March 28, 2014

Fear and Loathing in Oakland

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:28 pm

Anarchists’ Book Fair in Oakland

On the day after Scott Olsen was awarded $4.5 million for injuries incurred during an Occupy Oakland protest, the folks who believe that the police are out of control held a book fair in Oakland.

A group called Copwatch was in existence before the first Occupy Oakland protester brought a tent to Frank Ogawa plaza.  The Occupy movement produced many examples of conduct that Copwatch wants to eliminate.  The protesters allege that the wealthy are being given priority treatment in a society that preaches all men are created equal.

Access to public restrooms was severely restricted during the Occupy time period.  The police then alleged that the protesters were uncivilized creations who didn’t use bathrooms and soiled themselves.

People (including the corporations known as “people”) who don’t pay taxes couldn’t care less how much Scott Olsen received as a settlement because it is the average citizen who will foot the bill for the cash awarded to the injured protester.  The fact that the richest pay no taxes and this law suit settlement will be paid for with funds provided by the middle class and poor taxpayers and not the rich seems to be an example of achieving perpetual motion.

When the Scott Olsen incident happened news reports indicate he had been hit by a teargas canister but when the cash award settlement was made, it was described as injuries received when he was hit with a beanbag.  Doesn’t that sound like a much more benevolent way to be injured for life?  Getting hit by a canister sounds barbaric but getting knocked out by a beanbag sounds like some high spirited schoolboy rowdiness  got a bit out of hand.

We wondered if there would be a large amount of coverage of the Anarchists’ Book Fair, on the day after the settlement was announced on Friday, March 21, 2014 or if we would pretty much have the Saturday story for our own.  Berkeley journalist/blogger Ken Knabb had a table at the event, and we were interviewed by a reporter for KALW radio but we did not see any evidence that would support a contention that the even received much additional coverage.

We thought the event would provide us with a blank check for some clever word play such as “we had a blast covering it” and “we’ll take a shot at describing it.”

Most folks think that anarchy is a synonym for bedlam and pandemonium but the anarchists say that it is a bit more of a less government form of political philosophy.  Take a closer look and it sounds like a mirror image of the Republican teabagers’ agenda.

The rich fuckers who think that the solution of the homeless problem is to tell them:  “Go home!” see no irony in the fact that many of them are in that condition because banks foreclosed them out of their domicile.  It’s kinda like telling an alcoholic to have a drink, eh?

Dump then out of their homes, put them in the streets and then tell them “go home!”  Who says they don’t have sense of humor that produces kneeslaper jokes?

Are the capitalists who want people to work for minimum wage, buy their goods at the company store, and pay big tax bills the root cause of society’s unrest or is it the anti-social(ist) rabble who cause the winter of our discontent?

Bob Calhoun was there promoting his book “Shattering Conventions,” which is a journal of his exploration of the world of expos and conventions.  Wouldn’t that make an intriguing shtick for use as a weekly feature by a outlet in the mainstream media?  What’s not to love about the idea of a fellow covering a new gathering every week?  (Isn’t that just the kind of thing USA Today would publish?)

Endless Canvas is a website that features news and photos of interest to graffiti artists and their fans in the San Francisco area known as “the East Bay.”  Two of the local celebrities in that realm are Gatz and Broke.  We bought a copy of “More Beer Less Work #4” done by Broke and it seems to be numbered and signed.

We could probably churn out a column about the 100 best anarchy songs of all time, and maybe sometime in the future we will.

As it turned out we were working on a column about anarchy at the same time that the fellow who runs the Cinesthesia dot blogspot website asked for our opinion of the “Grand Hotel Budapest” movie.  It seemed to us (subjective opinion alert!) to be like “The Sound of Music” without the tunes and politics so we told him:  “It is the greatest film tribute to fascism since ‘Triumph of the Will!’”  If a fellow expects a flick to be a big disappointment and it is; does that mean it wasn’t?

Is the fact that an elite bunch of hackers can keep track of every phone call in a foreign country for an entire month but they can’t find a missing airliner an indication that Americans are more gullible than previously assumed?

Recently we read two history books (such as “The Deserters” by Charles Glass) that indicate there was more anarchy in Paris during the Liberation by the American troops than there was during the Nazi’s Occupy Paris period.  Does that mean American exceptionalism is a valid concept?  Just because a Prussian cavalry officer can ride a horse doesn’t mean he automatically qualifies as a “cowboy,” eh?

A bumper sticker that advises “You don’t want to be associated with those nutcases” is much easier to digest than a book that presents some in-depth analysis of the idea that since a capitalist makes a fortune on the work done by his serfs, it might be reasonable to let the laborers share in the bounty.  WTF?  Shutup and get back to work!  Reading all of Albert Camus’ “The Rebel” would be more like work than relaxation.

Who can’t breeze through “Anarcho-Syndicalism Theory and Practice,” by Rudolf Rocker, in a single eveing?

If the capitalists can get the police, media, and members of the clergy to pall parrot the bumpersticker ideology, then maybe the capitalist will have some chump change to donate to his favorite politician’s re-election fund.

The general public stays away from events such as last weekend’s Anarchist’s Book Fair (“Good boy!  Want a doggie treat?”) because they have been trained to think it would be a bit like attending a convention of biker gang members.  The crowds were well behaved.  Some T-shirt vendors must make out like bandits at events such as this one.

We had wondered if there would be Anarchist books for kids.  We scored a copy of Woodie Guthrie’s “New Baby Train” for $3 and were relieved to learn that there was not a gap in the realm of pop culture that we would feel obligated to fill.  Whew!  That was close.

[Note from the Photo Editor:  Didn’t someone from Oakland once say:  “A convention is a convention is a convention. . .”?  Photo of last week’s Anarchists’ Book Fair looks a lot like a generic image.  Frank Sinatra was famous for telling movie directors that the first take that had just been shot got a “That’s good enough” rating and we have adopted that as the official motto of the World’s Laziest Journalist Industries.]

Leona Helmsley summed up the irony of the middle class and poor Oakland taxpayers paying for the damage that the Oakland Police Department inflicted on someone protesting an unfair taxation program that favors the rich, when she said:  “We don’t pay taxes.  Only the little people do.”

Now the decisions of the disk jockey (“What?  Me fascist?”) are final and he doesn’t want any quibbling about his choice for the three best anarchy songs of all time:  GWAR’s version of “Get into my Car,”  Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the name . . .”  and the best anarchy song of them all “Helter Skelter.”  We have to go to Chopshicks in Oakland to cover the Saturday slap art show.  Have a “getcha a case of beer for that” type week.

January 3, 2011

The Tattlesnake – Clueless Wall Street Indulges in the Self-Delusion of the Wealthy Edition

… and it’s nothing new.

As 2011 settles in, some things haven’t changed, such as the investment bank aristocracy of Wall Street, already wallowing in obscenely large salaries, apparently believing they deserve bonuses for continuing to peddle worthless paper and hoodwinking their own customers. This addled belief, however, is nothing new.

Having misspent a part of my youth as an advertising director for a publishing company, I once had an opportunity to encounter some wealthy people at business lunches and dinners, and noticed a few habits of hypocritical thinking they had in common:

– To a man — and they were all men — they believed, even the silver-spoon-born trust fund scions and coddled bosses sons, that they were ‘self-made’ and everything they had was attained by their own hard work, even if their wealth was derived mostly from dividend income, the result of a long-dead relative picking the right investments or starting a successful business.

– Speaking of hard work, when these VIPs came in at 10:am to check the mail and sign a few letters, left for a two-hour lunch at 12:30, and then went golfing for the rest of the afternoon, leaving their overworked and underpaid secretaries to run the place, they would still insist that they had ‘worked hard’ that day.

– Whatever their educational institution, Yale or Harvard or a state university, they all thought they graduated because they ‘studied hard’ and ‘put their noses to the grindstone’ even though some would laughingly brag, after a few too many martinis, about how they had hired poor ‘scholarship brainiacs’ or ‘eggheads’ to teach them how to cheat on their tests.

– While every one of them abhorred any publicly-funded program that enabled poor kids to get a higher education, and especially affirmative action, they were blind to their own advantages, beyond just being born white. If Uncle Joe picked up the phone to make sure they got into the ‘right’ college, or Daddy was once a student and fast-tracked their ‘legacy’ acceptance into a university, that was fine — just the way the world worked. Of course, left unsaid was how they would have been able to make their way through college if such financially-strapped ‘scholarship brainiacs’ were not there to help them cheat, just one of many mental cul-de-sacs that these sons of privilege passed by quickly, lest they get hung on their own conundrum.

– Although all of them supported the war in Vietnam, none of them came close to serving in it. They either received school draft deferments like Dick Cheney; or, like Rush Limbaugh, had a note from the family doctor describing some dread condition that made them militarily unfit, but somehow didn’t interfere with their golf game; or had a family-friend Congressman intervene to keep them out; or, like Junior Bush, had Daddy pull a few strings to get them easy ‘Weekend Warrior’ duty in the National Guard. Privately, they had little regard or compassion for the troops in the field; in fact, they believed them stupid and that the grunts should show gratitude for the opportunity that military service provided to raise their lowly selves out of the ghetto or trailer park. Should they die or be maimed for life during this process of elevation – well, that’s just the price they pay for not having the foresight to be born in better circumstances.

– They all hated paying taxes, the hatred much more intense than that of those lower on the income ladder. Like Leona Helmsley, they thought taxes were fine — for the ‘little people.’ A couple of them were said to spend more money on lawyers and accountants to avoid paying taxes than the amount they owed in taxes. But they didn’t mind one bit freeloading off poorer folks by using roads, highways, airports, parks, and other public facilities paid for by the taxes of the non-rich; and they took it for granted their class would receive preferential treatment from cops and firefighters they didn’t want to pay taxes to support. I won’t even get into the courts, prosecutors, and military all arrayed to protect their precious property that they also didn’t want to pay for — suffice it to say that they didn’t believe in any taxes for themselves, even for those things that benefited them greatly. It would be a mistake to take this as any sort of reasonable consideration on the subject of taxes; it is not – it’s a nearly-hysterical emotional reaction born of mindless greed.

That’s all I can recall at the moment, but the one thread running through all of it is the massive degree of self-delusion practiced by those with wealth. It’s scary enough when they know they’re lying to make a buck; it’s pathologically dangerous when they buy into their own fantasies about themselves as have, it seems, the current crop of Wall Street scoundrels. In this particular case, it won’t end until Richie Rich, ensconced in an office at Goldman Sachs, dreaming up the next fraudulent financial instrument for his firm to foist on the gullible public, hits bottom – an inevitability since they refuse to learn from their mistakes — and seeks another ‘loan’ from the contemptible ‘little people’ taxpayers via the federal Big Daddy and, to mix metaphors, the cupboard is bare.

Then these Masters of the Universe will learn the tough lesson the cosseted Junior Bush as president had to endure: there are times when even Big Daddy can’t save you from the hard consequences of acting like a spoiled brat.

© 2011 RS Janes.

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