Breitbart, You’re My Hero!

I am nobody.

I am invisible.

Most people couldn’t pick me out of a lineup.  Not for a million dollars.  I don’t stand out in a crowd.  You wouldn’t recognize me if I sat next to you in a theater, or on a train, or in a restaurant.  You’ve never seen me on television or in a movie, heard me on the radio, or read anything I’ve written (unless, perhaps, you subscribe to some very obscure technical journals).

I’ve spent most of my life moving around more often than I care to think about (although I did actually sit down and count once), and as a result I ended up mostly disengaged from the world around me.  That all started to change when I finally decided to follow through on the recommendation of a, well, I guess I’ll call him an acquaintance (since I’m not all that great at making friends), and watch the show Chuck.  (Right now you’re probably thinking “What the heck does this have to do with Andrew Breitbart?”  Don’t worry, I’ll get to that.  All in good time.  Everything happens for a reason.  You came to Andrew in your way, I came to him in mine.)  I watched the first three seasons of Chuck between March and October of 2010, just in time to pick up with the rest of the world and watch the fourth season, if not in real-time, then at least as close to real-time as possible (NBC made episodes available on their website for up to three weeks after the original air date).

It wasn’t just the geekiness of Chuck that I enjoyed, or its similarity to one of my favorite childhood television shows (Greatest American Hero); I was fascinated by the similarities between Adam Baldwin‘s character, John Casey, and the course my life had taken.  John Casey, for those of you who don’t know, (at least at the beginning of the series) was an active duty O4 (Major to most of you, Lieutenant Commander to me) who had devoted his life to his career (with no friends, or family, or even high rank, to show for it).  Of course I know the difference between fantasy and reality, but the overlap between the fantasy that Adam Baldwin created with the character John Casey and my reality was striking.

So I did what any normal person does.  I logged into my (practically) unused Twitter account to see if Adam Baldwin was on Twitter.  And to my great delight he was not only on Twitter, but he was tweeting meaningful content (what I normally say to people when I’m telling this story in person is “it was at that moment I realized he wasn’t just some vapid actor”).  I didn’t agree with everything he tweeted, but to my further surprise, he responded to me when I asked questions about what he was saying.  I was so delighted by this fact that I actually wrote about it in my first ever blog post on November 15, 2010.

By following Mr. Baldwin on Twitter, I found a whole universe of people with whom I could interact in a way I never thought possible.  One of those amazing people was @thekelliejane, and one night she tweeted something along the lines of “I’m here, click to listen/watch”.  Clicking took me to The Stage Right Show on Blog Talk Radio, where Larry O’Connor, host of The Stage Right Show, was celebrating Dake-a-Palooza with several members of the Hollywood Chat Pack (to learn more about the show and the Chat Pack, check out my post).  I was hooked.  That night was the start of more nights than I care to think about spent staying up way past when a person who gets up at 0630 ought to be asleep.  It was during Larry’s show that I learned about the existence of Andrew Breitbart, but I was still mostly disconnected from the wider world.  I couldn’t really connect the lyric from The Army You Have’s Liberty Loves Company, played during Larry’s shows, to my personal reality.  “Breitbart, You’re My Hero!” still meant nothing to me.  I did start following Andrew on Twitter, however, and on on February 1, 2011, I sent the following tweet:

I just became @AndrewBreitbart‘s 32,000th follower and Twitter sent me a unicorn! #DoubleWin

Like many things on Twitter, and in life, I didn’t realize the significance of Andrew Breitbart not only retweeting my silly proclamation, but also following me for having made it.

I first met Larry O’Connor in person on the evening of Thursday, February 10, 2011.  The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was taking place in Washington, DC, but as I was preparing to leave for Guam early that Saturday morning, I was too busy to attend any of the events during the work day.  I was, however, able to slip away for just a couple of hours that evening to what was being affectionately referred to as “The Big Gay Party”.  A glance at the admission ticket may give you a clue as to why:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That night, I met a lot of people, including Andrew Breitbart.  At the time, I didn’t think anything of it.  To me, he was just one more person Larry was introducing me to.  Remember, this wasn’t my world.  The only thing I remember was being knocked over by all of the people trying to shake his hand or get a moment of his time.  What I took away from that evening was Dan Choi telling me he looked forward to seeing me become the first openly lesbian admiral (for the record, I’m not a lesbian, at least to my knowledge).  As a memento of that evening, I can be seen dancing like a lunatic in the background while Andrew Breitbart is being interviewed in this video (around the 45 second mark):

 

Time marched on.  I wrote the occasional blog post.  I got the (very) occasional reader.  Then two things happened almost simultaneously, at least in terms of the scale of my life.  Near the end of May 2011, I decided to buy a video camera.  And then there was this:

 

It all started to come together.  Love him or hate him.  Agree with him or disagree with him.  Andrew Breitbart had told the truth, over and over again, and was not shy about telling the world what had happened.  I finally understood the lyric.  I have always been an outspoken person, and have always been very polarizing because of it.  People almost instantaneously either really like me or really dislike me.  The world is mostly black and white to me, and (at least I have been told) I tend to speak without a filter.  I thought that meant I had to live the rest of my life (mostly) alone and friendless.  But no!  Here was Andrew Breitbart polarizing the world.  Speaking truth to power.  Wow.

About a month later, I was in southern California for work (did I mention that I travel a lot?) and Larry O’Connor just happened to be taping his show live from “an undisclosed location” (as he refers to it).  I had known that I might be invited to attend, so I came prepared with the cheapskate’s equivalent to challenge coins from the Office of Naval Intelligence to hand out to all of my Tweeps (not knowing how many Twitter acquaintances would actually be there, I freely admit that I was not willing to purchase $200 worth of challenge coins just to be sure I had enough).  Plastic or no, everyone seemed pleased with my little token from the Intelligence Community.  It was nice to finally put faces with names (and voices).  The best part, however, was when Larry (re-) introduced me to Andrew Breitbart and Andrew said, with utmost sincerity, “so you’re @mosesmosesmoses!”.  As one often says on Twitter:  Mind.  Blown.

I made it my habit not to go anywhere without my camera and video camera.  I made an effort to blog whenever something caught my attention (within the bounds of DoDD 1344.10 and still reporting for duty, of course), trying to focus my efforts on erroneous use of “the race card” as well as pointing out improper use of statistics because, as we all know, math is hard.  I knew I needed to temper my zeal for documenting the world around me just slightly, however, when I totaled my car on the way downtown to film Occupy DC protesters as they occupied an abandoned school.

The last time I saw Andrew Breitbart was at CPAC on February 9, 2012.  From the official listing in the CPAC program:

Citizens United Productions Hosts Blogger Briefing

CPAC Theater

Andrew Breitbart, Brandon Darby, Lee Stranahan, Stephen K. Bannon and Citizens United Productions President David N. Bossie preview their 2012 films including upcoming film exposing Occupy Wall Street, with short video presentation

Credentialed Bloggers Only

After making a grand entrance in Guy Fawkes masks, the panel members spoke, showed trailers for Occupy Unmasked and Hating Breitbart, then took questions.  I stood up to ask a question, and as is common practice in the military, introduced myself before doing so.  At the very beginning of this video, you can hear the very last part of that introduction, “…on Twitter” to which Andrew Breitbart responds “Hey, you defend me, that’s so nice.”

 

Now to be completely fair, he’s glossing over that one time where I questioned whether I should follow him at all because of all of the hateful tweets he was constantly retweeting.  But, hey, I’ll take it.  Also, for the record, the entire video is worth watching as Brandon Darby gives an excellent answer to my question (regarding the manipulation of well-meaning protesters) which Andrew interrupts by taking a telephone call in the middle of.

The next day, camera and video camera in hand, I blended in with the “protesters” outside the Marriott Wardman Park hotel.  I took photos and wrote a blog post about marching down Connecticut Avenue.  I found it especially interesting how the sponsoring organization, This Is Our DC, both grossly overestimated the numbers in attendance and saw nothing wrong with the irony of busing in a majority of the crowd on Mercedes-Benz buses.

And then, just a few weeks later, Andrew was gone.  No, I did not know him personally.  We never had dinner together.  I never met his family.  I do not share the personal tragedy that many of you are feeling right now.  I can sympathize (and I truly do), but not empathize.  The only thing I can do that is meaningful in any way whatsoever is tell this so that you may know how Andrew Breitbart and those around him changed my life.

I will carry my cameras wherever I go.  I will post photos.  I will post video.  I will blog.

I may be nobody.

I may be invisible.

But I will not be silent.

I am Andrew Breitbart.

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Math Is Hard (For This Is Our DC)

On Friday, February 10, 2012, This Is Our DC organized “protesters” from Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New York to participate in a protest of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) followed by a march down Connecticut Avenue.

 

On their website, This Is Our DC claim “[o]ver 500 unemployed, students and frustrated east coast Americans stood together with OurDC to call for an end to tax loopholes for the rich and corporate America.”  I do not claim to be an expert at performing head counts from video, but the following captures the crowd at a choke point (the entrance to the National Zoo), and I estimate the number to be around 200.  Even if I am extremely generous and call that 300, it is nowhere near the claim of “over 500”.

 

But math doesn’t stop being hard there.  The article goes on to state the following:

 “What’s going on inside is truly a conservative carnival of the .01 percent of the 1%…” says John Butler an unemployed OurDC supporter.

Let’s break that down.  What exactly does it mean to be in the 0.01 percent of the 1% (presumably of the population of the United States)?  That means the top (0.01) x (0.01) x (0.01) x (1) x (313,000,000) = 313.  In other words, This Is Our DC supporters wildly underestimated the attendance at CPAC (which was over 10,000) as well as their income (I’m not personally acquainted with anyone on The Forbes 400, but I’m pretty sure 313 of them were not in attendance at CPAC).

And one final note.  While those in attendance at CPAC were mostly using public transportation during their stay in our nation’s capital, This Is Our DC supporters drove away in Mercedes buses.

My Crazy Night With Michael Moore

It all started, as it often does, with a tweet.  I wish I could give credit where credit is due, but I honestly can’t remember who first tweeted that #OccupyDC had attempted to occupy the abandoned Franklin School at 13th & K NW.  The link has since been updated, but at the time, there was a standoff between police and Occupiers.  I grabbed my video camera, tweeted the following:

 Heading down to 13th & K to check out #OccupyDC taking over vacant school building. See you there.

jumped in my car and headed downtown.  And never made it.  On the way there I managed to have a fender bender, which I promptly tweeted about as soon as I got home (don’t worry, everyone was alright):

 Never made it to 13th & K to see #OccupyDC vacant school action. Had a (minor) car accident on the way there. Trying to decide who to blame.

It wasn’t long after that when someone, again I’d love to give appropriate credit but I honestly can’t remember who, retweeted Michael Moore‘s plea for a mission statement for Occupy Wall Street:

 What would you like to see Occupy Wall Street accomplish? Tweet your ideas! #ows

Oh dear Lord, this was just what I needed to take my mind off what had just happened.  As I have mentioned before, I don’t write (or tweet) for anyone but myself, so I just started listing everything I thought of, whether it was an indictment of #OWS, something that made me laugh, or something that I actually wanted accomplished.  And now, for the first time ever, with explanatory links and/or clarifying remarks where necessary, is the comprehensive list of my crazy night with Michael Moore:

 1.  Jazzercise!

2.  Rose Bowl halftime show.

3.  #OWS, The Musical!

4.  Human ladder to the moon.

I don’t care what you think.  This is funny.  The mental image still makes me laugh.

5.  Eau de #OWS at every fine perfumery.

6.  Cold fusion.

Don’t get them started on cold fusion.  Or any form of alternative energy.

7.  First dog in Congress.

Well if Shelby can be elected leader of #OccupyDenver, who knows?

8.  Make self-licking ice cream cones an actual thing.

I’m never sure if the things I say are things that everyone understands or if they’re terms that only people in the military understand.

9.  Journey to the Center of the Earth!

10. A sense of personal responsibility.

11. Mutually assured destruction.

12. Dog/Human translators (like in Up)

13. World’s biggest twinkie. Mmmm. Twinkies.

14. Fix earth’s orbit. Leap years suck.

15. Get Timmy out of the well.

16. Get my dog to stop licking himself.

17. My job for 1 year. Or 1 month. Or even a day.

18. Human buckyball.

Almost as funny as that human ladder to the moon.

19. Hairiest. Chorus line. Evah.

20. Out-juggalo the Juggalos.

This mission may already have been accomplished.

21. Explain magnets. (Y’all saw that coming, right?)

22. Follow me on MySpace!

23. Coordinated urination 2 spell #GodBlessTheUSA on White House lawn.

24. Fight the commie invasion #RedDawn style.

25. Teach Jackie Chan English.

I love Jackie Chan movies. I really do. But compare how he speaks English in interviews with how he speaks in his movies. Just sayin’.

26. Fruit of the Loom costumes as a basic human right!

27. Reprogram cell phones so Big Brother can monitor 1%ers at all times

28. Get me more bitches and ho’s!

29. Figure out what happened to the Mary Celeste.

30. Buy the world a Coke.

31. Find out who put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong.

When in doubt, the answer is always The Muppets.

32. Hopscotch across America!

33. Pullout couches. In car trunks.

34. Potato powered clocks. Oh wait.

35. Bring me some liquor. And @keder a Twix.

36. Invent time travel. Don’t let Keanu Reeves make movies after Bill & Ted

This makes me laugh for several reasons.  First, like they could ever get organized enough to invent a time machine.  Second, Bill & Ted was about time travel, so there’s that self-licking ice cream cone again.  Finally, I can absolutely imagine them accidentally inventing something useful and then using it for such an idiotic purpose.  Oh how I crack myself up.

37. By day, dirty hippie. By night, masked crimefighter. #OWSMan

38. Indisputable proof of spontaneous human combustion.

39. Guiness World Record 4 biggest group to simultaneously run w/ scissors

40. Solve that whole dog anal gland thing. Seriously.

41. Signs in every elevator: “Kindly wait to fart until you exit. It’ll be, like, 2 minutes.”

This is a pet peeve of mine.  I mean if you’re going to make me live in a nanny state, at least regulate the things I care about.*

*sarcasm

42. A “Where the cool people hang out” button on my GPS.

43. Uncolorize films ruined by Ted Turner. Because black (& white) is beautiful.

44. Make green cards come in all different colors to reflect our immigrants’ diversity.

45. Zombie John Lennon.

46. Chimp SWAT teams. With helmet cams.

I don’t care what you think of Eddie Izzard, his politics, or his thoughts on gun ownership and the NRA.  The thought of a monkey with a gun is hilarious.

47. Shatner/Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody mashup.

Of everything else I tweeted, this is the one thing I actually want.  Seriously.  I’ll pay $100 for a solid mashup of the two linked videos.  I need to think through what the criteria for claiming the prize are…stay tuned.

48. National recognition of #PantsFreeFriday

49. Make humans digest corn. You know why.

50. Get @mikeroweworks as #OWS spokesperson. #DirtyJob

Not that he’d do it, at least as far as everything I know about him, but it would definitely be a Dirty Job.

51. Bring back Betamax.

52. Never let a raisin impersonate a chocolate chip.

53. Edible banana peels. Check out those apples.

54. Take one for the team. #TeamAmericaFuckYeah

55. Bring back wainscoting. That stuff rawks.

56. Check everyone to insure carpet matches drapes.

57. Escape from New York. Except don’t.

58. Bring respectability to the noble profession of taxidermy.

59. Figure out when, exactly, a cigar is just a cigar

60. Bring back teh funny on #SNL.

61. Since you’re downtown anyway…feed expired meters.

62. Giant game of red rover. LA vs. NY

63. Pogo sticks for everyone!

64. Harness the power of static electricity. #RubBabyRub

65. Take the answers away from Alex Trebek.

That smug bastard.  Just once I’d like to see him on the other side of that podium.

66. Count the stars. Answer due Monday.

67. Oreo integration. No more black/white/black. Shades of gray.

68. Sleep number beds should only go up to 99, not 100. #WeAreThe99%

69. Phone booth trick. And by that I mean find a phone booth.

70. Dolphin surfing. The time has come.

71. Coast to coast flatulist choral arrangement w/ live streaming.

72. Star Trek captains MMA fight.

I may or may not just want to see Scott Bakula topless.  The world will never know.

So that was it.  I think I ended on a high note, despite there being a lot of duds.  The interesting thing was that I gained a few more followers than suggestions I sent to Michael Moore, and considering that I only started with around 770 (Math Geeks of the World, Unite!), that was nearly a 10% increase in just a few hours.  If only Twitter were the stock market.  I have yet to hear back from him regarding any of these suggestions, but, as we say in the Navy, I’m on hot standby.

The Further Indoctrination of Our Youth – Rainbow 6 Patriots

From this month’s gameinformer (the world’s #1 video game magazine):

Americans are angry.  And why shouldn’t they be?  With an exponentially expanding national debt, crippling foreclosures, corporate bailouts, degrading infrastructure, dwindling job market, and widening income gap between the haves and the have-nots, it’s getting harder to believe politicians when they speak of American exceptionalism as if it were a fundamental truth.

In response to gradual erosion of our beloved nation, resentful citizens of all kinds of political backgrounds are rising up in the form of new political movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.  But unlike the 1960s, when protests and activism resulted in the discontinuation of the military draft, the Civil Rights Act, and the sexual revolution, the contemporary bickering government parties have proven largely ineffective at slowing or reversing the downward trajectory.

The media isn’t helping matters.  Rather than promote discussions about viable solutions moving forward, ad-driven 24-hour media outlets and radio programs are content to stoke the fires and sensationalize political differences.  History proves that if leaders don’t move swiftly to address these grievances, the political rage can sometimes find a more violent channel of expression.  Case in point: the meteoric rise of militias over the past few years.

In 2009, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a massive resurgence in anti-government para-military groups, which have jumped from 43 militias in 2007 to nearly 300 in 2010.  The sudden surge has captured the attention of the Department of Homeland Security, NSA, CIA and FBI, who all view these groups as a real threat to the stability of the nation.  Moreover, many of these disenfranchised groups frequently put their members through intense military training exercises – for what, no one knows.

America’s volatile political climate serves as the jumping-off point for Rainbow 6 Patriots.  This latest game in the storied tactical shooter series eschews the exhausted Russian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern crises so common in contemporary shooters and challenges gamers’ perceptions by placing them in the roles of the elite tactical unit, the homegrown terrorists, and the civilians caught in the crossfire.  Do you have what it takes to pull the trigger on a fellow citizen?

Yet another comparison of the Occupy Wall Street movement to the Tea Party, to which I, like many others, can only respond:  “How many rapes, murders and other violent crimes have occurred at Tea Party events?”  Also, in reading the rest of this ten-page article, it becomes clear that Rainbow 6 Patriots has been in development for several years, so any comparison to Occupy Wall Street was a last-minute addition.  The most obvious giveaway as to the developers’ political inclinations can be found in the following quotes:

In conducting their story research and reading up on the latest Tom Clancy books, Sears and his team realized there was no need to look outside our nation’s borders for the next big threat facing the nation and Team Rainbow.

“We knew we had to have a story this time that’s very plausible, very relevant, and that touches on the current fears of U.S. citizens,” Sears says.

If properly coordinated, the emerging rage-fueled para-military groups angered over the direction of the country could cause irreparable damage to our political and financial foundations.

“Fortunately there hasn’t been a single leader to galvanize, orchestrate and mobilize all these groups who have all this political energy and are so dissatisfied and angry,” Sears said.  For the sake of the next Rainbow Six story, however, Sears created him.

“Our enemies are inspired by these paramilitary groups, political radicals who we see all over YouTube, and former military men and women who have valiantly served their country but then return home and feel disenfranchised and forgotten,” he says.  “They don’t return as heroes, and they feel like they have been neglected.  These are the people who would join a movement like our terrorist group.”

Really Mr. Sears?  Now I’m all for free speech and capitalism, and I wish Ubisoft the best of luck in this free market, but I can guarantee you that I will not be purchasing this game, nor allowing my child to play it.

Taming An #Occupy Tantrum

On Thursday, November 10, 2011, while Michele Bachmann was giving a speech aboard USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, approximately 30 protestors interrupted with a coordinated message.  Video is available from multiple sources, but two different perspectives are provided by CBS News and Fox News (forgive me for not embedding the video, but these sites did not make it easy…advice welcome).  Please note that while they use “mic check” to coordinate the start of their disruption, they are not actually repeating back the words of a main speaker, but rather reading from prepared remarks, which can be plainly seen in both videos.

According to CBS News,

Some of her supporters in the crowd yelled “Sit down” to the protesters and chanted “Michele! Michele!” Bachmann left the podium with a police escort but returned a few minutes later to finish her speech.

A completely different result was achieved by the attendees at BlogCon 2011 (hosted by FreedomWorks; use the #BlogCon11 hashtag for more information on Twitter) in Denver, Colorado just one day later when Occupy Denver attempted to disrupt the conference.  It is important to note that registration at BlogCon2011 was open and anyone could have registered at the link above.

The result was different because of the parenting skills of those in attendance, in particular Stephen Kruiser and Larry O’Connor.  Their parenting skills were important because the behavior of the Occupy protesters was effectively that of a toddler having a tantrum, and they reacted accordingly.  The following is from BabyCenter:

Why your child has temper tantrums

A temper tantrum is the emotional equivalent of a summer storm — sudden and sometimes fierce. One minute you and your child are in a restaurant enjoying your dinner, the next minute he’s whimpering, whining, and then screaming at the top of his lungs because his straw is bent. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 are especially prone to such episodes.

How to handle a tantrum

Don’t lose your cool. A tantrum is not a pretty sight. In addition to kicking, screaming, or pounding the floor, your toddler’s repertoire may include throwing things, hitting, and even holding his breath to the point of turning blue. When your child is swept up in a tantrum, he’s unlikely to listen to reason, though he will respond — negatively — to your yelling or threatening.

Staying with your child during a tantrum is a good idea. Stomping out of the room — alluring as that may be — can make him feel abandoned. The storm of emotion he’s going through can be frightening to him, and he’ll appreciate knowing you’re nearby.

Remember that you’re the adult. No matter how long the tantrum continues, don’t give in to unreasonable demands or negotiate with your screaming toddler. It’s especially tempting in public to cave in as a way of ending the episode. Try not to worry about what others think — anyone who’s a parent has been there before. By conceding, you’ll only be teaching your child that throwing a fit is a good way to get what he wants, and setting the stage for future behavior problems. Besides, your child is already frightened by being out of control. The last thing he needs is to feel that you’re not in control either.

Below are two videos.  The first is just over a minute and sets the baseline.  In it, notice how calm Stephen (in the striped shirt against the door) and Larry (on the right side of the frame in coat and tie filming with the tablet) are.  Stephen especially looks relaxed and even bored.  He laughs at the jokes others make, but doesn’t make any of his own.  This is completely in line with the advice above.

 

Several minutes later (the full video can be seen here), after claiming to be interested in calm discourse, the tantrum picks up steam when protesters with notecards (recall the protestors with prepared statements from the Michele Bachmann event) attempt to start reading with the familiar “mic check”.  Again, you can see Stephen remains calm (in the midst of pushing and shoving), while off camera Larry refuses to give in to their unreasonable demands by sounding off with a “mic check” of his own.  At the end of his series of repeat backs, the situation has been defused and everyone is smiling.

 

So, to summarize, what did the BlogCon 2011 attendees do differently than those in attendance at Michele Bachmann’s speech onboard USS Yorktown?  To put it in the most simple of terms, they recognized that the Occupy protesters were having a tantrum, that they were “unlikely to listen to reason”, and would only respond negatively to “yelling or threatening” (like “sit down”).  Those at the center of the Occupiers’ attention, like Stephen Kruiser, remained present, calm and in control.  Similarly, Larry O’Connor refused to give in to their unreasonable demands by asking the crowd to repeat after him rather than them:

“We pay for your student loans!”

“We pay for your school grants!”

“We pay for your public schools!”

“We pay for your unemployment!”

“We pay for your food stamps!”

“We pay for the cops who protect you every night!”

“Get the hell out!”

Although I wouldn’t recommend using that last one with your toddler.

A REVOLUTION By Any Other Name

                            

On the evening of Monday, October 10, 2011, I met a few (OK, five) #OccupyLA protesters at the corner of Van Nuys and Burbank in Van Nuys, CA.  The young lady pictured above (on the right) and I had a few moments of complete and utter mutual incomprehension when I asked her if she was a Ron Paul supporter.  She stared at me as if I was the Space Invader that I obviously was.  I tried explaining to her that Ron Paul supporters wore similar shirts (see the picture above on the left), but she still had no idea what I was talking about.  She told me that the “REVOLUTION” shirts, with “LOVE” spelled backwards, were being made and distributed at #OccupyLA.  Imagine my surprise.  I wonder if Ron Paul and #OccupyLA are working on this together.  Or conversely, if Ron Paul’s graphic designer thought to protect his/her design and if we might be seeing #OccupyLA in court any time soon.  That would be fun.

A Virtual Occupation of Long Beach

On October 9, 2011, I used the Occupy Together meetup site to locate some outlying Occupy rallies in the Los Angeles area.  I found out that Occupy Long Beach was holding an event at 3 pm that day, very close to where I was staying in San Pedro.  I drove toward Bluff Park in Long Beach, taking an unplanned detour because of the Long Beach Marathon, and arrived around 3:30.  By that time, the event was in the “open mic” phase, and the following videos, except where annotated, are completely extemporaneous speech by the participants (of which there appeared to be about 100, but you can judge for yourself from the panoramic shot of the crowd below).

 

 

In order to put these videos into context, please read the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, appended below in its entirety (and read, nearly accurately, by Occupy Long Beach, following the text):

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

 

 

The videos are presented in the order in which I recorded them, except where noted.

This first speaker suggests that the “99%” make a list of the “1%” and extract confessions from them then have them atone for their misdeeds.

 

 

This speaker is a veteran of “activism”.  She also admits that her children are apathetic.  She suggests that others talk to their children to get them involved, not seeming to understand that if someone as “passionate” as she is has apathetic children that her logic might be faulty.

 

 

One of the Occupy Long Beach organizers explains that the movement won’t fall apart because it is a broad movement of the political left.

 

 

A member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) speaks to the crowd.  IWW has officially endorsed the Occupy movement.  He discusses the fact that privately owned grocery stores have pushed co-ops out of the market.

 

 

This protester plugs his local band, then reads a prepared statement speaking out against campaign financing, lobbyists, monopolies that are “too big to fail”, the military, and the oil industry.

 

 

This protester claims the movement is “not a contest between red and blue” and says “we don’t have a democracy so much as a corporatocracy”. She also says that since it is not a hostage negotiation, it is not necessary to have demands, other than to have “a government by the people, for the people.”

 

 

This speaker, an economics professor at Woodbury University in Burbank, recommends moving money from big banks to credit unions and local banks. He also claims that campaign finance reform will never happen. He is a self-proclaimed member of the Green Party.

 

 

This is only a partial recording of a protester who was discussing energy as a unifying theme around which to rally. It is unfortunate because the first part of his speech centered around the fact that cold fusion was a feasible form of alternative energy that had been suppressed by “big oil” (as other revolutionary ideas had been).

 

 

Another protester who recommends moving your money out of big banks. I can’t vouch for his numbers, and I apologize in advance for the f*** bomb.

 

 

This speaker picks up on the earlier theme of energy. He has worked in alternative energy (solar and biofuels) and discusses “living within the means of the Earth”. Appended to the end of his open mic session is a one-on-one interview, in which he discusses how certain technologies (his example is Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower) have been suppressed because they were less profitable than the status quo.

 

 

This protester says the capitalist system has cancer and can no longer function, and it is time to move on to something new.

 

 

This protester doesn’t have much to say about anything, except that he used to be (?) a loser, brings his toddler to protests, and has an internet radio show.

 

 

Sharon, one of the leaders (facilitators?) of Occupy Long Beach, explains why it’s important that they NOT enumerate any demands. Apparently listing demands “gives the power to THEM”. However, she does say they want “environmental sustainability” and “social justice”.

 

 

Marshall Blesofsky of the Long Beach Recruitment Awareness Project (LB RAP) discusses his work in schools to counter military recruitment both during the open mic session and during a one-on-one interview.

 

 

The Occupy Long Beach Statement of Purpose:

 

 

A final note from one of the Occupy Long Beach organizers.

 

 

It is important to note that while the open mic sessions may seem like a stream of disconnected rants, if you listen closely, you can tie each of them back to the themes addressed in the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.  It is even more important to note that, while many, or at least some, of the speakers may seem to support the broader “cause” while speaking for a minute or two during open mic, when questioned at length it becomes evident that most have individual agendas that they have been pursuing long before #OWS and Occupy Together came along.  The Occupy movement has simply provided them a pulpit from which to preach the gospel they’ve been writing for years, or even decades.