Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Occupied Palestine, October 13 -The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian civil society coalition struggling for Palestinian rights, is proud to stand in solidarity with the movements struggling for a new world based on democracy, human rights and economic justice. From New York to Athens, from Madrid to Santiago, from Bahrain to Rome, these huge mobilisations provide a much needed reminder of something that Palestinians have always known – that another world, a dignifying one, is possible and ordinary people can create it.Our aspirations overlap; our struggles converge. Our oppressors, whether greedy corporations or military occupations, are united in profiting from wars, pillage, environmental destruction, repression and impoverishment. We must unite in our common quest for freedoms, equal rights, social and economic justice, environmental sanity, and world peace. We can no longer afford to be splintered and divided; we can no longer ignore our obligations to join hands in the struggle against wars and corporate exploitation and for a human-friendly world community not a profit-maximizing jungle.The Occupy Wall Street movement and its counterparts across the US, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere are — at least partially — inspired by the Arab Spring for democracy and social justice. Leaders of the Arab popular revolts tell us that they, in turn, were largely inspired by our own, decades-old struggle against Israel’s occupation of our land, its system of discrimination that matches the UN’s definition of apartheid, and its denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return home.The rapidly emerging movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law is a key and effective part of the Palestinian struggle. Anchored in universal principles of human rights and struggling for freedom, justice and equality, the BDS movement, established in 2005, is deeply rooted in decades of Palestinian peaceful resistance to colonial oppression and is inspired by the South African struggle against apartheid as well as the civil rights movement in the US. It is adopted by a near consensus among Palestinians everywhere, with all the main political parties, trade unions, professional syndicates, women’s unions, student groups, NGO networks and refugee advocacy networks represented in the BNC, the reference for this growing movement to end Israeli impunity.The Palestinian-led BDS movement is a global effort of groups, from South Africa to Britain, from Canada to India, and within Israel itself, all committed to ending Israel’s denial of basic Palestinian rights. It is endorsed by towering moral leaders of the calibre of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Holocaust survivor and co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Stephane Hessel. It is supported by world renowned cultural and intellectual figures such as Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Roger Waters, Judith Butler, Sarah Schulman, John Berger, Ken Loach, John Greyson, and Adrienne Rich. Massive trade union federations such as COSATU (South Africa), CUT (Brazil), TUC (UK), ICTU (Ireland), among many others, have also adopted BDS.South Africa), CUT (Brazil), TUC (UK), ICTU (Ireland), among many others, have also adopted BDS.The movement has scored in the last two years some spectacular achievements when internationally renowned artists and music groups heeded the cultural boycott of Israel and refused to perform there or cancelled scheduled appearances. These have included the Pixies, Elvis Costello, Snoop Dogg, Meg Ryan, Vanessa Paradis, Gil Scott-Heron, among many others. The Norwegian state pension fund, among others, major European banks and some corporations have all been convinced to divest from businesses implicated in Israel’s violations of international law. Increasingly, BDS is recognized as a civic movement capable of ending Israeli impunity and, crucially, contributing to the global struggle against the war-mongering, racist agenda which Israel has persistently played a key role in.So as you break your own chains and build your own effective resistance against corporate tyranny, we ask you to demand a just peace for all the peoples in the Middle East, based on international law and equal human rights. Palestinians, too, are part of the 99% around the world that suffer at the hands of the 1% whose greed and ruthless quest for hegemony have led to unspeakable suffering and endless war. Corporate power has not just profited from our suffering but has colluded in maintaining Israel’s occupation and apartheid to perpetuate an unjust order that profits oil and military companies and multinational financial institutions.We call upon all the spreading social movements of the world to think critically when considering their attitude towards the Israeli ‘social justice’ protests, which have almost completely ignored the key issue at the heart of all of the problems faced by ordinary Palestinians and even Israelis: Israel’s costly system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people. Without putting an end to that multi-tiered Israeli system of oppression, our entire region will never enjoy a comprehensive and lasting peace, one that is based on justice and human rights.Money for jobs, health and education, not for racist oppression and occupation!
Nowhere is this more important than in the United States. Despite Israel’s persistent denial of Palestinian rights, the US has provided Israel with unconditional political and military assistance that directly contributes to the denial of Palestinian rights, but also to the problems faced by ordinary US citizens. Could the $24bn of military aid provided to Israel in the period 2000-2009 not been better spent on schools, healthcare and other essential services? Did Israel not play a major role in prodding the US to launch and continue its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at immense human and material cost, mainly borne by the poorest in those countries?But, we must remind ourselves all the time that this struggle will never be easy, and reaching our objectives never inevitable. As Martin Luther King once said:Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.The refreshing scenes of determined peaceful protest for justice from around the world tell us that we, the 99% of the world, are in the process of straightening our backs, collectively, with unwavering fortitude and boundless hope.- BNC Secretariat
The Oakland General Strike revealed fundamental characteristics of a national and not simply a regional mood. Its events combined to make a statement of working-class awareness that World War II had not been fought for democracy. Or, more pointedly, it was a retaliation for the absence of democracy that the people in industry and the armed forces had experienced while 'fighting to save democracy in a war to end all wars'. The focus of people's lives was still on the war. They hadn't fought what they believed to be 'a war against fascism' to return home and have their strikes broken and unions housebroken.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
EXCERPT (via Aletho News):
Who Occupies Oakland?
The order of the day is to decolonize, transform, and liberate Oakland. This means being real about who actually occupies Oakland. Politically, economically, discursively, militarily – the Oakland police run this town. At one point Tuesday morning a phalanx of riot cops blocked us from the scores of other cops tearing down free schools, medical clinics, a kitchen, dozens of tents, our abandoned barricades – a whole mini-township and community that had been built over the last two weeks. A young protester yelled at the police line that they had brought a ‘fascist police state’ to the city. The truth is that all that happened was a geographical redeployment of an already existing militarized police force from the Deep East, Fruitvale, and West Oakland into downtown for the night. What the racially and politically diverse Occupy Oakland encampment faced in the early hours of the morning was a glimmer of the daily, lived experience of black and brown working class people in this city. From racial profiling gang injunctions to recently fast-tracked curfews, and ongoing killings of unarmed black men, there has been a police state here for many years – that means more than evictions, but life and death.
Oakland has long been occupied by a police force that lives largely elsewhere, in comfortable suburban homes bought and furnished by exorbitant salaries that start at $90,000 per year, for rookies, before overtime. The police are not part of the 99% – that goes without saying. They are obviously not in the top 1% of earners either, no matter how hard their Chief and union have been trying to get them there. Furthermore, the whole ‘99%’ language glosses over contradictions, erases oppression and paralyzes us, in a similar sense that consensus does. While we shouldn’t shun populism, we erase and reproduce a whole lot of inequality by using this frame. While the percentage may not be 99%, most of the people who live in this city not only want change – they need it. The first part of destroying inequality is shedding light on it. The first step to undermining it is recognizing privilege and oppression in a way that builds solidarity and trust through engaged political work all over the city. That work has begun and will continue.
From Speaking Truth to Power, to Becoming Our Own Power
We are in the initial stages of what will be a long series of struggles. We shouldn’t be wedded to any static plan or draw from outdated blueprints or de-contextualized (or unintelligible) theories. The inequalities we seek to destroy are primarily political – about power and self-determination – or the lack thereof. The general sentiment of the Occupy movement is about transcending existing political institutions, about ridding ourselves of politicians, not replacing them. I think that those of us who hadn’t come to the conclusion already are beginning to see that speaking truth to power is not a strategy, or even a logical impulse.
The movement from the occupation of public parks to the occupation of private property, workplaces, universities, shuttered public schools in many cities, foreclosed homes, etc. is a likely scenario in the coming months. Tactical escalation will necessitate political and organizational development to broaden our bases and begin to gain the active and engaged support of larger and larger segments of the broader society. The movement needs to align itself with the struggles of the most oppressed – making issues like police brutality and occupation in communities of color, persecution of immigrants and acute joblessness central – while also linking with university student struggles over fees, student loans, and cuts, and with workers inside and outside of workplaces. The State’s biggest fear is the coalescing of these populations and the existing movements around these issues. We saw this in the non-profit/police/media/politician mantra of outside agitators when anarchists joined the Oscar Grant struggle. Their biggest fear is in our solidarity, in our collaboration and potential cohesion. We need to figure a way to be their waking, spreading, ever-present nightmare.
The idea that 99% of the population in this country is going to support a just social order, here and now, is more than a little naive, but believing that simple protest and activism alone will transform this society is even more naive. We need to build our own political structures and our own politics, rooted in participatory and accountable democratic processes at the local level.
I am not proposing a vanguard party or even a platform. I am simply trying to push the conversation. We shouldn’t misread the Zapatista call to ‘make the road by walking it’ as being synonymous with the old deadhead slogan ‘Not all who wander are lost.’ We don’t have to march in line, but we don’t have time to wander.
If we, in fact, ‘want everything,’ lets figure out how to get it. And then get on with getting it.
Mike King is a PhD candidate at UC–Santa Cruz and East Bay activist. He can be reached at mking(at)ucsc.edu
So Gov. Gregoire wants state employees to pay more for their healthcare: http://today.seattletimes.com/
2011/10/gregoire-wants-to- renegotiate-state-employee- health-care-benefits/
I called her office 360-902-4111 and told her to get back the taxes Microsoft (based in Bellevue) has dodged by hiding profit in Nevada before she goes after state workers
The Arms Firm Behind the Suppression of #OccupyOakland & Palestine’s Popular Struggle ~ by @MaxBlumenthal
ARTICLE FOUND AT ABOVE LINK
With the rise of the Occupy Wall Street, a new generation of mostly middle class Americans is learning for the first time about the militarization of their local police forces. And they are learning the hard way, through confrontations with phalanxes of riot cops armed with the latest in “non-lethal” crowd control weaponry. Yesterday’s protests in Oakland, California were the site of perhaps the harshest police violence leveled against the Occupy movement so far. Members of the Oakland Police Department and the California Sheriff’s Department attacked unarmed protesters with teargas canisters, beanbag rounds, percussion grenades, and allegedly with rubber bullets, leaving a number of demonstrators with deep contusions and bloody head wounds. It is not difficult to imagine such scenes becoming commonplace as the Occupy protests intensify across the country.
The police repression on display in Oakland reminded me of tactics I witnessed the Israeli army employ against Palestinian popular struggle demonstrations in occupied West Bank villages like Nabi Saleh, Ni’lin and Bilin. So I was not surprised when I learned that the same company that supplies the Israeli army with teargas rounds and other weapons of mass suppression is selling its dangerous wares to the Oakland police. The company is Defense Technology, a Casper, Wyoming based arms firm that claims to “specialize in less lethal technology” and other “crowd management products.” Defense Tech sells everything from rubber-coated teargas rounds that bounce in order to maximize gas dispersal to 40 millimeter “direct impact” sponge rounds to “specialty impact” 12 gauge rubber bullets.
[Left: a teargas round fired at Occupy Oakland was manufactured in Casper, Wyoming, the home of Defense Technology]
Defense Tech’s literature concedes that “information is somewhat difficult to obtain” on the damage its weapons can do to the human body. However, company researchers were able to determine that a beanbag round fired from a 12 gauge shotgun exerts the same kinetic impact as a .22 caliber bullet. “The result is blunt trauma with no penetration,” Defense Tech researchers wrote. Wounds suffered yesterday by protesters in Oakland provided vivid confirmation of the conclusion.
Defense Tech products have also injured numerous protesters who attended the weekly demonstrations in Bilin, an occupied Palestinian village waging an unarmed struggle against Israel’s confiscation of its farmland in order to build its separation wall. Jawaher Abu Rahme, a 36-year-old resident of Bilin, died this year of asphyxiation from Israeli tear gas rounds. Her brother, Bassem, was killed two years earlier when he was struck in the chest by a high velocity teargas shell (see video of his killing here). Activists arriving on the scene after Jawaher Abu Rahme’s death found spent teargas shells marked with the Defense Tech label.
[Left: Occupy Oakland demonstrators retrieved a shotgun shell used to propel beanbag rounds and an alleged rubber bullet]
Some Occupy Wall Street activists have argued that Palestine must segregated from the movement’s agenda. It is a distraction from the essential economic issues that drive the protests, they say, and turns the majority of Americans off. But the issue is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid now that the protesters are confronted with the very same weapons Israel uses to crush unarmed Palestinian resistance.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Reserve next Friday, Oct. 28 for another action to stop these immoral and illegal foreclosure sales. Check with #uncutseattle #occupyseattle and ourwashington.net to find about these important interventions.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
As I write this, a new day is dawning in Libya. The “people’s revolt” against yet another tyrant is unquestionably exciting, and the demise (political and/or otherwise) of Muammar Qaddafi will, of course, be widely hailed. But barely below the surface something else is going on, and it concerns not the Libyan “people”, but an elite. In reality, a narrowly-based Libyan elite is being supplanted by a much older, more enduring one of an international variety.
The media, as is so often the case, has botched its job. Thus virtually all of its resources over the past six months have gone into providing us with an entertainment, a horse race, a battle, with almost no insight into the deeper situation..
It’s true that Qaddafi, like many—perhaps a majority of—rulers in his region, was a thug and a brute, if at times a comical figure. But one doesn’t need to be an apologist for him—nor deny the satisfaction of seeing the citizenry joyously celebrating his ouster—to demand some honesty about the motives behind his removal. Especially when it comes to our own government’s role in funding it, and thus every American’s unwitting participation in that action.
Let’s start with the official justification for NATO’s launch of its bombing campaign—for without that campaign, it’s highly improbable the rebels could ever have toppled Qaddafi. We were told from the beginning that the major purpose of what was to be very limited bombing—indeed, its sole purpose—was to protect those Libyan civilians rebelling against an oppressive regime from massive retaliation by Qaddafi. Perhaps because of NATO’s initial intervention, the feared Qaddafi-sponsored, genocidal bloodletting never did occur. (At least, not beyond the military actions one would expect a government to take when facing a civil war: after all, remember General Sherman’s “scorched earth” policy in the US Civil War?). However, protecting civilians apparently didn’t generate sufficient public support for intervention, so we started to hear about other purported reasons for it. Qaddafi was encouraging his soldiers to…commit mass rape! And giving them Viagra! And condoms!
You can’t make this sort of thing up. And yet that’s just what the NATO crew did—made it up. The media, always glad to have a “sexy” story, especially a sick sexy story, even a sick sexy story with no evidence to back it up, covered this ad nauseum, but never bothered to find out if it was true.
Washington, DC - A group of 40 protesters marched to the Citibank, a subsidiary of Citigroup, at 14th and G Streets NW this morning to protest the announcement of the seventh consecutive quarter of massive profits while the economy continues to collapse. The protesters succeeded in shutting the bank down.
Six protesters, including a video team remained inside the building, protesting the tax avoidance by Citibank through off-shore tax havens, continued foreclosures, choking the economy by not making loans, usury credit card rates, low pay of bank tellers while exorbitant pay for executives. Police have been called to the scene.
Leah Bolger, an October2011.org organizer who is a vice president of Vets for Peace said: "Citibank needs to be held accountable for its role in collapsing the economy and profiting from that collapse. As the largest recipient of bail out dollars, Citibank owes the American people and needs to stop foreclosures now, re-make mortgages so they are consistent with true housing values and stop avoiding taxes."
Citigroup, one of the nation’s largest banking and investment firms, reported yesterday that their quarterly earnings are up $3.8 billion, 74% higher than a year ago. Citigroup continues to foreclose on mortgages. They hold back loans to small businesses and consumers. They choke the economy while they are profiting massively.
"This is a slap in the face to the average American who earns miniscule interest rates on the money they have in Citigroup banks, are unable to obtain loans and mortgages, and are being forced to pay all sorts of fees and charges just to access their own money,: said Kevin Zeese of October2011.org. "The sweetheart settlement with the SEC announced today is an insult. Citigroup profits $1 billion from selling fraudulent derivatives and gets fined $285 million."
Citigroup’s profits are typical of the banking industry in general who accepted billions in bailout loans from the American people, yet now seem to think that the money belongs to them personally.
Here is a list of complaints against Citibank:
1. Citigroup has paid ZERO corporate taxes for the last four years.
2. Citigroup has 427 subsidiaries in foreign tax havens to hide their profits.
3. Citigroup was the LARGEST recipient of federal bailout money-- $476 billion.
4. CEO John Havens receives $9.5 million annually, while paying their tellers $12.65 an hour.
5. Citigroup just posted a 3rd quarter net profit of $3.8 billion, a 74% increase over last year.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Occupy Wall Street: What You Can Demand versus What You Must DO by Black Agenda Report Exec. Editor Glen Ford
Occupy Wall Street activists are under some pressures to come up with demands to make of the powerful. However, “in many cases, there is no point in demanding anything from your enemy, except that he drop dead in a hurry.” If Wall Street is an unadulterated evil as many OWS folks claim – and they are right – then what is to be demanded of the banksters and their friends? That they commit suicide, forthwith? And how do you reform a cancer away? “Well before 1999, Wall Street power had passed the point where it could be controlled by conventional regulation.”
If the signage at the Wall Street occupation site and its thousands of satellites around the country tells the tale, the dominant sentiment in the nascent movement is that finance capital be ejected from the commanding heights of power. True, there are myriad other issues in the churning mix of leaderless people power, but this is the tie that binds, without which centrifugal forces would have hurled the small, founding band of organizers into oblivion. Washington, DC’s Freedom Plaza, the other pole of the occupation force field, was established by significantly older, veteran activists, some of whom have wished Wall Street dead since the days before the bankers murdered and cannibalized (liquidated!) the last Titan of Industry.
Having challenged the plutocrats and all their minions – and gaining majority support of the American people in the process – the “movement” is called upon, from inside and out, to make specific demands. Of course, Old Fred taught us that power concedes nothing without a demand. But the wrong demands can undo a popular project, so this is not something to rush into. And, in many cases, there is no point in demanding anything from your enemy, except that he drop dead in a hurry.
It is by no means clear to me that all of the folks who claim to be bankster-slayers really want to kill the beast, or merely attempt to shrink or tame it. The logic of political economy, historical experience and common sense dictates that, if the vast wealth and power that flows from concentrated private capital is what allowed Wall Street to achieve hegemony over every important aspect of U.S. society, then concentrated capital must be vanquished; that it be given no space or opportunity to regroup to make further war on democracy.
Ah, democracy, the other dominant current in the occupation conversation. What does a
movement of the 99% versus the 1% mean by democracy, when measured against the privileges of money? Is it acceptable that any human being wield a million times as much influence on society as the average Josephine, by virtue of his wealth or connections to money? What about the only somewhat rich, with a few thousand times as much societal clout? Would they be prevented, like parolees, from fraternizing with their peers, lest they combine to exercise mega-clout? And, what about when these rich guys put on their masks and call themselves “The Markets.” Will we allow them to run around freely, buying and selling stuff to make millions (and then billions and derivative trillions) for themselves while, as a byproduct, affecting the terms of life for all the rest of us, wholly outside the democratic process or any civilized notion of development?
Does anyone seriously believe that today’s Masters of the Universe will allow themselves to be shut out – as a class – of the electoral pathways to state power, without wreaking havoc on an impudent society through their current control of every lever of power and the sheer crush of their money? One cannot simply leave the hegemon intact, allowing him to retain all the powers of concentrated capital that made him Master, and expect him to accept the new limitations.
The idea that the plutocrats can be quarantined from power, while remaining plutocrats, is absurd. And no, there is no difference between Warren Buffet, the Koch brothers, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, the Walton (Mal-Mart) family and the late Steven Jobs. Their very existence is an insult to any legitimate concept of democracy. Every one of them would kill a million people to preserve his billions. They already do.
A movement must be prepared to break the plutocrats’ power – confiscate his fortune or make it impossible to spend – or find themselves like Lilliputians trying to tie down a huge and vicious unchained Gulliver while he stomps on you like roaches.
There is a nostalgia and romanticism in some neighborhoods of the movement – understanding that anyone is welcome to wander in and claim membership – that has echoes in the Tea Party. A Washington Post column by Barry Ritholtz , an author and head of a quantitative research firm, offers advice to the OWS movement. He wants to “bring back real capitalism,” with no bank bailouts. His closely related position is to end “too big to fail” banks in order to “restore competition.” None of this works, however, if the “real” finance capitalism at this stage in its development is exactly what we have experienced: an inherently unstable system that inexorably moves toward further consolidation, suborning every social institution along the way as a consequence of its very nature. If capitalism is in deep crisis – which is the case – and if the nature of that crisis compels finance capitalist institutions to search for ever-increasing returns through rigged markets, derivatives, systematic looting of vulnerable communities, overseas plunder under U.S. military protection and wholesale privatization of public assets in the developed capitalist countries, all of which requires massive corruption of the political and moral life of the home society, then we have simply experienced late-stage finance capitalism as it actually exists. Ritholtz would have us send the banks back to some previous era, where they will regain the vigor and moral uplift of youth.
Ritholtz clearly loves banks, or the idea of banks, and would never transfer their societal functions – which they no longer fulfill – to public entities under democratic direction. He thinks “competition” will solve the problem. However, Ritholtz does support a constitutional amendment to keep corporate money out of congressional elections, which I suppose gets his nose under the broad OWS tent, so to speak.
What about bringing back Glass-Steagall, the 1932 law that separated investment banking from commercial banking, but was repealed in 1999 under President Bill Clinton? Would reinstatement of Glass-Steagall fit the bill for meaningful reform worthy of OWS? I don’t think so. If the power of Wall Street was such in 1999 that a Democratic administration would collaborate in repeal of a foundational New Deal economic pillar, then finance capital was already hegemonic. Well before 1999, Wall Street power had passed the point where it could be controlled by conventional regulation. Rather, the struggle is to free society from its fatal embrace. There is no reforming Wall Street, only its dismantling and simultaneous replacement by public institutions for allocating capital for human needs and development.
The crisis of capitalism is the hegemony of finance capital, which is beyond repair. $16 trillion dollars in infusions from the public sector under President Obama – more than the gross domestic product of the United States – have failed to cause Wall Street to function as a social asset of the nation or the global economy. Quite the opposite; finance capital preys on the real economy and is most responsible for devouring and privatizing the public sector, leaving the people naked to the predations of a dying and parasitic system.
People can choose to be ruled by rich men who call themselves “markets” or they can trust themselves to erect public institutions that are responsive to human needs. For four weeks now, the swelling OWS movement has claimed to be contemplating how to harness democracy and end plutocracy. Since it is patently clear that plutocrats and democracy cannot coexist, the project is to rid us of the plutocrats, while there’s still time to save our world. Once that’s understood, the rest is in the details.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Police are ticketing an elderly couple who pulled their car up to Westlake to deliver hot coffee to occupiers.
Doug says if he is elderly, they should let him quit working!
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
The beautiful lady with the keffiyeh is my Washington DC Freedom Plaza buddy Dorli. The rest of the pics are our banners and the crowed (3,000!) at Occupy Seattle today. We [voicesofpalestine.org] had overwhelmingly positive comments on the banners; very gratifying.
Now the night of 500 tents is under way. They had many many tents in the middle of Westlake Park. The pink one pictured is from a resident of Nicklesville, the homeless encampment still needing a permanent space after years of wandering because of the city's intransigence.
Friday, October 14, 2011
The Politic: Next, I’d like to ask you about your upcoming book. In it, you argue that American justice has become a two-tiered system, with no mercy for the little guy, yet granting total immunity to the ruling class. What do you think are at the roots of that inequality?
Greenwald: Well, it’s always been the case that if you are rich and powerful, you have an advantage in the legal system. But it used to be the case that we embraced the principle of equality under the law. It was imbued throughout the writings of the Founders. Granted, the Founders believed in pretty vast inequality—some people were talented and others were pretty ordinary, and some would be rich and others would be poor—and they were fine with that, as long as there were a common set of rules that bound everybody. And so even as we failed to live up to the principle of equality before the law, we were at least appealing to it as an aspiration, and that’s what historically enabled us to move forward, leaving behind the vast inequality of our past and moving toward equality. But I think beginning with Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon—if you look back and read contemporary accounts, most Americans were against the pardon, and most elites were in favor of it. The rationale used by elites as to why the pardon was necessary became the standard rationale as to why elites generally should be immunized from the rule of law: “it’s too disruptive to hold people like this accountable, they have already been punished enough by being criticized and scorned. We need them, and if we bring the kind of political disruption that prosecutions bring, it’s harmful to the common good.” The difference is that we now explicitly repudiate the idea of the rule of law for political elites. And we have actually a whole series of platitudes and clichés—
The Politic: “Look forward, not backward.”
Greenwald: Exactly. And that was what was said about Watergate, what was said about Iran-Contra, what was said about other George Bush 41 controversies like Iraqgate. But the problem isn’t leniency in general. The real problem is the contrast between the extreme leniency granted to elites, and the fact that America for the rest of us has become the largest prison state in the world. It’s because both parties became the party of law and order and tried to prove their bona fides through things like minimum sentencing guidelines and harsh prison terms for things that no other western country imprisons people for at all. It’s a complete departure from the way the law was supposed to be the anchor to legitimize everything else.
The Politic: So what do you think can be done to limit or end this practice?
Greenwald: The problem is that it’s in the interests of both parties to perpetuate it; when one of them is in power, they know they can break the law without consequences, as long as they protect the other party from consequences. As the New York Times referred to Obama’s opposition to investigating torture in late 2008, it’s an ongoing gentlemen’s agreement. It’s obviously in the interests of elites to sustain elite immunity, so obviously the only way that it can ever stop is if the massive numbers of people who aren’t vested with that immunity demand that it cease. They have to look at the treatment to which they’re being subjected, contrast it with the treatment to which elites are being subjected, and decide that such treatment is really unjust and intolerable.
The Politic: In the past, you’ve remarked that the mainstream media has failed to play the adversarial role against the government it is intended to play. But where do you think the line is drawn between being adversarial and being a shill for one side?
Greenwald: Obviously, there are people who are adversarial to the government only when one party is in power. Those are not watchdogs. Those are blatant partisans. They don’t care about checking political power. They only care about harming the other party. So you saw huge numbers of Democrats pretending to care about civil liberties when Bush was in power because it was an opportunity to undermine him, who suddenly have decided that they don’t mind at all now that they’re in power. You saw the same thing if you go back and look at the debates of the nineties and you have Republicans who were freaking out about black helicopters spying on them on behalf of the UN—
The Politic: [laughs] That was before my era.
Greenwald: Yeah, and the idea of the FISA court? They thought it was horrifying that there was a secret court that could issue warrants to eavesdrop in secret. But of course, as soon as they took over, they were not only fine with the government eavesdropping in secret, they were fine with the government eavesdropping with no warrants at all! These partisans aren’t the people I’m talking about. People who are genuinely adversarial to government—which is what the ethos of journalism is supposed to be—are people who are skeptical of what people in power are doing regardless of the political party to which they belong. As Adams said, “let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” The American model is designed to have all these institutions that are skeptical of the others and check them. The media was supposed to be the watchdog of the government, and it’s just become its servant.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
An investment manager's view of the top 1%
Guess who benefits the most from low taxes on capital gains? The people who earn most of their money on capital. That is the upper half of the top 1%, who are generally captains of industry, or come from the investment industry of our financial districts. Steve Ballmer get paid peanuts in salary (relative to his net worth). His real income are his hundreds of millions in dividend checks, which isn't taxed as regular income, but at 15%.
The reason why this is a concern isn't because the rich is getting richer. It's because the of the political influence the 0.1% have on the system. They were the ones who lobbied to have this tax code changed in their favor. They were the ones who lobbied to break up financial regulations that would have prevented the financial meltdown of 2008. The more influence these people have on policies, the more damage they can inflict on the greater economy. Just like too much risky leverage can destroy a bank. There's an orgy of evidence right in front of us with the financial collapse of 2008.
We need to get the money out of politics and put back the glass steagall regulations that keep our financial districts from falling on their own sword. Greed cannot be trusted to regulate itself. That is obvious. However, getting money and lobbying out of politics is going to take nothing less than a revolution.
The second best thing we can do is to expire this 15% capital gains tax, which is just designed to maintain perpetual wealth for the very few people who earn their entire living off of capital.
On 10/12 the General Assembly for Occupy Seattle passed the following proposal:
"To call for and plan a mass occupation of Westlake Park with tents starting Saturday, October 15, 2011 in solidarity with the worldwide Occupy Movements."
Seattle needs your help to reclaim our occupation. We can not maintain our space unless we attain critical mass, and we need everyones help to do it. Seattle is one of the top corporate head quarters of the world. It is important for the integrity of this movemenet and this country that we the people of the great north west let the powers that be, the powers that surround us, know that this occupation is not going anywhere. So this Saturday, bring your tents, and your sunday best.
Meet at West Lake center, and we will decide from there where we will set up base camp.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Raucous protesters who have flooded downtown Washington in recent days took their cries to the Capitol on Tuesday, vowing to shut down congressional work until senators came out and listened to their grievances.
Capitol Police arrested six of the protesters, who were charged with unlawful conduct-demonstrating in a Capitol building, Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said. More than 100 protesters shouted “We are the 99 percent” and “Tax the rich, end the war” starting around 11:30 a.m. inside the Hart Senate Office Building. They waved banners that read “End the War” and “Cure Electile Dysfunction.” Senate staffers were warned by Capitol Police to avoid the building’s atrium.
“We’re occupying this space. We’re occupying D.C.,” said Andreu Honeycutt, 30, of Washington D.C. “The idea is to shut it down.”
They came from several coalitions – Occupy D.C., an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street protests; Stop the Machine, an antiwar group who have been camped out in Freedom Plaza, and Code Pink among the mishmash of protest causes that tried to infiltrate the Hart building.
“We want senators to get the message,” said Judie Hoeppner from Hawaii, who gave her age as “almost 70.” “They’re not interested [in talking to the protesters]. They’re beholden to corporations because they have the money.”
Police officers were spotted escorting protesters away from the atrium, but dozens more were lined up along the balconies at Hart, shouting in tandem with the activists on Hart’s ground floor. Schneider, who was at the scene, said officers “have to stick around to watch and see what happens.” No injuries were reported.
“We can’t take this anymore. We’re done,” said Bruce Berry, 66, of Minneapolis. “We need to let the world know that we are not going to take this anymore. Our government needs to know we’re not going to take this anymore.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was walking to her Hart Building office when she stumbled upon the protests. Her office, she said, wasn’t disrupted because it doesn’t face the building’s atrium, where much of the chanting and yelling were focused.
“I think everybody has the right to protest, as long as they’ve done the right permits and notification and are not disrupting business,” McCaskill told POLITICO. “It depends on how loud the chanting is and whether or not people can still work. But fundamentally everyone has a right to express themselves in this country, and I think it’s great people are taking advantage of that.
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Our stinking rotten government spends OUR TAX MONEY ON THIS????? We need to occupy every gov't office until they quit supporting this! Met so many supportive people working on this issue in DC.