I am something of a news junkie. When I want to procrastinate, which is a lot, I start poking around. Rather than feel like it is all “a waste,” I thought I would assemble the best of the ‘net surfing here. I know I can feel overwhelmed. You too? Then let my roamings shortcut yours.
There have been some amazing images and photographs.
This woman being pepper-sprayed was, like much photo-journalism, an accident.
What is that long, black pole behind the cop spraying? It looks like a pike or a cattle prod.
Another bound to be iconic image. Here we have UC Davis campus police spraying peaceful protestors.
The context around this UC Davis event is explained by an open letter to the Chancellor (Now, that is a creepy term. Sounds like scary Germans) by Professor Nathan Davis. He writes that at times protestors had their mouths forced open to get more of that spray in. Nice.
Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats.
One of my favorite images has got to be Captain (Ret) Ray Lewis of the Phialdelphia police being arrested for marching with the Occupy movement.
The look on his face is priceless. To me it says “I served the public and democracy for this?”
Another hopeful image is this one of U Cal Berkley students defying the order to not re-establish an encampment in Sproul Plaza. They floated their tents! Awesome!
OFinally, a bit on policy ideas. I love policy ideas and looking at how do-able changes can improve a situation. David Cay Johnston is a journalist who has written many books. One which I own and have read parts of is Free Lunch and it is about how venally rich use government to subvert any idea of free competition to line their own pockets. You can hear him explain this here in a 2008 interview. For example, big box retailers often get to deduct their sales tax from their costs of building the stores to encourage “job creation.” I had to read it three times to make sure I wasn’t mis-reading. Anyway, this very self-described moderate journalist is great at tracking down the dirty details of a rigged system.
I found this interesting op-ed at Reuters by Mr. Johnston. Derivative trading (like credit default swaps) when one does not actually own the underlying asset is gambling. The parties are simply making zero-sum bets on the movement of prices. As much as it can be gussied up to look like something useful for a real economy, the 670 trillion dollars in notional value of CDS‘s in 2008 was a huge casino. (Notional value means what they were worth on paper.) So, the solution? It was already in our laws. Such debts are unenforceable. The supreme court, and others, have ruled that gambling debts are not enforceable (hence, the rash of mafia movies involving a certain knee-breaking penchant). If AIG and Goldman Sachs, among others, had NO expectation they could collect on their CDS bets, they never would have made them and would have stuck to actual hedging.
Finally, a podcast I like, The New Yorker’s “Political Scene” is an insight-packed 12-15 minutes. This week’s made my eyes bulge and made me start swearing aloud (which probably confused anyone near me while I was walking the dog). I, like some tea party folks, found myself dripping in the condescension of the the liberal elites.
In a conversation about (about 7 minutes in) where it goes and how it might engage with politics, Hertzberg says they “can’t harness their own energy.” He says “They don’t have a decision making that works. They depend on this tribal campfire thing to go forward.” Then, “Rick” Hertzberg finds himself wondering “what they do stand for.” Good grief. Among many problems with this, the most basic one for me is the way the mainstream media and journalism elites force anyone to play by their rules of matching policy to policy. In other words, rather than understand occupy as a metaphor for public dialogue and democracy form the ground up, protestors are supposed to lobby up and have a ten point plan which will then be crushed by the resources of vested interests. It is like playing ice hockey but being told you have to use flippers instead of skates.