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Monday, October 31, 2011

Bully Pulpit on Bull Connors or The Tactics of DeHumanization

(Moore, 2011)
If the hose fits....

When does the national conversation change? What is the trim tab that adds a new word to the general lexicon, one that was only being whispered in private. Is it a photo? A video? A speech?

In 1963, images printed in Life Magazine told the story. Systemic arrests and harassments by local officials in Birmingham, Alabama were nothing new, but self awareness is a hell of a thing. And now young people were starting to march led by a young preacher named Martin Luther King. Not yet a doctor but already a Reverend, he had a vision of change and a way of getting others to believe in that change. 

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King
on the Mall (Lindo, 2011)
So peaceful clean cut kids, with intelligent messages and a need to have their voices heard, were protesting the Jim Crow state of affairs in the area. Birmingham and its Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connors, wasn't having any of that. There were laws enforcing segregation. On a hundred degree day, the simple relief of a swimming pool in a public park could not be enjoyed by people whose skin was considered too dark to be human. You want to swim to cool off now, $1.50 will take that 103 degree day in D.C. into a manageable zone at one of many public park pools.  In that summer of 1963 in Alabama, they were experiencing 110 degrees in the shade. It's not dry heat, it's not humid heat, it's some other kind of heat that beats down on you. A person of a pale complexion would have their neck turn bright red in that heat rather quick.

Walter Gadsden being attacked by dogs.
(Hudson, 2011)
So Bull and his buddies thought some bullying was in order. And they took out the hoses. And the dogs. DOGS. On a hot 110 degree day.

In 1968, 5 years later, they came again. Bunch of really smart kids calling themselves "Yippies" took over a park, wanted to the change the world, or at the very least, that national conversation. Just like they are now down on Wall Street in the not so bargain basement district of New York. They were getting together peacefully to listen to music and have a few free drugs and some free love back then. Oh yeah, and to protest outside the Democratic National Convention about the seemingly endless Vietnam War. That war lasted 19 years in all. Truth. It officially began on November 1955 and dragged on 19 years and 180 days. The people in THAT park from THAT time who were sick of war and calling for peace got hit with much worse then just hoses and dogs. Much, much worse. Like Bunker Hill worse. (Go to your local DVD rental portal and rent Chicago 10 to have all your questions on that one answered if you want to know more.)
(Hoffman, 2011)

So we've got kids hit with hoses in 63, and kids hit with hoses and batons and dogs and tear gas in 68, and the stories of the Bonus Army who camped in front of the White House only to be burned and beaten out of their makeshift village, and now we have Occupy. Only this time, its everywhere. When they try to close one location, there are literally hundreds of other cities still answering the call. And don't think the kids are just kids. We are talking all ages, married, single, homeless, with jobs, without jobs, but mostly engaged citizens that are extremely dedicated and heard the sirens call again. No one there has a sign about guns and no one there is threatening to come back with bullets next time. There are some of the most excited yet clear individuals racially spread out across the spectrum that we've ever met being well fed by constant donations and neighborhood support. Worldwide support sent with messages attached like, "We can't be with you, but we can send you a pizza. Bon appetite!" It's a beautiful thing.

OWS in shadow of Liberty Tower
(Lindo, 2011)
Our first night at Occupy Wall Street was spent huddled in one tent after another meeting people, listening to their stories of why they were there. Yesterday, was the first great elemental test of their metal as the slightly cold temperatures dropped and turned into a record breaking Noreaster for the month of October in the history of Octobers. Yesterday 3 inches coated everyone, but it did it sideways and came with wind and mixed with painful sleet type rain which kept up for like 20 hours. Today, if you want to walk down to Broadway and Cedar you won't find a trace of any snow storm at all. Nothing. Resilient protesters all. There must have been 300 people gathered in the General Assembly, another 30 or so watching the Open Mike area, a handful watching a film being projected onto a sheet in the rather large library area, and another hundred keeping warm in their tents, waiting in line for the free grub, or deep in discussion off in one corner or another. This is an active community of people who feel it is not only their right, but their duty to protest the gross man made distortions to our economic and ecological sustainability on this planet. A real pressure cooker for the bubbling up of solutions is being built and it's being patchworked together by Solutionaries from all over the U.S. with all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of complaints and concerns. It's a revolution of thought and process. Because self awareness is a hellofa thing.

Occupy Wall Street (Lindo, 2011)
This time, the people have had some casualties already as well. The young marine, a veteran with a full time job in Oakland that had been sleeping with the protesters there at night to keep the peace, has had his skull fractured, by a canister launched from an officer while they were teargassing a milling crowd of thoughtful caring patriotic civilians. Will that be our trim tab? Will the video of his fall, or the explosion into the crowd that was trying to help him, also caught on video, make the statement that needs to be made about the right to freedom of assembly? Will the photos of those hit with rubber bullets and covered with welts open the eyes of the sleeping? There is an argument to be made the mission has already been accomplished.

This last week, Friday, Saturday there were reports on NPR and CNN et al saying that "the national debate has been fundamentally changed when talking about economic inequality." A "watershed" moment is right in front of us. That was coming from main stream news talking heads. This revolution, apparently, will be televised. Don't you just love history in the making? All power to the people and the policy they invent.


Lisa, The Policy Geek

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Muddy Waters

When you listen for a living, sometimes a talking point can hurt your ears. Lately, its been a forked tongue of talking points. On the one hand, Talking Heads saying that they don't understand the message of the OWS crowd (apparently, "Occupy" is too long a word to say on National television).

Coming out of one corner of the mouth of the coined is:
  • OWS has no message,
  • Their message could get hijacked so watch-out!,
  • We can't possibly see what they are saying,
  • They are so disorganized.

The other point of the fork says:
  • They are nobodies,
  • These people have no education (suddenly that's important),
  • They aren't people like you and me, 
  • Those are a bunch of disorganized religious zealots.
  •  
To that we say, "Hngh." We think the better angels of nature are speaking loudly and clearly.

 (RTNews, 2011)

More and more world citizens think OWS's purpose and reason de etra are so simple that even this 9 year old understands and can articulate the message of the protesters he is standing with.

Former Representative Alan Grayson also seems to clearly understand why people are mobilizing and speaking to each other peacefully while mediating, exchanging ideas, and working on solutions to our nation's ills. It's called democracy and it's a shame that some people don't recognize it when it's intelligently done with intent and care.

(Bill Maher Productions, 2011)
We could go on and on. And if you would like us to go on and on, shoot us an email at thepolicygeek@gmail.com or make a comment here below. 

We can tell by the views and the demographics that we have hits from all over the world. So thank you. And welcome. And feel free to share our links or check out the books. Some of the images allow you to read full chapters while checking them out, so...indulge.

Meanwhile we still think President Obama is headed for Term 2.  Remember he got Bin Laden? Please?! Besides who are we up against? Michelle Bachmann? There was the 7th or 8th or 6th Republican debate on tonight, so we do what we always do. Listen. Our favorite quote from this of what will be 20 debates total on that side??:  "He put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa."  made by Michelle Bachmann. This is a no brainer.

Be back soon,

Lisa, The Policy Geek
thepolicygeek@gmail.com
Twitter: @thepolicygeek

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's A Good Thing

DC March For Sanity (Lindo, 2010)
Sometimes, in life, you are lucky enough to know it's time to take a stand. There are suddenly big clear choices and issues of justice at stake. And at those times, if you are VERY lucky, you can be part of history as well. You can boldly go where no one has gone before on a global level. You can seek out new forms of government, more representative of the People, give Gov a new life, and create a new definition of Civilization, of being a citizen of Earth.

(Lindo, 2011)
One of our friends calls the Occupiers horrible things and suggests violence against them, repeatedly.  (He) says I've 'drank the koolaid', tells me to 'fu@k off' for posting video of Occupy events (Sorry for the language, but we're just quoting here). We are talking informative, no comment videos, just people sharing. He says they are the 'lowest of the low', these people who attend Occupy Wall Street events, and that everyone in New York hates the protesters. He's honestly one of the smartest people we know, and yet, he thinks its just a huge anti-Israeli, anarchist movement that will end up destroying us all in the end. And even stranger, he lives on the Upper East Side. I'm just sayin'.
In the video below, Dr. Spence was answering the question, "Why are you here?" That's something that each of these people at these events seem to be pretty clear on. From "How my goin' pay my rent?" to "What rules will these camp outs live by?" every day is a clear and structured growth model for figuring out why these people are gathering.
 Dr. Lester Spence at Occupy Baltimore (Lindo, 2011)
Asst. Professor of Political Science, Africana Studies, Hopkins University
When you are a Policy Geek, it usually doesn't happen by accident. Usually you start out as some other type of geek, like a sports geek, or a stats geek, or a trekkie. And when that happens, and you combine that with the age of one who can remember a time without cell phones, or even cable, then every day now is a miracle. iTablets and wireless this and picture frames with video by the bed; twitter and Facebook and the very concept of Social Media is like living in Kubrick's 2001.  And now this, this worldwide instant communication series of events. In the utopia of Star Trek, direct democracy, freedom of speech, equality, fairness, justice, these were/are the ideals. Now, to see it in action, everywhere, real time, sharing, being, its very exciting. Its the energy of the world all going in the same direction. At least that's what we all hope it is. Perhaps its the potential power of the fringe that scares our FB friend. But this not-gonna-take-it-anymore crowd seems more focused on moving forward in the right direction, then letting the 1% steer the 99% even one more day.
So we are for this thing. This growing thing. And to our friend we say, "teach me, tell me. How could direct democracy fail?" 
Here's one anonymous quote from a protester at #OccupyDenver:  "Can't you be patriotic, support your nation's President and the troops and still be in the streets marching and occupying? Can't you love peace and cry out to end all the wars, knowing full well that we would still nation build? We are held to it by our Military Industrial Complex, after all. So we move to Africa, and we save lives and fight some real bad guys and help them replace real infrastructure. Africa will be the new frontier. And we know that money giant will be extremely hard to put on a diet so the Pentagon has to eat something. Since there are military offices in every county in the United States...that'll be harder to change, but isn't it patriotic just the same to want our troops to be home? Home and safe?"
(Lindo, 2011)
Admittedly, we can see no exit strategy, or pack out day ahead, and we suppose this is a weather permitting kind of thing. Nonetheless, you must appreciate how the Occupy movement is growing, its fine beginnings, and the quality of the people supporting the movement. And after careful research and intense outreach, twitter and YouTube hours, it appears to us as though thoughtful people all over the world in solutionary solidarity are standing up to Usury and Perfidy!! In fact, we're sure of it. The simple fact that they have free libraries set up at each encampment to share intelligent background on history and government and the state of our Congress today and the Constitution, et al says so much. Transparency at its most purist form. With all that, there are ridiculous fringe, what we would call 'out of the ballpark thinking' individuals there talking about conspiracies and the Fed and mind control, but by and large the distillation from each work group seems sane and well thought out.
What we mean to say is, if you really believe in Democracy, then you must believe in Democracy! right? And so you take a stand, FOR SOMETHING and not just against the GOP, but FOR justice, for ecological sustainability, and for intelligent solutionary debate on the economy and our futures as citizens of the world!!
If you have been paying attention you are daily correcting someone who thinks that Occupy Wall Street (OWS) doesn't have a message or that they are a bunch of kids or that the press isn't covering it. Those are all false concepts. The meme was planned for several months leading up to the Global Day of Action yesterday. 
(Lindo, 2011)
We've been to the one in Baltimore and took video and photos, also NY, DC, and they are talking about alternative currencies, like the Baltimore Buck (kind of like a Disney dollar, honored by 126 stores in Baltimore) in an effort to take money out of the system. They supported the idea of taking money out of commercial banks and putting your money in credit unions. They talk about creating legislation to protect the consumer, like what the Consumer Protection Agency is supposed to do but is instead being blocked by the GOP. 

Now that all these fights are happening openly, with respectful debate, we must also think about the 2012 elections. The more people we hear from, the clearer it is that President Obama needs to be reelected with as many Democrats as we can cram into 2012. Not arguing, just saying on that level, moving forward, he's gotta be your guy. As a Progressive. If you don't think so, then you might as well stop reading now, because we definitely are not going to see eye to eye over the months ahead.

(CBS, 2011)
DC's Miles Maestas says, "It easy to label people and wage partisan and ideological warfare. It's easy to do that. What's hard is to bridge differences and ask people to be better citizens. This is what's asked of us -- to be engaged, caring and active citizens right now. If you're already doing all you can, great. You're the perfect candidate to teach others how you do what you do. Get a view of the big picture and be responsible for painting a part of it. Thanks for participating in this big, ongoing responsibility of self-governance."

George Lakoff says, "The basic idea is this: Democracy is based on empathy, that is, on citizens caring about each other and acting on that care, taking responsibility not just for themselves but for their families, communities, and their nation. The role of government is to carry out this principle in two ways: protection and empowerment."  To read more about Mr. Lakoff's work: http://georgelakoff.com/2011/04/17/obama-returns-to-his-moral-vision-democrats-read-carefully/ Lots of his books are listed and available through that link as well. 
Consensus (Occupy Wall Street, 2011)
They/We talk about getting out the vote and one fascinating democratic vote after another, with all concerns heard and voiced before voting. Its just beautiful. This many people getting involved and caring about our nation's future. This blog, for one, will not be found writing about how they are failing just yet. And the above video is a really well shot and edited look into the birth of this movement from its Ground Zero (excuse the expression).

(CBS, 2011)

Its growing, its popular, and people who know how to build a society from the ground up are participating in the discussions. Educators, union members, city councils all voting to support these actions. It's a good thing. It's a very good thing. It will be a New Republic, if we can keep it.

And since they don't seem to be going home just yet, looks like I'll be here typing. And carving pumpkins.

Lisa, The Policy Geek

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Horse Of A Different Color

So it would seem the race is now officially on. President Obama, commonly known as POTUS (President Of The United States, for the less literary savvy), has decided that bipartisan is no longer the way to go. He's making visits to the opposition's back yards, and bridges, and holding vigil during his Create Jobs tour right in front of their most needy infrastructure spots.

This Policy Geek traveled all over the country over the last two and a half years, and saw many a shovel ready construction site being shoveled. I mean everywhere. With big signs telling you they were stimulus projects. The Republicans generally didn't like the signs.

There was also lots of talk of (R) Governors lining up to refuse their portion of the stimulus funds as they became available. And now, now that POTUS is pushing for more infrastructure work to be put into action, the GOP says they never saw any fixin' of any roads being done by anyone over the last two and a half years and; therefore, if we passed an infrastructure Jobs Bill now, nothing would come of it. So odd. And then they filibuster, and vote it down for debate.

Usually, these are the guys who love them some construction money, and love passing it out to supporters they've befriended along the way, bid or no bid. Not this time. This time Rove and friends decided that it would be best if everything the United States Government votes to do, should be blocked. Period. Or left as unfunded mandates. Or non-approved appointments. Until this Democratic President is no longer in the Oval Office. That's the goal. The numero uno goal. In fact, if no votes passed at all, that would be fine with them. Unless it was to ban abortion, or remove civil rights, or as Perry just rewrote it, "take back the country like we did in our revolution of the 16th Century." Not sure what country he was talking about, but I'm pretty sure he was like 200 years off for the good 'ol U.S. of A.

But history and integrity and honesty have not been this part of this season's republican lexicon.  Oh, hell no!  It's tax cuts and godless liberals and invisible racism and wealthy treason talkers. That's what the GOP is putting up as their best and brightest. Oy.

So what R we gonna do about this Jobs Bill?  Here's the latest from the White House: "
Last night, the American Jobs Act was filibustered by Senate Republicans. There was no vote on the actual bill. But it would have succeeded: the American Jobs Act has at least 51 votes -- a clear majority -- to pass the Senate. And a new poll shows that 63 percent of Americans support it, too. Today the President recorded a message he wants you to see, laying out where we go from here in the fight for jobs.

Watch President Obama's video -- and pass it on to anyone you think should see it. 

"I've got news for them. Not this time. Not with so many Americans out of work.  I will not take no for an answer.  Force them to vote!!" ~ President Barack Obama

Bachmann is suggesting no taxes. Cain is suggesting a flat tax. They all want more military spending. We have to change this, but it is up to us. Now, we need to push even harder. Our voices make a difference.  They really do. Call, write a letter, or send an e-mail. Don't give up. We need to put people back to work, and create an America the rest of the world wants to do business in.

Lisa Lindo
The Policy Geek

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Revolution Should Not Be PhotoShopped

(Adam Nelson, 2011)
One thing we know for sure.  
The picture above, of Charlie Chaplin and Errol Flynn wasn't PhotoShopped. Those people were there, with hats in hand, waving and cheering. It's a different day down at Wall Street now, especially in Zuccotti Park, formerly called Liberty Plaza Park.

(Wikimedia.org, 2011)
Here's a cool picture taken by the even cooler David Shankbone, another self proclaimed observer of life, who has 'driven motorcycles across Cuba and Portugal, camped in the Amazon, skydived over Italy, lost himself in Morocco and found himself in the Negev.' He goes around taking free use photos for Wikipedia.  This is one from September 17th, when things were just getting going in the moneyed districts of NYC. One interesting 21st century adaptation that took place to deal with the Big Apple's regulations, in lieu of a sound system, announcements are made and then repeated by the crowd, using the power of many to broadcast their messages without violating any sound ordinances. Ignore them, but they wil not go away.

Protesters Shut Down NYPD Precinct
It's a different day down at Wall Street now. Back when Chaplin climbed Errol to get a better look, there were happy faces all around. I have Manhattanite friends who have been down checking things out these last two weeks, tweeting, and well, some of what's coming out of there isn't what it seems to be. Most of what you hear IS true. People ARE chanting, cops HAVE been acting badly, cameras HAVE been destroyed, people HAVE been arrested, but mostly it's peaceful all the way around, and people are staying there, and staying put. 

Some of the protesters are trying to morph the "Occupation Of Wall Street" into something a little more reckless. Unfortunately, some aren't playing by all sorts of rules. They have agendas and complaints, but don't want to work within any system, especially when fighting a system that doesn't believe in rules. Throughout history Corporations have prefered to have the fewest rules imposed on them as possible (secretly the GOP are a bunch of Liberttarians if you ask me). So these natives are little more restless. These nonOccupation civil disobediants are mucking things up, but bringing attention to the cause nonetheless. Let's start with their propaganda problems. Here's their twitpic going around with the following messsage: "Think #OccupyWallStreet is only a few hunderd people? Check this pic out!" 
"Think #OccupyWallStreet is only a few hunderd people?"
As you can see it looks like a nice healthy crowd, and that maybe a couple of cabs and some other cars had gotten trapped in the masses. Interestingly, the reports I'm getting of 2500 - 3000 bodies on Friday would look like a lot fewer people, especially since much of them are under those trees. 2500 is nothing to sniff at. So let's check with reality. Here's the Google Earth Shot. And the actual link, just in case:  http://www.google.com/maps?ll=40.712899%2C-74.007667&spn=0.002082%2C0.005284&t=k&z=18&vpsrc=6
(better you know you are actually on google maps)

Notice the same cars? Same cars turning? So we have two photos, same cars, one with lots of people, one with much fewer people. Like a Google Earth shot was lifted and PhotoShopped. Now we can at least deal with some facts. When people do things like this, they sort of devalue the work that OccupyWallSt.org is trying to do. Not too sure what to make of that, but it is what it is, and that is a growing group of real people protesting in real time about real issues.


(OccupyNOLA,org, 2011)
American Citizens (and worldwide citizens of Earth) are PEACEFULLY ASSEMBLING to bring attention to those who, in full deception mode, have affected the economies of the entire world! Perfidy has continued to go unpunished, and now human beings everywhere, in solidarity, all over the planet, are going to point a metaphorical finger at those who do not act in the best interest of the average Citizen. Shining a verbal spotlight on those indictable predators who schedule a game, make a side bet that they will lose, use fake chips, have cards up their sleeves, and then take a dive for the money. In the old days, they called that The Sting and you could be hung for it. What the media is starting to understand is that this thing is not just happening down at Wall Street, and it is not about Occupying the Park Formerly Known As Liberty. It’s about 'player recognizin' player'; and it's going to happen in Madrid, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Athens, Sydney, Kansas City, Algiers, Tokyo, Amsterdam, London, and maybe even on The Brooklyn Bridge.

Nowadays you try to walk across a bridge (closely protected, of course, against acts of terrorism) and they'll arrest you (see video from You Tube). Not everyone likes to follow the sound ordinances; and some people like to play in traffic, so today, they arrested 700 American Citizens who did just that on The Brooklyn Bridge. Just bang some drums, and perhaps shut down a lane of traffic for a few hours of dancing, and "booooo!" they'll come arrest you. Even FOX News broke down and reported on what was going on, so let's put a rest to the "no news is covering this" meme, shall we? 

In fact, New York City police say about 700 protesters have been arrested after they swarmed the Brooklyn Bridge and shut down traffic TODAY. This offshoot from the financial district protest orchestrated an impromptu trek to Brooklyn this evening. "They walked in thick rows on the sidewalk up to the bridge, where some demonstrators spilled onto the roadway. Most of those arrested face disorderly conduct charges, while others were accused of resisting arrest after being told to stay on the pedestrian pathway" says an NYPD spokesman.


Interestingly enough, The New York Transit Workers Union (TWU) voted to support the Wall Street Protesters at their meeting Wednesday night. A member of TWU Local 100 told a reporter that they planned to join the protest this last Friday. The Union has 114 autonomous locals representing over 200,000 members and retirees in 22 states around the country. And it's numbers like that that have caused the GOP to try to dissolve them. Unions back Dems, and there'll be no more of that. Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-massive-union-just-voted-to-side-with-the-wall-street-protesters-2011-9#ixzz1ZNr9x6HF

(OccupyWallSt.org, 2011)
Occupy Wall Street has been picking up some decent support from other unions in the past few days. Wednesday we reported that the Teamsters Union declared their support for protesters.
Washington Current Reports: After more than a two weeks of protests in New York against major financial institutions and the role they played in the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent economic meltdown, more than 1,000 people were in Boston yesterday to march on the headquarters of Bank of America headquarters. The action in Boston was organized by The New Bottom Line, a nationwide coalition of 1,000 faith-based and community organizations that also seeks to hold Wall Street accountable. Link: http://www.thewashingtoncurrent.com/2011/09/wall-street-protesters-to-move-on-to.html

(Adam Nelson, 2011)
Per Daily Kos today, here is their first official list of demands:
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
  • They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
  • They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
  • They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
  • They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.
  • They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
  • They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
  • They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ health care and pay.
  • They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
  • They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
  • They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
  • They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
  • They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
  • They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
  • They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.
  • They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
  • They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.
  • They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
  • They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
  • They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
  • They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
  • They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
  • They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
To the people of the world, We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power. Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone. To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal. Join us and make your voices heard! *These grievances are not all-inclusive.
Talking Points Memo has reported "that many of the events around the globe are being coordinated and listed by the website Occupy Together, which says that its creators were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street events and wanted to create a “hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity” with the movement. And in a merging of technologies old and new, infamous poignant prankster duo “The Yes Men,” previously best-known for posing as representatives from such companies as ExxonMobil and government agencies including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to critique their actions, launched a project on Kickstarter to raise money to publish an Occupy Wall Street Journal newspaper. The print-run is set for 50,000 copies for its inaugural issue. At the time of this posting, the project has already surpassed its requested $12,000 donations goal by about $5,000, and there are still nine days left to donate to the project."

Now, if anyone tells you that the people down on Wall Street are a bunch of disorganized homeless kids about to go home anyway, you can tell them that a little Policy Geek filled you in on the whole thing, and you don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon.  Who knows? All that seems to be abundantly obvious, is that at this rate we're gonna have to make a whole lot more popcorn.

Check back soon for more updates.

10/12/2011 ~ Bloomberg has given his blessing for the demonstrators to be in NY for as long as they like. Peaceful movements just get me every time. ;-) Interested in more? Drive by a meetup near you and get first hand glimpses at history. A world movement, in real time. www.occupytogether.org If this page stays current, you can check out how many occupiers there are at each site updated live here: http://www.meetup.com/occupytogether

Lisa Lindo
ThePolicyGeek

Friday, September 30, 2011

Occasional Repost

Waiting For Godot

By Tim Valentine
(Valentine Art, 2011)

We have a question for our Republican, Conservative and Tea Party ‘friends’, regarding their support for tax cuts.

For years, decades even, members and supporters of your Parties, along with others, have told those who were disadvantaged that they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Often this advice was given without any consideration, comprehension or experience of what it is like to be disadvantaged, and with no thought as to their perspective.

Some have managed, against tremendous odds, obstacles and disenfranchisements to lift themselves out of desperate situations and into manageable ones. These people are Americans who often are left with few other dependable options for assistance. If you dare to have a conversation with, not at, but with, someone in these groups who are not Republican like yourself, you might just gain the opportunity to learn a different perspective that might lead you towards another consideration.

We are not as you describe us to be when you’re speaking to the media or your fellow Republicans. We are not as you assume, as you ignore our opinions and experiences or when you criticize Democrats or the President. We are Americans just like you.
(Adam Nelson, 2011)

So why should the Janitor, Building Attendant or Administrative Assistant pay more in taxes in terms of the rates and percentages than the CEO, IT Director or the Delivery Driver?

Why should people who are economically identifiable as what any economist, financial professional or tax codes would consider Middle-Class, Working-Class, or Unemployed pay more in taxes? Did you know you pay taxes on Unemployment? Those entitlements are not tax free. Especially why should our fellow Poverty-Stricken Americans who are often under-employed, pay more in taxes than those  who the same economist, financial professional or tax codes would economically identify as Upper-Class and in more common terminology, Rich or Wealthy?
(Adam Nelson, 2011)
The full version of the House Republicans Plan for Jobs is 10 pages.  President Obama’s is 199 pages. How comprehensive do you suppose both plans are in comparison? Simply, which proposal is a better plan for how to create jobs? Are you purposely trying to unemploy Americans?

We ask you these questions, because what you’re doing by taking these positions in your campaigning and policy proposals contradicts the best economical interests of those who support and align themselves with your ideology and principles! Statistically the Republican Party include a high percentage of believers who are by all economic indicators Middle-Class, Working-Class, Unemployed or among the Working-Poor. You've grabbed many of the less educated and less informed.

(Adam Nelson, 2011)
Are the values of your largest and frequent financial contributors more important than those who vote for you? Do you take these positions without consideration of their actual effect they will have on the real Middle-Class, Working-Class, Unemployed or Working-Poor? Do you know your policies will in no way benefit them? Are you comfortable with only benefiting your major contributors?

Perhaps it isn’t about people for you, but the position, perception and power that is the motivation. When you have taken seriously what the American Jobs Act is outlining and proposing, it is difficult to understand why you oppose the bill. Anyone who loves and respects America would agree upon the tenants of the American Jobs Act, making it difficult to ignore the questions asking for the true reasons as to WHY you would oppose the bill. You’ve had to of proposed these same suggestions at some point in your career or at least mentioned them. Generally ya liked these things before you were agin' 'em.

We, continue to gather and wait for your response, because this isn’t about the election, but about We the People. We the People who can not continue to wait.

I’m providing a direct link to the American Jobs Act (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/reports/american-jobs-act.pdf) as reference for these questions we, the American people who are considered Middle-Class, Working-Class, Unemployed and Poverty stricken, request your response.

Tim Valentine

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dude, Where's My Camera?

What's not to love about New York City cops? They're brave and tough. They get there quickly and they take care of the city that doesn't sleep ~ keeping it safe from any possible additional terrorist attacks.

But there's a dark side to the American cop on the beat.

The Dark Side of The Men In Blue (OccupyWallSt.org, 2011)
It comes with the very nature of who applies to be a police officer in the USA. If you are the physical type, that enjoys a good ass kicking now and then, and you are searching for a career choice, it would seem that some sort of "protection services" might be the just the gig you're looking for. Unless you are planning on becoming a no-holds-bar-overseas-outside-the-justice-system-contract killer, and who wants all that travel anyway, you might find yourself attracted to joining The Force. Even the International Business News (UK) reports that, there are always a certain percentage, that come along with those who protect and serve and are compassionate, and they are the assholes, and the bigots, and the bullies.  And sometimes, they get to have their day.

But how many Rodney King's can we have? How many African Americans have needed to sit on a sidewalk next to their car for no reason? How many guards have gotten away with the slow torture of a human while doing time for a crime?

Michael Moore Late Night At Wall St (OccupyWallSt.Org, 2011)
NY Daily News has said that from 2007 to 2009 the number of officers with NYPD who received civilian complaints were up nearly 50%. Because of excessive force claims, in 2009 alone 315 of the 35,000 of officers were enrolled in a monitoring program created by the NYPD. Despite complaints of excessive force, many more incidents of go unreported because citizens are afraid. So the NYPD in Blue created a program to monitor these complaints back in 2007 and while keeping track of reports, they found that 90% of the reported cases where violent tactics were used the individual subjected to "use of force" was not even arrested. That kind of tells you everything you need to know right there. Many of those cases involved an officer drawing his weapon. In fact in four out of every five cases in which a weapon was pulled no arrest was made. In the vast majority of those cases involving a gun being drawn the officers justified that "use of force" because they suspected the individual possessed a weapon even when no weapon was actually found.

This isn't a new phenomenon, and last night Lawrence O'Donnell showed what shining a little spotlight on those who have crossed that line can do. According to all sources, the problem children where in fact the Men in White. 

Some Familiar Faces Visit To Support (OccupyWallStreet.org, 2011)
Reuters says that the Occupation Of Wall Street is evolving as a result. As of 3:00 p.m. Eastern today, they are claiming that The Occupy Wall Street movement was planning on Friday (tomorrow) an unauthorized demonstration on the streets outside the New York City police center of operations.

This evening at 8:00 PM, Senator Bernie Sanders addressed the protesters.

According to our friends over at PoliticsUSA, on Countdown With Keith Olbermann tonight, Sen. Bernie Sanders became the first US Senator to voice his support for Occupy Wall Street. (Video) Sanders said, “What I appreciate about what’s going on in New York right now is that there is a spotlight being focused on Wall Street. We desperately need that. If we are going to get out of this recession, if we’re going to create the millions of jobs we desperately need, we need real Wall Street reform"
Al Sharpton Lending His Name To Cause (OccupyWallSt.org)

We are gonna need some reform. The right thing to do now would be to get a consensus on how to word a petition and ask for Police Department Reform & Training, nationwide. You're thinking a petition takes time, it's a pain in the neck, etc.

Well, take a millisecond and check out this new link: www.whitehouse.gov/petition.

They have the coolest new feature over at The White House's website, and if you set up a petition on specific matter (really easy to do) and you pass it around to your friends (keyboard ready), and it gets 5,000 signatures, only 5,000, they promise to take the matter up.  Usually you would take months to create a petition and then run around getting 100,000 signatures before one of your Senator's assistants would answer your call.  Not anymore. You could start a petition to repeal the Citizen United decision while you are at it. Hard to complain to a true policy geek, 'cause she'll tell you exactly how to solve the problem right then and there. So ~ petitions, check, doable, check, timely, check.

Now go make a petition.  Not sure what to ask for? Google the word petition, and see what other people have asked for over time. Self educate. That's a fine trait of A Policy Geek.

You know we tend to fly south for the winter, right?  Wonk, wonk.

Lisa Lindo

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Coverage on Coverage

(OccupyWallSt.org, 2011)
It started slowly. One posting saying that no one was covering the Wall Street event. #OccupyWallStreet 

We had heard about it. Twitter people were headed down on Saturday. So there was tweeting and  blogging. Adbusters was live streaming.

Live streaming on Ad Busters
http://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/occupywallstreet

and People For Political Change were (are) streaming it.

Sunday one activist friend pointed out that only 200 people showed up on Saturday, the first day of the Wall Street protests, and so CNN came and left. That didn't seem right.

YouTube hosted The Struggle Video Network's video, and it told sort of a different type of story. This looked like a lot more people than a couple hundred to me. Sort of sounds like more than 200 too. And much more fun to notice, there just happened to be some cocktail event on a 2nd floor balcony, where pearl draped women and well healed men in black tie and champagne looked down at the people flowing by, with nothing but flowering vines pouring down to the chanting crowds on the sidewalk below. They took pictures and smiled and toasted. Such a juxtaposition of money and revolution. Classic. Must see video (35,542 views at time of posting)
(Jeff Prager, 2011)

Sunday afternoon, a real live friend (one we've met in person) tweeted that he was getting a bite to eat, taking a shower, and going back down. Later he tweeted that 300 people had set up tents to spend the night. @TedLabs

Sunday night there were more FaceBook (FB) people complaining all firebaggery that no one would cover this, whining about a protest they couldn't be bothered to show up for, boggeled by a demonstration that tries to imply that Wall Street Corporations based in the U.S. should be taken to task in any way humanly possible. This steady stream of posts showing complete confusion over something quite simple. Wall Street is a man-made construct; therefore, anything we need to do to reshape it is theoretically possible. But there were the posts saying no one's covering the protest, as they armchair it through the economic downturn.
(OccupyWallSt.org, 2011)

Policy Geeks could find 8 or 9 videos on You Tube, and we posted the clearest of quality. A snipet there, a moment here. And yet, more people on FB and in social media were saying that no one was covering the protest. Well, we were. And so was CNN, and Salon covered it as well as the Washington Post, & Huffington Post. Oh yeah, and New York 1, ABC News, and CBS and FOX news, The New York Times, International Business Times, Wall Street Journal and Forbes. Waking up Monday morning, it certainly seemed like this thing was being covered.

Unless you listen to liberals who believe in media blackouts and conspiracy theory. But a policy geek is gonna be more interested in facts. The who-what-where of the whole thing. The kid at the end of this RT video pretty much got a handle on it. 


Democracy Now does a piece. Their take? There aren't any demands or requests being laid out for Wall Street. So what's it a all about, right? It doesn't take a genius to google or look up www.OccupyWallSt.org when that's what this entire event is called, "Occupy Wall Street".

The press think it's a march, but it's an Occupation, by artists and thinkers, and they laid out their demands clearly. (You can find it in our last blog entry.) Not that, as a wonk, we are saying that we agree with their demands, or that they are practical in nature. Simply, that there is a calling, a charter, and the press is having a little trouble finding it. Perhaps the concert TOMORROW, Saturday the 24th, will bring out some faces and some coverage.  Who knows?

Gotta go. Popcorn's ready. And I've got some You Tube to catch up on.

Lisa Lindo
www.thepolicygeek.com

Monday, September 19, 2011

And then there were thousands...

(OccupyWallStreet.org, 2011)
Well, today is Monday and now we have some pretty great footage of the weekend up on You Tube.  Hundreds did show up over the weekend to Occupy Zuccotti Park now re-named Liberty Plaza, on the corner of Liberty st. and Broadway claiming Food and Democracy are free. Reports from those on the ground claim that approximately 300 spent the night in a makeshift tent city Sunday night.  Here's some fun footage from the first March Saturday:

Saturday's March
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33xCHwT1dsY&NR=1

And on Sunday a small group worked as a megaphone for one man's call to join the protest on Monday:

People As Megaphone
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEuGX0-VvjQ&feature=related

For more direct information, you can call for information:

The number is: (877) 881-3020

For general inquiries, please email the NYC organizers at: 9.17occupywallstreet@gmail.com,
and for General Assembly news and minutes go to nycga.net.

It also appears that Anonymous is supporting the whole "camp out on wall street" concept.

(https://occupywallst.org/, 2011)
The question is, is this our Tahrir moment? There shouldn't be any molotov cocktails, but there are people, and the numbers are growing.

As a policy geek, I want to know what are they really asking for?  It is clear that large Corporations grew out of a need for The People to have goods and services delivered bundled to keep down costs of basic living, and all the fun stuff we like to buy too. The companies that grew out of our Age of Industrialization became fatly fed over the whole consolidation concept, and began to think for themselves.  They no longer wanted to just service the people, they formed their own edicts: profits before all.


Now you can count on your average Joe to put himself first when making choices, so you know he cares about A Person. And maybe his relatives or close friends. They will come first. So you can count on Joe to care about A Few People. But a Corporation, they will never put people first. It just doesn't make economic sense. They will always put profits first. And by removing regulations over these Corporations, we are encouraging that kind of behavior. The few who manage the Corporations that America hosts, use the consolidated money and power to increase their ability to make profits to the detriment of those working for them, and those absorbing their products and services. We can use tax reform and regulatory action to curb those directives, and make it more profitable for Corporations to think of people first, but that hasn't happened yet, and shows no sign of starting to happen when he look to the horizon. Decisions like Citizens United have cemented their cash lust into protocol. Sad, but true. And as long as a very few people run Corporations like money sucking machines, we are going to continue the trend we have now of the top 2% in this country owning all the wealth. Bad model for growth. Horrible plan for any country, let alone The United States, whose charter begins with We The People.

The next logical question would be, Exactly what can be done to put people first? We need a check list. E Pluribus Unum.  Out of many, one. And right now, our motto has changed to Out of Many, Profit For the Few.  This is not sustainable.

The People of The Occupy Wall Street moment have formed their list of requests as follows:
This statement is ours, and for anyone who will get behind it. Representing ourselves, we bring this call for revolution.

We want freedom for all, without regards for identity, because we are all people, and because no other reason should be needed. However, this freedom has been largely taken from the people, and slowly made to trickle down, whenever we get angry.

Money, it has been said, has taken over politics. In truth, we say, money has always been part of the capitalist political system. A system based on the existence of have and have nots, where inequality is inherent to the system, will inevitably lead to a situation where the haves find a way to rule, whether by the sword or by the dollar.

We agree that we need to see election reform. However, the election reform proposed ignores the causes which allowed such a system to happen. Some will readily blame the federal reserve, but the political system has been beholden to political machinations of the wealthy well before its founding.
We need to address the core facts: these corporations, even if they were unable to compete in the electoral arena, would still remain control of society. They would retain economic control, which would allow them to retain political control. Term limits would, again, not solve this, as many in the political class already leave politics to find themselves as part of the corporate elites.
We need to retake the freedom that has been stolen from the people, altogether.
  1. If you agree that freedom is the right to communicate, to live, to be, to go, to love, to do what you will without the impositions of others, then you might be one of us.
  2. If you agree that a person is entitled to the sweat of their brows, that being talented at management should not entitle others to act like overseers and overlords, that all workers should have the right to engage in decisions, democratically, then you might be one of us.
  3. If you agree that freedom for some is not the same as freedom for all, and that freedom for all is the only true freedom, then you might be one of us.
  4. If you agree that power is not right, that life trumps property, then you might be one of us.
  5. If you agree that state and corporation are merely two sides of the same oppressive power structure, if you realize how media distorts things to preserve it, how it pits the people against the people to remain in power, then you might be one of us.
 And so we call on people to act
  1. We call for protests to remain active in the cities. Those already there, to grow, to organize, to raise consciousnesses, for those cities where there are no protests, for protests to organize and disrupt the system.
  2. We call for workers to not only strike, but seize their workplaces collectively, and to organize them democratically. We call for students and teachers to act together, to teach democracy, not merely the teachers to the students, but the students to the teachers. To seize the classrooms and free minds together.
  3. We call for the unemployed to volunteer, to learn, to teach, to use what skills they have to support themselves as part of the revolting people as a community.
  4. We call for the organization of people's assemblies in every city, every public square, every township.
  5. We call for the seizure and use of abandoned buildings, of abandoned land, of every property seized and abandoned by speculators, for the people, for every group that will organize them.
We call for a revolution of the mind as well as the body politic.
That's where we are today. If you follow twitter, use #libertyPlaza to follow or file reports. This shows no signs of slowing down, so grab your popcorn, tune in, and turn on.

Lisa Lindo
The Policy Geek
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