Please, God, make it stop!

Or should that be “Goddess” instead?

On Friday, May 9, Code Pink dressed up as “witches and crones” in front of the Marines Recruiting Office in Berkeley — though how this differed from their normal appearance was not explained. Seeking (as their flyer stated) to “invoke the Foremothers” in their ongoing attempt to use any means — physical, magical, self-defeating — to win their metaphorical war against the United States Marine Corps, Code Pink posed for the cameras as they always do, and (as they also always do) achieved absolutely nothing other than to discredit themselves.


Fortunately, I missed most of the action, swinging by later in the day to find this incomprehensible scene of a virgin bride holding a bloody baby. Tell me again what this has to do with witchcraft and cronery?

Note, also, the sign on the right: after four years of dedicating themselves to the “peace movement,” Code Pink has still yet to master the impossibly convoluted intricacies of the peace sign, and often as not will produce a Mercedes Benz logo instead.


Luckily, Fox News also got wind of the witch-themed protest, and was on hand earlier in the morning to capture some cauldron-stirring and moaning, which undoubtedly was enacted solely for Fox’s benefit. Note how the Fox reporter makes no mention of what seems to be the most newsworthy incident, shown without comment in the background, when Medea Benjamin, in crone mode, enters the recruiting office uninvited and — as her only act of civil disobedience — proceeds to open the window shade so the cameras will have a better view of her. A Marine runs over to close the shade moments later.


By the time I got there, the day had degenerated to its usual level of pointlessness, as eight or so Code Pinkers loitered around with not much to do, behind a sign that read “Sign Up Here to Die for Empire.”


They had set up a makeshift magical witches’ shrine in front of the office, including some “bloody” broken sugar cookies representing victims of war.


The Fox crew was still there hours later, pointing the camera at Code Pink all day as part of what must have been a rather boring “live protest feed” of the witch event. With nothing to fill the hours, the Berkeley cops struck up a friendship with the Fox crew, and they joked about the absurdity of it all.

Just posted at zombietime:

Palestinian Checkpoint on the U.C. Berkeley Campus

if you wish to comment on this report, you can do so here.

Here come the pro-Expelled demonstrations

Oh dear.

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the classroom…a protester promoting the claims put forth in Ben Stein’s controversial film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed showed up on the U.C. Berkeley campus today to argue with students about creationism and atheism.


When I stumbled across this scene, I didn’t at first notice the Expelled card on his sign. It’s rare to see anti-atheism protesters in Berkeley (as you might imagine), so I stuck around for a while to eavesdrop on the ongoing arguments.


It wasn’t until I circled around to the back that I got the full gist of his intent.


And then it hit me — Oooooohhhhhh, he was inspired to confront the UC students by Ben Stein, who thinks creationism should be given equal time in science classes alongside evolutionary biology. (Which, in my opinion, is a completely ludicrous demand, seeing as creationism is not science. Teach theology in Sunday school; in biology class, stick to the scientific method. This review of the film pretty much sums up my opinions on the matter.)


The story behind my presence on the U.C. campus adds another bizarre dimension to the scene. I had gotten a tip that the group “Students for Justice in Palestine” was going to set up a “checkpoint” near Sproul Plaza to force passing students to experience what life is purportedly like in the West Bank — as SJP’s way of marking the “Nakba,” the Arabic word for “catastrophe” that is used in Palestine to describe the founding of Israel. But when I showed up, no faux-checkpoints were to be found — only this table for the Muslim Students Association. I guess I either missed the action, or the whole event had been cancelled.


So instead I hung around and listened in on the arguments for and against God. I don’t think too many minds were changed.

There are many aspects of the left-wing bias in Berkeley’s liberal arts departments that merit criticism — but insisting that the school’s world-class science departments abandon their fundamental principles is the wrong way to confront the problem.

Michelle Obama for First Lady

Spotted in Berkeley:


This is the first sign I’ve ever seen explicitly in favor of Michelle Obama as First Lady.

I’d say “Only in Berkeley,” but I think that should be obvious by now.


Here’s the same sign in context, on the off-chance anyone thinks this couldn’t possibly be real.

I won’t describe the exact location, to protect the privacy of the Michelle fans.

Pipes and VDH at Berkeley: No news is good news

Nothing happened when Daniel Pipes and Victor Davis Hanson showed up to give a talk on the UC Berkeley campus yesterday.

Nothing at all. No protests, no interruptions, no shouting, no disruptive audience members, no threats, no cries of “Racist!“, no verbal attacks on Israel — nothing.

Which — considering what happened the last time Pipes spoke at UC, in 2004 — is just about the most remarkable news to come out of the Berkeley campus in a while.


Pipes and VDH had been invited by the Objectivist Club of Berkeley to talk about “The Threat of Totalitarian Islam,” which is the kind of topic that usually brings out all the local leftist and Muslim groups. But at this event — not a single protester in sight.


There was tight security at the event, with policemen lining the walls of the auditorium — in anticipation of disruptions that never arose. The third person on the panel (on the left) was Yaron Brook, who was the Objectivist Club representative.


(Photo courtesy of ProtestShooter)
Fellow photoblogger ProtestShooter has also posted a short report about this event, showing the security precautions outside the venue. He also used his nice camera to take some clear shots of the speakers, as seen here.


This is a video of Pipes giving part of his introduction, and another snippet from later in his talk. There was an embarrassing glitch in the sound system, and the Objectivist Club audio technician never could get the microphones to work correctly. As a result, much of the audience had to strain to hear what the speakers were saying, and hence the audio in this video is less than ideal — though I boosted the decibel level, so it should be audible.


My hidden pocket camera, which doesn’t have much zoom, isn’t quite up to snuff when it comes to taking indoor photos under dim lighting conditions. This shot of Pipes is the best I could manage.


(Photo courtesy of ProtestShooter)
ProtestShooter’s shot of Victor David Hanson is a little clearer.


Here’s a portion of Hanson’s speech. Again, apologies for the audio (and video) quality. Note to Objectivists: objectively speaking, you need a new sound technician!


Yaron Brook, with an accent (he was raised in Israel) and some quirky speech mannerisms, was particularly hard to decipher, to be frank.


What has changed at UC Berkeley that this event elicited not a single protester, when in the past (as recently as six months ago) any similar event would have brought out throngs of naysayers?

Did the event simply pass unnoticed because it wasn’t sufficiently advertised? No. Has the climate changed on campus? Doubtful.

No, what seems to me to be the explanation for the unremarkable nature of this event was that the campus is actually becoming de-politicized: fewer and fewer students seem to give a damn about politics of any stripe. Outside the building where the talk was being held, thousands of students could be seen streaming by in every direction, loaded down with science and engineering textbooks, intent on studying. Fancy that! Despite the radical nature of many of the professors in the liberal arts departments, the days of Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement and mass rallies and riots are long gone. Even when there are protests on campus (as at the two previous events linked to above), many of the protesters are non-students who still hang around Berkeley, dreaming of past glories.

I covered the April 9 Olympic Torch Relay in San Francisco for Pajamas Media and posted on their site a “quickie” report about the protests (and other goings on that day) a couple weeks ago. I have now completed a full-length, three-part report about the Torch’s journey through San Francisco, and posted it here at zombietime.

It’s a big improvement over what originally appeared on Pajamas Media: This version has full-size vivid photos (PJM shrunk the pictures down substantially), ten action-packed videos that were not there before, and about three times the number of photos.

Here’s one of the more interesting videos that are in this new version of the report, showing a hair-raising clash between Tibet supporters and China supporters:

Mark Steyn portraits

Here are two pictures I took of Mark Steyn, the brilliant essayist and author, at an event in the Bay Area sometime last year:

Due to privacy concerns, I’d rather not say exactly where or when these photos were taken. Which is actually why I never made a zombietime report out of this photo series in the first place (I have many other pictures of Steyn besides these two). But I thought it would be a tragedy to let them go to waste, so…here they are as a zomblog post, stripped of all context.

If you are a blogger and would like to use a photo of Mark Steyn to illustrate a future posting about one of his essays, feel free to use either of these, with my blessing.

For over a year, the radical group Code Pink has been protesting in front of the Marine Corps recruiting office in Berkeley. Today, April 19, a group of Marine Corps veterans turned the tables and protested in front of Code Pink‘s recruiting center just a few miles away in the adjacent town of Albany.


The Marines Motorcycle Club had gotten a protest permit from the Albany Police Department (protests are an extreme rarity in Albany, which is a quiet little city on the north edge of Berkeley). Barricades, banners and signs were set up in front of the Code Pink office, which is in a commercially-zoned single-family home on Solano Ave., Albany’s main shopping street.


About 50 or 60 veterans showed up to protest against Code Pink on their own turf — taking the battle to the enemy, in typical Marines style.

And yes, the Code Pink office does count as a recruiting center of a sorts, since they hold “Working group meetings” for potential volunteers at the office.


But wait! Code Pink wasn’t even at home during the protest, having instead decamped for the Earth Day celebration in Berkeley. Was this missed connection by design, or just a bit of bad timing for both sides, who might have enjoyed a good political confrontation?


The veterans’ motorcycles filled the nearby streets.


An advertisement for the aggressively anti-war film Rendition adorned an adjacent bus stop; part of the protest is visible in the background.


Political rallies happen so infrequently in Albany that even the Mayor of Albany, Robert Lieber, showed up to give interviews to the few media outlets that were on hand. I listened in on his interview for a while — he took a sort of middle position: he was against the war, and against the recruiting center in Berkeley, but as a veteran himself supported the Marines’ right to protest. Politicians are the same wherever you go, aren’t they?


But poor Code Pink! For the first time ever, TV crews showed up at their home office, and here they are, five miles away in Berkeley, stranded at a back corner of the Earth Day celebration. What a tragedy. All that camera time and they weren’t even on hand to take advantage of it.


They looked balefully at the Earth Day festival in the distance — few people hung around this part of the event.


Instead they crowded around the more popular booths, like the Cannabis Action Network, always a Berkeley favorite on Earth Day.


Even the Truthers had a more centrally located booth.


Oh well! Ms. Chicken says goodbye from Berkeley!

Spotted in Berkeley:


(Full license plate number blurred for privacy.)

Let the conspiracy theories begin!

Are you looking for a clear, short audio file of the controversial statement about “bitter” small-town Americans which Obama made immediately after the Getty mansion fundraiser in San Francisco on April 6, which I had exclusive coverage of last week? If so, you’re in luck, because I just uploaded the best, cleanest and most audible version available. And it’s only 44 seconds long — much more manageable than the 50-minute-long file that originally cropped up on the Web. It also sounds much better than some of the other clips that have subsequently been made available. This is THE best version you will find!

Click HERE to listen to the audio clip — an mp3 file — on its own Web page.
(Alternately, you can right-click [Windows] or control-click [Mac] the link to download the mp3 to your computer.)

Here is a transcript of Obama’s words (this is an EXACT transcript — versions posted elsewhere had some minor errors):

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, a lot of them — like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they’ve gone through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, and they cling to guns, or religion, or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

This speech was made at the mansion of Alex Mehran, just a few blocks from the Getty event I covered, and just a few minutes afterward.

I’m not going to join the chorus of pundits analyzing this speech — everything there is to say has already been said! I’m just providing a service to make the audio available to everyone. Feel free to download it and post it on your own blog or site.