Clueless in LA

Clueless in LA

by digby

They don't even know how much they sound like out of touch assholes:

The last thing Los Angeles needs is a repeat of what happened in Oakland. The demonstrators haven't made themselves apublic nuisance to the extent they did in the East Bay, and there is no reason to rush a confrontation. At the same time, though, it's becoming increasingly clear that they can't be allowed to camp out at City Hall forever. They're killing the lawn in one of downtown's rare green spaces, which will have to be replaced at taxpayer expense, and they may be damaging City Hall's majestic fig trees. Merchants who normally set up a weekly farmers market on the lawn have been forced to set up in a plaza across the street, and there are obvious sanitation, vermin and public-health problems that come with an impromptu encampment in an urban zone that wasn't intended to accommodate it. Besides, it's against the law to camp in city parks after 10:30 p.m.

So what are city officials to do? Complicating the answer is that some of the same politicians now urging the protesters to leave were only too eager to roll out the welcome mat a few weeks ago. Villaraigosa on Wednesday said the demonstrators must obey local rules and regulations and that the encampment "cannot continue indefinitely." Downtown business groups are said to be pressuring City Council members to close down what's looking more like a Hooverville than a protest, and City Atty. Carmen Trutanich has urged police to enforce the law on nighttime camping.

They even provided a link to the Wikipedia page for "Hoovervilles". Here's what it says:

A 'Hooverville' was the popular name for shanty towns built by homeless people during the Great Depression. They were named after the President of the United States at the time, Herbert Hoover, because he allegedly let the nation slide into depression. The term was coined by Charles Michelson, publicity chief of the Democratic National Committee.[1] The name Hooverville has also been used to describe any Tent city populated by the homeless in modern-day America.

Homelessness was present before the Great Depression, and hobos and tramps were common sights in the 1920s, but the economic downturn increased their numbers and concentrated them in urban settlements close to soup kitchens run by charities. These settlements were often formed on empty land and generally consisted of tents and small shacks. Authorities did not officially recognize these Hoovervilles and occasionally removed the occupants for trespassing on private lands, but they were frequently tolerated or ignored out of necessity. The New Deal enacted special relief programs aimed at the homeless under the Federal Transient Service (FTS), which operated from 1933-35.

Apparently whoever wrote that LA Times editorial didn't click the link (or are just dumb as a pile of earthworms.) The comparison is pretty obvious.

Frank Rich heard the echoes and wrote about it in his column last week:

During the death throes of Herbert Hoover’s presidency in June 1932, desperate bands of men traveled to Washington and set up camp within view of the Capitol. The first contingent journeyed all the way from Portland, Oregon, but others soon converged from all over—alone, in groups, with families—until their main Hooverville on the Anacostia River’s fetid mudflats swelled to a population as high as 20,000. The men, World War I veterans who could not find jobs, became known as the Bonus Army—for the modest government bonus they were owed for their service. Under a law passed in 1924, they had been awarded roughly $1,000 each, to be collected in 1945 or at death, whichever came first. But they didn’t want to wait any longer for their pre–New Deal entitlement—especially given that Congress had bailed out big business with the creation of a Reconstruction Finance Corporation earlier in its session. Father Charles Coughlin, the populist “Radio Priest” who became a phenomenon for railing against “greedy bankers and financiers,” framed Washington’s double standard this way: “If the government can pay $2 billion to the bankers and the railroads, why cannot it pay the $2 billion to the soldiers?”

The echoes of our own Great Recession do not end there. Both parties were alarmed by this motley assemblage and its political rallies; the Secret Service infiltrated its ranks to root out radicals. But a good Communist was hard to find. The men were mostly middle-class, patriotic Americans. They kept their improvised hovels clean and maintained small gardens. Even so, good behavior by the Bonus Army did not prevent the U.S. Army’s hotheaded chief of staff, General Douglas MacArthur, from summoning an overwhelming force to evict it from Pennsylvania Avenue late that July. After assaulting the veterans and thousands of onlookers with tear gas, ­MacArthur’s troops crossed the bridge and burned down the encampment. The general had acted against Hoover’s wishes, but the president expressed satisfaction afterward that the government had dispatched “a mob”—albeit at the cost of killing two of the demonstrators. The public had another take. When graphic newsreels of the riotous mêlée fanned out to the nation’s movie theaters, audiences booed MacArthur and his troops, not the men down on their luck. Even the mining heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean, the owner of the Hope diamond and wife of the proprietor of the Washington Post, professed solidarity with the “mob” that had occupied the nation’s capital.

That the LA Times is clutching its pearls over fig trees and grass while nearly 3,000 people have been arrested at Occupations all over the country world says just about everything you need to know about disconnect between elites and everybody else.

By the way:

Occupy Denver protesters and law enforcement officers clashed this afternoon after demonstrators marched around downtown Denver for the fourth week in a row.

Police confirmed they used pepper spray and either rubber bullets or pepper balls to disperse the crowd in Civic Center. Broadway was closed off at both Colfax and 14th Avenue and a stream of patrol cars, lights flashing and sirens blaring, hurried to the scene. Officers were dressed in riot gear.

Denver police spokesman Matt Murray said seven arrests had been made — including two for assault and one for disobedience.

Hmmm. Is "disobedience" a misdemeanor or a felony here in the land of the free? I forget.