During a recent appearance on Pacifica radio’s Democracy Now!, former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold openly criticized President Barack Obama’s decision to accept campaign contributions from Super PACs. Feingold succinctly characterized the president’s reversal on taking Super PAC money: “It’s not just bad policy. It’s also dumb strategy."
Feingold’s point is well taken. Obama’s acceptance of Super PAC contributions flies in the face of his stated opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision – a ruling that opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate campaign contributions. This reversal may come back to haunt the president, especially as he and the Democrats attempt to capitalize on the popular discontent articulated by the Occupy movement.
A working nonprofit Occupy group, Occupy the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has submitted a 325-page letter to agencies involved in the rulemaking process for the Volcker Rule. Formulated by experts in corporate law and finance, the letter provides public comment on regulations proposed by a subsection of the 2010 financial reform Dodd-Frank Act.
Known collectively as the Volcker Rule, the regulations put limits on financial companies by prohibiting speculative bets with shareholder money that could put the banks and taxpayers at risk. The SEC has proposed methods of implementation for the measure and has requested public comment.
Americans' faith in the two-party system of governance may have plummeted to the point where alternative candidates and parties like Dr. Jill Stein and the Green Party, former Democratic Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and his new Justice Party, renegade Republican Congressman Ron Paul and/or his former Libertarian Party, or the Socialist Party USA just might have a impact.
"The mood of the country is toxic," Daily Beast contributor Douglas Schoen wrote on Feb. 14, 2012, echoing a growing conversation about the roles "third parties" might play in this year's presidential election. The day before, Huffington Post bloggers Sheri and Allan Rivlin posted what they called a "bold" prediction that there will be multiple alternative party surges before votes are finally cast on Nov. 6.
In the days since the U.S. Green Party's (GP) Feb. 1 announcement that two candidates - Dr. Jill Stein and comedian Roseanne Barr - had filed the necessary paperwork to meet party requirements for its presidential ballot, the Massachusetts physician has emerged as the odds-on favorite. Even Barr, who insists her candidacy is serious, accepts Stein as the nominee apparent. On Feb. 2, the National Journal reported a Barr tweet:
"I will run until the convention in July in Baltimore - I fully expect Jill Stein 2b the nominee & I will support her, but til then - I'll serve."
More than 400 Occupy Oakland demonstrators and a number of journalists were arrested in a violent confrontation on Jan. 28 when protesters attempted to convert a vacant building into a community center. Several hours later, a group of protesters separated from the crowd and entered City Hall, allegedly vandalizing the inside of the building.
The events were part of a demonstration called "Move-In Day," a plan to use the indoor base of Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center as headquarters for Occupy Oakland protesters to hold General Assemblies and for shelter during the winter, according to occupyoaklandmoveinday.org. The police response to the protesters' efforts entailed using tear gas, bean bag projectiles and flash grenades to disperse the crowd, according to a Jan. 30 Democracy Now! article.
"They are more interested in protecting abandoned private property than they are the people," Occupy Oakland member Maria Lewis said on Democracy Now!
Rocky Anderson is always deferential to Occupy Wall Street when asked about the movement, most recently in a Jan. 31 interview with the online environmental magazine Grist. Occupy has been a "very healthy thing in this country," and there’s an "enormous convergence" between its concerns and his. But for inspiration, the Justice Party candidate points to Tahrir Square, not Zucotti Park.
"One of the great inspirations for us was what we saw in much of the Arab world, where people were intent on overthrowing their nations’ dictators," he told Grist's special projects editor Greg Hanscom during a wide-ranging Q&A. "… They put their lives on the line, utilizing democratized means of communication through social networking and engaging in classic grassroots organizing — and they succeeded."
Adbusters Magazine, the Vacnouver-based online publication that helped launch the Occupy Wall Street movement, posted a tactical briefing on its website on Jan. 25 calling for 50,000 protesters to participate in a showdown in Chicago at the May NATO and G-8 summits.
Titled “Tactical Briefing #25,” the post was an international rallying cry for radical revolutionaries around the world to participate in a month-long occupation against the backdrop of the international summit. Among those it sought were the "redeemers, rebels and radicals." The briefing encourages peaceful civil disobedience and summons a spirit reminiscent of the 1968 National Democratic Convention in Chicago that resulted in a police riot.
“On May 1, 50,000 people from all over the world will flock to Chicago, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and #OCCUPYCHICAGO for a month,” Adbusters.org’s briefing read. “With a bit of luck, we’ll pull off the biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen.”
Truth be told, I was only half listening to President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address the other night. The once soaring rhetoric rings hollow these days. Not that I wasn’t skeptical of Mr. Hope-y Change-y from the get-go.
Even fervent Obama supporters are disappointed with the president’s inability – make that his unwillingness – to take on the moneyed interests that have colonized our politics and wrecked the economy. And Obama’s paean to militarism that bookended the SOTU makes it clear that the 2009 Noble Peace Prize winner has cast his lot with American Empire.
Occupy protesters from around the nation gathered at the Capitol and congressional office buildings in Washington on Jan. 17 to rally and attempt to speak with lawmakers as they resumed the 2012 legislation session and returned from holiday break recess.
The crowd was diverse and composed of hundreds, according to a Jan. 17 Huffington Post article. Known as Occupy Congress, the event was a day of actions against corrupt political institutions and an effort to inspire activists and ordinary Americans to participate in real democracy, according to Occupy Wall Street's website.
The Green Party's Jill Stein embellished her reputation as the first "Occupy Wall Street candidate" on the American political scene in the days leading up to the Jan. 20 Occupy the Courts demos, as she carried her presidential aspirations to protest gatherings in the D.C. area.
"My hope is to leverage and support and promote the incredible inspiration and power that we're seeing here in this field today," the Lexington, Mass., physician said on Jan. 17 at the Occupy Congress event across from Capitol Hill. "The effort to occupy Congress I think is all about occupying our economy, about taking it back, taking back our democracy, and that includes occupying our elections."