US Military 1 — Occupy Movement 0
The "Occupy" movement claims to represent 99% of the people (hence their motto, "We Are the 99%").
The US military stands for everything the Occupiers oppose; it is after all the force which imposes the evils of capitalism on the nation and the world.
Wouldn't it be interesting if, as an experiment, we arranged to have the Occupy movement and the US military each hold events in the same city on the same day -- and then see which one drew more visitors? If the Occupiers truly represented the 99%, and if the military really were the musclemen for the corporations, then it'd be no contest -- right? And what if we even held the competition in the nation's most left-leaning city, just to give the Occupiers home field advantage?
Well, we don't have to imagine any of this, because it happened yesterday, in San Francisco. The "Occupy SF" protest group held yet another shindig in front of the Federal Reserve Bank on Market Street. And as luck would have it, San Francisco was at the same time hosting "Fleet Week," an annual celebration of all things military and patriotic, including performances by the Blue Angels, the US Navy's aerobatic team. Since the "Occupy SF" group was having a protest at the exact same moment as the Blue Angels show, this would be a perfect test case: Which is more popular?
It's 2pm on Saturday, October 8, 2011: Let the showdown begin!
We start our duel at the Occupy SF encampment on Market Street, where the "greeter" stood stark naked with a sign welcoming visitors to the occupation.
Lest we ever forget how significant and popular they are, a row of Occupiers held up signs reminding everybody that they represent the views of 99% of Americans.
Important questions were asked -- such as "My Mom has lupus...Why can't she have an American dream?" Indeed. Powerful stuff.
Love and bloodshed,
Love and bloodshed,
until corporate greed's dead.
This I tell you brother,
You can't have one without the other.
Moms of America: If your daughter got sick, would you prefer that she visit a licensed physician, or instead curl up in agony with a shaved head and a sleeping kitten on a urine-soaked sidewalk in the "Occupy SF Infirmary"?
Wait — there's a good way to be smelly? I'm so behind the times.
Only at a San Francisco protest could there be a freak so freaky that even the naked guy would look at him aghast.
As usual, the deep-seated fundamental schizophrenia of the "Occupy" movement was on full display: Half the protesters were of an anarchist bent who wanted to "decentralize everything"...
...while the other half had a communist bent, declaring "Marx was right" that we should have a state-controlled economy — in other words, the belief that we should "centralize everything."
Centralize, decentralize — it's all good!
The usual political remoras came along for the ride: Anonymous wannabes, whom I like to call "Wannanymous"...
...the so-far-right-that-they're-far-left anti-Fed conspiracy theorists of Alex Jones' Infowars...
...and, no, it simply couldn't be -- the last Coffee Party member in the country! I thought they went extinct!
Weirder still, standing right behind her was Barack Obama, half-heartedly disguised in an SF Giants cap, trying to see for himself what these Occupiers are all about.
This prominently displayed sign reminded all the white protesters that they were not only occupying Wall Street — they were occupying all of North America, and not in a good way. If the occupiers believed their own verbiage and weren't risible hypocrites, they'd all either pack up and head back to Europe, or commit mass suicide. But strangely, I don't see that happening. Guess they opted for "risible hypocrites."
This not-quite naked picture of young manhood was completely unconcerned about his status as the bad kind of occupier.
All in all, I'd say the day's "Occupy SF" protest had around 150 people. (I took this picture showing the entire protest, then counted heads, including passersby, just to be generous.)
And then I walked one mile up the Embarcadero to the Blue Angels show at Fleet Week...
Dear oh dear oh dear. Oceans of people as far as they eye could see blanketed the entire northern shoreline of San Francisco, lining walkways and rooftops, squeezing into every nook and cranny to soak up everything the US military had to offer.
People posed for souvenir snapshots with service members...
..and shopped for hardcore militaria.
I couldn't find any published crowd estimates for Fleet Week this year, but last year over a million people showed up, just as they had in previous years, and if anything this year seemed even more crowded! So let's just round it down to a million and look at the scoreboard for the day:
US Military: 1,000,000
Occupy SF: 150
Nice try, guys, but you came up a bit short. Better luck next year!
(On the next page, we'll watch the Blue Angels zoom into town.)
And then the show began -- the Blue Angels!
The F/A-18 Hornets thundered over the picturesque San Francisco harbor...
...and then shot skyward over the tall ships and souvenir shops.
And the obligatory "F/A-18s over the Golden Gate Bridge" shot.
How they manage to fly in such a tight formation (18 inches separating planes going nearly 700mph) is beyond me.
I didn't actually go to the event just to see the Blue Angels -- I went to witness protesters attempting to "shut down" Fleet Week's military recruiters:
Shut Down the Military Recruiters at Fleet Week!!!
The Department of Defense and the city of San Francisco have the audacity to host this year's annual fleet week event on the same weekend as the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. Fleet Week is used as a propaganda tool to bolster the United States war-machine; aiding in the destruction of people and their communities abroad through oppressive, colonial, and genocidal occupations. Simultaneously, money is being leached out of our communities while we are left destitute, becoming unable to access or afford our basic needs. Now the military wants to use this event to recruit our youth and children into their war-waging organization. Military recruits are likely to experience emotional and financial hardship, sexual assault, disabilities, homelessness, PTSD, Suicide and/or Death during their enlistment.
The United States wars of global economic expansion, and the continued growth of the military-industrial complex, benefit the same 1% of elites which a growing number of people are now taking action against by occupying Wall Street and numerous cities around the country (including right here in the San Francisco Bay area)! The banks, Wall Street, Washington DC, the military, etc., are all part a political and economic system that is to the detriment of us all, the 99%. Its time to make some real change happen. Let us now occupy the recruiting tent @ Pier 41 (on the west lawn) this Saturday and Sunday starting at 11am and shut it the fuck down!
The Occupiers were going to occupy Fleet Week! What could be more exciting than that??
But alas, I must have missed the whole thing, because by the time I showed up, there was no trace of any occupation; maybe the Occupiers got a gander at the one million military-lovers and decided discretion was the better part of valor. All that remained was this booth for the Iraq Veterans Against the War, which everybody studiosly ignored.
A lone protester tried to hand out anti-military flyers, but didn't have many takers.
The U.S. Navy patrolled the waters for terrorists and hippies.
Above all this, the Blue Angels careened overhead locked in perfect formation.
As two of the F/A-18s prepared to make a "knife-edge pass" (hurtling toward each other at near the speed of sound), a hapless seagull (barely visible in this photo) flapped directly into the midair point where the two jets would pass within inches of each other. I imagine that was an experience the seagull won't soon forget!
In case you think that perhaps the Saturday crowd at Occupy SF was smaller than on previous days: I actually received a few photos from the Friday (October 7) occupation as well, from contibutor Chicken Kiev, who estimated the Friday crowd at slightly over 100.
I can only pray that this guy is unfamiliar with the old joke, "Why does a dog lick its balls?"
"End All Wars! now". Hey, great idea -- why did no one ever think of this plan earlier?
At night, some real hardcore radical groups showed up and tried to start a mini riot.
But the cops, who monitor the occupation night and day, were already waiting for them, and a brief march on Market Street quickly fizzled out.
And no Occupation report would be complete without this devastatingly brilliant satire from Reason's TV's resident bard "Remy":