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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Something Happening's Here...

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Something Big Is Happening: Occupy Together

by: Jim Hightower, Truthout | Op-Ed
To paraphrase one of Bob Dylan's songs of youthful protest, "Something's happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you Ms. Bellafante?"
A New York Times writer, Ginia Bellafante, is but one of many establishment reporters and pundits who've been covering the fledgling "Occupy Wall Street " movement -- but completely missing the story. Instead of really digging into what's "happening here," they've resorted to fuddy-duddy mockery of an important populist protest that has sprouted right in Wall Street's own neighborhood.
In a September article, Bellafante dismissed the young people's effort as "fractured and airy," calling it a "carnival" in an "intellectual vacuum." Their cause is so "diffuse and leaderless," she wrote, that its purpose is "virtually impossible to decipher." No wonder, she concluded, that participation in the movement is "dwindling."
Whew -- so snide! Yet, so wrong.
While the establishment is befuddled by the plethora of issues and slogans within the protest, confused by the absence of hierarchical order and put off by its festive spirit, that's their problem. The 20- and 30-somethings who are driving this movement know what they're doing and are far more organized (but much differently organized) than their snarky critics seem able to comprehend.
It's silly to say that the protestors' purpose is indecipherable. Hello -- they're encamped next door to Wall Street. Isn't that a clue? Their cause is the same as the one boiling in the guts of America's workaday majority: Stop the gross greed of financial and corporate elites, and expel a political class that's so corrupted by the money of those wealthy elites that it has turned its back on the middle class and the poor.
Such movements don't begin with a neat set of solutions pre-packaged for The New York Times, but with roiling outrage focused directly on the plutocratic perpetrators of an unjust economy and an unresponsive politics. The movement will find agreement in due time on specific ideas for stopping the injustice, but now is the time for the passion and creative, nonviolent confrontation that will energize others to stop moaning and join the rebellion.
Millions of people are mad as hell and yearning for some leadership to battle the bastards. They're experiencing the truth of the old Ray Charles song: "Them that's got is them that gets, and I ain't got nothin' yet."
A majority of folks now see that "them that's got" are not only getting theirs, but also getting ours. The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans possess more net worth today than the bottom 90 percent of us combined. Worse, these privileged few and their political henchmen have structured a new economic "normal" of long-term joblessness, low wages, no benefits or worker rights, miserly public services, and a steadily widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us.
This is the alienating reality that "Occupy Wall Street" has arisen to confront. This burgeoning movement began in September, when fewer than a dozen college students pitched camp in Liberty Square, located in the heart of New York's financial district, and began daily peaceful marches down Wall Street.
This is not your grandfather's tightly organized protest. In fact, it's intentionally loose -- there is no "leader" or leadership council. Instead, group decisions are reached through a consensus-based democratic process. With no faith in traditional politics or conventional media, the mostly young protestors have taken to the streets to make their points, using their well-honed "culture of the web" to organize, strategize, harmonize and mobilize.
Their Liberty Square encampment might look chaotic at first, but look again. It includes a medical clinic, media center, cafeteria and library. Food? Their widely viewed website lets anyone in the world go online and have pizzas delivered to them from a local shop. They even produce their own newspaper, appropriately named the Occupied Wall Street Journal.
Far from "dwindling" in numbers, the New York protest continues to grow. Moreover, the movement has now spread to more than 50 cities, from major hubs like Chicago to such smaller places as McAllen, Texas. All across the U.S.A., "something is happening here" -- something that might be big. Link into it at

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Occupy Wall Street Movement Continues to Grow, and More

by: Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Program | News Report
In today's On the News segment: Members from several prominent labor unions are expected to take to the streets in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, International Monetary Fund report shows that low level of wealth inequality is greatest factor for prolonged economic growth in a nation, Bruce Bartlett drills a hole in the Republicans’ “regulatory uncertainty” argument, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this.  Today is a big day for the Occupy Wall Street movement – as members from several prominent labor unions are expected to take to the streets in solidarity with demonstrators who’ve been camped out in New York City since mid-September.  Unionized transport workers – teachers – and nurses are all expected to be on hand for a march across Manhattan today – and similar demonstrations will be held elsewhere around the nation.  The “occupy” movements have now reached the attention of some of the nation’s top politicians and policymakers. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in response to the ongoing protests, “I can’t blame them.”  However the top Republican presidential candidate – Mitt Romney – called the movement “dangerous” – saying it’s “class warfare.”  Then again – he gets most of his campaign money from Wall Street – so he kind of has to say that.  Whether Mitt Romney – the corporate media – and the banksters like it or not – Occupy Wall Street isn’t going away anytime soon.  At least not until we see some major reforms to our “for the rich, by the rich” economy.  
Speaking of the 99% versus the 1% - a new report out of the International Monetary Fund finds that one of the greatest factors for prolonged economic growth in a nation is a low level of wealth inequality.  By reviewing economies around the world – and looking at economic variables such as political institutions, debt, and trade – the study found that by far – it’s wealth inequality that has the greatest effect on sustained economic growth – and that if nations are made 10% more equitable in their wealth distribution – then they could see economic growth sustained for 50% longer.  As in – if you spread the wealth around a little better – then you’ll see much better economic growth for the whole nation.  Currently – the United States is the most unequal nation in the developed world – and more unequal than nations like the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Pakistan.  We have a lot of work to do to fix this imbalance – and it starts with Wall Street.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Go ahead and drill a hole in the Republicans’ “regulatory uncertainty” argument.  Congressional Republicans claim that businesses aren’t hiring people because they’re uncertain of the regulations the Obama administration will put on them – hence why it’s necessary to repeal regulations to keep our air, water, and food safe in the name of job creation.  But yesterday – that argument suffered a huge blow from none other than one of Ronald Reagan’s top economists – Bruce Bartlett.  In a piece for the New York Times – Bartlett wrote: “the number of layoffs nationwide caused by government regulation is minuscule and shows no evidence of getting worse during the Obama administration...regulatory uncertainty is a canard invented by Republicans that allows them to use current economic problems to pursue an agenda supported by the business community year in and year out.”  Again – that’s from one of Reagan’s top economic advisors – who would probably be considered a “socialist” nowadays.
In a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday – Ben Bernanke urged lawmakers to hold off on their agenda of deep spending cuts while the economy is still in a weak recovery.  Bernanke said spending cuts could have a serious effect on consumer demand – and they could reverse any hopes of an economic recovery.  Clearly – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke didn’t get the memo – because that’s exactly what Republicans are hoping for with their spending cuts – another recession to make President Obama look bad in next year’s elections.
If we want some direction on what to do about wars abroad – we should listen to our returning veterans.  A new Pew Research Center survey – found that one-third of returning veterans from post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting.  A majority of veterans surveyed said the United States needs to focus less on foreign wars – and more on problems here in the United States.  Also – about half of the veterans noted that their military deployments strained their relationships with their spouses and children.  More than 6,000 US soldiers have dies in our post-9/11 wars that have cost our nation trillions of dollars.  This insanity needs to stop – end the wars and bring our men and women back home.
House Republicans say our government is facing a debt and spending crisis – yet at the same time – Speaker of the House John Boehner has no problem with $1.5 million of deficit spending at the taxpayer’s expense to hire a right-wing lawyer to make sure gays in America don’t have access to civil rights.  After President Obama announced his White House will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act – a federal law that allows states to not recognized same-sex marriage – Boehner hired his own lawyer to defend the discriminatory – and unconstitutional – law – a lawyer who comes with the hefty price tag of $1.5 million.  So when it comes to healthcare programs for women, seniors, and children – Republicans argue we need to cut, cut, cut.  But when it comes to discriminating against gays – they write a blank check from Uncle Sam.  I guess nothing gets in the way of the Republican culture warriors.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, October 5th, 2011.  I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

Welcome to the Revolution: Life @ Occupy Wall Street’s Liberty Park

by: David DeGraw, AmpedStatus | Report
Where’s Hunter S. Thompson when you need him? The beautiful, brilliant madness that is Occupy Wall Street’s Liberty Park is a Hunter-esque paradise. Perhaps he could best make sense of what’s happening. The scene on the ground here also echoes Bob Dylan’s classic, “Ballad Of A Thin Man.”
“You walk into the room [park]
With your pencil [smart phone] in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, ‘Who is that man?’
You try so hard
But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say
When you get home
You know something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?”
I’ve spent countless hours at Liberty Park talking with people of all political persuasions, from all walks of life, from all over this country, no, check that, from all over the world. The second you walk into the occupation, you can’t help but get knocked around like a volleyball. At every turn, there is an amazingly in depth debate on deep political, philosophical, economic and cultural issues. Media cameras are everywhere. Hang out in the park for a few hours and you’ll end up on TVs across the globe. The only way I can sum up the scene is to simply say, “This is what revolution looks like.”
Everyone at the occupation is working triple time. We are all completely overwhelmed, exhausted, yet still battling and developing decentralized plans as we exponentially grow. With everyone so busy, much of what is happening on the ground is, despite much press coverage and courageous efforts by the media team, not covered online. To be blatantly honest, there are some who feel that if you are not here in person, you should either come down or just start an occupation of your own. As one person said into an online streaming video, with her hands in the air as if she was flagging down a helicopter, “Hello, hello, hello, all you passive sheep hiding behind your computer screen. Come out, come out, break on through and join real life.” As she ended, she spun in a circle, kissed the camera and said, “We love you, we love you all, we are you. Become one with us.”
Before I get sidetracked again, my point in writing this is to give you a “glimpse into the life” style report on “what’s happening here.” When possible, I took notes over a 6-hour period.
Here we go:
I get off the subway at Fulton Street and walk up the steps. As I emerge, boom, I’m smack in the front of a march, people are screaming, “We are the 99%, Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out.” I hear a person walking in the opposite direction ask a cop, “How many people are on this march?” The cop responds, “About 100.” I think to myself, oh ok; I guess I should just step to the side and wait to jump on the back of the march. I wait awhile and people are still marching by. I’m waiting and waiting and waiting to join the end of the march. I realize that the cop was either definitely not telling the truth or completely unaware of the size of the march. I’m not good w/ head counts, but it looks like a couple of thousand people just walked by me. The line of people just kept coming. At this point, the chant is stuck in my head like a highly effective commercial jingle, except we’re not selling fast food or toothpaste; we’re trying to wake up the beaten masses. The chant has now fully occupied my mind, all I’m thinking is, “We are the 99%, Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out.” Say what? “We are the 99%, Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out.”
As I get to the northeast corner of the Park entrance, a solider in uniform comes directly up to me and extends his fist, I’m nervous for a second, but it quickly becomes clear that he wants to fist bump instead of shake hands – fist bumps are popular at Liberty Park, actually my knuckles are killing me. Anyhow, he says he knows who I am, he tells me he is an Afghanistan veteran and fully supports this movement. I ask him to tell me exactly what it is that brought him here. He says, without hesitation, “I swore an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign AND domestic. I’ve been on the battlefield, 3 tours. It took me a while, but now I know our enemy very well. The global banks are occupying this country, they are attacking us and we must fight back. This is the start of a war for the soul and future of America.” The intensity in his voice and eyes ripped right through me. This is what’s known around here as a Liberty Moment. It’s when a lightening bolt of truth hits you out of nowhere and the hair on the back of your neck stands up, you don’t know if you’re going to start crying or jump over the Empire State building. When it happens, you usually just give the person a firm handshake and a big bear hug.
This is a video of another veteran at the park: “Knowledge Is Power”
Another soldier tells me he is bringing at least 20 soldiers down to the Park and offers to lead our upcoming marches to make sure the cops don’t try to “trick protesters into a trap again.” He is referring to last Saturday’s march across the Brooklyn Bridge. People were marching on the sidewalk across the bridge. When the march got to the middle of the bridge, cops waved for people to come off the sidewalk and escorted the march into one lane on the bridge street. After people followed the cops orders, they broke out those damn orange nets again and kettled people in. Fortunately there was no mace in the face this time, but they did arrest over 700 people for simply following THEIR ORDERS. Another day, another backfiring failed attempt by the police and the corporate media to try to make us look bad.
After talking to the solider for a while, I realized that I had not checked my phone in over an hour. 17 unread text messages. I see the most recent one is from comedian Lee Camp, he is coming down to perform and I need to make sure that we have a video camera to film him. I don’t even read the other 16 messages yet and I head for the media center to reserve a camera. On my way, there is a guy with an Anonymous mask on the back of his head talking to a crowd of about 50 people and they are in my path. He is making his case for ending the Federal Reserve and the people in the circle around him are debating how we can have a more decentralized banking system that works for the good of local populations. I’m stuck their and can’t move forward, but it’s a very interesting conversation, as I’m about to give my thoughts, someone asks me if I would like a piece of cake, they say, “Someone donated a large cake to us. It’s so funny. The cake reads, ‘Wall Street Says, ‘Let Them Eat Cake!’” I laugh and say thanks, but no thanks, I need to get to the media center before I can eat.
I get about four steps further and about eight people are talking about how medical bills bankrupted their families. “Poverty via Sickcare Profiteering” is written across one woman’s shirt. I have to stop once again and talk to these people. We discuss how over 60% of personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills, and how 75% of those bankruptcies are filed from people who have health insurance. People pushed into poverty due to medical bills are all over this park. I’ve heard many heartbreaking personal stories. Trying to get through life in a down economy is hard enough, doing it while you have a serious medical problem with thousands of dollars in medical bills is impossible. As we are talking, a man comes up and taps me on the shoulder. He is helping to organize people throughout the country who have been foreclosed on or are about to be. He gives me his card, asks me for my phone number and says that he wants to work together. I sincerely hope that we can, but I have so many cards and people coming at me from so many very worthy and important causes, I don’t even know where to begin.
Ok, I have to get to the media center to schedule a camera. I fight my way through and finally get to the media center. I’m politely trying to get someone’s attention, but everyone there intently has their head in their computer or they are moving around and positioning equipment like it’s an intense IQ test. So I patiently wait for assistance.
As I’m waiting, someone in face-paint dressed up like a zombie walks by. A person next to me asks, “Now what does that guy symbolize? Is it zombie Americans who need to wake up, or zombie banks that should have been out of business and broken up three years ago after they sucked the lifeblood out of our economy?” I answer, “I’m not sure, I think it’s about the banks, maybe. Who knows?” As the zombie staggers his way through the crowd, I see an older man getting ready to speak; he looks familiar. Ah, yes, I know who that is. It’s Joe Stiglitz, Noble Prize winner and former chief economist of the World Bank. I drop my shoulder and duck through the crowd. I get to my old friend Joe, who I never met by the way, and say, “What’s up Mr. Stiglitz?” As I shake his hand, I ask, “What brings you to the revolution?” He laughs, shakes his head yes and says, “It’s about time.” Right as he says that, drums start pounding. It appears a band set has just broken out. The drums here are sometimes referred to as “thunder drums.” I originally thought they were called that because they sounded like thunder, but now I beginning to think it may have something to do with signaling to every one that a storm is coming. A guy runs up and says heavy rains are coming and hands out Ponchos. A few people who are with Joe say that they need to get started now, a big crowd quickly forms and a cameraman swoops into position. Joe goes on to give a long speech about democracy and the economy.
As he begins speaking, I realize that I still haven’t scheduled the camera. Shit, I race back to the media center. Once again, the center is beyond crowded and everyone is incredibly busy. I wait to make eye contact with someone, another 10 minutes passes and I lose my patience. I walk into the middle of the media center and say that we need to reserve a camera for 6pm. A guy stops and says, “For what time? 6? Oh, ok, I’ll put it into the computer.” I reply, “You’re sure we can get a camera for 6?” He says, “Yes, definitely.” I give thanks and shuffle my way back out of the media center.
Once I step back into the crowd, a girl screams, “If anyone wants free homegrown organic vegetables, please form a line by the food area now.” An older hippie looking guy with a long beard joking says, “Does that include herb? Every revolution needs good weed, you know what I’m saying?” People start laughing at him, a few people yell in support. The girl responds by saying, “No, we don’t have any weed, are you a Narc or something?” He replies, “No, no, no, I didn’t mean to cause trouble, I was being serious though.” She shoots back, “No weed, but we do have free tobacco. Someone donated a large amount of tobacco and you can roll your own cigarettes.” Hippie dude says, “No, I don’t smoke cigarettes, that shit will kill you.” Another person in the crowd is excited and steps up and says, “You have free tobacco here. Awesome! Where do we get some of that?”
Now, I’m trying to get back to catch the end of Stiglitz’s conversation, but the crowd around him is much too big now for me to hear what’s being said.
This is part of what Stiglitz had to say:
I decide to sit on a near by stone bench to catch up on text messages and emails. My email inbox has over 700 unread messages now. It’s impossible to even skim most of it. I also have six new voicemails. Just as I start feeling a sense of panic over how much catching up I have to do, a guy in a blue shirt tells me he’s giving out free hugs and that I look like I need one. Before I could respond he is reaching around me for a hug. Ok, fine, thanks for the hug brother.
A friend of mine then appears out of nowhere and wants to introduce me to 5 unemployed people who recently graduated with master’s degrees and now each have over $100,000 in student debt. Jessica tells me she got a job at a retail-clothing store but just got laid off. Her Dad hurt his back working as a construction worker and can’t work anymore. I shake my head and say, “Wow, that’s a difficult situation.” She says in a very heartfelt voice, “Do you have any advice as to what I should do? I’ve sent out over 200 resumes, literally!” Her face tenses up and she is suddenly fighting back tears. My friend who introduced her said, “Well, if misery loves company, you have a family here.” She holds back tears, chuckles and says, “I know, I know, I’ve been here for the past four days. I feel bad that I’m not home helping my Dad, but he thinks that as long as I feel safe that it’s for the best if I’m here.” We all make eye contact and shake our head. It’s another Liberty Moment.
Another member of the master’s degree unemployed $100k debt club, steps forward and says, “Up until two days ago I was working 70 hours a week for the past year without any time off and still living at home with my parents. I’m 29, working 70 hours a week, and living in a two bedroom home with my parents and two brothers. I just quit my jobs to help out around here. You guys have free food and I can shower at my friends place. You know how I feel about work, what’s the point? I just work my ass off bouncing from one temp job to the next. I have no money saved, what’s the point to any of this? Might as well join the revolution.” Wow, another Liberty Moment.
As I’m listening, an old man who looks a lot like my grandfather, in what I think is an American Legion or VFW type uniform and hat, hands me a piece of paper. I thank him and glance down at it. The headline in bold letters reads, “The War On Terror Is A War On America.” It’s all about how out of control military spending is destroying the economy and the loss of civil liberties. He tells me he’s a WWII veteran. He says that he is so happy that this is finally happening before he dies. He says, “All you people here are the next greatest generation, I can see it in the eyes of all of you. Do you know what makes a generation great? Facing down tyranny. Coming together as one united people in the face of fascism. You know that’s what this is all about. I don’t know if I’ll still be here when you win, but keep at, don’t give up no matter what, and you will win. Take it from an old, old, old-timer who’s been there. Ok, you got it? I have to move on now, not sure how much longer my bones are going to hold up.” As he slowly waddles forward, he stops, shakes his hand, slightly looks back and says, “Don’t ever get arthritis. Oh boy.” Yep, you guessed it, another Liberty Moment.
My friend asks me if I want to join a group that’s about to discuss the role of financial derivatives in the economic crisis. Hell yes, one of my favorite topics; the derivative Ponzi economy, weapons of mass financial destruction. This turns into a 45-minute discussion that covers the Commodities Modernization Act, Hank Paulson leading the Gang of Four that got the SEC to wave the net capital rule, to the collapse of the housing market, the role of AIG, ratings agencies and Tim Geithner’s key role as chairman of the NY Federal Reserve during the initial phases of the crisis. By the way, in picking Liberty Park as the occupation point, we were purposely positioning ourselves around the block from not only the stock exchange, but from the NY Fed building. The NY Fed building is actually closer to us than the stock exchange. Anyhow, anyone who wants to say that we don’t know what we are talking about down here has obviously not been around for any of these discussions, they happen frequently and I welcome any one to a public debate on these topics. You know where to find me. But I digress . . .
It’s almost 6 pm and Lee Camp just showed up with his wife and a few fellow NYC comedians are in the crowd. He’s amped up and ready to roll. I fight my way back to the media center and again wait patiently for about 10 minutes, before running into the mix again and saying that we are ready for a camera now. They say to give them 5 minutes and they’ll have it. I thank them and maneuver my way out of the center.
As I step out through the crowd with my head down, a guy in a leather coat grabs my shoulder and says, “David, what’s up my brother?” I look up, it’s the only person on TV “news” that I trust, MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan. I respond, “Hey Dylan, you’re back for more.” He says, “Yeah man, I told you. I’m with you guys all the way, every night now.” I must admit, I absolutely love Dylan. He is one of the very rare, all too few people who has an in depth understanding of the crisis we are in and has the courage to tell the American people the truth on a major television network. I talk with Dylan for a while, he’s been working the crowd, encouraging people. He knows what most people down here know. If we have any chance of solving our problems, the solution starts here.
Here’s Dylan previously speaking at a General Assembly meeting:
Oh no, it’s 6:30 and I forgot about Lee Camp. I hope I didn’t miss his performance. I race over to where he was standing and see that I didn’t miss him. He’s still waiting patiently, standing there in the rain with his wife, friends and fans waiting for the camera guy. I go up to them and apologize for the long wait. He says, “No problem at all man, happy just to be here. I have to leave by 7:15 the latest. If we can’t do it today, I’ll be back tomorrow, and the next day and the next day.” But now I’m starting to get upset, we requested this camera several times and still nothing. I go into the media center and ask what’s up as politely as I can at this point, which in all honestly is not very polite. They tell me that they wanted to livestream the performance on the Global Revolution video feed but the feed is down right now. They are also still waiting on the cameraman who is supposed to shoot it to get here. After originally promising Lee that we would get it done, I now feel like I just let him down big time. Just as I’m about to admit defeat and tell him we’ll have to do it some other day, the cameraman comes running up to us. He says, “So sorry I’m running late. I can shoot it now.” A few people in the media center, myself included, angrily ask what took him so freaking long to get here. He once again apologetically responds, “I’m so sorry I’m so late. When they let me out of jail I had to wait for them to give me my camera back.” We all look at each other and collectively let out a sigh, “Ohhhh, wow, don’t we feel stupid, sorry man.”
We all give him a hug and much respect for his commitment to the cause. It is yet another Liberty Moment. The cameraman was arrested while covering a protest and was let out of jail all of 15 minutes ago, before seeing his messages that he needed to get down here to shoot Lee’s performance.
Right as we are about to finally start filming, we all get bum rushed by a huge crowd of people. We are told the General Assembly (GA) meeting is starting now and we will have to do this at another time. We ask if Lee can just start the GA meeting. Some person who I have never met is leading the meeting. The GA meetings are often facilitated by new people who are just getting involved in the movement. People are asked to stick to a schedule when doing them so they can happen in an organized fashion. So this new person does not want to go off schedule by letting Lee start the assembly. This is the icing on the Liberty “Let Them Eat Cake” cake and now I lose it. I plead with the person and tell him that we had this scheduled and that the cameraman just got out of jail and rushed down here to get this done. Some of the people, who have been participating in GA meetings from day one, jump up and say that it’s ok. They say it would be an honor to have Lee start the meeting. Finally, Lee Camp climbs up on the stone wall on the northeast side of the park and launches into his routine. The crowd goes wild, the GA meeting is off and running.
Here’s part of his performance:
I look down at my phone. 12 unread texts, 3 more voicemails and I now have over 1,000 unread emails. I haven’t even updated the website. I see that my wife has left me a voicemail. I try to hear the message by covering up my ears. Sounds like she said that my one-year old son’s doctors appointment went well and she’s about to put him to bed. She’s pregnant with our second child and is very tired herself, so she’s going to bed too. I haven’t seen them much over the past three weeks and once again I just missed my chance to say goodnight to them. I feel a wave of depression rush over me. I’ve spent the last three years of my life completely dedicated and working around the clock just to build up to this point. My wife has sacrificed a lot along the way. We’ve had to move three times in the past three years to downsize and cut living expenses so I could keep full focus on this fight. I used to have a nice place three blocks from Liberty Park, now I’m living in a small apartment 90-minutes away.
It’s around 8:30 now, I check the train schedule and realize that have to start heading back home to at least somewhat catch up on all this work. I see that a train is leaving in about 20 minutes from Penn Station. I don’t know if I’ll make it in time and I really don’t want to leave the frontline here, but I quickly grab my bags and head out.
As I’m rushing out of the northeast section of the park, a friend yells, “Hey, you’re leaving already?” I feel bad as I say, “Yeah, sorry, I’ll be back tomorrow. I have to get home and try to catch up on a bunch of things.” He replies, “But what about our demands? We need to get some concrete demands in place. We were supposed to have that done a few days ago.” I say, “I hear ya, but there’s not much I can do about. Figure out what your demands are. Go talk to people about them, see if they agree. If you get enough support, the demands will already be made.” He looks at me and says, “What? I don’t understand. I think you better go get some sleep, you’re not making any sense.”
I turn, shrug and say, “Got to run. Have a goodnight Mister Jones.”

Top Five Reasons Why the Occupy Wall Street Protests Embody Values of the Real Boston Tea Party

by: Lee Fang, ThinkProgress | Report
In recent years, the Boston Tea Party has been associated with a right-wing movement that supports policies favoring powerful corporations and the wealthy. As ThinkProgress has reported,lobbyists and Republican front groups have driven the current manifestation of the Tea Party to push for giveaways to oil companies and big businesses.
However, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations picking up momentum across the country better embody the values of the original Boston Tea Party. In the late 18th century, the British government became deeply entwined with the interests of the East India Trading Company, a massive conglomerate that counted British aristocracy as shareholders. Americans, upset with a government that used the colonies to enrich the East India Trading Company, donned Native American costumes and boarded the ships belonging to the company and destroyed the company’s tea. In the last two weeks, as protesters have gathered from New York to Los Angeles to protest corporate domination over American politics, a true Tea Party movement may be brewing:
1.) The Original Boston Tea Party Was A Civil Disobedience Action Against A Private Corporation. In 1773, agitators blocked the importation of tea by East India Trading Company ships across the country. In Boston harbor, a band of protesters led by Samuel Adams boarded the corporation’s ships and dumped the tea into the harbor. No East India Trading Company employees were harmed, but the destruction of the company’s tea is estimated to be worth up to $2 million in today’s money. The Occupy Wall Street protests havetargeted big banks like Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, as well as multinational corporations like GE with sit-ins and peaceful rallies.
2.) The Original Boston Tea Party Feared That Corporate Greed Would Destroy America. As Professor Benjamin Carp has argued, colonists perceived the East India Trading Company as a “fearsome monopolistic company that was going to rob them blind and pave the way maybe for their enslavement.” A popular pamphlet called The Alarm agitated for a revolt against the East India Trading Company by warning that the British corporation would devastate America just as it had devastated South Asian colonies: “Their Conduct in Asia, for some Years past, has given simple Proof, how little they regard the Laws of Nations, the Rights, Liberties, or Lives of Men. [...] And these not being sufficient to glut their Avarice, they have, by the most unparalleled Barbarities, Extortions, and Monopolies, stripped the miserable Inhabitants of their Property, and reduced whole Provinces to Indigence and Ruin.”
3.) The Original Boston Tea Party Believed Government Necessary To Protect Against Corporate Excess. Smithsonian historian Barbara Smith has noted that Samuel Adams believed that oppression could occur when governments are too weak. As Adams explained in a Boston newspaper, government should exist “to protect the people and promote their prosperity.” Patriots behind the Tea Party revolt believed “rough economic equality was necessary to maintaining liberty,” says Smith. Occupy Wall Street protesters demand a country that invests in education, infrastructure, and jobs.
4.) The Original Boston Tea Party Was Sparked By A Corporate Tax Cut For A British Corporation. The Tea Act, a law by the British Parliament exempting tea imported by the East India Trading Company from taxes and allowing the corporation to directly ship its tea to the colonies for sale, is credited with setting off the Boston Tea Party. The law was perceived as an effort by the British to bailout the East India Trading Company by shutting off competition from American shippers. George R.T. Hewes, one of the patriots who boarded the East India Trading Company ships and dumped the tea, told a biographer that the East India Trading Company had twisted the laws so “it was no longer the small vessels of private merchants, who went to vend tea for their own account in the ports of the colonies, but, on the contrary, ships of an enormous burthen, that transported immense quantities of this commodity.” Occupy Wall Streetdemands the end of corporate tax loopholes as well as the enactment of higher taxes on billionaires and millionaires.
5.) The Original Boston Tea Party Wanted A Stronger Democracy. There is a common misconception that the Boston Tea Party was simply a revolt against taxation. The truth is much more nuanced, and there were many factors behind the opposition to the East India Company and the British government. Although the colonists resented taxeslevied by a distant British Parliament, in the years preceding the Tea Party, the Massachusetts colony had levied taxes several times to pay for local services. The issue at hand was representation and government accountable to the needs of the American people. Patrick Henry and other patriots organized the revolutionary effort by claiming that legitimate laws and taxes could only be passed by legislatures elected by Americans. According to historian Benjamin Carp, the protesters in Boston perceived that the British government’s actions were set by the East India Trading Company. “As Americans learned more about the provisions of the new East India Company laws, they realized that Parliament would sooner lend a hand to the Company than the colonies,” wrote Carp.
Progressive political movements, from Martin Luther King to Mahatma Gandhi, have drawn on the original American Boston Tea Party for inspiring civil disobedience against oppression. Indeed, the very first Boston Tea Party was truly radical and faced scorn from elites and conservatives of the era.

An Open Letter to Wall Street
by: William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

Protesters, some dressed as zombies, walk the streets as part of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which began three weeks ago, in New York. (Photo: Damon Winter / The New York Times)
Cancel my subscription
To the resurrection
Send my credentials to the
House of detention
I got some friends inside...
- James Douglas Morrison
Before anything else, I would like to apologize for the mess outside your office. It's been three weeks since all those hippies and punk-rockers and students and union members and working mothers and single fathers and airline pilots and teachers and retail workers and military service members and foreclosure victims decided to camp out on your turf, and I'm sure it has been quite an inconvenience for you. How is a person supposed to spend their massive, virtually untaxed bonus money on a double latte and an eight-ball with all that rabble clogging the sidewalks, right?
Your friends at JP Morgan Chase just donated $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation, the largest donation ever given to the NYPD. You'd think that much cheese would buy a little crowd control, but no. Sure, one of the "white shirt" commanding NYPD officers on the scene hosed down some defenseless women with pepper spray the other day, and a few other protesters have been roughed up here and there, and having any kind of recording device has proven to be grounds for immediate arrest, but seriously...for $4.6 million, you'd think the cops would oblige you by bulldozing these troublemakers right into the Hudson River. Better yet, pave them over with yellow bricks, so you can walk over them every day on your way in to work.
That's what you do anyway, right? Every single day. I know it. You know it. We might as well be honest about it, and if some shiny golden bricks wind up serving as anonymous tombstones for your working-class doormats, well, that's just what they call in Wisconsin "hard cheese." You're a Master of the Universe, after all, and this recess(depress)ion hasn't touched you to any great degree. Sure, you have to shoulder your way through more homeless people these days, and damn if there aren't a lot more potholes to tax the undercarriage of your Audi R8 GT, but your money is making money at a fantastic rate, and paying taxes is for other people; I mean, come on, your accountant bursts out laughing whenever he hears the words "capital gains tax," so your egregious sense of entitlement is entirely understandable.
Now is the time to bone up on your coping skills, because three weeks is nothing. The people camped out on Wall Street are not leaving unless and until they are cleared out by force. They look all kinds of silly in their outfits, and some of their statements don't make a whole lot of sense to people like you, but they have put down roots, and you better get used to them. I'm sure the whole phenomenon is quite perplexing to you - really, why don't they just go home? Don't these people have jobs?
I hate to be the Irony Police, but that's pretty much the whole point. They can't, and they don't. Have homes and jobs, I mean. There was a guy out there a few days ago holding a sign in front of a mortgage-lending institution that read "These People Took My Parent's Home." There are all sorts of people walking around Wall Street yelling their lungs out at you because, well, they really would like the opportunity to find gainful employment, as well as a future, but that nifty shell game you and yours pulled off (on our dime) wound up immolating the economy of the common man/woman, and so the common man/woman has decided - in lieu of anything else better to do - to spend their you-created idle hours on your doorstep.
Let's face it: the mess outside your office is your doing. You and your friends bought this democracy wholesale - ah, yes, the irony of freedom is found in the way you were able to corrupt so many legislators with your money, always legally, because the legislators you bought are the ones writing the laws covering political contributions, and thus the wheel of corruption turns and turns - and now you want this democracy to do your bidding after the bill for your excess and fathomless greed has come due.
You are always taken care of - see the Citizens United decision, which unleashed you in a way not seen since the dregs of the Roman empire - but, still, there are those pesky protesters, exercising their freedom of expression in order to expose you for the brigands that you are.
They're staying put, with many more on the way - to New York as well as every major city from sea to shining sea -  and none of them are going anywhere else until people like you are taken from your citadels in handcuffs and made to pay for the ongoing rape of what was once quaintly called the American Dream...a dream that used to be something other than a dated metaphor, and can be something true and real and genuine once again, but only after we pave you under, and walk over you, on our way to a better, brighter future.