All photos by hotflashcarol
Like an oversized version of this imaginary government mosquito, President Obama buzzed around Oakland yesterday and sucked out a few million dollars of the city’s lifeblood — an estimated $4 million in campaign donations and likely another million or two in police overtime as well as lost business, wages and productivity for those who got trapped in the O-zone. Dear Leader and his Haag had already begun to systematically decimate Oakland’s tax base by shutting down legally-operated medical marijuana dispensaries that pay millions in local and state taxes. Harborside and Oaksterdam supporters staged a large protest at Oscar Grant Plaza early yesterday in anticipation of Obama’s visit.
Mr. HFC and I are now classified as “outside agitators,” having recently moved to Chico, CA (three hours north of the Bay Area). We’re still close enough to mobilize any time we’re needed and yesterday seemed like one of those times. We arrived in downtown Oakland late in the afternoon and immediately became entangled in the gridlock surrounding Obama’s fundraiser at the Scottish Rite Temple on the edge of Lake Merritt. While the approximately 25 donors who were able to pony up the maximum $38,500 spent an hour with the
POTUS LOTE and OO’s favorite trio of Jean Quan, Deanna Santana and Howard Jordan, the rest of us sat in our cars. For that entire hour. Without moving an inch. On the bright side, it was a lovely day at the lake and the scraper a few cars behind us was bumpin’ some fine tunes. People were kind and didn’t honk at the older gentleman in the older car when his radiator overheated; you could tell he knew the drill as he got a jug of water out of his trunk and opened his hood. His wife sat patiently in the passenger seat. I wondered if they intended to vote for Obama and, if so, what kind of lies they had to tell themselves. If we just give him four more years, he’ll be able to do all those things he promised. We’ll be able to get a newer car and maybe even go to the doctor. Or maybe they were thinking: That lying SOB promised us jobs and prosperity and an end to the wars and even said he’d keep his hands off our medicine. And he wants me to vote for him AGAIN?
Obama’s motorcade moved on to another fundraiser in Piedmont, where another 60 supporters paid $38,500 (or a total of $2.3 million) to hold their place in the one percent. This event was hosted by Democratic oligarchs Wayne Jordan and Quinn Delaney and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Steve Westly. Meanwhile, Mr. HFC and I found a parking place and joined the protestors at 19th and Broadway to wait for Obama’s arrival at the Fox Theater. I saw lots of new faces—but not enough to outnumber the Party faithful. News reports indicate that 2,000 people were persuaded to give from $100 to $7500 (which included a photo with the Prez) of their hard-earned dollars to attend the Fox event. There were nowhere near 2,000 protestors when we arrived. There were a few hundred people, at best, surrounding the barricades and a good portion of them were not protesters but people waiting to catch a glimpse of a man they are still Hoping will Change some things, maybe, at least a little bit, one of these first days.
Many of the 420 protestors had left by the time we got there, although there were still lots of green flags flying in support of the dispensaries. There were strong showings by the antiwar and environmental contingents. Everybody sported a Free Bradley Manning sticker. Occupy Oakland showed up (as always), and accounted for at least one of the three or four arrests on trumped up charges (as always). There was yelling and chanting and marching, but the president probably never saw it or heard it; police barricades turned vast blocks of Oakland into little ghost towns and protestors were kept around the corner and at least a block away from the entrance to the Fox Theater.
We had intended to stay through the evening but left after a couple of hours, feeling disheartened. We’d been listening to coverage on the radio all day—interviews with Oaklanders who had quite delusional (in my mind, anyway) things to say about why it was absolutely necessary that we continue to support our lying, murdering, sociopath of a president. This delusion caused ordinary people to pay actual money to listen to the liar’s lies up close and personal and maybe even memorialize this sacred occasion with a photo. I thought Obama had already made me as sick and disgusted as he could make me, but then I heard him on the television talking in hushed tones about the Colorado massacre victims and their grieving families, as if he wasn’t a war criminal responsible for just such mayhem and sorrow his ownself on a global scale, day after day, week after week. I don’t want this motherfucker in my country, much less in my state or my city; who on earth stands in line and gives him $100 or $7500 to keep on keepin’ on? WTF is wrong with people? I kept thinking about what actual good you could do with $100 at the food bank or the homeless shelter or just about any freeway onramp in Oakland. Or how many of the 42% of foreclosed homes in Oakland now owned by investors could be saved with a donation—or even a loan—of $38,500. Or how $4 million would go a long way towards keeping Lakeview Elementary and other Oakland schools open.
Too many liberals, too many progressives, too many of those people who believe almost the exact same things I believe about social justice and what the world would look like if we had our way—too many of them were on the wrong side of those barricades yesterday. And I don’t know how on earth we’re gonna convince them to switch sides.