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I got home at 10:00 pm on the nose, and the first thing I did was take off my shoes after 14 hours of May Day marching with 30-40,000 other conscientious objectors to capitalism. My feet hurt, okay? My second priority was turning on the local news, which happened to be Fox Five New York. According to my watch, it was 10:02. I didn’t see the first few seconds of the story, but it must have have been the lead. There was Ray Kelly, the chief of police, talking about…not Occupy Wall Street?…no, it was a video of him on some talk show, warning of the apparently imminent threat of Arab terrorists “implanting” bombs in their bodies and blowing up airplanes and buildings.
The reporter, whose name I didn’t catch, showed a mug shot of a sullen swarthy Arab terrorist who had confessed to “helping” his brother implant such a bomb. The reporter then interviewed a “security expert,” whose name I also didn’t catch. As I say, my feet hurt and I wasn’t paying full attention. The security expert speculated that the most you could fit into a man’s “cavity” would be a one pound bomb, and such a weapon probably couldn’t bring down an airplane. A woman, he said, could at most fit a one-pound bomb in one cavity and a two-pound bomb in her other cavity.
The reporter wanted to know what would happen if a large number of Arab terrorists implanted many such bombs on their bodies. The security expert said that many such bombs inside many such Arab terrorists, probably looking even more sullen and swarthy than usual, would increase the likelihood that our x-ray machines and first-rate Homeland Security personnel would detect them before they could blow up the airplane.
The next story was about some Republican heavyweight endorsing Romney. Maybe it was Giuliani, the great hero of 9/11. His name came up, I remember that. To reiterate: my feet were still hurting.
The third story started with the anchor saying something like, “In other security concerns today, Occupy Wall Street marchers paraded down Broadway…” The reporter asked several non-marching pedestrians, “Are you annoyed yet?” Some said yes, some said no, which was, I thought, very fair and balanced. More than 30 marchers were arrested, she reported. Ray Kelly, she further reported, estimated that the city had spent $30 million on Occupy Wall Street security since last fall.
I stayed up another hour and watched News 4 New York at 11:00. In the lead story, they said there were a lot of arrests at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 55 Water Street. That was the end of the march, and the police decided to clear it at 10:00. When I left at 9:00, it was just a group of tired people, happy to see each other for the first time since the police stole all their tents in Zuccotti Park last November. News 4 made no mention of Arab terrorists with bombs in their cavities.
So I went to bed about 11:15. My eyes popped open at 3:00 am and I was thinking, “How would you set off a bomb in your cavity? Would you do it like Richard Reid, the ‘Shoe Bomber’ of 2001, who put a match to his implanted hiking boots? If I were on an airplane, and I saw a sullen swarthy Arab terrorist-looking guy stand up in the aisle, pull down his pants, spread his cheeks, and flick a Bic on a long fuse coming out of his sphincter, I’d like to think that this behavior would incite my suspicion. I’d like to think that I would at least press a button, summon the stewardess and say, ‘Would we be guilty of racial profiling if we stopped that guy in the aisle from setting his ass on fire?’”
Furthermore, if a guy who tries to blow up his shoes is the “Shoe Bomber,” what would Fox Five call someone who tried to blow up his alimentary canal?
Yeah, the Ass Bomber.
How much damage could the Ass Bomber actually do? I have to agree with the security expert on Fox Five. About a pound of bomb is the maximum you could stick in there and still walk. That’s at most two M-80s, which seems unlikely to bring down an airplane or a building, even with New York’s inadequate building codes that were so helpful to the actual Arab terrorists on September 11, 2001. How much would inflicting a dysphoric olfactory experience on a bunch of airplane passengers actually aid the cause of the Ass Bomber? Would even a really, really fanatic dude be willing to blow up his butt and not even hurt anyone else for his cause?
Okay, if you’re a woman, maybe you can fit four firecrackers in two cavities and still walk through the metal detector. Maybe, I say. Fox Five’s security expert could have been overestimating capacity there. I also think he might have been underestimating the commitment of Arab terrorists to the Koran. If Muslim women are supposed to cover their entire bodies all the time, including their face, how comfortable are they going to be standing up in a crowded airplane, pulling their dress up and lighting two separate fuses from their cavities?
So all this was weighing heavily on my brain at 3:00 am. I got up. I checked the Fox Five website. No evidence at all that their lead story about ass bombing a few hours ago even existed. Not a mention, let alone a video replay. Could someone have noticed this was too stupid even for Fox and disposed of it? Could I have hallucinated the whole thing?
I checked my notebook, full from a day of marching. There, on the last two pages, were some barely legible scribbles that I made during Fox Five News when I wasn’t actually rubbing my sore feet. So it happened. I hadn’t dreamed it.
I checked the Huffington Post. The lead story was not about the Second Coming of Occupy Wall Street or ass bombing. The lead story was about Obama announcing live from Afghanistan his plan to end the war 10 years after the US invaded and one year after he assassinated Osama bin Laden. OWS was the second story, and at 7:00 am it was 10 stories down from the lead about the Supreme Court being low in opinion polls.
So Obama was running both as the peace candidate and the tough guy who ordered Navy Seals to shoot an old man in bed. And he just happened to position himself that way in a televised speech on the same day that Ray Kelly wanted us to be suspicious of brown people with bombs in their butts. And that just happened to be the day that protest season began with Occupy Wall Street putting untold thousands of people who hate corporate capitalism into the streets.
I know. It’s just a coincidence. Or conspiracy theory. The .01% who rule the United States would never stoop to such stunts to knock Occupy Wall Street off the front page and surround it with mentions of terrorism. It was somebody else who beat up all those protestors in parks around the United States last fall.
Not on the Times’ front page, online or in print, either. Just a big story about Mitt Romney and Obama pursuing the endorsement of Mayor Bloomberg. And they had a link to an article in the magazine section about a rich business partner of Mitt Romney writing a book about how beneficial income inequality is.
On the New York Daily News website, they had some photographs of people in strange costumes being arrested.
Far be it from me to question anyone’s news judgment.
Well, that’s not quite true. I started the day at Bryant Park in midtown in the pouring rain at 8:00 am. There were maybe 600 protestors. Several were holding up besotted signs saying, “GE” or “HSBC” or “The Koch Brothers” or whatever, and you could choose which corporate bag of garbage you wanted to go protest. I went up to the guy holding a sign that said “New York Times,” and asked, “Are you protesting the Times because the reporters are in open rebellion against the idiots in upper management, or because it sucks?”
“There’s a labor dispute,” said the guy. Good enough, I thought, and a group of about 30 marched to the Times’ building, where 50 Legal Aid lawyers were picketing because they were being abused and dismantled by their 1% board of directors who had a Times’ connection of some sort. I wasn’t quite clear on the problem because it was so noisy, but it was deeply satisfying to walk around in a circle in front of the Times chanting, “Get up! Get down! There’s revolution in this town!”
Accompanied by many police on motorcycles, we continued marching and chanting around midtown, getting lost once, and then returning to Bryant Park. At 11:00, with the sky clearing, I walked to Madison Square Park where they were having a “Free University” with lectures by anti-corporate celebrities like Chris Hedges and Francis Fox Piven and non-celebrities like a young woman named Kirby who discussed taking young black men who had been stopped and frisked for no reason to the monthly public meetings at police precincts where they confronted the officers who had humiliated them. Black teenagers occupying the cops–does that grab the imagination or what?
At 2:30 the Bryant Park contingent marched down to Madison Square Park, and everybody marched to Union Square Park, where a rally with loudspeakers was held. Union Square was a full as I’ve ever seen it. You couldn’t breathe without getting jostled. The police used the rally time to set up long lines of barricades and station hundreds of cops in riot gear on foot, on motor scooter, in car, in paddy wagon and in heliocopter. Around 5:00 they started funneling small numbers of protestors out of the park and into the street. Eventually 30- or 40,000 of us had a rousing good time walking to Wall Street. I saw a few arrests, but they weren’t the point.
Maybe the point was this: During the Union Square rally, a Brooklyn councilman complained to the crowd that the City Council had passed a raise in the minimum wage to $10 an hour, and Mayor Bloomberg had promised to veto it. I had not read about this anywhere in the corporate media. Later, I googled, and it’s true, but it didn’t get played up anywhere.
Lets put that in context. Bloomberg was worth $5 billion when he first ran for office in 2001. He promised he would “sequester” himself from his fortune and his publishing empire if he won, and would do a full-time job as mayor. Spending $90 million to purchase every lever and gear in New York City election machinery, he got a third term with 51% of the vote in 2009.
Mayor Bloomberg is now worth $20 billion. This leaves us with two, and only two possibilities. Either he really did sequester himself from his money and he quadrupled his vast wealth by doing absolutely nothing. Or he broke his promise and committed a gargantuan conflict of interest by doing a little something on the side to quadruple his fortune while not giving his full attention to his duties as mayor.
I keep thinking, “Some local newspaper with a large staff of reporters should figure out how the mayor made $15 billion while supposedly working full time at City Hall.” And then I think, “There isn’t a journalist in New York who wants to write about the son of a bitch, because they might have to work for Bloomberg News someday. Everyone else is going out of business.”
Whether Bloomberg did nothing to earn his warehouses full of money, or he did almost nothing to earn his warehouses full of money, he is denying pocket change to the poorest of the working poor. If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what is.
His minion Ray Kelly, the man in charge of Bloomberg’s “army,” as the Mayor likes to call the police, may well run for the job himself in 2013. If so, I predict Kelly will position himself as the Lion of Zuccotti Park and Scourge of the Islamic Ass Bomber Jihad. If he doesn’t, somebody else in either party will.
I also predict that both Bloomberg and Kelly are in for a long hot summer from Occupy Wall Street.
CHARLES M. YOUNG is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper.