The Stench of Elitism Hung Heavy in the Air
The Kook Zone
At the far edge of the protest was a small unofficial "kook zone" where the more fringe-y elements congregated. These are the people that many in the media want to conflate with the Tea Party, but which in reality have their own outside-the-mainstream beliefs.
The actual, official Tea Party contingent did not show up until about halfway through the protest, so in the early minutes of the event there was a higher percentage of kooky types mingling amongst the freelance Tea Partiers and and fiscal conservatives.
For example, the LaRouchites, who have showed up recently at both left-wing rallies and at Tea Parties (though, as the linked picture shows, they were less welcome at the Tea Parties), positioned themselves at the far edge of the protest with their now-notorious Obama-Hitler signs. Interesting side note: the LaRouche crew have taken to sending out African-American members to display the Obama-Hitler pictures as a way to defuse any accusations of racism.
The Alex Jones InfoWars kooks were scattered up and down the block; the ones who doubted the reality of 9/11 tended to hang out in the left-wing zone, whereas...
...the anti-tax InfoWars-ites hung out with the more sane fiscal conservatives.
There were a surprisingly large number of them. This Jonesian walked up and down the block filming everyone all day long. Is it acceptable to be paranoid about the paranoiacs?
And for the first time in my life I encountered an honest-to-goodness "birther" -- someone who thinks Obama wasn't born in the US. Note how on this side of the guy's sign, everything is spelled correctly. Hold that thought as we move to the next theme:
I resist using the term "Teabonics," coined by the Left to mock misspelled signs at Tea Parties, mainly because the term itself is insulting...toward blacks. The presumption embedded in the word "Teabonics," a riff on "Ebonics," is that Ebonics is just misspelled English. But the whole point behind the push for "Ebonics" in education was not that black people can't spell correctly, but rather that "Black English Vernacular" (as it was called in my schooldays) is a legitimate full-fledged dialect of English with its own spelling conventions.
Furthermore, the misspellings at these protests (including at this one) are not always by Tea Partiers themselves but often by fringe kooks. For example...in the previous photo the Birther's sign was spelled correctly, but when he flipped it around to show the other side...
...he left the "h" out of "White House." Why???
One of the Alex Jones-ite anti-Federal Reserve conspiracy theorists also left an "h" out of "nothing." Yawn.
And someone -- I couldn't tell what side they were on -- left an "e" out of "foreclose."
But far and away the single most embarrassing sign was an apparent Tea Party sympathizer who misspelled "socialist" as "solialist." Not a big deal in the slightest, I understand, but on such trivialities does the Left thrive these days. Taking into account the vastly greater percentage of misspellings at left-wing rallies over the last several years, I'd say the Tea Party was actually doing pretty well.
I couldn't hang around this particular event all day, as I had other spots to visit on the Obama protest itinerary! So I give you one final funny juxtapostion before heading off to the next stop....
Immigration Rights Anti-Obama Protest
Just one block away, on the steps of Grace Cathedral, there was yet another protest directed at Obama, but apparently situated here because there was no room at the
inn Fairmont. This one lambasted Obama for failing to live up to his promises on immigration (i.e. his promise to grant amnesty to all illegal immigrants and to loosen immigration rules). You can see the Fairmont in the distance behind the reddish building.
This event was more carefully choreographed and stage-managed. A procession of left-leaning religious leaders took the microphone and denounced federal immigration laws and any attempts to enforce them. Here, someone whom I presumed was a rabbi spoke about the Jews' long history of progressive activism, while behind him an imam and some priests and ministers awaited their turns.
Next to the speakers was an Aztec dance troupe -- now a standard feature at many immigration rallies.
Obama Returns to Billionaires' Row
Back in April of 2008, before Obama had even won the Democratic nomination for president, I documented his visit to "Billionaires' Row, a stretch of Broadway in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood that is legendary for having more billionaires than any other neighborhood in the country.
Well, I got the scoop that, after this Fairmont fundraiser, Obama would return to the Getty mansion on Billionaires' Row for yet another fundraiser, this one with the astonishing price of $35,200 per couple, which works out to $17,600 person. In sum, Obama and Boxer raked in $1.7 million for a few hours' work, to be allocated among the Democrats according to this complicated formula:
Contributions to California Senate 2010 will be allocated as follows: The first $4,800 of each contribution from a person will be allocated to the Friends of Barbara Boxer. The first $2,400 of each contribution will be considered designated for the primary election; the second $2,400 will be considered designated for the general election. The next $30,400 of each contribution from a person will be allocated to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Inc. The next $10,000 of each contribution from a person will be allocated to the Democratic State Central Committee of California-Federal.Of course, $35,200 is just the minimum; you can shell out more if you want to. They just publish the cookie-jar waiting-list so you know where your inherited dollars are going.
I find it hard to believe that there are Americans who still believe the old narrative that the Democratic Party is somehow the party of the "common folk," the poor and the middle class -- whereas the Republican Party is the party of the rich. In California, at least, it tends to be the other way around: the super-rich elites, as well as the Hollywood elites, tend to position themselves as "liberals" and donate money to liberal politicians; whereas the hardscrabble lower-middle class who tend to live in the low-value inland areas away from the overpriced coast tend to vote Republican and have conservative values. Of course there are exceptions to this rule (there are conservative California millionaires too), but overall it seems to be generally true.
So, if anything, in California at least (and I suspect elsewhere in the country as well), the Republicans now have more of a right to be called "the party of the common folk" than the Democrats do.
Nowhere is this more in evidence than on Billionaires' Row and adjacent neighborhoods in Nancy Pelosi's district, where insanely rich people fancy themselves to be "liberals" and donate wheelbarrows of cash to Obama, Boxer and other liberal candidates. Are they hypocrites, or do they just like betting on what they assume will be the winning horse?
Now that Obama is in office, it has become quite apparent that the "pay-for-play" system of political influence has not gone away in the slightest; all Obama's rhetoric was nothing more than (to borrow a phrase I once saw on a blimp) hot air.
Which brings us back to the photo at the beginning of this report. After I left Nob Hill and arrived in Pacific Heights, I found that the police and the Secret Service had completely blocked off access to the Getty mansion. At the barricades I found the first and only two "average folk" Obama supporters of the day, clutching a "We Believe in You!!!" sign and hoping to see his motorcade pass by.
Yes: Hard as it may be to imagine, there are still people in this country who support Obama. They're not extinct yet!
One by one, the police let the limousines and Lincoln Town Cars in through the barricades to the passengers' appointments with The One. Interestingly, each chauffeur gained access by displaying to the police guards a secret text-message that each paid guest was sent; one by one, the drivers were asked "Do you have the text?" and cell-phones were extended out the windows as proof, at which point they were waved through. I wonder what the texts said: "Congratulations: You are an oligarch!"
Frustrated, I went up to the next intersection, only to discover that it too was blocked off with a police barricade. I was told, "You can't go down there." Hmmmm. (Notice the blue porta-potty on the right.)
Never one to take "No" for an answer, and having an insider's knowledge of the local landscape, I knew that there was a secret footpath which led through the Presidio to the back end of Billionaires' Row. So I walked down to the Presidio entrance gate, and down to the path, and up through the bushes to...
...a much closer vantage point. The tent you see in the distance turned out to be the Presidential Limousine Tent, as I later discovered.
I passed through the metal gates and looked to my right -- I was now down at the bottom of the block which I had just been informed was off-limits. (Notice the blue porta-potty again.)
I was now just a few hundred feet from the Getty mansion with nothing but an open road in front of me. But I knew that any further approach would invite trouble (quite unlike the first time Obama visited here, when we bystanders were allowed to come right up to the mansion, and he even came over and shook our hands). So instead I asked the cops if I could hang around and rubberneck with the two neighbor ladies standing nearby. The cops agreed.
Down at the end of the block was a white tent in front of the Getty mansion, which from this angle is only barely visible behind the trees. The streets surrounding the tent were barricaded for two blocks in every direction. Even here in the richest neighborhood in America, security was ultra-tight.
Just as in Obama's 2008 visit, car-parking valets pelted up and down the street after finding open parking spots in the surrounding area for the chauffeured limousines; this time, however, they wore yellow jackets, either for protection from the rain or to identify them as having security clearance.
Finally, Obama's motorcade arrived. Turns out the tent had been erected so that his limousine could enter it while he was still aboard, and then once inside the curtains were pulled so that he could disembark and walk down a covered tent-tunnel directly into the Getty mansion without ever being outside.
From my reverse angle, I couldn't get a decent view of the action, but an enterprising cameraman for Channel 5 used a telephoto video camera to capture the moment of the O's arrival; you can see the video here. The two images above are screenshots from the video.
And so another Obama visit to the Ruling Class of San Francisco came to an end. And least as far as we hoi polloi could tell.
Meet the new boss: same as, if not worse than, the old boss.