“How did we get to Trump?!?!”

Hello, all! Long time, no type, I suppose. I’ve had my hands full these past several months re-acclimating to life outside the social-justice sphere. I knew there would be quite a gulf between my beliefs, and how I acted upon them, and the beliefs and resultant actions of most everyone else with whom I interacted in my day to day. Knowing it and experiencing it are two different things, though.

Not long after returning to proper employment, I was telling a story to co-workers that included a Breitbart reference. Despite my co-workers being avowed San Francisco liberals against any and all things Trump, they’d never heard of Breitbart at all. Ever. I tried nudging them. “You know, the right-wing news site where most of Trump’s earliest/loudest support originated.” Still nothing. I explained the reference and kept moving, but at the same time I’m thinking, “How the hell can they not know Breitbart?”

It’s been the same with anything related to police terror. Most people are aware there have been protests against police terror during the last few years, but that’s the extent of their knowledge. Saying the names of Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Tamir Rice or so many others will only earn you a blank stare in return. Maybe even a blink or two. Don’t even bother naming MSM, nonprofits and the state as accomplices/benefactors of police terror, or people will look at you as if you’re shouting about Illuminati and chem trails. Hell, some folks will shove you out of the way to learn more about Illuminati and chem trails instead of all this “police-terror nonsense.”

So a couple of weeks ago, a co-worker begins telling me how unfairly the Nazis generally, and Hitler specifically, have been treated by history. I thought it was a bad joke until he kept doubling down with each successive statement and soon enough he arrived at Holocaust denial. And he’d already proven adept at microaggressive statements about anyone who dared not be a cishet white man. Not to mention his partner was also our immediate supervisor. As I’m in the process of deciding who to approach with this and just how to go about it, my co-worker and I butt heads on something unrelated and he walks off the job, essentially quitting. Our supervisor/his partner demands to know why I couldn’t get along with him, and I responded with every bigoted thing I heard him say.

Needless to say, there was much drama. I emerged relatively unscathed but still had to listen to how wrong I was because my co-worker could never be the type of person I was describing, how my co-worker and supervisor were the real victims and how there were actually gray areas in all of this I perhaps hadn’t considered. In short, the exact responses I’d anticipated as I decided who to approach and how to do it. And I anticipated these responses not because we are now suddenly living in grim, ignorant times – “The Time of Trump” as people so often love to proclaim – but because we’ve always been living in grim, ignorant times, as did generations before us. We didn’t just get to Trump; we’ve always been at Trump. The Founding Fathers we just finished celebrating were committed slaveowners. Tell me again how far we’ve come.

Test pattern

Those new features/formats/subjects never quite showed up, did they?

It certainly wasn’t due to a lack of subject matter. All the usual suspects have been up to their usual tricks, up to and including reports yesterday morning of Twitter introducing a paid tier. But as I mentioned in that previous post, none of it’s anything new. Not to me and certainly not to others who have lived it and/or written about it for years upon years.

So I think that’s about it for the blog’s News section. It was a much more long-winded version of my already blowhard Twitter account, but it, as well as this blog in general, was an escape pod from said Twitter account when that account began smoking and sparking in all the wrong places. Working on this blog and researching individual posts also gave me a constructive focus in the midst of a slew of personal problems late last year and early this one, so it’s definitely been of use to me.

Hopefully it’s been of use to others, as well. I think I’ve shone a little extra light onto people and cases well on their way to anonymous escape, especially Enrique Pearce. Just like the other people/governments/corporations/nonprofits about whom I’ve blogged, however, Pearce will still escape relatively consequence free. Others whom I’ve mentioned and linked to in past posts (and whose past and present work I recommend following and contributing to) have been exposing these evils much longer and precisely than I, yet those evils continue to adapt and thrive. And will do so long as the general public continues to value their bread and circuses over freedom.

So what next if not News? I warned you in the Preface that these sands could shift at any point and while I don’t foresee that celebration of Broadway I mentioned, a new season of Doctor Who is just over the horizon and I might even have another interest or two about which I could write.

Stay tuned, as they say.

Dwindling posts

Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun, and while I normally avoid Christian mythology, I see no lies in that line. When I started this blog in November, I had so much to say. Ideas for blog posts were like a team of Athenas attempting to escape from Zeus’ skull all at once; SFPD’s business as usual, City Hall scams, the Gordian knot of corruption also known as the Democratic party, the evils of tech and the Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC), white supremacy in general, you name it.

Trouble is, genuine resistance to these issues always falls victim to the cuckoo; committed, grassroots activists are tossed out of the nest and replaced with obedient automatons who never stray from the script. As a result, these problems and the people responsible continue to thrive and evolve, always assuming a new form or title when the previous one is exposed and of no further use. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that writing about these problems very quickly becomes an exercise in déjà vu. There’s nothing new about the Democrats’ do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do routine, nor is there anything new about the scripted protests that follow, nor tech CEOs’ performances of resistance, nor the rivers of donations those protests and CEOs direct towards ready-and-waiting nonprofits. And please let’s not pretend white supremacy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW is anything new. 

So what now? I’ve not recently posted much to this site’s News category because I haven’t seen much new to cover, and I imagine reading the same few stories over and over again is just as boring as writing the same stories over and over again. At the same time, I don’t want to sit here like a knot on a log, doing nothing. So I’ll be toying with new features/formats/subjects over the next few weeks to see what clicks. Please share if any of what I write clicks with you, as word of mouth and social-media sharing are often the only distribution truly independent media ever experiences.

Pavlov’s electorate

The United States is still the United States. Nothing happened November 8, January 20 nor any other day since the election to change that. The same Democrats responsible for deporting people to hurricane-ravaged and cholera-stricken Haiti, and targeting entire families for deportation to Central America, now scream, “Sanctuary!” at the top of their lungs. The same Democrats responsible for droning weddings now think it’s a sin to delay them.

All of this would be laughable grandstanding if it weren’t enabled, funded and blessed by an electorate divested of its own interest and agency in favor of dancing to the Democrats’ fiddle as the world burns. Democrats actively and openly suppress education around, and opposition to, actions such as targeted deportation when they’re in power, but leverage them for raison d’être the instant Republicans seize the reins. A savvy, well-informed electorate would relegate these red-handed “saviors” to the also-ran heap. Unfortunately, the United States electorate is neither savvy nor well-informed; gorged into a stupor from a buffet of..well, bread and circuses. True resistance is staying up to date on who your local politicians are, who the influencers/funders behind them are, and learning how to decipher their doublespeak; it’s not jumping to attention when corporate Democrats say it’s time to protest, and then lying down when they’re in power, saying “All is well.”

Before joining any protest led by Democrats and/or tech, please check to see where the protest organizers were on these issues last year at this time. Check who’s funding the event, and what they fund outside of it. Make sure you’re backing true resistance, not adding bullet points to another fork-tongued Democrat’s resume.

My Twitter muzzle

I don’t think I’ve referenced this here yet, but for approximately a month Twitter has censored search results for any tweets containing this blog’s url, as well as any of my tweets containing a hashtag. Soon after discovering this, I tweeted Support about the url and hashtag searches separately and filled out a couple of service/complaint tickets on their website, just to stay in shape. So while I haven’t been banned, good luck finding any of my content if you aren’t following me or going directly to my Twitter profile and then scrolling through my tweets. I’ve tweeted new blog posts multiple times over the past month, yet this is what a search for the blog’s url turns up:


Curious, no? Then yesterday, I’m sorting through all the stories about Twitter’s newest performance of combatting abuse and read this:

Twitter also said Tuesday that it is creating a “safe search” feature that removes tweets with potentially sensitive content and tweets from blocked and muted accounts from search results. The tweets will still exist on Twitter if people look for them, but won’t appear in general search results.

So these tweets with “potentially sensitive content,” whatever that is and whoever decides it as such, are still there, but only if you know exactly where to look. Sounds familiar. While this could be a useful tool to combat abuse, it’s also a great way for Twitter to silence any tech criticism outside its influence, while also shielding the reputation of police, and the state, by censoring SFPD-related content from the SFPD hashtag.

Twitter has never cared about ending abuse of its users, nor does it care now. The only function of the company’s “safe search” is to make the platform safe for the reputation of Silicon Valley and its current allies. At a time when Silicon Valley and Sand Hill Road are performing so much altruism around Trump’s immigration ban, don’t forget how often they show us who they really are.

48 Shills: The myth of independent media, part two

Scant seconds after arriving to 48 Hills, a donation plea pops up with a message. “We need independent, local news sources featuring diverse, progressive voices more than ever.” Truer words, never spoken. Unfortunately for visitors to their website, and San Franciscans in general, 48 Hills fails on all counts. Like their big siblings at The Guardian, 48 Hills, specifically founders Tim Redmond and Marke Bieschke, are fervent protesters of injustice in the streets while being the coziest of collaborators between the broadsheets.

Redmond launched 48 Hills soon after his disputed departure as Editor and Publisher of the San Francisco Bay Guardian (SFBG) and Bieschke joined him soon after the SFBG’s demise. 48 Hills’ focus remained identical to that of the SFBG’s under Redmond and Bieschke’s leadership, focusing and championing politicians and causes favored by San Francisco’s good-cop “progressive” Democrats, and opposing anything put forth by the bad-cop “moderates.” Instead of being critical cheerleaders, however, Redmond and Bieschke, in addition to Redmond protege Steven Jones who replaced him at SFBG, all too often eschewed independence in favor of being a cog in Democratic party machinery.

In 2014, good-cop Democratic favorite David Campos ran against bad-cop Democrat extraordinaire, and then San Francisco Board of Supervisors president, David Chiu for California State Assembly. Campos, arguably the Board’s most liberal member, picked up a curious endorsement from Mark Farrell, arguably the Board’s most conservative member. 48 Hills wrote it as ideological opposites whose mutual respect overcame their differences, but the truth was far more labyrinthine. Farrell desperately wanted Board President as a stepping stone to a future mayoral run, and essentially threw his support to Campos’ Assembly campaign in exchange for Campos’ vote for Board President should Chiu win and vacate the president’s chair. In stepped the Bay Guardian to sweeten the deal by endorsing Farrell in his Board re-election bid. Endorsing Farrell would’ve been anathema only a year previous, yet now it was simply one means to an end of getting their crony Campos elected to State Assembly. In addition to Farrell, the SFBG also endorsed bad-cop Democratic incumbents Scott Wiener and Katy Tang, over progressive challengers in the races of Farrell and Wiener. So much for the need for independent, progressive voices.

SFBG avoided endorsing one bad-cop Democratic incumbent, though. In mostly nonwhite D10, they endorsed Tony Kelly, a white man, over Malia Cohen, a Black woman, because Kelly’s ideas were “more principled, well-researched, and closely aligned with progressive principles.” The progressive principles challenging Farrell and Wiener, both white men, held no influence over SFBG’s endorsement decision yet out those principles came as excuse for handing representation of a nonwhite district to a white man. Welcome to diversity when Redmond and Bieschke are calling the shots.

On July 31, 2013, SFBG held a community forum to address Redmond’s recent departure as well as take comments and questions on SFBG’s immediate future and direction. In the above clip, a speaker asks about newsroom diversity and is met with a very flustered response by Bieschke:

Speaker: I have a question about issues of diversity and as far as I can tell in the media landscape of San Francisco there are very few people of color who are decision makers, who decide what goes on in the paper. I think that debacle that happened over at KTVU is somewhat reflective of what happens when you don’t have a diverse newsroom. So I just like to ask, what do you plan as far as not only coverage, but having people of color, particularly African Americans. San Francisco has the largest Asian American population per capita in the United States, and in the overall media I don’t see any Asian American columnists on the Chronicle, the Examiner or most of the other papers on a regular basis.

Marke B: That’s a wonderful question and I think we can answer you, address that during the Q&A portion and also I don’t want Diamond Dave or, or anyone who shares his feelings to think that we’ve avoided what he mentioned. I think we will be able to address that better during the Q&A portion. We just kinda want to hear thoughts now, so that we can really let it rip during the Q&As. So thank you so much for raising that valuable point.

Spoiler: They didn’t come back and “let it rip during the Q&As.” Not only did Bieschke and SFBG avoid further discussion that night, they avoided newsroom diversity altogether. Almost a year later, SFBG was on its soapbox (rightfully) accusing tech of doing nothing to address staff diversity after almost a year of inactivity on its own newsroom diversity. When I inquired into the state of SFBG’s newsroom diversity, one of their intrepid reporters replied with this:


Not exactly holding themselves to the highest standard, are they? This flippant approach to diversity is reflected in 48 Hills’ content, which is written from the perspective of, and specifically for, white liberal Democrats. Anything happening outside the NPR/MSNBC ivory tower of white progressivism will most likely be overlooked by 48 Hills, or be deemed too insignificant to post.

48 Hills’ identity as independent local media took another hit recently as it remained silent during a surge of media attention surrounding Enrique Pearce and his latest court appearance. Normally Redmond would jump at the chance to skewer someone so integral to Ed Lee’s success, but Pearce also helped elect current good-cop Democrats such as Jane Kim, Norman Yee and Sandra Lee Fewer. Access and funding trumped public service, and no 2016 mention of Pearce can be easily found on the site. I reached out to 48 Hills on Twitter regarding their lack of 2017 Pearce coverage and was told “a longer piece should be up this week.” Longer than what, I’m not sure, but regardless no piece appeared last week; in its place, wall-to-wall coverage of immigration protests at SFO. At a time when Democrats local to national are calling for unity, no infighting and all energy focused on Trump and the GOP, 48 Hills marched to the beat like a good soldier and protected the Democratic shield while contributing to ongoing media silence/indifference that will soon allow a child predator to secure his freedom without any meaningful punishment.

We certainly do need independent, local news sources featuring diverse, progressive voices more than ever. That position has gone unfilled in San Francisco for far too long.

Enrique Pearce and public pressure

One year ago, Enrique Pearce was all but forgotten. His court appearances were listlessly covered by the media as he gradually descended into anonymity and prepared to escape any accountability for his horrendous crimes. Then two people on Twitter began tossing around his name and nudging him back into public consciousness. Others took note, favorited/liked/retweeted and began spreading the story on their own. I created this website and wrote a series of blog posts on Pearce because I was tired of local media ignoring his case and others like it.

In the meanwhile, public interest in Pearce’s case has skyrocketed. My blog posts have been increasingly shared on social media and I receive steady traffic from Google searches of Pearce. I would imagine local media has noticed this increased interest in Pearce as they turned out in force to cover his latest court appearance and even managed to express a modicum of outrage over it. Unfortunately, this most likely means Pearce’s walking papers have been signed, sealed and delivered, so the state’s media accomplices are now free to say whatever now that it will have no effect on the case’s outcome. 

While Pearce will still walk with the flimsiest of punishments, the late surge of public interest in the case did make the state, Pearce and his team work a little harder to keep up appearances. Had such public (and media) interest been present from the beginning and throughout Pearce’s case, perhaps he would actually be facing some approximation of justice instead of being allowed to pilot his own bespoke course to freedom. 

Media coverage is important; it absolutely is. But so is word of mouth and social-media sharing; both are often an editor’s boss when assigning coverage. The more reluctant media are to cover a story, as they have been with Enrique Pearce’s case, the louder that word of mouth and sharing have to be. It may (or may not) be too late for public pressure to greatly affect the outcome of Pearce’s case, but there are still others like Pearce facing serious charges while the media allows them to further fade into anonymity. Christopher Kohrs. Jason Lai and Curtis Liu. So many others. Keep their names and offenses ringing out on social media, whether through liking/retweeting articles, writing Facebook posts or blogging. The more noise there is around a case, the harder it is for the state to sweep it under the rug. They still absolutely can and will, but why roll out the red carpet and make it easy for them?

Enrique Pearce rescued by “temporary assignment” judge

The state always protects itself, and Enrique Pearce proves this with each successive/successful court appearance. A powerful man facing a list of child pornography charges found himself in the courtroom of “retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Rene Navarro, who is on temporary assignment in San Francisco.” In other words, they brought in a ringer. In exchange for Pearce’s guilty plea, Navarro offered six months of home detention, which would most likely be halved. Three months of home detention standing between a child predator and the chance to set up shop elsewhere and start all over again.

It wouldn’t be the Enrique Pearce case without another delay, though, this time to March 10, because the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department deemed Pearce “unsuitable” for its electronic-monitoring program. Pearce’s defense has until then to find an alternative monitoring program or…the lack of consequences will continue, I would guess. Regardless, they’re moving heaven and earth to ensure Pearce receives the faintest of sentences.

Enrique Pearce should not be tried locally where his political allies run most aspects of government. Other local child-pornography cases such as those of Bernie Ward and Duane Ackerman were tried federally, so why the VIP treatment for Pearce?

As for why the Pearce case didn’t land with the feds, where he would have faced mandatory prison sentencing guidelines? According to Steve Wagstaffe, district attorney in San Mateo County and president of the California District Attorneys Association, “The U.S. attorney and FBI won’t touch a case unless there are (several thousand) child porn images involved.”

The state always protects itself.

Who counts police killings now?

I’m quite late to this, but The Counted announced last month they would not be tallying police killings in the United States after 2016. They reference a “much-improved new government system” making The Counted surplus to requirement, but relying on the government for these numbers puts the foxes back in charge of the henhouse. The Counted was so necessary because the government completely abandoned keeping track of police killings and had no apparent interest in taking steps to correct this. The government has never shown the slightest interest in bringing transparency to any phase of policing, and certainly not recording killings for which police might be liable in any way. And there’s certainly no reason to believe that will change under Trump’s administration.

This especially matters for those in smaller towns facing police terror. When city police kill, there are usually people around to record it, spread actual witness accounts and organize for some measure of justice. People are always ready to make noise around police killings in San Francisco, Oakland or San Jose. But early Wednesday morning two Salinas police officers killed a teen. Salinas isn’t glamorous enough to register a blip on most activists’ radar, so police there can most likely play this as they wish with no one to keep them remotely honest. And Salinas is just one small town among thousands across the US where police departments will face much less scrutiny once they kill again.

MISSING PERSONS: Former SFPD Officer Jason Lai and Lieutenant Curtis Liu

Jason Lai, Curtis Liu (SFPD)

 

Former SFPD Officer Jason Lai and Lieutenant Curtis Liu were partners in crime at SFPD’s already-scandal-ridden Taraval Station, Lai serving directly under Liu. In September 2015, SFPD investigated Lai for sexual assault:

According to the warrant, the pair then went to the woman’s bedroom, where she says they had sex despite her saying: “no I don’t want to.”

The officer told investigators he was quote “hammered” and does not remember anything from that night.

According to the warrant, a fellow officer at the Taraval Station and friend of the accused, compromised the investigation.

The information provided from one officer to the other could have allowed the suspect to destroy evidence.

“Could have allowed the suspect to destroy evidence” No surprise that San Francisco DA George Gascón dropped the rape charge against Lai due to insufficient evidence, though police did arrest and charge him with “two misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of local criminal offender records and four misdemeanor counts of misuse of confidential DMV records.” Reports are vague as to what Lai did with those reports, but he met the victim while he was on duty and may have used the records to track her residence/vehicle to further his plans.

The “fellow officer at the Taraval Station”? Lai’s lieutenant, Curtis Liu. His excuse for derailing a rape investigation?

According to the DA’s office, after the rape report was made “Then-Lieutenant Liu contacted a San Francisco Police Officer who worked at his station, and who had the same name as the reported rapist. Lieutenant Liu discussed the allegations with the Officer, and the Officer provided Lieutenant Liu with information that confirmed that the Officer was, in fact, the person that the rape victim was referring to.”

“Instead of reporting this information to his fellow officers, Liu engaged in a series of actions designed to keep the investigation from focusing on the Officer,” The DA’s office alleges. “These actions included lying to his subordinates and superior officers about the fact that he had contacted the suspect-Officer, and permitting the police report regarding the rape to be filed with the suspect listed as ‘unknown,’ when Lieutenant Liu knew that the proper suspect was the Officer.”

And SFPD seems surprised they’re facing at least one federal lawsuit alleging they don’t process rape kits and generally don’t honestly investigate rapes. During the obstruction investigation into Liu, racist, misogynist and homophobic text messages were discovered to have been shared among Lai, Liu and two other officers, triggering a new text-message scandal just as the department was recovering from the previous one. This new batch of texts was every bit as hateful and violent as the previous one, too:

In the messages Adachi released Tuesday, Lai also joked about “a story I wrote today” as he shared a draft incident report about a rape investigation. In his text message, he referred to the apparent victim as “an idiot.”

“Don’t go to the house of some Hispanic guy and black guy that you don’t know,” an unidentified person texted Lai in an apparent response. “Don’t drink with them and don’t go into the bedroom with them and this shit wouldn’t have happened.”

“Lol amen,” Lai responded.

Not only was Lai accused of rape himself, and of covering it up with Liu, but he also proudly displayed the same attitude that stops many women from reporting rape to police. Lai and Liu appeared in court May 4, 2016 and pled not guilty in their separate, but connected, cases. Two weeks later, SFPD Chief Greg Suhr resigned and the media completely forget about Lai and Liu; their scandals swept up with all the rest from Suhr’s career to be promptly discarded and forgotten. Since the department eventually fired Lai, and Liu retired at the beginning of his obstruction investigation, their whereabouts are unknown and they’re both free on bail awaiting a court date that may not even exist. Like many disgraced police, it’s possible they moved elsewhere to terrorize another jurisdiction while their crimes here fade from memory and any prospect of justice.

As always with Missing Persons posts, let me know if you have updates on either Lai or Liu, in the Bay Area or elsewhere, that I can pass along. Perhaps more importantly, keep these suppressed stories circulating on social media and elsewhere and agitate local media, both MSM and indie, to keep covering these stories to keep them alive in the public memory and ensure men like Enrique Pearce, Christopher Kohrs, Jason Lai and Curtis Liu, among so, so many others, won’t get away with their crimes just because they were allowed to schedule their court dates when no one was looking.