter S. Thompson became the same one that Johnny Depp used to portray the father of Gonzo Journalism. Maybe we should be encouraged and renew our efforts to bring the Gospel of Gonzo to the Internets?

If Hunter S. Thompson were still alive wouldn’t it be child’s play for him to make a visit to one of the Occupy sites and then tie together the possibility that the law forbidding the use of masks in California, the burly provocateurs (do police officers use steroids to “bulk up”?) and the bad image that the (so called) liberal media pins on the OWS movement into a crazy conspiracy theory asserting that maybe the “anarchists” and the agents of law enforcement were collaborating their efforts to help the Koch brothers discredit the roving band of hippies who have terrorized the Establishment for over forty years? If Hunter could have done that; then why can’t we?

Don’t newspaper reporters on the crime beat and the police know that Section 185 of the California Penal Code make wearing a mask a misdemeanor? The police and any Occupy monitors could call out the people behind the mask for breaking the law, but that would stifle any attempts to use agent provocateurs to sabotage the Occupy Movement and isn’t it obvious who those scoundrels might be?

If the agent provocateurs are using masks shouldn’t the monitors at the Occupy site ask masked people to remove the masks or be reported to the local police agency? End of problem. It might be a bit embarrassing for things to happen that way if some of the masked people turned out to be undercover cops.

Wouldn’t the Gonzo pioneer point out that the Occupy issue is unfolding in the traditional Republican manner? The politicians want to remove the symptoms (the various encampments) rather than treat the disease: the rich don’t pay their fair portion of taxes. The debate has devolved into concerns about health and safety because the lackeys in the media say what the owner/publishers tell them to say. Wouldn’t Hunter S. Thompson lead by example and tell the truth to power?

Would Hunter have trouble directing the public’s attention to the potential for a revival of the Bush Dynasty? Would he be accused of being a conspiracy theory nut for making bets on a successful JEB run for the Republican Nomination?

Would Hunter be an effective voice if he pointed out that the sweeps of the encampments happen at night because the effectiveness of videos from citizen journalists is considerably diminished by the dim available light capacity of their equipment, thus making it easy to summarily dismiss any videos of alleged police misconduct by saying “you can’t see that clearly”?

Wasn’t the Internets supposed to supersede the old underground newspapers in supplying a voice of dissent? Do you suppose that the Internet hasn’t produced an fine examples of e-Gonzo Journalism because the media moguls don’t want voices of dissention and protest to be heard? What ever happened to mainstream media coverage of the blogisphere?

There is a great speculative fiction book about using a replica of Hemingway’s typewriter titled “The Hemingway Hoax.” Where is our copy of that book?

Herb Caen’s typewriter is on display (at an inaccessible location?) in a newspaper office in San Francisco. What ever happened to the typewriter used by the famed Berkeley native who was Caen’s good friend and biggest rival and used the nom de plume Freddy Francisco? What was that guy’s real name?

At one point, when Freddy Francisco and Herb Caen would prowl the nightclub beat together, a rookie cop stopped them and told them they were under arrest. The response was: “Do you know who you are trying to arrest?” The young policeman marched them down to the local station house and when they entered the desk sergeant recognized the two veteran (and influential) journalists, laughed uncontrollably, and then managed to ask the officer: “Do you know who you are trying to arrest?” Does that sound like a Gonzo legend or not?

What did the production company do with the typewriter they used in “The Rum Diary”? Now that they don’t need it, would they be interested in selling it?

Writing in the City of San Francisco’s August 10, 1975 issue, Freddy Francisco stated: “It should be explained that this was a juicy era in San Francisco journalism. The Chief (William Randolph Hearst) was still dominating all newspaper activities the way Alexander had ruled the ancient world.” Isn’t Rupert Murdoch carrying on that tradition to this very day?

Now the disk jockey will play some Forties era ♫ tunes such as “Baby, it’s cold outside,” “Riders in the sky,” and “Buttons and bows.” We have to go look for a new column topic. Have a “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro” type week.

How the GOP Kool-Aid is Made!


November 6, 2011

Occupy Berkeley: Urban homeless folk on the move

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 12:59 pm

One surprising result of the new 99% movement has been that it has exposed, revealed and uncovered America’s vast homeless population. “I’ve heard that in New York City, police are now instructing junkies, derelicts and the homeless to go down and live at Zuccotti Park,” someone recently wrote on my FaceBook page wall.

Hell, these poor homeless slobs have to go somewhere.

Before the Occupy Wall Street movement came along, most of the destitute and homeless of America had been hidden away, living in invisible places where they wouldn’t be noticed, hassled or jailed — but now, suddenly, with the rise of OWS, it’s now becoming cool to camp out.

As a result, we are now seeing America’s homeless emerge out into OWS encampments, out from their secret hovels and hidey-holes and cardboard boxes under the freeways — like rats coming out of a drain. America’s rats. America’s drains.

America’s dark little secrets.

At Occupy Berkeley the other day, I counted 40 tents, 15 spiked-haired young runaways, 10 homeless veterans, eight toothless dopers and ten homeless dogs.

The Occupy America movement is making America’s downtrodden underbelly of castoffs and misfits and detritus suddenly visible — suddenly caught in the spotlight provided by free camping space.

Back in the 1960s, we had only one (1) homeless person — living up on Telegraph Avenue during the daytime and in People’s Park at night. Just one. Back then, Frankie was an anomaly, even for Berkeley. But now, as our schools, jobs, economy, infrastructure, healthcare system, Veterans Administration, senior programs, community networks, etc. all collapse around us as the money that used to fund them stops, changes direction and floods into the coffers of the rich instead, America will be creating more and more and more of this homeless jetsam and flotsam in years to come.

More and more of these socially-disposable prototypes are being created each day as schools fail to teach, jobs fly overseas, militias point the finger of blame on everyone but the banksters, lobbyists and war profiteers responsible, healthcare becomes unavailable to the working class, large numbers of returning vets suffer from untreated PTSD, the “War on Drugs” creates more and more criminals, gouging your neighbor becomes a way of life, Social Security and MediCare are threatened and the One Percent concentrates on creating World Domination for them instead of democracy for us.

More and more urban homeless folk are being created every single day — and more and more of them are now on the move.

Will the next one be you?

PS: The dramatic new trend toward the militarization of America’s police is turning out to be a war profiteer’s wet dream. No longer do weapons manufacturers have to trudge off to far-away places on the other side of the globe in order to start wars and kill people so that they can sell their products. If they play their cards right, weapons manufacturers will now be able to start wars and kill people right here at home!

Or they can do both.


The Koch Bros. Blarney & Bailout Circus


November 5, 2011

Today is Bank Transfer Day — Time to Move Your Money Out of the Big Banks


Why Bank Transfer Day (Today 11/5/11) Is Only the Beginning of Something Huge

The movement to make sure our money serves our own values rather than the bottom line of huge banks will only gain energy as small victories accumulate.

by Andrew Leonard
Nov. 4, 2011

Read the rest here.

Stunning Number: Big Banks Set to Lose 70,000 Accounts on Move Your Money Day
By Van Jones
Reader Supported News

Read the rest here.

650,000 Americans Joined Credit Unions Last Month — More Than in All of 2010 Combined
by Zaid Jilani
Nov. 3, 2011

Read the rest here.

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