Occupy Oakland planning a general strike on Nov 2

Following last week’s violent police crackdown, the Occupy Oakland General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a general strike on November 2nd. You can watch a video of the Oakland General Assembly voting to pass the general strike here. While general strikes are rare and hard to enact, this one is gaining steam. The International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union has announced that they will stand in solidarity with this general strike. Occupy Oakland will march on the Port of Oakland and shut it down. Having support of the west coast longshoremen is clearly going to be helpful to the Occupy movement’s efforts. Here’s an excerpt from the resolution calling for the general strike:

We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.

Bill Black at #OccupyWallStreet on putting banksters in jail

It’s hard to read or watch Bill Black talk about the scope of criminality in our current financial crisis and not get really, really mad.

Black says that Obama should ask for Ben Bernanke to resign from his role as chair of the Federal Reserve. He also says that Obama should fire Tim Geithner and Eric Holder as well, though he says that these men were promoted because of, not in spite of, their work to protect banksters from prosecution. So I don’t think any of us should be optimistic about Obama giving Bernanke, Geithner or Holder the boot.

Obama fundraising 2012: True, but not accurate

Originally posted at AMERICAblog

During the Washington Post versus New York Times battle over whether Barack Obama’s reelection campaign did or did not raise more money from Wall Street than Mitt Romney and the other GOP candidates, the Obama campaign and its defenders arrived at a position which while technically true was not accurate in the spirit of, you know, facts. Namely, while the legal entity that is the Obama campaign had raised less money from Wall Street than Mitt Romney, the campaign plus the DNC had raise more Wall Street money than all Republican presidential candidates combined. Obama supporters positioned this as very important, since by the letter of the law it was true that Romney had outraised Obama on Wall Street. Of course, given that the DNC’s job in 2012 is to help President Obama win re-election, ignoring the money they raise from Wall Street as not being connected to Obama is completely disingenuous.

It seems the New York Times has found another area wherein the Obama campaign is technically correct in their messaging, but functionally inaccurate.

Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his re-election bid.

At least 15 of Mr. Obama’s “bundlers” — supporters who contribute their own money to his campaign and solicit it from others — are involved in lobbying for Washington consulting shops or private companies. They have raised more than $5 million so far for the campaign.

Because the bundlers are not registered as lobbyists with the Senate, the Obama campaign has managed to avoid running afoul of its self-imposed ban on taking money from lobbyists.

The Obama campaign has a self-imposed ban on taking money from lobbyists. There is absolutely nothing illegal about taking political contributions from lobbyists. Even the ethics of taking money from lobbyists are debatable – for example, I would have no problem if the Obama campaign took money from people who lobby on behalf of unionized teachers, nurses, firefighters, and janitors. The point is that there is nothing within the job description of a lobbyist which makes them inherently evil. To put it differently, most political campaigns will vet large donations to make sure that the person who wrote them a check wasn’t, say, recently indicted for a felony crime. The reason campaigns do this is that they don’t like the optics of taking money from crooks. The Obama campaign has somewhat arbitrarily decided that lobbyists are like crooks and their money is bad, except in cases where the lobbyists don’t meet the legal standard of lobbyist, as we see here:

Take Sally Susman. An executive at the drug-maker Pfizer, she has raised more than $500,000 for the president’s re-election and helped organize a $35,800-a-ticket dinner that Mr. Obama attended in Manhattan in June. At the same time, she leads Pfizer’s powerful lobbying shop, and she has visited the White House four times since 2009 — twice on export issues.

So this individual was meeting with the President while the healthcare bill was being written and some of those meetings were about exporting US-made drugs. Yet by the letter of the law, Susman is not a lobbyist and therefore her money is good!

Oh and those $35,800-a-ticket dinners that Susman put together? Yeah, that money goes to the DNC.

The Obama campaign has a statement responding to the Times story. The basic thrust of it is that the Times is skewering them for letting “the perfect be the enemy of the good, punishing efforts to promote reform.” That may be the case and the Obama campaign is right to point out that all Republican candidates make no bones about taking cash from lobbyists and letting lobbyists bundle cash for them.

At the same time, the Obama campaign is trying to convince us that the influence of someone whose job is as a lobbyist giving $5,000 (the legal limit for primary and general election contributions in 2012) is greater than a lobbyist who bundles 100 times that amount. And that is pure bunk.

What’s more upsetting is the completely cynical analysis by the Obama campaign which defines the quality of their actions by the letter of the law or the letter of their pledges, while ignoring the larger context within which they occur. They take less money from Wall Street than Romney, but only if you ignore the DNC. They don’t take donations from lobbyists, but only if you ignore their bundlers who lobby. And if those bundlers who lobby as executives of major pharmaceutical companies find ways to avoid the rather high threshold to be counted as a lobbyist, well then since they do not meet the definition of lobbyist, the campaign can’t be criticized for taking their money.

These two stories, happening a week apart, show that the Obama re-election campaign is committed to a very cynical ploy to be true, while not being accurate, in their descriptions of their fundraising. The danger of this is that the energy of hope and change that fueled the campaign in 2008 will be completely non-existent in 2012. The remedy for that could be providing voters with genuine, honest reform. Or it could be taking more corporate or Wall Street cash. Seeing which course the campaign chooses will be easy enough, so I shall avoid any speculation as to what they will do.

Stoller on OWS, Obama and the Federal Reserve of Oil

Two pieces by Matt Stoller that I think are worth reading, but I don’t have time to do analysis of. At Alternet,  Stoller writes about Occupy Wall Street as an unofficial primary challenge to President Obama.

Stoller also has a piece on Dylan Ratigan’s website, The Federal Reserve of Oil, which looks at one of the major power centers in American life and the challenge that exists in dislodging it.

Dahlia Lithwick on Occupy Wall Street & the Press

Dahlia Lithwick:

I confess to being driven insane this past month by the spectacle of television pundits professing to be baffled by the meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Good grief. Isn’t the ability to read still a job requirement for a career in journalism? And as last week’s inane “What Do They Want?” meme morphs into this week’s craven “They Want Your Stuff meme, I feel it’s time to explain something: Occupy Wall Street may not have laid out all of its demands in a perfectly cogent one-sentence bumper sticker for you, Mr. Pundit, but it knows precisely what it doesn’t want. It doesn’t want you.

It must be painful for the pundits at Fox News. The more they demand that OWS explain itself in simple, Fox-like terms, the more cheerfully they are ignored by the occupiers around the country. As efforts to ridicule the protesters fail, attempts to repurpose the good old days of enemies lists falter; and efforts to demonize the occupiers backfire, polls continue to show that Americans support the protesters and share their goals. The rest of us quickly cottoned on to the fact that the only people who are scared of the “violent mobs” at Occupy Wall Street are the people being paid to call them violent mobs.

By refusing to take a ragtag, complicated, and leaderless movement seriously, the mainstream media has succeeded only in ensuring its own irrelevance. The rest of America has little trouble understanding that these are ragtag, complicated, and leaderless times. This may not make for great television, but any movement that acknowledges that fact deserves enormous credit.

I’ve been less concerned of late about how the media was covering Occupy Wall Street. But Lithwick is right in her descriptions. By lying to people, outlets like Fox or CNN or CNBC expose themselves as fundamentally opposed to the interests, wishes, and desires of the lower 99%. This is not a good place to be right now.

One of the beauties of  Occupy Wall Street as a meme is that it is both very fecund and very simple. It picks a target: Wall Street. It instructs an action that goes after the target: Occupy. And the severity of the situation is met by an action which is honestly and realistically responsive to the situation in which it is happening. Things are so bad that a one day protest won’t do, so Occupy Wall Street does not ask people to do a one day protest. The power of this as a meme is demonstrated by how widely it has spread and how many people are taking the action it calls for. This in turn enables everyone else to understand at a primal, intuitive level what the Occupy movement is about without talking heads on TV digesting it for them.

The indictment of the Occupy movement is first and foremost one of financial elites having complete and total control of the economy and our political systems. That analysis includes rich sub-strata that go towards the unaccountability of politician to the public and the tendency of the corporate media to represent the interests of the 1% over the 99%. Any discussion of the deficit, debt, or austerity makes this crystal clear. This is part of the reason that the Media Working Group of the NYC General Assembly are so committed to creating their own reporting of what is happening and not relying on the press to come to Liberty Plaza and get what is going on.

The media must face up to the challenge in front of them. Police departments around the country are starting to violently crack down on peaceful Occupy protesters. Will the press tell the story of what is happening? Or will they do as the Washington Post did yesterday and show a photo of a cop in Oakland petting a kitten? That is, whose side will the press be on as financial and political elites use the police as a tool to break a movement that is opposed to their hold on power? As Lithwick points out, if the press is incapable or unwilling to honestly and accurately tell the story of this movement, they will only succeed at marginalizing themselves.

Schneiderman & Biden investigating criminal charges for foreclosure crisis


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Last night on Rachel Maddow’s show, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed that he and Delaware AG Beau Biden are investigating criminal acts in connection to the foreclosure crisis. Skip to 2:37 where Maddow starts talking about foreclosures. If you want to skip over Maddow praising a really cynical DNC ad hitting Romney for wanting to speed up foreclosures, she gets to Schneiderman at around 4:00. Schneiderman almost never appears on TV, so his appearance is definitely worth watching.

Business Week has more on the Schneiderman/Biden criminal investigation.

Schneiderman also spoke very favorably about Occupy Wall Street. He said he sympathizes with the protests and that the sentiments expressed by the Occupy movement were shared around the country, notably that there is no longer equal justice under the law for the other 99% compared with the top 1%. He said that he views Occupy Wall Street as the tip of the iceberg for sentiments that are common around America. Considering his offices overlook Liberty Plaza and that he’s one of the few Justice Democrats, it makes sense that he’s expressing such a rich and supporting analysis of the Occupy movement.