Category Archives: Occupy Wall Street

Ill Doctrine: Mitt Romney’s Blackest Week Ever from ANIMALNewYork.com

JP Morgan Foreclosing On Former Civil Rights Activist

Helen Bailey

JP Morgan is in the process of foreclosing on Helen Bailey, a 78-year-old former civil rights activist and current resident of Nashville, Tennessee. According to change.org, she is being foreclosed on because she cannot keep up with her mortgage payments.  

Helen Bailey is a 78-year-old grandmother who participated in the civil rights movement, worked as a childcare provider for autistic children, and was a community volunteer. She has paid her mortgage since 1999, but now she can’t keep up the payments. All she wants is to stay in her home until she dies, in the neighborhood where she feels safe and has lived for nearly quarter of a century. She could have refinanced with a company willing to let her live in the house for free until her death, but Chase Bank would not reduce her principal by $9,000. She’s been paying 7% interest, well above most rates, so Chase could have decided they had made enough. Instead, they have started foreclosure…While Chase tries to tie itself to the incredible legacy of Martin Luther King, who really did believe in communities, Chase tries to throw a grandmother who marched for civil rights out onto the street. 

Juxtapose this with the fact that JP Morgan Chase has just launched a project to digitize the documents of MLK along with other civil rights leaders to make them available online. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan, said “It’s important for JPMorgan Chase to support Dr. King’s legacy because of the important values he committed his life to promoting, such as equality, equal opportunity, and quality education for all. People like Dr. Martin Luther King are what made America what it is today. The values he espoused are the values that JPMorgan Chase also tries to stand for around the world.”  

Gary Flowers, Executive Director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc, responded to the news of the foreclosure. “JP Morgan Chase must practice what it preaches. On one hand, the bank cannot earnestly invoke the values of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. while devaluing the very principles for which he lived and died.” 

Change.org has started a petition to save her house. To date more than 44,000 people have signed the petition.

Campaigns For Sale — The Highest Bidder Wins

Since the SCOTUS ruling on Citizens United, it has been so interesting to see how our campaign finance has changed. We now have candidates who are being funded by just a handful of people. We have Newt Gingrich who would not be in the GOP primary race right now if it wasn’t for billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his family funding his super PAC. Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $18 million in the last half of 2011 from just 200 donors, and over $30 million throughout 2011. Jon Huntsman’S super PAC received over 70% of its funding from his father, Huntsman, Sr.  

Despite your party affiliation, this should be upsetting to you. These very few 0.5 percenters in our country are not giving this money to these candidates because they feel charitable. You have to ask yourself, if they do manage to get their candidate elected, what will they want. 

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are two of the biggest spenders for the Republican party. Despite their attempts to stay in the shadows and not draw attention to themselves, they have been making a lot of news in the last few years (most notably for their creation of the tea party movement). Last weekend they hosted a three-day conference in Coachella Valley in which several hundred deep-pocketed donors attended. Among the most notable attendees were Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Sheldon Adelson. At the end of the event, the Koch brothers and their guests had promised to pledge $100 million in order to defeat President Obama.   

Ed Pilkington of The Guardian wrote about the Kochs and their supporters. 

Though the Kochs have already stamped their influence on the American right, their impact to date looks like small beer compared with their ambitious plans for 2012. According to Kenneth Vogel of Politico, the brothers intend to use their leverage among billionaire conservatives to pump more than $200m into the proceedings, focusing in particular on the presidential race. 

Their potential to sway the electorate through the sheer scale of their spending has been greatly enhanced by Citizens United, last year’s controversial ruling by the US supreme court that opened the floodgates to corporate donations in political campaigns. The ruling allows companies to throw unlimited sums to back their chosen candidates, without having to disclose their spending.  

That makes 2012 the first Citizens United presidential election, and in turn offers rich pickings to the Koch brothers. They have already made clear their intentions. At their most recent billionaires’ gathering in Vail, Colorado in June, Charles Koch described next year’s presidential contest as “the mother of all wars”. A tape of his private speech obtained by Mother Jones said the fight for the White House would be a battle “for the life or death of this country”.  

As for President Obama, we do have a bit of good news. Reuters recently reported that in the FEC financial disclosures released last week, it showed in 2011 his campaign raised 60 percent of the funds, or $58.5 million, from donors who gave less than $200.  

We have entered into a new wild west style of politics where for some of our candidates there is just a small group of people who fund their campaigns and the rise of super PACs who now can have access to unlimited funds and can use those funds in unlimited ways in order to sway our elections. For the middle and lower classes, both Republican and Democrat, this is not a promising sign for our survival.

Congressional Republicans and Democrats Guilty of Crony Capitalism

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke with committee chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) on Capitol Hill March 2, 2011. Bernanke reportedly defended the Federal Reserves monetary policy against criticism from Republicans.

Hypocrisy at its best. For us commoners, it is illegal to trade stocks and bonds if we have access to non-public information about a company. Remember Martha Stewart. She was sent to federal prison for this exact crime. But did you know it is not illegal for everyone. The members of the U.S. Congress are exempt from this law.  

Steve Kroft reports members of Congress and their aides have regular access to powerful political intelligence, and many have made well-timed stock market trades in the very industries they regulate. For now, the practice is perfectly legal, but some say it’s time for the law to change.  

Peter Schweizer’s new book, Throw Them All Out, delves into the details of how both parties are enriching themselves with inside information that the public is not privy to. Many members of Congress are shown to have made suspiciously timed trades including John Kerry, Dick Durbin, and Jim Moran. But it is a Republican from Alabama, Spencer Bachus, who tops them all.  

Henry Blodget of Daily Ticker recently reported on this.     

Rep. Bachus made more than 40 trades in his personal account in the summer and fall of 2008, in the early months of the financial crisis. 

The fact that Bachus personally traded while getting private government briefings is bad enough. The fact that he was the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee at the time is simply outrageous. 

In one case, the day after getting a private briefing on the collapsing economy and financial system from Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson, Rep. Bachus effectively shorted the market (by buying options that would rise if the market tanked.) 

A few days later, after the market tanked, Bachus sold his position and nearly doubled his money. 

If a corporate executive or Wall Street trader did this–cashed in personally after getting private, non-public information from his work–Rep. Bachus and every other member of Congress would be up in arms about corruption and insider trading. 

And they would be right. 

Nationwide Police Brutality Against Peaceful OWS Protesters

Seattle activist Dorli Rainey, 84, reacts after being hit with pepper spray during an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at Westlake Park. Protesters gathered in the intersection of 5th Avenue and Pine Street after marching from their camp at Seattle Central Community College in support of Occupy Wall Street. Many refused to move from the intersection after being ordered by police. Police then began spraying pepper spray into the gathered crowd hitting dozens of people. A pregnant woman was taken from the mele in an ambulance after being struck with spray. (Joshua Trujillo, seattlepi.com)

The brutal crackdown by police across the country last night should concern us all. OWS has proven itself to be a peaceful movement and has committed no violence. Yet despite only being armed with just sleeping bags, tents, computers, and books, government elected officials have chosen to use clubs, pepper spray, and all out brute force against protesters.  

Leading up to last night’s confrontations that occurred from New York to Dallas, Seattle, and California, we have since learned that about 18 mayors from across the country held a conference call to form a nationwide plan to raid the encampments and force people out in hopes of putting an end to Occupy Wall Street. Based on reports and video from the different cities including my own Seattle, it was clear they all used the same techniques. It reminded me of what we saw in the Arab Spring, police states trying to squelch dissension of the people.  

In New York Mayor Bloomberg actually prevented the press from reporting on their crackdown and actually ended up arresting approximately 11 reporters along with 1 city councilman. This councilman ended up spending 17 hours in jail and was not given his right to speak to his lawyer.  

Occupy Seattle had actually submitted their planned protest route ahead of time to Seattle PD to ensure a safe, orderly march, however, when the march reached a certain point police made a calculated decision to block the route. They then boxed in the protesters and indiscriminately doused the entire crowd with pepper spray. 

The consequence was chaos. An elderly lady, a member of the Fox News described OWS mob, was pepper sprayed, almost trampled and ended up being rescued by an Iraq War veteran. A pregnant woman was sent to the hospital. A priest was injured. 

…..the Seattle Police Department learn the lessons articulated by Norm Stamper, former Chief of Police for the city during the WTO protests who last week wrote about the protests “My support for a militaristic solution caused all hell to break loose.” The Mayor’s apology asks that Occupy Seattle work with the city. We do work with the city. On this particular night, we had informed the police of our march and route in advance so as to assure public safety. Given that the police blocked our passage and then used pepper spray indiscriminately suggests that it is not Occupy Seattle that is unwilling to work with the city, but rather that SPD is not willing to work with Occupy Seattle. 

 

This type of brutality was not called for. These were clear choices on the part of our local governments. Is this America where under the constitution we have the right to peacefully protest. This blatant attempt to end a peaceful movement by brute force on the behest of our elected government officials has been atrocious. They are sending riot police to attack a peaceful movement. 

Do they not read our history. This has never worked. From the suffrage movement to the civil rights era protests and Vietnam protests, violence has had 1 major result — it increases our numbers. My question is what is next. What is in the pipeline of their arsenal. Will they take a page from the Tiananmen Square protests and roll out the tanks, bring out the national guard.  

Ridiculous!

Fox Business Shouted Down After OWS Returned To Zuccotti Park

Adam Shapiro of Fox Business attempted another live report from Zuccotti Park last night after protesters were allowed back into the park.  He was greeted with chants of “Fox News Lies” and was forced to cut short his report. 

It is amazing to me that they expect to be treated cordially after they have spent the last few months belittling and demeaning OWS.  Every show on Fox including Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocey, Brian Kilmeade, Megyn, Cavuto, Eric Bolling, Brett Baier panel, Billo, Hannity, and Greta have spent a significant amount of time on their shows showing complete disdain of OWS. 

Let us not forget how praise worthy they felt the Tea Party Movement was.  One thing Fox News does do well is hypocrisy.

Karma
Action. Reaction. Everything that you do initiates a chain of cause and effect.  

New Republican Study — Millionaires Receiving Billions In Taxpayer Support

People who are protesting against the wealth inequality and a tax code that grossly favors the 1% now have a new ally, Tom Coburn, Republican Senator from Oklahoma. He has released what he describes as the “first-ever compilation of federal aid for the richest.”  

Let me be the first to say how very surprised I am by this study. Mr. Coburn is known to be a bedrock conservative who has strongly supported the no new taxes mantra, and when someone with his background starts to shine a light into the inequalities in our government I firmly believe he can do more to further the Occupy Wall Street cause than any encampment ever could. 

The study reveals some startling findings. For example, in 2009, $21 million in unemployment insurance was collected by people who earned more than a million dollars. Also, the U.S. Treasury pays out more than $30 billion a yearto people who make more than a million a year. Mr. Coburn says what the study “reveals is sheer Washington stupidity with government policies pampering the wealthy costing taxpayers billions of dollars every year.”   

In a letter that accompanied the study, Mr. Coburn wrote, “The income of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans has risen dramatically over the last decade. Yet, the federal government lavishes these millionaires with billions of dollars in giveaways and tax breaks,” as noted in the recent Congressional Budget Officestudy that examined the growing income gap over the last 30 years.  

“From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes, and luxury yachts to subsidies for their ranches and estates, the government is subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Multimillionaires are even receiving government checks for not working. This welfare for the well-off — costing billions of dollars a year — is being paid for with the taxes of the less fortunate.” 

“The government’s social safety net, which has long existed to catch those who are down and help them get back up, is now being used as a hammock by some millionaires, some who are paying less taxes than average middle class families.” 

The following list was compiled by Mr. Coburn showing federal money handed out to millionaires over several years: 

  • $18.15 million in child care tax credits 
  • $74 million in unemployment checks 
  • $89 million for preservation of ranches and estates 
  • $316 million in farm subsidies  
  • $608 million in business entertainment deductions 
  • $9 billion in retirement checks 
  • $21 billion in gambling losses 
  • $28 billion in mortgage breaks for mansions, vacation homes and yachts 

These are powerful findings and they are coming out at a crucial time during which we are debating cutting such vital programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Education, etc.