Last night on his HBO program, Real Time, Bill Maher compared OWS’s real world political gains to the Tea party’s decidedly more concrete electoral accomplishments and reveals a stark truth for the movement…
A group of protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement plans to elect 876 “delegates” from around the country and hold a national “general assembly” in Philadelphia over the Fourth of July as part of ongoing protests over corporate excess and economic inequality.The group, dubbed the 99% Declaration Working Group, said Wednesday delegates would be selected during a secure online election in early June from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.
In a nod to their First Amendment rights, delegates will meet in Philadelphia to draft and ratify a “petition for a redress of grievances,” convening during the week of July 2 and holding a news conference in front of Independence Hall on the Fourth of July.
Any U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is 18 years of age or older may run as a nonpartisan candidate for delegate, according to Michael S. Pollok, an attorney who advised Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge last year and co-founded the working group.
“We feel it’s appropriate to go back to what our founding fathers did and have another petition congress,” Pollok said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We feel that following the footsteps of our founding fathers is the right way to go.”
In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and cited King George III’s failure to redress the grievances listed in colonial petitions as a reason to declare independence.
One man and one woman will be elected from each of the 435 congressional voting districts, according to Pollok, and they will meet in Philadelphia to deliberate, draft and ratify a “redress of grievances.” One delegate will also be elected to represent each of the U.S. territories.
Organizers won’t take a position on what grievances should be included, Pollok said, but they will likely include issues like getting money out of politics, dealing with the foreclosure crisis and helping students handle loan debt.
Details of the conference are still being worked out, Pollok said, but organizers have paid for a venue in Philadelphia. Pollok would not identify the venue, but said it was “a major state-of-the art facility.” Pollok said the group planned to pay for the conference through donations.
Once the petition is completed, Pollok said, the protesters will deliver copies to the White House, members of Congress and the Supreme Court. They will demand that Congress takes action in the first 100 days of taking office next year. If sufficient action isn’t taken, Pollok said, the delegates will go back to their districts and try to recruit their own candidates for office.
Being able to hold this event right before the parties throw their respective conventions was a stroke of scheduling luck for the movement. Hopefully the media will be all over this—it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t be under any circumstances—and the politicians will be forced to respond.
The Republicans are beyond being a lost cause, but the Democrats can be pushed to the left (it’s what happened before the New Deal). It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.
I think there’s a misconception that this was going to be a predictable election cycle. Whereas the outcome (more Obama, not that this is necessarily a “good” thing, it just is) seems like a foregone covclusion, that there will be extremely high drama until then is starting to look like an inevitability. Bring it on.
“Only connect,” said playwright Dennis Potter towards the end of his life, as he described the potential humans have to work together for the better. The line comes from E M Forster, who wrote:
‘Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height.’
A connection was made between the Occupy Movement and one of the most senior figures of City regulation, in London today, which should set an example to those US cops dumb enough to still believe violence and pepper spray are the answer.
Hector Sants, chief executive of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) met with 10 members of the Occupy London, where they had a “fruitful and constructive” discussion on “a number of important issues”. The meeting took place in a Bedouin tent at St Ethelburga’s Center for Reconciliation, as part of the Church of England’s London Connection initiative on ethics and finance. After the meeting, Mr Sants said:
“The FSA is very firmly of the view, I’m very firmly of the view, that it’s very important we listen to everybody who wants to contribute to the debate about changing the financial system.
“They undoubtedly believe the financial system needs to change further - it has already changed a lot but it should change further.
“We had a very interesting discussion, a number of very interesting points were raised. I learned a lot, I listened and I got a very fruitful and constructive dialogue, which as far as I can judge I think all parties felt.”
“We were talking about the role the FSA plays in overseeing the financial system in the UK, how we are already going about trying to achieve significant change, and I was listening carefully to those areas where they would like to see further change.”
Also present were Ken Costa, former chairman of Lazard International and the Bishop of London, the Rt Reverend Dr Richard Chartres, who set up London Connection last month. According to Channel 4 News:
Leaving the meeting, Mr Costa said he thought there will be changes: “We’re looking at a number of initiatives and trying to establish the links between the informal sector, as I would call the meeting we had tonight, and the more formal establishment.” He added: “They are very well informed and have some important questions they want answered.”
Most of the protestors agreed tonight’s meeting went well, Mark Weaver said: “It’s a long road to a just world. Many topics came up, from fractional reserve banking to hedge funds to the very ethics that drive banking. I got the impression a lot of listening was going on.”
Richard Paton, a fellow protestor, said Hector Sants, “was suggesting that we get involved in the formal political process. Which is all well and good, but the reason that tents are popping up is because that process has failed. He certainly hasn’t given us any cause to go and pack up the camp. The issues are still there. ”
Ronan McNern of Occupy London said tonight’s meeting was about “initiating dialogue,” with the City and that the issue would not be solved in one 60 minute meeting.
Retired Philadelphia Police Captain, Raymond Lewis was arrested today by NYPD officers for taking part in OWS.
Lewis, who has cut a figure at OWS in his police uniform, has criticized NYPD’s behavior towards the protesters as “disgusting” and “totally uncalled for”. He has also asked NY cops to stop being “Wall Street Mercenaries”, and to go watch the film Inside Job.
“All the cops are, they’re just workers for the one percent and they don’t even realize they’re being exploited”.
Lewis has also stated police negotiation would have been a better response to the tactics employed by the NYPD:
“You should, by law, only use force to protect someone’s life or to protect them from being bodily injured. If you’re not protecting somebody’s life or protecting them from bodily injury, there’s no need to use force. And the number one thing that they always have in their favor that they seldom use is negotiation–continue to talk, and talk and talk to people. You have nothing to lose by that. This bullrush–what happened last night is totally uncalled for when they did not use negotiation long enough.”
I don’t know who this Retired Captain Lewis is, but by his presence at OWS and his arrest, he has set an example for other police men and women to follow.
Though he may look like Moe from The Simpsons, Max Keiser is no slouch. A former equities-broker, Max is a colorful and outspoken commentator, whose show, the Keiser Report on Russia Today, is fast becoming required viewing. Of late, he has been hitting major home runs with his astute assessments of current financial and political events.
In the latest edition, “Financial Rape, Financial Pornography”, Max discussed with political analyst, Stacy Herbert, how Goldman-Sachs has a gun to the world’s head, and how banks implement with impunity, a shadow banking system, which is used to get away with stealing money - something Herbert compared to the punishment meted out to a starving mother who when caught stealing a $5 sandwich to feed her child, was sent to prison. As Herbert pointed out, when the top 1% “commit fraud, it is a called an error, a simple accounting error. When a normal person does it, they end up in jail.”
Keiser also talked with James Howard Kunstler, about how the Occupy Movement is changing the world and what affect it will have on next year’s Presidential election. Plus Max asks if corporations are “individuals”, and if so, should they be tried, like “individuals”, and if found guilty, executed?
The footage in the video below recalls some of what I was witness to and part of during the People’s Park protest and riots in May of 1969 in Berkeley, California.
I’m a pacifist but I understand there comes a point when the destruction of the symbols of oppression and exploitation that represent the institutions that have robbed us of our freedom and human rights becomes an inevitable part of any political insurrection that has as its goal radical social change. We need to pour some sugar in the gas tank of the fascist limousine. Systems need to be derailed. You can start by dropping a steaming turd in the night deposit box at your neighborhood Bank Of America. Consider it customer feedback.
Insurrection is the unwelcome guest at the party none of us were invited to but we all intend to crash. Revolution wears a tank top and shows up at your door with a chainsaw and a peace sign.
Revolutions are vital but unpredictable.They’re in a constant state of updating themselves and we never know just what form they’re gonna take. They’re human and in constant flux. Change changes. And revolution is change. It can come as an organic spontaneous eruption hitting as much as it misses or as a mystical constellation of galvanizing points of energy that no one comprehends but everyone understands. Perhaps it will come in the form of methodical, precise, surgical strikes that cripple the components that animate the machinery of tyranny. However it comes, its intent should be to send a clear, uncompromising and fear-inducing signal to the powers that be that we will no longer tolerate injustice or continue to feed the insatiable appetite of the greed-driven 1% as they systematically corporatize our planet, consume our resources, and control our lives.
It is important to recognize that the attention violent actions generate, even when the targets are inanimate objects, is not automatically the kind of attention that benefits a protest movement in its infancy.
Finding the balance between fucking the system and fucking ourselves is the art of revolution. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing regimes topple with minimal damage done to the activists who put their lives on the line to restore the vestiges of what is left of our dwindling humanity. Martyrdom may be the stuff of myth but it’s no substitute for the liberating joy of being alive and dancing on the graves of the dictators and tyrants we’ve toppled. I’d rather live in a tipi on the front lawn of the former White House than have my dead face silk-screened on a t-shirt.
Berkeley/Oakland has a long history of “taking it to the streets” and with that activist spirit comes the risk of non-violent demonstrations turning into riots. In my own experience of almost 45 years of being a political activist, I’ve seen protests escalate into riots when cops, working in tandem with undercover agitators planted among the protesters in carefully orchestrated scenarios, incite violence to discredit and demonize legitimate non-violent protest movements. Add to that volatile mix a bunch of shit stirrers claiming to be “anarchists” and you have the chaotic situation that occurred on November 2 in Oakland.
Abby Martin of Media Roots was on the front lines of the war in the streets of Oakland during the aftermath of the Occupy Oakland general strike and shutdown of the port on November 2, 2011.
Over 10,000 peaceful protesters successfully shut down the Port of Oakland, the fifth largest port in the country at 8pm earlier that night. About two hours later, the anarchist “Black Bloc” came to downtown, smashing windows of banks and setting trash cans on fire.
The Oakland PD in full riot gear lined up and marched toward the now out of control rally. They started firing smoke grenades and tear gas into the crowd of people, to which people starting throwing bottles and other objects back to the police.
After the crowd scattered, the police lined up and starting to close in and arrest the remaining protesters at the Occupy Oakland camp.
The OWS movement is getting to that point where mere words and picnics in city parks must and will be replaced by militant action. Those actions need to be well-thought-out, organized and the product of a democratic process. We need to apply steady and continued pressure on our so-called government to either align itself with the people or get the fuck out of the way. It is also essential that we realize there are systems in place that are just waiting to crush this movement. One critical thing that is working in our favor is that while the cops may have the guns I think they’re starting to realize they don’t have the power - they’re on the wrong side of history. When they start seeing their neighbors, children and parents standing in the front lines of the OWS movement, their loyalties will shift and shift swiftly. Pigs are the most intelligent of the barnyard animals.
And to the “anarchists”, I say “fuck off!” You’ve never figured into any successful social uprising at any point in history, now or ever. You are to the revolution what porn is to sex.
Bill Maher slapped down the GOP last night, for calling the Occupy Wall Street protesters “hippies”. Maher made his comments at the end of the “New Rules” section of his Real Time show:
And finally, New Rule: Republicans have to stop calling the Wall Street protesters “hippies”. Yes, they’re peeing outdoors, and having sex in sleeping bags, or as Bristol Palin calls it, “dating”. But they’re not hippies!
The hippies are all gone. Woodstock was 42 years ago. Forget the brown acid, the people who were at Woodstock are now taking the blue Viagra. “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, refers to their hearing aids. Wavy Gravy is 75 years old. He’s making wavy gravy in his pants.
Maher continued by saying how he had visited the OWS in Washington DC, last Saturday and had found:
Everyone was extraordinarily well-behaved, and contrary to reports, I was not offered a single marijuana cigarette. And I’m a little insulted. All right, someone did give me a magic mushroom, and it did blow my mind, and I thank you, Senator McConnell. And sorry about your eyebrows, I’m sure they’ll grow back.
Anyway, the next morning, when I woke up bloody and naked in the woods, I had a relevation… I mean, a revelation. Of course conservatives want to make this about hippies, because they like to live in the past! Rush Limbaugh, who really is too square to be a drug addict, said, “When the free drugs run out, when the free sex runs out, they’ll get bored and move on to something else.”
Oh that’s right, Grandpa. Look at them, strumming their sitars and wearing dungarees. Whatever happened to the good old days of segregation and date rape? But I get it. You’re bitter because we fought a culture war in the ‘60s and the Right lost. Rick Santorum is like that Japanese soldier on the island who doesn’t know the war is over, so he’s still fighting against birth control and butt sex.
Plus, Republicans are now mostly a Southern party, and if there’s one thing Southerners don’t do well, it’s lose a war and get over it. The ideals of the youth movement became assimilated into American society. That’s why we have gays in the military now, and pre-natal yoga classes, and tofurkey. And that’s why Rick Santorum will never be President, and a black guy who snorted cocaine is.
Maher went on to explain how the people who are occupying locations across the US are not the counter-culture:
These people down there, they’re not the counter-culture. They’re the culture. They don’t want free love. They want paid employment. They don’t hate capitalism. They hate what’s been done to it.
And they resent the Republican mantra that the market perfectly rewards the hard-working and punishes the lazy, and the poor are just jealous moochers who want a handout. Yeah, because if there’s one group of people who hate handouts, it’s Wall Street.
Maher’s comments are apt as a breakdown of people taking part in OWS shows that while two-thirds identified themselves as under the age of 35, 13% are aged between 35-45, and 20% are over the age of 45.
50% of protesters were in full employment, 20% were part-time workers, and the remaining 30%, just under half 13.1% said they were unemployed.
This is hardly the hippies the GOP is helping the media to portray.
In the video below shot a few days before the 1968 Democratic National Convention, radical prankster Abbie Hoffman discusses guerrilla theater, drugs, sex and the role of humor as a tool for shaking up the status quo. Dissidence with a touch of Dada.
While the shit is hitting the fan it’s always good to have a sense of the absurd to keep things in perspective.
“Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.”
Much of the tone of the current Occupy Wall Street movement, with it’s colorful signs, face paint, freak flags, costumes and optimism in the face of so much opposition, can be traced to the Sixties provocations and theater of Hoffman, Jerry Ruben, The MC5, Ed Sanders, Paul Krassner, Allen Ginsberg, Dana Beal and the Youth International Party.
While Abbie showed us that political activism could have a playful side and that yippie tactics could be an effective means to grab headlines, releasing word viruses that could fuck with the status quo, he was also wise in his grasp of political realities:
Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit. When all today’s isms have become yesterday’s ancient philosophy, there will still be reactionaries and there will still be revolutionaries. No amount of rationalization can avoid the moment of choice each of us brings to our situation here on the planet. I still believe in the fundamental injustice of the profit system and do not accept the proposition there will be rich and poor for all eternity.
Become an internationalist and learn to respect all life. Make war on machines. And in particular the sterile machines of corporate death and the robots that guard them.
Being a revolutionary isn’t just about talking a good game, it’s also about showing the world what freedom loving human beings are capable of: a robust passion for life and a deep respect for humanity and the earth we stand on.
There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
― John Lennon
When people discount the role the Sixties play in contemporary attitudes about politics, sex, the environment and human rights, I say open your gawdammed eyes and take a look around. The press, pundits and people in general are comparing the OWS movement to the radical uprisings of the Sixties for good reason - they arise out of the same basic impulse toward justice and freedom….and something innate in all humans: the desire to fuck with authority.
With their limited frames of reference, I keep hearing people referring to the OWS protesters as hippies. Well, I guess we’re all hippies now. Pass the patchouli. Yippee!