Category Archives: The Haps

The Pepper Spraying Cop gets Canned – finally

Remember this guy?

He was finally fired.
His name is John Pike, the the now former Lieutenant with the UC Davis police force. His 2010 salary was listed at just over $110k and he’s been on paid leave (aka vacation) since the incident – that’s ten months (see the article here). The police Chief Annette Spicuzza “retired in April after an independent panel issued an investigative report that severely criticized her leadership of the Police Department and found fault with much of the university leadership during the crisis.”

So a ten month paid vacation and a retirement – boy, those are some serious…ly pathetic consequences for hurting the people you were tasked to protect and serve. And, those are the only two that have been made known publicly – there is a lawsuit pending now around making the identities of the other officers public.

It is difficult to determine what was so difficult to determine in this investigation. The students did disobey a police order, but they were seated with linked arms and were completely non-violent. If you see the video, not a one of the seated protesters look like they even approach 200lb – I’m quite sure they had assumed they would be arrested and removed one by one by the officers in the tradition of peaceful civil disobedience.

So many of us have nothing but our bodies to use in our fight for our values. Many of us do not believe that violence solves problems and follow in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. When the ideas of the minority butt up against the ideas of the powers in charge, the playing field is obviously quite slanted in favor of those already in power.

It is cowardly for those in power to use violent chemical forces in response to ideas and words. It is cowardly to hurt someone when what they want is a seat at the table to take part in a real discussion. This interaction is a microcosm of what is happening to many unarmed simple citizens of the planet that will not be a doormat for the powers that be.

Why was UC Davis so afraid of the protests? Why did they not channel the energy into a forum where folks could be heard? Why the riot gear and extreme measures. What was the threat that the students presented? Who was being protected? How many police officers across this country empathize not with the students, but with the sprayer, John Pike.

Some of the pepper spray victims are suing Pike, the university and others. I think he should have to give the paid leave money back anyway.

CEOs get to ruin companies and parachute away with millions, politicians can shoot people and get away with no questions asked, the 1% can pay someone to arrange subsidies for themselves instead of paying taxes. Where does one get beknighted or step through this looking glass of privilege? Why do the rest of us have to follow the rules or face the consequences?

Good riddance John Pike. I hope you have a conscience and it does what our justice system has not yet done.

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Life Suck

As contractions of the national and global economies grow more severe, their impacts are felt more painfully by more people. The same is true here at Civil Tongue. Blog creation is not a money making venture, most bloggers blog out of the need to share something, the need for community. As always, I, your lowly blog author, am available for all sorts of analysis, research and writing – please inquire by posting a quick comment (I can then respond to your email), but my own personal struggle against this economy is not just philosophical – it is also painful in reality.

The last time I had full time employment was before 9/11. My industry was heavily affected by the attacks and I was laid off, then rehired part time. This was adequate for many years because I had my first child four months after 9/11, and my next a couple of years later. Before 9/11, my husband and I were comfortably middle/upper class.

Ten years later and I no longer own a home, we have both been laid off, and are definitely in the low income tax bracket (when we can get work at all). The descent has taken an absolutely devastating toll on my family in other personal, less quantatative ways. We are a poster-childish family of how things fall apart in the current economy involving nearly every major collapse that has happened in the last decade (hey, at least we didn’t have huge investments).

It’s time to stop pretending that I am doing “just fine”, I’m not. This hurts like hell. It is very sad and difficult for me to guide my children and family to a more positive and secure future. Their education, interests, and personality are all relative to how well they will do in the future and I no longer have the resources to provide what’s best or even mediocre.  It’s time for us to let our friends and family know how bad it really is. It’s time to walk across the street to the Joneses’ house, knock on their door, tell them that we can’t keep up with them anymore, offer a truce (like a dinner invitation), and make real friends that don’t compete materialistically – friends that share and support one another in tough times.  I know it may be severely outside your comfort zone.

I’m writing this outside of my comfort zone, but also necessity. I no longer can promise daily posts. My resources are limited and while my heart is in this work, I may have to scrub toilets, stand waving in a Little Ceasar’s costume, or be a gopher for someone. I am taking any and all work that I think I can physically complete – and even that work is few and far between. The work is often poverty wages, so I will likely be busier and busier – probably just fine with corporatists that would like a loud mouth like myself to just shut up and go away (or die- I certainly don’t have health insurance though I have some serious health issues).

For my fair and loyal readers, how I might work this out is to have a few “real” posts per week where I attempt to analyze and make some relevant points on political framing and the current news of the day.  The rest of the days I will do less time consuming posts and just line up some of the poignant news stories that I wan’t to elaborate on, but don’t have time.

As always, I welcome guest posts – especially well thought out and well written ones that are different than my belief system. If you have one, again, let me know by comments.

Government is not bad or good inherently, it is necessary to live together with billions of strangers with some basic universal concerns collectively though through. When those governments cease to help the People, it is time for them to change.

Here are a few stories that I have strong feelings about, how about you?

Mosquito Drones

A team of researchers at the vaunted Johns Hopkins University – in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Arlington, Va. – is helping develop what they are calling an MAV (micro aerial vehicle) that will no doubt have loads of uses, up to and including the usurpation of privacy rights by the Leviathan State.

Initially though, it’s thought that MAVs will be incorporated for use by the military, for situations when stealth is of the utmost importance. The tiny drones could effortlessly infiltrate urban areas, where dense concentrations of buildings and people, along with unpredictable winds and other obstacles make it impractical, if not impossible, to use a standard-sized drone. Domestic uses include search-and-rescue operations and, of course, observation.

How small, exactly? Well, a graphic on the site of the Air Force research agency features what looks to be an electronic mosquito.

Oregon Man Gets Jail Time for Collecting Rainwater on His Own Property

Collecting rainwater can get you in legal trouble in Oregon. A court has sentenced a southern Oregon man to 30 days in jail, and a fine, for maintaining 3 illegal reservoirs on his property. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports.

Gary Harrington has told the court, and newspapers that he was just storing rainwater to use for wildfire protection. But rainwater is what fills most of the rivers in Oregon, says Tom Paul with the Oregon Water Resources Department. And you can’t divert its natural flow it without getting permission first.

Paul: “If you build a dam, an earthen dam, and interrupt the flow of water off of the property, and store that water that is an activity that would require a water right permit from us.”

Paul says one of Harrington’s dams was 15 feet high. And the dams were capturing water that flowed into a nearby creek, which belongs to the City of Medford. Harrington is appealing his jail sentence and fine.

Learn more:

Is Algebra Necessary?

This debate matters. Making mathematics mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent. In the interest of maintaining rigor, we’re actually depleting our pool of brainpower. I say this as a writer and social scientist whose work relies heavily on the use of numbers. My aim is not to spare students from a difficult subject, but to call attention to the real problems we are causing by misdirecting precious resources.

The toll mathematics takes begins early. To our nation’s shame, one in four ninth graders fail to finish high school. In South Carolina, 34 percent fell away in 2008-9, according to national data released last year; for Nevada, it was 45 percent. Most of the educators I’ve talked with cite algebra as the major academic reason.

a definitive analysis by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce forecasts that in the decade ahead a mere 5 percent of entry-level workers will need to be proficient in algebra or above.

See the opinion piece here:

Weak and Wimpy Candidates

Wow! What fireworks! The gloves are off, fists are flying, the big guns have appeared: the wimpy words.

The world may be focused on London and I suppose gaffes that recall the prime minister’s backside are super offensive to some (for the rest of the world it sort of proves the stodgy stereotype of the English), but the overseas gaffes are nothing compared to what is now going on.

There is a storyline building about Mitt Romney that is fatal to any Republican (and probably any other) candidate, and unless he does some fancy posturing, it is threatening to stick. Romney is being painted as a wimp.

Anyone recall another “wimp” president? It could be argued that the moniker of “wimp”, was the impetus of George W. Bush‘s presidency – to return honor to the family after his dad was labeled with the charge.

The word “wimp” or “weak” is the harshest disparaging remark one could make about a conservative and the charge has now been leveled at Romney by Newsweek – the same publication that put the nail in the coffin of George H. W. Bush‘s presidency. The idea has online news sources chattering as well, like in this article Mitt Romney’s Wimp Factor. The article points out how Romney seems afraid and running every time he’s pressed on an issue. Perhaps this kind of talk is what has him posturing as Commander in Chief this week while he snuggles up to Israel and sabre rattles in Iran’s direction.

We already know how sabre rattling turns out when it is nothing but cover for a non-existent domestic agenda and insecure self image. It’s not good. A war with Iran would surely be the beginning of an entirely new era – one that could make our current economic, environmental and political situation look like a Sunday School picnic.

Testosterone and attempts to prove manliness in the face of scrutiny or ridicule have acted as a genocidal force on our planet. Letting “the wimp factor” factor into military decisions takes away the trust that the People – Americans in this case – have in the Commander in Chief and the mission. We’ve stopped doing military in defense; we are now seen as the world aggressor.

Dick Cheney fully remembers what happened to George Bush Sr., he was Secretary of Defense. He also is fond of profiting from war as he did with Haliburton/KBR (and perhaps still does) he also is a big fan of fracking, helping to create the loophole that exempted fracking from the Safe Water Act in 2005 (article here) – which he also did to stuff the pockets of Haliburton.

Perhaps that’s why a day or two after “the wimp factor” story came out about the new Newsweek cover, Cheney decided to start getting loud about how he thinks Obama is one of the weakest presidents ever. He’s worried. You don’t really hear a lot our of Cheney these days – he lays low, doing his profiteering thing until a campaign needs someone to stir up the hawks, then he steps out to remind us that we do need a “strict father” that is focused on making money and kicking some butt.

Why are the words “weak” and “wimp” so significant? For conservatives, they are the reddest of flags that let them know that they don’t like a person. “Weak” and “wimp” say that the subject is not strong, is not decisive, and cannot be relied upon. They are not manly, have no nerve, and “chicken out” of fighting. Instead of seeing diplomatic measures as being a pragmatic way to save lives, money, the environment and energy, is seen as nuanced weakness. Conservatives operate on more of a black and white decision making system, if you’re not into “fight”, you must be into “flight”.  Progressives understand that every circumstance has multiple issues and causes at hand, learning about the situation and making deliberations are likely in order when deciding something as destructive as war.

Note the wimpy words, they are a little different than typical political mud slinging. Candidates can be called dumb, arrogant, selfish, evil, dishonest, manipulative, womanizing, ugly, disconnected…there are lots of descriptors flying around but the wimpy words are harder to shake – American’s don’t want a weak president.

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Happy Weekend!

Strange Times we are living in. This is all I have today.

Conservatives Still Love Tradition and Authority

After yesterday’s post, An Honest Conservative’s Response, it becomes clear that self described conservatives may not be crazy about having authority labeled as their top value. Truly, what a person says is their top value cannot be denied – they have a right to claim any belief or value system, but their behavior might cause a casual observer to describe an alternate value being held up.

I could describe several point in the letter excerpts yesterday that prove my point about authority being a conservative’s top value.  Mr. Butrum does not agree that authority is the top value, but then states that the Constitution is sufficient authority. I would agree that it is sufficient authority and indeed the only authority We the People have agreed upon. On this principle, both Mr. Butrum’s top authority, the Constitution, also happens to codify democracy – a governing system that empowers the citizens to rule themselves. Democracy is a governing system with much empathy built in to it. The small voices are worth hearing. The weaker bodies get the opportunity to contribute in many ways. Diversity is cherished. Education for all is paramount. Empathy is at the heart of so many of the ideas behind democracy.

This is why an American Progressive has no problem with the Constitution – especially given that there is a mechanism by which it can be changed. Mr. Butrum writes:


It’s not emotion that works. It’s common sense. Unfortunately, common sense is not very common. Have American’s become so complacent that we no longer have an obligation to others that need our help? Do we offer them our cold shoulder? How many lives have been lost due to complacency?  Is it because we feel that we need to pay more attention to our own problems. After 16 trillion dollars of debt, mostly given to Americans, how much is enough?

I guess my initial response is – Who decides what is “common sense”? Tradition? Local customs? Academic consensus? Lead decisions?

He then goes on to do a good job of selling me on the idea that Americans are an empathetic people, that we should not offer a cold shoulder, stating that lives have been lost to complacency, but wait…he’s not talking about helping Americans out, he’s talking about war. He feels that we must, “give another country the taste of freedom and the ability to join with all other free nations to develop their economies that end up helping all that participate especially America.”

And this is where he genuinely make ties with capitalism in with his belief system and patriotism.

Back to tying this all to authority. How could America possibly “give another country the taste of freedom” without assuming a role of authority? Anywhere the US’s military muscles are flexed is a reminder of who carries the biggest stick and authority is exerted.

Capitalism itself is based on a dog-eat-dog world. It doesn’t have to be that way.

You could probably stay completely within the genre of canine puns to describe capitalism. You fight to become top dog. Sometimes you only get the scraps others toss you. The Alpha dog succeeds. Leader of the pack. They all relate to a patriarchal hierarchy – males dominate and the more aggressive and ruthless you are, the more you succeed. The ultimate authority within the idea of capitalism is money/power, or YOU as creator of money/power. Even then one might think that money/power is bestowed upon them by a higher power or because they are especially superior. There is no cap for capitalism, no ceiling of contentment or requirement to share the wealth wrapped into the ideology. In fact, in the idealism of capitalism, it is weak to share – it is seen as unwelcome encouragement for the schlubs of the world that should earn their own riches.

The work of the unpaid and underpaid are completely discounted in this world view. The cost of life and limb for citizens of a nation we’ve made war on is not enough to stop the occupations, the aggressions, the killings as we march on…to what end? For a progressive, the (forbidden) sight of the real daily costs of war in human life and limb are too unbearable to consider carrying on. The money spent and lives lost have been for what exactly? Would any two Americans answer that question in a similar fashion? As a nation, as a people, we don’t know why we’re fighting.

Speaking of the military, as mentioned in my presentation. Most Americans would likely agree that a top down structure within the military is probably a good idea – seeing how the herding cats approach might not work so well when you’re passing out guns and bombs. The trade off for handing over our good people to be put in harm’s way, is that we have to trust the authorities who are sending them to the front lines. That establishment of authority and trust in our military and executive branches has yet to be established around our current states of war. Our nation is so divided that opposing parties put the acceptability of the authority of the President himself into questions whether you are talking about George W. Bush or Barack Obama. The manner in which our recent wars have been waged has also been highly suspect and usurped our agreed upon authority.

For a progressive, they may want to support our troops, but their version would be to send them home, get them some psychological counseling, job training and an opportunity to use their skills. Teach ’em to fish, so to speak.

Here’s another interesting quip:

Today, and for the past three decades and more, student’s come out truly believing that liberal concepts and anti capitalism is the better way. They loose (sic) love of country in the process. They loose a need to join a church, they raise environmentalism to the level of a form of religion. But there is hope. To me it’s like potty training a baby. Babies are adamant against this necessary basic need at first but they finally get it. At least most do.

Mr. Butrum is illustrating my point of how much authority plays a role in conservative thinking. Hi distaste for student’s ideology indicates that he is the authority on what is best for them (or an ideology he subscribes to), he indicates that patriotism should be a higher priority (or authority) for them (again, by who’s measure?), he indicates that they need to join a church – a traditionally accepted ethical and authoritative social club, he has a problem with those that find spirituality in environmentalism – what is wrong with that?

Then he does the ultimate illustration of authority by comparing the anti capitalists (not exactly sure who he is directing this comment to) to babies being potty trained. There could not be a more clear call to call in an authority to teach someone a lesson.

Even in his description of a rude interaction between he and other attendees at the presentation, he seems offended though his communication might have been more clear-perhaps he was partly responsible for the way the interactions ended. His take away was to take offense, not shrug off the interactions because they were all free to behave as they wished. He seemed to expect – perhaps from culture or tradition (both authorities) – an adherence to an unwritten code of social conduct.

Mr. Butrum is being good natured about sharing his comments and so, again, I am happy for the opportunity to discuss our views. I do think he was being candid in his assessment and deserves the label of being honest, no matter if I disagree on some points of content. He did say that he would be all ears if I could point out how his ideas of freedoms and private rights relate to authority.

There is a reason why “liber” is in the word “liberal” and “libertarian” – it means “free”.