Ad Agencies, PR Firms Try to Co-Opt Bloggers

In light of the Gawker story on blogger payola, I thought I would share my own story and response. Earlier this month I received this email:

I’ve been reading and have a story idea that might interest your followers:

“One of the fundamental arguments for a European Union was the ability for companies to easily move across borders. An increasing number of European-based companies are moving a portion of their staff to other countries within Europe and more commonly to Asia – it simply makes sense in a global economy. Expanding facilities in different countries allows companies to take advantage of lower operating costs and taxes or simply to serve a new territory – and they often need proven managers to run these operations. Moving is a hassle for everyone, but utilizing relocation resources such as specialized agencies, realtors that have a national or global presence and proven courier services companies can make the transition smoother. In this article, I will discuss some potential resources for businesses and their employees.”

Would you be interested in having me write a guest post for your blog? Alternatively I could just supply you with some great trend information that you can use to write a post yourself.

Let me know if you’re interested – I think this topic will be of great interest to your readers.

Thanks for your time and best regards,
Margot M
Blog Content Guild
(Please let me know if you don’t want to receive any more emails from me! Thanks!)

So I wrote back:

Dear Margot,

I am very familiar with that process you describe which is known as neo-liberalism and has nothing to do with “liberal” politics; and which has caused horrific financial consequences to economies across the globe, both in the counties which have lost business and in the countries which have been the recipients of new businesses (think about the Special Economic Zones on the coast of China).

If you have been reading my site as you claim, you will notice that I cover pop culture, LGBT rights, religion, film, tv and other matters and have a progressive political slant. I wonder why you think a progressive political site would be interested in encouraging economic ruin and subhuman working conditions. Have you looked into the working conditions in the countries where some of these companies relocate? “Lower taxes” in another country only serves to benefit the company/shareholders, not the workers; and when companies relocate en masse, the finances of the mother country are eroded. With the loss of tax dollars comes the loss of funds for roads, schools, care for the elderly and ill. Those tax savings do not trickle down, and such practices are one of the root of the current Occupy protests. Seriously, you promote and thus would like to see more businesses leave your homeland, creating unemployment and social turmoil at home while exploiting workers and the environment elsewhere? Um, gross.

While I appreciate your entrepreneurship in trying to pitch me such an inappropriate and venal story idea, I can read between the lines of your email: You wish to promote certain companies with which you have a relationship. Remember this well: Writer and whore share many of the same letters, and it is wise to know who your trick is before you lift your skirts.

Needless to say, I haven’t heard back from her.

Occupy San Diego: Still Going Despite Friday’s Raid, Arrests

Despite dozens of arrests early Friday morning, Occupy San Diego has regrouped and spent Friday night in two groups: One, about 800 strong, marched through downtown to Civic Center Plaza then joined the smaller bunch at Civic Center Plaza. Police were watchful, but there were no arrests. Occupiers were not allowed to sleep in sleeping bags, or technically to sleep at all.

What was meant to be a sleepover/pajama party with trade unionists and nurses turned into an all night rally. At approximately 4am, Occupy San Diego reported on their Facebook page:

Cops just went through and woke everyone up that was sleeping. The labor unions and Nurses were able to talk the cops down and no one got arrested yet. Stay tuned for updates. The heat is rising in Civic Center Plaza! Please come down if you can and help us occupy!

The Occupy San Diego Ustream from this morning shows the SDPD discussing the matter of people resting with Occupiers (at about hour 3:40am on) who received a call from their National Lawyers Guild rep. She tells the Occupiers to move away from the police.

Three of women arrested in Friday morning’s sweep were bailed out by a donor, and the admin from the FB page who accompanied them on their release from jail commented:

After talking with the 3 ladies for a short while it became perfectly clear that violence was indeed committed on Occupiers by the SDPD (and other law enforcement officers.) Also important to note is that the SDPD did not discriminate using violence based on gender, size or weight of the person being arrested the same amount of force was applied to all. The details of what exactly took place inside the Civic Center was not captured on a camera that was unbiased. The OSD Media Team was denied permission entry into the Civic Center therefore were unable to document on camera injuries as they were being sustained by people as they were being arrested. This was a deliberate and calculated move on the part of SDPD. This admin believes a small dent was made in the blanket claim that the majority of Occupiers involved with OSD were homeless and unemployed by choice.

Nice to know the San Diego cops don’t discriminate when it comes to arresting people.

San Diego’s municipal code states:

Overnight Camping. It is unlawful to camp, lodge, sleep, or tarry overnight; provided, however, that nothing in Section 63.0102(b)(12) prohibits any person from being or remaining in any park while in attendance at any function for which the City Manager has previously granted permission.

Civic Center Plaza is not a park, and it’s highly unlikely the City Manager would grant permission for Occupy SD to take up residence in any of the city’s parks. This spring San Diego, which in 2007 allowed homeless the right to sleep on sidewalks, began to again enforce the illegal lodging law. Sleeping on the sidewalks in San Diego is punishable by a $1,000 ticket, though there must be shelter beds available and the police must direct the homeless person to a shelter. Additionally, the municpal code specifies:

Large Groups. Except as otherwise required or permitted by Chapter 2, Article 2, Division 40 of this Code, it is unlawful for any group of persons consisting of fifty or more persons to hold, conduct or participate in any celebration, parade, service, picnic, exercise, or other special event in any park, plaza, or beach without having first obtained a permit from the City Manager.

Saturday morning, Occupy San Diego

Occupy San Diego Shut Down, Dozens of Arrests Including Legal Observer and Vets

View more videos at:

UPDATE: At a press conference on Friday morning, Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long said the number number of arrests was about 50.

While most people were keeping an eye on Occupys in Oakland and Nashville, between 1:45am and 2am Friday  the San Diego Police Department in riot gear descended on both Occupy San Diego encampments, Civic Center and Children’s Park. According to Occupiers, SDPD Assistant Chief Boyd Long had told them they could remain in Children’s Park as long as no tents were erected, and Occupiers had complied.

At Civic Center Plaza, many Occupiers sat down and chanted, singing protest songs and loudly telling the police they they too are the 99%. Despite this, there were between 20 and  44 arrests, including the media team, ex-military and a legal observer, and several protestors were struck and/or thrown to the ground. 

Occupy SD’s Facebook page says

There were several people beaten by the police today as well as over a dozen arrested at Occupy SD. Chief of Police Landsdowne was seen laughing and smirking behind a line of 300 cops with batons while occupiers were being beaten assaulted by the police on his direct order. Please call the Mayor and Chief of Police Landsdowne and tell them that infringing on people’s freedom of speech and assembly by beating and assaulting peaceful protesters is inhumane. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders: (619) 236-6330 and SDPD Chief William Lansdowne (619) 531-2777

All personal items and donated food and medical supplies were confiscated, and barricades were installed at Civic Center Plaza. Police said that Occupiers could return, but without belongings.

Side note, the NBC video above shows some very, shall we say, husky cops. In addition to registering displeasure with the SDPD’s actions, residents might also wish to call for physical evaluations including giving them the stamina tests cadets must pass before joining the force, since some of those guys look plainly out of shape.

Watch live streaming video from occupysandiegolivefeed at

photos: screen shots from NBC7

Occupy LA Day 27: No Police Action per NLG & LAPD, Food Arrives, and Controversial Radio Team Broadcasts Live


Jim Lafferty of the National Lawyer’s Guild, Los Angeles, was on Randi Rhoades’ radio show Wednesday night and said the following, which was typed out during Thursday’s livestream chat and read durng General Assembly:

I have just been assured by Sargent Baker, who speaks for the LAPD on OLA, that the ABC report upset the LAPD because they have absolutely no plans to move against, attack, etc. OLA. Baker said the LAPD was as surprised as we were to hear [councilman Bill] Rosendahl say what he said. Baker said the Chief’s position is that, “If the council decides there must be some change in OLA, we will all sit down with OLA and NLG and have discussions about what the council wants and what the OLAers want. Jim,please tell them we have no plans to attach the occupation and will NOT do that.”

Tuesday Rosendahl was on local KABC-TV and said:

They’ve made their statement. I agree with their statement, but it is time to move on. The trees are in the process of being impacted. The grass is being impacted. Other activities that we need to do on the lawns are being put on the back burner. I frankly think if we can be civil about it, they should get the message that it’s time to move on from our lawn at City Hall. It is everybody’s lawn, not just those with their tents right now.

However in Wednesday’s city council meeting, Rosendahl said he was taken out of context/edited.

The comments from the LAPD’s Sgt Baker to Lafferty of the NLG have definitely allayed some of Occupy LA’s fears, as did deliveries of food from Firedoglake’s Occupy Supply Fund (100 jars of peanut butter, 70 lbs of fruit, and loaves of bread) and the Santa Monica farmers market which dropped off even more fruit and loaves of bread. On top of that bounty, Mary and her mom, who sell bacon wrapped hot dogs, donated their wares to anyone who came by their cart.

Mary also spoke at General Assembly because she and her immigrant mom have been hassled by a couple of the 99% for vending just outside the park. She said that they are struggling too, that they work hard and she is in school and wants to be a lawyer. I’ve eaten a lot of bacon wrapped hotdogs in LA, and the ones from Mary’s family are definitely awesome! And while there is no vending in the park per city regulations, there’s no reason this delicious food, a Los Angeles tradition, can’t be sold just outside the park limits.

Local rabble-rousers John & Ken of radio station KFI–who recently angered immigrant rights groups for broadcasting the phone number of a pro-DREAM Act activist (which was on the guy’s press release)–came by Occupy LA. John & Ken aren’t all bad: They have been loudly calling for the ouster of Fullerton city council members and the police chief over the beating death of Kelly Thomas by Fullerton patrolmen; and by devoting three hours to Occupy, and giving the Occupiers the opportunity to speak about why they are there, to tell their stories, John & Ken were actually supporting Occupy. Over the weeks Occupy has been at City Hall, the anti-government corruption duo has expressed displeasure with banksters, saying that

Wall Street goons ought to go to jail

and today’s show gave listeners a direct unfiltered view of Occupy LA. The Occupiers were, for the most part, clear, direct, informed and personal in their responses to why they are there and what they hoped to see accomplished. John & Ken were also outraged over the actions in Oakland. Despite their often mocking tone–especially about the lawn being damaged, John and Ken are actually subversively spreading the Occupy message to their most conservative audience.

On Sunday from 2 to 4 pm, KFI holds Occupy KFI and have invited several Occupy LA members to come on air at the Clear Channel studio and speak their pieces with Shannon Farren. KFI’s attention on Occupy is overall positive (okay there are the occasional joke about pot smoke and BO, as well as mock outrage over the lawn dying) and shows that Occupy’s overall message is catching the ears of Southern California. Thursday’s live KFI broadcast from Occupy LA is archived here.

Occupy LA still has needs: They are out of most medical supplies, including bandages, both adhesive and elastic; single use antibiotic ointment packs; powdered electrolytes like Emergen-C; hand sanitizer; alcohol wipes; single use saline eye drops; Lysol; bleach wipes; tear-off paper covers for exam tables; latex-free gloves; Maalox or other liquid antacids. Blankets are especially important as it gets colder. Thanks to Firedoglake’s Occupy Supply Fund and a private donor, I can pick up some of these items, but more are constantly needed by the LA medics, and by medics at other Occupys.

And Friday one of Occupy’s media team, Lisa Clapier is getting married on the steps at City Hall, and there are rumors of three other Occupy weddings in the works!

Here’s 30 minutes of Occupy LA and the FDL Occupy Supply funfood delivery.

Occupy LA Day 26: Presidential Candidate Visits, Mayor Wants a Relocation, Unity is Achieved

(video continued below)

Fred Karger, GOP candidate for president–you know, the gay, Jewish, pro-choice, pro-medical marijuana Republican candidate (aka a  real live unicorn!)–dropped by Occupy LA today. He’s already visited Occupy New Hampshire and Occupy Wall Street where he’s been listening to what people are saying and asking questions.  Obama didn’t even drive by when he was visiting Los Angeles, though some Occupiers put up their tents along his route. The Secret Service wanted them to to move, but the Los Angeles police said they could stay. And so they did!

Meanwhile,  Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says the protestors have to eventually move from City Hall, only he hasn’t figured when. Or how. ):

I respect the protesters’ right to peacefully assemble and express their views. City officials have been in a continuous and open dialogue with the organizers of Occupy L.A. However, the protesters must respect city laws and regulations, and while they have been allowed to camp on City Hall lawns, that cannot continue indefinitely.

But he has launched a committee to find another place for them. I’m thinking MacArthur Park or “The Cornfield.” No, that’s not a reference to the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” starring Billy Mumy as the mean kid who would put people “in the cornfield” by wishing them gone when they displeased him, but rather to the California State Park in the heart of downtown, though that would technically require state approval.

Villaraigosa also instructed city officials to begin drafting restrictions limiting when people are allowed at City Hall, though currently no one is supposed to be sleeping there between 10:30pm and 5am anyway.

LA City Attorney Carmen Trutinich said:

To protect the public health and safety of all residents, the LAPD and General Services Police can and should enforce the law in a fair, consistent, and even-handed manner. The law addresses conduct. Enforcement may not be based on the content of any political or personal opinion or message.

The LAPD has not been enforcing the  get-off-the-lawn law. They have been really cool.

Tonight the General Assembly was split when a group calling themselves “People’s Forum”  began dancing and chanting and holding an open mic sharing where several people plugged their websites and one woman rambled about her daughter’s bad relationship, her own free master’s degree from Cornell and how she’s a celebrity. Sharing about why they’re there and what they hope to achieve, problems they are having is needed, though maybe with a time limit and less self-promotion: People do need to know each other and their stories, to hear encouragement and ideas; however at the GA, issues like  security and actions, plus the state of other Occupys are brought up and discussed, along with committee reports, finances, etc.   Granted nightly GA can be occasionally tedious, but they are needed and are an immediate democratic process. While the share-bear People’s Forum went on, the GA met on the other lawn.

After an hour, the GA joined the open mic folks and unity was achieved. Issues like maintaining the cleanliness of the park, sexual harassment, drug and alcohol use were discussed. People expressed that it was necessary to have unity and focus, and that pot and booze dull the latter, while having an environment where women don’t feel safe fractures unity.  And picking up trash and not making a mess shows respect for the environment/land. There was no voting, just ideas brought forth.

I think having open mic assemblies at night on Saturday and/or Sunday where people just share could help foster unity as well as giving people ideas that could later be voted on in GA during the week.   You can watch the recorded livestreams of the General Assemblies at

There is some reasonable concern about police action, given the ongoing  situations Oakland, Atlanta and  in others citys where  police force is being used to remove Occupys; but again, so far the Los Angeles police have been reasonable, helpful, friendly and kind. Let’s hope that Villaraigosa doesn’t drop the banhammer on Occupy LA, but if he does, the LAPD acts like Albany, NY where they police refused to move on protestors and not like the law enforcement in Oakland, CA.

Tomorrow, thanks to FDL’s #Occupy Supply program, I am bringing down cases of peanut butter, loaves of bread  and other packaged foodstuffs to distribute through the camp, as they are really hungry and, per the Health Department can only have food that is prepackaged or prepared by Health Department-permitted kitchens. So thank you, FDL members and readers for helping the 1,000+ Occupiers of Los Angeles in 495 tents at City Hall have food in their bellies as they move forward.


Dancing with the Stars: Chaz Eliminated

Chaz Bono had a good  six week run on DWTS, but this week he was eliminated, prompting a strong response from the activist in the confessional booth:

If you’re an overweight woman in this competition, losing weight, they love you. If you’re an overweight guy trying to do this competition, getting in shape, they penalize you for it, call you a penguin. Bruno [expletive] makes comments about me being cute and cuddly and an Ewok,with the Princess Leia…like I’m some fat troll dancing with this beautiful woman every week and I’m sick of it.

I came on this show because I wanted to show America a different kind of man, and I know that if there was somebody like me on TV when I was growing up, my whole life would’ve been different and so I dedicate everything I did to all the people out there like me and especially the kids and teens who are struggling. You can have a wonderful great life and be successful and happy.

Chaz did say however:

You know, I took so much away from this. This was an amazing journey that really pushed me and showed me that I could do so much more than I ever thought I could.

Chaz you are awesome. Keep dancing, keep being who you are!


Late Night FDL: Occupy Main St


Today Limbaugh was blubbering about how the Democrat Party has

an ongoing arrogant contempt for the middle class.

But really, from what I can tell by asking my friends and people I chat with at Occupy LA, the middle class are those who make under $1 million a year, adjusted gross income, either from work, investments or a combination thereof.

Sounds like a reasonable 99% of Americans.

Occupy LA: Now Approaching Its Fourth Week Anniversary

Occupy Los Angeles is feeling the effects, both positive and negative, of its growth. Sanitation costs –hauling out garbage and cleaning the portapotties– are taking up most of the donations, and meals must now be delivered from restaurants or “catered” by certified kitchens in order to comply with the health department until the proper permits are in place. Occupy LA’s cook staff did have access to a kitchen for the first two weeks andthey  are still looking for another. Pizza is still coming in and people are also relying on their own resources,  providing food for themselves and those around them.

The mediation tent (above right) is a popular spot, as is the South Lawn with the People’s Stage where bands, poets and speakers entertain and teach. A list of activities, including yoga and teaching seminars, is listed on Occupy LA’s website. The bike community and Occupy LA are staging Sunday rides at noon, and four bikes have been donated to Occupy for communal use; there’s also a bike workshop which teaches basic repair.

Last Thursday the weekly farmers’ market relocated to the outdoors California Mall, much to the distress of some of the vendors because some of tent dwellers were concerned that the Fire Department’s request that they clear fire lanes was a plot to remove them. The matter is being addressed again in General Assembly.

As Occupy LA is not permitted to camp technically they need to move their tents nightly off the lawn. So far, the city has been very cool about that, but that could change, especially if the farmers’ market vendors get more upset.

Camp security has become more vigilant, as there is a need to comply with city law–ie. no drinking on city property. There have been four arrests for minor violations over an 18 day period, according to the LA Times.

Meanwhile, plenty of other groups and organizations are happy to come and pitch their pet projects–which at times dovetail into Occupy LA’s and other times don’t–and ask for Occupy’s feet on the street (one anti-foreclosure group asked for volunteers to be arrested in civil disobedience and/or Occupiers to show up and support the homeowners, while the United Teachers used Occupy as a launching point for their march last week, the New Corp protest drew a large number of Occupiers).

Some groups ask for Occupy LA’s assistance and support without ever checking on what Occupy needs in terms of support, solidarity, supplies, man power, etc. They are a barter community, and other groups should be prepared to trade manpower.

Monday night at GA several lawyers came by to explain what Occupy LA could do for them and their causes, but neglected to offer any support in terms of legal aid should there be arrests to assist community members with their own legal matters, or to hold workshops. They were not well received.

Some are giving back, like Tom Morello, who played a set Tuesday and put 175 Occupiers on his guest list at the Troubador to see him play for free. Comic Jeff Ross who performed last week brought toilet paper and deodorant.

Other visitors to the camp are bringing supplies (rain ponchos would be handy, along with batteries and white boards and markers,while the media tent needs SD cards. Security would love some walkie talkies. Food deliveries from restaurants are appreciated, as are crates of fruit. And you know, if you’re going to take pictures of people sitting in front of or in their tents, it is polite to ask.

Black Phoenix #Occupies Your Nose and FDL Takes to the Road for #Occupy

The perfumers at the ultra-cool and collectible Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab have whipped up the sweet scent of democracy, Occupy style, and are donating all proceeds above manufacturing costs to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy LA in the form of  dollars to the OWS General Assembly for needed supplies, as well as sending pizza, aka the round meal (and making sure the ‘zas have lots of veggies on them for extra vitamins and fiber).

So far BPAL has donated over $1,300 to the OWS GA and has delivered stacks of pizzas to both camps, thanks to the scent which they describe thusly:

Rock the protester cliché! This is a filthy friggin’ patchouli, dark, deep, rooty, and strangely sexy, with cocoa absolute, tobacco absolute, and bourbon vanilla.

Meanwhile at Firedoglake, we have the #Occupy Supply Fund, with Kevin Gosztola hitting the road in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky to donate specific goods needed at eight sites.

I’m on the Edge of Glory as Credit Card Slices Tomato

There is some very deep symbolism in the Edge of Glory knife sharpener commercial: A credit card is honed to a by the device with title of a Lady Gaga song and slices through a tomato, a slang term for a cute gal.

Yes celebrity-obsessed ladies, be aware that your credit card could become a weapon  used against you! Or something.

Or something.

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