Thanks to Abby Zimet at Common Dreams for her thoughts about this and for running this video there.
Yesterday between 121 and 200 protesters were arrested when a peaceful march of approximately 2,000 headed to Union Square to spread the word about their occupation for emancipation from a corrupt economic and financial system. The events made news in many national MSM publications.
What better place than Olympia to gather if the Washington State economy has put you on the street? Come to Olympia to assemble and petition for redress of grievance. Come and sit on the streets of Olympia as a demonstration and act of free speech. Come to Olympia and greet the legislators and the policy makers who will have to step over you, or walk around you, as they move around in their daily lives. The City of Olympia is criminalizing poverty in the downtown area, but the First Amendment comes in… uh… First! We have the right to sit, recline, sing, grieve, and beg for good public policy in Washington State. Come to Olympia.
If you get hassled by the Olympia Police Department for exercising your free speech rights, email the particulars: Where, when, police officer name to email@example.com and we will challenge the City and the Police Department to justify the violation of your first amendment rights.
I know that some folks get scared when they have to be close to houseless people. I encourage those folks to come down to the Artesian Well during daylight and introduce themselves to the people who move through that setting. There are lots of tattoos, piercings, and a fair amount of cursing, but there is also a lot of openness, music, support, and community. There are scary, dangerous folks everywhere, on the street, in the burbs, in the police force, but most of the folks everywhere are just human being like you and me. Make the effort to connect and see what happens. Stop thinking, “there but for the grace of God, go I” and start thinking “there by the grace of God, go I.” Really attempt to connect with the folks and see what happens. If they ask you or tell you to leave them alone, leave them alone. It ain’t rocket science.
I have no problem with an ordinance against aggressive panhandling. I am politely asked to share what I have in my pocket regularly and I share what I can. When I say, hey, wish I could, but I am short, I almost always get an “ok, thanks” type of response. I don’t want to be harassed when I say no, and it doesn’t happen to me. I suspect it doesn’t happen because I really engage with the people asking, I look them in the eye when I tell them I am short. I don’t avoid the folks. I treat them with respect and they respond in kind.
Although I am not keen on the whole idea of prohibition (I have some libertarian impulses) I think I am supportive of a ban on fortified wines in downtown. I hope for a day when there alcohol, drug consumption and possession are not a crime and when the money saved from the “war on drugs” is redirected to substance abuse treatment on request, fully funded. I guarantee you that this approach to dealing with drugs will be more cost-effective and humane.
Come to Olympia. I will see you in the streets.
Last Sunday afternoon I joined twenty or so others at the Renton library to watch the muckraking documentary An Inside Job. The two hour video tells how deregulation and a revolving door between regulators and industry fueled risky practices and huge profits on Wall Street. The two hour video is filled with interviews with knowledgeable insiders from government and academia. The video has the highest production values — meaning it has plenty of eye candy and tasteful and appropriate music and animations.
In short, Wall Street owns Congress and the White House.
But it didn’t used to be that way.
The interviews with several Harvard University economics professors were especially delicious. Many of these economists were on the payroll of banks and investment houses, as well as serving as directors of corporations. Wasn’t it a conflict of interest, akin to a regulator being employed by a drug company?
Alan Greenspan stuck to his anti-regulation stance almost to the end (= the banking crisis of 2008). Right before Charles Keating was sent to prison, Greenspan wrote a letter in his defense.
Earlier, the Savings & Loan debacle, which cost taxpayers $140 billion, was due to deregulation. Glass Stegall was repealed in the Gramm-Leach Bliely Act (aka “Citigroup Relief Act”). Clinton was as guilty of deregulation as many Repugs. Bush 2 gutted the SEC staff, leaving only a single person for one important division.
The movie portrayed the recent financial reforms as wholly inadequate.
Another good part of the video was the historic footage showing how Wall Street senior executives held senior White House economic positions in administrations from Clinton to Obama. All of Obama’s economic team were Wall Street insiders who had been responsible for the disaster. The bailouts of AIG and (indirectly) Goldman Sachs were particularly dishonorable. A year after being bailed out by the government Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms were handing out 12 and 16 billion dollar bonuses to employees.
The movie documented the hundreds of billions of dollars in fines that banks and Wall Street firms payed recently. Lawbreaking is just standard business practice. (And what’s the Republican response? Eliminate the laws and regulations.)
The movie was rated PG-13. But the only, mildly risqué section was an interview with a high class call girl who described the widespread use of prostitutes by Wall Street executives and trades.
Riding back in the car, my friend said that when she used to work in a resort in NY, Wall Street folks would have prostitutes, cocaine and champagne delivered to their rooms. She insisted that they lack all morals. I suggested that they did what they could get away with. The system is broken. I mentioned Hannah Arendt’s book The Banality of Evil, which suggested that even the Nazi crimes of the Holocaust were more bureaucratic than vicious. People were just doing their jobs. Yes, there was criminal activity, but most of the players probably just got caught up in the excesses.
Hope this is true. Hope something comes of it. Unlikely given the preference of the President to coddle the GOP.
Wilkerson also said:
Those bastards need, like the rest of the GOP, to be held accountable.
I got email from DOJ – civil rights division that two NO police officers were sentenced in the killing of Raymond Robair:
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Two Former New Orleans Police Officers Sentenced in Connection with the Death of Raymond Robair
WASHINGTON – Two former New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers were sentenced today in relation to the beating death of Raymond Robair and subsequent cover-up, the Justice Department announced today.
U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon sentenced former NOPD Officer Melvin Williams to 262 months in prison for violating the civil rights of Robair by beating him to death, and for obstructing justice in the wake of that beating. Former NOPD Officer Matthew Dean Moore, who was working as Williams’ partner on the day of the beating, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for obstructing justice and for making false statements to the FBI during a federal investigation into Robair’s death. Williams was also ordered to pay $11,576 in restitution and Moore was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
“The New Orleans Police Department has been broken for some time, and this case shows just that,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I hope that today’s sentences bring justice for the family of Raymond Robair and the entire community.”
“Today’s prison sentences are once again powerful messages that we in the Department of Justice will never tolerate the abuse of power or victimization of our citizens by anyone in law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Lousiana Jim Letten. “All of our citizens – and especially those among us who are most vulnerable – as well as the men and women who honor the badge of law enforcement every day deserve our respect and our protection.”
This event took place a month before Katrina flooded New Orleans. You can read the details here. A lot went wrong in New Orleans during Katrina, but not much went worse than the police shooting and beating people, blocking their passage to safety. I think the Robair case is a good indicator of the attitude of the NOPD toward the community prior to the flooding.
I think we suffer from outrage fatigue in this country because so many outrages are done under color of law. Waterboarding anyone? No justice in that matter that can be discerned, but justice may have been served for these two policemen who have been are going to jail for their part in the beating death of Raymond Robair. Rookie police, like Moore in this case, should think long and hard about tolerating the abusive behavior of more “experienced” police officers. And of course, there is issue of testilying, but you never get to that point if as a rookie cop, you jump in and stop the crime of a police officer assaulting a citizen. Moore has a long time to think about that.
According to a scary and eye-popping article, Obama Team Feared Coup If He Prosecuted War Crimes,
President-Elect Obama’s advisers feared in 2008 that authorities would oust him in a coup and that Republicans would block his policy agenda if he prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a law school dean who served as one of Obama’s top transition advisers.
The US is being held hostage by criminal extremists: a coalition of the military-industrial complex, the Republican Party, the super-rich, and the Religious Right (which provides a veneer of godliness). The Rule of Law is suppressed. Torture and immoral wars go unpunished. Corruption, injustice, and mismanagement are rampant. Privitization, deregulation, and tax cuts are enriching the rich and forcing states to slash programs. The New Deal is under attack.
So we needed a leader who would fight back against the right wing. Instead, what we got was an appeaser. Or a wimp. Or a centrist.
As article author Andrew Kreig pointed out, the Republicans blocked almost all of Obama’s agenda anyway. They needed to be fought, not coddled.
Let’s suppose the article is correct and Obama was threatened with reprisal or revolt if he pursued accountability for Bush-era crimes. Then President Obama should have told the American people what’s going on.
In fact, judging by his many sellouts, I think Obama is a centrist, with little sympathy for progressive ideals. Hence, I have my doubts that Obama was forced by threats to relinquish accountability. He may have been threatened, but he still had an obligation to do the right thing. And he still went out of his way to protect and aid the GOP. Anyone who pretends that Obama was forced to make his many compromises is hiding their head in the sand.
The American people need to DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, or we will never be able to set things back on course towards justice, prosperity, and fairness.