Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Police Riot at Oakland Occupy Wall Street Protest, + Glenn Greenwald Interview on Democracy Now!

[Edited 10/27/11]

In This Edition:

- Police Riot in Oakland: Iraq War Vet Hospitalized with Fractured Skull After Being Shot by Police
- The Times They Are A Changin'
- Glenn Greenwald on Occupy Wall Street and More
- Dean Baker--Doesn't NPR Know That the Wage Matters for Workers?
- Robert Reich on Flat Tax plus great interview on Letters & Politics
- Iris Dement Wasteland Of The Free


Since at least the Clinton administration, the police in America have been in training to act as an arm of the military, with many of the weapons that militarization implies, to control any outbreaks of discontent on the streets of our cities and hometowns. You can see it in the SWAT teams that converge on suspected crime scenes, but now it is being used to squelch first amendment rights to protest and free speech. More video footage is now available on YouTube from last night's (10/25/11) police riot in Oakland, California, exposing the violent, over the top, militaristic response by the elite to the threat of common people standing up for their free speech and other rights. Please also listen to the analysis of constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now! Much More-- (below).

WEDNESDAY OCT 26, 2011 8:01 AM
Police Turn Oakland Into War Zone
(Updated 4:24 p.m. ET)

"As always, it's important to remember that regardless of police accusations, the charges against protesters listed above (sanitation issues, graffiti, etc.) are relatively minor offenses given the nature of this police retaliation in which OPD turned downtown Oakland into a war zone."

Incredible footage emerged from downtown Oakland last night - not of basic law enforcement efforts to maintain public "health and safety" as the police have been claiming - but of a war zone in which police shot tear gas, bean bags, wooden dowels, flash grenades, and rubber bullets at protesters.

Occupy Oakland video: Riot police fire tear gas, flashbang grenades

Tear gas! Thrown at Occupy Oakland!

[See article link for all videos and many photos]

Rather than using the weaponry once in a final effort to subdue the crowd, officers reportedly used them over and over again in what @OccupyOakland describes as a "relentless" assault on the thousands of activists gathered near City Hall.
. . . .
The police claim they were ever-so-distressed that they couldn't get medical responders through to attend to the wounded protesters, and they ultimately expressed this concern by shooting the remaining activists with tear gas and rubber bullets. Reportedly, activists retaliated by "throwing paint" on police officers.

Oakland Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said that a total of 102 arrests have been made so far, but as of last night that number was still increasing. Eighty-five of those arrests were made early Tuesday when officers raided the Occupy Oakland encampment at Oscar Grant plaza along with an annex in Snow Park near Lake Merritt.

During the assault, police dressed in full riot gear as if preparing to battle a zombie horde or terrorist cell (photo by @garonsen). . . . .


Added 10/27/11:

Oakland Policeman Throws Flash Grenade Into Crowd Trying To Help Injured Protester


Iraq War Vet Hospitalized with Fractured Skull After Being Shot by Police at Occupy Oakland Protest

Showing a good example, Police reacted differently in Albany, NY.
New York cops defy order to arrest hundreds of ‘Occupy Albany’ protesters

By Andrew Jones
Monday, October 24, 2011

Occupy-Wall-Street-Revolution (Bob Dylan -The-Times-They-Are-A-Changin)‬

There was a time in recent years when I thought that the times were a changing in a totally different direction from what those of us who were young in the sixties actually thought, but as Dylan said, "don't speak too soon, For the wheel's still in spin," so perhaps after 40 or 50 years, the times might actually be changing. I'm not holding my breath, but I'm hopeful.

October 26, 2011

Glenn Greenwald on Occupy Wall Street, Banks Too Big to Jail and the Attack on WikiLeaks

The prominent political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald comments on the growing Occupy Wall Street movement. "What this movement is about is more important than specific legislative demands. It…is expressing dissent to the system itself," says Greenwald. "It is not a Democratic Party organ. It is not about demanding that President Obama’s single [jobs] bill pass or anything along those lines. It is saying that we believe the system itself is radically corrupted, and we no longer are willing to tolerate it. And that’s infinitely more important than specific legislative or political demands." Greenwald also discusses the possible shutdown of the online whistleblower website WikiLeaks due to a "financial blockade" led by MasterCard, Visa and PayPal. "The reason why all these companies cut off funds is because the government pressured and demanded that they do so," Greenwald says. "So, no due process, no accusation of criminal activity. You could never charge WikiLeaks with a crime. They’re engaged in First Amendment activity. And the government has destroyed them through their pressure and influence over the private sector... WikiLeaks has shed more light on the world’s most powerful factions than all media outlets combined, easily, over the last year, and that’s the reason why they’re so hated."


Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for His new book is called With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. [See also: Democracy for the Few by Michael Parenti Must be totally out of print, glad I saved a copy or two]

Read Glenn Greenwald on

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Glenn Greenwald. With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful is his book. Glenn, your book is divided into interesting chapters. One is "Too Big to Jail." Talk about that.

GLENN GREENWALD: I think most Americans realize—and I think you see this driving the Occupy protest movement that you covered at the beginning of the show and that everyone is aware of now—that there wasn’t just economic—poor decisions that precipitated the financial crisis, but massive, system- and industry-wide fraud on the part of Wall Street and the banking industry. And yet, there has been virtually no criminal investigations of any kind, let alone prosecutions or accountability.

At the same time, the United States is the largest prison state in the world. We imprison more of our citizens than any country on earth, including China and India and other countries with many more times the people that we have, for even trivial infractions, things that no other country in the Western world imprisons people for. And this chasm between how we treat ordinary Americans in the justice system, imprisoning them for petty and trivial offenses, versus how we treat the world’s most powerful and wealthiest individuals, who can commit the kind of fraud on the massive scale that we saw in 2008 with no accountability, pure impunity, is really what drove me to write the book and I think is what is driving so much citizen anger.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: How do you explain, actually, the convergence of the two? The legal immunity for the elite classes, and at the same time—because the period coincides exactly, four decades. From 1972 to 2007, imprisonment rates in the U.S. increased fivefold, from 93 per 100,000 to 491 per 100,000.

GLENN GREENWALD: Right, well, one of the illustrative ironies is that Richard Nixon, of course, is—what I argue in the book, the pardon of Richard Nixon was the template that created how elite immunity is now justified and how it seeped into the private sector. And of course, Richard Nixon’s career, throughout the 1960s and then into the early 1970s, was made as a law-and-order Republican, demanding no leniency for criminals, harsher and harsher sentences for people who commit crimes. And this is the divergence between how the elite class treats itself when it commits crimes and how they treat ordinary Americans, what Occupy Wall Street calls the 99 percent, that has really destroyed the rule of law, because the rule of law ultimately was intended to be the sole anchor guaranteeing equal opportunity and equal treatment that would then legitimize outcome inequality, and we no longer have that.

. . . .

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to turn now to one of the—to Occupy Wall Street, because a lot of the things that the protesters say, you bring up in your book. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been critical of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. He recently said the protests were unproductive, since the biggest tax base for New York City was in fact Wall Street.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: The protests, that are trying to destroy the jobs of working people in the city, aren’t productive. And some of the labor unions, the municipal unions that are participating, their salaries come from the taxes paid by the people that they are trying to vilify.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Your comments, Glenn?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, this is the propagandistic template that has been used to try and persuade Americans that it’s not only something they should accept, but cheer for, when the wealthiest in our society are permitted to prosper without constraints. It was the Ronald Reagan cliché of "a rising tide lifts all boats," meaning the richer the rich get, the better off you are. And, of course, it’s in Michael Bloomberg’s interest to propagate this mentality, as well. And I think, for a while, Americans believed that. And yet, what they’re seeing now is that that’s actually completely untrue, that the richer the rich get, nothing trickles down. Inequality starts to explode, and their opportunities start to become destroyed, because the richest are able to use the power that accompanies that wealth, the political power, to ensure that the system doesn’t work [to] create equal opportunity, but works only to entrench and shield their own ill-gotten gains. So this kind of—these platitudes that Michael Bloomberg is spewing are no longer working, because people compare their own experience to what they’re teaching and see that it’s false.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, it’s interesting. You talk about the press secretary for Ford quitting, saying here we’re—you’re protecting the elite, and you have all these conscientious objectors that are going to jail. In a sense, would you describe this whole Occupy Wall Street movement around the country as a kind of conscientious objection to the system? These are conscientious objectors, too. You have more than 2,500 of them who have been arrested around the country. Compare that to the number of executives in the last two years, since the economy has just completely tanked, then the number of crimes that have gone unprosecuted.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, it’s interesting. You watch the images, which are police state images, that you showed in Oakland, and we’ve seen this elsewhere, with pepper spray abuses and other kinds of police abuses. What this really is, is using the law to protect criminals, which are the people hiding in Wall Street buildings, from people who are really committing no crimes, who are exercising their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly. It’s exactly how the law has been perverted.

But this is, I think, a really important point that you just asked about. In the beginning, people were criticizing Occupy Wall Street, including people who might otherwise be sympathetic, on the grounds that they didn’t have any policy platforms, they didn’t have PowerPoint presentations of the legislation they wanted. And I wrote very early on in defense of them repeatedly, because I think that what this movement is about is more important than specific legislative demands. It is exactly what you just said, which is expressing dissent to the system itself. It is not a Democratic Party organ. It is not about demanding that President Obama’s single bill pass or anything along those lines. It is saying that we believe the system itself is radically corrupted, and we no longer are willing to tolerate it. And that’s infinitely more important than specific legislative or political demands.

AMY GOODMAN: And what it would mean for Wall Street executives to be held accountable, and watching President Obama go around the country—last Sunday, he dedicates the Martin Luther King Monument. Not miles away is Cornel West and others being arrested in front of the Supreme Court, Cornel West saying, "If Martin Luther King is being honored today, someone’s got to be arrested."


AMY GOODMAN: And having President Obama referencing Occupy Wall Street, saying he understands, but traveling the country raising millions of dollars for the Democratic Party, saying, well, the Democratic Party plans to raise, what, a billion dollars for President Obama’s 2012 run.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I mean, there’s clearly an effort on the part of the Democratic Party to co-opt the energy that is behind the Occupy movement and to reinject the Obama campaign with the enthusiasm that it had in 2008, and which it now lacks obviously. And the reason why that’s so destined to fail is because, although President Obama was funded overwhelmingly by Wall Street in 2008, that fact was not very extensively reported or appreciated. And yet, now people have seen him in office shielding Wall Street from investigations.
. . . .

Please read the rest of this important interview at Glenn Greenwald on Occupy Wall Street, Banks Too Big to Jail and the Attack on WikiLeaks. Greenwald comments on the "end" of the war in Iraq, government and corporate cooperation to destroy WikiLeaks and your privacy [Fascism], and more.

You probably know that Dean Baker (Center for Economic And Policy Research), a constant and valiant critic of mainstream media's inaccuracies in economic reporting, isn't exactly Atilla the Hun, but he is willing to take the politically dangerous position of saying there is something missing from NPR's reporting on immigration policy. NPR, in their frequent orgies of self adulation during fund raising drives, tells their listeners, oft repeated by the latter as they open their wallets, that they are God's gift to accurate and unbiased reporting. There are many examples testifying to the contrary (actually, they are just another agenda ridden media outlet), but here is a report by Baker that goes to the heart of their reporting on immigration:

Doesn't NPR Know That the Wage Matters for Workers?

Dean Baker, Center for Economic And Policy Research
Monday, 24 October 2011 05:23

Workers work for pay. Most of the country understands this fact, but apparently the reporters and editors at National Public Radio do not. A Morning Edition segment [sorry, no link yet] on the impact that Alabama's crackdown on illegal immigrants is having on the ability of farms in the state to get workers never once mentioned the wages being offered for this work.

The piece repeated complaints by farmers that they could not get citizens or green card holders to work in their fields because the work is too hard. The inability to get workers presumably reflects the pay being offered. For example, if the farmers were offering $40 an hour plus health care benefits, then they would likely be able to find people willing to work in their fields.

Of course offering higher wages would make most of these farms unprofitable, but it is not true that people in the United States are literally unwilling to do farm work. The question is the wage at which they would be willing to work.


The Flat-Tax Fraud, and the Necessity of a Truly Progressive Tax

Robert Reich, 10/21/11

Herman Cain’s bizarre 9-9-9 plan would replace much of the current tax code with a 9 percent individual income tax and a 9 percent sales tax. He calls it a “flat tax.”

Next week Rick Perry is set to announce his own version of a flat tax. Former House majority leader Dick Armey – now chairman of Freedom Works, a major backer of the Tea Party funded by the Koch Brothers and other portly felines (I didn’t say “fat cats”) — predicts this will give Perry “a big boost.” Steve Forbes, one of America’s richest billionaires, who’s on the board of the Freedom Works foundation, is delighted. He’s been pushing the flat tax for years.

The flat tax is a fraud. It raises taxes on the poor and lowers them on the rich.. . . .
Rather than merely oppose the flat tax, sensible people should push for a truly progressive tax – starting with a top rate of 70 percent on that portion of anyone’s income exceeding $5 million, from whatever source.

See link above for entire post by Robert Reich.

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, Supercapitalism, and his most recent book, Aftershock. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes. He is also Common Cause's board chairman.


Robert Reich on Letters & Politics

Must listen audio for those seeking understanding of the progressive (as opposed to regressive) perspective from a person who has devoted his life to socio-economic theory/history, public service, and teaching.

Letters and Politics - October 24, 2011 at 10:00am

Click to listen (or download)


Iris Dement Wasteland Of The Free


The Unwelcome Guest - Billy Bragg and Wilco


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