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Let's get Real
Published on October 2, 2011 By Phil Osborn In US Domestic

Update: 090512  Note that I am starting a NEW BLOG, as I'm sure that I am going to hit the limit pretty soon, which used to be 512K, I think.  Also, who wants to wade thru all this?  Not ME!  So, the new news is no news about the KPFK/Occupy deal - at least any that I'm privy to, and then there's a lot of nonsense and wild speculation on my part, if anyone cares...  Wow, doesn't that just GRAB ya?  I know that you're asking yourselves: "Do I feel bored?"  But to admit that you're bored is as much as saying, "Phil, entertain me. "  Do me a favor and entertain ME with an intelligent or otherwise comment or two.  Isn't there something about this dismal scene that you WANT to know?  If not, then why are you even reading this?  Apart from the Federal Agents, that is...  Ok, you guys can comment, too.  Just don't be too obvious, if you know how.

Update: 082712

Yesterday's GA went suddenly silent when I appeared coming round the curve at the Irvine Civic Center at about 7:10 PM.  There were six of us, including George, Dianna, Dean, a guy whose name I forget and Linda(?) and me.  I heard the tail end of someone saying something like "I don't know who erased the thread." I assumed that this referred to the thread I have replicated below from my own archives, which was mysteriously erased entirely  sometime between Thursday night, when it was posted and Saturday, when I checked the Facebook site.

George spent a minute or two not so subtly letting me know that he was prepared for a physical confrontation "to protect me or my family."  Since I had never hinted at any such plans on my part, I took this as the intimidation that it was no doubt intended to convey. 

The rest of the following ~2.4 hours was at least 90% George, who kept complaining about how MUCH he HATED GA's, especially when anyone else attempted to get any business done.  Finally various people started ignoring him and conversing with each other, which set George off into SHOUTING IN YOUR FACE!!! mode. 

I think that the main discussion that first took precedence had to do with Lief Christian's resignation from the Facebook Admin, which somehow had to do with a conflict between him and a woman I don't know, named Cheryl (sp), as well as apparent pressure from George.  I don't know or care to know the details, but losing Lief will be a major blow.  He was not only the organizing mainstay of the Irvine Occupy, but also perhaps our best political analyst.  He authored the "Outsider Manifesto" as a result of his confering with people of various different political stripes brought together by the "Rebellious Truth" organization, and it is a brilliant and important work that should be examined, critiqued and likely ratified by Occupy nationwide.

Most of the "discussion," after the news that Lief was retiring and would no longer be an admin on the Facebook site related to the Anaheim and Fullerton protests and their justification.  George repeated many times that "There's no such THING as a GOOD COP!," citing the code of silence notorious with police.  Linda objected to this several times and pointed out that most people did not agree with George.  This back and forth probably went on for twenty minutes.  George agreed, I think, that the original victims of the police brutality and killings had been compensated, but stuck to a position that he was not alligned with victims families, but rather with the "people," meaning the ongoing protestors, in spite of anything that the victim's families wanted.  

I attempted at several points to bring up the issue of partnering with KPFK, only to be hit with another endless tirade from George, who already apparently has this deal cut with the "closed (secret) sub-committee" of "KPFK" (meaning the little radical faction of KPFK).  Only after Dianna made several requests was I finally given the floor for a minute or two.

I got so far as to very briefly sketch out my program proposal for a KPFK Occupy program, about which I have been in conversations with the Station Manager, Mr. Duncan, which I thought could be done jointly with the "Rebellious Truth" organization, whose specialty is conflict resolution via finding common ground. 

When I mentioned that the first hour would in my proposal would focus strictly on Occupy news, George informed me that he was already setting some such news source.  As I took notes on what he laid out, George suddenly demanded that I agree not to discuss the details of his plan.  First he told me that the plan was already in operation.  Then, when I pointed out that it could not, by its nature, be secret if it was already running, he changed his mind and insisted that it was not up and running and therefore I shouldn't talk about it.  Linda kept changing her position, seemingly to try to keep up with George.  I agreed to not release the details on the assumption that they would get out anyway, and, realistically, what kind of news program can George and the radicals put together?  That anyone would believe, anyway?  Not that George doesn't occasionally have some good ideas and some good organizing skills (although we've lost most of our GA membership since he started running things), which is why I initially supported his bid to get on the Local Station Board at KPFK.

Geoge concluded his dismissal of my efforts with stating his position that we shouldn't try to include any other groups in joint efforts.  He referred to any other groups as thieves who had stolen their ideas from Occupy, mentioning Move On, which of course has been around a LOT longer than Occupy.  Instead, George suggested that we should try to destroy any other group and take their membership.  Consistency is nice, I suppose.

I also asked about the "Outsiders Manifesto."  I had only just read a note from the author Lief Christian, asking if I wanted to take it over as he was preoccupied and didn't have the time.  George interrupte again, informing me that he was already putting together something called "Common Ground," I believe, that would handle this without my effort being needed. 

I pointed out that if we had not been spending our time squabling, we could have had a version of the Outsider Manifesto prepared for the Republican National Convention in Miami, to hand to delegates and candidates and request their signature.  George interrupted with the criticism that we could never have gotten it into the convention.  I never got the chance to point out that the Outsider Manifesto was based on a concensus with Tea Partiers and Ron Paul supporters along with libertarians as such, meaning that we would have had three crews of partizan supporters to rely upon inside the Convention, a HUGE advantage. 

We could have demanded that people sign the Manifesto or agree that they didn't support it, and then they could be called on whether they acted and voted consistent with it.  That would have not only gotten national attention in the news, but also given us real precious political leverage.  But, because of all the conflict and secrecy and plotting, etc., and the largely wasted effort of the various protests - which George admitted had diverted us from the real business of Occupy - nothing got done.  What a loss!

So, meanwhile, so many good people have dropped out of the Irvine Occupy that I am at a loss as to how to proceed with the KPFK/Rebellious Truth partnership idea, as it will be just me.  Santa Ana Occupy is sympathetic, but already fully committed to their own projects...

Update: 082612

The Irvine Occupy has been led down the rabbit hole, IMHO.  Having slowly but steadily diminished to a small group of activists that come to GAs and and a few more who go to protests in Anaheim, regarding the police killings there, etc., with others waiting in the wings for something to happen, for sure, the local group was invited to another KPFK OC picnic, hosted by the station allegedly, but with the same basic fringe faction of KPFK that dominated their picnic in the same park last year.  This year, they invited the local Occupy to attend and have a GA afterwards, at which the KPFK reps made a pitch for a  strategic alliance, as the elections for the Local Station Board - which is ellected using proportional voting by the station subscribers - are in the offing.  The deal was expressed as "Stack the LSB and take over the station."  The GA was the best attended in several months, with I think over twenty Occupiers.

Not such a wild idea and perhaps even not such a bad idea, if Occupy were running things or at least had effective veto power.  KPFK has the strongest signal West of the Mississippi.  Now if someone could just help them get their act together...

The Devil in the details is that it's NOT Occupy, nor is it "KPFK" although they styled themselves as such.  In fact, it's this one radical fringe faction of KPFK which I met about a decade ago, the two times I ran for the LSB - and came within a handful of votes of winning a seat.  When I was attending all these outreach campaign meetings all over LA and the OC, giving my little two minute talk, etc., it seemed like every week this radical faction had split up again into new warring parties.  And this - my impression and that of others who are more knowledgeable by far IS the central problem at the station.  Everything positive is blocked by these incessent  factional wars, and the station is consequently on the brink of bankruptcy. 

But now the GA, in its enthusiasm !!! Wowie, we're being offered a RADIO STATION  !!!  passed the takeover resolution and also authorized a committee to oversee and report and a subcommittee to coordinate with "KPFK."  After the resolution was passed, I started hearing that this was going to be a "closed subcommittee," meaning that the goings on would be secret from everyone, with only the results reported back to the Committee and then filtered to the GA.

(!)

Folks, that's NOT how Occupy works.  We are in the business of alerting the American people - the 99%, remember - as to what is going down with all the scams and bailouts and violations of basic freedoms, etc., and make sure they don't forget all the lies and rip-offs that have cost the average middle class family 40% of their net worth from 2007 to date.  See the recent Pew report on this.  Occupy has been the central vehicle of protest and public awareness on these issues.  The main problem that Occupy has had has been lack of good internal communications. which are frequently sabotaged, is my understanding, and the consequent factionalizations moving ultimately  toward a mindless action-oriented fringe - like the one at KPFK.

So, surprise, surprise, now we're going to START the process with a communications blackout.

So the call went out at the GA for people to volunteer for the Committee and the secret SubCommittee.  I volunteered for both and signed up on a sheet with several other people's contact info and got the secret address for the subcommittee meeting.  Meanwhile, I was protesting that I did not WANT to take over KPFK; I wanted to help fix the station and start people talking with each other again.  And, I did not agree with this idea of closed meetings.  I went back and forth with the guy who was apparently in on this idea early on, George. 

And, I talked with various people at KPFK, including the Station Manager, Mr. Duncan, about what was going down, and made my conversations public on the Occupy Facebook pages.  And, as I will describe shortly, I went to the secret meeting, the address of which I could not have known about without being signed up as a volunteer.

All that information has been erased from Facebook.  So, this is one backup.  Read and weep.

(This will be a bit disjointed as I'm drawing from notes and screen copies from the Occupy Facebook Thread which has now been erased.)

I think this was my first or second recorded entry:

(This was addressed to George on the Facebook site...)

My last understanding from the GA was that I'm on that committee. Someone took down names and contact info, incudling mine, after the call was made for committee volunteers.

However, probably the first order of discussion will have to be the rules of the meeting itself.  I may have to recuse myself, because I have interests both with KPFK and with Occupy, and if those interests start to conflict then I'm gone.  Just to let you have a heads up.

My first question might be along the lines of how a closed meeting can still be a part of Occupy. ?  I had to leave the GA after the picnic while that discussion was still ongoing, mainly between you and JB, but there were others who had serious questions about doing anything in secret - except for direct action decisions, like political protests, etc.  But if you want legitimacy, then you have to be able to defend that position and show why we would need or want it.

Second might be how a vote at a closed meeting could be binding, or, for that matter, how a vote at a GA is binding on anyone other than those who agree with the outcome?  This is related to the nature of Occupy and possible changes in that nature.  I will not grant any blanket authority to any committee, nor accept rules that might put me in the position of backing something I consider to be wrong or unethical in the name of solidarity, and such a position is the only one that I can see is consistent with the general philosophy of Occupy.

Occupy started as a group of people who were interested in working together to expose and publicise and demonstrate the reality of critical problems that our politicians are ignoring.  We were and presumeably still are in the business of educating the 99% who will finally use that knowledge to focus on real change.  WE might be ahead of the curve, and might have reams of great ideas, but we are not ready to run things, nor should we even try.  That level of operation is rightfully in the hands of the majority of people, not our little group.  We also run a serious risk of losing credibility with the 99% if we start making political noises ourselves or acting like plotters hidden away in secret.   

So, this plotting behind closed doors thing really bothers me, altho I will be happy to hear your thoughts, as I could be totally wrong.  As has happened occasionally before...

I have also dealt with the "KPFK" people who were at the picnic.  They certainly would like us to help secure their control of the station, but as far as being consistent with open dialog and the goals of Occupy, I have serious reservations, based on past dealings.  We probably have potentially as much to gain by using our voting strength to elect our own people to the LSB, such as yourself.  I spoke with the station manager after the picnic GA, and he sounded very much open to the idea of an Occupy program and presence at the station. 

Then there is the downside.  If we support any faction as Occupy, then, by implication, we are against everyone else - especially all the factions opposiing the one  at the picnic.  They can be expected to act accordingly.  Do we really want to allienate people?  KPFK has given us a LOT of coverage, without ANY official Occupy presence.  Let's not blow that.

Bottom line is that we certainly have the potential to get something valuable out of KPFK, and we probaby can get some LSB members elected.  But the candidates who want to get our support should be openly campaigning right here, telling us exactly what they believe and how getting them elected will further the Occupation.  And anyone who has questions or objections should also be free to offer their own alternatives or ask those questions.

Another issue is preservation of KPFK/Pacifica itself.  We should consider how our choices affect the survival of the station as a voice for the voiceless.  Do we have a real committment to the openness and diversity that the Pacifica Charter - which is a legally binding document, BTW - requires, or will we up joining the long list of factions that ruled KPFK for a day and seriously alienated large portions of their membership, which is why they are in the sad financial shape they are in. 

I personally welcome the presence of the various factions at the station, but I abhor the in-fighting and endless wars that they unfortunately seem to relish.  WE of Occupy could be a solution to some of those problems.  We have the power to accomplish great good.  WE don't need to sell ourselves cheaply.

(Second note from Facebook) 

I signed up for the subcommittee and the committee, by implication and verbal assent.  We'll see how it goes.  I spoke again with Duncan, the KPFK Station Manager, today, and he said that there was a station rep who was at the picnic, who he would be talking with about the meeting and what can be done to establish our (Occupy's) presence at KPFK/Pacifica. 

I suggest that we start thinking about how to approach this.  This is NOT "KPFK's" call.  Nobody from "KPFK" apart from the faction at the picnic was aware of what they were planning, as far as I know.  This is one partisan faction's bid to get votes for the LSB.  However, now that the ball is rolling, there is no reason why we can't run with it.  Let's see what the various factions have to offer and what they want in return.  And many thanks to the people who initiated this.

Duncan indicated that (a) Occupy probably should have some kind of program slot and ( he was already talking with someone about creating one and (c) that it was of course up to Occupy to demonstrate their committment to the process - meaning volunteering at the station as well as becoming station members.  They are really desperate for cash.

WE should be looking at three things then.  (a) The format and content of a program somehow hosted by and about Occupy news.  ( Are we willing to take on that collective committment to supporting the station?  (c) Who we would really like to have on the LSB and what we should require from them, as in some kind of broad statement of principle in accord with Occupy that identifies them as a sympathiser with our goals, as well as an agreement not to use their position on the LSB, gotten with our support, for purposes that are directly antithetical to Occupy, as in excluding people from the dialog. 

We should work for inclusion at KPFK, because that is the way forward for Occupy - the 99%, not the 1% of some fringe faction.  On that note, I have been in some dialog with the people at "Rebellious Truths," who are definitely interested in the whole idea of a presense at KPFK, and KPFK could sure as hell use peacemakers who bring people to the table to identify common grounds.

Comments solicited...

Separate thread with another Occupy Facebook activist: Charles Shoon

Charles, everyone starts out ignorant, and if you manage to get past the usual memetic BS, you're really  lucky.  Apart from the 1 in 30 sociopaths, most people are trapped into idea structures that have as  key component the blocking of any competing ideas. 

Like, if you doubt the existence of God's mercy, then he will strike you down for your evil thought.  That's what I was taught as a little kid, and it scared the crap out of me, until I read Rand, and she taught me to question everything.  I'm sure - certain, in fact, because I've witnessed it - that those "sheep groups" think the same about us.

But I understand your position.  ********* (discussion of 3rd party - Rebellious Truth - involvment, section deleted for privacy reasons)  ... However, his crew is not necessarily of the same ilk.  I would like to get someone who is professional at bridging those differences to moderate an air show that helped carry us the next step beyond the grievances.  Maybe two shows, or one show but two logical segments. 

First the Occupy news local and elsewhere, and calendar always putting it in context with the grievances. Then maybe an interview or two with people who are involved in something current that needs a voice Then a music break.  Then a summary of what was covered the first hour - military style (Tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.) so people won't forget 2/3's of it.

Second half is where the different groups that might be in agreement with the Outsider Manifesto come in as regular guests, along with at least one or two people who come from a group that doesn't accept the concensus.  They get to present what it is that they believe and want.  The job of the moderator is then to try to bridge those gaps, relying upon the guest regulars to add their input.  The idea is to keep building concensus and plant the key ideas in the minds of people who will carry them home. 

The above format might be used in other circumstances, like dealing with station conflicts.  On Ian Master's show this morning, he had the station manager, whose name I STILL can't get, as the KPFK site is down, but it's not Minsky, as guest and co-host, discussing the probems at the station, and they said something that I partially missed indicating that they agreed with the idea of some kind of on-air meetiong of station personnel, to focus on cooperation instead of war.

My conversation online with George regarding the legitimacy of the secret subcommittee:

George - are we still on for the sub-committee meeting tomorrow? (Tuesday at 6:38pm) I have us meeting at the Dennys, but the time was never decided at the GA, so far as I could find out. I'm assuming 7PM. Please let me know... Thanks.Yesterday at 7:30pm · George Olivo That's a closed meeting remember? KPFK Yesterday at 7:37pm via mobile · My last understanding from the GA was that I'm on that committee. Someone took down names and contact info, incudling mine, after the call was made for committee volunteers.

However, probably the first order of discussion will have to be ...
the rules of the meeting itself. I may have to recuse myself, because I have interests both with KPFK and with Occupy, and if those interests start to conflict then I'm gone. Just to let you have a heads up.

My first question might be along the lines of how a closed meeting can still be a part of Occupy. ? I had to leave the GA after the picnic while that discussion was still ongoing, mainly between you and JB, but there were others who had serious questions about doing anything in secret - except for direct action decisions, like political protests, etc. But if you want legitimacy, then you have to be able to defend that position and show why we would need or want it.

Second might be how a vote at a closed meeting could be binding, or, for that matter, how a vote at a GA is binding on anyone other than those who agree with the outcome? This is related to the nature of Occupy and possible changes in that nature. I will not grant any blanket authority to any committee, nor accept rules that might put me in the position of backing something I consider to be wrong or unethical in the name of solidarity, and such a position is the only one that I can see is consistent with the general philosophy of Occupy.

Occupy started as a group of people who were interested in working together to expose and publicise and demonstrate the reality of critical problems that our politicians are ignoring. We were and presumeably still are in the business of educating the 99% who will finally use that knowledge to focus on real change. WE might be ahead of the curve, and might have reams of great ideas, but we are not ready to run things, nor should we even try. That level of operation is rightfully in the hands of the majority of people, not our little group. We also run a serious risk of losing credibility with the 99% if we start making political noises ourselves or acting like plotters hidden away in secret.

So, this plotting behind closed doors thing really bothers me, altho I will be happy to hear your thoughts, as I could be totally wrong. As has happened occasionally before...

I have also dealt with the "KPFK" people who were at the picnic. They certainly would like us to help secure their control of the station, but as far as being consistent with open dialog and the goals of Occupy, I have serious reservations, based on past dealings. We probably have potentially as much to gain by using our voting strength to elect our own people to the LSB, such as yourself. I spoke with the station manager after the picnic GA, and he sounded very much open to the idea of an Occupy program and presence at the station.

Then there is the downside. If we support any faction as Occupy, then, by implication, we are against everyone else - especially all the factions opposiing the one at the picnic. They can be expected to act accordingly. Do we really want to allienate people? KPFK has given us a LOT of coverage, without ANY official Occupy presence. Let's not blow that.

Bottom line is that we certainly have the potential to get something valuable out of KPFK, and we probaby can get some LSB members elected. But the candidates who want to get our support should be openly campaigning right here, telling us exactly what they believe and how getting them elected will further the Occupation. And anyone who has questions or objections should also be free to offer their own alternatives or ask those questions.

Another issue is preservation of KPFK/Pacifica itself. We should consider how our choices affect the survival of the station as a voice for the voiceless. Do we have a real committment to the openness and diversity that the Pacifica Charter - which is a legally binding document, BTW - requires, or will we up joining the long list of factions that ruled KPFK for a day and seriously alienated large portions of their membership, which is why they are in the sad financial shape they are in.

I personally welcome the presence of the various factions at the station, but I abhor the in-fighting and endless wars that they unfortunately seem to relish. WE of Occupy could be a solution to some of those problems. We have the power to accomplish great good. WE don't need to sell ourselves cheaply.

23 hours ago ·

George Olivo Dude why did you write me a book I don't have time to read all that it was not our call it was KPFK's call if you have a problem with that talk to JB23 hours ago via mobile · LikeUnlike.

Last Thursday, report on Facebook - erased now - immediately after returning from my drive to the secret subcommittee (note: some text missing):

KPFK, which has yet to be ratified - however that works - by anyone other than the members of the picnic GA, at best. Note that I have more history and knowledge about KPFK - since 1978 - than any two people at this meeting, and I was one of the original 2000 that marched in Irvine and the Santa Ana march.

So, the news. I drove for thirty minutes in bumper to bumper to get to the subcommittee meeting, which originallly had been posed to the GA at the picnic as an Occupy group, although there was much debate and dissension regarding its secret, closed status, which I was planning on challenging.

Well, that happened, altho not as planned. When I finally got to the Dennys at the 91 and Wier Canyon, I was told that the meeting was closed, which I knew when I signed up for it and put down my name and all the contact info as a subcommittee volunteer. The reader may note that nowhere above in this thread was I ever told that I was not on the subcommittee, despite several posts to that effect from me, in discussions.

So, I get there and am told its closed. Fine, because I'm already a member. But no. Some people do not get to be members, it seems, and secondly, this is somehow a joint subcommittee of Occupy and KPFK, which has yet to be ratified - however that works - by anyone other than the members of the picnic GA, at best. Note that I have more history and knowledge about KPFK - since 1978 - than any two people at this meeting, and I was one of the original 2000 that marched in Irvine and the Santa Ana march.


But, Chuck Anderson was at the head of the table and he refused to continue if I were allowed to stay. George put it that if I stayed they would have to adjourn, due to Chuck's position. Of course, I did call Chuck on his remarks at the previous years' OC KPFK/ACLU picnic, in which he stated that various people at KPFK were "CIA." That got him into a LOT of trouble, I understand, which he richly deserved. George said that he had no knowledge that I was on the sub-committee, and he couldn't immediately contact the person who had taken down all our names and contacts. (See above in this thread...)

So, Phil - the other Phil, JB, Chuck, a lady from KPFK who was at the picnic, and the guy who helped out at the GA by keeping track of who was in line to speak were all present as subcommittee members. The KPFK lady, who informed me finally that this was a "Grassroots KPFK" subcommitte, not primarily an Occupy subcommittee, left the room after Chuck's demand, apparently not wishing to be connected with any decision.

Then George excused himself and finally I was told that I could stay or go, but if I stayed, the meeting was over. So, I took my leave and returned my secret decoder ring... JB graciously started a collection to pay for my gas, but I was not complaining, as I got what I wanted:

What did I want? To discover what was really going down, which is a total subversion of Occupy. You know the public support and credibility that we used to have?

Anyway, it's still not too late to fix - I hope, anyway. One can understand the enthusiasm that we all felt at BEING OFFERED A RADIO STATION!!! AND, there's a bridge I've been holding for the right purchaser. What we're being offered, as illustrated by the above is the chance to throw away the 99% principle and become part of another cult, scrabbling for precious attention. Darn, why didn't we do that before? It's so easy....

 

Update: 11/15/1

NOTICE PLEASE!!!  Human Rights Conference coming soon! 

"hey Phil
 
i've already extended this offer to Occupy SA.
 
if you are referring to the Occupy Irvine folks, please find out how many want to go - i need a total headcount - and i will ask the conference organizers.  need to know by end of Thursday.
 
theresa"

The Occupy OC website is screwed up today.  The query box is covering over the right side so that you can't see the horizontal menu, and it won't go away.  Also, there doesn't seem to be any way to leave a message other than in reply to what someone who clearly has either figured out how or has an inside slot has already posted. 

Meanwhile, I have an offer for occupiers from Theresa Dang to get us into the 2011 National Human Rights Conference: Dec. 9-11 in LA for $10 instead of the usual $150 fee.  There is just time enough to respond on this, as Theresa needs to let the conference organizers know by late Thursday.  There is a contact phone number for the conference - Kali Akuno, 510.593.3956 (Cell Phone). 

This looks like a great opportunity to spread the Occupation with people who understand what we're doing.  If we car-shared, we could go as a group, get some visibility and have an impact, as well as likely learn some useful stuff.  Let me know, please...

Unfortunately the only way I can get the info to Theresa is via the El Centro de Mexico Yahoo group site, which is restricted and of course Yahoo tries to block anyone simply posting their email address.  Nonetheless, we can try to do this.  I've left a msg. for Theresa and will plan on stopping by the Irvine Occupy tomorrow after work at 5PM.  Don't know how much space I have here...   But here's the additional info:

(Theresa) i am excited to let you know i've secured a discounted rate for us to attend this year's National Human Rights Conference.  the registration fee for an individual is $150.  We can attend for $10 a head! 
 
here are some of the critical areas the conference will focus on:
 
•Defending the rights of Indigenous and Oppressed Peoples
•Attaining economic and social rights in the United States
•Securing sexual and gender rights
•Fighting for racial justice and immigrant rights
•Fighting against torture and mass incarceration
 
check out the conference schedule to see the workshops being offered Saturday and Sunday: http://www.ushrnetwork.org/2011Conference.
 
i can answer questions tomorrow at Volunteers meeting.  please reply to reachtheresadang@... by Thursday, November 17 if you would like to take advantage of this generous offer.
 
theresa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                           
November 8, 2011
                                                                        
CONTACT:
Kali Akuno, 510.593.3956 (Cell Phone)
kakuno@...
 
U.S. Human Rights Network Holds National Conference in Los Angeles
GA-based coalition moves national meeting in protest of state’s immigration law
 
Atlanta, GA – The United States Human Rights Network (USHRN), an Atlanta-based coalition of more than 300 organizations from around the country, will hold its National Conference and Membership Meeting in Los Angeles during “Human Rights Weekend,” Dec. 9-11, 2011, at the Radisson Hotel at LAX.
 
The Network’s biannual conference comes to the city during a time of unprecedented discontent with the nation’s Depression Era-level joblessness and growing economic inequality. Due to the Network’s firm belief that economic rights are also human rights, the USHRN stands in full support of Los Angeles’ “Occupy” movement as well as those elsewhere, protesting the collusion of government and economic elites.
 
Originally scheduled for its headquarters of Atlanta, the group decided in August to move the conference out of Georgia due to passage of that state’s controversial anti-immigration bill HB 87.  Similar to Arizona’s SB 1070, HB 87 would criminalize Georgians who interact with undocumented individuals; authorize police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during routine encounters; and deny individuals without specific identification access to state facilities and services. The move is in support of a general economic boycott of the state and in accordance with the organization’s principles.
 
The Network chose the Radisson Hotel at Los Angeles Airport as its new conference site after careful consideration, in part to highlight the efforts of state and local governments in California to fulfill their human rights obligations to all residents regardless of their citizenship status. “In contrast with Georgia and other states that have chosen to scapegoat their most vulnerable residents with punitive legislation, California has taken a more progressive and humane approach to immigration and other human rights issues,” said Kali Akuno, co-director of the Network.
 
Akuno also cites CA Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of Assembly Bill 130 in July, also known as the “California Dream Act,” that allows undocumented college students in California to receive private financial aid for higher education. “Although AB 130 does not create a pathway to U.S. citizenship, we realize it’s definitely a useful step toward a real understanding of the complexities of immigration in the U.S. and the need for comprehensive immigration reform,” Akuno said.
 
The primary goal of the United States Human Rights Network is to increase the visibility of the US human rights movement and link U.S.-based human rights activists with the global human rights movement.  Its National Conference and Members Meeting will be held Dec. 9 - 11, 2011, at the Radisson LAX Hotel, 6225 W. Century Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045.  For more information on the US Human Rights Network and its activities, please visit www.ushrnetwork.org.


My (Phil) follow-up yesterday:

On Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 8:22 PM, Phil  wrote:

Wow Theresa! You go! What a great opportunity to learn and participate. Who can get in at this rate? I suspect that some of the Occupation will be interested and may even want to get on the agenda in some way. I was just at the Irvine Occupation, in fact, looking for people to give some free memberships to LOSCON - which I had purchased last year for some E.L.A. students who won't be able to make it unfortunately. LOSCON advertizes itself on the site - www.LOSCON.org - as "only two weeks to occupy LOSCON." Ie., Thanksgivine Friday thru Sunday at the LAX Marriot.

LOSCON is a science fiction conference, the largest and oldest (38 years) and most sophisticated sf con on the West Coast, IMHO. Typically they have about 150 panel discussions of topics of interest, not just sf, and real world influencers who have accomplished great things at the United Nations, for example, regularly attend. So, if you're interested in seeing some novel approaches and major ideafesting, as well as all kinds of entertainment and art, this is the place to be over the Thanksgiving weekend.

At the Irvine Occupation today, I spoke with one of the main organizers of their "think tank," Brand Vandal. Brand was discussing the need for a permanent location for the occupation in the OC. Wonder if that could synergize with El Centro's need for a space. I mentioned that to him and he was pretty positive about the idea. Another set of groups that is looking for real estate to hold meetings and provide services is the local skeptics, who often pay $20+ to go to meetup at some Marie Callendars for a couple hours. There are on the order of a couple hundred of them, I think.

Let me know, please, if the Occupation can get in on the admission to the Human Rights Conference... Thanks again

Update: 11/12/11

The Santa Ana Occupation has gone pretty much the way I expected, with the City turning down their camping request.  This is really a no-brainer, although it could have been handled better in hindsight.  As I've discussed before, the problem with the homeless can only be dealt with on a state level.  Municipalities simply cannot afford to become homeless magnets, and so they compete to make things ever more miserable.  If the City of Santa Ana relaxed its largely illegal persecution of the local homeless, next we would see an influx from surrounding cities and beyond. 

It's not a matter that the various cities have hatred for the homeless as such.  It's a matter of do they want to get re-elected.  If the Occupiers had focused on that part of the problem, then they might have come up with an offer that the City could perhaps get on board with.  That would have likely taken some coordination with the other California occupations to carry enough weight for a serious venture.

My proposal, then, would have been to have asked the City Council to consider a proposition that was jointly put forward by at least the local Occupations in L.A., Riverside, and Orange counties.  The proposition would be for a temporary easing of restrictions and persecutions, while the occupiers together with the cities involved made a request of the State of California to please set forth a declaration of human rights that directly addressed the municipalities as such.  As in, no local ordinances that forbade someone from performing necessary acts, such as sleeping in a vehicle or any other public space.

As it stands, it almost doesn't matter how illegal and unconstitutional the local ordinances are - e.g., making sleeping with a blanket illegal - because the cities will buy their way out, pay the fines,  and then just do something similar for the next round - and the voters will applaud them.  Only if a comprehensive state mandate with real teeth and enforcement were passed would the cities lose most of the incentive to break the law.  Since it would apply equally to ALL municipalities, there would be no need for the competition between cities to make things more miserable.

A nationwide law would be better, but even a set of local ordinances that were passed jointly by Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange counties would shift the balance and undercut that destructive competition substantially.  After all, most homeless people do not have easy means to travel long distances.

I discussed this with Greg Diamond, one of the attorneys helping out with the Irvine Occupation.  He was also at the recent Santa Ana City Council meeting.  Greg pointed out that the homeless issue is a "third rail" at the state level.  Nobody dares support pro-homeless-rights legislation.  My response is included the above, that it would take ALL the California occupations getting behind it.  Even then it might not fly, but it almost certainly can't fly on a municipality by municipality basis.  If it did pass at the state level, it should actually SAVE the cities a lot of money and grief. 

(In fact, a further extension of this would be for the cities to join up in a homeless taskforce aimed at helping them find jobs or safe places to sleep while also possibly employing them on a quid pro quo basis for such jobs as picking up trash in public spaces.)

Update: 11/04/11

See the OC Weekly for additional coverage of last nights events during the Santa Ana Art Walk. 

First I hung out with the Irvine Occupation for an hour or so, until they left to march to the Bank of America.  At the Irvine site, I made an announcement about coming to the Art Walk to show solidarity and raise the profile of the Santa Ana Occupation, which has gotten a lot worse treatment so far from the authorities, including a number of arrests.  Someone possibly listened, as there were a number of the Irvine regulars who made it to the Art Walk.

I had not been to the Santa Ana site for over a week, since their initial march at least.  Each month the Art Walk draws a bigger crowd and more exhibits, but this time it was ridiculously overcrowded on the streets.  I had forgotten that it was the Day of the Dead, a Hispanic festival honoring the memories of the ancestors.  Every fourth woman and a sizeable number of men had their faces painted, typically half in bright white, as in a skull, but with all sorts of decoration.  Many of the faces were really done well, and very beautiful. 

So, there I was in the promenade, wearing my Occupy OC t-shirt, when the Occupy Santa Ana group, all with faces painted - many with a Guy Fawks image, instead of the typical skull - came marching with their placards, doing the usual chants.  Afterwards, they disbursed, many going to the de facto headquarters of the Occupation on the bottom floor of the Santora buildiing. 

After touring the exhibits, I retired to that studio and had some discussions about what to do next.  I was told that the next big item on the agenda would be the Santa Ana City Counsel Meeting.  So, I'm considering attending and singing my song, or perhaps encouraging the occupiers  to sing at least the opening stanza and refrain.

Update: 11/03/11

http://www.occupy-oc.org/ooc-takes-action/

Here's a tune that I wrote in '87.  May still come in handy at the Irvine Occupation, but more so perhaps at others who have not fared quite as well with the authorities:  (Hope I got the chording right this time...)

Smash the Curfew, by Phil Osborn

(Lyrics)                                              (Chording)
Free countries ... do not have curfews;   ededddce
Free people ... do what they choose.       ededccc
Free countries ... do not have curfews;   ededddce
Free people  ...  do not obey them.       ededdddc

(Refrain)
Smash the Curfew... Smash the Curfew  b(flat) b(flat) cc

We are the children ... of Jefferson.       eeggedce
We are the children ... of Washington.   eeggedcc
Who is it that WE should fear?              eeggedce
We are the chilren of Paul Revere.        eeggedcc

Smash the Curfew... Smash the Curfew  b(flat) b(flat) cc

If you think that I am a pet,                 eeggedce
Then I think you should not forget,       eeggedcc
A pet is only an animal.                       eeggedcc
A pet cannot be responsible.                geegeedcc

................

But if I am a criminal,                    eeegedce
Then I am not an animal,              eegedcc
And if I'm not an animal,               eeegedce
Then I am responsible.                  eegedcc

But if I am responsible,                  eegedce
Then how am I a criminal?              eegedcc
A criminal commits a crime.             eeegedce
A criminal takes what is mine.          eeegedcc

My life is mine; that is a fact.               eeegedce
To be exact, my life is time.                eeegedcc
You steal my time - you take my life.   eeegedce
You steal my life - that is a crime.        eeegedcc

I am not the criminal,                      eegedce
Nor am I an animal.                        eegedcc
And just be sure you don't forget,     eegedce
Neither am I someone's pet.            eegedcc

I am a person - I am a free man.     eeggedce
And as a person, I do what I can.     eeggedccc
Listen now - my life is my own.         eegeddce
Listen good - I will not go home.      eegedccc

Smash the curfew!

Smash the Curfew

Update: 11/01/11

Everything seems pretty peaceful.  Dropped by after work and had some long conversations about political theory  and reality.  People were pulling up with food donations - tons of pizzas....

Update: 10/27/11

Well, the crisis has passed and I can return to my life...

For those who haven't been following the occupation first hand, or who have only followed the headline news about arrests, teargas, etc., let me state up front, that, whatever is happening elsewhere, Irvine is setting a different standard of sorts.

At the Irvine City Council meeting this past Tuesday, 150 Occupiers showed up and politely and eloquently put their case before the Council.  70 people from Occupy Irvine spoke, including yours truly. 

My speech was not eloquent or profound, unlike so many of the others.  I simply stated that I was TIRED!  At 63 years old, with bad knees, a herniated cervical disk and multiple other ailments, I had been coming by the Occupation every other night, hoping for some worthwhile discussion of issues, but, instead, had ended up spending my time in the cold and damp LOADING TRUCKS.  Because of the way the city was enforcing its no-camping ordinances, all the tents, sleeping bags, tables, chairs, posters, art material, crates of water, food, etc., all had to be packed, picked and carried to trucks before 10PM every night, and the area policed for any scraps of debris.  I stated that to me this seemed like a violation of my Ist Amendment rights, as I would much prefer having an intelligent discussion than wearing myself out LOADING TRUCKS.

So, after listening to 70 speeches, the city council changed its mind.  They used a hitherto unused legal clause that allowed them in special circumstances to consider a new item not on the agenda, and, after some discussion among them, they agreed to allow the Occupation to stay for the night, and future nights to come for which I don't yet have details.  They asked the occupiers to name representatives that could sit down that night with designated council members, the city attorney, the police, etc., to resolve details.

The 150 of us then did the logical thing.  We suggested that this might be what we wanted to do, that we knew who should be representing us, and, with very brief discussion asked if their were any "hard blocks" - meaning that someone can't live with a decision, meaning that it goes back to committee and more work to make it acceptable. 

It would have made an interesting test case if anyone had displayed the hand signal.  Would we have walked out, attempted to deal with the person(s) then and there or something else?  It could have destroyed the occupation right there.  But, not one person objected and so the crisis was over.

So, instead of having to spend 1-1/2 hours every night loading trucks and then having to do the unbelievably grueling task of restoring everything at 6AM, with people who had been on their feet, not allowed to stop, ALL NIGHT, finally we are able to get some rest and hopefully recover enough to start doing the planning, discussions, education, debate and outreach that has suffered.  (I was not part of the morning crew, desiring to live a little longer.)

When the Council announced their decision - unanimous - the entire audience of occupiers stood and cheered and then, just once, someone started the chant. "Show us what democracy looks like..."  THIS is what democracy looks like!"

Update: 10/24/11

Well, last night I was sooo tired, and I need to get some things done, so tonight I'm taking a break.  Tomorrow is the Irvine Council Meeting, open to the public for comments at about 5 PM.  If I can get some sleep, I'll get over there and make my voice heard.

I was reading through the occupy declaration from Wall Street and concluded that I should do an analysis on it.  In some respects I take a more radical position than most occupiers, in that I consider the corporation to be basically unfixable.  Most people, including many libertarians, still think of the corp as being a free-market business phenomenon.  So, they have to sign articles of incorporation.  Big deal.  All businesses need licenses.

But that doesn't get to the root, the explanation for WHY our world is going to hell in a handbasket in several crucial respects, WHY we are not capitalizing solutions to endemic problems, and instead pouring our treasure into endless imperial military adventures.

A caveat:  The U.S. is currently benefitting from two major new factors that are skewing all the prior predictions.

The first is the banking crisis in Europe.  It could get a lot worse.  The risk factors associated with the Euro are known and the financial markets are taking note and putting their assets in dollars.  It's beginning to look like the aftermath of WWII, when the almighty dollar triumphed as every other currency of note crashed.  It was a HUGE boon to the U.S. at the time.

The second is the access to enormous reserves of shale oil and gas, enough to keep the U.S. going, energy-wise for additional decades.  N. Dakota alone is estimated to have 400 billion barrels of oil.  That's a thousand barrels for each man, woman and child in the U.S., just in N. Dakota.  This is the result of extration techniques that are new.  Oil may never go below $50/barrel, as the extraction is still expensive, but forget the doomsday predictions.  N. Dakota is paying $120,000 per year for warm bodies, with a 3% unemployment rate.

So, that economic breather may obscure the underlying systemic problems that will very possibly doom us in the longer term.  The major one being the limited risk that is granted to the corp (ldt = limited).  Risk is a fact.  It doesn't disappear any more than you can legislate away the force of gravity.  Using the guns of the state to limit liability for corporations, which is the heart of the whole corp operation, simply shifts the risk cost to the rest of us, while incentivising the corp to take extreme risks.

Example: When you cap the cost of a nuclear accident at $800,000,000, then all risks higher than that figure are now effectively $800 million, regardless of how many $billions the actual cost ends up as when a terrorist flies a 747 into a containment vessel.

My position: Bury the Corp's.  Eat the Children of the State B4 they eat U.S.

Update: 10/23/11

My apologies for formatting and spelling.  I just discovered that the library copy of Word on this machine has been switched to German language and left there for me to discover.  Of course, Word is so slow that I will never be able to find the way to switch it back, at least today.

Yesterday - Saturday - I showed up at the Santa Ana Occupation, which seemed to be going well.  Then I went back to the Irvine Occupation, which was hit with really draconian marching orders from the police.  Originally, people had been told that it was ok to sit on the sidewalk, so long as it didn't impede traffic. (Maybe five people typically walk through per hour, is my impression, and the sidewalks are quite wide.)  Occupiers were also told that they could sit in chairs, with the same caveat, although at various times apparently various officers gave contradictory orders, such as the requirement to keep moving.  Since the grassy areas of the park itself had been declared off-bounds between 10PM and 6AM, the sidewalk is all that is left.

So, yesterday the Occupiers were told once again that there could be no chairs, no sleeping bags, no sitting, and no standing without moving.  All night.  We tore down the village on schedule - just barely, as people were noticeably fatigued, and packed it all off in a huge U-Haul, where it just barely fitted.  At last notice, it appeared that some people were considering civil disobedience, but I don't see any news to that effect today, although things went a different way in Santa Ana, with four arrests reported when people refused to come out of their tents.

Oh, almost forgot.  I mentioned - far below in this blog - that one of the fundamental problems that would have to be addressed at some point if we were to really change things so that the crooks weren't running our society is that we would have to get a handle on the problem of sociopathy - i.e., EVIL.  Because of all the irrational historical/religious baggage that is attached to this whole subject, it is difficult to even discuss it and be taken seriously.  "Oh, yeah, dude, you mean like ...  THE DEVIL (hee hee, hee).

Well, actually, NO.  I'm a hard-core atheist for a LONG time.  What I mean by good or evil is from the context of a good, fulfilled human life.  Most of us want that.  But between 1% and 4% of the population are sociopaths.  THEY want to cause as much pain and destruction of human values - those things that enable us to prosper - as possible.  They get their kicks from killing people, preferably painfully.  So, ironically, a person who has tracked me for several years now, who I believe is a perfect example of your typical sociopath, showed up at the Santa Ana Occupation.  She might have come anyway, but I suspect, given her track record, that is was a result of this blog, or other postings on the occupation from me.

Update: 10/22/11

On Thursday night I attended two Occupy organizational meetings.  The first was at a house in Santa Ana, scheduled for 5PM.  I had thought that it was supposed to be the main meeting for the scheduled Occupation in SA, but instead it was a separate group of less than a dozen people - all of whom I've met before at places like El Centro de Mexico - with its own agenda - the usual left-Hispanic one that most of the activists in SA seem to adhere to. 

When I got there, rushing from work, at about 5:30, there was a discussion going on as to how to deal with the unwashed masses (my term) among the occupiers who were not clued in on the complex of issues surrounding imperialism, race, ethnicity, social justice, etc.  I pointed out that I had been able to move people one-on-one at the occupations from a "anti-Corporate Greed," which one sees everywhere on placards at the various occupations to the wider principle of "ending the corporation," by building on shared principles...

                                   ***************************************************

For the reader's information, this is how you convert someone to a new point of view:

1) Identify what you have in common.  (Tell them that you agree in particular areas and specify them.  This puts them at ease with you and usually willing to listen further.)

2) Extrapolate a path from there to where you want to move them.

3) Demonstrate that their own principles point in that direction.

4) Deal with objections.

Of course, there is a slightly different methodology required for KEEPING someone at a certain mental place.  Mostly that consists of placing mental blocks, such that any differing or opposing viewpoints are connected with shame or guilt.  There's even a physiological component to extreme cases, such as cults, or any situation -such as on the job - where a strong aggressive person adopts scare tactics to condition his or her victims.  The cult leader(s) will subject members to extreme stress, emotional or physical, which physically burns out the mental channels that would enable the victim to examine alternative views or problems with what is being forced on them. See:  

Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential--and Endangered, by Bruce D. Perry, Maia Szalavitz 

and,

The Science of Evil,” by Simon Baron-Cohen

                                    ***************************************************

In the context of hearing "anti-capitalist" a lot at this first meeting on Thursday, I also pointed out that there were a lot of different meanings for terms such as "capitalism."  Many people equate it with the entire conglomerate of state fiat corporations (which is actually fascism), along with real free markets as well.  Others take a much more restricted position.  And, from a strictly biological analysis, we and every living thing are  capitalists.  We all survive by accumulating resources for the future.  That's what distinguishes a life from a rock.  It is important to know what other people mean by their words or to specify exactly what we mean when there are multiple conflicting meanings floating around.

The leader of the group, who I have known as a committed activist for most of a decade now was not very pleased with my interjections.  She suggested that we could discuss our issues one-on-one, but that there wasn't time then and there.  Of course, she was right, but I wasn't clued in on the fact that this was a prelude planning session on how to make sure that the main meeting, scheduled for 7PM, as I discovered, would go the right way (depending on one's point of view, of course).

(See at the bottom of this blog her piece on "Meeting Facilitation Best Practices" which I just found in my inbox.  Looks really excellent for anyone who has to try to keep a meeting on target without stepping all over people.)

So I went to the main meeting, held at one of the artist studios at the Santora Building, which, ironically, is central to the SA city's goal of gentrification, which has been a major focus of the same organizers.  There were 40~50 in attendance there, including the group I had just met with.  The meeting was well organized in general, although we spent a HUGE amount of time simply discussing non-existent alternatives for today's SA march.  The permits were already in process, so nearly an hour was wasted on a non-issue. 

Various firebrands from the earlier group were also intermittently putting out feelers about possible civil disobedience and likely arrests in SA, all of which were shot down by others - including from the same radicals, who emphasized that many Hispanics who were undocumented could be at real risk of deportation should things get out of hand and mass arrests made, but also including a very professional activist from the San Francisco occupation - who pointed out that real civil disobedience, to work and accomplish anything, has to be carefully planned, participants volunteering and being educated on exactly what to do and say (or NOT), lawyers in attendance, bail money ready, etc. 

I interjected at one point that one of my chief criticisms of the Occupy movement that I had seen so far was that not only did they not have a coherent - or even incoherent - set of solutions to the problems they identified, but that there was no work that I had seen to move in that direction.  The response from the group to my statement was largely negative, on the grounds that discussions of that sort - on basic principles or actual proposals for solutions - simply lead to dissention within the group. 

Reflecting a bit, however, I realized that I have NEVER, in a decade of being around the SA radical community, had a really good or even very significant discussion of political/philosophical/economic issues.  Maybe such discussions take place only when the trusted members who have demonstrated their willingness to get beaten up by the police are participating - or some such criteria.  However, at least one of the original crew that started El Centro has agreed with me, that she herself sometimes wondered exactly what their underlying philosophy was, as it had never been explicitly discussed with her either, suggesting that maybe a hostility to discussion is at the root. 

I know that I'm open to new ideas.  I make that a goal, and in the past decade I've radically changed several core positions.  And, to be fair, this seems to be a California phenomenon more than anything else.  I've written before on the serious anti-intellectual bent of Southern California.

But, what I've witnessed is a fairly different attitude from the Irvine Occupiers.  More below.  (I did manage to push for use of the QR Code at the SA meeting.  The more T-shirts or marching placards have that code enlarged and prominently displayed, the more people with their smart phones will link right to one of the Occupy sites.)

Last night - Friday -

I spent a couple hours at the Irvine Occupation, got interviewed by a high-school journalist, and had some productive discussions with various occupiers.  At 7, there was a general assembly, with a statement of principle echoed back by the multitude.  Then various project leaders gave their presentations and got feedback.  Finally, the floor was opened and I brought up my experience at the SA Occupation meeting and posed the same issue.

The response was totally positive and one guy, whose name I will have to get tonight or tomorrow - but he was some kind of rock star, I was informed later - got up and waxed eloquent - for REAL - about how discussion, analysis of key issues, think tanks working to develop real solutions, etc. were absolutely core to the whole purpose of occupation.  That simply making a set of complaints was not enough.  He went on nonstop for several minutes of impassioned rhetoric.  "Wow!" I'm thinking.  Look out Obama! 

So, a fairly sharp dichotomy between the agenda-driven Santa Ana core group and the more solutions-driven egalitarian Irvine group.  (Ironically, the guy was followed shortly thereafter by a Hispanic activist who had just dropped in, had not heard anything that went before and whose message - which he repeated several times - was that we should not forget about the Hispanics, as we could not possibly succeed without them.  One of the Irvine occupiers stated in response that in fact they had been attempting to get translators as well as connections and support from the Hispanic community, but that their calls were not being returned.  They agreed to exchange info to get this facilitated.)

Which brings us Saturday - today:

The actual march in Santa Ana was supposed to be starting at noon, was the last I heard, so, running late, I cruised by on my motorcycle at about 12:02, spotting a crowd of perhaps 150 at 3rd and Ross, and a tall, attractive female camera person (dressed entirely in black to compliment her complexion,) across the street.  I found a parking space at the homeless encampment a couple blocks North and spent a few minutes talking with the homeless about their situation, and then proceeded South on foot.  The camerawoman was from the OC Register, as it turns out.  (For a conservative/libertarian publication, the Register has been remarkably good so far in its coverage.)

So far, so good.  And, when the march actually started to some other point in the Civic Center complex, there were still no signs of problems.  By then - around 2PM - there were perhaps 200 occupiers - nothing like the 450 that had been suggested Thursday night.  That was also when I split, not feeling well, and went to the Tustin Library, which brings us up to date as of this moment. 

I will probably go back toSanta Ana from here first, just to make sure that nothing drastic happened, and then back to the Irvine occupation.  I want to get on the ball with organizing some real discussions of where we're going, perhaps starting with Doug RushKoff's "Life, Inc." which is about as definitive a resource as one could possibly hope for.  So far, so good.

Update: 10/19/11

The numbers seem to be holding fairly steady, with perhaps a slight decline.  I suspect that the real confrontation will come when the Occupiers take onSanta Ana. Irvineis easy.  They boast virtually zero crime and their police are professionals and see themselves that way. Santa Anais another story, with 90% Latino population and the youngest population of any major city in theU.S., as well as a high poverty and unemployment rate.  And, there is a dedicated, experienced hard core of radicalism in SA, very different from Irvine. Irvineand SA share the weather and that's about it. 

Already there are stories about the SAPD stonewalling the Occupiers.  This is a city in which there is a yearly march against police brutality, which typically ends up at the central police station, where it used to be that then the protestors would get beaten up, which I suspect was the underlying point of the whole exercise.  While things have gotten somewhat better, in terms of community based policing, etc., there is still a LONG and brutal history.  I saw it personally as a cab driver in the '80's.  It seemed that every fare I picked up from the jail had clearly gotten hit multiple times in the head.  And, recently, SA made national news when a man was murdered by other inmates in the jail after a guard apparently deliberately planted the false story that he was a pedophile.  Unraveling that tale, which is still in progress in the courts, lead to the discovery that the jail was actually run by the most dangerous of the inmates, who had permission to enforce their own law.  Otherwise the guards might have to do some actual work, instead of playing video games all their shift while people were getting smashed and killed.

Update: 10/17/11

I spotted about ~30~40 people at Main and Von Karmen inIrvinelast Friday about 5:20pm.  The next day I waited for the real protest to arrive at Barranca and Jamboree.  I estimate 1,000 or so.  I filmed a lot of it, for what it's worth and was interviewed by the official ??? Occupy camera crew.   I couldn't break away from prior commitments any further until late that night at theIrvineCivicCenterwhere the police were rousting the protestors off the grass and no tents, etc., on sidewalks.  Today there were about 40 there at 5:20pm.  The people I spoke to were not uneducated people with time on their hands, but rather, very well read on economics and politics.  Oops, out of time... more later...

Well, I started this as a typical blog, from my first-person perspective.  But, this is IMPORTANT!  OK, so I'm important, too.  But this is not a typical casual blog.  This is about our survival.  You and me, and our entire species.  There are a lot of things we humans are doing right, and there are solutions, in principal, for virtually all our current problems, but we are not doing a very good job of connecting real solutions to real problems, so far.

Altho, people seem to be waking up. 

To what?  Perhaps to a set of loosely bound realizations, about humanity, about our values and how we treat them, about our planet and how we are treating it...

So, first, let's look at some of the more basic problems, which I suggest may be miss-identified in some cases.  There is a vast diversity in the Occupy group.  People have axes to grind, political hobby horses to ride, neuroses to feed, etc.

But those differences are not what brought them together, now, are they?  Apart from the occasional sociopath, looking to score power or destruction for its own sake, the reason for Occupy is that we are moving generally and specifically towards decline and likely disaster if we don't change some things radically and fundamentally.  This is surgical triage time, not band aid time.

That said, a warning up front:  I was a supporter of the Peace movement of the '60's and the Civil Rights Movement.  Both of them stalled out when progress seemed to halt and the component factions turned on each other instead of putting their energy into positive growth.  Let's try not to do that again.

What are the problems? 

1> A failure to value people as our most important and valuable resource.

2> A failure to recognize that we humans collectively own this planet.

3> A failure to accept that Justice must come for real Peace and Prosperity to exist.

4> A "need" based concept of social welfare that is a guaranteed death spiral, rewarding our worst behaviors.

Parenthetically, the odd thing about this "Occupy L.A." protest was that I heard nothing about it until after it happened.  That indicates something that I think I need to identify, as I generally have pretty good connections.  However, when I quickly found the homepage, there was no real statement of purpose that I could locate.  Interesting...  Almost parallel to Falun Gong, with no apparent hierarchical structure, explicit philosophy, future agenda...

So, time for me to jump in with my cogent and definitive set of suggestions for how to really fix things.   Note that I was decrying the corporate bailout two years ago, and have written extensively for decades on the evils of corporatism.

OK: solutions -

1> End the corporation as such, because it is an inherently evil programmed death machine. 

The reason that the corp has become so successful is that it socializes risks via state fiat.  It rose in popularity in the 19th Century when the courts began allowing huge punitive damages that could wipe out business owners.  The corp allowed them to isolate their assets so that they would not be on the hook. 

(The story behind the story is that the proto-Progressive movement deliberately pushed the corporate model, as an alternative to the Trust and other private contractual business models.  The theory and justification for bringing most business under the state's wing was that then the allegedly super-corruption of the great 19th Century Trusts would be subject to control by various bureaucratic boards and commissions.  The reality is that it was the very super-rich who were supposedly the target of "trust-busting" who were bankrolling the whole project, knowing that they could buy the boards and commissions and no longer be subject to class action law suits, predicting - correctly - that the courts would rule that the slap on the wrists by the regulatory agencies meant that other prosecutions would be seen as double jeopardy.  I.e., it was all a plan, a plot, a real life conspiracy that depended upon the ever economically ignorant progressive left for its successful implementation.  The goal was a national economic policy - i.e., fascism - that would safely remove the big players from the risks of free market competition.  As in, bailouts...)

Corps are only liable to the extent of their assets, and, if they know about high-end risks up front, they can play games with subsidiaries to further isolate the risks from their core assets.  Bottom line: the corporation is successful simply because WE are subsidizing it in many ways, giving it an unearned market advantage and leaving us paying the price for its off-loaded risk when we have an oil spill or nuclear accident or another SuperFund site.  The actuarial reality of corp law is that it does not make economic sense for a corporation to try to prevent disasters that significantly exceed its assets.  so, there is still no effective prevention of terrorist attacks on nuclear power plants here in the U.S., for one little example, because the nuke's risk is capped by law at $800 million per incident, while a real nuke blowup would run easily into the tens or hundreds of billions.  Risks significantly over the cap are ignored as it is more cost effective to go after much smaller possible problems, because of the cap.

Those risks don't go away.  They just get assigned away from the corp to you and me.  WE pick up the tab, and that's the only reason for the existence of the corporation, as opposed to trusts, partnerships, etc., none of which have complete isolation of risk.  It's called playing with other people's money - and lives.  So, institute tort reform to limit punitive awards to perhaps twice actual damages, whatever is reasonable.  That gives honest businesses a feasible way to handle risk outside the corporation via insurance.  Then simply abolish the corporation, requiring companies to return to private, purely contractual structures that can't foist risk off onto innocent victims.

ALL the arguments for the corporation rest on a divorce of the "practical" from the "moral."  We KNOW that foisting the expenses one creates off on other people is WRONG!  But, the corp was another one of those philosopher king style fixes from the "Progressives," like Prohibition, like American exceptionalism, like imperialism, like compulsory state schools.  We all KNOW that there are moral problems that flow directly from injustice and our attempts to run other people's lives, to force OUR values down their throats at the point of a gun.  But we excuse ourselves to wreak havoc under the excuse of "practicality."  Interesting just how practical that turned out to be...

So, <a> tort reform, and then <b> abolish the corporation.

2> Find, identify and isolate the evil doers from their grasp on the levers of power. 

This is bound to be controversial, and we don't need witch hunts.  In fact, what we do need is more empathy, which has been on the decline in the U.S.  However, 1 in 30 people on average is a sociopath, a figure that appears all over the literature of psychiatric practice.   Typically, a combination of nurture and nature results in someone whose brain has had specific information channels damaged, burned out, perverted and/or deficient at birth. 

A paradigm example of this is a child who has been subjected to prolonged and severe abuse.  Normal stress triggers a release of cortisol which promotes new neural growth in the brain channels that are being overloaded.  Overstress causes a much greater release of the stress hormones, which act to burn out the stressed neurons, leaving the child emotionally blind or insensitive.

Not everyone who has a deficiency in empathy is an evil person, but the incentives in terms of feedback via emotional visibility that the rest of us find so pleasurable and valuable are severely diminished.  People with Asperger's have low empathy, but are not generally evil people, although they are notorious for blurting out what they think, regardless of consequences.  It is possible for someone without normal empathy to live a normal, productive life.  There are many options for human fulfillment.  Many great creators - such as Newton - have been identified as likely Aspy's.

The evil sociopath, however, has discovered the pleasure of power that is attached to destruction. Fulfillment for a sociopath is taking pleasure in hurting other people, especially tasty when they understand what is happening and are powerless to deal with it.  These people are attracted to positions of power, of course.  And, they are capable of combining forces, as in the NAZI era in Germany, when organized sociopaths ruled an entire major country - and virtually destroyed it.

Dealing with pervasive and entrenched sociopathy will be a difficult and interesting challenge, but ultimately it will have to be handled, or all our efforts on other fronts will be at risk to being perverted to evil ends. 

The new Simon Baron-Cohen book "The Science of Evil," is getting a LOT of coverage which will hopefully raise awareness, and one of the consistent themes in the on air discussions of the book and subject is the chance that we can prevent or even cure the underlying problem through training and feedback, or possibly new drugs similar to ecstasy. 

In fact, many psychotherapists were and are (quietly) using the outlawed drug ecstasy as a treatment for blocked empathy.  Unfortunately, one of the bastions of entrenched sociopathy is the War On Drugs (WOD), which began, we now know, from Haldeman's account of Nixon, as a deliberate, calculated attack on the counter-culture of the '60's, especially the Peace Movement.  All that love and sweetness and peace was just too much for a sociopathic Nixon to handle.

Nixon is reported to have said that the drugs themselves were not even a problem.  This explains why the feds have blocked virtually all actual scientific research on them, which might have demonstrated this fact.  Prior to the WOD, its precursor in the early 20th Century was aimed at creating a legal structure that could put any black person in prison, just on the word of an officer alleging possession of Marijuana.  (It is ironic that the Obama administration is now going after medical marijuana.)  Even today, the vastly greater penalties for "crack" vs. ordinary cocaine are understood to be a specific attack on blacks - and yet they continue as our political criminals keep telling us to be "practical."  Morality is for utopias.  Real men kick butt!

No.  Morality is for living a human life on this planet.  Real men take responsibility for their lives and the lives of their fellow humans, because people and the interactions that we normally enjoy with them are the most valuable things in our lives.

Another excellent and highly accessible book is "Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential--and Endangered" which, step by step shows how sociopathy is induced in a normal person as a child, and the different ways that people deal with it internally.

Or, you can go to my blog here "On Morals," for my own take, which syncs perfectly with the above references, but from more of an epistemological analysis.  I wrote my piece in 2008, but I had the ideas in 1971, as an offshoot of the work of psychologist Nathaniel Branden.

Readers who want to delve further into the dark side might want to wiki on ponerology, the science of evil.

As an aside, I was seeing a few comments to the effect that the "occupy" protests were against "capitalism," and that "capitalist running dogs" were not welcome.   You get all kinds, and I hope that these voices can also listen. 

In fact, we are all capitalists in a fundamental sense.  Life itself is a form of capitalism, in which energy is stored and concentrated for future use.  That is the fundamental basis of life, period.  However, semantics gets in our way.  Like the "pro-lifers," or the "progressives," the pro and anti capitalists have stolen concepts.  The anti-capitalists are generally either referring to state capitalism - i.e., corporatism - or the blanket theory called Marxism, or, for the left-anarchists in the movement, a more general anti-property theory. 

On the other side, the libertarians in the movement may or may not confuse capitalism with corporatism (which Mussolini, who was a hero of the progressive left, said was another term for fascism). Those who understand the distinction are totally in favor of free markets (NOT NAFTA of the like, which are corporate state structures).  Real free markets may have rules - like a swap meet - but these are not produced by a state, but rather a way of improving access through order and risk control by the proprietors, who naturally want to maximize long term value.  Think EBay or JoeUser.

3> Regarding "property."  WE own this planet.  Every new person born has the same original claim on the commons, the Earth.  It is ALL our property.  However, limiting everything to a commons means that Garret Hardin's "the tragedy of the commons" rules.  We see today how well a pure commons approach, with no proprietary property rights, works when we look at our atmosphere, our fresh water supplies and our oceans.

People are forced to misuse and destroy because other people are doing it, leading to the very downward spiral we are now experiencing as a century of ignoring externalities, such as what all that mercury is doing to our fish - and our children who eat those fish.  You can try to do everything by a top-down Soviet-style rules system, which has never worked very well to date, or you can go with a proprietary approach, in which individuals or groups take responsibility for creating wealth by solving problems.  And that requires some kind of "property."

Private property and the proprietary incentives that it engenders are essential for progress, but cannot stand alone.  The Lockean model of mixing ones labor with the land is simply invalid.  How much labor?  Do I own the moon because I took the trouble to draw a picture of it?  Property is, under proper Common Law, granted to individuals on a lease basis.  What you own is not a cone of dirt and rock to the center of the planet.  What you own is a set of rights to the exclusive use of physical or intellectual assets, within the bounds set out in your lease agreement. 

Under the Common Law, if you want to fence a farm or build a dam, you must take into account the costs that that will impose on your neighbors, who may have been using that very land for their own purposes under common usage rights.  The purpose of the Common Law court or title agency is to publically grant exclusive use to individuals or groups who want to temporarily lease that property, while preserving their neighbor's rights via compensation.  The mechanism for this is to take bids, compare the bid to the impact, and then grant the title based on the highest bid that exceeds the costs to the community.

And here's where it gets interesting...  WHERE does that lease fee go?  Well, first it goes to maintain the court and the commons.  But, if there's anything left over - and there should be - the remainder is divided equally among the entire body of commoners, as a dividend generated by production and in order to compensate them for the loss of access.

I.e., instead of paying taxes, we should all be getting an equal dividend from the gross production of the nation, reflected in the lease fees for all the private property.

Under this analysis, the money that is now being uselessly accumulated in banks, etc. would be returned in the form of periodic production dividends, as fair compensation for our allowing people to have that exclusive private property.  In the U.S., I suggest that this would amount to a dividend on the order $10,000 per year, which would take care of a host of macroeconomic problems, especially the looming problem of deflation, but also the majority of underwater mortgages, the breakdown of much of the social safety net, etc.

However, the problems are not local to the U.S., nor can they ultimately be localized.  Externalities, such as global warming, or the 1/4 of the Earth's human population who are essentially starving slowly on less than a dollar per day, all must be factored in.  The commons is the planet, not any one nation.  People are our most valuable asset, but our current system does not factor that in. 

On that basis, a cursory look at the math would suggest that the United Nations should initially take charge of issuing a modest planetary dividend, as a precursor and approximation to a true Common Law breakdown of the finances based on lease fees as we convert to the general common law model.  I would think that $1,000 per year, going to every man, woman and child without exception, would be a good start, and would pay for its self many times over in saved lives, children educated, vaccines preventing endemic disease, destructive social violence, and a long list of additional benefits.  Just print the money and hand it out in every country that agrees to leave it with their citizens and not just steal it on some pretext for the local kleptocrats.

Because the dividend would be implicitly keyed to actual productivity, rather than the bottomless pit of "need", it would put us all on the same page, in wanting general prosperity and improvements.  The starving third world is not so ignorant as to believe that they could simply vote themselves rich.  But that does need to be emphasized.  We are not going to all be rich - in the near future anyway.  (Although, the looming advent of real, sophisticated robotics promises that sort of future in a few decades - if we don't screw it up.  See Vernor Vinge's portrait of that emerging future in his "Rainbows End.")

Wealth comes from productivity.  Productivity is what we should be aiming at, for everyone.  We don't need people starving or raising brain-damaged kids.  We need them growing food.  Basing rewards on need is a false path that reinforces and encourages more need in a self-reinforcing death spiral.

So, end the corporations.  Let them become real market entities. 

Examine how we can fairly and compassionately but effectively identify and deal with those among us who are actually committed to evil as such.  These unfortunate jerks must be brought to understand that they are no longer invisible.  We can test for sociopathy now and our tests will get a LOT better over time.  No person has the right to be a predator on other people. 

But we have no right to go off on pogroms or violent solutions, either.  Violence is only justifiable in self or other defense, and then only when there are no good alternatives.  Sociopaths can choose to be better people.  This is more on the order of a medical, psychiatric and moral problem.  Out justice systems must seek out ways to eliminate "punishment," which is about as spectacularly unsuccessful as any other moral compromise - e.g., the corporation, the War on Drugs, Bailing out the Banks instead of the people.  Instead of punishment, we need a system that focuses on demanding, first, that the victims of evil be compensated so far as possible.  Make sociopathy pay the real costs it creates.  Make it really unprofitable.  Motivate those jerks to learn how not to be such destructive people.

That's the Common Law, again, BTW, which has NO criminal component.  Evil people, by definition, create costs for other people.  That's injustice, when you have lost what is rightfully yours.  The job of the Common Law is strictly to maintain equity or justice.  Evil people should have a choice of either starving or working to compensate their victims.  If it takes a prison to accomplish this, then so be it.  Otherwise, let them free and dun them for their evil deeds.  Compassionate people who want to help may volunteer or provide counseling or treatments to help sociopathic people rediscover the joys of being truly human and productive.

Imagine it:  "Hello, my name's Ellsworth and I'm a sociopath."  "Hello, Ellsworth, welcome to sociopaths anonymous...  What good thing did you accomplish today?"

OK.  Revise our concept of property to reflect moral and economic reality and implement a common law solution to saving humanity as well as our planet.

End the corporation.

Figure out a better way to deal with real evil.

And, finally...  Finale!!!

A social contract.  Not some abstract model for a philosopher, but a real binding contract that spells out the basic ways that we agree to employ in dealing with each other, especially the ways that we resolve our disputes.

More later...

Whew!  I like it.  Comments?

Addendum:  From Teresa Dang (I believe).  This is really worth reading if you're an organizer. 

Meeting Facilitation Best Practices

  1. I.        Purpose

 

Consolidate best practices including tips and tricks for facilitating effective meetings to share with other organizers to promote participation and inclusion in a disciplined process.

 

  1. II.      Scope

 

This document includes sample meeting agendas with notes on the various items, general tips, a section dedicated to conference call challenges with tips to address them, and additional resources for further reading.

 

  1. III.    Sample Agendas
    1. Committee-Centered Agenda – the sample agenda below is appropriate for groups that conduct regular business that is driven by committees:

 

  1. Introductions/Check-In
  • Can state name only or some additional info to “break the ice”
  • Should be brief
  1. Housekeeping
  • Ask for 1 Note-Taker – this person is ideal to be the Facilitator for the next meeting
  • Ask for 1 Time-Keeper
  • Circulate a sign-in sheet – include name and any other contact info (phone, address, email, org/affiliation)
  • Other possible roles: Stacker, Vibe-Checker
  • Notes and next meeting’s agenda should be emailed to the group soon after this meeting to inform and prepare folks
  1. Ground Rules/Acuerdos
  • 1 mic: one speaker at a time, no cross-talk
  • Step up, step back: if you speak a lot try to let others speak more; if you speak less try to speak up
  • Respect each other’s time, respect the agenda
  • Keep comments brief and to the point
  • Open heart, open mind: listen actively, respect others when they are speaking, keep an open mind
  • Raise your hands (in larger groups, Facilitator should keep a speakers stack)
  • Share your own experiences and opinions with “I” statements, rather than generalizing with “We” or “They” comments
  • Attack the idea, not the person
  • QTIP – quit taking it personally – if your idea received criticism or did not receive support, don’t internalize or respond as though it was a personal attack on who you are
  • No phone calls: step outside if you need to
  1. Committee Report-Backs & Updates
  2. Next Meeting’s Agenda
  3. Announcements
  4. Check-Out (if time permits)
  • People say how they felt the meeting went and what could be improved for next time

 

  1. Task-Oriented Agenda – another agenda format is organized to have various individual group members responsible for facilitating each agenda item and/or a designated outcome needed, using a grid with columns:

 

ITEM

TIME

PERSON(S) RESPONSIBLE

OUTCOME NEEDED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Note: A hybrid of the 2 agenda formats above may be helpful in a meeting where the group needs to conduct report-backs and accomplish task-oriented items.

 

  1. IV.   General Tips

 

  • If people arrive late, stop and ask for their introductions at a point when it won’t interrupt the flow of the meeting too much.
  • Review and confirm the agenda with participants. An opportunity to suggest additional agenda items should be given.
  • Before Guidelines/Acuerdos, assign maximum time limits for each agenda item.
  • Follow the agenda items.
  • Monitor meeting participation.
  • Test proposals (How many are in favor? How many against?  How can the proposal be modified?  Are there counterproposals?  What are the concerns?  Can consensus be reached?)
  • Try to draw together everyone’s opinions into coherent strategies, summaries, and proposals and encourage all participants to do this as well!
  • Keep track of time.
  • Ensure that the meeting progresses smoothly and remains focused.
  • Be flexible and open to modifying the agenda if necessary.  For example, if a relevant item not on the agenda leads to a discussion important to the community, allow for time to have that discussion, and shorten the time dedicated for other less important agenda items (preferably, with everyone's approval).
  • Issues Bin or Parking Lot – if folks have questions or are getting side-tracked, suggest that an issue be tabled since it would require more time and attention than is available.
  • Be aware of the dynamics in the room (e.g., female-male-transfolk balance, dominating personalities, overly sensitive individuals, aggressive behavior), and create a safe and comfortable space where all participants can share their thoughts without feeling threatened.
  • Be enthusiastic and energetic, as that will determine how engaged participants are.
  • Quickly address and manage possible conflicts or tense moments.
  • Make certain that those who want to participate in the conversation are given an opportunity.  Make space for and gently encouraging quiet participants to contribute their thoughts.  Tactfully interrupt participants who have a tendency to be wordy and long-winded.
  • Remain constantly engaged in the meeting.  Make eye contact with all the participants.  Do not have side conversations as people are talking.
  • Write down key points on blackboard, butcher paper, etc.; ideally, this task should be performed by another person.
  • Do not abuse facilitator role to talk more than everyone else or to give those with similar viewpoints greater talking time.
  • Secure commitments for possible work on an identified issue.
  • Remember that facilitation is a skill that improves with practice.

 

  1. V.     Conference Calls

 

  1. Challenges
    1. Can’t rely on non-verbal cues and communication which can indicate desire to get on speaker stack, agreement, disagreement, disengagement, etc.
    2. Folks need to know exactly what is expected for them to participate
    3. Tips for Facilitator
      1. Send out an agenda ahead of time and keep good track of time
        1. Agenda should be clearly defined, set expectations
        2. Facilitator needs clear understanding of agenda and transition between items
        3. Facilitator should dial in early
        4. Start on time
        5. Do roll call votes
        6. Ask for a Time-Keeper
        7. Tips for Participant
          1. Be on time
          2. Be prepared – review agenda and related documents in advance of the call
          3. Mute your phone – to minimize noise and disruption on the line
          4. Identify yourself – there is no way for the Facilitator or other participants to identify you unless you do it.  The best practice is to state your name when you are going to speak so people know who is speaking.
          5. Participate – it’s easy to get distracted or multitask on a call; participate as you would with an in-person meeting
          6. General Tips
            1. Each participant should have tasks to increase ownership and engagement.

 

  1. VI.   Resources

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making

http://www.nonviolencetraining.org/Training/facilitation.htm

http://www.co-intelligence.org/I-comparisonRR-CC-DF.html

http://web.mit.edu/publicdisputes/practice/cbh_ch1.html

 


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