Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why We Occupy

In NYC, the 'occupation' of Wall Street is in its third week. And across America, various 'occupations' in support and solidarity have arisen and are growing.

Why are we doing this? I can only speak for myself, but here's what I think.

Wall Street was the perfect target, as its the heart of the evil or disease that has infected America. We live in a country where money dominates all. Money dominates our elections. Democracy has been pushed aside in America to make room for a government of money, by money and for money. The candidate with the most money almost always wins. Politicians certainly believe this, as they want to win and thus they spend their time accumulating donations and talking to people who can give them large quantities of money. Basic American concepts like "one person one vote" have been discarded for a world where money has been legally equated with free speech and corporations have taken the rights of freedom of speech as rights of their own.

Everything in America is for sale. Everything in America is dominated by money. The location of the OccupyWallStreet encampment speaks volumes to this, as old "Liberty Park" in lower manhattan, near where George Washington was sworn in as our first president, and home to the OccupyWallstreet encampment is no longer a public park but has been sold to a corporation.

We live in a country where money makes all decisions. Since elections are dominated by money, our representative bodies and our Presidents, Governors and Mayors all serve money. One gets the distinct impression that the only bills that pass and become law are those that make someone more money. Politics today is more an exercise in fighting over who gets a share of the public money, taken from us with high taxes, than an exercise in democracy.

When we as a nation try to talk about helping the unemployed that have lost their jobs when Wall Street crashed the economy, the political debate is entirely about money. When we as a nation try to talk about giving health care to all Americans like any other civilized nation, the debate is distorted so badly by money that the bill that results could have been named the Big Health Corporations Profit Protection Act of 2009. The one thing that was obvious from the 'health care debate' is that the bedrock that all of our money dominated government could agree on was that the profits of the big corporations in the health care field had to be protected and guaranteeed. Health care for Americans was obviously a secondary concern.

And this is why we occupy. We live in America where its been made very plain that the lives and well-being of Americans is now of secondary (or lower) importance than profits for Wall Street. Across America, citizens are losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their life savings, and denied health care because profits are much more important than people.

We want an America that is a democracy. That is once again a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We want an America where every human value is not sold for profit. We want an America where if one is sick or injured the first questions asked aren't 'how much money do you have to pay for it?"

That's nothing new. The original American revolution was a revolt against all the big money mercantile interests that had aligned with the King of England. The Boston Tea Party was as much about the East India Companies monopoly on trade as it was about tea. And, when the King and Parliament passed the Punitive Acts that tried to close Massachusetts democratically elected courts (that decided things like foreclosures) with officials who had bought the judgeship from the King of England, citizens of Massachusetts came out in the thousands and met these judges and just said No! That was the real beginning of the American revolution in the summer of 1774.

We want our country back. We don't believe that Wall Street should own America. We do not believe that every question and every decision should be made on the basis of who has the most money.


The Occupation of America is spreading. The #occupywallstreet protests are in their third week and still growing and gaining support. Some media types and celebrities have been showing up in NYC, and more importantly, people are rallying behind this.

Here in Denver, there are #occupyDenver protests in solidarity. Broadway in front of the state capital. Its an occupation, so there are people there 24/7. If you want to experience a democratic general assembly, that's at 3pm and 7pm. Any Americans reading this should do this if they can, as most Americans haven't seen a real democracy in their lifetimes.

#occupytogether is a place to search for other cities around the country. At the last count I heard, there are over 60 cities with protests/occupations in support and solidarity to what's going on on Wall Street.

Like all modern revolutions, its not televised. But it is on facebook and twitter. Go there, or your favorite search engine, and type something like "occupywallstreet", "occupytogether" or "occupydenver", or just about any American city name after the word "occupy" to learn more about what is going on around you in this country right now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NYPD's respect for non-violent protest

For anyone who might stumble across my blog and not have already seen the video of the #occupywallstreet protesters getting pepper-sprayed.

To me, this is torture. The NYPD has guidelines on the use of pepper-spray, and this commander in that police force went far beyond them. Whether its as an act of political intimidation to try to end the protests, or whether he's just a sadist who likes to hear women scream, who knows?

But, one of the interesting things to watch from all of this is whether the NYPD, the City government of NYC, and ultimately the people of NYC tolerate the presence of a know known torturer on the NYPD.

Anonymous: Occupy The Planet

Anonymous: Occupy The Planet

Find a city near you and come out and join the movement. And help promote online and spread the word. There's largely a media blackout on this, so that just means we all have to spread the word ourselves. Through Facebook and Twitter. Through old fashioned emails. Through talking with family and friends. Through posters and leaflets. Spread the word any way you can imagine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Philosophy Behind “Occupy Wall Street”

The Philosophy Behind “Occupy Wall Street” by VIJAY PRASHAD

It is this impulse to challenge Wall Street directly that shows how reasonable and necessary is the Occupy Wall Street protest movement underway in lower Manhattan (not far from where George Washington was inaugurated President). Those who have decided not to leave their tarpaulin homes, and who are being brutally treated by the New York police department, have an instinctively better solution for the country than those who want to throttle demand further by austerity (the GOP) and those who want to call for a stimulus without any challenge to the financial mandarins who would rather send the U. S. economy into a swamp than lose their own power over the world economic system (Obama).

Absent a fight against finance capital: to call for austerity is an act of cruelty; to call for a stimulus is illusionary.

We've tried to cure this 'worst downturn since the Great Depression' with a repeat of Herbert Hoover's policies.  We've given our money to the bankers, and we've cut taxes on the wealthy in the hopes that as in the theory of a b-grade cowboy actor named Reagan that these would 'trickle down' to the rest of us.

Have you been trickled on?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa, May 19, 2011 (with photos)

Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa, May 19, 2011

So we face a historic opportunity. We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.

Of course, as we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility. It’s not America that put people into the streets of Tunis or Cairo -– it was the people themselves who launched these movements, and it’s the people themselves that must ultimately determine their outcome.

Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short-term interests don’t align perfectly with our long-term vision for the region. But we can, and we will, speak out for a set of core principles –- principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months:

The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region. (Applause.)

The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders -– whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.

And we support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region.

Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest. Today I want to make it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions, and supported by all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal.

Let me be specific. First, it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy.