You Can’t Leave Occupy Wall Street by Max Bean
My last post was called “ Why I came to Occupy Wall Street and Why I Left,” and I caught a lot of grief from my readers for not giving them what the title promised: I explained why I came to OWS — that’s the easy part — but I didn’t really say why I left. It’s going to take a whole series of posts to properly explain why I stopped working on the movement, but I think it’ll help ease the suspense if I write a few words about what it even means to “leave” Occupy Wall Street. That verb, I’ll be the first to admit, was an inappropriate one.
My first month at OWS was characterized by a wild optimism, a hope unleashed. I lived in a state of constant excitement, running on so much adrenaline I would forget to eat and dropped ten pounds in two weeks. I was surrounded by dozens of others in the same state of mind. I remember one day in late October, crossing Broadway at Exchange Place, wolfing down some street food and barely tasting it, and some girl I’d never met crossing in the other direction said to me, “That’s how you know an Occupy Wall Street protestor: He’s trying to eat lunch while running through the street.” And it was true: We were all running around like maniacs, working our hearts out, because finally we’d found something worth working our hearts out for.
Like many in my generation, it seems, I had waited my whole life for a social movement whose dimensions and ambitions were commensurate with the shortcomings I saw in the world around me. By now, I am convinced that OWS is not that movement. Maybe it will grow into that movement, or maybe that movement will grow out of it. Then again, maybe that movement will never come. But this rise and fall of hope has left me and so many others not less hopeful, but more. It has been suggested that the excitement generated by Obama’s election and dashed by his presidency was re-channeled into the Occupy movement; and so many of us who have stepped back from the movement in recent weeks have departed only to search for a better movement — or else to build one. The shroud of despair, it seems, once torn, is not quickly mended.
Source: The Huffington Post
Matt Taibi: Another Hidden Bailout: Helping Wall Street Collect Your Rent.
Here’s yet another form of hidden bailout the federal government doles out to our big banks, without the public having much of a clue.
This is from the WSJ this morning:
Some of the biggest names on Wall Street are lining up to become landlords to cash-strapped Americans by bidding on pools of foreclosed properties being sold by Fannie Mae…
While the current approach of selling homes one-by-one has its own high costs and is sometimes inefficient, selling properties in bulk to large investors could require Fannie Mae to sell at a big discount, leading to larger initial costs.
In con artistry parlance, they call this the “reload.” That’s when you hit the same mark twice – typically with a second scam designed to “fix” the damage caused by the first scam. Someone robs your house, then comes by the next day and sells you a fancy alarm system, that’s the reload.
In this case, banks pumped up the real estate market by creating huge volumes of subprime loans, then dumped a lot of them on, among others, Fannie and Freddie, the ever-ready enthusiastic state customer. Now the loans have crashed in value, yet the GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises) are still out there feeding the banks money through two continuous bailouts.
Congratulations, America, your quasi-governmental housing entity is about to subcontract out mass-landlording/slumlording jobs to the likes of John Paulson and Warren Buffett…
Re: Teacher Salaries
are you fucking serious! this country is one of the stupidest ever and you really want to take money out of education!? are you fucking serious? why do you think theres so many kids doing drugs and killing each other? if youwanted to REFORM teaching so that teachers got paid MORE when they produce good results and put better teachers in bad schools we would not have nearly as much problems. but cutting how teachers trully meager salaries are only going to drive otherwise willing and good dedicated teachers away fromthe profession alltogether. my mother is a teacher and you have no idea how many UNPAID hours of work she puts in making entire lesson plans, grading hundreds of papers, and going to meetings, and not to mention tutoringstudents. her day may TECHNICALLY end at 2:30 but she still has to go home and do work somtimes only getting four hours of proper sleep not to mention cooking and raise me and my family. not counting the housework all this is STILL almost equal to the amount of paid work hours she puts in. SO THE LAST THING WE NEED TO DO IS CUT TEACHERS SALARIES IF ANY THING THEY SHOULD BE RAISED!!. WHY NOT BASEBALL PLAYERS. OR OUR FUCKING MILITARY BUDGET! PLEASE DON’T BE STUPID BY TREATING POORLY ONE OF THE FEW GROUPS OF PEOPLE THAT CAN ACTUALLY HELP US!
I urge you to re-read the graphic. It is a satire playing on the absurdity of paying teachers so little. It approaches the topic from the logic of someone who does not value the work and efforts of teachers the way that you or I do. From that perspective, the logic goes to show that, even if we paid teachers at the rates we pay babysitters (each parent paying $19.50/day/child, for a classroom of 30, teachers would make over $100,000/year, twice what they currently make). The conclusion drawn is that teachers are paid half as well as we pay our babysitters or nannies for daycare service; and teachers are not only watching your children, but responsible for educating them. I’m Occupy Online…cutting teacher pay is in the same goal bucket as paying CEO’s bigger bonuses for schmoozing, pushing paper, and making callous, exploitative decisions.
The graphic is playing on absurdities ;)
The 2nd Circuit Slams Occupy Wall Street ‘Hero’ Judge Rakoff
Remember how last fall that “heroic” Manhattan-based U.S. district court judge Jed Rakoff “ripped the SEC a new one” by blocking a massive settlement the agency had proposed with Citigroup for the bank’s allegedly knowing and fraudulent acts in the run-up to the great recession? At the time of Rakoff’s decision last November, I wrote:
When U.S. district judge Jed Rakoff rejected a $285 million settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Citigroup on Nov. 28, he effectively marched out of the federal courthouse on Foley Square and took his place as the most powerful protester in Zuccotti Park. In a blunt court order, Rakoff broke with decades of judicial deference to the feds and suggested that regulators were enabling Wall Street’s efforts to hide allegedly “knowing and fraudulent” acts from the public. While the decision’s long-term effects depend on the case’s future in the courts, it could immediately impose new standards of accountability and disclosure on an often too cozy system of financial oversight.
It turns out that whole “breaking with decades of judicial deference” thing is a problem, legally speaking. On Thursday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees district courts in New York, Connecticut and Vermont, ripped Rakoff a new one, staying his ruling and suggesting that his decision misunderstood their previous rulings, overstepped his authority to challenge regulators and made unwarranted assumptions about what had actually happened in the case. The stay can be found here (pdf). Reports the New York Law Journal:
The Second Circuit said Judge Rakoff (See Profile) failed to show proper deference to the SEC’s judgment that the settlement of fraud claims stemming from the sale of mortgage-backed securities was not against the public interest… [and] stayed Judge Rakoff’s ruling ordering a trial in the case while the circuit considers appeals by both the SEC and Citigroup. The panel said both parties showed they would probably prevail in their challenges to Judge Rakoff’s decision… [and said Rakoff] “prejudges the fact that Citigroup had in fact misled investors.”… “[Further Rakoff] does not appear to have given deference to the SEC’s judgment on wholly discretionary matters of policy,” the circuit said [and]… “misinterpreted” certain rulings in holding it was against the public interest to approve a settlement in which Citigroup made no admission of liability, when in fact, those rulings “stand for the proposition that when a court orders injunctive relief, it should insure that injunction does not cause harm to the public interest.”… Finally, the court said it had “no reason to doubt” the SEC claim that the settlement was in the public interest…
Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a statement, “We are pleased that the appeals court found ‘no reason to doubt’ the SEC’s view that the settlement ordering Citigroup to return $285 million to harmed investors and adopt business reforms is in the public interest. As we have said consistently, we agree to settlements when the terms reflect what we reasonably believe we could obtain if we prevailed at trial, without the risk of delay and uncertainty that comes with litigation. Equally important, this settlement approach preserves resources that we can use to stop other frauds and protect other victims.
So will Rakoff’s decision still compel higher standards of disclosure by banks making settlements with the SEC? Maybe. This win by the SEC will receive a lot less attention than the initial Rakoff ruling, even though the latter is clearly going to be reversed. So perhaps Rakoff’s goal of attracting attention to the SEC’s deal making will turn out to have been an end in itself.
Inquiries on Violence at Occupy Protests Moving Slowly
More than four months after an Occupy demonstration shut down the Port of Oakland and devolved into violence, at least nine separate investigations into the ways police officers dealt with the protests in Oakland and on University of California campuses in Davis and Berkeley remain unresolved.
Many of the investigations have been delayed for reasons that range from a court challenge to the difficulty of scheduling meetings with college students. And while people on both sides of the Occupy issue applaud the efforts, experts said the sheer number of investigations could be counterproductive.
There is a danger that excessive investigation “can actually lead to greater obfuscation, because no one understands what each investigation is doing,” said Linda Lye, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which is representing protesters in lawsuits against Oakland and U.C. Davis. “Delay is always a concern, because it can lead to diminished public interest and distraction.”
At U.C. Davis, where a campus policeman pepper-sprayed a group of seated students and others on Nov. 18, a task force report was expected last week. However, a judge granted a temporary restraining order at the request of the police union. A hearing is scheduled for Friday in Alameda County Superior Court.
At U.C. Berkeley, several groups are reviewing the events of Nov. 9, when campus police jabbed demonstrators with batons and dragged two protesters, including a professor, to the ground by their hair. The professor, Celeste Langan, was one of five people charged by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office last week with misdemeanor resisting arrest in connection with the protest.
Lt. Eric Tejada of the U.C. Berkeley police said the results of one investigation were expected “any day now.”
Meanwhile, a report by U.C. Berkeley’s Police Review Board, initially expected in January, may now be finished in April. “We had a subcommittee of five people,” said Jesse Choper, a professor at the university’s law school and chairman of the review board. “Two of them are students. It’s very hard to get meetings together.”
In Oakland, investigators are working through hundreds of complaints of police misconduct, many of them related to Scott Olsen, the Iraq war veteran who sustained a fractured skull during a protest on Oct. 25. Mr. Olsen’s lawyer, Mark Martel, told The Bay Citizen this week that Oakland police had acknowledged that a bean bag round hit Mr. Olsen in the head. It is still not clear who fired the shot.
“I think that it’s been plenty of time by now,” Mr. Martel said. “It doesn’t take five months to find out who shot him.”
Sgt. Chris Bolton, the Oakland Police Department’s chief of staff, said his department was reviewing hundreds of videos, documents and other evidence related to Occupy protests on Oct. 25 and Nov. 2.
“I don’t want anyone to think that it’s ever our hope or intention to let things die down and never address it,” Sgt. Bolton said. “We have never backed down from telling people that where appropriate we will investigate, and we will hold ourselves and each other accountable. So at some point those investigations will conclude.”
Source: The New York Times