Perhaps the 1% have been on this planet for centuries. I have not lived that long, but if history is any indication, then the Banking Crisis of 2008 is but another hiccup along the 1%’s trail of capitalizing the planet. I started reading Gray Brechin’s Imperial San Francisco this week, and I am beginning to understand the dirty foundation that my fair city is built upon.
The 1% clawed their way into and out of swindles and cons, starting with the myth that the placers (aka 49ers aka the mythic gold digger found on all the government symbols and statues) brought prosperity and growth to California. The actual truth entails millionaires and politicians who were inside on deals that bought land and resources. Unfazed by massive destruction, they developed the technology to wash mountains down and bring out the metal beneath the surface. California looked like a different place before the first tech boom brought mining into the modern era. Then there’s the water, and the drive to grab, dam, hold, and sell the precious resource to a thirsty populace. Again, the 1% had their hands all over these deals, the real estate booms that followed, and just about everything else that clear cut and washed down the lands and rivers around San Francisco.
According to Rush Limbaugh, working the system is an American tradition that the 99% are stupidly protesting. They’re duped pigs who are all part of some vast left-wing conspiracy. As Limbaugh cites answers to a reporter’s questions, and replies that the Occupy folks are idiots, I can’t help thinking about how Tea Partiers would answer the same questions. When I read venom from pundits, I always flip the key words over to their side. In this case, “Democrats” become “Republicans,” “Obama” becomes “GOP president,” “99%” become “Tea Party.” Try this trick with this quote from Limbaugh:
“Stupid, ill-informed, uninformed? This is exactly the kind of voter the Democrat [Republican] Party seeks. Dumbed down, in a haze, knowing nothing, believing nothing other than the cliches and the BS that represents traditional Democrat [Republican] Party policy. They’re just stupid, and you notice how smug they are about it. They are arrogantly stupid. This is what we’re up against. These are model citizens as far as the Democrat [Republican] Party is concerned.”
Can’t debate the dead-end logic of a jack ass, even if I am a lefty pig!
I did the Saturday Occupy SF march with my friend Daniel. My mom called me in the middle of it, on Powell Street, and got upset at my marching in the streets (this is nothing new). She kept telling me that the folks protesting didn’t know what they were talking about. I had met several people who had clear ideas about the 99%, the banks’ failure to support their customers, and the myriad ways that large corporations had let down normal people. One of the Occupy SF people I was impressed with was SFFD! I left the debate with Mom for another day and celebrated the thousands in the streets with me by blowing a whistle, chatting, and chanting. The march was refreshing: hand-made signs, no Stalinist branding at a large stage with the same message. At the end of the march, hundreds of us sat and stood in front of City Hall and listened to some folks on a bullhorn. The woman speaking said too much, but it sure beat the same rallies of the past 10 years.
Today, I tried to make it down to Justin Herman Plaza today to see what the 99% were up to. There was supposed to be a meditation at 5:30. I would have to miss it, but still wanted to show up and be part of things. I assumed that the encampment was at JHP. Saturday, in front of City Hall, they announced that they were going to move it there. They have since been raided (again) by the SFPD, who are having zero tolerance for camping. And they appear to be hopping around from JHP to the Federal Reserve to Union Square.
Today, however, I happened to see about four media vans in front of City Hall. I stopped and noticed about six or twelve folks with an “Occupy SF” banner in front of the building. “Is this the encampment now?” I wondered. The crowd was too small and my time was too short. I ran an errand and then headed to Justin Herman. I stopped at the Federal Reserve, where the encampment had been on Saturday and only found about ten folks there. Most of them were crusty street kids. One woman with a sign yelled at me to donate into a bucket. The infrastructure was still there: food, info, sign-making, but there was no enthusiasm. I felt embarrassed. With little to do, and no meditation, I sadly biked back up Market Street to head to class.
On Market at Fourth, I got off my bike to walk in to SFSU. I noticed a homeless woman in the middle of the street. A large, well-dressed man had her in a compliance hold and then pushed her back. I saw a badge flash on his belt as his suit jacket pulled open. Curious, I looked around to see why this was happening. Appointed Mayor Ed Lee stood in the middle of Market Street, on the MUNI stop, getting photographed. Another large man in a suit stood nearby, keeping an eye on the homeless woman. A biker rode by and stuck his downward-pointing thumb into the photographer’s frame. The homeless woman lurked close to the mayor, holding her begging cup and flipping the security detail a bird. Before I could yell “Avalos for Mayor!”, the entourage walked across the street and got into a Chevy hybrid. The photographer wandered off with his shots and the woman staggered into the throngs of tourists and shoppers.
I haven’t kept up with the November 1 election. After promising not to run for mayor, Ed Lee decided he’d run. John Avalos has visited the 99% encampment and even spoken on TV about the actions. I have friends helping with his campaign. David Chiu bikes to work and was chosen by the Chronicle to be their Number 1 pick (we have ranked-choice voting in SF). I think I have an idea of my top three for Nov. 1.
As for the propositions, I spent the last three days reading over the mailer that San Francisco gives to all registered voters. After a year of legal classes, I know that all is not black and white in political/legal land. But I flipped through the proponent and opponent responses and easily sided with the politicians that I respect. I was a bit surprised at how I saw a name and went “I’m with you!”. Tom Ammiano’s name appeared a few times on one side or the other. He’s my man, so I’ll take his opinion seriously. Still waiting to hear from a few other sources before I set my opinion. I like to compare and contrast.
And, though Limbaugh believes otherwise, this public-schooled, college-educated (but mostly by right-wing professors), unduped American is not part of any political-party conspiracy.
My head is out of my ass! How about yours?