Archive for Occupy Wall Street

Feb
19

Billionaire Frat Party

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What need does it fill for these sophomoric billionaires to dress in drag? At New York Magazine, Kevin Roose shares his adventures in 1% Land at the annual gathering of the Kappa Beta Phi, “a secret fraternity, founded at the beginning of the Great Depression, that functioned as a sort of one-percenter’s Friars Club.”

“Good evening, Exalted High Council, former Grand Swipes, Grand Swipes-in-waiting, fellow Wall Street Kappas, Kappas from the Spring Street and Montgomery Street chapters, and worthless neophytes!”

Chris Hayes had the author as a guest last night:

Roose had several observations about this august bunch:

The second thing I realized was that Kappa Beta Phi was, in large part, a fear-based organization. Here were executives who had strong ideas about politics, society, and the work of their colleagues, but who would never have the courage to voice those opinions in a public setting. Their cowardice had reduced them to sniping at their perceived enemies in the form of satirical songs and sketches, among only those people who had been handpicked to share their view of the world. And the idea of a reporter making those views public had caused them to throw a mass temper tantrum.

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Jan
28

Pete Seeger, R.I.P.

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Pete singing one by his sister, Peggy. He was 94, the New York Times reports. We will miss him.

For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.

Pete Seeger

Jun
02

Sunday Morning Music

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For some reason last night I was pondering the endless panoply of wingnut night terrors when a song from childhood TV popped into my head. When I looked up the lyrics and video, I was astonished. You will be too.

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Feb
27

Capitalism Gone Awry

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For 50 years, when capitalism is raised, you have two allowable responses: celebration, cheerleading. Okay, that’s very nice. But that means you have freed that system from all criticism, from all real debate. It can indulge its worst tendencies without fear of exposure and attack. Because when you begin to criticize capitalism, you’re either told that you’re ignorant and don’t understand things, or with more dark implications, you’re somehow disloyal.

Economist Richard Wolff explains to Bill Moyers how capitalism has gone awry: “If we don’t change the system, we’re not going to change the behavior of the people in it … And if we don’t change the system, substituting a new crop will not solve our problem.”

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YouTube Preview ImageSusie Madrak points to a plan by Occupy to buy up and “abolish” bad debts and monkey wrench the debt servitude system. The Rolling Jubilee hopes to buy distressed debt for pennies on the dollar. As Salon describes the rolling part, “Ideally, a pay-it-forward attitude would compel individuals who have their debt forgiven to help buy up and cancel more debt.” But there could be a hitch, writes Natasha Lennard:

The New Statesman’s Alex Hern noted that despite the “legal mechanics” of the Jubilee idea working in Occupy’s favor, the effort may face other obstacles. “Debt collectors really can cancel the debt if they want. The problem is that if you try to actually do that, you may find very quickly that people stop selling you debt.” Hern explained a similar plan concocted by a group called American Homeowner Preservation, in which they would buy a foreclosed house in a short sale at the market price, and then lease the home back to the ousted homeowner until the homeowner had the ability to get a mortgage and buy it back at a pre-set price. Felix Salmon wrote about the effort:

The idea might have been elegant, but it didn’t work in practice because the banks wouldn’t play ball: they (and Freddie Mac) simply hated the idea of a homeowner being able to stay in their house after a short sale and often asked for an affidavit from the buyer saying that the former owner would certainly be kicked out.

The banks’ behavior here, as Hern points out, was telling: They have no reason to care what happens to a house once they’ve sold the mortgage, but they did care when it came to the American Homeowner Preservation project. “The best explanation for their stubbornness is that they fear that organizations like American Homeowner Preservation are creating a sort of moral hazard by reducing the penalties for defaulting on mortgages.”

The banks. Are worried. About public morals.

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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
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At Campaign for America’s Future, Richard Eskow explains how the Romneys of Wall Street, the Adelsons of casinos, and the Kochs of oil can dismiss half the country as losers who pay no taxes, even as half a million people with incomes over $100,000 paid no taxes in 2011, including 7,000 millionaires:

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Sep
16

Occupy Wall Street: One Year Later

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From the New York Times Sunday Review:

Dear Bankers: Thanks for Wrecking Our Lives …

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s encampment at Zuccotti Park. Some of the protesters there created a Web site for Americans who couldn’t join them in Lower Manhattan. Called Occupy the Boardroom, the site invited people across the country to write detailed letters to the executives and directors of banks. The site’s developers promised to deliver them as e-mail and in person.

The more than 8,000 letters that resulted (to Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) supply some insight into the way different Americans experienced the financial crisis and recession since 2007.

The literary magazine n+1 collected 200 of the letters in a book, “The Trouble Is the Banks: Letters to Wall Street,” which appears this month. Mike McQuade, an artist, used excerpts from these letters to create this illustration for The New York Times.

American Public Media’s Marketplace tracked down several writers and got them to read their letters on the air.

I was privileged to play a small part in collecting the online archive, spending nights moderating the collection as letters flooded in. It was a joy to finally meet some of the Occupy the Boardroom founders and other online moderators this summer at Netroots Nation in Providence, RI.

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Sep
16

“We went to China, to buy a factory there.”

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Wow. In case there was any doubt left in your mind that Mitt Romney isn’t like you, just watch this video. It’s also important to mention that there are people who hold up Romney’s career as an example of American success. I don’t. I see it as an example of exploitation of the poor without any sense of responsibility to them.

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Aug
24

Meet the Overpass Light Brigade

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“The Overpass Light Brigade was forged in the activist climate of the Wisconsin Uprising. Our messages shine over highways at night. We believe in the power of communities coming together in physical space, as well as the importance of visibility for grassroots and progressive causes. We are a loose and inclusive affiliation of people dedicated to the power of peaceful and playful protest.

“Contact us on our Facebook page if you would like to join one of our Bridge Parties, and feel free to share our images, follow us Twitter, and give a few “democrabeeps” when you drive beneath the bridges… Shine on, OLB!”

[h/t Diane Sweet at C&L]

Jul
09

Deeper Than A Crime Problem

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“If the CEO of Barclay’s [bank], if he was an Italian mobster, if his name was DeFazio or Ducasse and wasn’t Bob Diamond, he’d be looking at about 800 years of RICO charges, and that it would have been done last week.” — Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, quoting a Wall St. trader at the Occupy National Gathering in Philadelphia

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But that’s not going to happen, says Taibbi, in spite of the fact that, without blinking, thousands on Wall St. participated in a scheme to sell fraudulent bonds — knowing they would blow up — to state pension funds and to steal the life savings of old ladies and old men.

“It’s deeper than a crime problem,” says Taibbi. “The situation that we have now speaks to a profound sickness in the soul of American society.”

“Show of hands. How many people mugged an old lady on the way to this rally?”

[h/t Susie Madrak]

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