His conclusions about the experience are not to be missed:
Finally, at 2:30 the next morning, after twenty-five hours in custody, I was released on bail. But there were at least 200 Occupy LA protestors who couldn’t afford the bail. The LAPD chose to keep those peaceful, non-violent protesters in prison for two full days… the absolute legal maximum that the LAPD is allowed to detain someone on misdemeanor charges.
As a reminder, Antonio Villaraigosa has referred to all of this as “the LAPD’s finest hour.”
So that’s what happened to the 292 women and men were arrested last Wednesday. Now let’s talk about a man who was not arrested last Wednesday. He is former Citigroup CEO Charles Prince. Under Charles Prince, Citigroup was guilty of massive, coordinated securities fraud.
Citigroup spent years intentionally buying up every bad mortgage loan it could find, creating bad securities out of those bad loans and then selling shares in those bad securities to duped investors. And then they sometimes secretly bet *against* their *own* bad securities to make even more money. For one such bad Citigroup security, Citigroup executives were internally calling it, quote, “a collection of dogshit”. To investors, however, they called it, quote, “an attractive investment rigorously selected by an independent investment adviser”.
This is fraud, and it’s a felony, and the Charles Princes of the world spent several years doing it again and again: knowingly writing bad mortgages, and then packaging them into fraudulent securities which they then sold to suckers and then repeating the process. This is a big part of why your property values went up so fast. But then the bubble burst, and that’s why our economy is now shattered for a generation, and it’s also why your home is now underwater. Or at least mine is.
Anyway, if your retirement fund lost a decade’s-worth of gains overnight, this is why.
If your son’s middle school has added furlough days because the school district can’t afford to keep its doors open for a full school year, this is why.
If your daughter has come out of college with a degree only to discover that there are no jobs for her, this is why.
But back to Charles Prince. For his four years of in charge of massive, repeated fraud at Citigroup, he received fifty-three million dollars in salary and also received another ninety-four million dollars in stock holdings. What Charles Prince has *not* received is a pair of zipcuffs. The nerves in his thumb are fine. No cop has thrown Charles Prince into the pavement, face-first. Each and every peaceful, nonviolent Occupy LA protester arrested last week has has spent more time sleeping on a jail floor than every single Charles Prince on Wall Street, combined.
The more I think about that, the madder I get. What does it say about our country that nonviolent protesters are given the bottom of a police boot while those who steal hundreds of billions, do trillions worth of damage to our economy and shatter our social fabric for a generation are not only spared the zipcuffs but showered with rewards?
In any event, believe it or not, I’m really not angry that I got arrested. I chose to get arrested. And I’m not even angry that the mayor and the LAPD decided to give non-violent protestors like me a little extra shiv in jail (although I’m not especially grateful for it either).
I’m just really angry that every single Charles Prince wasn’t in jail with me.
James Fallows posts some excerpts at The Atlantic from an essay, recently published in China, that takes issue with the way that much of the initial Chinese media coverage of Occupy Wall Street depicted the protest as, in Fallows words, “...yet another sign of America’s decadence and imminent collapse.”
Democracy clearly has its flaws, but OWS shows not the defects of democracy but its advantages. That protestors do not “go missing” [as they have this year in China] is thanks to the benefits of democracy, and the lack of violent conflict or loss of social order is an example of its accomplishments. The US government has not condemned nor suppressed, but rather sympathised* with the movement, nor have the crowds challenged the legitimacy of the government or the democratic system itself. Rather, OWS is happening precisely within that democratic framework.
In other words: we must change our perspective and see this demonstration as a rational expression of democracy, and the normal activity of a healthy society rather than the upheaval of it.
A Fascinating Chinese View of the Occupy Movement (The Atlantic)
Bill O’Reilly, reportedly walking out of a Newt Gingrich fundraiser held last night in DC (see update below), is asked by Wisconsin community organizer Brendan Lane if he attended the fundraiser. O’Reilly ignores him and then, with no prompting, strikes Lane with his umbrella. He then says, “Hey, sorry about that.” O’Reilly, with Lane following at a distance, then walks with his now-broken umbrella over to a Capitol police officer. Incredibly, you can hear O’Reilly say that he wants to press charges against the man he just struck.
It’s a good thing for Lane that he caught O’Reilly’s temper tantrum on tape, otherwise he could have ended up in prison, falsely accused of assault. As for O’Reilly, it’s revealing that he not only struck Lane – on tape no less – but then sought to press false charges. Will there be consequences?
UPDATE: TPM reports that O’Reilly was staying at the same hotel as the Gingrich fundraiser but did not attend.
I’d imagine that chances are pretty good that this particular video of O’Crybaby will end up on The Daily Show tonight, what do you think?
I was looking for an image of an old labor movement poster that had the fat cat asking the mouse “You going let that union guy steal your cookie?” which I’ve always thought was the ultimate stick in the eye to working class people who watch Fox News and believe billionaire “job creators” deserve tax cuts, whilst union members and their families—you, know, their actual neighbors and relatives!—should have to make greater sacrifices. Instead of a vintage image, I came across the above illustration, Molly Crabapple and John Leavitt’s “We’re All in This Together,” their contribution to the terrific looking Occupy Comics project (which Alan Moore has just signed on to as well).
Isn’t that just a thing of beauty? It deserves to be a poster/lithograph too. I bet a lot of people would buy them. I certainly would. It’s something that needs to get around. and be seen.
“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”
That quote (and Google) in turn led me to stumble across The Punk Patriot, who has been making politically-themed YouTube videos for some time now—that are often quite good—with the aim to promote “life, liberty and the pursuit of a less fucked-up government.” Worthy goals, indeed!
In the clip below, The Punk Patriot takes on the Reichwing echo-chamber. This is a great video to send to that Archie Bunker-ish great uncle of yours who annoyed the shit out of you on Thanksgiving with his Fox News/Dittohead nonsense…
Ties are supposed to be “slimming.” Doesn’t work too well with Newt’s toned physique, does it?
The organizers of New Gingrich’s big money fundraiser in Washington, DC last night had the misfortune of choosing a location that has glass doors facing outwards on both sides of the ballroom. Dozens of mostly unemployed workers affiliated with “Take Back the Capitol” gathered at the entrance of the swanky Willard Hotel in downtown D.C., passed out fake $100 bills with Gingrich’s swollen head on them and chanted “The poor get poorer, the rich get rich, that’s the platform of Gingrich.” Earlier in the day, the group brought traffic to a near-standstill on K Street.
Earlier, protesters had gathered outside the front doors of the Willard, chanting, “The poor get poorer, the rich get rich, that’s the platform of Gingrich.” They hoisted a “We are the 99%” banner, and the hotel locked several of its entrances.
The Gingrich fundraiser protest was part of “Take Back the Capitol,” a five-day, 99-percent-themed series of protests targeting lawmakers at popular fundraising and deal-making spots in DC, including the Capitol Hill Club, a GOP haunt, and Charlie Palmer Steakhouse, a favorite lunch spot for lobbyists and legislators a stone’s throw from Capitol. On Tuesday night, protesters lined the entrance to the swanky Lincoln restaurant to protest a fundraiser thrown by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). At least a dozen were arrested on Wednesday during a march on K Street, the symbolic heart of DC’s lobbying industry.
The protesters’ schedule includes a full day of events on Thursday, including actions at the Capitol Hill Club and elsewhere around DC. But no 1-percenter knows where they might strike next.
Beautiful. Turn up the heat on these bastards. Boil that Newt!
Earlier this week:OWS Takes the Fight to GOP Donors at Cantor Fundraiser (Mother Jones)
The 12-member congressional “Super Committee” failed, as we all knew it would, when Republicans stood firm in their craven, lickspittle fealty to the wealthiest Americans. Everyone knew, everyone paying even the slightest bit of attention to these clowns—and their Democrat “enablers”—that it was going to fail. No one was surprised. No one at all. Failure WAS the expectation from day one (Is there even a single dissenter to that opinion, on the right or left out there? Anyone? I didn’t think so).
The Occupy Movement has been criticized by small-minded types for “having no plans” etc, but what did they expect after merely a few weeks, anyway?
And then there is thisextraordinary document (below) in which the Occupy Washington, DC peeps throw down the gauntlet in style. Reproduced here in full. I encourage you to read them both carefully and then share these documents with everyone you know, on FB, on Twitter and everywhere else.
[Note, I am not putting this in block quotes, it would be 4ft. long if I did, but to make it clear in case it’s not: I did not write this. I agree with it wholeheartedly, and I very strongly endorse it, but I did not write it and I don’t want to confuse anyone that I did, okay?]
WHEREAS THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION PROVIDES THAT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
WE, THE NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a more perfect Union, by, for and of the PEOPLE, shall elect and convene a NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY the week of July 4, 2012 in the City Of Philadelphia to prepare and ratify a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES on behalf of the Ninety-Nine Percent of United States citizens.
I. Election of Delegates:
In or about March 2012, the People, consisting of all United States citizens who have reached the age of 18, regardless of party affiliation and voter registration status, shall elect Two Delegates, one male and one female, by direct vote, from each of the existing 435 Congressional Districts to represent the People at the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY. The office of Delegate shall be open to all United States citizens who have reached the age of 18.
No candidate for Delegate to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY will be permitted to run on a party line or use any party label while running for or serving as a Delegate. No candidate or Delegate may take private money from any source except to fund his or her trip to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Election Committees in the 435 voting districts, consisting of volunteers, shall organize, coordinate and transparently fund this election. The voting process shall be free from the corrupting influence of corporate money and all funds raised by the Working Group on the 99% Declaration shall be used for the purpose of funding the election of Delegates and providing a venue for the Delegates to meet in Philadelphia.
II. Meeting of the National General Assembly and Approval of a Petition for a Redress of Grievances:
In addition to ensuring a free and fair election of the Delegates to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, the Working Group on the 99% Declaration shall be responsible for raising sufficient funds to secure a venue wherein the 876* Delegates may convene, deliberate and ratify a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES. The ratified PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES will be signed by the Delegates and presented to all 535 members of Congress, the 9 members of the Supreme Court, the President of the United States and each of the political candidates seeking to be elected to federal public office in the November 2012 general election. Because the time in Philadelphia will be limited, between March 2012 and July 2012, the elected Delegates shall meet electronically, or in person if possible, to confer and write the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES. Subject to the voting procedure regarding the final vote for ratification of the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES as set forth in section III, the Delegates of the National General Assembly shall implement their own rules, procedures, agenda, code of conduct, internal elections or appointments of committee members to efficiently and expeditiously accomplish the People’s mandate to present a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES to all three branches of the government of the United States of America and political candidates before the 2012 general election.
III. Content of the Petition for a Redress of Grievances:
The PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES ratified by the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY shall be non-partisan and specifically address the critical issues now confronting the People of the United States of America. The PETITION shall be a product of the 876 elected Delegates who will confer with the American People during its creation. While attending the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in July 2012 the Delegates shall deliberate and vote upon grievances, proposals and solutions to be included in the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES and, if necessary, adjourn for further consultation with the American People as our founding fathers did during the first two Continental Congresses. The final vote ratifying the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES shall be by a simple majority vote of the 876 delegates. A duly elected chairperson of the National General Assembly shall determine the outcome of the final vote on ratification in the event of a tie. Upon ratification, all of the Delegates shall affix their signatures to the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES so it may be served upon all candidates running for national political office in the 2012 general election and the seated members of the three branches of the United States Government.
IV. Suggested Content of the Petition for a Redress of Grievances.
In order to facilitate the timely election of the 876 Delegates to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY by July 4, 2012 and submission of the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES before the 2012 general election, the Working Group on the 99% Declaration, shall include with this Declaration a suggested list of grievances to be submitted to the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY no later than April 30, 2012. The final version of the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES, to be written and ratified solely by the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, may or may not include the following issues currently suggested by the Working Group on the 99% Declaration:
1. Elimination of the Corporate State. The merger of the American political system of republican democracy with the economic system of capitalism has resulted in the establishment of a corporate government of, by and for the benefit of domestic and multi-national corporations. Therefore, the 99% of the American People demand an immediate ban on all direct and indirect private contributions of any thing of value, to all politicians serving in or running for federal office in the United States. This ban shall extend to all individuals, corporations, “political action committees,” “super political action committees,” lobbyists, unions and all other private sources of money or things of value, including but not limited to, promises of employment. Private funding of political campaigns from concentrated sources of wealth have corrupted our political system. Therefore, all private funding of political campaigns shall be replaced by the fair, equal and TOTAL public financing of all federal political campaigns.
We, the 99% of the American People, categorically REJECT the concepts that corporations are persons and that money is equivalent to free speech because if that were so, then only the wealthiest people, corporations and entities possessing concentrated wealth would have a meaningful voice in our society. We demand the immediate and complete elimination of all private political contributions through the enactment of new campaign finance laws and Constitutional amendment if necessary. It has become clear that politicians in the United States cannot regulate themselves and have become the exclusive representatives of corporations, unions and the very wealthy who indirectly and directly spend vast sums of money on political campaigns to influence the candidates’ decisions when they attain office and ensure their reelection year after year despite historically low disapproval ratings by the American People. It has been estimated that 94% of all federal political campaigns are won by the candidate who spends the most money on the campaign. As a result, our elected representatives spend far too much time fundraising for the next election rather than doing the People’s business. This constant need for more and more money, causes our politicians to labor under obscene conflicts of interest that make it impossible for them to act in the best interests of the American People. Indeed, the current system’s propagation of legalized bribery and conflicts of interests has reduced our democracy to a greed driven corporatocracy run by oligarchs who represent .05 to 1% of the population but own 38% to 40% of the wealth. Through their exclusive control of politicians, the incomes of the top 1% have increased 275% since 1979 while most other salaries have remained virtually flat or declined.
2. Abrogation of the “Citizens United” Case. The immediate abrogation, even if it requires a Constitutional Amendment, of the outrageous and anti-democratic Supreme Court holding in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and its progeny. This heinous decision proclaimed by the United States Supreme Court in 2010 equates the direct and indirect payment of money to politicians by political action committees, corporations, wealthy individuals and unions with the exercise of protected free speech. We, the 99% of the American People, demand that this institutional bribery never again be deemed protected free speech and all direct and indirect private payments to politicians end immediately.
3. Elimination of All Private Benefits and “Perks” to Public Servants. The 99% of the American People demand the immediate prohibition of special benefits to all federal elected officials, public employees, officers, public servants, officials or their immediate family members including a corrupt “revolving door” in and out of our government. Elected and unelected public officials and their immediate families shall be banned from ever being employed by any corporation, lobbying firm, individual or business that the public official specifically regulated while in office. No public employee, officer, official or their immediate family members shall own or hold any stock or shares in any corporation or other entity that the elected or unelected public official specifically regulated while in office until a full 5 years after their term or employment is completed. There shall be a complete lifetime ban on the acceptance of all gifts, services, money or thing of value, directly or indirectly, by any elected or appointed public official or their immediate family members, from any person, corporation, union or any other entity that the public official was charged to specifically regulate while he or she was in office.
The term “specifically regulate” shall mean service or employment on a committee or sub-committee or service within any agency or department of the federal government responsible for the regulation of the person, union, corporation or entity in question. To root out corruption and restore integrity to our political system, all elected politicians and public employees must ONLY collect their salary, generous healthcare benefits and pension. To enforce these policies, Congress shall immediately pass new criminal laws banning the aforementioned private benefits to politicians and public officials. Any person, including individuals connected directly or indirectly to corporations, lobbyists, or unions who violate these new criminal laws shall be sentenced to a term of mandatory imprisonment of no less than two years and not more than ten years. Special benefits shall include the use of insider information by elected and unelected public officials to profit in financial markets or investments.
4. Term Limits. Members of the United States House of Representatives shall be limited to serving no more than four two-year terms in their lifetime. Members of the United States Senate shall be limited to serving no more than two six-year terms in their lifetime. The two-term limit for President shall remain unchanged. Serving as a member of Congress or as the President of the United States is one of the highest honors and privileges our culture can bestow. These positions of prominence in our society should be sought to serve one’s country and not provide a lifetime career designed to increase personal wealth and accumulate power for the sake of vanity and hubris. The lengths that today’s politicians will go to for the sake of clinging to power demonstrate the critical need for term limits and making career politicians the exception rather than the rule.
5. A Fair Tax Code. A complete reformation and simplification of the United States Tax Code to require ALL individuals and corporations to pay a fair share of a progressive, graduated income tax by eliminating loopholes, unfair tax breaks, exemptions and unfair deductions, subsidies and ending all other methods of evading taxes. The current system of taxation unjustly favors the wealthiest Americans, many of whom pay fewer taxes to the United States Treasury than citizens who earn much less and pay a much higher percentage of their incomes in taxes. Any corporation or entity that does business in the United States and generates income from that business in the United States shall be fully taxed on that income regardless of corporate domicile or they will be barred from earning their profits in the United States. This will allow honest companies and individuals who pay their fair share in taxes to take over those markets in the United States economy. Businesses that pay taxes in other countries will no longer be permitted to use that excuse to justify their failure to pay federal income tax in the United States.
6. Healthcare for All. Medicare for all or adoption of a universal single-payer healthcare system. The broken Medicaid program will be eliminated as redundant. Affordable healthcare shall be a human right.
7. Protection of the Planet. Human greed, exponentially magnified by corporations, is destroying the only habitable planet known to humanity. Multinational corporations have purchased so much influence in Congress (and other governments in the world) that they can secure the passage or blockage of regulations to maximize profits and minimize conservation of the environment. The evidence of climate change due to human activity can no longer be denied by rational people. New comprehensive laws and regulations must be immediately enacted to give the Environmental Protection Agency, and other environmental protection regulators, expanded powers and resources to shut down corporations, businesses or any entities that intentionally or recklessly damage the environment, and to criminally prosecute individuals who intentionally or recklessly damage the environment. No corporate veil should protect any employee, officer or director of a corporation who is directly or indirectly engaged in the intentional or reckless decimation of the planet for profit. The amount of profit a corporation can make must be balanced (by conflict-free regulators) with the inevitable damage that human activity inflicts on the environment. The 99% of the American People demand the immediate implementation of new and existing programs to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels to reusable or carbon neutral sources of energy and higher greenhouse gas emission standards so that something will be left for our children and grandchildren. The rights to clean air, water, and conservation of the planet for future generations shall no longer be infringed by greed-driven corporations and selfish individuals.
8. Debt Reduction. Adoption of an immediate plan to reduce the national debt to a sustainable percentage of GDP by 2020. Reduction of the $15 trillion national debt to be achieved by BOTH fair progressive taxation and cuts in spending that benefit corporations engaged in perpetual war for profit, inefficient healthcare, pharmaceutical exploitation, over-prescribing medications for profit, the communications industry, the prison and military industrial complexes, banking and finance, the oil and gas industry, and all other entities that have used the federal budget as a private income stream resulting in our $15 trillion debt. We agree that spending cuts are necessary but those cuts must be made to facilitate what is best for the People of the United States of America, not corporations who care for nothing except profit.
9. Jobs for All Americans. Passage of a comprehensive job and job-training act like the American Jobs Act to employ our citizens in jobs that are available with specialized training. The American People must be put to work now by repairing America’s crumbling infrastructure and building other needed public works projects. In conjunction with a new jobs act, reinstitution of the Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps and similar emergency governmental agencies tasked with creating new projects to provide jobs to the 46 million People living in poverty, the 8.6% unemployed and 16.2% who are underemployed.
10. Student Loan Forgiveness. Our students are more than $1 trillion in debt from education loans and have fewer employment prospects due to the financial collapse directly caused by the unbridled and unregulated greed of Wall Street. Banks receive virtually interest free loans from the Federal Reserve Bank and then charge upwards of 6% interest to our students for profit. Because education is the only way to ensure our future success as a nation, interest on student debts must be immediately reduced to 2% or less and repayments deferred for periods of unemployment. Subject to the provisions of point five herein, the tax code will be amended so that employers will receive a student loan repayment tax deduction for paying off the loans of their employees. Moreover, to reduce the principal on all outstanding student loans, a financial transaction surcharge, similar to those fees charged by banks on consumers, will be introduced. This surcharge will serve as restitution and reparations for Wall Street’s intentional and reckless conduct leading to widespread unemployment after the economic collapse in 2007-2008. This economic crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, resulted in the $1.5 trillion dollar bail out of Wall Street, secret Federal Reserve loans, and unknown losses to the economy estimated to be in the trillions of dollars. Banks and the financial institutions they are permitted to own (see point 16 infra) have caused the current worldwide recession, debt crisis and ongoing turmoil in the international markets.
11. Immigration Reform and Improved Border Security. Immediate passage of the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration and border security reform including offering visas, lawful permanent resident status and citizenship to the world’s brightest and most highly skilled People to come, stay and work in our industries and schools after they obtain their education and training in the United States.
12. Ending of Perpetual War for Profit. Recalling all military personnel at all non-essential bases including but not limited to Europe, South Korea, Japan, Australia and Cuba and refocusing national defense goals to address threats posed by the geopolitics of the 21st century, including terrorism and limiting the large scale deployment of military forces to those instances where Congressional approval has been granted. New laws must be enacted to counter the Military Industrial Complex’s mission of perpetual war for profit. The United States has engaged in war after war only to later to discover that the pretexts relied upon to enter these wars were false or exaggerated to generate profits for the Military Industrial Complex and other corporations and individuals. The annual savings created by updating our military posture and ending perpetual war will be applied to the social programs outlined herein to improve the quality of life for human beings rather than facilitating and assisting corporations engaged in mass-murder for profits distributed to the top 1% of wealth owners.
13. Emergency Reform of Public Education. The education system in the United States is a resounding failure. New educational goals to train the American public to perform jobs in a 21st century economy, particularly in the areas of technology, infrastructure repair, water and resource conservation and green energy must be mandated as national security issue. These reforms must be accomplished by taking into consideration the redundancy caused by technology and the inexpensive cost of labor in China, India and other developing countries. Tenure should be eliminated in primary public education in favor of merit performance and paying our teachers a competitive salary commensurate with the salaries in the private sector. These salaries must be based upon similar skills found in the private sector because without highly-skilled teachers, there will never be a highly-skilled workforce and the United States will fall further and further behind its competitors.
14. End Outsourcing. Subject to the elimination of corporate tax loopholes and exploited exemptions and deductions as stated in point five, limited tax incentives will be permitted to entice businesses to hire our citizens rather than outsource jobs. Conversely, an “outsourcing tax” should be introduced to discourage businesses from sending jobs overseas and tax incentives should be offered to companies that invest in reconstructing the manufacturing capacity of the United States. This country must again competitively produce everyday products in the United States rather than importing them from countries like China and India. To do business in the United States, corporations must make slightly less profit by hiring American workers and paying them a living wage rather than maximizing every penny of profit to the detriment of our society.
15. End Currency Manipulation. Implementing immediate legislation (see e.g. H.R. 639) to encourage China (which undervalues its currency by an estimated 25% to 40%) and our other trading partners to end currency manipulation, reduce the trade deficit and end clearly identified unfair trade practices.
16. Banking and Securities Reform. Immediate reenactment of the Glass-Steagall Act and increased regulation of Wall Street and the financial industry by the SEC, FINRA, CFTC, the Justice Department and the other financial regulators including the recently established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We further demand an immediate investigation by the Justice Department into the potential criminal practices of the Securities and Banking industry that directly led to the collapse of markets, bank bail-out and firm failures in 2007-2008. To facilitate the aforementioned student loan debt relief, banks and securities firms shall pay a small financial transaction fee, also known as the “Robin Hood Tax”, on each and every stock trade and other financial transactions without passing these costs onto consumers. Uniform regulations will be enacted to specifically limit what banks may charge consumers for ATM fees and/or the use of debit cards and other so-called miscellaneous fees. There will be an end to the $4 billion a year “hedge fund loophole” which permits certain individuals engaged in financial transactions to evade graduated income tax rates by treating their income as long-term capital gains which are taxed at a much lower rate (approximately 15%) than income tax.
17. Foreclosure Moratorium. Adoption of a plan similar to President Clinton’s proposal to end the mortgage crisis. The privately owned Federal Reserve Bank shall not continue to lower interest rates for loans to banks that are refusing to loan to small businesses and consumers. Instead, the federal government shall buy all mortgages in foreclosure and refinance these debts at an interest rate of 1% or less because that is the interest rate the Federal Reserve charges the banks who hoard the cash despite ample liquidity. These re-financed debts will be managed by the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and an independent foreclosure task force appointed and overseen by Congress and the Executive Branch to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether foreclosure proceedings should continue based on the circumstances of each homeowner and the propriety of the financial institution’s conduct when originating the loan
18. Ending the Fed. The immediate formation of a non-partisan commission, overseen by Congress, to audit and investigate the short-term and long-term economic risks in eliminating the privately-owned Federal Reserve Bank and transferring all its functions to the United States Treasury Department.
19. Abolish the Electoral College and Enact Uniform Election Reforms. The 99% demand the abolishment of the Electoral College in favor of the Popular Vote in presidential elections to avoid situations where the Electoral College elects a candidate who does not receive a majority of the popular vote. Subject to the above-referenced ban on all private money and gifts in politics, Congress shall immediately enact additional campaign finance reform requiring the Federal Communications Commission to grant free air-time to all federal candidates; total public campaign financing to all candidates who obtain sufficient petition signatures and/or votes to get on the ballot and participate in the primaries and/or general election; implementation of nationwide uniform election rules applied to all voting districts requiring equal access to third parties to appear on ballots; abolition of “gerrymandering” by utilizing non-partisan public commissions so that third parties may fairly compete in elections, shortening the campaign season to three months; allowing voting on weekends and holidays; issuance of free voter registration cards to all citizens who are eligible to vote so that they cannot be turned away at a polling station because they do not have a driver’s license or other form of identification; a review of the exclusion of voters with non-violent criminal records, and expanding the option of mail-in ballots and verifiable internet voting.
20. Ending the War in Afghanistan and Care of Veterans. An immediate withdrawal of all combat troops from Afghanistan and a substantial increase in the amount of funding for veteran job training and placement. New programs dedicated to the treatment of the emotional and physical injuries sustained by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Our veterans are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate of one person every 80 minutes and we must help now.
21. Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). Immediate passage of Senate bill, S. 598, and House bill, H.R. 1116, to repeal the Defense Of Marriage Act because all human beings have the right to love and marry another human being regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
22. No Censorship of the Internet. The Internet and its related technologies foster free speech, innovation, and a global human consciousness. We believe that the Internet and its related technologies are the joint property of humanity, and as such, it must not be censored or regulated in any manner without the consent of the people who utilize and contribute to its vitality. We therefore demand the immediate withdrawal of the Stop Online Piracy Act or “SOPA” (H.R. 3261) and the Protect IP Act (S. 968). These bills, if enacted into law, would grant the government broad new powers to curtail speech on the internet, block domain names, track internet protocol (“IP”) addresses, dramatically increase the cost of using content on the internet, chill innovation and creativity of web entrepreneurs in favor of media corporations that already own or control most online content. Furthermore, any future action by the government to censor, dismantle or interfere with, any other future technology that promotes communication between human beings, will be deemed by the people as a violation of the First Amendment and the universal human right to free speech and assembly. We also call upon the United States government to vociferously condemn any country that represses the speech of its people including the censorship of the Internet and related technologies.
V. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that IF the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES approved by the 876 Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in consultation with the NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE, is not acted upon within a reasonable time and to the satisfaction of the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, said Delegates shall reconvene to utilize the grassroots network established in the election of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY to organize a new INDEPENDENT POLITICAL PARTY to run candidates for every available Congressional seat in the mid-term election of 2014 and again in 2016 until all vestiges of the existing corrupt corporatocracy have been eradicated through the power of the ballot box.
The clueless conservatives chatterboxes on Fox News and AM talk radio cheering on the evictions of the rapidly dwindling in number Occupy sites around the country have another thing coming if they think that the fun is over. It’s not the end of anything, no matter what smug frat-boys like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh or Eric Bolling claim to “think.”
The Occupy movement isn’t waning, it’s mutating into something different now. Something we can’t predict yet. The rightwing echo chamber acts as if standing around in freezing cold public spaces with the intention to annoy the “job creators” was the movement’s sole aim. I think these Marie Antoinette Republicans are… wrong.
The Occupy movement is beginning to follow a familiar pattern, said Todd Gitlin, a sociologist at Columbia University and an authority on social movements. He noted that the 1960s anti-war movement grew gradually for years until bursting onto the world stage during the election year of 1968.
He predicted big rallies around the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Until then, “I think there will be some kinds of occupations, but I don’t think they’ll be as big and as central,” Gitlin said.
When the dust settles and the history is written, Zuccotti Park will be seen as a “strange attractor” rallying place, a “temporary autonomous zone” and a very potent symbol of what could be, but that’s all it will be in the final narrative: The First Act.
And what a beginning it was. People in Wisconsin, in Ohio, in Michigan, in Los Angeles, in Oakland, previously apathetic Americans are starting to wake up to the stark and shitty realities of life in our times in an unprecedented manner and actually fight back. I’m someone who thought “the revolution” would have taken place by the end of the 1980s. I’ve been predicting something like this for 30 years. Even a stopped clock has the right time twice a day, I suppose, but it was getting ridiculous.
As everyone who was there knows, something really special happened in lower Manhattan. Now, no matter where you live, it’s time to use the winter months to organize for next year’s election. There is a chance to gain a lot of ground in 2012. The Reichwing is in a state of preposterously comic disarray with no savior in sight. It might even be possible to push Obama and the Democrats truly leftwards for a change (stranger things have happened, see also FDR; see also what REALLY happened during Great Depression). No one knows what is going to happen next, but I do suspect for there to be a lot of it about, to paraphrase Spike Milligan.
To get too bogged down in trying to hold on to some real estate would have merely become a distraction and as time went on, the “visuals,” as so many in the media like to say, would have taken on a different semiotic and not done the movement any favors in what is, essentially still a war of images. All things considered—and this is just one asshole’s opinion, mine—I think it’s probably the right time for the various Occupy encampments to disperse. It was starting to feel like the first act needed to come to a climax. And what a G-spot barnstormer that curtain-closer was.
Even as I was privileged to have witnessed Occupy Wall Street on three occasions in all of its life-affirming, carnivalesque glory, for anyone looking at the situation as a supportive outsider, the writing was on the wall in October about how long Zuccotti Park could reasonably be expected to be held by the wide cross-section of people who kick-started the movement. As more and more people were going to get peeled off because of the diabolically cold New York winter, it’s a blunt fact that after a certain point, only the chronically homeless would have still been camping out in that freezing cold concrete park. And Fox News would have been all over Zuccotti Park, the open-air homeless shelter.
Lest you think I am disparaging the homeless contingent at Occupy Wall Street, I’m not. In very little of the reporting I’ve seen or read on the OWS encampment, is there any mention of the extremely pivotal roles that were played by the hardcore homeless people and the gutterpunk types in what went down at Zuccotti Park. THEY are the ones who made it possible for the park to be held long enough for the others to join them. Nope, I’m not dissing the homeless participants in OWS, in the least, I think they were amongst the very first frontline heroes of the movement, but it’s just time to move past romancing this idea of the ragtag encampments. go back inside and get better organized. Some people, sympathetic to the movement’s goals are never in a million years going to do something “rash.” It’s time to reach out to them now, so the government knows what size crowd it’s dealing with! (That “silent majority” thing works both ways, as the establishment is finally starting to find out. Americans don’t like “Socialism” but they seem to LOVE socialist ideas, especially in times when their families are starving and they can’t afford to heat their homes. Just saying).
During the past few days, I’ve noticed quite a few more than just vaguely supportive “What’s next for the Occupy movement?” articles popping up in the mainstream media, including the front page of the New York Times, and from the Associated Press and Reuters. There’s also been some worried “What are we going to do about the OWS movement?” type things appearing in the conservative blogsphere.
A pretty good indicator of opinion on the right can be seen in Republican strategist Frank Luntz’s comments to the Republican Governors Association this week in Florida. Say what you will about Luntz—I hate his guts and think he’s made this country a much shittier, meaner, stupider place than had he never been born—the man, like Karl Rove, is an evil genius. But can even the sinister Mister Luntz do anything to stop the tidal wave of history? (To paraphrase the Carol Beer character in Little Britain, “Dialectic says ‘NO’”).
“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” Luntz told the GOP governors. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”
“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz told them. “The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”
You could read into that statement a lot of different ways. I’ll leave you to your own interpretation.
Another thing I see happening, and I applaud the editors who are sharp enough to get why this would be a good idea, is that people who have actually physically been at the various Occupy encampments and were writing from an “on the ground perspective” there, are starting to get hired by some of the major newspapers to cover current events, and the arts, from the point of view of the Occupy movement.
“This is uniquely American,” I remark to Roy about interviewing her while both in cars but thousands of miles apart. Having driven some 7,000 miles and visited 23 cities (and counting) in reporting on the Occupy movement, it’s become apparent that the US is essentially an oil-based economy in which we shuttle goods we no longer make around a continental land mass, creating poverty-level dead-end jobs in the service sector.
If that last bit didn’t drain the blood out of your face, then read it again.
From the interview with the author of the Booker Prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things:
Arun Gupta: Why did you want to visit Occupy Wall Street and what are your impressions of it?
Arundhati Roy: How could I not want to visit? Given what I’ve been doing for so many years, it seems to me, intellectually and theoretically, quite predictable this was going to happen here at some point. But still I cannot deny myself the surprise and delight that it has happened. And I wanted to, obviously, see for myself the extent and size and texture and nature of it. So the first time I went there, because all those tents were up, it seemed more like a squat than a protest to me, but it began to reveal itself in a while. Some people were holding the ground and it was the hub for other people to organise, to think through things. As I said when I spoke at the People’s University, it seems to me to be introducing a new political language into the United States, a language that would be considered blasphemous only a while ago.
Arun Gupta: Do you think that the Occupy movement should be defined by occupying one particular space or by occupying spaces?
Arundhati Roy: I don’t think the whole protest is only about occupying physical territory, but about reigniting a new political imagination. I don’t think the state will allow people to occupy a particular space unless it feels that allowing that will end up in a kind of complacency, and the effectiveness and urgency of the protest will be lost. The fact that in New York and other places where people are being beaten and evicted suggests nervousness and confusion in the ruling establishment. I think the movement will, or at least should, become a protean movement of ideas, as well as action, where the element of surprise remains with the protesters. We need to preserve the element of an intellectual ambush and a physical manifestation that takes the government and the police by surprise. It has to keep re-imagining itself, because holding territory may not be something the movement will be allowed to do in a state as powerful and violent as the United States.
Arun Gupta: At the same, occupying public spaces did capture the public imagination. Why do you think that is?
Arundhati Roy: I think you had a whole subcutaneous discontent that these movements suddenly began to epitomise. The Occupy movement found places where people who were feeling that anger could come and share it – and that is, as we all know, extremely important in any political movement. The Occupy sites became a way you could gauge the levels of anger and discontent.
Arun Gupta: You mentioned that they are under attack. Dozens of occupations have been shut down, evicted, at least temporarily, in the last week. What do you see as the next phase for this movement?
Arundhati Roy: I don’t know whether I’m qualified to answer that, because I’m not somebody who spends a lot of time here in the United States, but I suspect that it will keep reassembling in different ways and the anger created by the repression will, in fact, expand the movement. But eventually, the greater danger to the movement is that it may dovetail into the presidential election campaign that’s coming up. I’ve seen that happen before in the antiwar movement here, and I see it happening all the time in India. Eventually, all the energy goes into trying to campaign for the “better guy”, in this case Barack Obama, who’s actually expanding wars all over the world. Election campaigns seem to siphon away political anger and even basic political intelligence into this great vaudeville, after which we all end up in exactly the same place.
Arun Gupta: You’ve written about the need for a different imagination than that of capitalism. Can you talk about that?
Arundhati Roy: We often confuse or loosely use the ideas of crony capitalism or neoliberalism to actually avoid using the word “capitalism”, but once you’ve actually seen, let’s say, what’s happening in India and the United States – that this model of US economics packaged in a carton that says “democracy” is being forced on countries all over the world, militarily if necessary, has in the United States itself resulted in 400 of the richest people owning wealth equivalent [to that] of half of the population. Thousands are losing their jobs and homes, while corporations are being bailed out with billions of dollars.
In India, 100 of the richest people own assets worth 25% of the gross domestic product. There’s something terribly wrong. No individual and no corporation should be allowed to amass that kind of unlimited wealth, including bestselling writers like myself, who are showered with royalties. Money need not be our only reward. Corporations that are turning over these huge profits can own everything: the media, the universities, the mines, the weapons industry, insurance hospitals, drug companies, non-governmental organisations. They can buy judges, journalists, politicians, publishing houses, television stations, bookshops and even activists. This kind of monopoly, this cross-ownership of businesses, has to stop.
The whole privatisation of health and education, of natural resources and essential infrastructure – all of this is so twisted and so antithetical to anything that would place the interests of human beings or the environment at the center of what ought to be a government concern – should stop. The amassing of unfettered wealth of individuals and corporations should stop. The inheritance of rich people’s wealth by their children should stop. The expropriators should have their wealth expropriated and redistributed.
The interview concludes when Gupta asks Roy if the term “occupation” can be reclaimed: She tells him “We ought to say, “Occupy Wall Street, not Iraq,” “Occupy Wall Street, not Afghanistan,” “Occupy Wall Street, not Palestine.” The two need to be put together. Otherwise people might not read the signs.”
Arundhati Roy: ‘The people who created the crisis will not be the ones that come up with a solution’ (The Guardian)
Look for more of Arun Gupta’s work on Salon. Follow him on Twitter.
Another strong—and often very amusing—new voice emerging from the media on the Left is Tina Dupuy, the managing editor of the mighty Crooks and Liars blog. She’s a powerful and persuasive writer and a sometime stand-up comic. Dupuy gave a fascinating firsthand description of what she saw the other night when Occupy Los Angeles—the largest of all the encampments—was evicted, when she was on Sam Seder’s Majority Report yesterday. I’m glad this woman is out there on the frontlines. Tina Dupuy could be another Rachel Maddow. It can’t be long until Current TV or MSNBC snaps her up (Or The Daily Show for that matter. They could use a real Lefty…)
In Congressional districts represented by Tea Party lawmakers, the number of people saying they disagree with the Tea Party has risen sharply over the year since the movement powered a Republican sweep in midterm elections, so that almost as many people disagree with the Tea Party as agree with it, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center.
Support for the Republican Party has fallen more sharply in those places than it has in the country as a whole. In the 60 districts represented in Congress by a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, Republicans are viewed about as negatively as Democrats.
The survey suggests that the Tea Party may be dragging down the Republican Party heading into a presidential election year, even as it ushered in a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives just a year ago.
Other polls have shown a decline in support for the Tea Party and its positions, particularly because its hard line during the debate over the debt ceiling and deficit reduction made the Tea Party less an abstraction. In earlier polls, most Americans did not know enough about the Tea Party to offer an opinion.
But the Pew survey shows that Tea Party support has declined even in places where it had been particularly robust.
“We know that the image of the G.O.P. has slipped, but to see it slip so dramatically in Tea Party districts is pretty surprising,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew center. “You think of those as bedrock Republican districts. They are the base.”
In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken earlier this month, 76 percent agreed that the “current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country.” In another recent poll, by The Washington Post/ABC News, respondents were asked: “Do you think the federal government should or should not pursue policies that try to reduce the gap between wealthy and less well-off Americans?” A majority – 60 percent – said the government should pursue such policies.
Meanwhile, public concern about the Tea Party’s linchpin issues – taxes and the deficit – has receded. Asked in late October to name the most important issue facing the country, just 5 percent of respondents to a New York Times/CBS News poll named the budget deficit. A majority said jobs and the economy. This same poll included another result that should give Democrats hope: A strong 69 percent of respondents agreed that the policies of Republicans in Congress “favor the rich” while just 12 percent thought the same thing about Obama’s policies.
Actually that poll should do more than just provide the Democrats with some “hope”—it should give them SOME FUCKING IDEAS. Here’s one for free: TAX THE RICH.
And lastly, here’s the New Statesman blog had a look at the numbers from big strike in the UK:
The unions claim that around 2 million people were on strike yesterday, but ministers dispute this, putting the number closer to 1.2 million.
Well they would say that, wouldn’t they? Either way that’s well over a million people striking. And David Cameron calls that “a damp squib”? What number would it take to really rattle the boy Prime Minister? Let’s hope we get to find out soon!