The First Amendment Upside Down: Why We Must Occupy Democracy

Originally from the Huffington Post:

"You’ve been seeing this across the country… Americans assaulted, clubbed, dragged, pepper-sprayed… Why? For exercising their right to free speech and assembly — protesting the increasing concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the top.

And what’s Washington’s response? Nothing. In fact, Congress’s so-called “super committee” just disbanded because Republicans refuse to raise a penny of taxes on the rich.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court says money is speech and corporations are people. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision last year ended all limits on political spending. Millions of dollars are being funneled to politicians without a trace.

And a revolving door has developed between official Washington and Wall Street — with bank executives becoming public officials who make rules that benefit the banks before heading back to the Street to make money off the rules they created.

Other top officials, including an increasing proportion of former members of congress, are cashing in by joining lobbying power houses and pressuring their former colleagues to do whatever their clients want.

Millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street and in executive suites aren’t contributing all this money out of sheer love of country. Their political spending is analogous to their other investments. Mostly they want low tax rates and friendly regulations.

Why else do you suppose tax rates on the super rich are now lower than they’ve been in three decades, and why — even though the long-term budget deficit is horrendous — those rates aren’t rising? Why else do the 400 richest Americans (whose wealth is larger than the combined wealth of the bottom 150 million Americans) now pay an average tax rate of only 17 percent?

Why do you think Wall Street got bailed without a single string attached — not even being required to help homeowners to whom they sold mortgages, who are now so far under water they’re drowning? And why does the financial reform legislation have loopholes big enough for bankers to drive their Ferrari’s through?

And why else are oil companies, big agribusinesses, military contractors, and the pharmaceutical industry reaping billions of dollars of government subsidies and special tax breaks?

Experts say the 2012 presidential race is likely to be the priciest ever, costing an estimated $6 billion. “It is far worse than it has ever been,” says Republican Senator John McCain.

If there’s a single core message to the Occupier movement it’s that the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top endangers our democracy. With money comes political power.

Yet when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with all this, they’re told the First Amendment doesn’t apply. Instead, they’re treated as public nuisances — clubbed, pepper-sprayed, thrown out of public parks and evicted from public spaces.

Across America, public officials are saying Occupiers have to go. Even in universities — where free speech is supposed to be sacrosanct — peaceful assembly is being met with clubs and pepper spray.

The First Amendment is being stood on its head. Money speaks, and an unlimited amount of it can now be spent bribing and cajoling politicians. Yet peaceful assembly is viewed as a public nuisance and removed by force.

This is especially worrisome now that so many Americans are in economic trouble. The jobs recession grinds on, seemingly without end. Homes are being foreclosed upon. Qualified students cannot afford college. Or they’re forced to take on huge debt loads they can’t repay in a jobless economy. Schools are firing teachers. Vital social services are being axed.

How are Americans to be heard about what should be done about any of this if they are not allowed to mobilize and organize? When the freedom of speech goes to the highest bidder, moneyed interests have a disproportionate say.

Now more than ever, the First Amendment needs to be put right side up. Nothing less than the future of our democracy is at stake.”

-Robert Reich

occupyallstreets:

Video of Vet Brutally Beaten by Oakland Cops Finally Surfaces - His spleen was lacerated due to injuries.

Kayvan Sabeghi, the 32-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran and Occupy Oakland protester was beaten by baton-wielding Oakland cops. Sabeghi had to undergo surgery as a result of the beating.

(via anarcho-queer)

…damn right

Emotionally intense images of retired Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis - who has joined the #OccupyWallStreet protests - being arrested by the NYPD.

There is a media blackout on images of his participation in the protest, and on his arrest.

(Source: crosscrowdedrooms, via )

"Corporate America Is Using Our Police Departments As Hired Thugs" Ret Police Captain Ray Lewis

"Got a revolution behind my eyes We got to get up and organize…"

"Your construction
Smells of corruption
I manipulate to recreate
This air to ground saga
Gotta launder my karma

I said hallelujah to the sixteen loyal fans
You’ll get down on your muthafuckin’ knees
And it’s time for your sickness again
Come on and tell me what you need
Tell me what is making you bleed
We got two more minutes and
We gonna cut to what you need
So one of six so tell me
One do you want to live
And one of seven tell me
Is it time for your muthafuckin’ ass to give
Tell me is it time to get down on your muthafuckin’ knees
Tell me is it time to get down

I’m blown to the maxim
Two hemispheres battlin’
I’m blown to the maxim
Two hemispheres battlin’
Suckin’ up, one last breath
Take a drag off of death

Hey Mr. Policeman
Is it time for getting away
Is it time for driving down the mother fuckin’ road
And running from your ass today

Now tell me if do you agree
Or tell me if I’m makin’ you bleed
I got a few more minutes and
I’m gonna cut to what you need
So one of six so tell me
One do you want to live
And one of seven tell me
Is it time for your muthafuckin’ ass to give
Tell me is it time to get down on your muthafuckin’ knees
Tell me is it time to get down

Got a revolution behind my eyes
We got to get up and organize
Got a revolution behind my eyes
We got to get up and organize
Got a revolution behind my eyes
We got to get up and organize
You want a revolution behind your eyes
We got to get up and organize”

"That some media and observers were prevented from monitoring the action is deeply troubling"

occupyonline:

First person account of one person’s arrest at Occupy Cal (Berkeley) on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

this is a frightening must-read about how the police and those in power are trying to eliminate our RIGHTS (not privileges)

(Source: bangfuckimdead, via occupyonline)

This. Is. AWESOME.

more evidence that things have been skewed for far too long… 

best way to get em? hit them in the wallet ;)