January 13, 2012

1% vs 99% In The News

Apple CEO Cook pay could lead in 2011 with $378 million pay package due to restricted stock - The Washington Post

vs

'Mass suicide' protest at Apple manufacturer Foxconn factory

Around 150 Chinese workers at Foxconn, the world's largest electronics manufacturer, threatened to commit suicide by leaping from their factory roof in protest at their working conditions.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 24, 2011

What Next In The Fight Over Who Our Economy Is For?

Who is our economy for, anyway? In the United States We, the People are supposedly in charge and our country and economy are supposed to be managed for the public good. But that isn't how things have been working out, is it?

Let's take a quick look at America over the last few decades.

We used to have a social contract. We invested in top-notch infrastructure (like the interstate highway system) and education (the best universities and research), and then tax the resulting gains at very high rates, to recirculate those gains for the benefit of all of us.

Broken Social Contract

Then the contract was broken. Starting in the 1970s a cabal of wealthy businessmen and conservative ideologues organized and funded an attack on We, the People government, manipulating public opinion and our political system, gutting the regulations and trade rules that protected us and our way of life, privatizing -- selling off things We, the People own -- and killing the tax-and-invest cycle so they could keep the gains from all of that prior investment for themselves.

Blanket Of Propaganda

To provide cover for the operation these agents of the 1% spread a thick blanket of propaganda, using every technique in the modern marketing book. They divided us by race, religion, gender, sexual preference, even pitting people who like quiche and lattes against those who like beer and sausage. To cripple potential opposition they infiltrated and fractured key institutions, and turned the public against the news media. They developed a professional career-path system that rewards those who play along with the corruption and destruction and punishes those who do not. To cripple dissent they used ridicule, shame and intimidation.

Destructive Choices Come Home To Roost

Since then things have steadily fallen apart. The infrastructure is crumbling. Unemployment is extreme. The country has very high debt. The trade deficit is extreme. Half of us are poor or nearly poor. Inequality is at the highest levels.

Bailouts For The 1%, Sell-Outs For The 99%

When things hit the fan it became clear that our country is no longer run for the good of We, the People. When it came down to it, a few got special treatment, the rest of us got ... uh, less-than-special-treatment. (And weren't even kissed.)

When the financial crisis occurred Congress was told they literally had only hours to come up with hundreds of billions to bail out the too-big-to-fail banks, and they did - with almost no conditions. We know now that the Federal Reserve also stepped up, providing trillions to the big banks, even hundreds of millions to bankers' spouses! State and local governments, institutions and smaller businesses? The unemployed and millions facing foreclosure? Not so much.

Plutocracy Not Democracy

They provided assistance for the giant financial institutions of the 1%. Instead of providing assistance to the 99& -- We, the People -- our government instead cut the things We, the People do for each other. It was made clear that this country is now a plutocracy, not a democracy.

System Of Control Breaking Down

It is clear where we are. But it is also clear that the system of control is breaking down. The elections of 2006 and 2008 shook the foundations. Democracy tried to reassert control. The behind-the-scenes system of lobbyists writing legislation that passes under cover of "studies" from corporate-front think tanks, telling us this is for our own good, propelled by a flurry of corporate-funded op-eds, stopped working. After the bailouts for banks / sell out for the rest of us, people started figuring things out. In response the 5-4 Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision, flooding the system with corporate money.

Instead of stealth takeover masked by propaganda we now see blatant grabs of wealth and raw power poorly disguised. Now the control is in our faces every day. Even constant filibusters of acts that might help We, the People were no longer enough to keep a lid on. So now it is shutdowns, hostage-taking, refusal to follow laws, refusal to prosecute, threats to take down the government and/or the economy. Now more visible methods of suppression are in use -- batons, tasers and pepper spray.

Waking Up

Everyone has been frustrated, discouraged, betrayed, scared and angry but without a focus for action. Then came the Occupy movement, people actually showing up and showing how! It resonated. People responded, and the conversation of the country was pulled out of the propaganda fog, at least for a while.

Stephen Lerner, interviewed by Sarah Jaffe for AlterNet, discusses where we go from here, saying, "[I]t's an exciting feeling to see something a lot of people spent a lifetime hoping for --this kind of dramatic increase in activity that targets financial capital, those who really control the country." On Occupy Wall Street, Lerner says,

Everybody knows they're getting zapped by banks, and what's so good about Occupy is that it's put that front and center. The fact that they were in Wall Street, I think everybody forgets. It was not Occupy a park somewhere, it was the fact that it was in the middle of the financial district. And I think on an intuitive level, people all over the political spectrum understand that those guys are at the center of how the economy is organized in a way that doesn't work for most people.

On Wall Street's position in our economy,

I don't think people are mad at somebody who invented a product or founded a company. It's that people see that Wall Street is not productive. Their wealth and their riches, they do not come through any normal means -- they come through cheating and gambling and ripping us off, which I think troubles us in a different kind of way.

On today,

I don't think anybody should view a sort of holiday or winter lull in activity as a sign of anything. As people have said, movements ebb and flow, and whenever we look back, spring is the time that things take off again. It's really important that people not say “Oh, everything was front page news and now it's not.” People instead should be stepping back, saying, “In three months we did more than anybody imagined we could do, now it's time to step back and figure out the next stage.”

What Next?

Now comes the long slog of organizing people into focused action to take back our country from the 1%. Van Jones has been laying the groundwork, joining with MoveOn.org and other organizations to organize the Rebuild the Dream movement, and its Contract for the American Dream. Please visit and get involved.

Here is Van Jones at Netroots Nation, talking about the American Dream movement:

Organized labor is fighting, too, with new tactics and getting more people involved. They are focusing on labor's role in creating a middle class in America. The recent Take Back the Capitol demonstrations are a case in point. In conjunction with many local and national organizations SEIU brought unemployed people to the DC to occupy the offices of 99 legislators, asking for jobs programs and extensions of unemployment benefits. They also marched on "K Street" - the symbolic center of lobbying activity.

Here is AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, Take Back the American Dream conference in October, calling for "a massive, militant movement":

Trumka told the audience that the right wing is “banking on an upside-down America for its path to political power.” Trumka said that now is the time for “a mighty movement for jobs and a just economy," adding, "We won't stop fighting, shoving and kicking until everyone is back at work."

Here is Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, talking about labor support for Occupy Wall street, and holding Wall Street accountable:

Here is Communication Workers of America President Larry Cohen discussing the fight for the middle class on The Ed Show.

See the pics in this post, showing labor's involvement at the November 2 Occupy Oakland actions:

Up To Us

What happens next is up to us. Don't be discouraged. "The people, united, will never be defeated."

THIS is what democracy looks like. Here are Wisconsin protesters chanting: "Tell me what democracy looks like. THIS is what democracy looks like!"




For those of us who can't get enough, here is 13 minutes of THIS is what democracy looks like!


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:36 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

December 19, 2011

American OccuPie (Video)

Really, really good:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:07 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 13, 2011

Take Back The Capitol -- Right Message, Right Time

Last week's Take Back the Capitol action brought two or three thousand unemployed people to the capitol. These representatives of the 99% went to the offices of 99 Senators and Representatives who now represent the 1%, where they were ignored and doors were closed on them. Some members were filmed fleeing down stairwells or hiding in copy rooms. So the next day the representatives of the 99% went to the people who really make the decisions. They marched on K Street, the symbolic center of the lobbying industry. They went to political fundraisers, and even to the Chamber of Commerce.

Here is a collection of videos of legislators fleeing their constituents who were there to represent the 99%, asking for JOBS and for extensions of unemployment benefits:


Just The Right Time

Take Back the Capitol seemed to happen at just the right time. "Occupy" camps across the country are being cleared, and newspapers were starting to talk about the movement as if it was over. Then this mass action descended in the nation's capitol making noise and drawing attention.

The powers-that-be might have thought they had suppressed this movement, but the movement seems to be stronger than ever. As Lee Camp said, "Pepper spraying #occupiers is like throwing water on gremlins, you just get 10 times as many."

Human Red Carpet

One of the best creative actions was a protest at the Chamber of Commerce, where the Take Back the Capitol people formed a "human red carpet" so the 1% could literally walk on the 99% as they entered the Chamber's holiday party.

Several dozen Occupy DC protesters rolled out the human red carpet for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's holiday party at their Washington, DC headquarters this evening. The Chamber is the nation's largest corporate lobby group. As guests entered, protesters shouted, "You walk on our rights, now walk on us!" encouraging attendees to trample on the activists laying underneath the red carpet painted with "99%." No one did, sadly, at least while ThinkProgress was in attendance.

Press Reports

Here is a sampling of the press reports:

Washington Post: As Occupy faces setbacks around the country, focus shifts to D.C.,

In Washington, hundreds of people, either from Occupy D.C. or bused in from around the country, participated in a "Day of Action: Occupiers Unite" to target K Street NW, where many of the capital's lobbyists are based.

The protesters succeeded in crippling downtown traffic for much of the afternoon, blocking intersections as they chanted and formed human chains. More than 70 people were arrested, but many Occupiers will tell you that can be a good thing, because it means the world will keep watching.

... The K Street action came on the heels of a similar protest called "Take Back the Capitol," during which hundreds of demonstrators from around the country parked themselves on the Mall. The group is backed by the powerful Service Employees International Union and the progressive activist group MoveOn.org.

AP: '99 percent' drop in on DC power players,

It wasn't the slick suits, pricey heels and sense of purpose of the congressional staffers that Susan Wilkinson saw this week on Capitol Hill. What stung about crossing paths with them, she said, was this: "They wouldn't make eye contact with us," the unemployed Seattle activist recalled Thursday. "When did I get invisible?"

Wilkinson was among hundreds of angry Americans who streamed through Washington and its corridors of power this week to command attention for the 99 percent of Americans that protesters claim are struggling to survive the recession. They were hard to miss.

CNN: Occupiers take K street -- photos,

Occupiers from all over the country marked the 3rd day of the 'Take Back the Capitol week', in Washington DC, with an event called 'Make Wall Street Pay' in which hundreds blocked several intersections on K street. Ultimately the protesters focused on 2 intersections: K street & 13th and 14th st nw, in which they decided to block the traffic flow by staging a sit-down and lying on the ground until arrested.

LA Times: Protesters occupy Newt Gingrich's fundraiser,

Newt Gingrich witnessed the Occupy movement up close and personal Wednesday night.

Protesters crashed his presidential fundraiser at a restaurant next to the storied Willard InterContinental Hotel in downtown D.C., about a baseball's throw from the White House.

. . . Gingrich held the $1,000-a-plate fundraiser as his campaign is trying to become a national organization--and pay off all its debts.

Our Reports From Last Week

99% March On K Street To Take Back The Capitol From The 1%

As Unemployed Seize K Street, Time To Amplify Pressure On Congress

Unemployed Confront Congress At Take Back The Capitol

It Keeps Going

People have had enough and are finally realizing they can speak out against the abuses and insults that the 1% are heaping on the rest of us. Last week it was blocking unemployment benefit extensions, so 2 million more of us will lose all income at the end of the year. It was blocking the appointee to head the new consumer financial protection agency, so backs and credit cards and predatory lenders can keep running their scams. What will it be next week?

It was predicted that the cold weather would stop the occupiers. It was predicted that clearing out the camps and using the intimidation that comes from masses of policy in military hardware using pepper spray and batons would suppress the movement. It didn't. Instead the movement moved on DC and into the offices of the legislators and then down to K Street and the Chamber from where the legislators get their orders and the fundraisers from which they get their corporate cash for use smearing the good people who try to fight them. Where next?


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Last week’s Take Back the Capitol action brought two or three thousand unemployed people to the capitol. These representatives of the 99% went to the offices of 99 Senators and Representatives who now represent the 1%, where they were ignored and doors were closed on them. Some members were filmed fleeing down stairwells or hiding in copy rooms. So the next day the representatives of the 99% went to the people who really make the decisions. They marched on K Street, the symbolic center of the lobbying industry. They went to political fundraisers, and even to the Chamber of Commerce.

Here is a collection of videos of legislators fleeing their constituents who were there to represent the 99%, asking for JOBS and for extensions of unemployment benefits:


Just The Right Time

Take Back the Capitol seemed to happen at just the right time. "Occupy" camps across the country are being cleared, and newspapers were starting to talk about the movement as if it was over. Then this mass action descended in the nation's capitol making noise and drawing attention.

The powers-that-be might have thought they had suppressed this movement, but the movement seems to be stronger than ever. As Lee Camp said, "Pepper spraying #occupiers is like throwing water on gremlins, you just get 10 times as many."

Human Red Carpet

One of the best creative actions was a protest at the Chamber of Commerce, where the Take Back the Capitol people formed a "human red carpet" so the 1% could literally walk on the 99% as they entered the Chamber's holiday party.

Several dozen Occupy DC protesters rolled out the human red carpet for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s holiday party at their Washington, DC headquarters this evening. The Chamber is the nation’s largest corporate lobby group. As guests entered, protesters shouted, “You walk on our rights, now walk on us!” encouraging attendees to trample on the activists laying underneath the red carpet painted with “99%.” No one did, sadly, at least while ThinkProgress was in attendance.

Press Reports

Here is a sampling of the press reports:

Washington Post: As Occupy faces setbacks around the country, focus shifts to D.C.,

In Washington, hundreds of people, either from Occupy D.C. or bused in from around the country, participated in a “Day of Action: Occupiers Unite” to target K Street NW, where many of the capital’s lobbyists are based.

The protesters succeeded in crippling downtown traffic for much of the afternoon, blocking intersections as they chanted and formed human chains. More than 70 people were arrested, but many Occupiers will tell you that can be a good thing, because it means the world will keep watching.

... The K Street action came on the heels of a similar protest called “Take Back the Capitol,” during which hundreds of demonstrators from around the country parked themselves on the Mall. The group is backed by the powerful Service Employees International Union and the progressive activist group MoveOn.org.

AP: '99 percent' drop in on DC power players,

It wasn't the slick suits, pricey heels and sense of purpose of the congressional staffers that Susan Wilkinson saw this week on Capitol Hill. What stung about crossing paths with them, she said, was this: "They wouldn't make eye contact with us," the unemployed Seattle activist recalled Thursday. "When did I get invisible?"

Wilkinson was among hundreds of angry Americans who streamed through Washington and its corridors of power this week to command attention for the 99 percent of Americans that protesters claim are struggling to survive the recession. They were hard to miss.

CNN: Occupiers take K street -- photos,

Occupiers from all over the country marked the 3rd day of the 'Take Back the Capitol week', in Washington DC, with an event called 'Make Wall Street Pay' in which hundreds blocked several intersections on K street. Ultimately the protesters focused on 2 intersections: K street & 13th and 14th st nw, in which they decided to block the traffic flow by staging a sit-down and lying on the ground until arrested.

LA Times: Protesters occupy Newt Gingrich’s fundraiser,

Newt Gingrich witnessed the Occupy movement up close and personal Wednesday night.

Protesters crashed his presidential fundraiser at a restaurant next to the storied Willard InterContinental Hotel in downtown D.C., about a baseball’s throw from the White House.

. . . Gingrich held the $1,000-a-plate fundraiser as his campaign is trying to become a national organization—and pay off all its debts.

Our Reports From Last Week

99% March On K Street To Take Back The Capitol From The 1%

As Unemployed Seize K Street, Time To Amplify Pressure On Congress

Unemployed Confront Congress At Take Back The Capitol

It Keeps Going

People have had enough and are finally realizing they can speak out against the abuses and insults that the 1% are heaping on the rest of us. Last week it was blocking unemployment benefit extensions, so 2 million more of us will lose all income at the end of the year. It was blocking the appointee to head the new consumer financial protection agency, so backs and credit cards and predatory lenders can keep running their scams. What will it be next week?

It was predicted that the cold weather would stop the occupiers. It was predicted that clearing out the camps and using the intimidation that comes from masses of policy in military hardware using pepper spray and batons would suppress the movement. It didn't. Instead the movement moved on DC and into the offices of the legislators and then down to K Street and the Chamber from where the legislators get their orders and the fundraisers from which they get their corporate cash for use smearing the good people who try to fight them. Where next?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:20 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 8, 2011

99% March On K Street To Take Back The Capitol From The 1%

I am in DC covering the Take Back the Capitol "99 in DC" events. On Tuesday I wrote about the efforts of unemployed people and others to get in to talk to their senators and representatives. (Watch some of them tell their stories.) On Wednesday they marched to “K Street” – the symbolic ground zero of the corporate takeover of our democracy. But first…

When I was waiting to get on the plane to come here the jetway was backed up. Now that the airlines are charging $25 just to check a bag, everyone brings their bags on and tries to cram them into the limited on-plane carry-on space. But of course, the airlines aren't paying the flight attendants more because of the extra work this causes. So this guy come pushing his way down the left side, shouting, “First class, out of the way, first class, let me through,” because he missed boarding first, and he was entitled to already be on the airplane and not have to wait in the line like the rest of us.

The rest of us are supposed to walk past the already-seated, first class passengers, eyeing their large, comfortable seats, while they sip their champagne mimosas, and look important and ... rich. We're supposed to envy them, and hope to eventually be among them. But until then we are supposed to be grateful that they "create jobs" and allow us to serve them. This is America today.

Why Occupy?

Outrages like this been getting worse and worse, and have reached a breaking point, with many of us unemployed -- because actually, the rich don't "create jobs, WE do! So the rest of us -- the 99% -- have been getting mad about things like this for a long time, and are finally starting to show it, now that things have gotten so bad. Across the country people are "occupying" places and ideas that have been taken over by the 1%. They are letting themselves get angry about the things that have been happening, the change from democracy to plutocracy, the way the big corporations and Wall Street now make the rules while they don't themselves have to follow the rules.

Not only has our Congress come under the control of the 1%, they have done very little to help the 99% through this crisis that was caused by the 1%. This Congress -- the first since the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court -- has done nothing to create jobs while doing a lot to kill jobs, and worse, at the end of this year extended unemployment benefits run out and 2 million people will lose their entire income.

Take Back The Capitol

So this week Take Back the Capitol brought unemployed people and others to Washington to confront their members of Congress and the lobbyists on "K Street" that they work for, to demand a change. Today they marched on K Street, the center of lobbying activity. CAF intern Sean McMartin was observing and writes,

On December 7, 2011, a date 70 years after Pearl Harbor, another piece of history was made. Supporters of the American Dream Movement and several other organizations from all over the country marched from the National Mall up to K Street in Washington. They came to protest their outrage with the rich, corporations, and the special interests, many of which have lobbyists with offices on "K Street." They shouted they were the 99% of the country, who have not fared well over past few years with high unemployment and stagnated wages.

Just before noon the people from the Take Back the Capitol came to the intersection of 16th and K Street, which became the epicenter of the protest. Occupy DC, which happened to be camped only a block away, saw what was happening and came out of their tents to join the protest. Then a group came marching from the west, too, as Occupy DC came from the east. The coordination was something to see in real time and represented several groups coming together from all over the place.

The police had to use their cars to block off a perimeter for the protest that involved 14th Street to 17th Street and I Street to L Street. Even policemen on horses,not seen often in Washington, were used as a show of force. There was no violence from what I could see, but a good old protest where people come together to show their outrage with the status quo.

Pedestrians going to lunch stepped out of their offices to witness history in the making. They took out their cameras and smartphones to record history as it happened and some even shouted their support for the movement.

After 1 pm city workers and police ordered the protestors onto the sidewalks and of the streets. The protestors slowly but surely followed and cleared the streets as were told.

Politico reported:

Wednesday morning, protesters organized by the ADM swarmed the headquarters of major corporations and financial institutions including Verizon, General Electric, Capitol Tax Partners, the American Bankers Association and the financial lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford.

A labor organizer said the protesters targeted corporations and lobbying groups representing companies that have paid more in executive compensation and lobbying in recent years than they’ve paid in taxes, citing a recent study by Public Campaign.

Hundreds of protesters from around the country converged on Verizon’s headquarters, chanting slogans like, “whose street — our street” and “shame on Verizon, pay your fair share.” Verizon employees and building staff looked on from the building lobby as protesters swarmed by.

Protesters also marched around the front of the American Bankers Association, where extra security had been put in place to prevent outsiders from getting into the building.

About 20 protesters were in the lobby of the Capitol Tax Partners’ building for a brief time, according to a source in the building.

Also on Wednesday, activists aligned with the Occupy D.C. movement based in McPherson Square marched to protest the Podesta Group, one of the city’s most powerful lobby shops, which has close ties to the Obama administration.

Here is a collection of photos and videos from the action at K Street (click through for videos)::

Click here to tell House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: Stop sabotaging the economy. Quit obstructing extensions of the payroll tax cut and long-term unemployment insurance.


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 6, 2011

Unemployed Confront Congress At Take Back The Capitol

Today thousands of unemployed people and others came to D.C. to tell Congress and "K Street" that they need jobs not cuts; that we should tax the rich, and that unemployment benefits must be extended before they run out at the end of the year.

I am in Washington to join them at the Take Back the Capitol "99 In DC" event. This is not the OccupyDC group, but it is supportive and very much like the Occupy group, with "Mic Check" and "We are the 99%" and "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out" chants going on everywhere. (Special note: There are no drum circles!)

The center for the activities is a series of large tents on the Mall in front of the old Smithsonian building. There is a stage for entertainment in the evening, a food tent with GREAT food, a New Media tent, a Peacekeepers tent, and other facilities. The event is organized by a number of groups, including the Service Employees International Union, along with local groups around the country. I talked to several people who came out from Idaho last night who organize food distribution and other services for poor and unemployed people, and they had stories about the terrible way unemployment is affecting people there.

Today people gathered in the morning in groups to prepare to visit members of Congress. There were three tents where groups gathered. There was the A-G tent, the H-O tent and the P-Z tent. I was joining the group that was heading over to Rep. Darrell Issa's office, and thought it was appropriate that we would meet in the H-O tent because he is such a big corporate ... well, you know.

Anyone Can Visit

A lot of people don't realize it, but anyone can visit the office of any member of Congress. You can come to D.C. and locate your member of Congress's office and go in and say you live in that district and want to say, "Hi." Or say other things. They work for you. Everyone in our delegation was from California, which is why Rep. Issa was chosen for a visit.

The group walked in the rain down the mall to the Capitol and turned right to the Rayburn building where some of the members of Congress and various committees are located. We had to pass through security which involved putting any bags and computers through an X-ray machine, and walking through a metal detector. We didn't have to take off our shoes.

Rep. Issa's Office

The group collected and went to Issa's office, walked right in, and asked to see the Congressman. He was over at the Capitol, an aide said she would speak with the people there, but the people wanted to see Rep. Issa himself. She asked if the group could please move to the hall, and they said they would wait right there, thank you. After some back and forth, please clear a path for visitors, please move to the hall, I'll meet with you instead, etc., she called the Capitol Police who said that the office had requested them to please leave. So they left the office and waited in the hall.

After a while the group decided to leave a few people at Issa's office and head over the another California Congressman's office, Rep. Dan Lungren. They arrived at Lungren's office, same story, we want to meet with the Representative, the aid said she would talk with them, no thanks we want to talk to the Congressman himself, etc. But this office did not call the Capitol Police, and they were especially nice, even bringing water and coffee. (Pretty good coffee.)

Meanwhile Rep. Issa showed up at his office, demanded that the people there show ID to prove they are from his district. One of them was, but she pointed out that Issa gets campaign money from donors and corporate PACS from all over the country, and that his committees represent the entire country, so why wouldn't he talk to citizens. He said no, booted them from his office, and took off.

This is going on in offices of dozens of members of Congress today, demanding that the 99% and the unemployed be heard, just as much as the corporate donors and billionaires be heard. They are asking for unemployment benefits to be extended, and for infrastructure projects that will employ millions and improve the economy, providing jobs for the long term. They are asking Congress for legislation to allow judges to "cram down" mortgage amounts so people do not lose their homes. They are asking for tax increases on the rich and new taxes on Wall Street speculation to pay for essential services so those services do not have to be cut.

Tomorrow they are going after K Street.

This is a slide show of pictures so far:

I also have videos with stories told by people about their situations, and will be posting those in their own posts later. Stay tuned.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 25, 2011

Occupy Y'All Gainseville

Watch this great video from Huffington Post, about Occupy in Gainsville, then go read the story: Occupy Y'all Street: OWS Movement Takes Shape In Gainesville













Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 22, 2011

How To Occupy

Please visit How To Occupy.

And you absolutely owe it to yourself to attend at least one Occupy meeting! See: Why You Should Attend An Occupy Meeting

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:08 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 21, 2011

Another Horrible Pepper Spraying

This time Tulsa, watch:

50 seconds in, they spray the guy's face from maybe 8 inches away. The guy was completely passive, peaceful.

This is done to try to put down demonstrations against the inequality and injustice resulting from the tax cuts and other policies that favor the wealthy few and their giant corporations.

These demonstrations are occurring because the 1% and their giant corporations have had their taxes lowered so much that our schools are suffering, the infrastructure is crumbling, etc. They don't pay taxes, WE pay taxes and OUR taxes are used for this - to put down people who are demonstrating.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 19, 2011

Egypt-Style Treatment Of Protesters

Quoting a friend: "there's something really fucked up when OUR tax dollars are paying the cops to protect the fucking 1% that don't pay any taxes"

More at Balloon Juice: Police Pepper Spray #OWS Student Protestors Directly in their Faces at Occupy Davis

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:42 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 17, 2011

Big Day Of Action Around The Country

A government that says corporate money is “speech” dispatches lines of police to stop actual human-being citizens from actually speaking out. It's all right there in front of us: Wall Street got bailouts, the rich got tax cuts, corporations got to buy elections, people got job loss and home loss and pension loss and health care loss, protests got crackdowns.

Your call @NYPDnews on Twitpic
(All pics are from twitter streams, clickable for larger, hover over them for descriptions.)

This is a BIG day of action in cities and towns all across the country. Here is a mid-day roundup of just some -- just some -- of what is going on. Click here to see a map of the hundreds of planned actions across the country. The scope and scale of this is just amazing, and is not at all being conveyed in the media.

Wall Street: Chanting “You’re sexy, you’re cute, now take off those riot suits,” demonstrators marched on the New York Stock Exchange. Retired police captain Ray Lewis was arrested holding a sign that read "NYPD Don't Be Wall Street Mercenaries."

Nonviolent, peaceful American citizens being arrested at #Occ... on Twitpic

A tweet: @digby56digby
RT @OccupyWallSt: Some bankers are holding signs that say, "get a job." Unemployment is at 10% and they're smug in suits. #N17 #OWS

these counter-protesters say they're trying to get to wo... on Twitpic NYPD v. Goldman salary comparison #ows #n17 on Twitpic

At a Portland, Oregon bridge:

Peaceful arrests have begun in Portland on the Steel Bridge #n17 on Twitpic

Los Angeles: AP: LA protesters march in financial district,

Los Angeles police have begun to arrest about 20 people sitting in an intersection at a rally by Occupy Wall Street sympathizers in the downtown financial district.

Hundreds of people marched Thursday before the small group linked arms around several tents and awaited arrest.

#N17 #OLA She's 82 years old & getting arrested for ... on Twitpic

Iowa City:

#N17 in Iowa City: SEIU Local 199 members were joined by Occu... on Twitpic

Dallas: Reuters: Occupy Dallas protesters evicted, more than a dozen arrested,

More than a dozen people were arrested on Thursday morning in Dallas when police on horseback and in riot gear evicted Occupy Dallas protesters from a site near City Hall where they have been camping for the past six weeks.

There was no violence. Dallas city officials put the number of people arrested at 18, while Occupy Dallas officials said 17 were arrested.

Duluth:

Citizens in Duluth MN took to the #bridges for #N17 earlier t... on Twitpic

Binghamton:

Mayor Ryan speaking at the rally #occupytheforum #ows #occupy... on Twitpic

Detroit: Huffington Post: Occupy Detroit Joins Nov. 17 Day Of Action

Occupy Detroit protesters on Thursday were set to join nationwide protests on the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement's initial encampment in New York City.

... The group's day of action comes the morning after Detroit Mayor Dave bing announced the need for significant austerity measures to avoid an even greater financial crisis in the city. In a Wednesday night address, the mayor called for a further 10 percent wage cut for city workers and an increase in worker contributions to health care coverage. Bing city police and firefighters should give the same concessions.

Albany: WGRZ: Occupy Buffalo Joins Demonstrations in Albany, NYC

About 250 protesters gathered Thursday at the Occupy Albany demonstration near the state Capitol, where activists planned to present their grievances to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

Buses from Buffalo, Rochester and other Occupy Wall Street encampments from around the state delivered the protesters to downtown Lafayette Park. Members of public employee unions have joined the Occupy Albany protesters.

Onward to the Capitol #n17  on Twitpic People gathering in Lafayette Park for rally #n17 #OcccupyAlb... on Twitpic

A bridge in Montana:

#N17 This bridge is the number one bridge in the state of Mon... on Twitpic

Denver: ABC7: Occupy Denver Joins 'Day Of Action',

The first rally at noon will be at the Denver Municipal Building at 201 West Colfax Ave. The building is across the street from Civic Center Park where the Occupy Denver protesters have been camped out.

The second rally will be held at the Greek Amphitheatre at 6 p.m. in Civic Center Park.

Occupy Denver said the 6 p.m. rally will be a "General Assembly meeting" where they will discuss the Occupy movement as a whole and how the group feels they should progress over the coming months.

Houston: Houston occupiers join worldwide day of action,

“Occupy Houston stands in solidarity with those Occupy movements who have recently come under attack, including Occupy Oakland, Occupy Wall Street and now, Occupy Dallas,” spokesman Dustin Phipps said in a statement. “We continue to assert our right to occupy public space and conduct our first amendment right to peaceably assemble.”

One Occupy protester was arrested earlier this week during an argument with police over tarps the group placed over electronic equipment in Tranquility Park, an ongoing point of contention between the protesters and City Hall.

Columbia:

please RT @nikkihaley  #occupycolumbia being evicted illegall... on Twitpic

Boston:

I pray that they may experience God's love and open thei... on Twitpic

NY Daily News: Occupy Wall St. spreads across the United States has pictures from around the country (not necessarily today) including Minneapolis, Miami, Providence, New Orleans, Lincoln, Seattle, Anchorage, Montgomery, Cincinnati, Burlington, Salt Lake City, Little Rock, Jackson, Ashland, Richmond, Hartford, Casper, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Tulsa, St. Louis, Boise, Honolulu, Salem, Austin and others.

Don't forget San Francisco, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Oakland/Berkeley, Philadelphia, Muncie, Davenport, Lexington, ...

Around The World, Too

London, Sydney, Toronto, Rome and Tokyo ... Is this pic really Tokyo?

@ows @occupywallst @occupywallstnyc Tokyo is the 99% #ows on Twitpic

Occupy Colleges

National Student Strike

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:46 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 14, 2011

Egypt-Style Attacks On Several Occupy Camps

When Egyptians stood up to Mubarak they were met with tear gas and clubs. Once upon a time American had freedom of assembly, speech and protest. Even now, as long as protests don't take on the 1%, they are OK. But in today's America-for-the-1% protests, assemblies and speech against plutocatic, 1% rule are met with tear gas and police batons to the head.

Occupy Movement camps around the country follow strict practices of nonviolence and democracy. As with any diverse community of people, there are troublemakers who take advantage of loose organization and predators who prey on others. This is why we have police departments in every city and town. But plutocratic government response is to discourage the Occupy Movement, so government services are denied these citizens. Instead of helpfully serving communities, the frown of disapproving authority is cast upon their activities.

Disgust and fear are powerful propaganda tools, and there has been a remarkable "soften up public opinion" media drumbeat using repeated accusations of bugs, thugs, drugs, muggings, disease, rats, filth, and other disgust and fear-invoking imagery. (Perhaps worst of all in the "shame them" index, even beards and general non-consumerism and non-conformity are described!) So with the ground prepared and the way paved for police actions, Occupy camps in Portland, Oakland, Chapel Hill, St. Louis, Albany, Salt Lake City, Burlington, San Francisco, Denver and other cities were raided over the weekend.

"The 1% And Its Government Facilitators"

Of course in one form or another Occupy actions will continue as long as the 1% continues its extreme shock-doctrine power and wealth grab. There are still scores of other Occupy actions taking place in cities around the country and world.

In Oakland the mayor's legal advisor posted on Facebook that he has resigned over Monday's police raid of Occupy Oakland.

His Facebook post: "No longer Mayor Quan's legal adviser. Resigned at 2 am. Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators."

Report From Oakland

AlterNet's Joshua Holland reports on the police action in Oakland, in Thousands of Riot Cops Descend on Occupy Oakland, 32 Arrested,

It's the explosions and large volume of gunshots that made these actions excessive. The generous use of flash-bang grenades, tear gas and “less lethal” rounds deployed by police in heavy black body armor felt more like the opening scene to Saving Private Ryan than footage of, say, protests against the Vietnam War being broken up by helmeted police swinging batons. While the weapons deployed by police are designed not to kill or maim (if used properly), the visceral sensation of walking through streets dodging explosions and chemical agents while rounds crackle in the air creates an effect similar to that of actual combat – abject terror, disorientation and a sense of unease that lingers for days.


Roundups And Videos

RT has a roundup of of some of these actions, Occupy camps under attack across America

Here is an AP video roundup of some of these actions:

Here is CNN footage of various actions around the country:

Here is footage from an early Occupy event:

What You Can Do

Attend at least one Occupy event.

You may have heard about the "Occupy" protests that are occurring in cities around the country. They aren't what you are hearing. Please come to one and see for yourself. If you are young, old, white, black, brown, poor, rich, left, right, centrist, even Tea Party you will find people just like you. You might agree, you might disagree, you might love it, you might hate it, but you owe it to yourself to come and see for yourself.

A lot of people feel frustration with the huge and increasing gap between the rich and the poor and the effect this is having on our country, culture, politics and the way we relate to each other as Americans. It seems like everything in the country is now geared toward the top 1%, and the rest of us are divided and supposed to keep quiet and accept this. Somehow the Occupy movement started at just the right time, when just the right number of people were fed up with the way things are going and the lack of solutions coming from our political leaders. It grew quickly, because people were tired of keeping quiet while our government seems to operate only for the benefit of the top few and expects the rest of us to sacrifice to pay for that.

This all brings us a chance to restore democracy not just in our communities, but within ourselves. By attending and participating, we are exercising the "muscles" of democracy, of speaking up and being part of something. The thing is, you won’t just see it, you’ll feel it. You'll feel what it is like to have so many people around you who agree with you. You'll feel what it is like to be part of something important.

How To Find One Near You

The "Occupy" movement has now been going on for just over six weeks, and has spread to hundreds of towns across the country. You can probably find one near you. Start at Occupy Together which is at http://www.occupytogether.org/. Take a look at the page where they show you what is happening in your area, using a map. Also, try typing 'Occupy' and the name of your town into Google just to see what pops up.

Also see them on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/occupyeverywhere, and http://www.facebook.com/Gilded.Age . Also visit the Rebuild the Dream movement, and, of course, MoveOn.org.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Amazing Video From Early Occupy Event!

See for yourself. Here is footage from an early Occupy event:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 9, 2011

Mic Check

In a democracy
     In a democracy
The 99 percent
     The 99 percent
Count just as much
     Count just as much
As the top few
     As the top few

In a democracy
     In a democracy
It’s one person one vote
     It’s one person one vote
And it’s not
     And it’s not
One dollar one vote
     One dollar one vote

In a democracy
     In a democracy
Big corporations
     Big corporations
Don’t get
     Don’t get
To write the laws
     To write the laws

In a democracy
     In a democracy
We the People
     We the People
Are the ones
     Are the ones
Who make the rules
     Who make the rules

In a democracy
     In a democracy
We have rule of law
     We have rule of law
And the rich
     And the rich
Aren’t above the law
     Aren’t above the law


Tell me what democracy looks like
     This is what democracy looks like
Tell me what democracy looks like
     This is what democracy looks like

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 8, 2011

Occupy Movement Is Spreading And Growing

Our captured government won’t do its job. It doesn't keep Wall Street and banks and giant corporations from ripping us off and doesn't prosecute them after they do. It doesn't stop polluters - even as the effects of climate change increase. It doesn't enforce employment and labor laws, so all of us who work fall further and further behind. It doesn't take care of those in need even as more and more of us are in greater and greater need. It just helps the connected rich get richer. So people finally got fed up, and started "occupying." Now the occupy movement is spreading to more and more cities, growing with more and more people, and expanding people's understanding of the power that comes from speaking out.

It started with Occupy Wall Street, people rising up over the greed and inequality, the1% vs 99%. Labor joined, adding their voice and grievances. Veterans, teachers and others are showing up in greater and greater numbers now. Others are joining. Now it's everywhere: Hundreds of towns like Occupy Orlando and Chicago and Portland and Nashville and Asheville and Oakland and even little towns like Redwood City.

People are getting arrested as the powers-that-be react to the spreading and growing crowds. According to Chris Bowers at Daily Kos,

Arrests in Chicago, New York City, Fresno, Eureka, Denver, Portland, Boston, Seattle, Oakland, Ashville, Riverside and more cities over the weekend has brought the total number of arrests of Occupy protesters over 3,350.

Globalization Of Protest

The world feels the effect of their common wealth draining to shock-doctrine attacks from the 1%. Economist Joseph Stiglitz writes at Al Jazeera that in reaction to this we are seeing The globalisation of protest,

The protest movement that began in Tunisia in January, subsequently spreading to Egypt and then to Spain, has now become global - with the protests engulfing Wall Street and cities across America. Globalisation and modern technology now enables social movements to transcend borders as rapidly as ideas can.

And social protest has found fertile ground everywhere: A sense that the "system" has failed, and the conviction that even in a democracy, the electoral process will not set things right - at least not without strong pressure from the street.

Stiglitz writes that arond the world these protesters are sounding an alarm:

They are right that something is wrong about our "system". Around the world, we have underutilised resources - people who want to work, machines that lie idle, buildings that are empty - and huge unmet needs: Fighting poverty, promoting development, and retrofitting the economy for global warming, to name just a few. In America, after more than seven million home foreclosures in recent years, we have empty homes and homeless people.

The protesters have been criticised for not having an agenda. But this misses the point of protest movements. They are an expression of frustration with the electoral process. They are an alarm.

... On one level, today's protesters are asking for little: A chance to use their skills, the right to decent work at decent pay, a fairer economy and society. Their hope is evolutionary, not revolutionary. But, on another level, they are asking for a great deal: A democracy where people, not dollars, matter, and a market economy that delivers on what it is supposed to do.

Seniors Occupying Over Social Security & Medicare Cuts

More groups are expressing their own dissatisfaction with the captured government cutting back in order to preserve the tax cuts and other benefits of the top 1%. At The Huffington Post, Lizzie Schiffman reports in, Seniors Join Occupy Chicago, Protest Cuts To Medicare, Social Security

More than 1,000 senior citizens and their supporters marched from Chicago's Federal Plaza to the intersection of Jackson and Clark Street Monday morning to protest proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

… Amid chants demanding that the cuts be forestalled -- with suggestions for alternatives, including tax hikes -- 43 demonstrators were escorted from the intersection (see video, above) by police and issued citations for pedestrian failure to "exercise due care," or for blocking traffic. Those cited included four protesters using assisted mobility devices and at least one centenarian.

Moving Money From Banks

In conjunction with the Occupy Movement, people have started to move money from the too-big banks to non-profit credit unions that exist to actually serve the customers instead of the few at the top. 650,000 pedople moved from banks to credit unions just in October -- more than all of the prior year -- and early estimates of the recent November 5 action calculate that perhaps $60 billion was moved.

Occupy The Super Committee

Congress' supercommittee of the 1% is discussing how much money to take out of the economy of the 99% by cutting back on the things our government does for We, the People. They want to cut the deficits that resulted from tax cuts for the rich and huge increases in military spending -- without undoing those. So now a group is setting up to occupy the supercommittee. The Occupied Super Committee Hearing of the 99%

OccupyWashingtonDC to hold Occupied Super Committee Hearing for the 99%
Wednesday, November 9th at 11:00 AM

OccupyWashingtonDC.org will hold a hearing on the economy for the 99% that will examine how to create a fair economy for all Americans.

The Occupied Hearing will contrast with hearings on Capitol Hill which are destined to enrich the 1% and protect major donors.

The Occupied Super Committee Hearing for the 99% will examine critical issues facing the economy and the federal budget. The hearing will include testimony from people with great understanding of the issues facing the country as well as comments from the 99% who are directly affected by the economy.

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Views Of A Congressman's Occupy Video

How often does a member of Congress put a video on YouTube and quickly get hundreds of thousands of views? Keith Ellison (D-MN), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, made a video for the "CongressionalYoutube Town Hall" series, talking about the Occupy Wall Street movement. The video has received 340,000 views as of Tuesday morning.


Occupy Everywhere And Everything

Possible new Occupy actions include places that the government is ignoring its responsibilities, and people are sick of just taking it. Some ideas:

  • Occupying polluting companies, until they stop polluting.

  • Occupying privatized public functions -- jobs that have been handed to private contractors in order to pay people poverty wages, while making a few at the top very, very rich.

  • Occupying companies that refuse to hire the unemployed.

  • Occupying companies that refuse to hire people over 40.

    Encouraged by the Occupy Movement, more and more people are finding their voice and speaking out.

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    November 4, 2011

    Occupy's Asshole Problem: Flashbacks from An Old Hippie

    A guest post by Sara Robinson

    I wish I could say that the problems that the Occupy movement is having with infiltrators and agitators are new. But they're not. In fact, they're problems that the Old Hippies who survived the 60s and 70s remember acutely, and with considerable pain.

    As a veteran of those days -- with the scars to prove it -- watching the OWS organizers struggle with drummers, druggies, sexual harassers, racists, and anarchists brings me back to a few lessons we had to learn the hard way back in the day, always after putting up with way too much over-the-top behavior from people we didn't think we were allowed to say "no" to. It's heartening to watch the Occupiers begin to work out solutions to what I can only indelicately call "the asshole problem." In the hope of speeding that learning process along, here are a few glimmers from my own personal flashbacks -- things that it's high time somebody said right out loud.

    1. Let's be clear: It is absolutely OK to insist on behavior norms. #Occupy may be a DIY movement -- but it also stands for very specific ideas and principles. Central among these is: We are here to reassert the common good. And we have a LOT of work to do. Being open and accepting does not mean that we're obligated to accept behavior that damages our ability to achieve our goals. It also means that we have a perfect right to insist that people sharing our spaces either act in ways that further those goals, or go somewhere else until they're able to meet that standard.

    2. It is OK to draw boundaries between those who are clearly working toward our goals, and those who are clearly not. Or, as an earlier generation of change agents put it: "You're either on the bus, or off the bus." Are you here to change the way this country operates, and willing to sacrifice some of your almighty personal freedom to do that? Great. You're with us, and you're welcome here. Are you here on your own trip and expecting the rest of us to put up with you? In that case, you are emphatically NOT on our side, and you are not welcome in our space.

    Anybody who feels the need to put their own personal crap ahead of the health and future of the movement is (at least for that moment) an asshole, and does not belong in Occupied space. Period. This can be a very hard idea for people in an inclusive movement to accept -- we really want to have all voices heard. But the principles #Occupy stands for must always take precedence over any individual's divine right to be an asshole, or the assholes will take over. Which brings me to....

    3. The consensus model has a fatal flaw, which is this: It's very easy for power to devolve to the people who are willing to throw the biggest tantrums. When some a drama king or queen starts holding the process hostage for their own reasons, congratulations! You've got a new asshole! (See #2.) You must guard against this constantly, or consensus government becomes completely impossible.

    4. Once you've accepted the right of the group to set boundaries around people's behavior, and exclude those who put their personal "rights" ahead of the group's mission and goals, the next question becomes: How do we deal with chronic assholes?

    This is the problem Occupy's leaders are very visibly struggling with now. I've been a part of asshole-infested groups in the long-ago past that had very good luck with a whole-group restorative justice process. In this process, the full group (or some very large subset of it that's been empowered to speak for the whole) confronts the troublemaker directly. The object is not to shame or blame. Instead, it's like an intervention. You simply point out what you have seen and how it affects you. The person is given a clear choice: make some very specific changes in their behavior, or else leave.

    This requires some pre-organization. You need three to five spokespeople to moderate the session (usually as a tag team) and do most of the talking. Everybody else simply stands in a circle around the offender, watching silently, looking strong and determined. The spokespeople make factual "we" statements that reflect the observations of the group. "We have seen you using drugs inside Occupied space. We are concerned that this hurts our movement. We are asking you to either stop, or leave."

    When the person tries to make excuses (and one of the most annoying attributes of chronic assholes is they're usually skilled excuse-makers as well), then other members of the group can speak up -- always with "I" messages. "I saw you smoking a joint with X and Y under tree Z this morning. We're all worried about the cops here, and we think you're putting our movement in danger. We are asking you to leave." Every statement needs to end with that demand -- "We are asking you to either stop, or else leave and not come back." No matter what the troublemaker says, the response must always be brought back to this bottom line.

    These interventions can go on for a LONG time. You have to be committed to stay in the process, possibly for a few hours until the offender needs a pee break or gets hungry. But eventually, if everybody stays put, the person will have no option but to accept that a very large group of people do not want him or her there. Even truly committed assholes will get the message that they've crossed the line into unacceptable behavior when they're faced with several dozen determined people confronting them all at once.

    Given the time this takes, it's tempting to cut corners by confronting several people all at once. Don't do it. Confronting more than two people at a time creates a diffusion-of-responsibility effect: the troublemakers tell themselves that they just got caught up in a dragnet; the problem is those other people, not me. The one who talks the most will get most of the heat; the others will tend to slip by (though the experience may cause them to reconsider their behavior or leave as well).

    This process also leaves open the hope that the person will really, truly get that their behavior is Not OK, and agree to change it. When this happens, be sure to negotiate specific changes, boundaries, rules, and consequences ("if we see you using drugs here again, we will call the police. There will be no second warning"), and then reach a consensus agreement that allows them to stay. On the other hand: if the person turns violent and gets out of control, then the question is settled, and their choice is made. You now have a legitimate reason to call the cops to haul them away. And the cops will likely respect you more for maintaining law and order.

    Clearing out a huge number of these folks can be a massive time suck, at least for the few days it will take to weed out the worst ones and get good at it. It might make sense to create a large committee whose job it is to gather information, build cases against offenders, and conduct these meetings.

    And finally:

    5. It is not wrong for you to set boundaries this way. You will get shit for this. "But...but...it looks a whole lot like a Maoist purge unit!" No. There is nothing totalitarian about asking people who join your revolution to act in ways that support the goals of that revolution. And the Constitution guarantees your right of free association -- which includes the right to exclude people who aren't on the bus, and who are wasting the group's limited time and energy rather than maximizing it. After all: you're not sending these people to re-education camps, or doing anything else that damages them. You're just getting them out of the park, and out of your hair. You're eliminating distractions, which in turn effectively amplifies the voices and efforts of everyone else around you. And, in the process, you're also modeling a new kind of justice that sanctions people's behavior without sanctioning their being -- while also carving out safe space in which the true potential of Occupy can flourish.

    Posted by Guest at 12:56 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    November 3, 2011

    Oakland Occupied -- Will Washington Listen At Last?

    It was an amazing thing to be part of, an entire city downtown occupied, then a huge march that shut down a major port. Oakland was #occupied! This was a game changer, a turning point. What happened in Oakland was a very big deal. On the same Wednesday there were big, big #occupy events in several other cities. But will Washington pay attention?

    Occupy Oakland

    I arrived at Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland yesterday about 11:30am. The streets were blocked off by police (a single police car keeping traffic out) a block or three out in all four directions, and a large crowd was gathered. The Plaza itself was surrounded by occupier tents, the surrounding street had several booths, and there was a bit of a festival atmosphere.

    At the corner of 14th and Broadway there was a stage set up with speakers throughout the day. Hundreds of people milled about, many with signs saying everything from "We Are The 99%" to "Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out," "Tax The Rich," "Stand With The 99%," "We Get Cut, They Get Rich," etc...

    There was a harmonious energy with people of all ethnicities, ages, cultures and from all over the area. People were friendly, helpful, welcoming, and overall supportive of each other. It was a very pleasant event on a very pleasant day.

    The main action of the day began at 4PM as the first of two marches left for the Port of Oakland. A number of buses filled up first, sending people to set up early picket lines. They would be joined and reinforced as marchers arrived. The picket lines and first marchers were effective as the workers honored the lines. Seeing the very large number of people heading for the port authorities decided to close operations and send workers home. But still thousands upon thousands of people marched, with many thousands more joining the 5pm march.

    The scene at the port was just astonishing. People were just everywhere, as far as I could walk, passing more and more crowds of people, each time thinking this must be the "main mass." Then walk a bit further and there would be an even bigger mass of people. Drummers, dancers, people sitting on trucks. And of course lots of people wondering what was going on and what would happen next...

    Finally people started tricking out, heading back to the occupy center at Oscar Grant Plaza.

    And, of course, later a number of anarchists started a bonfire and had to be cleared out with tear gas.

    Josh Holland at AlterNet has a good writeup of the days events, in OWS Oakland Takes Over City, Shutting Down One of the Biggest Ports in the Country...But Nightfall Brings More Chaos and Teargas

    As many as 15,000 people participated in actions across Oakland yesterday, with small marches peeling off to protest in front of banks or "occupy" foreclosed homes. There were probably eight to ten times the number of people in the streets of Oakland today as I'd seen during past OWS actions. Police maintained a minimal presence throughout the day.

    ... A day of scattered actions across the city culminated in a massive "occupation" that shut down the Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest container port in the country. When it was announced that operations had been suspended for the night, thousands of people partied around trucks halted in their tracks, celebrating a victory in their struggle with authorities that began with the violent eviction of Occupy Oakland last week. The Oakland police, and Mayor Jean Quan, stung by negative press stemming from the clashes, essentially gave the port to the movement.

    No Police At All?

    The role of police in communities in a democracy is to be part of the community and to protect the community from the troublemakers, predators, criminals, etc. That includes communities of people expressing their dissatisfaction with plutocracy, just like crowds at football games, etc.

    At a football game you see the police mixing with the crowds, spotting trouble, etc. They aren't lined up in full combat gear to intimidate the crowd and make people think they are doing something that is prohibited. They aren't under orders to treat the crowd at a football game or rock concert as an enemy.

    In a plutocracy the police are under orders to do just that. And that is what the police have been doing in cities like Oakland.

    So because of previous trouble when police were ordered to attack peaceful protesters the police had to be simply absent in Oakland yesterday in the face of such a large crowd. A self-organized mass like Occupy, in its early stages (this was only the 7th week!) hasn't learned how to deal with these things on their own and they shouldn't have to. They shouldn't need to set up their own government, etc., they are part of the larger community. It is not illegal to protest, or to have a beard, etc. People should not be mocked, humiliated, attacked, or have the police set on them because they oppose the greed of the giant corporations and big banks and Wall Street speculators. They are citizens.

    This is not the fault of the police force. They are people with families and mortgages and car payments just like most of us. They have to do what they are told to do when they show up for work. The problems start when they show up for work and are told to attack peaceful protesters.

    They should have been there assisting the citizens, from the start, just like a crowd at a festival, concert, or sporting event. And that would have prevented the troublemakers from breaking windows, starting bonfires, etc.

    Major Labor Presence

    There was a very big labor presence at the events in Oakland. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) had a strong presence. Their workers are engaged in a battle with Verizon, a giant and highly profitable company that is trying nonetheless to cut worker pay, benefits, safety standards and generally fight to push them out of the middle class.


    Representatives of any, many other labor organizations were present, supporting the goals of the Occupy movement.

    Pics

    Here is a slideshow of pics and videos taken with my phone: (in some browsers you need to hit refresh to see this)


    I also reported quite a bit of moment-to-moment action and posted many more pics on my twitter feed.

    Spreading And Growing

    The Occupy movement is in its 7th week, and continues to spread and grow. It has spread to cities around the country and world, and the numbers at each location continue to grow.

    A quick scan of the news shows events in cities across the country including but not in any way limited to Omaha, Nashville, Rochester, Asheville, Albuquerque, Milwaukee, Denver, Washington, Philadelphia, Tulsa, Detroit, Chicago, Fort Myers, Austin, Boise, Atlanta, Sacramento, Portland, and of course New York.

    Washington Reaction

    In Washington this week the reaction to the national #occupy protests has been immediate and unrestrained. Reacting to the national attention and concern about Wall Street and corporate greed and the effect on the 99% of Americans facing tremendous work and financial pressures, the House of Representatives debated a bill to affirm "In God We Trust" as the nation's motto. And in the Senate, Republicans filibustered another effort to provide jobs from maintaining the country's crumbling infrastructure.

    Also, in reaction to the national call for efforts to fight corporate greed and provide jobs the "super committee" debated how much money to take out of the economy, cutting Medicare and Social Security for the elderly, essential government services for the 99% of us who don't own big chunks of large corporations, all while seeking ways to further lower top and corporate tax rates. Never mind looking for ways to cut the overwhelming, bloated, huge, enormous, extravagant, inflated, out-of-control, budget-busting military budget!!!

    At the same time others in Congress are discussing allowing giant multinational corporations to bring back the profits made from sending jobs and factories out of the country without having to pay taxes on that money.

    A Warning Shot At Washington's Increasing Irrelevance

    As I said, this public protest is spreading and growing. People have had enough and are taking to the streets in increasing numbers. But Washington continues to ignore the public, debating a national motto, as Repubicans block jobs and an elitist "super committee" debates cutting the things government does for the 99%.

    Poll after poll shows the public overwhelmingly supports increasing taxes on the wealthy, bringing corporations under control, and reigning in trade agreements that suck our jobs, factories, companies and industries out of the country. People do not want Medicare, Social Security and other essential government programs cut, they want the rich and corporations and Wall Street to start paying their share.

    The public wants something done about these problems. They want jobsm, they want something done about the incresing

    If Congress continues to ignore the people of the country it will not be long before the situation is like Mubarak pretending he is still in charge of Egypt, while the people of the country are in the streets planning how they will run the country without him and his cronies.

    Water On Gremlins

    Lee Camp said that pepper spraying #occupiers is like throwing water on gremlins, you just get 10 times as many.

    "Good God don't you get it, greed is no longer good."

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:57 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 31, 2011

    Why You Should Attend An Occupy Meeting

    Please forward this to friends, relatives, "centrists" and conservatives you know. You may have heard about the "Occupy" protests that are occurring in cities around the country. They aren't what you are hearing. Please come to one and see for yourself. If you are young, old, white, black, brown, poor, rich, left, right, centrist, even Tea Party you will find people just like you. You might agree, you might disagree, you might love it, you might hate it, but you owe it to yourself to come and see for yourself.

    A lot of people feel frustration with the huge and increasing gap between the rich and the poor and the effect this is having on our country, culture, politics and the way we relate to each other as Americans. It seems like everything in the country is now geared toward the top 1%, and the rest of us are divided and supposed to keep quiet and accept this. Somehow the Occupy movement started at just the right time, when just the right number of people were fed up with the way things are going and the lack of solutions coming from our political leaders. It grew quickly, because people were tired of keeping quiet while our government seems to operate only for the benefit of the top few and expects the rest of us to sacrifice to pay for that.

    This all brings us a chance to restore democracy not just in our communities, but within ourselves. By attending and participating, we are exercising the "muscles" of democracy, of speaking up and being part of something. The thing is, you won’t just see it, you’ll feel it. You'll feel what it is like to have so many people around you who agree with you. You'll feel what it is like to be part of something important.

    How To Find One Near You

    The "Occupy" movement has now been going on for just over six weeks, and has spread to hundreds of towns across the country. You can probably find one near you. Start at Occupy Together which is at http://www.occupytogether.org/. Take a look at the page where they show you what is happening in your area, using a map. Also, try typing 'Occupy' and the name of your town into Google just to see what pops up.

    Also see them on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/occupyeverywhere, and http://www.facebook.com/Gilded.Age . Also visit the Rebuild the Dream movement, and, of course, MoveOn.org.

    So now that you know where one is, come on down, and see for yourself. If you need a ride ask your niece or your aunt. If your aunt needs a ride, give her a ride.

    What To Expect

    Warning, there might be some people with beards, and God forbid, drum circles.

    People are out there speaking for themselves, and learning how to be citizens again, instead of just consumers. This will have a lot of interesting outcomes, most of them good, some of them won't work out. But it will be people who want to be involved again.

    Depending on your community, there will likely be a turnout of some people with signs and leaflets, maybe some people set up with tables to do things like register people to vote, organizations with literature, groups that know each other, people who don't know each other standing around, etc. There will be a diversity people people.

    These events are self-organizing, no one is "running" these events, but volunteers will be helping to organize them. The character of the event completely depends on who shows up, who volunteers to help run it, and how much the people speak up. So it's up to you to do your part.

    See the website How To Occupy and the Field Manual wiki.

    Occupy events have a "General Assembly" meeting once or twice every day. In New York the meeting is at 7pm. At the recent Redwood City, CA Occupy event it was at about 6pm. As I said above, volunteers run things, which means that after you get to know the ropes you might want to volunteer.

    From the Occupy Wall Street website:

    The occupations around the world are being organized using a non-binding consensus based collective decision making tool known as a "people's assembly". To learn more about how to use this process to organize your local community to fight back against social injustice, please read this quick guide on group dynamics in people's assemblies.

    These meetings are the heart of the movement. Please come attend one, even if it is just to watch. You'll feel what it is like to be say what is on your mind. (And you'll feel what it is like to sit there while so many other people say what is on their minds. ;-) Don't worry, it works, and people keep comments short.) This is what democracy looks like.

    Occupy Redwood City

    Friday I attended Occupy Redwood City (California), and took some pictures. It was the first Redwood City event, maybe 50 people showed up, and the General Assembly lasted a couple of hours. They'll meet again next Friday, and probably should expect a lot more people now that it is up and in operation and people are telling each other about it. If 50 people doesn't seem like a lot, this is not a huge city, and there are more than a hundred events like it going on, some with thousands of people turning out.

    Scary, no? Especially the guy (me) with the little white dog. Was that a beard? Of, that first one is a short video, click here in case it doesn't work in this post.

    Don't Let Them Scare You Away

    Speaking of being scary: There will not be violence. This is a non-violent movement. The media outlets, talk show hosts, columnists, etc. that tell you there is violence are trying to keep you from showing up. They are trying to scare you. When they send large numbers of police to shoot tear gas into these events, it is an attempt to intimidate people, not just there but people who are thinking of showing up.

    Another way they are trying to keep people from showing up is with humiliation. This is a remarkably effective technique. Make people ashamed to show up, tell them they will be laughed at, or shunned, and people will stay away. They tell you the "protesters" are "dirty," even "urine-soaked." They tell you they are "hippies" and thinkthis will make you ashamed to show up and speak your mind.

    This is about what speech is "permissible" and what is not. The corporate-conservatives on the Supreme Court say that corporations are people who “speak” and can use all of their money to swamp our elections. But when people show up to complain about the 1% running everything, they are met with force. The big banks can crash the economy and commit crimes and are offered modest “settlements,” but when people show up to complain they are beaten, maced, tear-gassed and arrested.

    Don’t let them make you feel scared or ashamed to stand up for your rights.

    Show Up & See For Yourself

    If you want democracy you have to fight for democracy. You have to stand up for your rights or they will go away. Please visit at least on Occupy event in your area, and see for yourself.

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 28, 2011

    What Occupy and Tea Party have In Common

    [PIC] What #OWS and #TeaParty Have In Common #TCOT #OccupyWallST #1U #Labor http://fb.me/1604XrtvC

    It's this: http://i.imgur.com/hHtDY.jpg

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:31 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    October 18, 2011

    Occupy (We the 99) By Jasiri X


    Occupy (We the 99) by Jasiri X

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Welcome To The Occupation

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Warning About The "Protesters"

    Warning: some of them have beards.

    Lee Camp, Moment of Clarity

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 17, 2011

    The People Have Figured It Out

    Over at CAF I write about jobs, in Jobs - Still The #1 National Emergency:

    While the mainstream corporate news sources refuse to inform the people just who is blocking the solutions, the people have figured it out. Wall Street and its billionaires have purchased the government and are blocking progress. People are fed up with the lack of response from our government and are angry. What started weeks ago with a small group of fed-up people "occupying" Wall Street has now turned into a national - and international - wide-scale protest against the lack of action on jobs and against governments captured by the greedy top 1%.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 7, 2011

    Washington Ignored The People, And Now You’ve Got #Occupy

    What did the politicians in Washington think would happen? They forgot about the "We, the People" part of our Constitution. After bailing out the banks and bankers and interests of the top 1% they fiddled while our jobs burned and mortgages defaulted. With people losing their incomes, pensions and healthcare they worried about deficits instead of jobs and cut back on essential services. They smugly spouted slogans at us and thought we'd be fooled and pacified. People voted for change and they didn't get change. And now people are in the streets.

    Part of the fiddling was by plan, Republicans obstructing efforts to create jobs and help the economy hoping this will give them an edge in the next election. Part of it was an attempt at "bipartisanship," trying to accommodate the ultrapartisans who only wanted to to advance their obstructionist agenda, thusly deprioritizing the needs of the people. Whatever -- change did not happen.

    One Spark Could Bring Trouble

    The problem with big groups of angry people is that it is very difficult to maintain control. This sudden enthusiastic energy of people taking to the streets to voice their anger at Wall Street and Washington is growing fast and there is really very little to control and channel it. Large groups of people concentrated into crowds can become mobs all too quickly. One cop-with-baton too many and it could turn into something no one wants. Or one too-clever Wall Street type, hiring agent-provocateurs to start violence, thinking it will "discredit" the movement... (Yes, nonsense like this happens and never works out the way the strategerizers hope.)

    Look what happened in England, with terrible riots. Did it happen as a result of the austerity - putting the top 1% ahead of regular people? Maybe, maybe not. But the tensions in England, where they still have a good safety net and everyone has health care, were certainly not greater than they are here.

    Do not take the people for granted. Do not think you can engineer a population with slogans and ignore solutions. And when they take to the streets to express their unhappiness do not ignore them or think you can finesse things. It shouldn't have gotten to this point. People have had it, they are fed up, and they are telling the leadership that they have to remember just who is supposed to be in charge here.

    The New Left Pole

    So the "incoherent" street occupiers and marchers represent the new left poll of the spectrum. Suddenly groups like Campaign for America's Future, labor unions, MoveOn.org, and especially the coalition making up the Rebuild The Dream Movement now represent the center. More importantly, they represent a controlled, organized path to sensible solutions that give the people what they need.

    The Path Forward

    There is a path forward that has been clearly defined by the responsible organizers and members of Congress who have been trying to push the political system to respond to the needs and demands of We, the People. Start by passing the President's jobs bill. Then pass The People's Budget. Take a look at CAF's "Big Ideas" for a bold jobs agenda.

    It's time to get moving, and finally get to work on the side of We, the People. That is how it is supposed to work here.


    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

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