The next stage of the Aimless Occupation of America is upon us: On Wednesday, rabble-rousers in the San Francisco Bay Area will walk off jobs they don't have and encourage everyone else around the country to abandon work to protest high unemployment.
The Occupiers are calling their organized day of inaction a "Mass Day of Action." The Carpenters Local 713, the Service Employees International Union, the United Auto Workers and the Industrial Workers of the World have all endorsed the "general strike." Longshore workers and their union agitators are rooting for the shutdown of the Port of Oakland. Teachers unions will push students and educators to play hooky. Their posters urge: "No Work. No School. Occupy Everywhere."
A city suffering from chronic poverty, out-of-control crime, a $76 million budget deficit and a 15 percent unemployment rate (nearly 50 percent for Oakland's youth) can hardly afford such social justice follies. But a pushover Democratic mayor and an overwhelmed police force have left what's left of gainfully employed Oakland taxpayers at the mercy of professional freeloaders and anti-capitalism saboteurs.
Instead of unequivocally condemning efforts to paralyze downtown commerce, Oakland city officials have all expressed sympathy for the protesters. For a brief moment, the city council president fretted meekly about the city's image after a violent clash between Camp Chaos inhabitants and law enforcement officers last week. Nevertheless, city leaders -- or rather, city enablers -- have informed public employees that they can use vacation or other paid time to ditch their offices and raise their fists in solidarity with the Occupiers.
Instead of targeting local bank branch managers and private-sector entrepreneurs, the protesters should be camping out at government offices and asking where all the tens of millions of dollars in federal Obama stimulus funding went over the past two years -- including $40 million from the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly $30 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, $26 million from the Department of Justice, $24 million from the Transportation Department, $15 million from the Department of Education, and $5.3 million from the Environmental Protection Agency.
One local analysis found last year that the Oakland Housing Authority squandered nearly $11 million in federal project renovation and clean-up stimulus grants to create a measly 10.7 jobs.
It would all be an amusing object lesson on the impotence of the welfare state, if not for the looming shadow of violence that hangs like stubborn Bay Area fog over the movement. In 2003, a like-minded mob of police-provoking anarchists, anti-war organizers and progressive activists descended on the Port of Oakland to coordinate a "Day of Action." They hurled concrete, wood and iron bolts at cops while attempting to block military shipments to soldiers in wartime -- and then whined about police brutality.
Fast-forward eight years. This week's "Day of Action" is spearheaded by the likes of Oakland rapper Boots Riley, a militant, self-declared "communist" who penned "5 Million Ways To Kill a CEO" ("Toss a dollar in the river and when he jump in/If you find he can swim, put lead boots on him and do it again") and "Lazy Muthaf**kas" ("You ain't never learned to drive or tie your shoe/I got my ear to the street and my eye on you/... You're a lazy **********! Lazy **********!). After the 9/11 attacks, I reported on Riley's appalling album cover depicting him partying in front of a doctored image of the World Trade Center being blown up.
Like fellow Occupier, 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Oakland community organizer Van Jones, Riley has long stoked anti-police grievances. In "Pork and Beef," he rapped: "If you got beef with c-o-ps/Throw a Molotov at the p-i-gs."
Add to this toxic mix the thugs of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The planned march on Oakland's port is being billed as an expression of "solidarity with longshore workers in their struggle" against grain importer EGT. In Longview, Wash., wildcat union workers cut train brake lines, smashed windows, dumped grain and took hostages earlier this fall to protest the company's decision to employ not non-union workers, but workers from a competing shop. A federal judge fined the ILWU $250,000 after it defied a court restraining order. Even Obama's National Labor Relations Board was forced to issue a complaint against the union's "violent and aggressive" actions.
The unapologetic local union president vowed: "It's going to get worse before it gets better." Mark those words.
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