Occupy Wall Street: GOP Blames Obama as Demonstrators Dance in Freedom Plaza
October 13, 2011
Danny Schechter / Global Research & David Swanson / War Is a Crime & Kevin Zeese / Information Clearing House
Analysis: "Who is behind the Wall Street protests? The Republican minority leader, Eric Cantor, has searched up and down in his usual rigorous manner and found the culprit. In his knee-jerk view, it's President Obama. His latest crime: encouraging these 'mobs:' Never mind that if you spend any time at Occupy Wall Street, you will encounter as many criticisms of the President's policies -- save the questions about his birth and "real Americaness" -- as you would at a conclave of the Tea Party."
As the GOP Blames Obama for Wall Street "Mobs'
The Occupy Movement Spreads Nationwide
And Is No Friend of the President
Danny Schechter / Global Research & Common Dreams
WASHINGTON (October 9, 2011) -- Who is behind the Wall Street protests? The Republican minority leader, Eric Cantor, has searched up and down in his usual rigorous manner and found the culprit. In his knee-jerk view, it's President Obama. His latest crime: encouraging these "mobs:"
In one sentence, he blamed the President who in GOP conspiracy think, is to blame for everything, including bad weather. He also not so subtly conjures up the memory of the Mafia, New York's perennial bad guys.
In one phrase, Obama stood accused of encouraging these…. pause for righteous indignation -- MOBS!
Never mind that if you spend any time at Occupy Wall Street, you will encounter as many criticisms of the President's policies -- save the questions about his birth and "real Americaness" -- as you would at a conclave of the Tea Party.
Only the criticism is different. In the latter world of make-believe, he is a hard line Socialist. In the former, he is, in effect, a Republican, a backer of the Wall Street capitalists the occupiers are battling.
And if my memory of history has not faded, wasn't it the British who called the original Tea Party a "mob?"
Let's not let the facts get in the way of a partisan shmear.
The GOP is in trouble, unable to find a Presidential candidate they can agree on, unable to come up with any program to do anything about the country's economic distress, and unable to erode the growing public disgust with the Congress they now control. All they can do is snarl like an attack dog.
Their blame Obama mantra may cheer their faithful, but convinces no new potential voters. The Wall Street protesters are their latest distraction, aided and abetted by the hardliners at Fox News, who wouldn't be blasting away if the occupations weren't successful in getting a counter narrative into the media stream.
The Occupy Wall Streeters don't waste any time attacking politicians because they are estranged from all traditional party politics. There is danger of self-marginalization in this approach but it also reflects a certain purity of purpose.
Many in the Park fear co-optation or "capture" by Democrats. Occupy Wall Street Is not partisan but has now endorsed an October 15th Jobs march sponsored by the AFL-CIO. Richard Trumka, the president of the labor federation, visited Zuccotti Park and won their support. That nationwide action will be endorsing Obama's compromised Jobs bill.
This does not mean that the protest will align with the Obamacrats. Al Jazeera spoke with Katie Davison, one of the activists who explained their way of looking at the world.
"A candidate is sort of the old way of doing things," she said. "We're looking for a new way of doing things that is more participatory and more meaningful. What that looks like we're still figuring out."
David Graeber, anthropologist, writer and protest organizer, told Al Jazeera why he thinks young people in the US have reached an especially frustrating point.
"In making a demand, you're essentially recognizing the authority of the people who are going to carry it out," he said.
"Our message is that the system that we have is broken. It doesn't work. People aren't even discussing the real problems Americans face."
So far, Wall Street firms have not commented on the protests but their condescension and arrogance is clear to anyone at the Park when employees at the big firms on "The Street" drop in at lunchtime as if they are going to a Zoo. (Police block the protesters from marching on Wall Street.)
Even as this movement swells nationally to over l000 cities, and even internationally, the media picks away at it with a combination of sarcasm leavened with growing respect. New York Times op-ed columnists and even the editorialists have been increasingly positive.
So far, the movement has not tried to directly impact on policy even though its marches are driven by signs and chants mounting a frontal assault on economic inequality, wars, phony bailouts, and the many ways they say the "1%" oppresses the 99%
Simplistic or not this view has built a hard charging movement with its own newspaper, and scores of work groups and committees that provide opportunities for individuals to get involved in the nitty-gritty effort at building their structures and running a complicated but democratic community within a larger society dominated by top-down politics.
The energy and idealism is evident to anyone with the patience to look,
Not everyone has that patience. As some kind of fortune would have it, I sat next to a talkative Wall Street veteran at a dinner Saturday night to break the fast of the Jewish Yom Kippur New Year.
From his life behind a terminal, selling financial products, or, in his words, "making up stories that his customers like to hear," the protests are a world away, unlikely to stop his life's work of endlessly making money from money.
His view on the surface was upbeat. This past week marked, in his view, the end of Europe's banking crisis (He works for a company owned by two French banks.) He seemed to be gloating about a new TARP style bailout there that would fix everything.
For him life is about the "spreads" between what you buy and what you sell.
To him, the TARP bailout "saved the United States of America." He backed McCain in the last election but praised Obama for backing it.
He blames Democrats like former House Finance chairman, Henry Gonzalez and Barney Frank (who he acknowledges were and are sincere), for screwing up the financial system.
He blames the government for demanding that mortgages be affordable and sold on a non-discriminatory basis. When pressed, he admitted there had been predatory and racist lending practices in the past, and that the subprime mortgages were a disaster.
But the more he talked, the more it was clear that his real anger is reserved for Wall Street's bosses, the people who run the firms and are, in his view, totally corrupt.
He was one of those who lost his pensions and shares when Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns when down. He was wiped out and had nothing good to say about the people at the top.
Curiously, he was as angry with these men in the suites as are the folks in the streets. He was just as alienated although he's not about to turn on capitalism and instead sniped at a retired schoolteacher at the dinner for having a good pension that he now lacks. His resentment, insensitivity and sense of class entitlement were insufferable.
Yet, even though he works for a leading financial firm, he saw himself as a victim too -- in effect, a 99 per-center.
Where will he stand in the emerging "Mob War" when the "Occupy" Family confronts the Goldman Sachs "Family"?
As the financial crisis intensifies our social crisis, stranger bedfellows will emerge.
Dancing on Our Occupation Permit
David Swanson / War Is a Crime
FREEDOM PLAZA, WASHINGTON, DC (October 10, 2011) -- Sunday night, our permit expired for occupying Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. So, we threw a dance party, and when we could dance no more, we went to sleep in Freedom Plaza.
We have until 2 p.m. today to remove our possessions. We do not intend to do so. We suspect that if the police want to remove us by force they will wait until evening. So we're throwing a dinner party, and 99% of the country is invited.
Our permit is now the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
There is no way for the vast majority of people in this enormous country to petition our government for a redress of grievances other than what we are doing. We've phoned, emailed, faxed, and mailed letters. And yet rich people are taxed less than poor people, wars rage on, 65% of discretionary spending goes into the war machine, our social safety net is being shredded, and our environment is being destroyed. So, we're here in person, but most of us cannot afford hotel rooms. We are exercising our First Amendment rights in the only possible way: by camping in Washington, D.C., and protesting our government in a manner it cannot avoid.
Whether or not you are sleeping in Freedom Plaza, you can join us there, whether or not the square has been cleared overnight, whether or not we've been arrested, whether or not you've been arrested, whether or not the weather is fine, meet in Freedom Plaza at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, and we will take our grievances to Capitol Hill.
If we are arrested in Freedom Plaza we will return to it. If we are arrested in Freedom Plaza, we want you to replace us in larger numbers. You will not regret the experience.
A friend caught a cab to Freedom Plaza the other day. The cabbie said "If you're one of the protesters, the ride is free."
Stores are saying the same.
Random people are joining in marches when we march through downtown.
We are the 99%, we say, and so are … You are the 99%, and so are … We are the 99%, and so are …
This is an open and welcoming movement. Some of our brothers and sisters are occupying McPherson Square as well, and they can have 500 there with no permit. Join them too.
We need to hold these two squares, not because the marble or the grass is running our government into the ground, but because people from out of town cannot bring public pressure to bear on Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, K Street, or the Chamber of Commerce if we cannot live here.
We cannot learn democracy at home, and let me tell you it is not an easy thing to learn. It takes us longer to talk about a protest action than to engage in it. But we talk about it together. One person, one voice. No corporate persons. No financial voices. Democracy is indeed the worst form of government except for all the other ones.
If the police had come last night, the crowd of dancing demonstrators would have cheered and asked them to join the party.
And I think it's just possible they would have done so.
What do you say we try that again tonight?
The Occupation of Freedom Plaza
We Danced Waiting for the Police Who Never Came
/ Information Clearing House
FREEDOM PLAZA, WASHINGTON, DC (October 10, 2011) -- Last night, our permit officially ran out in Freedom Plaza. Early in the evening the police reminded us our permit ended at 10PM and they ‘had to do their job.' We held an emergency meeting of many of the organizers and decided to stay.
We took it to the General Assembly, which agreed. We were in solidarity -- Freedom Park was paid for by our tax dollars; the Constitution says "Congress shall make no law abridging" our right to freedom of speech and right to assemble to redress grievances against the government. We had grievances, so we were staying.
We decided to dance until the police came for us. We danced and our unity grew stronger. Margaret Flowers and I went up on the stage and danced before a massive replica of the Constitution "We the People in order to form a more perfect union" . . . we went to the stage so we could watch for police action. As the permit holders we felt a responsibility to everyone there. We wanted to warn them if we saw the police coming.
The rhythm of the drummers combined with electric music to create a pulsating beat that mixed in with our chants:
We are the 99%
We are the 99%
The People United Will Never Be Defeated
The People United Will Never Be Defeated
Doesn't Congress Know: We Are the 99%
Doesn't Obama Know: We Are the 99%
The 1% Should Know: We Are the 99%
We danced, danced, people held hands in lines TOGETHER, circling the front of the Freedom Plaza encampment. On the stage ten or so of us danced in unison, TOGETHER, clapping, moving, back and forth, back and forth. Unity grew in the threat of police action and with our solidarity in not fearing it -- in knowing that if the police destroyed our encampment and arrested us, our movement would grow. We would be replaced. We would return. Repression would lead to a bigger occupation, not a smaller one.
Margaret and I were told that three police had just walked alongside the Pennsylvania Avenue side of Freedom Plaza seemingly counting how many of us there were. We decided to go meet with them. We approached the officers behind the stage. They were friendly and so were we. We too were united in the reality of the economic insecurity of the 99%.
We shared concerns about today's youth, leaving school with more debt than any generation before -- and the worst job market for youth that any of could remember. We talked about the unfair foreclosures created by a banker-created housing bubble that inflated prices beyond affordability; about the death of Americans because they can't get health care.
We talked about the wealth disparity seen in the annual IRS report of the wealthiest 400 Americans -- 400 people with the wealth of 154 million, paying taxes at a rate of half of middle class Americans. We all agreed they did not acquire that wealth because they were smarter and worked harder. We know some of the hardest working Americans are paid the least.
We all knew of the deep corruption that led to economic disparity. We knew the unfairness. We all see President Obama charging $38,500 to attend his fundraisers -- more than the individual median income of Americans; and wonder what promises he is making for those bribe-donations?
How will the economic unfairness be made worse by his billion-dollar campaign? One officer told us he had a four-year-old daughter. I told him about my two sons who are in the 20s, Margaret about her children in their teens. We were united. The 99% wants a more perfect union.
The police told us there would be no arrests that night. In fact, we had been out of compliance with the permit from the first day and we could have been arrested days ago. The law does not allow sleeping in the park, the first night we developed a euphemism that the police joined in -- we were not sleeping, we were "deeply resting."
That night we agreed to wake people before the media arrived from their "rest." As the occupation grew, the violations of the rules grew. People put up tents -- the courts have always upheld the "no camping" rule in federal parks, but people knew their civil resistance history.
Sometimes the simplest things led to the most dramatic changes. Americans have been inspired by sitting on a bus to close to the front, sitting at a lunch counter were they were not allowed, sleeping in a ditch outside President Bush's ranch -- so people camped in a federal park -- doing a common human experience, sleeping.
Why are we doing this? Why are hundreds of occupations developing across the United States? Because the people need to take power from the political and economic elites who have destroyed the economy and have us trapped in war quagmires around the world; because we need to END CORPORATE RULE that favors gluttonous profits for the wealthiest while the basic necessities of tens of millions are not met; because we need to immediately end wars of the American empire that have literally killed and displaced millions of innocent people. We occupy to create a more perfect union where participatory democracy replaces the rule of concentrated wealth.
Now the police are telling the media that our permit ends today at 2:00 –the time the permit allowed for clean up. But, today at noon the Constitution will still say: "Congress shall make no law abridging" . . . and the occupation will continue. Join us.
Kevin Zeese is an organizer for the Occupation of Washington, DC in Freedom Plaza and co-director of Its Our Economy and co-chair of Come Home America.'
Stop The Machine! Create A New World! -- Take the Pledge at www.October2011.org -- Spread the Word and Help Make History
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