Saturday, September 24, 2011

Revolution 4




"We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers"

The people were fed up. They'd finally had enough. They were tired of their politicians not listening to them, not representing them, in league with special interests rather than the people who put them into office. They were sick of of the high rates of unemployment, cuts in much needed social programs, corruption in government, the two party system that really didn't offer any choices, banks and bankers, capitalism, and they called for basic rights; the right to good and affordable health care, education, the right to work and own a home.
They were tired of their so called representative democracy which was actually a klepto-plutocracy.
So they organized through the social networks and then took to the streets in 58 cities. The above motto was used on the first day, which was May 15th of this year, and would continue throughout August. It has been estimated that between 6.5 and 8 million Spaniards have participated in the protests. It has been referred to as the "15-M Movement," or the Spanish revolution. A massive non-violent display of a common displeasure throughout the Spanish middle class society. They threatened not to vote in the upcoming elections. Police monitored the situation closely, sometimes intervening and making arrests. The response from the established political parties was mixed, some sympathized, others did not. Some didn't understand what the protest was about. Former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González compared the protests, which he considered "an extraordinarily important phenomenon," with those staged in Arab countries recently, pointing out that "in the Arab world they are demanding the right to vote while here they are saying that voting is pointless."
The results of the movement remain unclear. At least now the Spanish government knows that it's people are watching, and watching closely, and are not asleep or anesthetized.

A week ago today, the 17th of September, as many as 3,000 to 5,000 American protesters came to the financial district of Manhattan. They carried signs stating "JUST BECAUSE WE CAN'T SEE IT DOESN'T MEAN IT'S NOT HAPPENING" and "WALL STREET IS OUR STREET." Some wore Guy Fawkes masks, pounded drums, chanted slogans, and they all stood up to the financial powerhouses of Wall Street that they blamed for the miserable state of the nation's economy and their poor positions within it. They vowed to "Occupy Wall Street" and to "bring justice to the bankers", but the New York police thwarted their efforts, locking down the symbolic street with barricades and checkpoints, more than 40 police cars and 80 police officers in attendance.
This movement called itself "#OCCUPYWALLSTREET." I don't know why. It was indeed inspired by the mostly peaceful demonstrations in Spain, a call from the anti-consumerism magazine Adbusters (, and I would believe the general air of rebellion currently on display in the Middle East. But in the end it was the people themselves who orchestrated and made it happen.
The hidden, cellular, Internet organization "Anonymous," became involved:
Their video communique endorsing the action garnered 100,000 views and a warning from the Department of Homeland Security to the nation's bankers. When, in August, the indignados "indignant ones" of Spain sent word that they would be holding a solidarity event in Madrid's financial district, activists in Milan, Valencia, London, Lisbon, Athens, San Francisco, Madison, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Israel and beyond vowed to do the same.
They had no permit to assemble, but what were the police to do? Break them up with tasers? Shoot rubber bullets and microwave sonic weapons into the crowds. That wouldn't look all that great on the six o'clock news, now would it?
Why no Rick, it wouldn't.
Besides, billionaire capitalist Mayor Bloomberg seemed to be sympathetic to the cause, issuing an aire of tolerance toward the demonstrators... as long as they behaved themselves that is.
Three hundred people rolled out sleeping bags and stayed the night. The ranks swelled again in the morning. $2,800 worth of pizza was supplied from a local pizzeria, hot chocolate and blankets, all paid for and delivered by supporters in New York City and across the country. Leaders stated, "we're digging in for a long-term occupation."
And they've been there ever since. A few arrests have been made by frustrated police. Drawing on the sidewalks with chalk at the time becoming a major offense it seems. An obscure law from 1845 prohibiting more than two people in a crowd from wearing masks was invoked. All very unruly indeed.
Last Wednesday 11 supporters in Seattle were arrested:
"175 people gathered at Chase headquarters in downtown Seattle. They shut us out of the headquarters so we took the CEOs of Chase, Wells Fargo, and BofA to trial in the streets. We overtook the intersection of 3rd and University for 45 mins and the crowd found the CEOs guilty of crimes against the people of Washington. 11 people were arrested, and are currently being processed."
“We are struggling with less and less, while the big banks profit more and more. The big banks have done nothing but dodge taxes, throw people out of their homes and choke small business, all the while draining our wealth to pad their bottom line. It’s time for JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo to pay US back,” said George Goehl, Executive Director of National People’s Action, an organizational member of The New Bottom Line. “We are fighting to build an economy that works for all of us. Our bottom line means good jobs, healthy communities, and a government that fights for everyday people.”
I am happy to see this trickle, this gentle murmuring, as the slumbering giant of the American middle class rouses itself out of lethargy. The Bush recession has lasted three years now (as we enter the second "dip" in our double dip). Unemployment hovers near 10% with more than 25 million Americans either unemployed or underemployed, the average duration of joblessness standing at record highs, while corporations hoard trillions in cash while refusing to hire, despite Republican claims that lower corporate taxes will provide jobs from these "job providers." 46 million Americans... over 15% of the population are now living in poverty. Millions of Americans have lost their homes to foreclosure and millions more are expected to face foreclosure in the next few years by the very institutions surrounding the Wall Street protesters. Middle class consumers are in deep debt. Wages have been flat for decades while the top 2% of earners income has soared exponentially. The concentration of wealth and income today is greater than at any time since 1928.
"CEOs, the biggest corporations, and the wealthy are taking too much from our country and I think it's time for us to take back," said one activist who joined the protests last Saturday. Jason Ahmadi, who travelled in from Oakland, California explained that "a lot of us feel there is a large crisis in our economy and a lot of it is caused by the folks who do business here." Bill Steyerd, a Vietnam veteran from Queens, said "it's a worthy cause because people on Wall Street are blood-sucking warmongers".
Placing a tax on stock, bond, derivative and every other financial transaction, similar to our local sales taxes. Reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, designed to control speculation, thereby helping to insure another financial crisis does not rock the country. Enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act and break up the banks and financial institutions that "are too big to fail." (it is reassuring to note that the Moody's Investors Service lowered debt ratings for Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc., and Wells Fargo on Wednesday, saying the US government is less likely to bail out large lenders in the future, thereby depriving them of a proven insurance against their own malfeasance. Why is the government less likely to bail these morons out again? Because of people like the Wall Street protesters, and the rest of the American people who will not stand for it) The Justice Department needs to get off its hands and prosecute those responsible for the last financial crisis (and for that matter, the war criminals, some self admitted (Dick Cheney) of the Bush administration, including Bush). And a very close look at our country's inexplicable desire for so-called "Free Trade." We don't need free trade. We need fair trade, that won't suck all of our jobs overseas.
So it would seem that these strident and fed up protesters have a legitimate and valid argument and reason to carry on their protest. And one would think that a goodly majority of Americans who have been affected by the greedy policies of Wall Street would notice and take to the streets in numbers heretofore unseen.
And perhaps they would if only they knew about it.
Despite the main stream media's fascination with everything Tea Partyish (they seem to salivate at every opportunity to cover anything having to do with them, even gatherings of as many as 24 of their members), there seems to be little inclination in the corporate controlled media reporting on demonstrators demonstrating against fellow corporations (here's another for the solution list: break up the corporate media giants).
The organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) reports:
The anti-corporate protests have been lightly covered in the hometown New York Times: One piece (9/18/11) largely about how the police blocked access to Wall Street, and one photo (9/22/11) with the caption "Wall Street Protest Whirls On."
The protests have been treated with brief mentions on CNN, like this one from host Wolf Blitzer (9/19/11): "Protests here in New York on Wall Street entering a third day. Should New Yorkers be worried at all about what's going on?"
From the ABC, CBS and NBC network news, we could find nothing at all in the Nexis news database. On the PBS NewsHour (9/19/11), the protests got a brief reference, tacked on to the end of the stock market report: "Away from the trading floor, some 200 protesters marched for a third day, charging the financial system favors corporations. At least six people were arrested."
Some voices in the media have noted the lack of coverage. On the Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, 9/19/11), Michael Moore said, "People are down on Wall Street right now, holding a sit-in and a camp-in down there--virtually no news about this protest."
At the top of his Current TV show (9/21/11), Keith Olberman said: "So five days of clogging downtown Manhattan, protesting corporate control of the economy, and you haven't heard a word about it on the news?"
He later remarked, "If that's a Tea Party protest in front of Wall Street about Ben's the lead story on every network newscast."
Indeed, my friend, Keith. Indeed.
FAIR ends their report with this bit of advise:
"The answer to the problem of non-coverage would seem to be simple: If the people occupying Wall Street want more media attention, they should just call themselves Tea Party activists."
Indeed, my friend FAIR. Indeed.
And the #OCCUPYWALLSTREET protest continues. I hope this is a beginning of a national movement of intolerance toward their own exploitation. A non-violent movement, involving not just thousands, but hundreds of thousands... maybe more. At least from all who have been adversely affected by the greed and straight out theft of the wealth of the middle class that has been going on for years. That's what I hope. That's what I believe is the only thing these... people... will understand, the only thing our own government will understand.
What was the saying so prominent in that movie that popularized all of those Guy Fawkes masks... "V for Vendetta?"
"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people" (a paraphrase of John Basil Barnhill "Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty").
Wall Street should be afraid as well.

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