Thursday, November 24, 2011

The lost generation that knows it can change our society for the better

This video came out a couple years ago, and was part of an AARP contest in which it won second place.  I just came across it again and think it's really appropos to the OccupyEverywhere events going on right now. 

Basically - there's are societal memes that would say we're stuck, that we can't change things in any appreciable way, that we just have to put up with whatever lumps life knocks us over the head with.

Some of us do not accept those limitations.  Some of us know we can live a different way, live a better life, live the life of our choosing.  I believe, ideally, the Occupy folk are doing their best right now to reinvent some things.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lobbying Firm's Memo Spells Out Plan to Undermine Occupy Wall Street

An exclusive report from Up With Chris Hayes exposes a lobbying firm pitching to the American Banking Association that the Occupy movement is dangerous, which must be killed in order for the Bankers to be safe.

The piece concerns a proposal written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association.  The proposal (linked below) is pretty damning evidence of how worried officialdom is about the Occupy movement, and some of the strategizing.  The proposal theorizes that the Obama campaign might attempt to join forces with the Occupy movement if Wall Street gets tarnished badly enough.  It also suggests some Republicans might do so as well if the tarnishing gets bad enough.  Never mind that all politicians are tainted with receiving huge sums from Wall Street.

The vision is that Occupy and Tea Party overlap in terms of being angered populist movements.  The radical left and radical right are both channeling frustration about the economy into political action.  Somehow in some weird parallel universe the two movements might join together to do something traumatic to Wall Street.  At least that's the story GLGC spins to the Bankers.

Their proposal outlines some actions:-  Polling in some key states (Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada, and New Mexico) which are both states that Obama won, and states facing key issues in front of the electorate right now.  For example, Nevada is described as "ground zero for the foreclosure crisis".

Next they'd do "opposition research" looking for the financial backers of the Occupy movement, presuming that there are deep pockets people like George Soros behind this.  The idea will be to show these backers have "the same cynical motivation as a political opponent" to undermine the Occupy movement credibility.  Maybe at this point they're showing a profound misunderstanding of what's going on?

Social media monitoring to anticipate future Occupy actions and messaging, as well as "identify extreme language and ideas that put its most ardent supporters at odds with mainstream Americans."

Coalition planning activities would demonstrate that the companies targeted by Occupy still have political strength and that making those companies into political targets will carry political risk.

The ultimate deliverable is identifying messages that will "move numbers" (polling numbers), combat Occupy messages, and "provide cover for political figures who defend the industry."

As Chris Hayes points out, two of the names on the proposal are former staffers of Speaker of the House John Boehner.  

They also had an Obama campaign spokesperson on, Anita Dunn, to discuss this.  One critique of the Obama campaign is that they've taken a huge pile of campaign contributions from Wall Street, so doesn't that tarnish the campaign?  Ms. Dunn replied, sidestepping the question, that the majority of their contributions are small ones from individuals.  Didn't really answer the question.  She also said that the tough financial reforms against Wall Street were won by the Obama Administration, demonstrating that Obama isn't in the pocket of Wall Street.

Exclusive: Lobbying Firm's Memo Spells Out Plan to Undermine Occupy Wall Street (VIDEO)

Obama Campaign Responds to "Up" Exclusive on Lobbyist Plan to Take Down Occupy Wall Street

Police Captain Ray Lewis is Up with Chris Hayes to discuss the role of Police in Occupy protests, and the potential for Police to become Mercenaries for the Rich

Retired Philadelphia police Captain Ray Lewis was arrested on Thursday at the Occupy Wall Street protest.  Today he was on Up With Chris Hayes to explain his arrest, his stand, the role of police in situation and even the role of the police hierarchy to keep police violence in check.  He had retired over 8 years ago and was living what he described as a "Walden Pond" existence of solitude in the Catskills Mountains.  Except that he had become involved in hydraulic fracturing activism, so it's not like he was having a life of total simplicity.  Instead he would have been getting aware of the wrongness being committed upon our people, and when he saw the Occupy movement start he knew he had to get involved.

As a retired Police Captain being arrested by NYPD's finest, that's great symbolism.

He had some most interesting things to say about the role of Police Hierarchy in dealing with situations like this.  He said you always have "white shirts" (supervisors) overseeing the situation to reign in the tendency for fighting to erupt.  That is, we have an innate "fight/flight" reflex and the job of police officers requires they cannot engage in "flight" so therefore they tend to engage in "fight".  The "white shirts" are there to keep that fight tendency in check.  But what we've seen in the response to the Occupy protests, says Capt Lewis, is that the white shirts (supervisors) are engaging in the fight, and that therefore we have anarchy.

He says he'd been carrying a sign that got misinterpreted.  The sign read "NYPD don't be mercenaries for the 1%" but he didn't want to say that NYPD is currently mercenarying for the billionaires, but calling on them to not BECOME mercenaries.

There is a critique of police activity that the police is acting to protect the billionaires from the protest movement.  When they do, that would make them "mercenaries for the 1%". 

Occupy Wall Street: Robert Greenwald and Ed Schultz Discuss the Media Spin

Robert Greenwald, director of movies such as Outfoxed (showcasing Fox News' pattern of lies and deception) and Iraq For Sale (showcasing the military industrial complex), is working on a new project -  Greenwald was on The Ed Show recently to discuss who the "1 percent" is, and their project.

The idea is to NAME who the "1%" are, those ultra-rich who are gaming the system to squash everyone else.

A key core item to remain focused on .. money in politics?

Supposedly the Occupy movement is going to fail because it isn't focusing on a coherent set of demands.  I think it would be a mistake to focus on one small set of demands, because the real problem with the system is comprehensive, it's built into the design of the system, and the system is fundamentally flawed on many levels.  I also think the people of the Occupy movement know this.

I found this video claiming, however, that we need to "focus on ONE demand", on the CORE problem.  It then replays an amazing rant by Dylan Ratigan about the corrupt system, and the "extraction" of trillions of dollars from America going on.  I've posted this video before, it's an amazing rant.

But does that mean the ONE DEMAND of the Occupy movement should be to take money out of politics?  I agree that's an important goal, but should it be the single sole solitary goal?

Charles Eisenstein on Occupy Wall St as the The Revolution of Love

"You can't evict an idea whose time has come".  The Occupy message is so compelling that it's catching everyone's attention.  But, says Charles Eisenstein says, the movement can't be about defeating the 1%.  That is, we had better not end this with a bloodbath of the rich.  If that's how it ends up, well, we've seen that story before.  For example the French Royalty was killed off in the late 1700's, to be replaced by revolutionaries who then begetted a dictatorial government run by Napoleon who then waged war across Europe.  Defeating the 1% would mean the 99% would create a new 1% who would go back to committing the same sins our current 1% are responsible for.

The more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible, he says, is a more sacred world.  One where the relationships are healing to each other.  For example at its root the exchange of money, he says, is a way of erasing the human element in commerce.  It means that if the food seller gets sick and can no longer produce food, your money can simply go to another food seller.  But if you're in a real relationship with your food provider you might go to their aid when they get sick.

The current world of political discourse doesn't allow for an end goal that would erode the current capitalistic system.  That's why the Police are being deployed to crush the movement.

The current world of political discourse sees its job as preserving the status quo.  Preserving the way things are, even if that way is harmful to us all. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What the 99 Percent Are Fighting For: Three Reasons There Are Two Americas

Nice video posted by an activist group attempting to demonstrate what "the 99%" are fighting for.  Their discussion focuses on the growing inequality - the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class is getting nothing.  Supposedly.  It's a claim presented with little in the way of proof, though they do cite measurements that the median income is falling.

In one scene the people at a rally are chanting "we are the 99%" and it sounds like a great rallying cry. That is, until you think of it as an affirmation.  That statement is one which affirms a given status, and supports the belief in division between 99%/1%.

The 99 Percent Movement is spreading, and their gripes are legitimate. How did we get to a place where the richest 1 percent of Americans control 40 percent of the country's wealth, own 50 percent of U.S.-owned stocks and bonds, and earn 24 percent of total income? Where the middle class is shrinking, to the point that the share of income going to the middle 60 percent of Americans fell five percentage points in the last 30 years. And where many millionaires pay less in taxes than their employees? In this video, the Center for American Progress identifies three factors that contributed to the creation of two Americas, one for the top 1% and one for the rest of us.


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Some wealthy people of the 1% are standing with the 99 percent…?

As noted below - a group of wealthy folk have launched a joint blog on tumblr (we were once a proud people who still had vowels) to present a message that some of the rich and wealthy are in support of the 99%.

The 99%/1% meme is part of the Occupy Wall Street protests that have been sweeping the world.  As a meme it's very attractive and goes right to the core of inequality and the disproportionate power that some have gathered to themselves.  But, does that automatically make all 1% folk evil?

Earlier I noted a report where Gingrich is making some political hay saying the 99%/1% meme is an instance of class warfare.

Looking through the posts on the blog (see the links below) we see people - well, this is how I see it - I see people who are feeling unfairly maligned, and who want to essentially say that not all in the 1% are evil scum-buckets.



Wealthy People Show Support for Protests with new website: "We are the 1 percent. We stand with the 99 percent."

November 1, 2011

Washington DC – Resource Generation and Wealth for Common Good today announced a new website for wealthy people to show their support for the Occupy movement. Already over 100 members of “the 1 percent,” including young entrepreneurs, business owners and wealthy individuals, have posted their support on the new website “We are the 1 percent. We stand with the 99 percent.” (

“Those of us with more than we need and who believe in a more just distribution of resources can stand up and tell the truth about how the deck has been stacked in our favor. We need to say that we think it’s wrong too,” said Elspeth Gilmore, co-director of Resource Generation. “Just as the 99 percent has been a powerful rallying cry, the 1 percent has come to represent those who hold the majority of this country’s resources and have created—and benefited from—the financial and economic crises we now face. One hundred percent of us need a different world.”

Organizers were inspired by the “We are the 99 percent” blog that has been collecting the Occupy movement protester’s stories, and launched the parallel site We are the 1 percent, We stand with the 99 percent for wealthy people to join in, lend their voices and stand in solidarity with the protesters’ messages of challenging economic inequality and raising taxes on the wealthy.

Carl Schweser, founder of Schweser Study Program for the CFA (now called Kaplan Schweser), posted: “I made millions studying the math of mortgages and bonds and helping bankers pass the Chartered Financial Analyst Exam. It isn’t fair that I have retired in comfort after a career working with financial instruments while people who worked as nurses, teachers, soldiers, etc. are worried about paying for their future, their healthcare, and their children’s educations. They are the backbone of this country that allowed me to succeed. I am willing to pay more taxes so that everyone can look forward to a secure future like I do. I am the 1%. I stand with the 99%. (Which equals 100% of America.) Tax me.”

Farhad Ebrahimi, who has been involved in Occupy Boston says, “I have inherited an amount of money that is much more than I need. I AM THE 1%. My taxes are at a historical low, and the influence of money on our government is at a historical high. These are not good things! So what am I doing about it? (1) I am donating the vast majority of my money to social change organizations. (2) I am personally advocating for the repair of our broken system. I STAND WITH THE 99%. I am part of Occupy Boston. My money gives me no special influence here. That’s the way it should be.”

“When so many are struggling – to access healthcare, pay back their student loans, and make ends meet – the 1 percent has more than enough. Our networks include thousands of wealthy people who recognize our economy is out of balance and that wealthy people should pay more for the common good. It’s in the self-interest of the 1 percent to have a society that works all of us, and we anticipate many more will join us,” said Alison Goldberg, Coordinator of Wealth for Common Good.

# # #

Resource Generation organizes young people with wealth to leverage resources and privilege for social change and is a co-sponsor of the site along with Wealth for Common Good, a network of wealthy individuals and business leaders speaking out for fair taxation.

99%? 1%? Divisive? Class warfare? Newt Gingrich says so, but maybe that's the pot calling the kettle black?

I had a conversation this morning about how the "we are the 99% fighting the 1%" mantra of the Occupy Wall Street movement is itself a divisive idea.  It's pitting one group against another group.  It's a demonization of rich people.  It's painting reality with too-broad of a brush.  Just because someone is rich doesn't make them evil.  Not all corporations are evil.  Not all poor people are saintly.  The 99% meme is too simplistic, even though it's a very catchy idea.

The conversation went to developing a "we are the 100%" idea .. and searching for others discussing 100% I learned that Newt Gingrich discussed this exact idea in an interview with Larry Kudlow on Tuesday.  Okay, gag me with a spoon to find myself in agreement with Newt on anything.

“I am for 100 percent,” he said. “I think this idea of 99 percent and 1 percent is grotesque European socialist class warfare baloney.”  And President Obama is playing right along with that class warfare by expressing sympathy for the protesters, he added.  “I repudiate anybody who wants to divide Americans and I think that that there is a fundamental destructive quality to this 99 percent idea,” Gingrich said. “I think that it is shameful the president of the United States would engage in class warfare and pit Americans against each other in way which can only be destructive of the fabric of American society.”

See - while I somewhat agree with Newt's assessment, I believe he's using this meme to then slam Obama.  He's using a rhetorical/spin/twist to pivot from this idealism that 99%/1% is divisive, to then slam Obama for supposedly agreeing with the Occupy folk.

In other words - Newt himself is being divisive in that he's using this inclusive rhetoric as a weapon to slam someone.

Is the 99%/1% thing class warfare?  Maybe from the 1% perspective that Newt occupies it is.  Maybe he's feeling threatened.  Fact is that those 1% people are, well, people.

Gingrich: Idea of 99 Percent & 1 Percent is ‘Grotesque’

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How many people is our government killing with drones, do we know who they are, are they really Terrorists?

You are aware of the "Drone War" going on in Pakistan and other middle east countries, aren't you?  Just in case you don't know, this CIA-led war has been going on since 2004, and involves sending robotic unmanned air vehicles to rain death and destruction upon people.  Glenn Greenwald just posted a touching article about undesirable side effects of the Drone War.  He informed us U.S. rules of engagement in Drone usage means we often do not know for certainty the victims of Drone attacks are actually combatants, and that this understandably results in increasing hatred towards the U.S.  To me the Drone War just makes me think of the Robotic armies shown in Star Wars and also the relative bravery of sending actual people into direct combat, versus sending machines into combat instead.

NewImageThe drone war isn't happening just in Pakistan, it's touching Yemen and other countries.

NewImageDrone attacks have increased substantially since President Obama took office.  Generally the UAVs used are MQ-1 Predator and more recently MQ-9 Reaper firing AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

There is much disagreement over the effects of these drone strikes.  Some say the attacks are only killing al-Qaeda and Taliban, and there are zero non-combatant civilian casualties.  Others say there are a few non-combatant casualties.  And others say there is as much as 80% non-combatant casualties.

The phrase "non-combatant casualty" is nicey-nicey speech for people we might describe as "innocent bystanders".  People who happen to be near a strike, and are accidentally killed in an attack.  But what if our government is sending drones against targets they do not explicitly know are actual combatants?  What if some times drone attack targeting is completely incorrect?

Since 2008 the CIA has relied less on a list of individual people ("high value targets") and has increasingly targeted patterns of suspicious behavior.  This change in tactics resulted in fewer deaths of high-value targets and in more deaths of lower-level fighters, or even innocent bystanders.  A Washington Post article reported that of 581 militants killed in the 118 strikes in 2010, only two were high value targets.  Each strike costs $1 million to launch.

There are theoretical argument you make against these drone strikes.  For example, that it violates the sovereignty of Pakistan, a country that has never attacked the U.S. and is supposedly an ally.  Or that because CIA's drone operators are civilians directly engaged in armed conflict, this makes them "unlawful combatants" and possibly subject to prosecution.

Glenn Greenwald's piece refers to those theoretical arguments, but refers as well to another more personal side to this.  A recent meeting was convened between Pashtun tribal elders from the Pakistan-Afghan border, and some westerners, so the tribal elders could present their side of the story.  The meeting got written up as a NY Times op-ed by one participant, and as a blog post by another.  One of the attendees was an 18 year old son of one of the combatants, by both reports a very nice young man who had bright visions for his future.  But this young son was killed 72 hours later in a Drone strike because they were driving to "pick up their Aunt and bring her home to Norak".

That's a very innocent and very understandable task for a young man to undertake, drive their Aunt from one town to another.  But if the CIA is targeting "suspicious activity" then perhaps they think a car driving at night is suspicious?  Who defines what is suspicious?

Glenn Greenwald goes through a litany of evidence that, in general, "we" have no idea who's being killed in the drone attacks.  More bothersome, the CIA themselves have no idea who's being killed.  You would think that the CIA, the ones targeting the drone attacks, should know who they're attacking and have procedures to ensure they're attacking actual combatants.  Instead, according to a Wall Street Journal article Greenwald links to, says the BULK of the attacks “target groups of men believed to be militants associated with terrorist groups, but whose identities aren’t always known.”  Further he references a Spencer Ackerman article saying “The CIA is now killing people without knowing who they are, on suspicion of association with terrorist groups”.

Apparently the general consensus opinion held by We The People is to trust that the Government is "killing Terrorists" with these strikes, and presumably that proper procedures are being followed.  But the truth is different.  The truth is that often innocent bystanders are being killed.

The deaths of innocent bystanders justifiably angers the families and friends of those who were killed.  That understandably could be part of the wave of fighting against American military presence in that area.  They, even the ones who are not Taliban or al Qaeda sympathizers, understandably would see our troops as the enemy and as a result act to drive out Americans from their lands.

These deaths of innocent bystanders are being perpetrated by our government and have as an unintended consequence increased anger towards America.


The drone mentality

Increased U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan killing few high-value militants

Inside the Killing Machine