Monday, May 24, 2010

Protesters Give Bank of America Exec What He Deserves

Over the weekend, a group of approximately 500 NPA and SEIU protesters, armed with signs and bullhorns, converged on the front lawn of Bank of America lobbyist Greg Baer and demonstrated their anger toward the giant evil bank. And, it has been reported that DC police actually escorted the busloads of protesters to Mr. Baer's address. Brilliant!

Apparently, Baer's teenage son was the only one home at the time, and the peaceful protesting frightened the poor little rich kid so much that he barricaded himself in the bathroom and phoned his daddy to rescue him from the demonstrators. Of course, the kid could have opened a window or the door and told the gatherers that the target of their protest was not home, and asked them to leave. But he didn't. Poor little gutless child of privilege...!

The protest has incited the voices of the more conservative among us, who are likening the event to some sort of union terrorism. One of these voices, Greg Hedgepath, states, "Here you have thug unions that have no interest in the people they represent at all. They are only interested state maintained pensions. A bailout is what they are after. " What Hedgepath fails to acknowledge is that the banks that these unions are protesting have done exactly what he's accusing the so-called "thug unions" of having just done. The banks have demonstrated no interest in the very customers who have made them ungodly rich; they are only interested in the multi-million dollar bonuses they can give themselves; and they GOT a bailout (which did nothing to help or benefit the taxpaying public as a result).

Well, as they say, payback is a bitch. Perhaps the conservative bloggers who are vocalizing their opposition to groups of citizens gathering on the lawns of the very same people who caused the economy to tank, who are responsible for doling out bad loans and then collecting on them through foreclosure, and who, like Greg Baer, have taken our money to go to Capitol Hill and prevent legislation that would benefit the general public, are doing so because they are afraid of the backlash that may be heading their way. I don't think that a backlash against Wall Street is unwarranted. In fact, I think it's well-deserved.

Unlike in Greece, where unions have reacted violently against the targets of their anger, the NPA/SEIU protesters were peaceful (albeit perhaps loud). They wore t-shirts with the message "Put People First / Take Back Our Democracy" and brandished hand-painted signs with slogans like "Reclaim America" and "Hold Banks Accountable". They chanted "Bank of America, Bad for America" and shared their personal stories of the bank's abuses via a bullhorn. Far as I can tell, nobody set fire to anything, broke windows, held the banker's candy-ass kid hostage, bombed the Baer's house, tried to enter the domicile, or did anything remotely violent. And they returned to their caravan after Baer returned home to coddle his Little Lord Fauntleroy and asked the protesters to leave. Even so, Hedgepath and his right-wing blogging cronies are accusing the demonstrators of being thugs. THUGS! Do they even know what that word means?

According to the dictionary, a "thug" is:

1) A cutthroat or ruffian; a hoodlum. A tough and violent man, esp a criminal. A violent, brutal person
2) One of a band of professional assassins formerly active in northern India who worshiped Kali and offered their victims to her. (Historical Terms) (sometimes capital) (formerly) a member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India who typically strangled their victims.

Sorry Mr. Hedgepath and others of your ilk, but the 'thug' shoe doesn't fit here.

What I think is most important is that the voices of the right wing are conveniently neglecting that the banks have pushed hard-working Americans right to the brink, and now those with their backs against the wall are fighting back - by taking their money away from the banks that have abused them, and by protesting. So far, protests at the banks have yielded imperceptible results. Is it surprising that the protesters are taking their battle to the front yards of the enemy? Not to me. I think it's not only about time, it's completely appropriate. We SHOULD protest these goons where they live. We SHOULD publicly humiliate them. We SHOULD be vocal about our unrest. Their selfish and greedy actions have harmed an unprecedented number of families and ruined the economies of many countries. Did they expect there would be no backlash? Did they think we would not fight back?

If protesting them at the office does not result in the change of practice the public demands; if the lawmakers are unable to resist the bribes people like (alleged 'lifelong Democrat') Greg Baer offer them; and if Wall Street continues brushing aside the requests of the President, the People have no choice but to protest - loudly, and in the front lawns of the perpetrators. Wall Street has only itself to blame for the crushing anxiety that grips this nation. Not only for causing it, but also for perpetuating it. So many Americans are desperately trying to pay for the overpriced homes they bought before it all crashed down, yet the banksters are enjoying a million-dollar property boom in their playland of the Hamptons - fueled by the enormous bonuses they received last year (LA Times article, 5-22-10:,0,1217672.story), despite President Obama's request that such bonuses be reeled in. Clearly, while the country crumbles around them as a direct result of the things they have done, the Wall Street racketeers are continuing to revel in the spoils of their - er, I mean OUR - money.

Greg Baer and his fellow goons need to remember this: Actions have consequences. What they do runs completely against what is best for the masses. There is a strong penalty to be paid, not only by the mob bosses on Wall Street, but also by those like lifelong Democrat Greg Baer who prostitute themselves to said mob bosses and schmooze Congress in order to block bank reform. The People are angry. Banks should count their blessings that we are not violent. I for one do not promote, nor do I condone, violence. And if it were within my power I would free the world of all of our violent actions. But I cannot do that, and I cannot predict the future. However I do understand the nature of people, and if injustices persist to the point no option is left, people do eventually resort to violence as they historically always have. If the financial industry wants to prevent the kind of retaliatory anarchy that has gripped Greece in recent times it needs to change NOW while the American people are still willing to demonstrate peacefully.

In the mean time, I think we SHOULD continue to gather and protest - in front of the banks AND in the executives' front lawns. Public humiliation needs a renaissance. Keep organizing, my friends. Keep pulling your money out of the banks, keep sending your letters and making your phone calls, keep distributing the Proclamation Of Required Change, keep encouraging your friends, families, and co-workers to participate in these protests, and above all, keep a sense of humor about this. Use your anger to drive your efforts to effect change, but don't lose sight of the humorous side of sticking the knife into the banks and their prostitutes (figuratively speaking, of course) and turning it.

Peace and bullhorns,

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