Wednesday, November 02, 2011


With the call from Occupy Oakland for a General Strike, the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street/D.C. /San Francisco/Oakland/Sesame Street movement moved to the left coast today:
"OAKLAND, Calif. — A week after police in riot gear rousted and then tear-gassed Occupy Oakland protesters, supporters of the movement have rebuilt their encampment in front of City Hall and are calling for a general strike on Wednesday that will include an attempt to shut down the nation’s fifth-busiest shipping port. “We call for a general strike around the country, and around the world, because we know that the wealth of the 1 percent is produced by the work of the 99 percent,” said Louise Michel, one of the protest organizers, at a news conference."
What better day to end my 60 day strike against my own blog and re-occupy this space in solidarity with the "movement". In no particular order, some thoughts on the unfolding events that are currently occupying my mind:

Strike Status
Upon awakening this morning, the first thing I did was check out the traffic cam for the Bay Bridge connecting Oakland and San Francisco. I expected to seen this primary commuter route to be deserted as the oppressed 99% flexed their collective muscle and answered the call for a general strike against the oppressing 1%. As you can see in the screen shot at the top of the page, the bridge superficially appears to be jammed with commuter traffic at 6:45 AM, pretty much as it is every day at this time. I can only assume that this is attributable to the 99% streaming across the bridge to Occupy San Francisco. Or something. I may have to walk down the hill and see how my Occupy San Francisco brethren are doing in Justin Hermann square. Or not

Jean Quan will not be a one term mayor in Oakland
That is because she is not likely to stay in office long enough to complete her first term. Hard to imagine how she could have screwed this up any worse. First she calls on her police force to clear out the Occupy Oakland protesters illegally camping on public property. Then, when a protester is injured in the process, she throws the police under the bus and let the protesters back in. In one of the most crime ridden cities in the country, the mayor of that city alienates the wildly understaffed thin blue line of police that protect that city. Finally, in one of the most cash strapped financial basket case cities in the country, she encourages Oakland city employees to call in sick in sympathy with today's "General Strike" while cancelling all leave and calling on the police again to protect the public and property from the strikers . So let's review. She pissed off the protestors, she pissed off the locals who want the protestors out, and pissed off her own police force.

I have an idea how Mayor Quan can save her city a lot of money. Don't make Oakland pay for a recall election that is a foregone conclusion. Resign.
"As for Quan, the CBS 5 poll found her approval rating is now a dismal 20% — with 64% of Oaklanders disapproving of the job she is doing."
Occupiers! Michael Moore is behind you all the way!
Right across the Bay! Right across the Bay!

If you listen carefully, under the loud chorus of wishful thinking, you can hear a a clear note of desperation from many on the left. They grasp at the notion of "Occupy Anywhere" being a harbinger of a new mass movement like a drowning man reaching for a floating life ring. Let's get real. This "Occupy Anything" oddity is not a movement and unlikely to become one. A legitimate expression of popular frustration that has garnered support in tough economic times? Sure. But a movement? I think not.

A movement needs a clear message and goals. As the usual suspects rush to lend their support, they will continue to try and co-opt the protest into something that it is not. The Occupy Anything Oddity will only continue to show its surprising support for exactly as long as it's message is mushy, muddled and incoherent. If/when their goals crystallize around views that MoveOn or Michael Moore fervently hope it to become... at that moment - it's over.

As regards One Percenter Michael Moore himself, and his Occupy Oakland harangue:
"... it doesn’t matter if I’m Michael Moore or Michael Schmoe. You know. It doesn’t, and, and it’s the spirit, that’s why this movement has built because it is a movement of equals. Everybody has something to give to this. We’re all in this together. We’re gonna sink or swim together. That’s our choice right now.”...

“When, when they, when I was there last night, somebody asked one of the people in the media tent, ‘What are the goals? What are you trying to accomplish?’ And he said, well, he said, ‘Our mission is in our name, Occupy Wall Street,’ and then he said, ‘Period.’ I thought about that for a second. Occupy Wall Street, period. In other words, it isn’t just about these encampments; it’s that we’re not stopping until we, the people, occupy our economy that runs this country! This is our economy! It’s our country! We’re the ones that have a say....

“And, and when somebody says to me, ‘Well,’ you know, ‘What’s the goal? What’s the end-game?’ And I say, ‘Well, let me tell you somethin’ first of all, we’ve already had a number of victories in our first six weeks. And let’s acknowledge those victories. Alright? Number one, number one, we have killed despair across the country. The despair that people were feeling, that despair is dissipating right now. This movement has killed apathy. People have got up off the sofa! They’ve turned off Dancing with the Stars! And they’re out in the streets!”
Sigh. Listening to him all I could think of was the National Lampoon parody "Lemmings" from the early seventies. Specifically the very politically incorrect satirical sendup of an oh-so-earnest fake Joan Baez encouraging the race riots that ripped Oakland apart in the 60's:

Joan Baez is the name,
I've a house by the sea,
My songs come rolling in off Highway One.
Just because I can't be there,
Doesn't mean that I don't care.
So next time brother - off a pig for me.
Pull the triggers -------, we're with you all the way.
Just across the bay.
Pull the triggers -------, we're with you all the way.
Just across the bay.
Whether it's in Oakland or Marin
We're with you all the way -
across the bay.

Should this 40 year old satire from another era not resonate with younger readers, South Park steps into the breach:


Tully said...

I think South Park actually went pretty easy on them. Maybe because they'd already covered 99% of the available material six years before OWS began. :-)

LEMMINGS is my favorite parody album ever. Sadly the Baez spoof isn't on it. Lampoon had already released it on RADIO DINNER, so it was cut from the LEMMINGS album for space reasons.

Chevy Chase's COLORADO spoof of John Denver is on my car shuffle. Not nearly as whiny as Denver's stuff and a lot more realistic.

Tully said...

Quan is learning the hard way why one has to have a strong and consistent position when dealing with mobs and reactionaries. because if you try to appease them they simply walk all over you. Doesn't matter if the mobs are left-wing or right-wing, once they decide that they need not respect the law.

Tully said...

Is there really a movement to draft Phil Tagami for Mayor? :-D

mw said...

OTOH - Jean Quan has seemingly done the impossible. She successfully united the people of Oakland. Saw a poll this morning that 85% of Oakland residents now are united in believing that she is not doing a good job. Sure - it's not quite up the "99" yet, but give her another day or two.

Re: Tagami - if there isn't, there should be. I feel a blog post coming on.