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Clinton on OWS: “What they’re doing is great”

Shah Gilani, Forbes
The Rumors About Bill Clinton Are True

… I asked, “What do you think about the Occupy Wall Street movement, personally, and what do you think it says about America?”

… “I think what they’re doing is great,” he said. “Occupy Wall Street has done more in the short time they’ve been out there than I’ve been able to do in more than the last eleven years trying to draw attention to some of the same problems we have to address,” he said.

Without once looking around, but completely engaging me, the statesman continued. “There are a lot of young people out there, I see a lot of unemployed students and they are upset, he said. They don’t know where the jobs and opportunities are for them, and they are worried about how they’re going to pay off their student loans without going broke.”

But I learned instantly that Bill Clinton doesn’t just acknowledge problems he has solutions at the ready. He went on to say that student loan reforms were absolutely necessary and that limiting annual loan payments to small percentages of income made sense to not impoverish students as they struggle up the ladder in pursuit of the American Dream.

I asked if the Occupy Wall Street movement should have a platform. I was getting into another area he is passionate about, delivering messages on point. “Yes,” he said, “But it doesn’t have to be a platform; it doesn’t have to be twenty pages. They should start with three or four points to generate a political movement to get heard more clearly.”
(6 January 2012)

Newt Goes Full ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Against Romney

Benjy Sarlin, Talking Points Memo (TPM)
MANCHESTER, NH — “You have to ask the question, is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of people and then walk off with the money?”

Who said it — Elizabeth Warren? Dennis Kucinich? Noam Chomsky?

Not quite, that was Newt Gingrich talking to reporters at an energy company in Manchester on Monday about his new effort to paint Mitt Romney as a greedy one-percenter who finds “clever legal ways” to go about “looting a company” while screwing over its workers.

Gingrich’s argument against Romney over Bain’s history of downsizing has become increasingly similar to the Occupy Wall Street crowd’s criticism of the financial system, let alone national Democrats.

… “Capitalism made America great – free markets, innovation, hard work – the building blocks of the American Dream,” the narrator of the film intones. “But in the wrong hands some of those dreams can turn into nightmares.”

Gingrich defended his new negative tack to reporters on Monday, saying Super PAC spending by Romney supporters left him little choice but to go on the offensive. He insisted that his brutal new anti-Romney line wasn’t kneecapping his party’s general election chances.

“If somebody’s going to crumble, they better crumble before the nomination,” he said.

Rick Perry has been running hard against Wall Street in recent days as well. One Iowa ad said Romney “made millions buying companies and laying off workers” and Perry himself went after the frontrunner in South Carolina for talking about how he was once worried about receiving a “pink slip” himself.
(9 January 2012)

Occupy 2012: Firmly disorganized, driven by dreams

Laird Harrison and Michelle Nichols, Reuters
… the movement has clearly influenced the national political conversation, with even President Barack Obama echoing some of its themes in calling for a “fair shot” and “fair share” for all.

Now, as Occupy heads into 2012, participants in the leaderless movement are developing a range of new strategies and tactics to keep what they view as the injustices of the economic system in the spotlight.

Here are some ways the Occupy movement is trying to evolve:







The protesters’ slogan “We are the 99 percent,” which refers to a view that the richest 1 percent have a virtual monopoly on money, power and influence, has struck a chord across the country, and the movement’s rhetoric has quickly become a part of popular culture. Occupy this, occupy that — there are few examples of a single word jumping so quickly from the middle pages of the dictionary to the forefront of public conversation. Chants like “Whose streets? Our streets” and “banks got bailed out, we got sold out” were suddenly as familiar as snatches of Bob Dylan songs were to a previous generation of protesters.

But Occupy protesters have a much more ambitious cultural agenda. In the way they have organized their movement, by welcoming everyone, eschewing hierarchy, and allowing a voice to whoever shows up, they hope to set an example for the rest of society.
(9 January 2012)
Nice round-up. -BA

Why Now? What’s Next? Naomi Klein and Yotam Marom in Conversation About Occupy Wall Street

Naomi Klein and Yotam Marom, The Nation

Naomi Klein is a journalist, activist and author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo. She writes a syndicated column for The Nation and The Guardian. Yotam Marom is a political organizer, educator, and writer based in New York. He has been active in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and is a member of the Organization for a Free Society. This conversation was recorded in New York City.
(9 January 2012)

… Yotam Marom: Yeah, I definitely think we’re in a unique moment in the development of a movement that’s not only a protest movement against something but also an attempt to build something in its place. It is potentially a very early version of what I would call a dual-power movement, which is a movement that’s—on the one hand—trying to form the values and institutions that we want to see in a free society, while at the same time creating the space for that world by resisting and dismantling the institutions that keep us from having it.

… Naomi Klein: I absolutely agree that the key is in the combination of resistance and alternatives. A friend, the British eco-and arts activist John Jordan, talks about utopias and resistance being the double helix of activist DNA, and that when people drop out and just try to build their utopia and don’t engage with the systems of power, that’s when they become irrelevant and also when they are extremely vulnerable to state power and will often get smashed. And at the same time if you’re just protesting, just resisting and you don’t have those alternatives, I think that that becomes poisonous for movements.

… Yotam Marom: … within the broader movement, we do have different roles, and there is a particular role for Occupy Wall Street. I personally don’t want to have anything to do with people lobbying or running for office right now, nor do I want to focus all of my time winning small policy changes, and I don’t think that’s the role of Occupy Wall Street. But I sure as hell hope the people whose terrain that is do go and do it. I hope that they can recognize that what’s happening now is the creation of a climate where it’s possible for them to push left and win more. I’m not going to be happy with all the compromises those people have to make, and I don’t think we’re going to survive on reforms alone, but we need that too. If we want a real, meaningful social transformation, we need to win things along the way, because that’s how we provides people the foundations on top of which they can continue to struggle for the long haul, and it’s how we grow to become a critical mass that can ultimately make a fundamental break with this system.

And in the meantime, our role as Occupy Wall Street should be to dream bigger than that. I think it’s our job to look far ahead, to assert vision, to create alternatives and to intervene in the political and economic processes that govern people’s lives.

… Naomi Klein: … I think it’s more about vision than it is about demands. My worry is that there are so many groups trying to co-opt this movement, and trying to raise money off of its efforts, that the movement risks defining itself by what is not, rather by what it is or, more importantly, might become. If the movement is constantly put in a position of saying, “No, we’re not your pawn. We’re not this. We’re not that,” the danger is getting boxed into a defensive identity that was really imposed from the outside. I think some of that happened to the movement opposing corporate globalization post-Seattle, and I’d hate to see those mistakes repeated.

… NK: First of all, it’s a moment of possibility like I’ve never seen because we never had as many people on our side as this moment does. I mean in the Seattle moment, we didn’t. We were marginal. We always were because we were in an economic boom. Now, the system has been breaking its own rules so defiantly that its credibility is shot. And there’s a vacuum. There’s a vacuum for other credible voices to fill that, and it’s very exciting.

Personally, I think the greatest possibility lies in bringing together the ecological crisis and the economic crisis. I see climate change as the ultimate expression of the violence of capitalism: this economic model that fetishizes greed above all else is not just making lives miserable in the short term, it is on the road to making the planet uninhabitable in the medium term. And we know, scientifically, that if we continue with business as usual, that is the future we are heading towards. I think climate change is the strongest argument we’ve ever had against corporate capitalism, as well as the strongest argument we’ve ever had for the need for alternatives to it. And the science puts us on a deadline: we need to have begun to radically reduce our emissions by the end of the decade, and that means starting now. I think that this science-based deadline has to be part of every discussion about what we’re going to do next, because we actually don’t have all the time in the world.

… I’m also excited about the fact that, over the past ten years since the peak of the so-called anti-globalization movement, a lot of work has been done that proves that economic re-localization and economic democracy are both feasible and desirable. Look at the explosion of the local food movement, of community-supported agriculture and farmers markets. Or the green co-op movement. Or community-based wind and solar energy projects. And then you have cities like Detroit, Portland or Bellingham, which are working on multiple fronts to re-localize their economies. The point is that there are living examples that we can point to now of communities that have weathered the economic crisis better than those places that are still dependent on a few large multinational corporations, and could just be leveled overnight when those corporations shut their doors. Most importantly: many of these models address both the economic and ecological crises simultaneously, creating work, rebuilding community, while lowering emissions and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
(9 January 2012)