Keith Olbermann (11/16/2011): For the entirety of the life of our nation, democracy has been protected — not merely by the strenuous efforts of those of us who cherish it, but mostly, and most profoundly, by the limitless stupidity of those who would ration it, keep it for themselves and themselves alone, or destroy it.
The protests that ended the war in Vietnam reached critical mass only in 1970, when Governor James Rhodes of Ohio pounded on a desk at a news conference and called the student protesters at Kent State University un-American. They were not un-American, they were unarmed. And the next day, four were shot and killed by the National Guard and 10 days later, two more were killed at Jackson State.
Those protests had themselves only gone mainstream 20 months earlier, when Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago overreacted with mindlessness and sadism to the massing of demonstrators outside the 1968 Democratic convention and the whole world watched.
A century of the institutionalized, codified, legalized, pseudo-slavery that followed the real thing was fatally stricken only Governor George Wallace of Alabama used his inaugural address to promise, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Within two years came the marches on Selma and the atrocities at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. And ten weeks after the first violence, the president had proposed the Voting Rights Act to Congress.
The mounting paranoia of three decades of scapegoating of — and fear mongering about — liberals, only ended when its last white knight self-destructed on the national stage of televised hearings, when Joe McCarthy questioned the loyalty of the US military and — towards one junior attorney — he revealed the depths of his cruelty and megalomania. And he revealed that — at long last — he, indeed, had no shame.
Pick any moment in our history — our history as a country founded by and invigorated by and re-invigorated by protests — and you will find men like George Wallace and Joe McCarthy and Jim Rhodes and Richard Daley. Go back further — to men like the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company or the officials who sent the police to the Haymarket Square and the troops to the Pullman town or John Brown or George Grenville, the British politician who had a bright idea about the American colonies, an idea called the Stamp Act.
American freedom has not flourished in spite of these morons of history, it has flourished because of them — because they overreacted, because they under-thought, overreached, under-understood. We owe them our traditions of protest. We owe them our freedoms. We owe them our very independence. None of them ever understood that — around these parts anyway — suppression always creates the opposite of the effect desired.
Such a man is Michael Rubens Bloomberg, mayor of New York City and — as of today — the most valuable, the most essential, the most irreplaceable man inside the Occupy movement.
Who else but a cliché like Bloomberg could take a protest beginning to grow a little stale around the edges and vault it back in the headlines, complete with mortifying scenes of police dressed as storm troopers, carrying military weapons, using figurative bazookas to kill figurative mosquitoes?
Who else but an archetype like Bloomberg could claim a group of protesters was making too much noise in a residential area and then choose to try to disperse them by bringing out LRAD audio cannons, machines that send painful waves of sound indiscriminately over the very same residential area?
Who else but a cartoon like Bloomberg could have become rich creating a multi-billion-dollar media and news company and then authorize illegally preventing reporters from witnessing police actions he claimed were utterly legal, and then authorize the arrests of four reporters at a church?
Who else but a human platitude like Bloomberg could have just gotten back from Jerusalem — and the dedication of a ten-million-dollar medical facility for which he generously paid — and then enabled the image of policemen seizing 5,500 books from the Occupy Wall Street library, and throwing them in a Dumpster as if the cops were book burners?
Who else but a hypocrite like Bloomberg could have overridden — by a backroom deal with the New York City Council — the results of two separate referendums, limiting those in his office to just two terms as mayor, so he could serve a third term? And then had police arrest, beat up and incarcerate a member of the New York City Council?
Who else but a putz like Bloomberg could have insisted protesters were not above the rule of law and yet — when the courts ruled he could not sees the protesters’ tents and sleeping bags, nor kick them out of Zuccotti park, nor keep them from returning with their tents and sleeping bags — who else could have stalled for hours until he could find another judge to give him the ruling he insisted upon?
Who else but the epitome of tone-deafness that is Bloomberg could have better illustrated the fundamental issue of Occupy, when he puts the entire weight of the most people-driven city in the history of the Earth behind already-crushingly rich and their efforts to grab themselves still more advantages from those people and he, himself, is the 12th richest man in America?
Who else but a publicity addict like Bloomberg could have enabled the arrest of 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge and yet, two months later, frozen 20 square miles of New York City in gridlock traffic over two days, so somebody could film another goddamned Batman movie on the 59th Street Bridge? Leading to the inescapable conclusion that — if you want to tie up a little traffic during a protest for equality and freedom from corporate domination on a bridge in New York City — you will be arrested. But — if you want to tie up all of the traffic during a goddamned movie shoot for the financial benefit of corporate domination — the city of New York will embrace you and give you tax breaks.
Michael Bloomberg — no such a figure, no such a living, breathing embodiment of all that is wrong and all that is stupid in the establishment in this country could be ordered up from the works of fiction, or the casting calls of that goddamned Batman movie they filmed the weekend before he ordered the raid on Occupy Wall Street.
Obviously, Mayor Bloomberg, you should resign and your little bully of a police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, should go with you. You have overstepped all reasonable interpretations of your rights and responsibilities and you have made Americans and people around the world realize that you are simply smaller, more embarrassing versions of the tin-pot tyrants who have fallen around the globe in the past year.
But — as some of us first thought you might be, back on that fateful afternoon that sadistic cops pepper-sprayed four women who had already been trapped inside a police overreaction, and as we thought again the following weekend during the arrests on Brooklyn Bridge — Michael Bloomberg, you have now, indeed, become the symbol of the Occupy movement. You are ready to take your historic place with Mayor Daley and Governor Wallace and Senator McCarthy and Prime Minister Grenville and every other idiot who has made the fateful and fatal mistake of thinking that — just because he had power and money — that this was a nation in which everything has a price tag on it.
We need you, Michael Bloomberg. We need you to keep making these mistakes — tone-deaf, sensibility-offending, world-changing mistakes — like the pepper spray and the Brooklyn Bridge and the paramilitary assault on Occupy Wall Street last night.
Hell, Mike, the freedoms of this wonderful and transcendent nation– corrupted by the endless greed of you and the other dozen richest people in it, and the corporations who nevertheless have still managed to own you somehow — these freedoms will not be restored to us in just the next two years. I am endorsing you for a fourth term! Your nation needs you, Mr. Mayor! Occupy needs you!
Bloomberg now! Bloomberg tomorrow! Bloomberg forever!