Monthly Archives: November 2011

Retired Police Captain in Dress Blues Arrested by NYPD for His Support of OWS

Retired Police Captain Raymond Lewis was arrested at OWS on Thursday. As the video shows, he was in full dress uniform when cuffed and taken into custody by NYPD.

MSNBC interview with Captain Lewis on his reasons for joining the OWS protest here: “They weren’t doing this for themselves, they were doing this for all people who are suffering injustice. It just inspired me. I couldn’t do anything else but come on down.” In response to the video of police dowsing peaceful Occupy UC Davis demonstrators with pepper spray: “Corporate America is using police departments as hired thugs.”

Captain Lewis in an on-the-scene video interview before his arrest: “Corporate power has got to go. . . All the cops are workers for the one percent, and they don’t even realize it.”

Wall Street’s Plan to Destroy the Occupy Movement

This video was taken at Occupy UC Davis yesterday: police deploying pepper-spray on peaceful demonstrators as though spraying for cockroaches. It is an image that will be hard to shake. This is what an unthinking response to the constitutional right of peaceful protest threatens to devolve into. Our fundamental rights, as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms calls them, are historically the last guarantee of personal freedom we achieve, and they are always in danger of being the first to go.

It’s a tribute to the resiliency of the Occupy movement that, even with co-ordinated police efforts to level encampments by force where necessary, the attitude on the right has evidently become that nothing but its complete eradication will do. MSNBC reports:

A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program “Up w/ Chris Hayes.”

The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association.

CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead.

According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, “This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. … It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.”

The memo also suggests that Democratic victories in 2012 should not be the ABA’s biggest concern. “… (T)he bigger concern,” the memo says, “should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies.”

Two of the memo’s authors, partners Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, previously worked for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Geduldig joined CLGC before Boehner became speaker;  Cranford joined CLGC this year after serving as the speaker’s assistant for policy. A third partner, Steve Clark, is reportedly “tight” with Boehner, according to a story by Roll Call that CLGC features on its website.

This attitude is consistent with the future such people appear to be rehearsing for: the police dispatched as a paramilitary force willing to resort to violence, along with “negative narratives” to discredit protest and intimidate anyone who sympathizes. For those invested in the status quo, constitutional rights turn out not to matter as much as the handful of municipal ordinances that are conveniently assumed to supersede them. The OWS demonstrators, meanwhile, show no sign of capitulation, despite escalating violence against them, including the dangerous use of sonic cannons brought in to clear Zuccotti Park. Authorities everywhere seem inclined to make the same mistake. As we’ve seen with the Arab Spring, officially-sanctioned violence reinforces the commitment to protest by verifying the problems that led to it in the first place.

Update: The pepper-spraying police officer in the above video is Lt. John Pike. A Facebook page calling for his arrest appeared today.

Paul Krugman’s Vid Pick of the Day!

Paul Krugman has a Nobel Prize in Economics and, besides writing a column for the New York Times, keeps a personal blog, “The Conscience of a Liberal.” He regularly posts music videos in some way relevant to what he’s writing about, and they are always excellent picks.

Today it’s Canada’s Arcade Fire performing “Wake Up” at the Choacella Festival in California.

Previous Krugman musical post here. Earlier Arcade Fire post here.

One Hundred and Fifty Anarchists Hiding in Trees with Gas Masks and Make-Shift Weapons

PBS Newshour report on Occupy Portland

A two month old peaceful protest involving thousands of people in hundreds of cities is, according to the police in Portland, Oregon, about to get dangerous along the lines of a scenario from a 1960s knockabout farce. This is due to happen at exactly the same time as the Portland police have decided to expel the Occupy Portland demonstrators from their encampment. Reuters reports:

Tensions were rising at anti-Wall Street protests in three western U.S. cities on Friday as demonstrators in Portland, Salt Lake City and Oakland defied orders by police to dismantle their camps.

In Portland, police said they had received reports that protesters were digging a reinforced hole and fashioning make-shift weapons out of wood and nails after Mayor Sam Adams gave them until midnight on Saturday to clear out of two downtown parks.

Police said they believed Occupy Portland organizers had also put out a call for reinforcements from Oakland, Seattle and San Francisco as they prepared for a confrontation.

“There may even be as many as 150 anarchists who will arrive soon,” Portland police said in a written statement.

“There is information that people may be in the trees during a police action and that there are people who are attempting to obtain a large number of gas masks,” the statement said.

Occupy Portland organizers, who say their encampment numbers between 500 and 800 people, denied that they were making weapons or recruiting anarchists for a pitched battle and insisted that they were a nonviolent movement.

Saturday Night Video: Tom Waits

Tom Waits released a new album a couple of weeks ago, Bad as Me. A friend recently described his music as “a circus cabaret — or an animal burlesque show.” Above is the cold open of the best indie movie set in New Orleans you’ve probably never seen, Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law. Waits is singing “Jockey Full of Bourbon” on the soundtrack, and that’s him appearing as a drunken hipster crawling into bed at 6 am. (You can listen to the entire song here to experience uninterrupted Marc Ribot’s hard-luck guitar — not to mention that voodoo wood block .) If you hit the play button on this clip, be sure to watch all four minutes and four seconds of it to get the full effect.

After the jump, another scene from Down By Law featuring Waits. Roberto Begnini plays Bob, a displaced Italian felon who can recite long passages from Walt Whitman by heart and in Italian. After that, Waits reading Charles Bukowski’s “The Laughing Heart.” After that, the first video from Bad as Me, “Satisfied.” Review of the album in the Guardian here

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“Fundamental Freedoms”

Frye in “The Analogy of Democracy”: “Law is the expression of temporal authority; justice is law informed by freedom and equality.” (CW , 176)

The headline in yesterday’s Toronto Sun bellowed, “MAKE ‘EM PAY!”, referring to the Occupy Toronto demonstrators assembled on public land.

In case there is any doubt in anyone’s mind, here, in its entirely — all thirty-five unambiguous words of it — is section II of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

Frye, of course, identifies freedom as one of four primary concerns in Words with Power.



The Daily Show responds to Rick Perry’s debate meltdown with “joy boners.”

UPDATE: The link above has unfortunately gone dead. However, you can find the bit in Canada here, and everywhere else here. You shouldn’t need to search beyond the direct link, but if you do you are looking for the opening segment of the Thursday, November 10th show. If you haven’t seen it already, it is very funny. Stewart is always especially good at bringing satire into pristine focus when it comes smack up against the delusional vanity and incompetence of politicians. Small victories for comedy, therefore, can result in joy boners, as they probably should.

Iraq Veterans and Occupy

The Atlantic has an article on war veterans who’ve organized against the war in Iraq and are now joining the Occupy movement. One of them, Scott Olsen, who is 22 years old and served two tours with the U.S. Army marines in Iraq, was shot in the face with a tear gas canister by police at Occupy Oakland two weeks ago. Here’s an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here:

At Occupy DC, a painting of Scott Olsen in uniform is draped on the side of a tent. He’s become a symbol of the Occupation Movement — he fought overseas only to be injured when exercising his “freedom” of peaceful assembly at home. His name has become a shorthand to talk about why so many vets are at Occupy Wall Street.

“There’s a reason Scott Olsen got shot in the head,” says Patterson, looking down at his chain-restaurant hot cocoa. “Because he was out front.”

Patterson still sports a military haircut and a bit of the Army swagger. He also has a touch of that telling hyper-awareness war vets sometimes display; he’s a little twitchy, a little intense. He tells me he has PTSD and has been self-medicating with weed. He says it helps. What’s also helped is being a part of this protest movement. “This is the only peaceful solution,” he says. “If this movement doesn’t work, our country is not going to make it … We’re just not going to make it.” Patterson became an interrogator in Iraq straight out of high school. His mother had to sign his enlistment papers. He turned 18 in Basic. “We’re an industrialized nation who’s a third world country. The super wealthy elite pretty much control our democratic process and everyone here is pretty much fighting for scraps and that’s not right,” he says.

It’s not just that the police are using escalating violence against demonstrators — video of which we’ve been posting — it’s that they are encouraging by their actions that others do so. On two separate occasions, people have driven their cars into Occupy demonstrations, hitting and injuring people who were in the way. On both occasions, the police did not even detain, let alone charge, the persons involved.

Video of the Scott Olsen incident in an earlier post here.

Think Progress has an article on why veterans are joining the Occupy movement here.

Remembrance Day


Sgt. MacKenzie” by Joseph Kilna MacKenzie

Here’s Frye in “Hart House Rededicated,” delivered on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Hart House, University of Toronto, November 11th, 1969.  As often happens with Frye on public occasions, somehow everything comes together with a resonance that is immediately recognizable.  In this instance, the elements are the anniversary of Hart House, Remembrance Day, and our hard won, and too easily lost, sense of community.

Since 1919, a memorial service at the tower, along with an editorial in the Varsity attacking its hypocrisy and crypto-militarism, has been an annual event of campus life.  Certainly I would not myself participate in such a service if I thought that its purpose was to strengthen our wills to fight another war, instead of to fight against the coming of another war.  That being understood, I think there is a place for the memorial service, apart from the personal reason that many students of mine have their names inscribed on the tower.  It reminds us of something inescapable in the human situation.  Man is a creature of communities, and communities enrich themselves by what they include: the university enriches itself by breaking down the middle-class fences and reaching out to less privileged social areas; the city enriches itself by the variety of ethnical groups it has taken in.  But while communities enrich themselves by what they include, they define themselves by what they exclude.  The more intensely a community feels its identity as a community, the more intensely it feels its difference from what is across its boundary.  In a strong sense of community there is thus always an element that may become hostile and aggressive.

It is significant that our memorial service commemorates two wars, both fought against the same country.  In all wars, including all revolutions, the enemy becomes an imaginary abstraction of evil. Some German who never heard of us becomes a “Hun”; some demonstrator who is really protesting against his mother becomes a “Communist”; some policeman with a wife and a family to support becomes a “fascist pig.”  We know that we are lying when we do this sort of thing, but we say it is tactically necessary and go on doing it.  But because it is lying, it cannot create or accomplish anything, and so all wars, including all revolutions, take us back to square one of frustrated aggression in which they began.  (CW 7, 397)