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November 15, 2011

Your First Amendment rights last only until you annoy the banks

Look, it's obvious to everyone that the "we need to tear gas and beat these Americans for public safety reasons" thing is a bad excuse, right? The reason that Bloomberg and Quan and all the other mayors are doing this is because the protesters are scaring people. Rich people. The protests fundamentally are about the economic injustice of bailing out Wall Street and the banking system while failing to hold either accountable for their actions. The economic collapse of 2008 *should* have been followed by an era of new regulations, like the Great Depression was, but those same banks and traders used their bailout money to buy off Congress. Think about the balls that takes. Imagine you loan me money to help me out of a jam, and then I take a fraction of that money and give it back to you and say, "Look the other way next time, too." That's pretty much what happened. And people across America are pretty pissed off. They've seen corporations shift work overseas and get rewarded by Congress for doing it with tax breaks. They've seen Congress declare that the richest Americans should pay a third of what everyone else pays in taxes via the Carried Interest loophole. And they've seen corporate America take the bailout money and hoard it away in vaults like Scrooge McDuck (Apple is sitting on at least $70 Billion right now, which they continue to fight unionization of their stores and make all their products in China.) There are a lot of reasons to be angry. But expressing that anger is apparently a public safety concern. It's "bad for business." Well you know what? Fuck business. Thirty years of pro-business policies have nearly destroyed our country. They have not worked. We are poorer, sicker, and stupider than we have been in a generation. It's time we had a pro-American policy. It's time we did what's best for our communities. We need to put people before profits. The Occupy movement isn't going anywhere until something changes. Hopefully the change isn't martial law. Zuccotti Park Cleared - A Militarized Force Takes to Zuccotti for the Economic Elite - Esquire
Your right to peaceably assemble for the redress of grievances, and how you may do it, and what you may say, will be defined by the police power of the state, backed by its political establishment and the business elite. They will define "acceptable" forms of public protest, even (and especially) public protest against them. This is the way it is now. This is the way it has been for some time. It's just that people didn't notice. And that was the problem with the Occupy protests. They resisted the marginalization — both literal physical marginalization, and the kind of intellectual marginalization that keeps real solutions to real problems out of our kabuki political debates. They could not be ignored. In 1831, the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison wrote of his own cause: I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; – but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. That was the real problem with the Occupy people. They were being heard. Late last night, the New York Police Department, apparently decked out for a confrontation with the Decepticons, cleared Zuccotti Park of the campers who had occupied it for nearly three months. It was, as all of these things have been, a fully militarized operation, launched with a maximum of surprise by armored tactical police who even brought a helicopter, in case they needed air support. They also uncrated all their exotic toys for the occasion. The operation netted the police about 100 arrests, and it is being said that it went off peacefully, although accounts on that do vary. (Keeping the press out while the action is being taken is a particular tell.) The action followed several days of similar operations in Oakland, and Denver, and St. Louis, and a particularly nasty bit of business in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where authorities appeared to require a tactical unit with automatic weapons to protect an abandoned building. All of them took the place by surprise, and in the middle of the night. These are basic military tactics. The former car dealership building at 419 W. Franklin St. is owned by Fayetteville businessman Joe Riddle and has stood empty for many years. The town condemned it Monday as unfit for human habitation. Nice that they could finally get around to that. Urban blight? Okay. Urban blight containing political protest? Not Okay. Got it. . . .