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]!!
Although the protest in theory was specifically about the Keystone XL pipeline extension within the United States, the focus for most of the participants was about tar sands in general...
...and that was just a shorthand for all oil...
...which was subsumed in condemnation of all carbon-based energy sources.
OK, so we can cross oil, coal, natural gas, and all petroleum-related products off our list of acceptable energy sources.
What's left then — nuclear? Nuclear power is, after all, not carbon-based.
Nope. Nuclear's off the list too. "All reactors leak all the time," as this Occupier put it.
So, without carbon fuels or nuclear power, what's the answer?
Sustainable energy! Silly me! Why hadn't I thought of that before?
Here's why: In reality, sustainable/renewable/green energy sources meet only about 10% of our current energy requirements, and that's if you include hydroelectric, which most environmentalists also oppose because dams are eeeee-vil. All other sustainable sources combined — solar power, wind power, geothermal, biomass, etc. — supply about 3% of the United States' electrical energy needs.
That's hard cold reality. Yeah yeah yeah, maybe several decades in the future with massive government funding we could increase our solar and wind energy output severalfold, from 3% to 6% or 9% or more. The most extreme serious projection I've seen from the most optimistic pro-sustainable organization still concedes that we're unlikely to fulfill even 20% of our current energy usage from sustainables within the next century. (The pessimists scoff at that number, admittedly.) So, where is that 80+% (in the future) and 97+% (currently) of our energy going to come from, if we follow the progressives' advice and cut out all oil, coal, tar sands, natural gas, and nuclear?
The answer is: Shut up, you naysayer!!
At least the dishonest and ignorant environmentalists answer that way. The honest ones speak of "de-development" and living in caves and abandoning civilization and committing Voluntary Human Extinction to save Mother Earth.
Most of the CREDO protesters were, alas, of the former variety: ignorant and clueless. If we want to combat the greenhouse effect by keeping carbon molecules out of the atmosphere (the whole rationale for opposing oil-based energy), then we need to leave the oil where we found it — in the soil. But on the other hand, "No Oil in Our Soil" rhymes, which is a pretty good argument.
The organizers handed out "chant sheets"; someone was kind enough to show me theirs. We need printed lyrics for this kind of juvenilia?
This area of Pacific Heights is an unofficial "Embassy Row," and by a stroke of cosmic irony, across the street from Tom Steyer's house is the "Consulate General of the Arab Republic of Egypt," better known as the Egyptian consulate. The ironic part, of course, is that Egypt is an oil-exporting nation, and while its economy may not be as dominated by oil as are the economies of other Arab nations, petroleum products are still Egypt's largest export category.
During the early part of the protest when it was still small, only a few people wandered past the consulate. But as the crowd swelled...
...The anti-oil protesters literally swarmed all over the Egyptian consulate's front yard; since the building was closed and it doesn't really count as a private residence, the consulate served as a convenient gathering spot.
Throughout all of this, it seemed that not a single person even noticed the sign on the building behind them, much less registered the irony of protesting against the American oil economy while standing on the territory of a different oil-exporting nation.
This unintentional juxtaposition exposed the inherent flaw in CREDO's concept: Stopping the pipeline from Canada into the United States in no way undermines the overall oil economy — it would simply force Canada to export the oil overseas, likely to China. If the pipeline is blocked, it would merely make oil and gas prices more expensive here in the United States, and enrich other oil-exporting countries at our expense, since we'd have to buy more costly oil imported from further afield.
The end result of all this would be a continued acceleration of wealth away from America to those countries which have large oil reserves. This is pretty self-evident to anyone who pauses for a moment and thinks about it, and it therefore must be the ultimate goal of CREDO and other environmental groups: To hurt the United States economically. If they really truly authentically wanted to stop the oil economy, they'd protest against the countries producing the oil. Canada seems to be immune from criticism, so everybody pack your bags -- we're off for a raucous protest in downtown Riyadh!
Although conservatives tend to dismiss much of the far left as "a bunch of commies," a significant portion of leftists will insist that they're not communists or socialists at all, despite being opposed to capitalism. But, taking this protester's sign as a starting point, I always wonder: Well, if you hope/assume/predict that capitalism will collapse as a system, and if you concede that socialism has already failed, then what do you propose will be mankind's guiding economic philosophy after the existing system implodes? I've never gotten a clear or viable answer, most likely because the majority of people haven't thought it through that far, and the few that have are almost all anarchists, who hope/assume/predict that mankind will descend (my term — they'd probably say "ascend") into anarchy, which they see as a good thing, because they're generally young and aggressive and assume they'll thrive in a world without rules, and if they're wrong and everyone dies anyway, then all the better because we're just parasites on Gaia and mankind should go extinct for the sake of all the other species we oppress.
For some reason this was my favorite sign of the day. Perhaps it was the unexpected use of "a" instead of the more sensible "the" which thrilled my inner linguist. "Fuck the Pipeline" would have been pedestrian, but "Fuck a Pipeline" just opens up a whole world of syntactic subtleties.
Is this a fart joke or a serious political statement?
The name of the pipeline we were protesting is Keystone XL, often abbreviated to "KXL." All the pre-printed signs of course spelled it this way. But a disturbing number of handmade signs inexplicably got it wrong, reversing the "X" and the "L" and spelling it "KLX." Give humanity half a chance, and we will misspell anything, including three-letter-long acronyms.
Even Credo Action's organizers got it wrong sometimes. They had hand-painted a series of signs to be held up by volunteers on surrounding streets, guiding arriving activists to the action: "KXL Protest" with an arrow indicating "This Way." But even some of their own signs reversed the letters, spelling out "KLX Protest."
The weird thing about this protest is that many of the protesters seemed to be great fans of Obama.
It was patently obvious that just about everybody here (except the World Can't Waiters) voted for Obama; this was less of a protest and more of a passive-aggressive emotional manipulation: "You wouldn't want to disappoint me, would you?" "Don't break my heart." and so on.
"Be a man of your word." Apparently these are the kind of people who believe campaign promises.
It all culminated in this one sign, which of all the signs at the protest disturbed me the most. Yes, Obama really did say "Show me the movement. Make me do it." (At least according to Michael Pollan, who quoted Obama while speaking at an environmental event in 2009.) In fact, a more extended quote from that speech might explain the motivation behind this entire protest:
Now, this agenda that I’m talking about, your own agenda, is not gonna happen just because we have a President and a First Lady who are sympathetic. That’s not how change comes. Change is much, much harder than that. Presidents cannot flip the switch and make things happen.... A friend of mine had occasion to have dinner with him and Michelle, and Obama made it clear that he got it, that he really did understand the issue, but he also said he didn’t think the time was right to push hard. He understood the forces arrayed on the other side and the great amount of political capital it would take to defeat them. ... He challenged my friend, he said, “Show me the movement. Make me do it. Make me do it.”
...Now, that language, that language, “Make me do it,” is very interesting. Presidents have uttered that word - those words before. Roosevelt used them when he was being lobbied about certain issues. There’s a very interesting scene when Martin Luther King came to Lyndon Johnson and said, “We need this Voting Rights Act. You know, we need your help,” and Johnson turned to him and said, “I wanna do it. Make me do it.” He wasn’t just gonna do it. He needed to be made. He was telling Martin Luther King to get out in the street and make it happen.
Another example, President Clinton in 1993, he had a very difficult budget negotiation in Congress. He lost a lot. He moved way to the right and gave up a lot of his campaign promises to get this 1993, his first budget. And, at the signing of this budget, Bernie Sanders, the member of his caucus furthest to his left was there, and he came over to Bernie Sanders and he started pounding on his chest like this and he said, “Why weren’t you screaming at me? I needed you to be screaming at me, because then I could have brought you something.” So, as kindly as you feel towards Michelle and Barack, keep those lessons in mind.
Vilsack said something similar to a group of activists he met with just last month, “I need your help. Build a movement.” And he understands. Because the farm lobby is already organizing against him. So, we need to get organized. We need to flex our muscles. ...
Now is not the time to savor the moment or rest. Now is the time to make Obama do it. Let’s show him the movement.
This explains how people who voted for Obama can be out in the street seemingly to protest "against" him. Turns out this whole protest was nothing more play-acting for the cameras, a group of faux protesters colluding with Obama to create a Potemkin "movement" which he can then cite as justification for making an unpopular decision he already wanted to make anyway. "I had no choice — there's a mass movement against this pipeline! I must bow to the will of the people."
The more I thought about this sign and its implications, the more disturbed I became. This explains not just today's anti-Keystone pipeline protest, but also much of what has gone on in politics since 2008. It explains the media's otherwise inexplicable glorification and attempted legitimization of the Occupy Wall Street movement; it explains the media's desperate demonization of the Tea Party (so as to prevent the impression that it was a mass movement); it explains all sorts of outrages and protests and petitions and marches by the American far-left "against" a president whose agenda is identical to theirs. Every time the left erupted over some issue, I used to wonder, "Why are you complaining to Obama? He agrees with you!" Turns out that of course they all know full well that he agrees with them, that he and they are all on the same side. The purpose is not to change Obama's mind, the purpose is to provide him with political cover to make bad or unpopular decisions, by fabricating hollow "popular uprisings" which he can then point to as indicative of overall public opinion.
My speculations were confirmed the following day when I read the only report of what was said inside the fundraisers, as quoted by the only "pool reporter" allowed into the events:
Steyer, who is a vociferous opponent of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and a strong supporter of climate-change legislation, appeared to try to ease concerns that Obama wouldn't keep the issue at the top of his agenda, as he has promised.
"He is doing everything he can on the issues that we care about," Steyer told the group in his home. "He has political limitations...so we really have an obligation to help him."
Obama for his part, addressed climate change repeatedly in his remarks, which lasted 19 minutes, but never specifically mentioned the pipeline.
So it was just as I suspected: The protesters and Obama and his billionaire backers are all enmeshed, working in conjunction to achieve specific political goals — goals that would otherwise be unpopular with the general public. I realized that we out on the street were not protesting against the president's agenda: We were part of the president's agenda.
But not all of the protesters were of the "Obama, we love you but please please please could you be just a teensy more left-wing?" type. A few freelance protesters did not get the memo about the how the collusion works and instead were overtly — and I mean overtly — hostile. Like this sign spelling out OBAMA as an acronym for "OILMEN & BANKERS ARE MY ALLIES."
Or this one equating support for KXL with treason.
Or this one depicting Obama as a military dictator.
Reminiscent of the days when LBJ was called a "baby-killer."
Will somebody please pull these people aside and explain to them how faux protesting is supposed to work?
Remember the "Occupy Wall Street" movement from a few years ago? Something about banks, fetid encampments — it's all a blur by now, to be frank. Wonder whatever became of them? Well, the few survivors seem to have fractured into a succession of "working groups" with various leftie-flavored titles like "Environmental Justice" and "Patriarchy" and so forth. Not that anyone cares. The best thing about becoming irrelevant is that no one mocks you anymore.
Yes, Virginia, there are people out there still obsessed with George Bush, Blackwater, Condoleezza Rice and depleted uranium, and who think 9/11 was a Republican conspiracy. This all may have seemed quaint and amusing in 2004, but at this stage in history it's evidence of severe mental illness.
Speaking of which.... Another inescapable feature of every Bay Area "progressive" protest, whatever its purported theme, is the presence of anti-Israel activists who troll for converts in what they accurately assume is a crowd of like-minded Israel-haters.
I followed the contingent of painfully ignorant young anti-Zionists as they parroted their spiel to anyone who would listen. They received disturbingly positive feedback, several donations, and many promises to attend an upcoming lecture by Marxist militant revolutionary Sherry Wolf calling for the destruction of Israel.
The tragedy was that the anti-Israel canvassers very obviously had no idea what they were talking about, and had merely memorized a series of deceptive talking points designed to press all the right victimhood buttons in the progressive brain. They seemed utterly unequipped to actually defend their "views" in a real debate, but since their assigned interpersonal task never brings them into contact with someone who might contest their lies, they breeze along through the progressive ecosystem unchallenged.
In the middle of all this, a rare sight at an environmental protest: A Muslim woman wearing a full niqab showed up to agitate against the Canadian and American oil project. One wonders: Does she also protest against the vastly larger oil-export industry in Arabia? Or is the problem with Keystone XL not the petroleum industry in and of itself but rather the fact that the pipeline allows America to be less dependent on Middle East oil?
She was not alone. Nearby, another niqab-wearer joined the rally as well. One can only speculate as to motivations, but at least it increased our protest's diversity factor from 0.0001% to 0.0003%.
Across the street, someone was wearing what might be called the "progressive niqab," having just shown up from Kansas City specifically to inform us of Keystone's fecal aspect.
CREDO had learned of a small oil spill in Arkansas a few days earlier, and were milking the incident for all it was worth, trying to whip up hysteria with chants and signs which tried to exaggerate the spill into a major environmental disaster, or at a minimum hold up the spill as proof that oil pipelines are not safe as a concept.
The environmentalist hysteria machine is already in full swing over the Arkansas spill — conspiracy theories are running wild as we speak — but unfortunately for CREDO the spill was simply too small to arouse much interest from the general public.
Eventually most of the protesters gave up on the original mass-gathering spot at Pacific and Baker and migrated down to Divisadero and Broadway, from which it was at least possible to see the Presidential Tent.
But the police were much more touchy at this corner, since this is where vehicles entered through the security cordon. Consequently, the cops would periodically sweep down the street on their motorcycles and push everybody back onto the sidewalk.
Now I was on the other side of the Presidential Tent, where preparations for Obama's arrival continued apace. And this is the only clear photo I could get today of the Getty mansion (the yellow-and-white building on the right), where the fundraiser was being held.
The whole point behind stationing ourselves at Broadway and Divisadero is that it was the entrance point through which Obama's guests would be admitted to the Forbidden Zone around the Getty mansion. Little by little the invitees showed up — usually in very fancy cars.
Each arrival was forced to run a gauntlet of taunting protesters.
As the cops opened the barriers to admit each arriving billionaire, Credo Action's Alinsky-in-Chief (seen here with the black hat and orange t-shirt) greeted them with a disapproving glare.
It was only after this car passed me that I realized it was a Tesla Model S, the ultra-deluxe all-electric roadster manufactured by Tesla Motors, thanks largely to a $465 million low-interest loan to Tesla greenlighted by the Obama administration. Of course, such guilt-alleviating eco-vehicles are only available to the super-wealthy: This particular model costs $94,900, but you get to knock $7,500 off that due to an Obama-approved special tax credit which only benefits the kind of people who drive Tesla Model Ss to Obama fundraisers.
Later it dawned on me that the car's driver might very well have been Elon Musk himself (net worth: $2.7 billion), the owner of Tesla Motors and beneficiary of Obama's largesse — and who is known to drive a grey Model S. Judge for yourself if it's him with this close-up from the first car photo.
Did it matter to the brainless protesters that Musk (if indeed it was him) promotes solar power and electric vehicles? No — they harassed him anyway.
This corner wasn't nearly as much fun as the earlier protest area, where we occupied an entire intersection; now, we were split into four separate zones, one on each corner, while the streets were generally kept clear. This fact, combined with encroaching chilly fog and the accurate rumor that Obama was still not due to show up for two more hours, and even then most likely though a different entrance (always keep 'em guessing!), convinced most of the protesters, including yours truly, to drift away as night fell.
On the way home I whistled
It's a Barnum and Bailey world,
Just as phony as it can be,
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me.