(Once again, the Klown was right. The Klown is always right.)
Sean Hannity is not happy with Dingy Harry:
In a debate over sequestration cuts on the Senate floor yesterday, Democrat Harry Reid felt the need to blame the tea party. He actually compared the tea party to anarchists, saying that they were different in that they are not violent but they don’t believe in government at any level. Harry Reid notes that the tea party doesn’t say it is against government, but then he goes on to say that this is basically what it amounts to.
But that’s not all! Harry Reid then went on to say the following: “They’re not doing physically destructive things to buildings and people, directly, but they are doing everything they can to throw a monkey-wrench into every form of government … that’s what it’s all about.” Reid continues, “Government is not inherently bad; Government is inherently good. That’s why we have a Constitution and that’s what we direct the activities of this government based upon.”
Government is inherently good? Tea partiers are like anarchists, they don’t believe in government? While tea partiers don’t do physical destruction “directly,” they are trying to destroy our government and its proper process? This is the level of rhetoric we are getting from Democrats nowadays.
Let’s see, since the inception of the Tea Party we have seen an enormous growth in government spending, including the Stimulus and Obamacare. So exactly what are they doing to destroy government?
I have news for Dingy Harry – our Founding Fathers considered government a necessary evil. Evil is the opposite of good. That’s why they wrote the Constitution – a guarantee of limited government. Which is what the Tea Partiers want.
What I find really amusing is the idea that Tea Partiers are like anarchists. Anarchists founded the Occupy Wall Street movement. So far no Tea Partiers have been arrested for trying to blow shit up, the cops haven’t had to bust up any Tea Party rallies and they don’t have rape tents at Tea Parties.
Meanwhile, Joe the Talking Ass has done it again:
Obama administration officials waded into the Boston Marathon bombing attacks, forcing others in the administration to beat a hasty retreat Wednesday.
Speaking at a memorial service for slain MIT officer Sean Collier, Vice President Joe Biden issued some harsh words for the suspects of the terrorist attack, calling them “two twisted, perverted, cowardly, knock-off jihadis.”
The Obama administration quickly moved away from that assessment, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refusing to speculate on jihadi motivations for the attack.
“There’s an investigation under way. We know some things. There’s a lot more to learn, and that’s why the investigation is taking place,” Carney said in response to a reporter’s questions on Biden’s comments.
While it is generally bad form for top government officials to make such comments about on-going criminal cases, what I want to know is what is so fake about real bombs, real bullets and real dead bodies?
Never argue with the Klown. The Klown is always right:
According to a new study from sociologists at the City University of New York, more than a third of activists in the Occupy movement in New York City had household incomes above $100,000, placing them at the cusp of the top quintile of income distribution in America. Researchers surveyed 729 people who participated in a May 1 rally last year and were involved in the “occupation” of Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011, and found that they were more affluent, whiter, younger, much more highly educated, and more likely to be male than the average New Yorker.
Non-Hispanic whites constituted 62 percent of all respondents, though they make up only 33 percent of New York City residents. While only about a third of Americans hold bachelors’ degrees, 76 percent of respondents who had completed their education had a four-year college degree and 39 percent had graduate degrees. Among college graduates, more than a quarter went to top-ranked schools, which might help explain why the majority of graduates under 30 had some student debt. While 10 percent of participants were unemployed, 71 percent were employed in professional occupations. Eight percent were “blue collar.”
The study found that “white respondents were also significantly more likely to be ‘actively involved’ than people of color” in the movement. The protests were largely organized by a core group of experienced activists who were “disproportionately white and male,” according to the researchers. One interviewee involved in training sessions described the leaders as “a predominantly young white male group.” Another said they were “more privileged and more college-educated, and sometimes beyond college-educated.”
Though most respondents were highly educated and employed, about a quarter of those with jobs worked less than 35 hours a week. They had time to participate in protests, the authors write, because they were “unconstrained by highly demanding family or work commitments.”
“It’s a pretty affluent demographic and highly educated,” Professor Ruth Milkman, one of the authors of the study, told the New York Post. “Many were the children of the elite, if you will.”
Despite what you might have read on *other* blogs, I had it nailed from the beginning.
Occupy Wall Street was a group of spoiled rich kids. When the real poor started showing up everything started coming apart.
Rebels without a clue.
Yes, I am strutting like a rooster.
Vindication tastes even better than schadenfreude.
Naomi Wolf in the Guardian:
New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent
It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.
There is a new twist: the merger of the private sector, DHS and the FBI means that any of us can become WikiLeaks, a point that Julian Assange was trying to make in explaining the argument behind his recent book. The fusion of the tracking of money and the suppression of dissent means that a huge area of vulnerability in civil society – people’s income streams and financial records – is now firmly in the hands of the banks, which are, in turn, now in the business of tracking your dissent.
Remember that only 10% of the money donated to WikiLeaks can be processed – because of financial sector and DHS-sponsored targeting of PayPal data. With this merger, that crushing of one’s personal or business financial freedom can happen to any of us. How messy, criminalizing and prosecuting dissent. How simple, by contrast, just to label an entity a “terrorist organization” and choke off, disrupt or indict its sources of financing.
Why the huge push for counterterrorism “fusion centers”, the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about “the terrorists”. It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens – it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.
The only thing mystifying about the OWS crackdown was what took the cops so long to get around to it. OWS wasn’t just breaking the law, they were openly defying it. In every case I am aware of the OWS protesters were given the opportunity to peacefully disengage and walk away before any arrests were made or force was used.
Naomi Wolf neglects to mention that OWS members regularly engaged in criminal acts like vandalism, assault, trespassing and arson and that some members planned terrorist acts. Not to mention the various and sundry OWS-related crimes like rape and drug use.
Personally, I am not bothered by the idea of law enforcement agencies keeping an eye on protests and protest groups so long as they stay within constitutional boundaries. The Ku Klux Klan has a legal right to peacefully assemble and protest but if they are planning to march in your town wouldn’t you want the police to know about it and be present?
I am also not bothered by the idea of law enforcement agencies communicating with each other and with interested parties (like banks in this case) to coordinate their actions. We thought that kind of stuff was a good idea after what happened on 9-11, remember?
But the lie that really needs to be laid to rest is the idea that the reason for the crackdown on Occupy Wall Street was that they represented a threat to the powers that be. OWS was a bunch of rebels without a clue and the only thing they were a threat to was each other and to public health and sanitation.
Remember last year’s Shiny New Thing?
Occupy Wall Street, the global movement against inequality that ignited in Manhattan last year, will mark its first anniversary by trying to block traffic in the financial district and encircle the New York Stock Exchange.
Planning for the Sept. 17 protest, dubbed S17, follows months of internal debate and flagging interest, according to interviews with organizers. The morning action may include attempts to make citizens’ arrests of bankers, and some activists intend to bring handcuffs, they said.
“We are here to bring you to justice,” said Sean McKeown, a 32-year-old chemist and New York University graduate who’s helping organize the demonstration. “We’re offering you the chance to repent for your sins.”
What is it with all these chemists breaking bad? Is that a career-related psychosis like mailmen going postal? Oh yeah, bring handcuffs. Make sure they’re comfy because you’ll be wearing them after the police take you away for false imprisonment and various other felonies.
Organizers said there has been more fatigue than fresh thinking this year. Occupy’s New York City General Assembly, which oversaw planning by consensus, ceased functioning in April because of infighting, ineffectiveness and low turnout, according to organizers and minutes of meetings. The group’s funds were frozen to preserve money for bail, ending most cash distributions, they said.
“Movements calcify, and it’s difficult to maintain the vigor and camaraderie,” said Travis Mushett, 26, a novelist who helped organize an Occupy reading group. He was one of six who used the word “burnout” to describe the recent mood.
Attendees at general assemblies had long and circuitous talks about allocating money, not about “what they wanted in the world, or how they were going to change it,” said Nicole Carty, 24, a Brown University graduate who helped run meetings.
Hornbein said that online forums became venomous as “systems broke down.” A separate oversight body, the Spokes Council, also dissolved, he and other participants said.
That means there’s no nucleus to a movement that had already rejected leaders, a central website, unified fundraising drives, administrative headquarters or a national advertising initiative. A working group that tried to come up with a list of essential demands wasn’t able to, organizers said.
Anarchists are at the heart of Occupy, organizers said.
“In a way, the fringe is the core,” said Mushett, the novelist. “That’s where you find a huge anarchist presence.”
“If they’re promoting ideals that don’t ring sensible to large numbers of people, what they want doesn’t go anywhere,” said Todd Gitlin, 69, a former president of 1960s protest organization Students for a Democratic Society and now chairman of Columbia University’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in communications. “It doesn’t become a social reality. It becomes the expression of a subculture.”
“This isn’t over,” said Dana Balicki, a member of Occupy’s press team. “This isn’t over until the last person calls it quits and goes home, wherever home is.”
Last year Obama and the Democrats came up with what they thought was a brilliant plan. They would create their own version of the Tea Party. Just as the Republicans rode the Tea Party to victory in 2010, the Democrats would ride Occupy to victory in 2012.
Things appeared to go well at first. The Democrats needed plausible deniability so they couldn’t be directly involved in organizing the movement, but they could funnel financial assistance through anonymous donors and provide covert political support. They got the unions to lend a hand too.
It is no accident that the Occupy movement was strongest in cities controlled by Democrats. Even though there were supposedly no leaders the group coordinated very well with SEIU and other unions. The police initially bent over backwards to accommodate the Occupiers and half a million dollars in donations flowed in within the first couple weeks.
If things had gone according to plan the Occupy movement would have become a left-wing version of the Tea Party – a grassroots activist group simpatico with the Democratic party. Obama and the Democrats would promise them the moon to get their support and then throw them a few bones after the election. With any luck the Occupiers would provide the momentum to retake Congress.
The Democrats failed to learn the lesson of the Tea Party – when you create something real from astroturf the monster will run amok. But they had an even worse problem.
Take a look at your typical Tea Partier. They tend to be middle-aged and older, hyper-patriotic, middle-class and financially independent. They are politically focused and conservative. Most of them have children. Despite the media caricatures they are mostly well-behaved and law-abiding. They are not a bunch of white supremacists or gun-toting militia members. They are right-wing but not lunatic fringe.
Now consider your typical Occupier. Younger, no kids, no job (or bad job) still dependent on their parents. They are anarchists and socialists and nihilists. They are starry-eyed idealists and rebels without a cause or clue.
When the Tea Party monster escaped from the lab and began to run amok, the Tea Partiers seized control. They got shit organized and started getting shit done. They agreed on some demands and goals. They supported candidates and started winning elections.
When the Occupy monster escaped from the lab and began to run amok, nobody seized control. Their shit was disorganized and they couldn’t get shit done. (They even had trouble finding places to shit!) They could not (or simply would not) agree on anything. They squatted in parks and occasionally tried to disrupt businesses. They made fools of themselves.
Despite what Riverdaughter and others might think, nobody did it to them – they did it to themselves. After things spun out of control Obama and the Democrats ran for cover. The money stopped flowing and the political support was withdrawn. Finally the police were called in to end it.
Yes, I am gloating. I was right. She was wrong. Nyah, nyah, nyah! I told you so!
Never argue with the Klown.
I'm all for helping the helpless, but I don't give a rat's ass about the clueless anymore.—
Dennis Miller Show (@DennisDMZ) August 29, 2012
How does the US Army know if its less-than-lethal armaments are effective without being deadly? Live fire training exercises employing a mob of volunteers, of course.
That’s right, if you are over 18 and live in the greater New Jersey area, you too can get $20/hour to be whacked with batons and shot with rubber balls! The testing takes place in a non-descript one-story building, known as the Target Behavioral Response Laboratory, located a few miles from Picatinny Arsenal, the Army’s research and development center. Here, a nine-member team of engineers study how effective non-lethal technologies perform and, more importantly, the psychological reasons they do.
This really sounds like the perfect fit for all those unemployed Occupiers. Do you know anyone in the Greater New Jersey area that is looking for work?
For several months Riverdaughter at The Confluence was a vocal advocate of Occupy Wall Street. Yesterday was the long-advertised reboot of OWS, with demonstrations planned across the country.
So where was Riverdaughter?
She didn’t do any posts promoting yesterday’s activities. She didn’t travel to Zuccotti Park to live-blog the events. She didn’t even mention OWS. Is she okay? Did she
finally see the light have a change of heart? Did she not see the bat signal?
Inquiring minds want to know. I would ask her myself but she banned me.
BTW – Lambert and the Corrente Crew were pretty quiet too.
Protesters trash Mission District businesses, cars
Broken glass littered several streets in San Francisco’s Mission District after protesters vandalized cars and buildings Monday night, including a police station.
The vandals were in a group that marched from Dolores Park shortly after 9 p.m., following a rally in advance of Tuesday’s planned Occupy general strike, police said. Traveling down 18th Street and onto Valencia Street, the black-clad, masked protesters smashed windows with crowbars and signs, threw paint on buildings and spray-painted anarchy symbols on the hoods of parked cars.
“All I heard was, ‘bang, bang, bang,’ and some dude had the valet sign, trying to break our window,” said Adam Koskoff, manager of the Locanda restaurant on Valencia. “I didn’t even see the crowd, and I ran outside and got egged.”
The vandals threw paint and eggs and smashed windows at more than 30 businesses, including Tartine Bakery at 18th and Guerrero streets and clothing store Weston Wear on Valencia.
Both luxury and everyday vehicles along Valencia and Guerrero streets were damaged. An Aston Martin had its windshield shattered, and brown paint covered the hood.
“They’re coming through the Mission, where there aren’t any corporations, just a lot of small businesses, which is what they’re all about,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Although the march sprang from a rally for an Occupy action, other Occupy protesters shunned its participants as outliers. Some business people, however, said Occupy bore responsibility for the damage.
“Occupy is saying it’s not them, but we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Occupy, now would we?” Michelle Horneff-Cohen, a real estate broker, said as she shivered next to the broken window of her workplace, Property Management Systems.
She said she had been dragged out of bed to deal with the damage. Although her company has insurance, she said, it will have to pay for much of the cost of repairs.
“I think it’s bulls–,” Horneff-Cohen said. “We are the 99 percent, and this is bulls–.”
This is in San Francisco, the most liberal city in the country. Nancy Pelosi’s home turf.
The Occupy manual should be titled “How To Lose Friends and Alienate People.”
It’s mere days from what Occupy Wall Street organizers say will be one of their biggest protests yet, and the people down in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan’s Financial District are hopping mad. Well, at least they’re hopping.
On the afternoon of April 27 in the park, one Occupier called out a signal, and the 100 or so demonstrators-in-training began jumping up and down and converging around a single protester—a tactic intended to keep marchers together in the event of police action. It was the seventh in a series of “Spring Training” protest refresher courses held by Occupy Wall Street in preparation for May 1, a day rich with progressive significance: May Day is celebrated internationally as a day to recognize workers and labor.
OWS organizers say protests scheduled for that day will involve thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of protesters in Manhattan, the cradle of Occupy, and additional protests in other major cities, most notably Los Angeles, where organizers have called for a general strike.
They’ve got their new spring wardrobes on and their smart phones are charged up! Look out you evil 1%ers, the Occupiers are coming for YOU! (There’s a free concert at Union Square afterwards.)
Check out this ‘graf:
Mark Bray, a 29-year-old history Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University, said he’s been involved in planning for May Day on OWS’s side since January. A core group of about 60 or so people has been meeting at a variety of locations, Bray said, including at a Greenwich Village church, at the offices of SEIU Local 1199, and in an artist’s space near Wall Street.
Let’s connect the dots. Whenever OWS needs to pump up their numbers they join forces with SEIU. No union is more closely identified with Barack Obama than SEIU. But OWS has nothing to do with Barack Obama.
A number of unions around the country are planning on demonstrating tomorrow. From what I have seen most of them are government or quasi-government employees.
So place your bets. Will tomorrow be the beginning of an “Occupy Spring” or a pathetic last-ditch effort by the OWS movement to seem relevant?
Here’s a hint:
UC Berkeley plans to use words instead of police power to remove about 50 Occupy members who on Sunday started farming a plot of university land in Albany called the Gill Tract, a spokesman said Tuesday.
“There’s dialogue going on and discussion going on so we can bring it to a peaceful conclusion,” said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof. “Discussion may lead to a better outcome.”
The land near San Pablo Avenue and Buchanan Street is currently used for agricultural research, Mogulof said. A separate parcel of land just south of where the Occupy farmers have set up is slated for commercial development, including a Whole Foods and a seniors housing complex.
Mogulof said UC Berkeley police are administering daily admonishments to the group about trespassing, but the university has not issued a deadline for them to leave.
Occupy the Farm to Take Back the Gill Tract member Gopal Dayaneni said the university cut off water to the area, so the farmers are bringing in their own and hand watering 15,000 seedlings they planted to grow beans, chard, squash, broccoli and other edible items.
He also said the group has one “completely closed” composting toilet for farmers and two portable toilets.
“Our primary purpose isn’t to camp, it’s to farm” Dayaneni said Tuesday, although people are camping overnight.
To understand how stupid this occupation is you really need to see Zombie’s post:
Before the Occupation, the Gill Tract was an agricultural research farm where twenty-somethings getting their PhDs would work the fields to grow crops, as they researched biology or how to raise better, healthier plants. But now, after this incredible revolution by Occupy, the Gill Tract has been utterly transformed into a farm where twenty-somethings work the fields to grow crops. The only difference is that before, the farm served a scientific function to improve society, and was managed by experts and hard-working students doing meaningful research; but now, it’s run by a bunch of smug amateurs and dropouts who plant store-bought seedlings in the middle of what once was a controlled research environment. Meet the new farm — same as the old farm, except worse.
But I had to laugh at this part:
Dayaneni said the group hopes to avoid an Occupy situation where the site attracts criminals and substance abusers by imposing a rule that anyone who shows up must work.
“We’re super clear about the fact that this is a farm,” Dayaneni said. “Those who do the work make the decisions.”
They are starting to sound like Republicans.
There is no doubt that incomes are unequal in the United States — far more so than in most European nations. This fact is part of the impulse behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose members claim to represent the 99 percent of us against the wealthiest 1 percent. It has also sparked a major debate in the Republican presidential race, where former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has come under fire for his tax rates and his career as the head of a private-equity firm.
And economic disparity was the recurring theme of President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by,” the president warned, “or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share.”
But the mere existence of income inequality tells us little about what, if anything, should be done about it. First, we must answer some key questions. Who constitutes the prosperous and the poor? Why has inequality increased? Does an unequal income distribution deny poor people the chance to buy what they want? And perhaps most important: How do Americans feel about inequality?
One of the things that bothered me about OWS was the blanket demonization of the “1%.” First of all, who exactly are we talking about? Obviously they are the richest Americans, but does that count income or wealth? What is the threshold for entry into that category?
I’m pretty sure George Soros is a 1%er, as are the Koch brothers, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, the late Steven Jobs, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt. But so are Bill and Hillary Clinton, Oprah, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Ben & Jerry, Michael Moore, Taylor Swift, Paris Hilton, the Olson Twins and lots of lottery winners. Definitely a mixed bag.
So besides being rich, what have all these people done to deserve society’s condemnation? Everyone hates a robber baron, but what about a philanthropist? Does it matter how they got rich? Do we care about what they do with their wealth? Or shall we impose strict liability – if you’re a member of the 1% you are bad, case closed?
This is important, because the underlying premise of OWS is fairness. It hardly seems fair to punish someone who was lucky enough to win the lottery or who earned their wealth through talent and hard work. “Equality of outcome” didn’t work out so good as an economic theory in the real world.
But let’s assume we can specifically identify a group of wealthy miscreants worthy of our anger. Let’s further assume there is a significant group that hasn’t broken any existing laws. They may have exploited workers and screwed investors, but they did so legally.
So now what do we do?
We could pass new laws.
But in order to pass new laws we need to figure out what new laws we want to pass. It’s one thing to pass laws to prevent something from happening again, but the Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws that retroactively make things illegal. So we can’t lock people up for conduct that wasn’t a crime when it was committed.
We need to figure out what conduct we want to criminalize, then draft narrowly tailored laws to prohibit the conduct. If you took high school civics you know that laws are passed by the legislature, so we need to get our elected representatives involved.
This is where it gets really messy. It won’t be enough for a few of us to go to Washington and make demands to Congress. We could try bribing them, but that’s one of the problems we want to fix. So we’ll have to find another way.
One thing that politicians listen to is public pressure – but it has to be strong and consistent. Some politicians will be on our side. Some will need a little persuasion before they see the light. Some politicians will never agree and will have to be replaced. It’s gonna take organization, mobilization and probably a few electoral cycles to get anything done.
But the more pressure we can apply the quicker things get done. If your agenda has an approval rating of 40% you’re gonna be busy for a while. On the other hand if polls show 80% of the voters are on your side and highly motivated you’re gonna see results in a hurry.
BTW – Some of you might remember a post I did way back in September about the importance of goals and their relationship to strategy and tactics. It was one of the first posts I ever did about OWS. It was posted about two weeks after OWS started and it was where I first began to express my concern over the lack of goals and leadership within the movement.
My earliest posts were along the lines of “You’re doing it wrong!” but I soon realized it was being done wrong ON PURPOSE.
If OWS had started with some modest, specific goals (like passing a specific bill, getting an investigation started and/or getting some people fired from the Obama administration) they might have accomplished something worthwhile. But they allowed (or planned for) the movement to degenerate into confrontations with the police over the “right” to camp-out in public spaces.
Now their momentum has dissipated and their credibility is gone.
I’m sure it’s all my fault somehow.
The new WH Chief of Staff and Citigroup
Yesterday, the White House announced Daley’s departure — he will now co-chair Obama’s re-election campaign, which basically means raising huge amounts of money from his Wall Street friends — and unveiled his replacement as Chief of Staff: Jacob Lew. In 2010, Lew became head of the Office of Management and Budget when Peter Orszag left and then, a couple months later, accepted a multi-million dollar position as a high-level Citigroup official. Lew has spent many years in various government positions, but he has his own substantial ties to Citigroup. Here is what Lew was doing in 2008 at the time the financial crisis exploded, as detailed by an excellent Huffington Post report from last year:
[Lew] oversaw a Citigroup unit that profited off the housing collapse and financial crisis by investing in a hedge fund king who correctly predicted the eventual subprime meltdown and now finds himself involved in the center of the U.S. government’s fraud case against Goldman Sachs. . . .
[I]t is his few years at Citi — in particular the one year he spent at its then-$54 billion proprietary trading, hedge fund and private equity unit — that’s likely to raise the most eyebrows in the coming weeks as Lew faces a Senate confirmation hearing.
Especially his unit’s investments in a hedge fund that bet on the housing market to collapse — a reality suffered by millions of American homeowners.
For his work at Citigroup, work that included betting on the housing collapse, Lew received a salary of $1.1 million. After Citigroup received its $45 billion taxpayer bailout, Lew — two weeks before joining the Obama administration — received another $900,000 from Citigroup as a bonus. This was revealed only in 2010; in 2009, when Lew first joined the administration as a State Department official, both he and the administration refused to say if he had received a post-bailout bonus from Citigroup (at the time, there was a huge political scandal over Wall Street executives receiving large bonuses despite needing taxpayer bailouts). There’s certainly nothing illegal about betting on a housing market collapse, but it’s quite symbolic that those who made millions of dollars from the crisis are now running government policy.
Lew (like so many key Obama officials) also participated in the orgy of Wall Street de-regulation that took place in the 1990s when he served as Clinton’s OMB head; after leaving Citigroup to join the Obama administration, he unsurprisingly said in response to questioning from Sen. Bernie Sanders that he does not believe deregulation contributed to the financial crisis. The New York Times today says that Lew “has built a reputation as a pragmatic liberal who believes Democrats must compromise with Republicans on long-term deficits in order to forestall draconian cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.” The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein was a bit more blunt: Lew “has emerged as one of the members of the Obama administration Republicans prefer working with.” Whatever else one might want to say, Lew, a fairly standard-issue Democrat with less of a “centrist” reputation than Daley, is a perfect fit for this administration.
Here is another chance for OWS to show they really mean what they say. They won’t affect the outcome of the GOP primaries (or the election in November) but this might be doable.
Block the nomination of Jacob Lew.
This guy is a perfect target. The job of White House Chief of Staff does not require Senate approval but if OWS is really serious about breaking the revolving door between the White House and Wall Street and if they have any muscle at all they might be able to raise enough hell that they succeed in getting Obama to withdraw Lew’s name.
I’ll sit down while I’m waiting. I’m sure for reasons I don’t understand (having never attended an Occupation or tried the Koolaid) that OWS can’t do something like this. I mean we wouldn’t want them to get tainted by politics or anything, right?
The headquarters for the Occupy Iowa Caucuses movement is a spacious, coffee-shop like warehouse on one of the main streets of downtown Des Moines, where laid-back protesters mingle amid signs reading “Mitt – get bank $ out of elections” and “Give us liberty from corporate greed!”
On Thursday night – after protesters lined up for free food provided with donations to the movement – occupiers gathered for a performance and civil rights panel that attracted perhaps 70 occupiers. (A small occupy tent city has been set up a few blocks away, though protesters spent $1,000 to rent the indoor space for the week.) About five hours earlier, 12 occupiers had been arrested at the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters after they refused to move out from in front of the front door of the building, including a 14-year-old who was released into the custody of her father.
The occupiers don’t see much distinction between the Democratic and Republican parties, though the fact that President Obama is effectively unopposed for reelection gives them little in the way of targets on the Democratic side. Emily Allison of Des Moines, who was among those arrested Thursday, said she felt “betrayed” by Mr. Obama for his unwillingness to veto the National Defense Authorization Act and for not closing the Guantanamo Bay prison facility.
“I thought he would stand up for the people,” she said. Allison, who was charged with criminal trespassing. She described Democrats as the “lesser of two evils” – but added that “after seeing all the money that Obama has accepted from the corporations and the bankers it’s difficult to distinguish the parties as two different things.”
Obama is effectively unopposed for reelection, so the Occupiers are attacking the people uneffectively opposing him. They could still Occupy the White House or crash a few of his 1%er fundraisers, but don’t hold your breath waiting.
Here’s the money quote:
She described Democrats as the “lesser of two evils”
“We’re the lesser of two evils” is a strange slogan for a reelection campaign, but it might actually work.
As for the Occupiers disrupting the caucuses, I’m sure they have no “official” plans to do anything like that. But when you’re dealing with a group with no leaders anything is possible and you have to assume the worst when making preparations.
The funny part is hearing the Occupiers claim their actions are being distorted by the media. I hear the camera adds five pounds but other than that what is being distorted here?:
Not far from Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street was fragrantly encamped, I noticed a young man wandering into a store to buy a pack of cigarettes on a bright Saturday morning, wearing blue jeans, a T-shirt, and a $237,000 Vacheron-Constantin watch. In a world of $600,000 cars (consult your local Maybach dealer) and $4,300-a-night whores (consult Eliot Spitzer), it’s no big deal to buy a president, which is precisely what Wall Street did in 2008 when, led by investment giant Goldman Sachs, it closed the deal on Barack Obama.
For a few measly millions, Wall Street not only bought itself a president, but got the start-up firm of B. H. Obama & Co. LLC to throw a cabinet into the deal, too — on remarkably generous terms. President Obama, for a guy prone to delivering prim and smug little homilies denouncing greed, greed, greed — the only of the seven deadly sins that truly offends Democrats (though Mrs. Obama has done some desultory work on gluttony) — is strangely comfortable among the Gordon Gekkos of this world. Shall we have a partial roll call? Beat the drum slowly and call out the names: With unemployment still topping 9 percent, the catastatic world economy teetering on the brink of another, even larger financial catastrophe, and trillion-dollar U.S. deficits as far as the green-shaded eye can see, let’s hear it for Obama’s first National Economic Council director, Lawrence Summers (of hedge-fund giant D. E. Shaw and venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz), who has had some nice paydays courtesy of Lehman Bros., JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup. Let’s hear it for Citigroup’s Michael Froman, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national-security adviser for international economic affairs, for Hartford Financial’s Neal Wolin, deputy Treasury secretary, for JPMorgan’s William Daley, Obama’s chief of staff, and for his predecessor, Rahm Emanuel of Wasserstein Perella. Let’s hear it for Fannie Mae’s Tom Donilon, national-security adviser. (No, seriously: One of the luminous interstellar geniuses who brought Fannie Mae to its current aphotic state of affairs, upside down to the tune of trillions of dollars, is running national security, and the former director of the White House Military Office, Louis Caldera, was on the board of IndyMac when it finally went toes up — sleep tight, America!) And, lest we forget, let’s have three big, sloppy cheers for economic-transition team leaders Robert Rubin (Goldman Sachs, Citigroup) and folksy tax enthusiast/ghoulish billionaire vulture Warren Buffett.
That’s a pretty fantastic lineup, from Wall Street’s point of view, but the real bonus turned out to be Treasury secretary Tim Geithner, who came up through the ranks as part of the bipartisan Robert Rubin–Hank Paulson–Citigroup–Goldman Sachs cabal. Geithner, a government-and-academe man from way back, never really worked on Wall Street, though he once was offered a gig as CEO of Citigroup, which apparently thought he did an outstanding job as chairman of the New York Fed, where one of his main tasks was regulating Citigroup — until it collapsed into the yawning suckhole of its own cavernous ineptitude, at which point Geithner’s main job became shoveling tens of billions of federal dollars into Citigroup, in an ingeniously structured investment that allowed the government to buy a 27 percent share in the bank, for which it paid more than the entire market value of the bank. If you can’t figure out why you’d pay 100-plus percent of a bank’s value for 27 percent of it, then you just don’t understand high finance or high politics.
But high finance is not the only corporate mystery to be unraveled here: President Obama’s repetitious denunciations of Big Oil have not stopped his man David Axelrod’s firm from setting up Astroturf campaigns on behalf of Exelon subsidiary ComEd, or stopped the president from appointing GE chief executive/tax-minimization engineer/offshoring guru/bailout baby Jeff Immelt to his risible White House jobs commission, or choosing former Kraft and Duke Energy board member Mary Schapiro to run the SEC.
When President Obama opined during his 2011 State of the Union speech that a corporate tax-rate cut might be just the thing for America after a year of record corporate profits, his left-wing base was shocked and dismayed. Heck, some conservatives were caught offguard, too. Perhaps they hadn’t noticed who was running the Obama administration: In large part, the same guys who plan to be running the next Republican administration.
If you believe that Wall Street has too much control over our government then you must believe that Barack Obama is Public Enemy Number One. If you really meant the things you say you would focus on him, mic check his speeches, occupy the White House, support a primary challenger, hound Obama into retirement.
Of course that would alienate your financial supporters (the ones who kicked in $500 thousand for smoked salmon and grilled veal at the Zuccotti All-You-Can-Eat Buffet). It would also piss off all those pro-Obama government employee unions that swell your ranks whenever you feel like wankmarching through lower Manhattan. The corporate media wouldn’t have been so nice to you either.
But that’s okay, next Spring you can boost your self-esteem by harassing Mitt Romney and the Republicans. Then next Fall you can hold your nose and vote for Obama.
But don’t expect me to be cheering for your victory.
Filed under: 2012 Elections, Barack Obama, Corruption, Crony Capitalism, Occupy Wall Street, OWS, Wall Street Banks | Tagged: #OWS, Barack Obama, Corruption, Crony Capitalism, Occupy Wall Street, Wall Street Banks | 30 Comments »
I’ve demurred from the most drastic predictions, though a few above are scary. This should not be taken as an assumption that far worse can’t happen in 2012. It can. It might. In a decadent culture – and we are one – the membrane surrounding and protecting civil society is wafer thin. It takes only one black swan event to rip the artifice apart. Reagan did not destroy the Soviet Union. Chernobyl did. The Arab Spring erupted after decades of corruption because one Tunisian man cried out in horrifying anguish. I cannot predict such an event will happen here. I can say we’re closer to one than we’ve been in over a century. A shattering event in 2012 would not surprise me in the least. This society no longer works. Everything has become a commodity. Every moment of our lives is constructed to make a profit for someone else. The worst go unpunished. The good get taken. We claim to love our young, but all our actions say we don’t give a rip about them. We give lip service to responsibility, but never take it. None of this can last. It stands in opposition to humanity itself.
Will the system finally break in 2012? I doubt it. But it could. The membrane holding us together is thin. And getting thinner. If pushed, I’d predict we’ll bumble on until 2016 or so. But 2012 might be just the year for a cleansing fire. Lots of people say so.
I’m not sure who the first post-apocalyptic visionary was but we’ve been seeing this idea expressed in literature and movies for generations. Basically it is humans living like savages in the ruins of cities as a new Dark Age covers the land. Civilization has collapsed and the survivors are trying to rebuild.
The reasons for the collapse aren’t always given – sometimes it’s a war, other stories it was an environmental disaster. The cause changes over the years – in the fifties it was nuclear war, in the sixties we worried about overpopulation. Then Stephen King made the superflu popular, and now it’s the zombie apocalypse.
There are three main alleged causes of the apocalypse, internal, external and environmental. The last is the least likely – least likely to foresee and least likely to take place. A natural disaster like a super-earthquake that wiped out the entire west coast would still leave the rest of the country untouched, while a major meteor strike only happens every hundred million years or so.
An external threat is slightly less unlikely. Like it or not, we’re still the big dog on the block. Neither Canada nor Mexico has the capability nor the desire to invade us. The nations that might have both the willingness and the ability are too far away.
As long as we retain our nuclear weapons the biggest outside threat to us is a rogue state or a terrorist group detonating a bomb in one of our cities. That would be tragic but would not wipe out the whole country, and whoever perpetrated such an act would cease to be a threat to anyone for all time. Carthago delenda est.
As for internal strife, it’s over-rated. Who’s gonna revolt? Poor people? There’s not enough of them, they are too spread out and they are dependent on the current system. The same goes for OWS, and it’s especially true for the government union workers who fill out the OWS ranks whenever they stage a big event. If we overthrow the government, who is gonna pay the government workers?
The fact is most people are too invested in the current system to overthrow it. We don’t have people starving in our streets, in fact we have fat poor people. People in this country don’t realize how rich they really are. People in other countries do, that’s why they want to come here.
Yes, there are a lot of people out of work right now, BUT MOST PEOPLE STILL HAVE JOBS. Most people still have homes to live in and food to eat. For most of us this is the worst economic situation the country has seen in our lifetimes. But we’re still here, and the sky hasn’t fallen. You want proof?
Last week people were fighting over $190 pair sneakers!
For what it’s worth here’s my prediction:
Things will get worse before they get better, but they WILL get better.
So sayeth the Klown.
Sen. Dick Lugar (Ind.) facing a primary contest from the right in his reelection bid said past Tea Party-backed challenges had “killed off” Republican efforts to take the Senate in the past and could undermine a GOP majority again in 2012.
“A Republican majority in the Senate is very important, and Republicans who are running for reelection ought to be supported by people who want to see that majority,” Lugar said in an interview which aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“I think the majority of Tea Party people understand that too,” he added.
Lugar who is facing a tough primary challenge from Tea Party-backed Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) said he was the best GOP option to win the seat and that past attempts by grassroots groups to install candidates they found more conservative had backfired.
“If I was not the nominee it might be lost,” he said of his seat. “Republicans lost the seats before in Nevada and New Jersey and Colorado where there were people who were claiming they wanted somebody who was more of their Tea Party aspect but they killed off the Republican majority.”
“This is one of the reasons why we have a minority in the Senate right now,” he claimed.
This is one of those zombie lies that keeps popping back up. During the last election cycle (the only one affected by the Tea Party so far) The Republican party gained six seats in the Senate. They needed four more to take control. Not one GOP incumbent lost their seat. (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska won reelection despite losing the primary to a Tea Party candidate.)
The claim that the Tea Party “lost” the Senate is based on the assumption that the GOP would have won four more seats had the establishment candidates won the primaries. But there is little proof that is the case – mostly some pre-primary polls. They might have won one or two – or maybe not.
It could just as easily be argued that without the support and enthusiasm of the Tea Party the Republicans would have won fewer seats and might not have taken control of the House either.
The Tea Party is a conservative movement and I’m a liberal, so why does this matter? Because the establishments of both parties have a vested interest in maintaining power, and neither establishment represents their party’s rank-and-file voters.
The Tea Party originated as an astroturf organization intended to gin-up opposition to Barack Obama. But it quickly morphed into a genuine grass-roots organization as the monster turned on its creators with primary challengers. Suddenly the GOP establishment joined with Democrats in portraying Tea Partiers as lunatics.
Some people think that the Occupiers are the Democratic equivalent of the Tea Party. This is not true. OWS has no interest in challenging the Democratic establishment by fielding primary candidates. But if they did they could expect similar treatment.
John W. Smart:
THE FREAK SHOW
It also helps Obama that the GOP primary race induces one cringe after another. I do not remember a contested race on either side which produced so many embarrassing candidates. Does anyone? Every cycle brings us nonsense and joke candidates. But this year the GOP seems hell-bent on 24/7 full frontal jackassery. The secret candidate killer cabal has moved off Newt slightly, taking on Paul and his racist newsletters. As with Cain, Paul deserves every last bit of heat he’s getting. Paul’s ideology leads down many a dark and dangerous alley. But it’s the timing that’s worth note. Paul must be causing real fear now as those newsletters are many things, but they aren’t news. Cain’s victims arrived at the mic just in time…now Paul’s inane claptrap about race wars is news. It may not matter in Iowa as his people there are immune to sanity. But Paul will be crucified going forward. Newt makes the GOP establishment squirm, the ascendency of Paul will send them to Def-con 5. I almost want Paul to win in Iowa just to watch the bombs fall.
I really do not understand the GOP mind. As a non-GOP- if the goal is to defeat Obama – it seems self-evident that Huntsman is the right choice. Since they won’t go there, (For reasons that are idiotic, the man is conservative up and down, left and right.) I can only imagine voting for Romney…if I were a Republican. It’s hard for me to see why any rational Iowan would entertain any other candidate. Yet, Paul is ahead, and Gingrich is holding on. I must conclude that there aren’t many rational Iowans. Romney is no peach but relative to the others he’s Abe Lincoln. So either Romney comes out tested and stronger or the GOP suicide dance goes on until summer.
The good news for the GOP is that the national attention span is about 7.8 minutes. If Romney can put the thing in the bag by June no one will remember the insanity of his party come Fall. Obama will tell us Mitt is an evil, greed monger. Romney will tell us Obama is incompetent. My thesis remains that in 2012 the competence meme wins. But if the GOP carnage goes on for months all bets are off. The GOP race has devolved from intriguing, to entertaining, to repellant. Iowa has become a freak show.
Meanwhile, Obama gets to kick back and look like he’s in charge.
It’s almost like they don’t WANT to win, isn’t it?
Oh, the individual candidates want to win. But the GOP leadership sure seems determined to lose.
There really are better candidates out there. I’m not saying “better” ideologically, cuz there ain’t no such thing as a GOP moderate anymore. But every one of the current hopefuls has serious flaws, and the more likely they are to win the nomination the less likely they are to win the general election.
It’s not like none of them could beat Obama. He’s as beatable as any incumbent could be.
But why should the GOP want Obama gone? He’s helping them pass the worst parts of their agenda and he’s got a “D” after his name. Once Obama is gone the Democrats will unite to oppose the same kind of things they are now supporting.
Obama has taken good care of his base – Wall Street and the rest of the 1%. As far as they are concerned he has earned a second term.
So while Occupy Wall Street is busy “mic checking” Republicans, Wall Street is backing Obama. And some people call me a paranoid ratfucker because I think there is something fishy about that.
In an ornate room of the golden-domed Iowa Capitol building this morning, Newt Gingrich stepped before cameras to thank two state House speakers for their endorsements. Kraig Paulsen of Iowa and William O’Brien of New Hampshire had just given their blessings to his quest for the Republican presidential nomination.
But Gingrich had barely gotten a sentence out when a young man who had been sitting behind him — perfectly positioned for the cameras, it must be said — leaped out of his chair, moved toward Gingrich and yelled, “Mike check!”
That signaled to three other youngish adults who had been sitting behind Gingrich and his wife, Callista, to leap to their feet. They began clapping and chanting “Put people first! Put people first!”
Occupy Des Moines, which similarly interrupted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s news conference on behalf of Gingrich’s rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, had struck again.
The Gingriches didn’t flinch. They turned their backs to the cameras to watch the commotion behind them. The protesters were gently hustled out by security men in suits. When they were gone — or seemed to be — Gingrich turned back to the assembled members of the media and noted:
“You just saw the one-tenth of one percent. I was at the University of Iowa the other day and that same tenth of one percent — all noise, no thought — tried to drown out conversation, so I appreciate you all putting that in perspective.”
If whatever you are doing makes Newt Gingrich look good in comparison, you need to stop doing it. These pinheads are just giving Newt a chance to look rational and reasonable, as well as providing him an opportunity to tell jokes at their expense. Not to mention the free publicity.
On the other hand, if you watched that clip and thought “Yay! They really showed him,” then you need to Occupy Rehab.
Put down the Koolaid and step away from the punchbowl.
For months, they were the best of neighbors: the slapdash champions of economic equality, putting down stakes in an outdoor plaza, and the venerable Episcopal parish next door, whose munificence helped sustain the growing protest.
But in the weeks since Occupy Wall Street was evicted from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, relations between the demonstrators and Trinity Wall Street, a church barely one block from the New York Stock Exchange, have reached a crossroads.
The displaced occupiers had asked the church, one of the city’s largest landholders, to hand over a gravel lot, near Canal Street and Avenue of the Americas, for use as an alternate campsite and organizing hub. The church declined, calling the proposed encampment “wrong, unsafe, unhealthy and potentially injurious.”
And now the Occupy movement, after weeks of targeting big banks and large corporations, has chosen Trinity, one of the nation’s most prominent Episcopal parishes, as its latest antagonist.
“We need more; you have more,” one protester, Amin Husain, 36, told a Trinity official on Thursday, during an impromptu sidewalk exchange between clergy members and demonstrators. “We are coming to you for sanctuary.”
Trinity’s rector, the Rev. James H. Cooper, defended the church’s record of support for the protesters, including not only expressions of sympathy, but also meeting spaces, resting areas, pastoral services, electricity, bathrooms, even blankets and hot chocolate. But he said the church’s lot — called Duarte Square — was not an appropriate site for the protesters, noting that “there are no basic elements to sustain an encampment.”
“Trinity has probably done as much or more for the protesters than any other institution in the area,” Mr. Cooper wrote on his parish Web site. “Calling this an issue of ‘political sanctuary’ is manipulative and blind to reality. Equating the desire to seize this property with uprisings against tyranny is misguided, at best. Hyperbolic distortion drives up petition signatures, but doesn’t make it right.”
As you might guess, the Occupiers went ahead and tried to “occupy” Duarte Square without permission and about thirty of them were arrested while the rest of them watched and whinged.
Let’s get a couple things clear. This was not a group of homeless people in desperate need of shelter. This is a group of protesters looking for some private property where they could stage another semi-permanent camp-out. Of course they don’t want to pay for it (even though they have over $500,000 in the bank) nor do they want to obtain official permission or permits.
Duarte Square is a fenced-in gravel lot. There is no shelter there, nor any running water, electricity nor toilets. It is not public property and the protesters have no legal claim over it or any right to use it.
The Occupiers claim they have no place to protest. THIS IS A LIE!
The Occupiers can protest at Zuccotti Park every single day of the year, from 6 am until 10 pm. They just can’t camp-out over night or set up tents. They can do the same at every public park in New York City.
What is really pathetic is that OWS had a whole month to plan something and this nothing-burger was the best they could come up with.