Occupy Wall Street: A Master Class in Occupation


NEW YORK CITY—Jon Friesen, 27, tall and lanky with a long, dirty-blond ponytail, a purple scarf and an old green fleece, is sitting on concrete at the edge of Zuccotti Park leading a coordination meeting, a gathering that takes place every morning with representatives of each of Occupy Wall Street’s roughly 40 working groups.

“Our conversation is about what it means to be a movement and what it means to be an organization,” he says to the circle. A heated discussion follows, including a debate over whether the movement should make specific demands.

I find him afterward on a low stone wall surrounding a flowerbed in the park. He decided to come to New York City, he said, from the West Coast for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. He found a ride on Craig’s List while staying at his brother’s home in Champaign, Ill.

Todd Walton: Recent Studies Show

Mendocino, California

“As far as income tax payments go, sources vary in their accounts, but a range of studies find that immigrants pay between $90 billion and $140 billion in Federal, State, and local taxes. And let us not forget the Social Security system. Recent studies show that undocumented workers sustain the Social Security system with as much as $7 billion a year. Let me repeat that: $7 billion a year.” Luis Gutierrez

Which seems to contradict…

“The Center for Immigration Studies found that illegal immigrants cost the United States taxpayer about $10 billion a year. A large part of that expense stems from the babies born each year to illegal immigrants.” Nathan Deal

Marcia and I both have web sites and use the interweb for research, marketing, entertainment, and communication with the world outside of Mendocino. Her office and mine are separated by a wall through which we occasionally shout at each other, though we can never be certain what the other person is shouting about until one or the other of us rises from his or her chair and walks around the corner to find out; or we send each other emails. It occurs to me that we could call each other on the phone, since we have separate lines, but we never do. That would feel silly.

We both have taken to scanning news synopses and articles on the interweb and exclaiming about various horrors and wonders and nonsense we discover. These exclamations can be heard through the wall and often elicit shouts of “What?” or may cause the hearer to rise and walk around the corner to find out what the exclaimer is exclaiming about. We are particularly fond of reports of recent studies by so-called scientists that may prove or disprove something that absolutely, trust me, does not need proving or disproving, though this lack of necessity never stops the studiers from carrying out their needless studies because, hey, in these difficult economic times what else have they got to do with their time and your money?

You can Occupy Wall Street anywhere

Daily Kos 

Way back in the days of the dinosaurs, there was a time when many of us knew, at least in theory, that it was time to discuss the infractions of the Bush-Cheney administration in terms of (gasp!) impeachment.Now, we had all sorts of arguments at the time about whether that was politically wise or politically feasible. And some minds changed over time. But way, way back at the beginning of my own involvement with the issue, the very idea of impeachment—indeed, the very utterance of the word—was viewed with horror. No one Serious (let alone Very Serious) wanted to have anything to do with its mention. It was only later that opponents became comfortable discussing it, even if only in terms of its being “off the table.”

And so I hit upon an idea, unrefined at the time, and which I later found out had occurred to others who had already begun to take the same idea to the next level. I would start a sort of guerrilla marketing campaign to force the word “impeachment” back into the discussion.

As I said, I later discovered that there were others doing similar work, and doing it much better. I’m speaking here of the famous Freeway Blogger, with whom I later collaborated in trying to spread the simple “Impeach” message. His methods were so simple, cheap and sound, it seemed perfect for that particular movement, and seems only more so now. Let me let him show you what I mean.

Now, you might not be able to realistically spend your days (and nights) at an Occupation in your area. Or there might not even be one near you, even if you wanted to participate. Maybe you even feel like you’re the only one in your town who even would support such a thing. Well, the Freeway Blogger has a way for you to make a statement, regardless. Almost anybody can do this:

Homemade signs have been a big part of the Occupy movement from the beginning. Everyone gets to express themselves, even if it means scrawling a message in magic marker on the inside of a pizza box. But as you can see from the above video, there’s an easy way to get a little more polish for your sign, and scale things up some, too, without any fancy printing equipment, and with a minimum of expense.

Will Parrish: The Real Frost Protection Conspiracy [Local]

The Anderson Valley Advertiser

The primary mandate of the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), a division of the California Environmental Protection Agency, is to ensure adequate water for California’s fish populations. Its actual function, however, has proved to be altogether different.

In recent decades, the SWRCB has presided over the near-extinction of California’s salmonid population. An unprecedented collapse of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, young striped bass, Sacramento splittail and other fish populations occurred from 2007-2009, with record water exports out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta from 2003 to 2006 being the principal culprit.

One major sub-set of the larger problem of collapsing fisheries involves the North Coast wine industry, which has increasingly depleted, polluted, and sedimented the Russian River and other North Coast waterways across the past few decades, using an amount of water merely to frost-protect grapes in spring that Rodney Strong, patriarch of a famous eponymous wine label in Healdsburg, even referred to as “horrendous.”

Another is that the SWRCB is blithely ignoring one of the greatest, ongoing collective water heists in the history of California. There are currently more than 800 illegal water reservoirs in the Russian River basin alone, out of a total of roughly 1,700 in the North Coast region of Marin, Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. The Control Board is aware that a massive quantity of the state’s water is being stolen, yet does virtually nothing.

In a 2007 study, the consulting firm Stetson Engineering estimated the capacity of these water impoundments is 48,515 acre feet, amounting to 3,234 surface acres of illegal reservoirs. The reservoirs submerge stream reaches and headwaters, thereby drying up spawning habitat critical to fish. As Arcata-based fisheries biologist Patrick Higgins observes, these “reservoirs are ideal habitat for bull frogs, which decimate native amphibian populations.

Todd Walton: Whoopsie Doopsie [Local]


“The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough is love.” Henry Miller

A couple years ago I created a catchy blues tune entitled Whoopsie Doopsie, and after I performed the song to the apparent delight of my wife Marcia, I thought I might make a recording of the tune and see how the world liked it. I wrote a note to myself—Whoopsie Doopsie Project—and put the note in the center of my just-cleaned desk, thereby establishing a new bottom layer for the accumulation of papers and books and drawings and letters and bills that would inevitably grow into a high plateau of dysfunction until, in a fit of frustration, I abstained from eating and drinking for several hours until the mess was properly expelled.

Thus time and again over these many months, I worked my way down to a little yellow square of paper on which was writ Whoopsie Doopsie Project, a trio of words that sent me to the piano to bang out the latest rendition, after which I would say to myself, “Yes, I really should record that and see what the world thinks of it.” Then the tides of time and paper would rush in again and submerge the note, and the project would largely vanish from my consciousness, except on rainy mornings when I was practicing the piano, at which times I might essay a version or two of the pleasing apparition.

Feeling especially sad one such rainy morning, I played a very slow Whoopsie Doopsie, and the sweet little love song became dark and plaintive; and I appreciated the song in my bones rather than with my sense of humor. And that very night we went to a dinner party at which the hostess asked me to play, and Marcia suggested I premiere Whoopsie Doopsie for the public, as it were. So I performed a rather timid version of the tune, the piano unfamiliar to me, and everyone in the audience said

Occupy Wall Street: The Metamovement

Dave Pollard’s weighs in here

I believe that we’re witnessing the rise of a global Metamovement

The Metamovement is a movement of movements. Not all these movements are similar; no two are exactly like; each can be readily distinguished from the next. The Arab Spring is part of the Metamovement; the London Riots were part of the Metamovement; protests spreading across America, under the banner of Occupy Wall St, are all part of the Metamovement.

Yet, just like in an epidemic, each outbreak triggers the next–and in that cascade can perhaps be traced the jagged outline of the shared DNA within each cell of the larger metamovement.

Where did this virus erupt? The simplest answer is: in Sidi Bouzid, where Mohammed Bouazizi set himself alight, in protest. What sent Bouazizi over the edge of sanity–or perhaps into the arms of a kind of hyperrational embrace of a singular act of revolt?

“…He was 23 and had left school early because his widowed mother couldn’t afford to keep him there. On 17 December Mr Bouazizi’s vegetable cart was confiscated by the town council which said he didn’t have permission to trade. When he tried to get the cart back a woman from the council slapped him in the face.”

Got that? Bouazizi was systematically, structurally denied the opportunity to prosper, time after time, by a monolithic set of institutions. For the privileged and powerful, these institutions turned fortune into excess–but for Bouazizi, they turned misfortune into willful calamity, literally slapping him across the face, wresting from him the chance to be author of his own destiny, stripping a sense of agency and dignity from him with Kafkaesque precision.

In a sense, that sentiment is the common thread behind each and every movement in the Metamovement. The Metamovement feels like Bouazizi felt–a sense of grievous injustice, not merely at rich getting richer, but at the loss of human agency and sovereignty over their own fates that is the deeper human price.

In other words, it’s not just about inequality–but the deeper failure of institutions. To let people–especially the young–redress inequality by whatever slender means they might muster, by creating new opportunities. At every turn, the people in the Metamovement feel not merely spurned and scorned–but suffocated and strangled by institutions every bit as unflinchingly lethal as a hangman’s noose.

Their truth, I suspect, might be this: there’s no one left to turn to–and so the Metamovement has turned to each other.

The lack of identifiable leaders of Occupy Wall Street is driving the Power Elites and their Mainstream Media lackeys crazy


Here are some semi-random notes on the Occupy Wall Street movement, based partly on some “insider” contacts.

I am honored to have long been in email correspondence with David DeGraw of Amped Status, one of the key initial organizers of the Occupy Wall Street movement. As a result of our mutual support society/correspondence, I am also honored to be included in an email group of people I consider the leading lights in the movement to restore democracy and fiscal sanity to this nation, people like Matt Taibbi, Barry Ritholtz, William Black, Max Keiser, Dylan Ratigan, Karl Denninger, Yves Smith, Michael Hudson, Nomi Prins, David Cay Johnston, Paul Craig Roberts, “George Washington” and Tyler Durden, to name some whose work you have probably read.

I want to start by saying that David DeGraw has acted under extreme pressure with integrity and grace at every step of this amazing journey. He is an American hero in my book, along with all the other initial organizers of the OWS movement: someone who cannot be bought, someone with the uncommon courage to act (virtually alone at times) against the united forces of oppression, exploitation and thuggery that is the Wall Street/Washington, D.C. Power Elite.

The OWS story appears to begin in late September, but it actually started in March, when David, Anonymous and other activists began organizing a June 14 “occupation” of Liberty Park: Acts of Resistance: What Are You Going To Do To Rebel Against Economic Tyranny? (June 1, 2011), Prepare For Revolution: The Empire State Rebellion Begins on June 14th (March 31, 2011), The A99 social network group, etc.

David has summarized his 19-month experience on the front lines of the movement: Report from the Frontlines: The Long Road to #OccupyWallStreet and the Origins of the 99% Movement.

What few people know or recall is that the June 14 occupation attracted a total of four citizens: David and three other brave souls: event organizer Gary Roland, Oren Clark and Kevin Dann. (Other sources say 16 people showed up but only these four were prepared to occupy the park.)

Here is David’s statement after the disappointing turnout: Back home from Liberty Park (June 15, 2011).

David does not try to take credit as a leader; rather, he repeatedly states the movement is decentralized and leaderless

Big Bank Revolt in Full Swing, Million$ Withdrawn


Remember, Remember the 5th of November: BANK TRANSFER DAY

Together we can ensure that corrupt crony-capitalist banking institutions will ALWAYS remember the 5th of November! If the 99% removes our funds from major banking institutions to non-profit credit unions on or by this date, we will send a clear message to the 1% that conscious consumers won’t support companies with unethical business practices.

Read the FAQ
RSVP to Bank Transfer Day
@BankTransferDay on Twitter
Download Flyers
Find an American Credit Union
Find a Canadian Credit Union
Contact Bank Transfer Day
Seven Simple Steps To Move Your Checking Account

1. Open Your New Account

In most cases, you should be able to open a checking account with an initial deposit of $35 to $100. At a credit union, you’ll also become a member and co-owner at the same time.

2. Order New Checks and an ATM/Debit Card

These typically arrive within 1 to 2 weeks. You should also consider applying for a credit card from your new local bank or credit union at the same time.

Unequal Protection — Chapter Twelve: Unequal Uses for the Bill of Rights


[Article with references here]

Of the cases in this court in which the Fourteenth Amendment was applied during its first fifty years after its adoption, less than one half of one percent invoked it in protection of the Negro race, and more than fifty percent asked that its benefits be extended to corporations. – Justice Hugo Black, 1938

The statistic in this chapter’s epigraph is sobering indeed. It says corporations sought protection under the Fourteenth Amendment a hundred times more often than did the people it was intended to protect. And this is not a victimless shift—there have been real and substantial consequences. In the years following the Santa Clara decision and the cases that referred to it, companies have used their personhood rights in an amazing variety of ways. What follows in this chapter is a small selection.

First Amendment

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. noted in the landmark 1919 Shenck v. United States case that shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater does not constitute free speech; the Bill of Rights guarantees that a person’s opinion can be expressed, not that there are no limits on what one can do. But consider how this fundamental freedom has been bent by corporations since Santa Clara.

By claiming the same right as humans to express themselves, companies won approval to spend whatever they want on lobbyists in Washington. At one point there was a full-time tobacco lobbyist for every two legislators on Capitol Hill. As of 2005 there were roughly 64 registered lobbyists for every member of Congress, and 138 of them are former members of Congress. Include state lobbyists, and there are more than 60,000 (because of variations in state laws on what is or isn’t a lobbyist, and who and how they should register, this may well be a significant underestimate: nobody really knows the true number).

As Jeffrey H. Birnbaum noted in the Washington Post in June 2005, “The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent. Only a few other businesses have enjoyed greater prosperity in an otherwise fitful economy.”

He added that “lobbying firms can’t hire people fast enough” and that salaries started at $300,000 a year. “Big bucks lobbying is luring nearly half of all lawmakers who return