The Political Junkie Occupies Bellingham

By On

You want beautiful pictures and gorgeous video? They aren't here, check out this entry over on my native site, The Political Junkie.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has sparked echoes across the country, and one of those was in Bellingham where over 350 not-millionaires showed up to protest wealth inequality.

That's really what these protests are about more than anything else, the rich controlling such outrageous amounts of money while the middle class and poor are at their breaking point. Historically, this has happened when the poor and merchant class are squeezed by the wealthy and powerful until they feel they no longer have any chance of building a life for themselves. That is when revolution occurs. They can be violent or non-violent, political or economics-based, but drastic change is building and these are the first signs.

I have written before about "The Forgotten Generation" and how financial austerity is gutting the next wave of workers, but this is people finally taking to the streets and putting voice to their outrage.

The corporate media has ridiculed this movement for the last couple of weeks, saying it has no focus, or that their demands are over the top. I think they are intentionally missing the point. The focus of these protests is pretty clear, the rich have been screwing us and we are outraged. The demands all boil down to one basic thing: stop screwing us over. Simple as that. When wealthy corporations are getting huge bailouts and NOT reinvesting them, instead pocketing the paycheck overseas, that is screwing us. When Bank of America reinstates hidden account fees after being expressly forbidden by law, that's screwing us. When market speculators artificially inflate the cost of gas, that's screwing us.

And we aren't going to take it anymore. We need good jobs, fair wages, and a 180 degree turnaround for our corporate culture. This is just the beginning.

As for the event itself, it was well-behaved and orderly. Kelli Linville and Terry Bornemann both showed up to support the cause.

There was one incident of note. Around 4:40 p.m., a big black truck pulled up. It had a big Bellingham Tea Party sign erected in the back on a wooden frame, and the driver floored his engine in order to pump thick black smoke into the crowd. He peeled out and most in the crowd chalked it up to one guy being a jerk.

However, he circled around and was going to make another pass, so the protesters occupied the street (aka blocked it) so he couldn't get through. Citizen journalist and friend of the blog, Shane Roth, was on hand to capture this altercation on film.

Click here for video

Shane is a citizen journalist and videographer who regularly records public meetings. Frequent readers might remember him as the guy Doug Ericksen tried to have arrested.

But aside from that incident, the protest was peaceful. The Bellingham Police did a phenomenal job of making sure everything went smoothly, hats off to them. I was pleasantly surprised by both the number of people and variety. This was not the handful of people who show up to protest the war, but rather a wide swath of people deeply unhappy about our economic conditions.

About Riley Sweeney

Citizen Journalist • Member since Aug 10, 2009

Riley Sweeney, raised in the Pacific Northwest, moved to Bellingham during the Bush years, worked on a cross-section of political campaigns during the Obama years, and then fled to the [...]

Comments by Readers

Craig Mayberry

Oct 08, 2011

I can greatly appreciate the desire to blame the “millionaires and billionaires” for the current problems we face.  Certainly some of their behavior has been questionable and easy to criticize, but they are hardly to blame for our problems.  They are chump change in the overall scheme of things.  Increase their taxes by 8% (3% increase that will happen based on the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and another 5% as proposed by Democrats) and it still does not matter.  This will increase revenue by less than $500B, a drop in the bucket to the $8-10 trillion deficit over the next 10 years.  In fact, jack up their taxes by 20%, it does not matter and will not change anything.  Jack up the corporate tax rates and we can watch as corporations scatter and send unemployment even higher.

It is the government that has pursued the path of easy money and over consumption.  It is our government that put policies in place to make sure everyone could buy a house, even if they could not afford it.  It is our government that has kept interest rates so low that saving money is a waste of time and has left the middle class empty handed.  It is our government that is printing money to continue an unsustainable budget, thereby driving inflation.  Businesses have simply been doing what government wants them to do. Sure, business made good money off of it and have increased their wealth, but it is the government that opened the door, can you blame business for walking in.  The government directly controls about 30% of the economy, how much to the “millionaires and billionaires control”, hardly anything. Scream bloody murder at BoA and every other corporation, it helps deflect accountability from where it really belongs.

For decades the government has been pursuing policies that were not sustainable.  Now that everyone is starting to figure out we are in deep trouble, the politicians want to blame the business elite.  At this point we have two choices.  We can blame business and watch over the next decade as unemployment and inflation gets worse.  Or we can fix the problems and get government policies that are sustainable over the long term.  One thing has become clear, now is the time to make a choice.

PS. I am very aware of many of the unethical business tactics (after all, I teach it on a daily basis) and certainly think that there has to be some fundamental changes in how businesses operate.  But whereas I could easily spend days discussing the unethical practices and flaws in corporations, I could just as easily spend months discussing the unethical practices and fatal flaws of our current government structure.

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Dick Conoboy

Oct 09, 2011

The U.S. Treasury Department has said that keeping the Bush tax cuts in place through 2020 would add $3.9 TRILLION to the deficit.  Mmmmm?  What should we do? What should we do?

Nah, let’s keep them in place.

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Todd Granger

Oct 09, 2011

Great Video of the Obama Motors GM Bailout Truck Shane,

One
Big
Ass
Mistake
America

The driver “IS"correct.

And the definition of mainstream media always depends on who “IS” mainstream, on Wall Street.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203499704576621541890570596.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

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g.h.kirsch

Oct 10, 2011

These protesters are not promoting a tax on millionaires and billionaires, Craig.  They are, rightly, offended by the culture of greed, opportunism and corruption for which Wall Street is emblematic.

And yes, I’m sorry, but they are the ones to blame for our problems.  Without going into the whole litany of scoundrels at the heart of the matter, suffice to say the entire financialization of our economy, off-shoring of the middle classes jobs, the rip off of taxpayers to subsidize their bizarre derivatives habit, corruption of the political system, and the asset stripping of the public wealth are the hallmark of that segment of society the subject of these protests.

I don’t believe this movement seeks anything more than the restoration of true democracy and the return to more egalitarian ideals, particularly a fair and reasonable distribution of opportunity.

Of course government policies are financially unsustainable.  You can’t fight multiple wars for the corporatacracy, with weapons bought from their price gouging subsidiaries, cover the losses of myriad speculators and still perform the basic and necessary functions of government.

It’s socialism for crony capitalists. 

Somehow, ethics always turn out to be something of a refuge for those incapable of moral outrage.

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Dick Conoboy

Oct 10, 2011

Chris Hedges writing for Truthdig on 9 October said:  “The goal to people like Ketchup [the name of a young woman protester] is very, very clear. It can be articulated in one word—REBELLION. These protesters have not come to work within the system. They are not pleading with Congress for electoral reform. They know electoral politics is a farce and have found another way to be heard and exercise power. They have no faith, nor should they, in the political system or the two major political parties. They know the press will not amplify their voices, and so they created a press of their own. They know the economy serves the oligarchs, so they formed their own communal system. This movement is an effort to take our country back.”

About goals, he goes on to say:

“This is a goal the power elite cannot comprehend. They cannot envision a day when they will not be in charge of our lives. The elites believe, and seek to make us believe, that globalization and unfettered capitalism are natural law, some kind of permanent and eternal dynamic that can never be altered. What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished. It will not stop until there is an end to the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured. And that is why the elites, and the rotted and degenerate system of corporate power they sustain, are in trouble. That is why they keep asking what the demands are. They don’t understand what is happening. They are deaf, dumb and blind.” 

Nor will you will not find this kind of comprehension of these demonstrations in the “lamestream”* media, among which I include most “progressive” pundits.  (*Thank you Sarah [or your writers] for your one, and only one, positive contribution to the nation’s conversation.)

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Todd Granger

Oct 11, 2011

Actually Dick, it “IS” the Nations (R)eligion.

“Societies exist under three forms sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as among our Indians. 2. Under governments wherein the will of every one has a just influence, as is the case in England in a slight degree, and in our states in a great one. 3. Under governments of force: as is the case in all other monarchies and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, that the 1st. condition is not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has it?s evils too: the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem. Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccesful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine necessary for the sound health of government.” - Thomas Jefferson(R) to James Madison(R), Paris, January 30, 1787

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David Camp

Oct 12, 2011

Interesting comments all. It’s really too bad that the Tea Party movement, grounded as it is in the same legitimate discontent with corrupt governance that motivates the OWS movement, cannot make common cause. Instead, I saw a Tea Party guy on Democracy Now this morning shouting dismissive comments about the young people demonstrating. It seems to me that the same factors that divide the nation from itself (by design)- left v. right, Dem v. Rep, old v. young - also divide these two populist movements.

And just as the Republican hierarchy has co-opted the Tea PArty movement, the Dems are trying to do the same with OWS.

The problem, it seems to me, is the increasing concentration of corporate power, and its near-complete control of the federal government. Textbook State monopoly capitalism.

I certainly don’t want the financial system to collapse - my personal retirement savings depend on a healthy financial sector. But how on earth can we regain control over a federal government running amuck? It’s pandering to the powerful interests it should be regulating. Whether it’s Obama or Bush, the thing just keeps growing - just a different gang of thieves with their hand in the till.

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Mike Rostron

Oct 12, 2011

Interesting statistics: Rate of CEO pay to average worker.
http://imgur.com/i3zIM

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Dick Conoboy

Oct 13, 2011

The Democrats may well try to co-opt the OWS movement but unlike the Tea Party, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers, the OWS wants nothing to do with either the Democrats or the Republicans.  The almost risible aspect of this is that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are even dimly aware that as far as the demonstrators are concerned, they are irrelevant.  So it is with the media and its pundits who scramble to make something of these protests by attempting to place the protesters in some sort of category that will allow them to speak about the demonstrators in terms that their corporate bosses want to hear.  It isn’t working and the comedy one sees daily on TV and radio nooze shows continues.  The OWS ran Fox’s John Stossel out of the park in NYC a few days ago. He could not figure out why the crowd was yelling at him and calling him a liar. I tried to find the video clip but I imagine that Fox has long since erased it, embarrassment that it was for him.  Nor will I leave out the liberal pundits (Maddow, O’Donnell, Schultz, Rhodes, Miller, etc) who babble on the level of “he said, she said” and play gotcha with the latest Republican gaffe while attempting to support the President who is increasingly demonstrating his irrelevance.  Of course, the OWS participants are correct in letting all of this media flailing continue like a parent ignoring a child’s tantrum.

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Todd Granger

Oct 13, 2011

And if the Tea Party and OWS, actually got on one page, and reviewed their kindergarden lesson “...and to this republic for which it stands…” we would not be in the usual disaster thea “Democracy Now” has always brought to the table.   
?The best principles of our republic secure to all its citizens a perfect equality of rights.?
Thomas Jefferson(R)
A through reading of democracy, best explained by Page 1 with Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Livingston and Sherman’s, “Committee of the WHOLE” explains todays mess to perfection, printed July 2nd, mailed July 4th 1776.
Democracy is the biggest lie of all, it only exists when the brainwashed mass believe Bush, or Obama, both (D)s on display across the world!
“The Constitution, to which we are all attached, was meant to be republican, and we believe to be republican according to every candid interpretation. Yet we have seen it so interpretation and administered, as to be truly what the French have called, a monarchie masque. Yet so long has the vessel run on in this way and been trimmed to it, that to put her on her republican tack as will require all the skill, the firmness the zeal of her ablest and best friends.”
Thomas Jefferson to Robert Livingston, 1800

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