Protesters greet Obama on S.F.'s Billionaires' Row
The lure of endless cash and boundless adoration is just too much to resist, and so for the umpteenth time since 2008 he once again scheduled a fundraising trip through San Francisco, this time on April 3 to benefit Nancy Pelosi and her quest to reclaim the Speakership of the House: since Obama himself no longer needs campaign donations, all the money gathered on this trip would go to Democratic congressional candidates.
As soon as Obama's Bay Area fundraisers were announced, activist groups began to schedule protests. But in the post-2012 era, none of these groups were conservative; instead, the protesters were all challenging Obama from the left, in an attempt to sway his policies ever more leftward.
The largest of the protests was announced by CREDO Action (along with the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and others) to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, a long-planned project to pipe heavy crude oil from Canada's immense "tar sands" oil fields to refineries in the United States. Building the Keystone pipeline extension would go a long way toward making North America energy-independent and not as reliant on Middle East oil; but detractors (such as CREDO) oppose anything that benefits the oil economy, since usage of petroleum-based energy sources adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
This protest's sponsor particularly aroused my interest because my very own parents are CREDO Mobile customers, and send ungodly sums of money to CREDO every month to pay for their scandalously overpriced cell phone service.
Why in the world would any customer participate in this scam? Because CREDO uses all of its profits to aggressively promote left-wing causes. So, signing up for CREDO "phone service" is actually just an automatic way to essentially donate your money on a monthly basis to a progressive activist group. But CREDO is itself not a nonprofit (although it donates some small percentage of its income to left-wing nonprofit groups); instead, CREDO uses whatever money remains after paying its management and employees handsome salaries to directly engage in political activism of various sorts, almost all of it at the extreme left edge of "progressive."
For people like my parents who are too old to keep track of the latest progressive fads and manias, but still want to feel relevant, CREDO provides a simple effortless mechanism to drain your bank account and give it to younger activists who presumably know what's hip, politics-wise. And if you're lucky enough to live in the Protest Regions, you can actually go hold up signs and chant at CREDO-approved events (as in the photo above featuring typical CREDO customers at Wednesday's protest).
Anyway, just out of curiosity to see how my family fortune was being spent, I decided to check out how CREDO Action (CREDO's street protest arm) operates.
Obama's fundraising swing through San Francisco on April 3 would bring him to two separate events: One at his favorite SF hangout, the Getty mansion on Billionaires' Row at 2870 Broadway in Pacific Heights, and immediately prior to that "a $5,000-per-person cocktail reception at the home of Kat Taylor and Tom Steyer," who just happens to also be a billionaire and big-league Democratic donor. Now, the address of the Steyer/Taylor home was never given in any of the press releases about the events, so the media (along with me and obviously several other people) spent about 15 seconds on Google to uncover Steyer and Taylor's address at 3030 Pacific Avenue, which, visible as the grey-and-white house at lower left in the photo above, turns out to be just a few yards from the Getty mansion (yellow-and-white, upper right).
It was therefore entirely logical to assume that Obama and the wealthy donors would start at one home and then likely walk the few yards downhill to the other one. Turns out, however, that we all got it wrong.
I knew from long experience tracking Obama through his many visits to the San Francisco cash machine that the streets around any location he's scheduled to visit are blocked off. So I expected the 3000 block of Pacific to be closed to traffic; and yet when I showed up, the street was not only open, but there were media vans parked directly in front of the Steyer/Taylor home, and a small band of early protesters just steps away, unmonitored on the corner. I knew immediately that things were not going as expected.
I loitered around the media vans and chatted up some of the technicians, who willingly dished all the gossip. They said that all afternoon there had been caterers going in and out of the house at 3030 Pacific, and gardeners sprucing up the front, and this lured even more media to the block. But suddenly, about an hour before I showed up, the preparations had abruptly stopped, and word came in that the entire operation had been a ruse to trick media to set up camp in front of the wrong location. Turns out that Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor own another house a couple miles away in the Seacliff neighborhood which was the actual secret location of the cocktail reception. Sneaky! Even though the misdirection entailed twice the logistics, necessitating the securing of two separate neighborhoods instead of one, apparently Obama's security team routinely engages in such convoluted deceptions to throw everyone off-base.
Yet the nearby streets leading to Billionaires' Row on the 2900 block of Broadway were indeed blocked off, meaning the Getty event was still a go, so even though we protesters and media were disappointed that we couldn't get a closeup view of the cocktail reception, at this late stage everyone decided we might as well hang around here and continue with the protest as planned for the main Getty fundraiser later in the evening.
Out of habit, I looped back around to a secret vantage point I had discovered during one of Obama's earlier visits, and sure enough I was able to get a clear view of what I call the Presidential Tent being set up in front of the Getty mansion. This is the protocol for every Obama visit anywhere: His limousine will arrive at its destination, and enter into this special tent; the curtains will then be drawn, and he will exit the vehicle unseen, and travel along an enclosed tent walkway directly into whichever building he's entering. Not for one second will he be exposed to the outside world.
By the time I got back to the protest zone at Pacific and Baker, the main political contingents had already arrived. The guy with the black hat and glasses was the Team Leader (or Alinsky-in-Chief, as I called him) of the Credo Action anti-Keystone crowd.
Over the next hour the crowd swelled from less than a hundred to nearly a thousand, as various mini-marches and regional groups arrived from every direction.
Eventually we took over the entire intersection next to Tom Steyer's empty house. Whoopee!
Here's where things get confusing. Try to wrap your brain around this:
Tom Steyer is a billionaire — but he's a left-wing billionaire who just happens to be the primary deep-pockets funder behind the anti-Keystone XL movement. He is hosting Obama for a multi-million-dollar fundraiser, and has Obama's ear. Furthermore, Obama himself at least mouths the verbiage of the anti-oil agenda, endlessly talking about "sustainable energy" and breaking our addiction to oil. The wealthy Democratic donors coo and purr and go along with whatever Steyer and Obama say. So it would seem that everybody inside the fundraiser is already opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline. But out on the streets are a thousand protesters demanding that...the president oppose the pipeline??!?!? But wait, that doesn't make sense when we think of the traditional definition of a protest. In this instance, everybody on all sides of the "dispute" are already in complete agreement.
So what's going on here? I discovered the surprising answer a short time later. Keep reading to learn the solution to The Mystery of Why Obama-Loving Progressives Are Pretending to Protest Against Him.
Across the street was a much smaller but relentlessly dedicated squadron of anti-drone activists from World Can't Wait, an offshoot of the Revolutionary Communist Party who are far and away the most aggressive and persistent professional protest group in the Bay Area. They can almost always be easily identified by signs and outfits in their signature color of orange, derived from the color of the prison uniforms at Guantanamo Bay.
Unlike just about every other group here, they are unapologetically anti-Obama, merely because he now represents America and they are against anything American. They oppose all American presidents, on principle.
Interestingly, in the listing they posted for this protest (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/03/22/18734078.php), World Can't Wait used a photo from and linked to my zombietime report about Obama's first visit to Billionaires' Row in 2008. Is that weird or what?
In addition to the anti-Keystone pipeline protest and the separate anti-drone protest, there was actually a third distinct protest officially scheduled that day: anti-Obamacare. This is the protest I had decided ahead of time to join up with, although if I had known how small this particular group was going to be (there were only about 25 of us as far as I could tell), I might have chosen differently. All the protests quickly merged anyway, luckily.
Of course, I was protesting Obamacare for being a backdoor to socialism, whereas they were protesting Obamacare for not nearly being socialist enough, but at least we agreed that it was one big mess, and were allies of a sort — the enemy of my enemy is my friend, as it were.
These kind of public street protests have been common since the 1960s, and in all that time no one seems to have grasped their fundamental flaw: that protests almost always backfire because the organizers usually can't control the messaging. So, for example, if some random guy shows up and displays an upside-down American flag, then it will look to passersby and media consumers as if your whole protest is anti-American. And frankly, if you allow such messaging at your protest, then you deserve whatever associations come with it, since by allowing it to stand then you apparently must be OK with it.
Imagine a counter-example: What would happen if a guy showed up at this protest wearing a KKK hood and carrying a big sign that said "Segregation Forever!"? Obviously he'd be kicked out of the protest, if not by the organizers then by the participants. So the corollary to this scenario is that any message you allow to stand in your protest will be perceived by observers to have your stamp of approval. Thus, if some freelance protester shows up unbidden with an anti-American message, yet the fellow protesters and organizers do nothing to quash the message, then they rightfully own the message as well, and whatever approval or condemnation from observers that comes with that ownership.
If someone at a Tea Party rally had held up a sign featuring the words "Obama" and "tar baby," we'd see headlines screaming "Racist Tea Party Uses Racist Slur Against Obama!!!!!" But when such signs appear at left-wing rallies: Silence.
Of course, you, I, and the woman who made this sign know that the term "tar baby" is a merely metaphor for an intractable problem that only gets worse the more you fiddle with it, and is based on a character in the Uncle Remus stories — an actual doll made of sticky tar created to ensnare Br'er Rabbit. This literary reference was well-known and universally accepted as non-offensive until fairly recently. But (especially since 2008) race-baiters who know absolutely nothing of the term's literary origins have decided that the term "tar baby" sounds racist, therefore it must be a racial insult, even though few if any actual racists ever used the term until the overly sensitive PC Squad declared it verboten — which predictably became a self-fulfilling prophecy as racists then adopted "tar baby" as an epithet just to piss off their opponents.
The woman with the sign, old enough to only know of "tar baby"'s metaphorical meaning and therefore unaware of the cultural war over its purported racial overtones, just stood there obliviously.
What made it all especially funny was that the protest — as are all environmental protests — was whiter than an overexposed photo of a jar of mayonnaise in a snowstorm, yet the rally's single solitary African-American participant stood directly behind her, glaring at the camera.
Credo Action's protest style is entirely media-centric: Unlike perhaps more naive activist groups, Credo understands that the protest itself is meaningless — all that matters is the media coverage of the protest. The organizers made this perfectly clear in their online strategizing and on-site shouted instructions: pose for the cameras, try to make the crowd look as big as possible, occupy strategic intersections, and so on. But throughout all this the protesters were of course supposed to pretend that they were there to "send a message to Obama and his donors." Unfortunately, they didn't think it through very well, and I'm not sure any media consumers were fooled. For example, in this photo, the Presidential Tent is visible in the background in front of the Getty mansion. Now, if you really wanted to send a message directly to Obama and the wealthy attendees, you'd turn your banner around and have it face toward the tent so they could see it. But no — that's not the goal. The goal is to be perceived by the media as trying to send a message to Obama; and to that end, you face the banner outwards so the cameras can see what it says.
Another bonehead move is to pose for souvenir photos in front of the media trucks. Look! I'm on TV! Sorta.
Remember: Nobody says "global warming" anymore. To even mouth those words marks you as a reactionary fascist. "Global warming" was briefly replaced by "climate change," but even that has by now been relegated to the Dustbin of Yesterday's Political Terminology. No, my friends, to successfully self-identify as progressive these days, you must say "climate chaos." Actually, that's wrong too, because to say it properly you must either append an exclamation mark or make it all capitals: CLIMATE CHAOS. (!!!!!!!!) As you can see from the banner, CLIMATE CHAOS causes droughts and floods, hurricanes and fires, because everything is in CHAOS! And it's all caused by oil and profit.
CLIMATE CHAOS, in the form of a stiff breeze, even wrought havoc during the protest itself, almost blowing over one of the CLIMATE CHAOS banners, proving conclusively that CLIMATE CHAOS exists.
What will come next after CLIMATE CHAOS? I predict the most fearsome man-made meteorological phenomenon of all: Climate Stasis.
Can the Earth survive Climate Stasis? Imagine the horror, if you dare, of complete atmospheric stagnation, of no seasons, nothing ever changing, no wind, sailboats stranded mid-ocean, pollution building up around cities as the air stops circulating, and every regions's weather always remaining the same! The horror!
Does anyone fall for the ol' charismatic megafauna gag any more? Especially since the predictions that global warming was driving the polar bear to extinction have all proven to be false as their population continues to grow year by year?
But facts mean nothing when confronted by the tragic indisputable reality that A POLAR BEAR IS [email protected]!!