Kim Dotcom has faced illegal surveillance by the New Zealand government and now faces extradition to the United States. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Eccentric German-Finnish billionaire Kim Dotcom and his attorneys fired back at federal prosecutors Wednesday by accusing them, alongside other domestic authorities, of conspiracy to “deprive defendants of their presumption of innocence.” Dotcom is currently fighting attempts to extradite him from his haven in New Zealand, where he has faced illegal surveillance from that government, in addition to the charges of mass copyright violation that motivated the surveillance. According to his indictment by the United States last year, Dotcom’s former media-sharing website Megaupload was at some points responsible for 4 percent of all Internet traffic.
Dotcom’s lawyers wrote Wednesday, “[T]he outside motivating factor in this case stems from Motion Picture Association of America’s (erroneous) view of Megaupload as “the very top of the piracy pyramid,” coupled with the current Administration’s desire to placate an association whose members, as a group, are some of the Democratic Party’s strongest political supporters and most generous campaign contributors.”
Bitcoins may soon be worth next to nothing at all.
INTERNET — New hardware designed by Butterfly Labs promises to mine bitcoins more cheaply than ever before. If you aren’t familiar with bitcoins, they are a digital currency deriving their rarity and value through advanced cryptographic algorithms. Only so many bitcoins can be “found,” and they first wind up in the hands of those with enough computing cycles to slog through the complicated math.
In the past, the price of electricity did not make bitcoin mining a profitable endeavor, but engineers at Butterfly Labs have built a line of machines specifically designed to mine more bitcoins than ever before while using a minimal amount of electricity. Thousands of these mining machines have been pre-ordered and will soon ship to eager consumers hungry to make a quick buck.
Recently, the bitcoin market has been hit with severe hyper-deflation, and this rapid increase in bitcoin value could cause trading on the market to freeze up. In the past month, the price of a bitcoin has skyrocketed from $40 to nearly $100. Analysts concerned about new mining technology warn that this bubble may soon burst.
Chronicle.su field correspondents spotted PyCon drama queen and feminist partying down with hackers and felons alike at a loft in Newark, New Jersey Sunday night, when supposedly at PyCon.
Richards, supposedly took out her feminist ire out on a poor python programming man at PyCon last weekend, getting him fired in the process. He had 3 kids, one is now dead.
She has been the subject of extreme scrutiny since the child’s death and some speculate she may have possibly been committed via 5150 to a mental institution. However, after field reports spotted her at Newark, New Jersey doing pot and swinging from swings, little to no truth is known to be truer than the truth itself, which can only be the truth.
A wave of paranoia swept through the Anonymous consortium late Monday night when #TeamSabu was introduced by Aaron Bale who claims is a group of Sabu sympathizers and synthesizers, led by the OWS and Wikileaks activist shm00p of UGNazi and Rustle League fame, who is actually Sabu himself.
#TeamSabu is lead not only by shm00p, but has close ties to Adria Richards, who sold exploit code to Matthew Keys in an effort to gain the good graces of LulzSec so she could eventually land a job at the DailyDot. Little did she know that among a group of thugs, hackers and drunks, people would be snapping photos.
So who was at PyCon and why the drama surrounding Adria Richards? Simply to distract us from #OpBlackout and Aaron Bales efforts to thwart Jen Emick with Ron Brynaert in tow.
No one knows for certain, but after reading some threads on abovetopsecret.com, we believe this is Illuminati related, considering Luke Rudkowski was at weev’s sentencing.
Voting Rights Act Section 5′s Covered Jurisdictions, which are More Racist
WASHINGTON — When Wednesday John Roberts and the solicitor general questioned whether any southern concentration of racism was a rationale for Voting Rights Act Section 5′s constitutionality, cynics responded as though the chief justice was blind to a vicious national legacy. One American Prospect article — leaning on a 2005 analysis that concluded the U.S. South was especially racist — was redistributed through Twitter at least 300 times over a day.
The American Journal of Political Science analysis, aforementioned, “Old Times There Are Not Forgotten: Race and Partisan Realignment in the Contemporary South [PDF],” concluded “the regional gap in racial conservatism has not closed since [the end of the Civil Rights era.]”
The exchange between the justice and administration lawyer was in the context of a Supreme Court challenge to the decades-old Voting Rights Act, by Alabama’s Shelby County — a challenge on whether mostly southern states, due to Section 5′s “preclearance requirements,” should have to run voting-law changes by authorities in Washington.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: General, is it — is it the government’s submission that the citizens in the South are more racist than citizens in the North?
GENERAL VERRILLI: It is not, and I do not
know the answer to that, Your Honor, but I do think it was reasonable for Congress –
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, once you said it is not, and you don’t know the answer to it.
GENERAL VERRILLI: I — it’s not our submission. As an objective matter, I don’t know the answer to that question. But what I do know is that Congress had before it evidence that there was a continuing need based on Section 5 objections, based on the purpose-based character of those objections, based on the disparate Section 2 rate, based on the persistence of polarized voting, and based on a gigantic wealth of jurisdiction-specific and anecdotal evidence, that there was a continuing need.
Preclearance requirements mandate that nine states, and localities in seven others, get federal clearance before modifying voting laws. Under the challenged Section 5, localities and states serve in discrimination cases as plaintiffs, who in turn file grievances with the Justice Department.
At The Nation, columnist Ari Berman weighed in Wednesday evening, espousing that southern voter suppression attempts in particular were alive and well:
“[S]ix of the nine fully covered states under Section 5 passed new voting restrictions since 2010, including voter ID laws (Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia), limits on early voting (Georgia) and restrictions on voter registration (Alabama and Texas), compared to only one-third of noncovered jurisdictions during the same period.
In a possibly foreshadowing 2009 decision involving a Texas voting district, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority’s 8-1 opinion, “The evil that [Section 5] is meant to address may no longer be concentrated in the jurisdictions singled out for preclearance. The statute’s coverage formula is based on data that is now more than 35 years old, and there is considerable evidence that it fails to account for current political conditions.” As preclearance opponents argue that the South’s legacy of systematic voter fraud and intimidation is too far in the past for such stringent federal oversight to be relevant, what is clear is that state and locality requests for voting law changes have seen a steady dive, according to Civil Rights Division data.
The political science journal’s authors, Nicholas Valentino and David Sears, went so far as to suggest they were “underestimating true regional differences in racial conservatism, because of white Southerners’ greater tendency to hide true prejudices, and underestimating true regional differences in the linkage of racial attitudes to partisanship, because such correlations should contain more error in the South.”
ix of the nine fully covered states under Section 5 passed new voting restrictions since 2010, including voter ID laws (Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia), limits on early voting (Georgia) and restrictions on voter registration (Alabama and Texas), compared to only one-third of noncovered jurisdictions during the same period.
KIM JONG UN’S REPTILIAN FOREHEAD DIMPLE INDICATES THIRD EYE ILLUMINATI CONNECTION CONFIRMED
PYONGYANG–New evidence links Kim Jong-Un with a cell of Anonymous North Korean hackers, reports The Hacker News. Kim Jong-Un was reportedly “d0xed” as a part of an effort to shut this cell down by social engineers who reportedly tricked Un into revealing his penis for the webcam.
Recent pictures featuring Un showed a pronounced reptilian dimple in the third-eye portion of his forehead, as Un’s hands formed a pyramidal symbol of the Illuminati. Un wore a pin which some analysts believe could only be the Official Anonymous DPRK logo.
Kim Jong-Un has written over 10 million zero days in pure assembly, and currently has a secret backdoor in every American Government and Utility Computer System. Un, using AnonForecast as his spokesperson, has decided to make his big push, releasing the personal information of millions of mostly innocent government employees.
Kim Jong-Un is also th3j35t3r.
Kim Jong-Un is a hacker and proud member of Anonymous DPRK
Much ado has been made persecuting compassionate and considerate member of the online family Andrew Auernheimer, a playful jokester who has brought delight to the faces of millions of Internet users. Monocultural chauvinists in federal law enforcement have run wild with accusations of “computer fraud,” while confused fellow “leftists” like Raw Story Editor Emeritus Ron Brynaert have smeared Andrew with vile accusations of sexism and near-genocidal racism. All of these accusations are the exact opposite of all of Andrew Auernheimer’s opinions.
I have worked throughout my life not only for the cause of LGBTQIA rights (or QLIBTGA — there need not be any order!) but for the welfare of individuals on barest public subsistence. To me, the Stonewall Riots seem like they were only yesterday, even though my parents birthed me right as the New Deal gave hope for the first time to masses of retired individuals. I can tell you with complete certainty that the loveable Mr. Auernheimer has no predilections against people of color, against sex workers, or anyone in the greater Semitic family. By citing with pseudo-pride his European heritage, Andrew is only ironically referring us to that continent’s relatively generous and effective social safety nets.
With a wink and a smile, Andrew’s latest blog post is letting us all know that he is with us in the Great Fight against Ignorance, and that by pretending to be some sort of brown-eyed, ginger Nazi he is with us on the picket lines for the long haul. He starts off with his usual tongue-in-cheek smirk:
Several people asked if I’d go see “The Hobbit” with them. I declined in a rather cruel fashion.
See? There he goes again, letting us know explicitly that his tone is cruel. While normally I’d decline to agree with the heartless, hard-nosed associates of Forbes magazine, their take on Andrew’s humor as being intentional and sarcastic in its offensiveness is right on.
Calm down, Time’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt. Old Andrew knows the score. He’ll be with us — next to our engineer sisters with signs — the next time former Harvard President Lawrence Summers tries to tell women they’re stupid, obsequious domestic playthings.
Andrew has done as much to promote multiculturalism as Auburn University’s own Alan Gribben, when the latter published the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn NewSouth Edition, effectively cleansing the book of its pro-white, pro-death code words.
Before taking us into his snarky, actually anti-Nazi diatribe against Hollywood’s latest money-grubbing snatch into theatergoers’ pockets, Andrew claims to be for some sort of unrealistically self-sufficient Nordic life ethic. Then — and this is the really brilliant part — the satirist comes out against barest government provision for working families. To this end, he cites the original end to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King.
In Tolkien’s version, the hobbits of the fellowship return to the Shire only to see it taken over by a snide old wizard controlling a horde of half-orcs. The hobbits do the only sensible thing that one would do when finding ones hometown infested by section 8 housing full of parasitic thugs, rapists and murderers: start a pogrom.
Did you see that? By playing on pop culture stereotypes of African-Americans as mindless killing, force-copulating machines, Andrew has held the Stormfront set slime up to the disinfectant of sunshine. Usually those Christian Identity losers are just able to keep to reinforcing each other somewhere in flyover country, or via their teledildonic message board activity.
Let me give you another example: The Tortoise and the Hare. I’m sure you were read it as a child. It always seemed to me to be an idiotic story to encourage people to slave away endlessly for a statistically impossible hope that they are somehow getting ahead.
When I finally read the real story, I knew hundreds of millions of children were being robbed.
Europe rose to power with children being read the Brothers Grimm classic, “The Hare and the Hedgehog.”
If my decades-long “Mirror Has Two Faces” marriage to acclaimed fellow feminist Andrea Dworkin taught me anything, it was how to use literary analysis to determine within seconds which males of white, Protestant descent were bigots. Through his brilliant satire — daresay his innumerable contributions to the computing community, for which he has been endlessly persecuted by our government — blessed Andrew is his generation’s Bayard Rustin, Harvey Milk and Larry Kramer, all rolled into one!
The Tortoise and the Hare actually outdates the 19th century Grimm brothers tale by thousands of years. The former tale’s place in the foundation of Old Europe, which And-and calls “the most precious thing that I hold within me,” is actually far deeper. Andrew knows well that the Tortoise story’s Greek origins place it at the crossroads of democracy’s very founding. While the Grimm tale is meant to encourage young men to put women in “their place” and to marry women who look as much like them as possible, modern anthropological biologists and Andrew understand that intelligence quotients tend to be higher in the offspring of interracial couplings. This neo-Puck has extended his hand across from the hilltops of Appalachia straight to his brothers, sisters and intersex individuals at the tippitiest-top of the ivory tower.
His wink comes when he cites the story of Prometheus, who like Aesop’s tortoise is of Greek origin. Therein Andrew’s mission to open our eyes and hearts to the plights of LGBTQIA individuals and those of color blossoms into full view. “Promethian flame is being replaced with politically corrected filth,” he writes.
So it’s with a palm to my chin, and a high-cheeked grin that I call off the misguided, if well-meaning, attack dogs at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Human Rights Campaign and Anti-Defamation League who have unfairly maligned Andrew Auernheimer. My friends, you owe him an apology. Were my lifelong friend Andrea alive, I’m sure she would wholeheartedly agree. God bless.
Massachusetts District U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz (Courtesy: Wikipedia)
WASHINGTON — In a not-so-stirring defense of academic conglomerate JSTOR, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said of Aaron Swartz‘s offenses, “Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.” While common sense and lore would tend to at least lend more sympathy to Robin Hood- or Jean Valjean-type characters, who might be at least functioning out of some concern for others, Ms. Ortiz remained steadfast in her pursuit of recent “an Hero” Mr. Swartz, trying to see him put in jail for potentially the rest of his life.
Over at WhoWhatWhy Christian Stork does a nice little breakdown of this U.S. attorney’s wading into murky waters of civil asset forfeiture, one particular case in which she agreed to help confiscate a rundown, mom-and-pop Massachusetts motel because because “from 2001 to 2008, .05 [percent of at least 125,000 visitors] were arrested for drug crimes on the property.” This was a theft just like Aaron Swartz’s. Except not it was not a theft in the high-minded name of educating the world’s downtrodden, but in that of fattening the pockets of law enforcement agencies, treating poor drug abusers as criminals, alongside those who might dare house them.
Mr. Stork paints a disturbing picture of a civil asset forfeiture system in which being in debt vis-a-vis a mortgage — meaning that a bank, and its lawyers, has some has some skin in the game — means that the owners of this motel would have been in an even better position to disavow their affiliation with three handfuls of guest drug offenses. But alas they ran out of lawyer money, and the government all at once took five decades of family property worth $1.5 million.
Mr. Stork also outlines a direct financial, not an external ethical, motive for law enforcement to take on these kinds of civil asset forfeitures. He cites the testimony of a DEA agent claiming that federal attorneys never go after anything with less than $50,000 in equity. Additionally, local law enforcement, for cooperating with the feds, can look to take home up to 80 percent of what was seized. That’s a major incentive to turn a blind eye to a violation of property rights. In fact it’s more of an incentive to turn a blind eye to property-rights violations than the Pirate Party ever had: It’s money straight to the bank!
The same prosecutor, Carmen Ortiz, who sought to lock up Aaron Swartz for his failure to respect property rights of the proprietors of academic information also sought to seize a family’s business because an extreme minority of their clientele used drugs. Mr. Stork’s article makes clear that this was ultimately the DEA’s initiative, with Ms. Ortiz simply acting as its lawyer. But that doesn’t change that this U.S. attorney lacks any consistency in her modus operandi. It’s pretty obvious that the low rates for staying at this establishment, Motel Caswell, made it an even more tempting target.
Ms. Ortiz’s office released a statement about the seizure, saying: “The government believed that this was an important case . . . because of the deterrent message it sends to others who may turn a blind eye to crime occurring at their place of business.” But Mr. Stork shows this is shmoax because local crime rates dictate that there would have been just as much of a rationale for seizing nearby Walmart, Home Depot, Applebees, Motel 6 and IHOP. But those are large businesses, and no matter how many people shoot up or each other inside, they’ll have the lawyers to keep the whomever or the DEA at bay.
This month a brilliant artist at The Wall Street Journal has broken new ground in the flourishing investigative journalism market by going where cameras could not. You can click here to see these images in their original context, alongside a breathtaking column by Laura Saunders. Witness the pain of these Americans’ faces, as the fruits of their brow sweat are ripped away by the useless, degenerate masses and their fanatical, usurper ringleader.
‘Retired couple’ – Tim Foley, WSJ
First in Tim Foley’s slideshow of unbridled pain is a retired couple, who is just breaking even as socialist fascists have taken over their country. Social Security income is capped at roughly $40,000 annually for each of them — presuming each of them made only a meager $120,000 per annum since the age of 18 — and so in order to get by on $180,000 with their deductions in investment income in tow, their aging bodies will have to scrap together $23,000 this year. And what incentive do they have to even do that in the Nancy Pelosi/Barack Hussein Obama II economy? In the crossed arms of the man — whom we will call “Carlton” — and “Carlton’s” world-weary stare, we see a bold entrepreneur degraded into being a simple welfare slave on the Democrat retirement plantation. He has just told his partner in Christ they will face the belt-tightening prospect of having to switch from Perrier to the utter swill San Pellegrino. We can see from his lean that the heat of South Carolina’s merciless golf courses have caused spinal degeneration. His wife has a raised eyebrow, characteristic of these stark sketches of the toil and misery of 21st century America. We can sense she knows that “Carlton’s” days to be numbered. And without his brave, beating heart, the Social Security Administration will be cutting off a hefty $40,000 a year.
‘Married couple, four children’ – Tim Foley, WSJ
Mr. Foley’s next portrait of insurmountable anguish shows a nuclear family taxed nearly $22,000 more in 2013 by a society thankless for the parents’ willingness to put up with each other after 40. Clinging like a Ritalin addiction to the father’s body are two of the children, the one in front of him cowering into his shoulder, staring upwards at a towering, dream-crushing IRS. At $650,000 a year, these surely above-average children face a dark future, one in which they may have to take on some degree of debt for every single one of them to attend Kenyon, Amherst, or some other liberal arts institution that may by and large be bought into. The married, upstanding professional “businessess” faces forward more than her righteous husband to symbolize how liberals have electorally plotted to divide his Godly household. She like “Carlton’s” wife raises a single eyebrow. But the pre-menopausal woman’s eyebrow raises as if to say: “Should I really have to pay this much more this year to stave off my de facto execution for having to carry an ectopic pregnancy?”
‘Single person’ – Tim Foley, WSJ
‘Single person’ features yet another pearl-clad responsibility-ite, her face tilted slightly to her left in cynicism, her hair diligently parted, her arms crossed in indignation. As yet unbruised by years of toil and her holy, as yet unfulfilled, duty of childbirth, one eyebrow is not raised more than another, as with the retired woman and married mother. She still possesses the idealism of youth, and so is surprised to see our newly totalitarian government demanding so much of her, three years out of Wharton. She has purchased fine pearls to attract a suitable mate. She uses a watch, despite its being old-fashioned; checking her smartphone’s email app every five minutes to look out for any possible, more lucrative opportunities from one of her firm’s ruthlessly job-creating competitors. But now that she will be paying so much more on her taxes in 2013, what’s the point? she says to herself. Any more income will just mean moving into a higher tax bracket. And this is the way that in the New World Order’s America, a job creator is effectively murdered in public by a raging lynch mob. The mob, she understands well, is just jealous of the superior productivity genes that the American Enterprise Institute’s own Charles Murray has proven with science her to have.
‘Single parent, two children’ – Tim Foley, WSJ
The most heartbreaking of Mr. Foley’s portraits is that of the ‘Single parent,’ a subject with whom The Wall Street Journal’s editorials have famously long sympathized. The subscriber can immediately derive additional sympathy because her children look sufficiently alike to allay any suspicion that she might be single by a decadent choice. In the foreground, we see that she must console her child about her peasant family’s additional 2013 tax liability of just over $3,000. She places a loving hand over his shoulder, as she has probably just told him that — upon hearing the results of the treasonous fiscal-cliff congressional package — they will not be able to purchase for him a Hanson Robotics “Zeno.” The boy has his mother’s job-creator genes, but he knows with this year’s inability to afford that multithousand-dollar toy, his hopes of becoming an undergraduate in MIT’s robotics labs may very well be crushed. As with any of the parents or married people in this sketch essay, in his signature Foley-ian style, the woman’s eyebrow is raised at a new, decadent culture so willing to punish any American unworthy of the very gutter. This final, masterful sketch is the single greatest representation of economic repression since (original, lesser) Depression documentarian Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother,” below.
In the Shadows of Tim Foley: ‘Migrant Mother’ – Dorothea Lange
Acting Attorney General Neal Katyal, who this week outlined the administration’s shift from state-based health care exchanges to “chilling out”
WASHINGTON — Friday morning Acting Attorney General Neal Katyal announced that the Obama administration would be backpedaling from its take on the commerce clause to forward the “holy, righteous cause” of recreational cannabis legalization. Bolstered by praise from Colorado and Washington state Democratic leaders, and directives from the highest echelons of the Obama administration, Mr. Katyal announced in a press conference that the results of the landmark case Gonzales vs. Raich were “not cool” and were keeping millions of Americans from “chilling out” and “lighting up, man.”
Reached by phone in his Fairfax office at George Mason University Law School, Professor Michael Greve said the new anti-commandeering stance would prove exciting to Libertarian Party devotees at the Mercatur Institute and millions of drug-addled American liberals, most of whom are dependent on federal largesse for their barest subsistence.
“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” said Mr. Greve, “established a conditional pre-emption regime in which the federal government told the states, ‘establish an exchange or we will do it for you.’” Following 18 more conservative states having in essence told the government to come in and establish exchanges, Mr. Greve said, “these states have told the federal government to take responsibility for the inevitable failure of these health care regimes.”
Mr. Katyal said in a press conference Friday morning, “As long as Congress refuses to act to deschedule cannabis from the same tier as heroin — come on, heroin, people — the administration must act.” The administration’s tight, 180-degree turn came on the heel of several online townterviews, during which poll respondents consistently begged the administration to cease the notoriously racist drug war. In his weekly address today, a visibly intoxicated President Barack Obama spoke to his office webcam in a cloud of smoke, admitting, “Millions of toothless Southern and Midwestern Americans, who will never vote for me, anyway, versus a good time for the peace-loving denizens of Colorado and Washington state? That’s an easy choice for me, bra.”
Following an on-screen hit from a gravity bong haphazardly constructed from a Chicago Bears novelty cup, which the 51-year-old U.S. president described as “vicious,” he said, “I realize the insane hypocrisy of my having smoked marijuana for recreation before overseeing a federal regime that incarcerates millions of Americans — particularly African-Americans — in such record numbers. Something had to be done, and I have directed the Department of Justice to just scrap this health care reform thing.”
Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement saying he now concedes that “all of these Republican attorneys general, they’re right, man. Just as we can’t force these conservative states to establish exchanges, we also can’t use the commerce clause to force this horrible drug war down the throats of Colorado and Washington citizens. The voters have spoken. Let freedom reign.”
House Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), speaking to Politico, said that the legislative slowdown that faced descheduling cannabis was fueled by an ambiguity around the level of taxation that the illicit industrial psychoactive crop should receive. “If we had chosen to tax it too high, we would fuel black market activity. If we had voted to tax it too low, we just wouldn’t be taking our deficit seriously, and that would be unpatriotic.”
Internet Chronicle legal analysts have long predicted that the landmark Gonzales case would prove problematic for the Obama administration’s main objective — even if that objective were only background or covert — of legalizing the sticky-icky. In the wake of this decision, Iran and Russia are expected to overtake within weeks the United States in terms of arbitrary and/or politically motivated incarceration.
WASHINGTON — In one of those long, rambling Alex Jones films, hip-hop artist KRS One summed up some substantial misgivings to be had with Occupy D.C. rather nicely when he said that if you have a problem with your burger at McDonald’s, you don’t go complain to the guy slapping on the cheese. You go to talk to the franchise owner. In relationship to America’s economic woes, Congress is pretty much the guys with the cheese. Whether what McDonald’s is using is in fact cheese is another topic, but there you go.
Last October I took a lot of time to ask about why National Review and Amanda Carpenter at The Washington Times had invested so much of their time trying to smear the, like, five anti-Semites who they managed to find footage of at the protests, as opposed to, say, the plethora of liberal Jews who inevitably showed up to the event in Zucotti. Although someone at the McPherson Square camp — not three blocks from the White House — had constructed a Sukkot, still there were the general accusations of anti-Semitism from the Breitbart set. The whole charade was indicative of the kind of atmosphere in Washington where what these people, you would think, would call anti-Semitic was brushed aside. For more of this, look at the uphill battle faced by former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-IN) as he waited to get the defense secretary nod. Even though the Hagel announcement will not come until next Monday, last Friday Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin had already broken the story. The White House is floating it early to congressional leaders to soften the blows from people like Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) et al.
These stereotypes of the Occupy protesters in general were pretty crude. Indeed, it takes quite a short-term memory to repeat long platitudes about the financial sector, as a part of the human megaphone. At the time I began this write-up I painted the Ron Paul-ites present as part of the Occupy status quo, but my goodness, I was wrong It had been years since I was able to romanticize the notion of protesters in Washington bringing a list of grievances. Again, the “real owners” are not in the Capitol or the White House, folks, and to be fair, even a good deal of them don’t even work on Wall Street.
One of the most clean-cut people I spoke to in McPherson was a guy named Matthew Patterson, who was working full-time but said he came down there after work from 5 p.m. till 11 p.m. He said, “I think there have been a lot of misconceptions about what this event is about here, and I think that part of that is because the biggest interests in our country do have well-financed PR and attack machines that do try to discredit genuine movements like this .”
“The conception that this is un-American for people to come out here exercising their First Amendment right — the goal that our government should be accountable to we the people — is absurd. This is the most American thing I’ve ever been a part of, and I think every single person who believes in our Constitution should be out here,” he added.
“When you feel that the system’s rigged against you and you feel that real wages have been declining or stagnating for this long, when we’ve been bailing out Wall Street and the big interests, and our money that we’ve worked for as taxpayers is now going to these guys, while they’ve — while they’ve only wrecked our economy, I think that’s where the anger comes from.”
I asked, “How do you respond to people who say, you know, that the protesters aren’t specific enough? What do you think about? I mean, is that — do you think aren’t? Or is it very broad-based, or are there a lot of things that are matter of consensus?”
Said Mr. Patterson, “We always operate by consensus. Obviously, each person here is here by free association [ . . . ] We don’t have a well-oiled PR machine where we have one spokesperson. If you take the time to listen, you’ll find the common thread. In my entire time here — I’ve been here since the first day. Every single person I’ve talked to here has echoed the sentiments that I’ve had, which is that our government, our corporations, our parties, our media should all be accountable for what they do here. I think that’s the common thread.”
I said,”I was wondering if I could pick your brain about some campaign finance reform, specifically about, like, contributions from hedge funds and, you know, our friends at Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan and the six major I-banks in general. I mean, what do you think can be done to dimish the influence of those contributions? Should they banned? Is money speech, as some have contended?” I was referring to the Citizens United decision, which has since received skepticism by right-wing figures such as Newt Gingrich and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, both of whom seemed to agree at the last national Republican convention that the anonymity, if not the amount, of the contributions was problematic to the system.
Mr. Paterson replied, “Well, I’ll tell you — one thing that I strongly believe in is that corporations are not people. And when you look at what the Supreme Court did in 2010, ruling that corporations are citizens; they’re people of this country; and that money equals speech in this country; therefore there can be unlimited corporate money spent to influence the outcomes of elections to buy politicians, that’s something that’s not right.
“There’s other options as far as helping publicly finance campaigns so independent parties and third-party candidates can have a voice and we have don’t this monopoly of two parties in our country. There’s a lot of options to be looked at, but we in this park have not charged any specific policy options yet. It could come over time, but I think it’s too early for that, but there’s a lot of things that could be done.”
Jesse Jackson showed up, and I asked him the same question, although severely flubbing it out of nervousness generated by some review I read of “Shakedown.”
TB: “How can we limit the influence of the financial services industry on politicians in the Senate, the House?”
Jesse Jackson: “By finding and having hearings on their campaign finance committees. There’s too much money involved in campaigns, too much money.”
TB: “Limit contributions?”
JJ: “Yeah. And those –”
TB: “Publicly funded campaigns?”
JJ: “– who invest money determine the legislation. They determine regulation. So it’s time to put a huge focus on public financing of campaigns.”
I spoke to a group of American University students, who by the very nature of their being a certain age, were probably representative of many of the motivations people have had to camp out in McPherson Square for the past few weeks. They didn’t give me their names, so I’m just going to make up names for them.
John Brown: “I think a lot of it is a lack of influence on the political process and an overabundance of corporate influence in the political process. I feel like — and this is a minute ago — that there’s — capitalism is a great system in a lot of ways, but when it goes unchecked and unregulated, you end up with people who have a vested interest in making more money. And when they already have a lot of money, they can invest that to keep making more money. And so that’s how we’ve gotten point in the political — by putting it in the political process and ensuring that they’ll keep making more money.”
I asked him what sort of regulations he would like to see.
JB: “I’d like to see higher taxes on the superwealthy. I mean, there’s been a lot of talk about people who make, you know, more than $200,000, more than $400,000 a year, which is good. But I mean, what about people who make millions of dollars a year or billions of dollars, you know? And there aren’t that many of them.” Just this month the Senate-passed “fiscal-cliff” bill indeed raised taxes on $400,000 earners.
Mr. Brown continued, “But 10 percent of America’s population controls something like 75 (percent) to 80 percent of its wealth. And that’s what makes capitalism an — and that kind of capitalism is anti-democratic because suddenly you have a system where people are voting with their dollars, but most of the people have no dollars to vote with, and a minority, a very small minority, of the people have all of the political influence.”
TB: “It seems like a lot of people — when people speak against corruption in capitalism, [the criticizers of the people who speak against corruption in capitalism] treat it like it’s an attack on meritocracy itself, like on a system where the just and the able are rewarded and are rewarded thus financially. But why do you think people are reacting that, that they treat regulation of an industry as an attack on the ability of the just and the able to achieve success and have an incentive to produce things for everyone?”
JB: “I think because it’s an easy argument to make, and I think that’s why. I mean, I’m a democratic socialist, but . . . I mean, welfare and socialism is important, and you know, that kind of having a touch of that. But I mean, capitalism’s also important. I mean, you’ve got to strike a balance. I would never call for a completely socialist state and I would never call for absolutely no — you know, like a libertarian state –
TB: “Like Somalia!”
JB: — where capitalism is totally free to whatever it wants. I don’t think either one will work. But somewhere in the middle, where you have a regulated capitalist economy and a lot of social programs, I think, is just right. You need that.
“And the people who make the most out of society, they didn’t make it on their own. They’re a product of this society. They should have to give back. I mean, that’s why I think there should be higher taxes on the superwealthy. Because they should have to give back according to what they take. And that money, they didn’t just make that themselves.
People spent that, so that came from someone else. Someone gave them that money, so they have — I mean, it is a cycle, and so they have to feed back in, I think, to the cycle. They have to promote.”
Another man said, “You know, Monsanto, they’re actually in Iraq. So after the invasion — or a great example of kind of what I think is completely repugnant about the government — where — you had, you know, L. Paul Bremer as the head of the provisional government and, you know, putting in these place decrees really. It wasn’t voted on by the Iraqi people. He has instituted over 80, you know, orders for post-war Iraqis, where it created the conditions, created the intellectual property laws, you know, the patent laws that allowed Monsanto to then come in and to, you know, make massive profits off these Iraqi farmers who unbenknownst to them were given Monsanto seeds by USAID. You know, once those seeds are in the ground, I mean, you’re paying for them for pretty much forever.
“And you know, that whole sort of system actually is one example: that entire system where, you know, it’s corporations — they’re not literally deciding policy. But when there’s not much divide all the time between these corporate interests and these political interests is pretty abominable.
“And you know, corporations., they make tons of profit, which they can then spend on campaign contributions or, you know, on political ads now. With Citizens United, a lot of restrictions are gone, these previous restrictions. And I think you have these, you know, government officials and stuff who are able to use the law to create favorable conditions for corporations.
“Or with the IMF — you know, what we see there is the IMF is kind of like a doctor that, you know, will save your life but cut off your foot, you know, in payment — where it goes into countries, Greece, for example; or a lot of South America: Argentina, Bolivia in the past. And you know, these countries are messes economically. What the IMF does is say essentially, you know, we’ll help you out here with this money, but you know, we’ll use these structural readjustment programs to impose these neoliberal trade policies that are extremely harmful for countries that don’t have a strong labor organization — they don’t have strong domestic industries — that allow — for example, this wasn’t IMF-imposed, but you know the policies were similar — I don’t believe it was IMF-imposed; I might be wrong — in Cote d’Ivoire where Cargill — you know,the agrobusiness company — has horribly exploited the workers there for, you know, the coca resources [...] But in general that whole sort of political culture where that’s acceptable, where that’s a regularly done thing, i think is something that needs to end as soon as we can, you know, bring it to an end.”
A woman seated nearby said, “Well, I think that Sandra was saying earlier about it easy argument to make that, like, attacking capitalism is like attaching, you know, hard work. I think the reason that that is such an easy argument to make is because everyone secretly hopes that they’re going to be that 1 percent someday, and like, they don’t want to regulate corporations or, like, tax the rich because they kind of hope that that will be them. And they want — you know, well, I wouldn’t want as much money as possible.”
“Or not so secretly,” suggested a man seated next to her.
Said another woman in the circle, “I know. It’s not a secret. They’re like, well, when I’m rich, I don’t want to be stifled.
Abbie Hoffman: “A big part of American culture, I think, is the idea that someday you’ll be the super — you’ll be that guy in the mansion.”
TB: “And then you can finally put your knee on someone else’s kneck? You know, like your old boss or something.”
‘Emma Goldman’: “Right, yeah. It’s like fraternities.”
AH: “It’s almost like a distortion of the American dream, or like, it’s the nasty side.”
‘John Brown’: “It’s the commercialization of it. “
‘Emma Goldman’: “People want to believe it, but it’s not really — it’s not going to happen to them.”
AH: “It could. It could. It’s possible. It’s not probable, but they’re going for that — you know, I’m going to be the 1 percent who makes it to the 1 percent.”
Said a bystander, “Yeah, but I think it’s also — it’s not a sustainable thing. And ‘sustainable’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot. It’s sort of, you know, the green movements.’
TB: “Did people really let the wealth gap in the United States spiral out of country since the ’60s and ’70s because they wanted to be so not just rich and well-off and comfortable compared to the rest of the world but even just relative to their neighbors in the United States?”
AH: “I mean, we’re a system based on competition. I think that’s certainly.”
EG: “We’re just really focused on individualism. Like, it’s a good thing but it’s also, like, to our detriment.”
AH: “Individual freedom to an extent of, like, being able to do whatever you want at whatever price to whoever else is around. And it doesn’t matter. If I can pay for it, I don’t care how it affects you. It’s my right to do it. It’s sort of a selfish thing.
TB: “It seems like we just publicly subsidize gambling, like we’re literally operating casinos as just a way of turning profit. And it’s an esoteric game for a very small group of people, and it doesn’t produce products. It’s obviously not moving money to the sectors of the economy where it’s needed most, in my opinion.”
Said again the bystander I did not bother to nickname, “Yeah, that’s what it used to be. Well, we reward — I don’t know about the most, but what’s extremely well-rewarded in this culture is moving money around, just playing around with money to maximize everyone’s profits.”
TB: “Just moving it anywhere, you think?”
Said the bystander, “I mean, if I think of it as just moving it anywhere, then that wouldn’t be the best financial strategy. But it’s certainly moving money around, and that’s not creating anything.”
EG: “Like taking risk to have great reward.”
AH: “I was reading about a man who just made a tremendous amount in the recession because he,like, bet against the economy. And like, the Occupy Wall Street proters, like, went by his home, and he just, like, sent out a press release or something along those lines just saying how it was a completely ridiculous movement.”
Said the bystander, “And the U.S. government has really kind of created a system that currently allows for, you know, virtually unlimited profit for banks because, you know, the government, like, lowered interest rates to pretty much zero percent for these banks to borrow money. And the idea was that, you know, OK, they borrow money at zero percent interest rates, and then they’ll be more willing to lend money; you know, they won’t be foreclosing.
‘That was the idea. It was supposed to benefit people. It hasn’t happened. What they do is they have been buying U.S. Treasury bonds, which you know, that you get interest on that. So you can just borrow money, buy bonds. You know, it’s just — where; like, what — why the entire systemis just designed, you know, to help these people. I think it’s awful. It’s really bad.”
I had been monitoring the McPherson Square campout of Occupy D.C. for a few weeks, and by October 15 — when I first wrote down these interactions — there were more tents out in the park than ever. The People’s Library was set up, complete with issues of Socialist Worker and Left Turn. There was a carefully named “comfort” tent with medical supplies, just like the flagship Zucotti Park manifestation of the Occupy demonstrations.
There are good reasons to be leery about the possible co-opting of these demonstrations against corporate greed, and particularly greed in the financial services industry. The end-the-Fed advocate out there with whom I spoke admitted that an outcome of adopting a gold standard for our currency would be unlikely to raise employment or lessen economic disparity in the United States.
‘Van Hayek:’ “I was here last weekend for a march, and one of the chants we had going during that was, ‘Banks got bailed out; we got sold out.’ So I would say the majority of people here at least in my experience are against the bailouts and against bailouts in general on principle [...] The main reason I’m against them is just the fact that trickle-down economics has proven not to work, you know? The idea is that in saving these banks that money will eventually return to the lower classes and the working classes and the middle classes of the economy and stimulate growth in that area. And that hasn’t happened.
“And what’s ended up happening is that the banks have turned record profits ever since the bailouts, as have other industries, and it’s not trickling down to the people that need it most. And that’s my problem with.”
TB: “Why would ending the Fed — what would that do? Would that decrease the wealth disparities, or what would that do?”
VH: “Well, my problem with the Fed is that — it has to do with the way the money supply works in the economy in that every dollar that comes into existence is already debt owed to a bank. And the Fed is really just a private bank. It’s not owned by the people of the United States. And that’s the problem I have with it. What we should have is a government that can print its own money that isn’t backed by debt that’s owed to a bank. And I’m not sure specifically how to solve that right now, but I know it’s not something that I like.”
TB: “I noticed a lot of people are really upset that the banks have all this money and these major corporations have all this money. And then people — you know, they’re creating jobs with it, at least not with the rate that, you know, the population’s expanding and stuff. Do you think that’s there’s any, like, conflict between the requirements that Congress and many people want to put on the banks to have larger and larger capital reserves, so when they mess up they can control their own consequences instead of having to get bailed; and the other demand, that is in fact they need to take their money and then invest it and take risk and then create all these jobs? Do you feel that there’s, like, a conflict there between those types of demands?”
Milton Friedman: “I’m not a big proponent of trickle-down economics as far as that goes. So I don’t really see that plan working. As far as investment goes — at least as far as I’ve seen — when investment is made, it’s usually in a foreign country, where land is very cheap and they can buy –
TB: “Labor, too.”
MF: ” — labor, exactly. They can buy a really nice house with a good bit of land. And you know, I mean, it’s –”
TB: “That’s not going to go down in value. Land at least never does.”
MF: “No, exactly. Well, I mean, like, the thing is I recently actually went to India. And I mean, when I was there, it was absolutely amazing to see the massive skyscrapers of telemarketers — just I mean, bigger than anything we have here, just of telemarketer buildings in India. And you know, the thing is we all kind of know that that money didn’t come from them; that was our money that was shuffled into their economy over the past decade.”
“And I personally have no problem with, you know, exchanging wealth and stuff. But when we’re talking about the stuff we’re in . . . you know, and we’re sending how much money to other countries in order to build out their economies. I mean, that’s my main problem with it as far as the investment side of it goes.”
“I mean, regulations — yes, I support regulation so that they should be able to — you know, they should definitely be regulated in how much they can lend. I don’t believe in fractional lending at all, but however, another point is I definitely hate the bailout idea, the very idea that that — I mean, that that is even an option for something that’s not like the — you know, the major food producer in the country or, you know, something like that, where everybody would starve if it didn’t happen. I mean, I think it’s absolutely insane.”
The International Business Times aired a set of graphs that quite thoroughly dispense with the insipid claim — even by voices as apparently sympathetic as Al Gore’s own — that the protesters are not being specific enough. As the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, making promises that the American Jobs Act would get unemployment below 9.1 percent, which would effectively happen two months later without the bill’s passage, anyone capable of so much as squinting could see that the real statistics about joblessness are a pure manipulation, as one’s finally giving up and resigning yourself to the dole gradually put one out of that “regular” unemployed category. Altogether hearing bystanders, pundits, reporters and especially electoral losers like Al Gore complain about how the protests weren’t specific just felt like impatience.
I even heard a lot of sneering from a crowd — one I would have perhaps years ago associated with MoveOn.org, named for a now-irrelevant political sex scandal — that the consensus, not plurality system of Occupy Atlanta blocked civil rights-era legend and now Congressman John Lewis’ addressing them. Rep. Lewis did yeoman’s work fighting the evils of segregation in the vicious 1960s South, but if the iron was not yet hot, there was no point in striking it yet. The most closely associated Occupy politician, Elizabeth Warren, eventually rode to victory in Massachusetts, having never spoken at a rally but having faced Karl Rove’s bizarre Crossroads ad.
The protest proved successful in pushing forward the surtax on incomes over a million dollars, cutting the odds of monthly account fees, and causing legions of Americans to move their money into credit unions. Even in December 2009, when the Bush-era tax cuts on the top 1 and 2 percent were extended, polls showed a slim majority of self-identified Republicans supported their repeal. By late 2010, four-fifths of the general population support the millionaire surtax, as do surely even more of the people who took the enormous hassle of assembling overnight in public spaces. That brand of protest is one of the best reasons why the Constitution pays lip service to freedom of assembly. In McPherson Square, at least, what was so strikingly different than the tea partyers of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally is that the Occupy Wall Streeters contain some of the same very elements: the gold standarders, the end-the-Feders — even though those voices were marginalized.
The protesters in Cairo during the Arab spring proved obviously enormously influential on this movement, with The Occupied Wall Street Journal trumpeting a timeline of influence to the movement that traces everything as far back as Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation early this year. October 18th, Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig was giving a teach-in in McPherson Square, lightly browbeating a protester for his refusal to work with the tea party. And I was there listening to Mr. Lessig, even though he was looking very hip to the crowd.
In Egypt, Coptic Christians were the subjects of merciless persecution, seeing their churches bombed and their adherents murdered semi-routinely. But at the time of the actions in Cairo, those emblematic images of Christians circling praying Muslims to defend their right to pray in public rightfully stood as testimonials to the power of people against the elites, who endlessly, ruthlessly exploit divide-and-conquer tactics. Back then, before President Morsi’s Islamists drummed out regular elections, it looked like Egypt could unite around a cause bigger than cause, and that Americans could unite around a cause bigger than money. Now taxes on the wealthy are higher than the Bush era, and Congress is more unpopular than ever.