Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Over the past two days, a nationwide crackdown on the Occupy movement occurred. If this crackdown wasn't coordinated by Homeland Security then I'm a featherless waterfowl. Update: I'm not a featherless waterfowl after all. Talk about not being surprised!

So, uhm, why did the Obama Administration dispatch Homeland Security to destroy the Occupy movement or at least their tent encampments? Well, it was all about optics...

Uhm, that's a photo of a Hooverville, of probably the most famous one, the one that encamped right on Herbert Hoover's doorstep demanding jobs and money. The Obama administration, being populated by cowards, was scared that the Occupy movement's tents would get labeled as "Obamavilles" by the right wing. And of course the Obama administration then did what it always does whenever they suspect the right wing is even going to *threaten* to say boo -- they caved. Preemptively. Duh!

Now, as I've previously pointed out, the Occupy movement was a problem looking for a solution in the first place. Basically it was an expression of outrage at the fact that things are getting worse for each succeeding generation of Americans, that working hard and doing well in school no longer suffice to get you ahead -- all statistics show that Americans work harder and are better educated today than they've ever been before in American history, yet the average 35 year old man makes less money than his father did at age 35. That's fucked up, yo.

So anyhow, Obama didn't really give a shit about any of that, probably even agrees with the Occupy that things are fucked up, but his team was cowering in terror because, uhm, Newt Gingrich is now the not-Romney candidate in the GOP primaries after Cain self-destructed. And Newt the Reptile is reputed to know a bit of history, unlike the rest of the gang of morons and loons that are the Republican clown college. Newt might look at one of those pictures of an Occupy encampment and say, "Hey, it's an Obamaville!". Can't have that happen, right?

So anyhow, nothing's changed. Everything's all fucked up, still. But that doesn't matter, all that matters is optics -- making sure that there's nothing that Newt can point to and say, "hey look, an Obamaville!". Because it's all a game, to the people who rule us. They're not hurting. They're millionaires. They made their nut. So they don't care. They don't have to. It's all about winning with them, and America? Americans? What, you think they give a shit about America and Americans? In what universe? One where the unicorns are pink and cotton candy grows on trees?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


  1. Lemme tell you a story -- two, if I really get cranking -- about how there's a base of support for cracking down on Occupy folks. Not from me -- I support them, misguided as some might be -- but from folks who ought to be on their side.

    I'll start with a friend from your neck of the bioregion in Pacifica, Tux. He's a guy in his late 40s, usedta be an acid-dropping Deadhead, still heavy into the 420, living a hardscrabble life. Skilled as a restaurant cook, has been semi- or unemployed for much of the past five years. Part of that's because of the economy, part is because of his attitude, but he's always been one to look hard for a new job after he loses his old one. He's out of work again because the bagel bakery start-up he was working for just went under. He and the guy he house-shares with -- nice black dude who's been disabled since the mid-80s when he got spine-shot by a racist in San Francisco because he was walking with a white chick -- might be homeless soon.

    Mrs. Bukko and I send 'em some money every month, because they're decent dudes. She was talking with the cook one last night, and he was saying it's a GOOD thing that the pigs busted Occupy Oakland, because they were unsanitary. Here's a guy who was a dirty fucking hippie, congratulating The Man for smashing the dirty fucking hippies. The disconnect is staggering! Mrs. Bukko lit into him and schooled him some, but still...

    He's not the only one we know who's been screwed by The System but who's sneering at the Occupiers who are saying "There's a problem with The System." My wife and I keep seeing new reasons to say "stick a fork in it" about the U.S.

  2. Tale 2: (because some peoples' eyes glaze over when the see long text blocs) about the Occupy Vancouver camp.

    I went there for the initial demonstration on Oct. 15. I've been intending on going back to spend one night a week on the grounds, hang out in the medical tent. Because if I don't take part in the real world, I'm just another Internet loudmouth.

    But my resolve was shaken this week because of a guy who came FROM the Occupy Vancouver encampment. He's a patient on the psych ward. Guy's young, personable, athletic, grew up in a South Asian country, proficient at English, relatively intelligent about world events. He's also a psychopath. Likes to talk about hunting, killing things so he can eat them, how he keeps his hair at stubble length so no one can garb it in a fight. He's superficially charming, but when you start probing his belief system, his internal motivations, he begins to talk paranoia about the Illuminati, mind control, monsters that walk among us, etc. That's why I rate him a psychopath instead of a sociopath, because deep down, he's out of touch with reality.

    First time he was admitted, it was because he was walking down the street carrying a knife in each hand. He kicked one of the cops in the stomach when they asked him what was up. Chase and beat-down ensued. He got discharged after a several-week stay but went off his meds because, as he put it, "they make my nuts shrink." He got kicked out of the shelter where he was living for aggressive behaviour, and had been living at the Occupy camp until he stole a bottle of orange juice from one of the street food carts that hang around there. Police brought him in, violent in restraints. When we let him loose in one of the concrete cells with doors we keep locked from the outside, he smeared the inside of the door with his own shit. Genius got to sniff his own stink for a couple days of confinement. Psychotics are ultimately ignorant.

    I get along well with the guy. I can talk conspiracy theories/paranormal with the looniest of them. My attitude is that if they see me as a semi-compatriot, instead of just a medical person, it's less likely to be ME they try to strangle if they flip out. But I would not want to meet this guy on the street. The less he thinks of me as being part of his outside world, the better.

    And he is apparently fairly representative of who's Occupying Vancouver. The camp here is being crushed, with the excuse being about a 23-year-old girl who died from a heroin OD there. When I talk to my co-workers about the goals behind Occupy movement -- I work current events into a lot of conversations -- they point to this guy as an exemplar. I can't disagree.

    What a shame. The movement has become a freak magnet. As noble as the Occupy aims are, it's been tarnished in the minds of the bourgeoisie by media propaganda. Even for me, a supporter, I look at who's occupying and shudder. I don't want to encounter anyone from CrazyWorld at work when I don't have the option of poking them with a syringe.

    In the near-future -- as near as next summer, I reckon -- politicians will be longing for the old Occupy movement. At least the protesters were peaceful and concentrated. As the economic situation gets worse, as more people lose their jobs and homes, as the "delegitimization" of government, Big Business and other institutions accelerates, people are going to start striking back in unpredictable ways. Occupy will be replaced by frustrated, anarchic burning and smashing. Obama, Bloomberg, Jenny Quan and the rest can squash the tent cities, but they can't stomp out the rage of millions of people who decide they have nothing left to lose, so they're going to Lose It.

  3. Interesting theory but it doesn't sit well with me. If Obama was behind this, it certainly has backfired. Predictably so too which kind of makes me think this wasn't a result of any direct orders on his part. But of course I am open to any actual evidence to the contrary.

    I mean did you hear about all the stuff that went down in Detroit on that same night they were evicting the Occupy Wall Street people from NYC and Oakland? No? I mean, Occupy Detroit's permit expired that very same night. The city announced they were going to evict. What happened next was quite different than what you saw elsewhere and I am sure that is why you didn't hear about it. Basically the city extended the permit by a week and the OccupyDetroit people are moving to a different location (an indoor location). No crack downs. No tear gas. No arrests. No news story at all.

    Even though I really support them, I think in this case the city has a valid interest in not allowing them to camp out all winter. There is a good chance that people would die if they were camping out all winter even though half of them are homeless people with some experience with that. I kind of wonder if maybe the homeless people clued the others in a little about the differences between sleeping inside and outside in January. I mean, I've done a lot of winter camping and those folks simply don't have the proper gear to safely camp out for the entire winter. All of their tents have fiber glass poles! As much as I support them, I don't want them freezing to death either. They can protest just as well while sleeping inside. But they'll still be out during the day and that's awesome, imho. I hope they decide to camp out again in the spring.

  4. @Bukko Interesting story about the mentally ill at the camps. Yes, they *are* being attracted to the protests. In my mind though, it totally makes sense. Care for the mentally ill is one of the areas where there is a huge divide between the 1% and the 99% even if many Americans don't realize it.

    Years ago, I had a very social work type job where I worked hands on with the mentally ill who also often are homeless. I could give you a million examples and anecdotes but let me skip them and just say, our society fails people with mental illnesses in a big way. Private health insurance has maximum lifetime benefits that someone diagnosed with schizophrenia can run through in two or three years. Then they are left to public insurance. So they don't get the care they need. So the way I see that, that "psychopath" in your story is a perfect example of what happens when the system fails and the needs of the top 1% are considered more important than the needs of the bottom 1%.

    It doesn't surprise me at all that mentally ill people, who've been kicked in the nuts by society more than you or I have ever been, are attracted to the OWS movement.

  5. (although I have to admit that I am surprised that Canada doesn't have a better system for the mentally ill)

  6. Oh, Canada does have a better system for the mentall ill, Lynne. My hospital job is one aspect of that. There are shelters, supported housing, visiting psych nurses who stop by every day -- sometimes more often -- to make sure people are taking their meds and not getting too disorganized with self-neglect/delusions/etc.

    When a person is discharged from one of the multiple programs at the hospital -- drug/alcohol unit, schizophrenia inpatient unit, depression/suicide unit, the "personality disorder" unit at the University of British Columbia Hospital on the edge of town at land's end -- there are community mental health teams that oversee their care. Lots of teams, in every neighbourhood. I'm sure they could use more money and people, but there seems to be a lot of resources directed at the mentally ill.

    But as you know, many of them are what we call "refractory." They don't want to take the meds, which are brain-deadening, even though they do put a lid on the worst of the disordered thinking. They yell, fight, don't bathe, piss/shit in the wrong places, and generally don't follow the rules of the places where we send them to live. So they get kicked out or wander off. Many would rather live on the street, hustle to survive, because their demons drive them to drink and use drugs instead of living the restricted life.

    Some people cannot be saved, even though Canada tries.

  7. No matter what - bama is responsible. If the prez wanted something other than what's happening now he could have it that way. Of course he will never do that or would have any others before him because he's a 1%'er.

  8. The story about the psycho, plus the coming of winter, are one reason why the Occupy folks were talking about stopping the camps and moving to some other form of action. Frankly they'd gotten into a rut. BTW, for the record I've always stated that while I support the goals of the Occupy movement insofar as regulating Wall Street, jailing the criminals and taking the money back they stole via fraud, and taxing the rich, I didn't have the foggiest notion how their tactics were going to bring that about. It was inevitable that you'd get gung-ho assholes on both sides basically turning it into a movement of cop vs. asshole "expose the violence inherent in the system" type. Hey, folks. We *know* there's violence inherent in the system, 'kay? We (the People) generally don't have a *problem* with the violence inherent in the system, as long as it's used against other violent people like murders and rapists and muggers and shit, 'kay? You're not telling us anything we don't already know when you whine about "the violence inherent in the system".

    But anyhow, OWS wasn't going anywhere, and that's something they were starting to recognize themselves. Which is why the simultaneous raids were so baffling, wait a couple of weeks and the encampments would have started dissolving anyhow. The only reason they lasted as long as they did was *earlier* attempts to crack down on them, which brought out the "violence inherent in the system" assholes whose sole purpose for being is to provoke cops into providing beat-downs on activists for purposes of demonstrating the obvious.

    Lynne, follow the link. The Department of Homeland Security and FBI were involved in planning the near-simultaneous raids. Which means that at some level, the Obama Administration was involved. I doubt President Obama himself was involved, because Presidents have people for that -- see President Reagan and Iran-Contra. I doubt that Obama actually dislikes the goals of the Occupy movement, but the optics -- at least in the form of being actual encampments of the unemployed, underemployed, and homeless on public land -- clearly cannot be tolerated by an incumbent President who wants to be re-elected. See Herbert Hoover.

    -- Badtux the Historical Optics Penguin

  9. @Bukko Thanks. I don't know why but I often find it comforting that Canada can do things right because it is proof that it can be done. Plus I know that if I had to, I could move to Canada and not really have to leave home so it is kind of my plan B.

    I do know what you mean about mentally ill people who are not compliant. There was a guy I knew who went to my high school who I also worked with in my previous job. He was really nice and smart and funny and generally a good person. He came from a wealthy family and they set up a special trust fund for him so that he had an income that didn't disqualify him from medicaid. The trust officers at the bank rented an apartment for him and paid all of his bills. But he was so crazy he moved to the tent city behind one of the local grocery stores because he felt people were watching him at his apartment. So he wasn't technically homeless but he was certainly living the homeless lifestyle. A few years ago, he froze to death and it just made me really angry. At him. At a system that can't force people like him to take care of themselves. I don't know.

  10. @Badtux, Yes, I've already followed your links. I don't dispute that the executive branch was involved with this or that Obama (as head of the executive branch) is ultimately responsible.

    I just don't think it has anything to do with the upcoming election. The reason is because, like you say, these camps would dissolve on their own without the brutality. And the FBI/Homeland security involvement makes him look bad to his base. The best thing for him to do election wise would be to do nothing and stay out of it.

  11. Re: "Which is why the simultaneous raids were so baffling, wait a couple of weeks and the encampments would have started dissolving anyhow. "

    I can't agree more. That is exactly what is happening in Detroit. A few nights sleeping out in the cold (that isn't really all that cold, in the 20's) and Occupy Detroit has seen the light and are moving indoors. They asked the city to extend their permit for a week so they could move their belongings and clean up and the city gave them the extension.

  12. Lynne, the only way to deal with mental disorders on that level is some degree of institutionalization. But in Canada that has largely been dismantled on liberal grounds of "protecting human rights and human dignity", and here in the 'States of course I've previously mentioned on this blog what I think about the results of Saint Ronnie the Raygun's nationwide de-institutionalization craze that at the time was beloved of liberals and conservatives both, which has resulted in crazy people dying on the streets of "natural causes" (hey, starving or dying of exposure is "natural", right?) in order to protect human dignity err cheap out on our responsibilities as human beings towards our fellow man.

    Thing is, Canada actually did de-institutionalization the "right" way, providing services to the de-institutionalized mentally ill. The fact that the outcomes are little different than here in America just goes to show that de-institutionalization might have had noble goals, but noble goals don't cut it. The mentally disabled simply don't have the ability to function outside of highly structured environments, and if you throw them on the streets and require them to seek services they won't do it. They're mentally disabled, for cryin' out loud -- it's like expecting a man who had both legs blown off at the knees to walk without prosthetics and crutches!

    - Badtux the Mental Penguin

  13. @Badtux. I wish I could say that I disagree with your assessment of mental health services in the USA because I was a big supporter of community based mental health services back in the day. I still am to a degree as I have seen a great many success stories. I am still kind of amazed at how many mentally ill people can function with very little support, i.e. give them a roof over their heads and occasional help and a great many sufferers of even extreme mental illness will do just fine. But it is clear to me now that approach doesn't work for everyone.

    Unfortunately what has happened here in Michigan probably has happened elsewhere too. Those people who really cant function outside of an institution tend to either end up dead or they end up in jail. Several years ago, I witnessed a violent crime so I had to go to court for the preliminary hearing and more than half of the defendants waiting for their preliminary hearing were mentally ill people I knew sitting there with their case workers who I also knew. So basically instead of locking people up in a decent mental health facility, we're sending these people to PRISON (at much greater expense btw).

  14. Getting back to the original topic...

    I am sure you all are dying to know what Jenny G says about all of this. (ok, maybe not but I thought it was relevant just the same especially since she does seem to be someone our president listens to).

    "Unsolicited advice to mayors, university presidents and other authorities faced with Occupy Wall Street protests: Let. Them. Protest. Become an ally -- not the enemy -- in making sure the encampments are peaceful, clean and safe public spaces. Encourage the protesters to help self-police. And then, be very grateful that these determined citizens are willing to sacrifice their own comfort on behalf of the rest of us. They are not going away." -Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan

  15. Occupy Victoria (British Columbia) is folding its tents and going away peacefully. What Bukko described as happening at Occupy Vancouver had also been happening here. Homeless, mentally ill, drug addicts or all three in one had turned the protest into a combined squat and freak magnet. Understood that these people are just as much a product of the present system, but it got in the way of the message.

    BadTux, I agree with your assessment that most Americans are basically small-c conservative; many Canadians are too (though we have different expectations of our government) and for any change to happen, it has to be framed in terms they will support.

  16. @brtrain what is really interesting to me is that in Detroit those people didn't get in the way of the message at all. They *were* the message. And right now, as Occupy Detroit is packing up to move indoors for the winter, one of their big concerns is who will house and feed the homeless folks who had joined them in their encampment.


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