Occupied or Vacant?
Apparently, it is fashionable this week (mostly among members of the Occupy movement) to suggest that the sudden shift in venue for the G-8 summit from Chicago to Camp David on Monday proves that Obama is afraid of the Occupy movement. Ugly protest scenes so close to a difficult re-election effort could get... well... ugly, the reasoning goes. And Occupy certainly does seem to have slipped her bridle given that every time one sees her gallop past she is riderless and bucking wildly. But if one is going to engage in rank speculation why focus on such an absurdly obvious and base analysis? Fortunately, finem respice has a much more obvious, ranker, and decidedly more absurd explanation for the mercurial nature of the G-8 invitation engraving order.
Near as we can tell the Occupy brag goes something like this:
Chicago was selected for the 38th G-8 Summit back in mid-2011. June 22, 2011, in fact, was the semi-official announcement. There was no "Occupy" movement yet (here, let me get you some tissue). Since the presence of the Occupy movement is all that has changed in the intervening months, Occupy's later emergence has clearly scared the Obama administration into fearful and last minute scatterings away from Chicago because bad press and the Chicago Police cracking skulls is lethal this close to an election.
Occupy or no Occupy, nowadays G-8 summits always attract widespread, wonton and embarrassing violence (yours free with any Starbucks purchase of $55.00 or more!)
Who could forget great classics like:
The 27th G-8 Summit held in Genoa Italy in July 2001, which occasioned the most wide-spread anti-globalization riots to that point (some 200,000 protestors by some counts) and the death of anti-globalization protestor Carlo Giuliani, who was neatly shot in the face by masked Carabinieri before being run over twice with their Land Rover.
True, Giuliani had been in the midst of a mob that had set upon the Land Rover just then, and, true, he was apparently shot while lifting a fire extinguisher to throw at the Land Rover... details, details.
Now that you mention it, yes, it is true that Genoa had also been ringed with anti-aircraft hardware and closed to all air traffic during the Summit, an eerie foreshadowing of events that took place just two months later.
And yes, the Italian government was later accused of violating the Schengen agreement by preventing the free movement of persons (suspected activists) into Italy during the Summit.
The next year everyone decided to hold the Summit somewhere out of the way and deathly boring, or at least really difficult to get to and filled with annoying people. Of course, Kananaskis, Canada (2001 population: 462 for an area of some 4,200 km^2. No, seriously!) was the obvious choice. Or maybe they were next in the round robin. Whatever.
To protect the first G-8 Summit after the 9/11 attacks, Canadian taxpayers dumped $200 million into a security augmentation that included F-18s, 7,000 law enforcement officers, and entailed a complete shutdown of almost the entire area (and parts of neighboring Calgary, where shop owners boarded up their windows and fled).
Thousands of protestors showed up anyhow, even if they didn't have anything to smash.
It is harder to find someplace that boring in France (well, Lyon, but we digress), so for the 29th G-8 Summit in Évian-les-Bains the highlight was a pair of annoyed French policemen cutting the ropes some protestors had suspended themselves under a bridge with. Some on-the-dole British malcontent who, owing to his extremely poor French, had been unable to find his way home after falling asleep on the wrong train apparently broke some bones falling onto the rocks below. Ho hum.
Perhaps emboldened by the rocky fate of certain British G-8 Hooligans the year before (cut down by the French fascists... wow... talk about street cred) the G-8 Summit organizers went for posh in their locale selection again and held the 30th Summit in Sea Island, Georgia.
The National Guard was called out and seemed to find great success targeting and indefinitely detaining black-clad groups that stood in front of overpriced coffee vendors in Savanna and started chanting anti-capitalist slogans and singing Dylan lyrics out of key. Well, that and the fact that the FBI infiltrated several protest groups and seemed to know what they were up to before the mob did. Oh, and the 90 degree Georgia summer heat might have sapped some protest energy.
July 2005 had the G-8 Summit in the United Kingdom. Of course, 52 were killed in the bus and underground suicide bombings during that week. This tended to overshadow what some random commentator no longer worth remembering called "The Largest Scottish Protest in English History." Depending what source you consult there were anywhere between 200,000 and 300,000 protestors and upwards of GBP 100 million spent on security and extra kilts.
In Former Soviet Union, G-8 protests you. Specifically, in July 2006 the 32nd G-8 Summit was held in St. Petersburg and was remarkable for the decidedly boring anti-whatever movement response. The fact that the Russians had systematically arrested and imprisoned the usual, unusual and perusal suspects in the weeks before the event- slapping them with incarceration sentences that, by pure coincidence, all ended the day after the last Summit events- may have contributed to the placid atmosphere.
The Germans, being just as hard-assed in temperament, but too guilt-plagued to follow through, hosted the 33rd Summit in Heiligendamm in 2007 and before the week was done had played out the usual cycle of violence, arrest, injury, hospitalization, vandalism... blah blah blah.
The Japanese followed the Russian model and swept up scores of the usual suspects and tossed them in a room and lost the room for a few days. There were widespread protests anyhow. Oh, they also spent $550 million or something on security and set up a 46 km no-fly zone around the Summit.
Back for more again, the Italians hosted the 35th Summit in 2009. This time the Carabinieri were issued only scooters and restricted from wearing masks except in the brothels. Nevertheless, so shocking (or something) was the Italian police response that year that Iran chastised the Italian Ambassador to Iran and officially protested the conduct of the Italian police. (We couldn't make this up even with the help of powerful hallucinogens).
2010, Canada again. Again a pack of noble fighters for economic... something... made their way to the Great White North. No one covered their antics. Also, the Canadians relegated the leaders of the G-20 to second billing after the G-8 Summit and stuck them in the much less boring (and more Starbucks laden) city called Toronto. This combination resulted in a reaction resembling... wait for it... wait for it...
Vandalism, arson, rubber bullets, pepper spray, assault, theft, looting, millions and millions of dollars of damage to bank branches, cafes and other businesses. Oh and someone apparently threw a rock through a window at American Apparel, which really set off the Toronto police and caused them to use tear gas for the first time in the history of... well... Toronto. No. Really. First time. Ever.
But fear not. The G-8 Summit up in Huntsville, Ontario (population 18,000 or so) was pretty quiet that year.
The French picked up on the success and stuck the G-20 in Cannes in 2011. Nice work! Thousands of protestors then united and rose up against pretentious film making. Well, not really, but they rose up against something and finem respice likes to think it was pretentious film making. Also, it was November. Hard to focus in November in France.
So now... if finem respice understands this Obama-Occupy theory correctly, back in the summer of 2011, barely a year after the G-20 protests in Toronto required the use of 20,000 police to blunt the damage basically not at all and before anyone had ever heard of Occupy Anything, Chicago is selected to host the 38th G-8 Summit.
The Chicago Police Department eventually spends tens of millions of dollars sending 2/3 of their force through special crowd control and riot policing training classes.
Work nears completion on the millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements to provide security for the express elevators leading to the Willis Tower observation deck to accommodate the 2,000 some leaders and officials from countries with serious financial difficulties that will pack the lobby on "2 for 1 special " day.
Oh, and, by the way, the NATO and ISAF conferences (both much larger than the G-8) are scheduled to follow the Summit immediately in Chicago.
The Secret Service, FBI, National Guard, Illinois State Police, Cook County Sheriff, The Illinois Hotel Association, The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation, The Chicago Water Works, The Mafia and the International Union of Bricklayers and Hourly Sex Workers (Local 422) have been busily making their preparations for nearly a year now.
The Park Hyatt, the Ritz Carlton, the Four Seasons, the Peninsula, the Waldorf Astoria, the InterContential, the W City Center and the W Lakeshore, the Drake (ok, so maybe not the Drake), the Best Western on Division, and, yes, even the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, have been booked for months.
But then. Suddenly. Sitting bolt upright in his golf cart on the 14th hole on Monday, just 5 weeks before the Summit is to begin. Taken totally unawares by the sudden revelation that has struck him like a bolt of warm chocolate chip cookie dough. Obama exclaims:
In the name of all things Keynesian you useless ratfucking Clinton interns! First off, none of you can caddy worth a shit. Second, why the hell didn't anyone remind me about... Occupy? Occupy? People? Hello? Protests? This G-8 thing? Protests? We didn't expect there would be protests! Who the fuck protests the G-[n] Summits? That union official there just ain't gonna take that no-show slot. We're moving it. Now. Get me His Honor the Mayor Rahm Israel "Issi" Emanuel on the horn right now, and work up some slippery press release. You, yeah what's your name, guy from the Carter Administration... where the hell do we move this. David? Camp David? Oh... yeah. I like it. The windbreaker photo-op. I like it. Make it happen.
So that's your theory there? Just so we are clear. That's your theory?
Really, we think not.
As was hinted at supra, there is a much ranker, more obvious, and decidedly more absurd explanation:
The President's planned schedule on Monday March 5, 2012 was reported by the White House thusly the day before:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2012
DAILY GUIDANCE AND PRESS SCHEDULE FOR
MONDAY, MARCH 5, 2012
In the morning, the President will meet with senior advisors in the Oval Office. This meeting is closed press.
Later in the morning, the President will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the Oval Office. The meeting will be an opportunity for the President to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and to discuss a range of strategic issues of mutual concern. There will be a pool spray at the top of the bilateral meeting.
In the afternoon, the President will attend an expanded lunch meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. This lunch in the State Dining Room is closed press.
Later in the afternoon, the President will meet with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner. This meeting in the Oval Office is closed press.
Later, the President will meet with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in the Oval Office. This meeting is closed press.
9:00AM Pool Call Time
9:30AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
10:45AM THE PRESIDENT meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu
Pool Spray at the Top (Final Gather 10:25AM - Brady Press Briefing Room)
12:00PM THE PRESIDENT attends an expanded lunch meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu
State Dining Room
3:45PM THE PRESIDENT meets with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner
4:45PM THE PRESIDENT meets with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
Just before the meeting with Timmah, not quite 3:00 pm Eastern Time, the White House issued this statement:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 05, 2012
Statement by the Press Secretary on the G-8 and NATO Summits
In May, the United States looks forward to hosting the G-8 and NATO Summits. To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the President is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues. The President will then welcome NATO allies and partners to his hometown of Chicago for the NATO Summit on May 20-21, which will be the premier opportunity this year for the President to continue his efforts to strengthen NATO in order to ensure that the Atlantic Alliance remains the most successful alliance in history, while charting the way forward in Afghanistan.1
But if you can move the G-8 anywhere, why in the hell to Camp David? It cannot possibly accommodate the thousands of officials and leaders scheduled to attend and who have already booked rooms, scheduled extra maid service (lots of it), reserved flights and planned massage parlor appointments. Why the sudden Camp David lust now, exactly? You can't get call girls into Camp David. Well, yes, there is "The Underground Tailroad," the secret tunnel Kennedy built, but that hasn't been used since Nixon converted it to "The Betty Ford Bar-Lounge" in 1972.
And despite the huge number of golf carts on the facility grounds, Obama has reportedly never hosted a world leader at Camp David and barely uses the retreat for anything else either. Well, except that it houses the Evergreen Chapel, a non-denominational something or other that, after a long search around the beltway, the Obamas finally selected as appropriate as their place of worship after it emerged that 19th Street Baptist was in the habit of passing around a collection plate.
Sure, it is pretty in Maryland in May, but this isn't a West Wing episode (one hopes). Camp David doesn't really have the "snaz" of Chicago for hosting a bunch of bloated world leaders. It doesn't have any "snaz" at all, actually.
What it does have is a War Room.
The always sharp finem respice reader will remember back to the days after September 11, 2001 when President Bush retreated to that same Camp David War Room with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Powell and the gang to plan the United States response to 9/11.
And when it comes to Camp David, no one complains when armed Marines from Marine Security Company Camp David (MSC-CD) search reporters or take away their phones and laptops in such a place, as the Associated Press, making its best (and still woefully inadequate) attempt at Steinbeck reported back then:
Light poured in through a large window over Bush's shoulder, the trees behind him. Beyond them, out of sight, were Marines patrolling the grounds with machine guns.
The Marines took the unusual step of ordering reporters and photographers not to use any electronic equipment - mobile phones, laptops computers, cameras - as they rode a bus into Camp David. The Marines, handguns in holsters, stood in the aisles watching the journalists to make sure the orders were obeyed.2
In fact, Camp David was once, and may still be, an official Presidential Relocation Site. It is technically a military base, isn't listed on many maps, is subject to a permanent flight restriction in the airspace above it, and, you might recall, has lots of golf carts.
If someone does end up having to exert national command authority from Chicago (that sentence sounds really creepy actually), the sorts of measures taken to enhance the President's security envelope in such circumstances would likely be deleterious to the reasonable functioning of the City of Chicago (that's a subjective term, of course, "reasonable functioning").
If there is any way to piss off Chicago voters (an important Obama bloc) it is by messing with the Class C and B airspace around Midway and O'Hare International Airport while they try to get the hell out of that sink hole. The massive war-footing expansion of the temporary flight restrictions that follow Air Force One around wherever it goes would make for a lot of unhappy folks.
But on the Occupy explanation, Chicago is going to have protestors (including Occupy) crawling all over the place no matter where the G-8 Summit is since the NATO and ISAF events aren't moving and Obama is even still scheduled to attend them. Apparently, the main protest organizers have already refiled to move their permit dates to coincide with the later NATO conference.
Also, and unlike most years past, when it provides a clever distraction so Sarkozy can get a little strange without Frankincense flavored hippies throwing paint on his Towncar on the way back to the hotel, the various anti-whatever protestors won't be letting off any stream Toronto-style at the G-20 Summit this year. What? Well, sure the Occupy rebels are tough as nails street-activists that would as soon rape a comatose co-ed in a dirty tent as look at you. It is just that the G-20 Summit has them outmatched this year.
It's in Mexico.
Besides, aside from a few consulates, Chicago isn't exactly close to the various diplomatic appendages of foreign nations that would be important to communicate with during a crisis involving Iran. Those of, say, Russia (a scheduled G-8 attendee, but decidedly not a member of NATO).
If you are Obama, do you really want world leaders and their entourages floating around in the Chicago streets right when a conflict you are directly involved in or have to soon involve yourself in breaks open?
Plus, the press is going to hype up protests in Chicago no matter what you do. But at Camp David you, or any other leader, will easily avoid answering questions about the newly emerged and highly suggestive allegations of a group of women not your wives. Actually, if you're going to have protests (or a group of women not your wives) anyhow, where better to be than in the Camp David situation room heroically keeping oil below $250 a barrel (but never below $135) during a world crisis. What? Occupy who?
And, if you have to fight in Iran (because Israel drags you in or simply because you are a fair and measured dispenser of great justice) you probably want to do it in the spring or the late fall, not the Summer. May - June is probably the best combination of not too-hot weather and falling-off precipitation averages. Unless you want to wait another five months.
Don't forget also: school is still in session in May. Who is going to attend an Occupy event in May? The 12th Century Anthropological Poetry Studies final is that Friday.
You know, normally finem respice would never suggest that anything Mayor Rahmy-E says deserves believing. But this time he actually looks like a petulant, pouting child when he says he was surprised. It is entirely tempting to believe that, as reported, he was only notified hours before, and then not by Obama. That is pretty in scum-bag character for Obama as well. Should have put Oprah on your dream-team Rhamy. Well, actually that didn't work out very well for Chicago the last time now that one reflects on the matter.
On this same point, the Secret Service spokesperson or agent in Chicago is either one of the better contemporaneous actors in federal law enforcement, or was genuinely surprised and caught off guard when asked by a reporter about the swap late Monday, stating that he had scheduled meetings this week on G-8 Summit planning.3 This does not look planned. It was a reaction to... something new.
Of course, it is simply bad politics to make Rahmy-Rom-Rom look the fool. Obama groomed the guy. The guy groomed Obama. No, this was crisis management. And Rahm is going to take it from the press for the Chicago Police beating protestors on camera no matter what happens unless NATO and ISCA get scrapped. They aren't going to.
But there are other things that suggest something is amiss. Sure, that's always the case when speculating about Iranian strikes (has been for years). But the day after the announcement, while speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (who, remember, was Obama's next meeting after lunch with Netanyahu and then Geithner on March 5) rambled:
...of course we prefer a diplomatic path. And as the Prime Minister has said, military action is the last alternative when all else fails. But make no mistake, when all else fails we will act.4
Just a month ago the Washington Post's David Ignatius has the very same Panetta expecting Israel to strike Iran in "April, May or June..."5
So is Iran going to wake up to the cheerful ringing sounds of BLU-113s one bright morning in May? Who knows. But if so, finem respice has a sneaking suspicion that Occupy will take credit for forcing the Peace Prize winner's hand into supporting the Occupy Parchin movement. Oh, and for the invention of community policing.
And one can almost taste the deliciousness of sweet protest tears that would flow from the dilated and bloodshot eyes belonging to the author of this unattributed quote:
The head of a Chicago anti-war organization says the decision by the White House to move the G-8 summit is a major victory for protesters.
Is it possible that the Universe is yet possessed of a such a quantity of cold, uncaring and bitter cruelty to make certain not only that the decision to move the summit has nothing whatsoever nothing to do with blinkered, lice-infested anti-war protestors, but that it also has the effect of contributing significantly to the flare-up of yet another war?
One can only hope.
- 1. "Statement by the Press Secretary on the G-8 and NATO Summits" The White House Office of the Press Secretary (March 5, 2012).
- 2. "Camp David Serene as Bush, Aides Plan U.S. Path to War," The Associated Press, The Reading Eagle p. A2 (September 16, 2001).
- 3. Parsons, Christi "G-8 Summit to be Held at Camp David Not Chicago," The Chicago Tribune (March 5, 2012).
- 4. AIPAC Policy Conference Transcript (March 7, 2012).
- 5. Ignatius, David, "Is Israel Preparing to Attack Iran?" The Washington Post (February 2, 2012).