For weeks now, mainstream media outlets, and some in the movement itself, have struggled with one pervading question about the Occupy Wall Street protesters who began gathering in Zuccotti Square on September 17: What do they want?
It’s very clear, after all, what they don’t want: That is, they don’t want the economic or social status quo to continue unabated.
But now, there may be something approaching consensus emerging, at least via the movement’s Tumblr blog and guerrilla PR team.
On Sunday, prolific ecofinance blogger and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal, akaRortybomb, posted an eye-opening analysis of the movement’s ideology based entirely on the wording of protesters’ signs that appear in the Tumblr blog’s photos.
Konczal explained his methdology as follows:“I created a script designed to read all of the pages and parse out the html text on the site. It doesn’t read the images (can anyone in the audience automate calls to an OCR?), just the html text. After collecting all the text on all the pages, the code then goes through it to try to find interesting points.”
Read more click above link
I’m not finding much to object to in all of this, and I’m curious to see whether this bunch avoids too much ideology. In rejecting 20th Century solutions, it would be refreshing to escape ideological constraints.
Today is World Day Against the Death Penalty. If you’re not working to change people’s minds about this issue, what are you doing?
As Human Rights Watch astutely notes:
October 10, 2011 is the ninth annual World Day against the Death Penalty, and this year marks 35 years since the United States reinstated capital punishment in 1976. In that time, 1,271 people have been electrocuted, shot, hanged, gassed, or put to death by lethal injection.
So, what do you do with people who murder other people, often in gruesome and horrible ways? How do you rationalize permitting them to continue to draw breathe in human society?
A demonstration by Christians angry about a recent attack on a church touched off a night of violent protests here against the military council now ruling Egypt, leaving 24 people dead and more than 200 wounded in the worst spasm of violence since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February.
Witnesses said several protesters were crushed under military vehicles and the Health Ministry said that about 20 were undergoing surgery for bullet wounds.
The sectarian protest appeared to catch fire because it was aimed squarely at the military council that has ruled Egypt since the revolution, at a moment when the military’s latest delay for ceding power has led to a spike in public distrust of its authority.
When the clashes broke out, some Muslims ran into the streets to help defend the Christians against the police, while others said they had come out to help the army quell the protests in the name of stability, turning what started as a march about a church into a chaotic battle over military rule and Egypt’s future.
Nada el-Shazly, 27, who was wearing a surgical mask to deflect the tear gas, said she came out because she heard state television urge “honest Egyptians” to turn out to protect the soldiers from Christian protesters, even though she knew some of her fellow Muslims had marched with the Christians to protest the military’s continued hold on power.
“Muslims get what is happening,” she said, adding that the government was “trying to start a civil war.”"
“A Church Of Dissent”
That’s Matt Stoller’s description of Occupy Wall Street
“Seeking meaning,” is a good description. It’s clear that this is more a group dynamic than a movement. But they will not “matter,” unless they are a force for change.
If we had to identify the moment at which this year’s Values Voter Summit officially went off the rails, we’d probably go with the time the pastor who endorsed Rick Perry accused Mitt Romney of belonging to a “cult.”
You mean Mormonism isn’t a cult — a very big, rich cult, but really, what else would you call it?
Yes, there is more to know about this man.
He was once homeless, dated Joan Baez, didn’t eat meat….
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are both college drop-outs. Does this make you wonder why anyone is willing to pile up tens of thousands of dollars in college debt to get an undergraduate degree? I know these guys are unique, but it doesn’t take a genius to start a business. And a business doesn’t have to be Apple or MicroSoft to be a good business.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. As you travel the country, you also take credit for tightening regulations on Wall Street through the Dodd-Frank law, and about your efforts to combat income inequality. There’s this movement — Occupy Wall Street — which has spread from Wall Street to other cities. They clearly don’t think that you or Republicans have done enough, that you’re in fact part of the problem.
Are you following this movement, and what would you say to its — people that are attracted to it?
THE PRESIDENT: Obviously I’ve heard of it. I’ve seen it on television. I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel — that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place.
So, yes, I think people are frustrated, and the protestors are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works. Now, keep in mind I have said before and I will continue to repeat, we have to have a strong, effective financial sector in order for us to grow. And I used up a lot of political capital, and I’ve got the dings and bruises to prove it, in order to make sure that we prevented a financial meltdown, and that banks stayed afloat. And that was the right thing to do, because had we seen a financial collapse then the damage to the American economy would have been even worse.
But what I’ve also said is that for us to have a healthy financial system, that requires that banks and other financial institutions compete on the basis of the best service and the best products and the best price, and it can’t be competing on the basis of hidden fees, deceptive practices, or derivative cocktails that nobody understands and that expose the entire economy to enormous risks. That’s what Dodd-Frank was designed to do. It was designed to make sure that we didn’t have the necessity of taxpayer bailouts; that we said, you know what? We’re going to be able to control these situations so that if these guys get into trouble, we can isolate them, quarantine them, and let them fail. It says that we’re going to have a consumer watchdog on the job, all the time, who’s going to make sure that they are dealing with customers in a fair way, and we’re eliminating hidden fees on credit cards, and mortgage brokers are going to have to — actually have to be straight with people about what they’re purchasing.
And what we’ve seen over the last year is not only did the financial sector — with the Republican Party in Congress — fight us every inch of the way, but now you’ve got these same folks suggesting that we should roll back all those reforms and go back to the way it was before the crisis. Today, my understanding is we’re going to have a hearing on Richard Cordray, who is my nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He would be America’s chief consumer watchdog when it comes to financial products. This is a guy who is well regarded in his home state of Ohio, has been the treasurer of Ohio, the attorney general of Ohio. Republicans and Democrats in Ohio all say that he is a serious person who looks out for consumers. He has a good reputation. And Republicans have threatened not to confirm him not because of anything he’s done, but because they want to roll back the whole notion of having a consumer watchdog.
You’ve got Republican presidential candidates whose main economic policy proposals is, we’ll get rid of the financial reforms that are designed to prevent the abuses that got us into this mess in the first place. That does not make sense to the American people. They are frustrated by it. And they will continue to be frustrated by it until they get a sense that everybody is playing by the same set of rules, and that you’re rewarded for responsibility and doing the right thing as opposed to gaining the system.
So I’m going to be fighting every inch of the way here in Washington to make sure that we have a consumer watchdog that is preventing abusive practices by the financial sector.
I will be hugely supportive of banks and financial institutions that are doing the right thing by their customers. We need them to be lending. We need them to be lending more to small businesses. We need them to help do what traditionally banks and financial services are supposed to be doing, which is providing business and families resources to make productive investments that will actually build the economy. But until the American people see that happening, yes, they are going to continue to express frustrations about what they see as two sets of rules.
Will that become a demand of this group (OWS)? Will the group demand that banks increase their lending to small businesses? The last time somebody told banks how to lend — leaned on them to compromise their lending standards — we got the worst recession since the Great Depression. Let’s not try that again. Banks will lend when they think they will be repaid. With interest rates so low, however, and with demand for good loans so low, they turn to fees to boost their profits. But that doesn’t seem to be winning any friends, either.
Prediction: Fox “News” hires him to sing new theme song, “Are You Ready For Some Assholes?”
Somehow, this just feels like chickenshit PC, but who cares?
Now the nitwits are coming out of every crevice. Van Jones! If you actually read ANY of this stuff, there’s no there there. Find some substance in any of it. Please. If you’re going to make a scene, have an idea. Even one clear purpose. Absent so far.
During their first week, members of Occupy Wall Street, the ideologically vague and strategically baffling effort to redress social inequities, put together a library on the north end of Zuccotti Park whose disparate offerings included “Last Exit to Brooklyn”; Gay Talese’s article in The New Yorker on the collaboration of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga; and Abbott’s Digest of New York Statutes and Reports, Volumes 4, 9, 33 and 34. By the middle of last week, as the numbers entrenched in the park grew, copies of “Animal Farm,” Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed” and “Meltdown,” a book outlining the 2008 financial crisis, were well placed. Specific ambitions still had not emerged, but a new intensity had begun to replace the limp theatrics.
The New York Police Department could not have intended to operate as a public relations arm for Occupy Wall Street, but its invidious treatment of the demonstrators last weekend went a tremendous way toward galvanizing sympathy for the group’s good but porous intentions. Video widely seen on the Internet of a high-ranking officer, later identified as Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, attacking what appeared to be docile protesters with pepper spray prompted public outrage and investigations by the Internal Affairs Bureau of the Police Department and Manhattan prosecutors.
Early Monday evening, helicopters flew over Wall Street, in anticipation of what — excessively boisterous readings of Orwell? — was hardly clear. The group’s march on the financial district’s Luxury Night Out was still a day away. The Broad Street outpost of Hermès was in no imminent jeopardy.
Like a toddler who throws his food on the floor, gets in trouble and then just does it again, the Police Department overreacts to peaceful protests, invites ire and then reprises its actions the next time it encounters agitation. Inspector Bologna is a defendant in lawsuits claiming wrongful arrests at protests during the Republican National Convention in 2004.
Among the more than 100 arrests made since the protest began, on Sept. 17, were three more on Wednesday for that decidedly questionable menace: loitering while wearing a mask. While the police would do well to avoid criminalizing costumes, the department would do even better to remember that when people are carted away by law enforcement merely for carrying cameras — as one seemed to be in another well-circulated image — more cameras are sure to come."
The New York Times, “Every Action Produces Overreaction.”
It’s hard to believe that NYPD brass — and Mayor Bloomberg — don’t see and acknowledge just how utterly piggish some of their officers and commanding officers are acting during these past two weeks.
If the Occupy Wall Street protests continue to escalate — and they will — it’s not just because the protestors, buoyed by support from unions, celebrities and the like, will have galvanized their movement. It’s because the NYPD is acting like a group of jackbooted thugs, penning in peaceful protestors, macing women and arresting journalists.
They ought to add “Reckless Endangerment” to their library, and move their protest to Washington, DC.
We’re talking about a democratic awakening. We’re talking about raising political consciousness, so it spills over; all parts of the country so people can begin to see what’s going on through a different set of lens. And then you begin to highlight what the more detailed demands would be, because in the end we’re really talking about what Martin King would call a revolution; a transfer of power from oligarchs to every day people of all colors, and that is a step-by-step process. It’s a democratic process, it’s a non-violent process, but it is a revolution, because these oligarchs have been transferring wealth from poor and working people at a very intense rate in the last 30 years, and getting away with it, and then still smiling in our faces and telling us it’s our fault. That’s a lie, and this beautiful group is a testimony to that being a lie.
When you get the makings of a U.S. autumn responding to the Arab Spring, and is growing and growing—-I hope it spills over to San Francisco and Chicago and Miami and Phoenix, Arizona, with our brown brothers and sisters, hits our poor white brothers and sisters in Appalachia—-so. it begins to coalesce. And I tell you, it is sublime to see all the different colors, all the different genders, all the different sexual orientations and different cultures, all together here in Liberty Plaza; there’s no doubt about it."
Cornel West, interview. Democracy Now!, 29 September 2011
A good response to people who keep demanding that the OWS protestors draw up some sort of platform of demands. That rarely happens in the early stages of liberation movements. At the moment, it’s about raising the consciousness of everyday Americans who have thus far accepted the notion that the U.S. is a democratic, fair, and equal society. It may be a strange notion to most Americans, but our country is one that—like the countries involved in the Arab Spring—is crying out for a democratic revolution.
Thank you, Mr. West. Sounds a lot like fostering a protest culture. It’s time to normalize this type of dissent, because it doesn’t just belong to easily mocked stereotypes. It’s for everyone. Think about it.
Read it again. It lacks any substance. It’s typical of Mr. West’s generation. If people want change, they need to think some fresh thoughts. Redistribution of wealth through the existing structures will do nothing but sink the society. Economic growth is the key. Opportunity comes from growth — growing the pie. Have a plan for growth, not just some 20th Century bitch & whine about rich people. The essence of American vitality is the desire to get rich.
(via The Book Bench)
The morning of day twelve of the Occupy Wall Street protest, a few people are waving signs and shouting slogans. Mostly, though, everyone is just hanging out. They take naps, play board games, and pick up books from the haphazardly organized library that occupies a bench on the side of Zuccotti Park. There is no rhyme or reason to the selection: a volume of Walter Benjamin’s writing sits beside Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Prep”; the only books that are sectioned off are the children’s books. All together, about one hundred titles—along with back issues of Harper’s—await protesters and passersby—in the spirit of the affair, you needn’t be an “insider” to borrow.
Seriously, the second Chase charges me for this (currently if I make a certain number of debit purchases per month I *avoid* fees) it’s back to cash for everything. There’s a branch right by my pharmacy, I can do it.
Find a credit union:
Service-y link above.
It will be interesting to see whether banks can get people to pay for debit card use, a service which has been free since the outset, and of which it has taken them years to win customer acceptance. New financial regulations have eliminated or greatly reduced former profit opportunities, so banks are turning to other ways to generate revenue and profit. It’s similar to the airlines charging for checked bags, soft drinks, pillows and blankets — stuff that was free forever. People didn’t stop flying. They paid the fees, to the tune of $2 billion annually, which, along with the frequent flyer miles programs, are the only thing allowing many of the carriers to turn a profit. My bank is beginning to charge me $2 per month to send me images of my cancelled checks, but only on accounts on which there is no minimum balance. I predict that banks WILL be able to get consumers to pay a monthly service charge for debit card usage, although I expect it to settle closer to $2 than $5. But customers will be offered “free check card usage” as part of special accounts, probably involving minimum balances and other bank services such as mortgages, home equity credit lines and credit cards. It will work for everyone. We need healthy, profitable banks, and services have a cost. The market will figure it all out. I’m not going back to cash, and I don’t want to see my monthly credit card bill get any larger. I’ll stick with my check card, even at $60/year.