Be Like Water : Occupy Sandy

Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water...Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
Bruce Lee

Human suffering, created by a killer storm,  renders political bickering and horse-race elections meaningless, pushing the endless commentaries and political prevarications of shape-shifters and chronic bullshit artists like Ann Coulter far off the radar. Exposing their innate meanness and signifying an impending loss of relevance in light of  mass mobilization and support for Sandy's victims. NY Times

Instead, national attention turns to severe weather, climate change, and dealing with it, in addition to the paradoxical benefit of a storm reconstruction/disaster prep stimulus. It's hell for those who must endure, and wait, anxiously and wearily, for the lights and heat to come back on. Exposing numerous cracks in the American infrastructure. In the deadly aftermath, columnist Bill Keller calls for a New Manhattan Project. NY Times

As for Coulter, her very name fires synapses and sets off alarms for Americans not dialed in to the channels that broadcast her venom. She admits to feeling complete defeat. Has such venom finally met its match? We prefer to ignore her entirely, taking the election as proof of her ultimate demise, but Chris Hedges cautions against it. Instead he writes how the Presidential election exposes "the death of the liberal class." truth-out


Coulter gets ripped by the Fordham University President for being “hateful and needlessly provocative.” At Fordham, Campus College Repubs get credit, gaining stature and good will by canceling her appearance there. A preview of things to come on the national level.

University Head Father Joseph McShane's statement on the matter is worth reprinting :

"As members of a Jesuit institution, we are called upon to deal with one another with civility and compassion, not to sling mud and impugn the motives of those with whom we disagree or to engage in racial or social stereotyping. In the wake of several bias incidents last spring, I told the University community that I hold out great contempt for anyone who would intentionally inflict pain on another human being because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or creed....Hate speech, name-calling, and incivility are completely at odds with the Jesuit ideals that have always guided and animated Fordham." Salon

Bets are thus taken as to how much longer the now despondent Queen of Hate can reign, with intra-party introspection inevitable after the Prez' Election Night GOP beat-down. huffpost


The Prez' win comes amidst - in spite of - one percent attempts at voter suppression (a never-ending pursuit, as they now turn to the Supreme Court ) and rounds of predictions that he'd lost large chunks of the electorate. However, The Prez cruises to victory comfortably, electorally-speaking. Readers know this space saw it coming. And also that we are too mature to remind them of such.

Much is made of the alleged soul-searching (or at least navel-gazing) occurring on one side of the ruling aisle. Even Boss Man Rove can't stop the Prez' momentum on election night,  wishfully telling his employers to hold off reporting what the country now knows – that America 2012 has changed and Repubs have no answer, other than deploring their running of  “moderate candidates.” NY Times

Flush from our prediction success, we offer an additional glimpse of the future. Expect the political arm of the one percent to dial down the hate, at least publicly, with ranters like Coulter relegated to the blogosphere's digital frontier. Where she can listen to the echoes of her own voice safely out of public earshot. Repubs can then decide whether to stay fringe or re-commit to playing national politics.

Boss Man Rove
, long the orchestrator of their electoral strategy, finds himself under fire, having to answer to those who sign his checks. As the Boss Man knows, it's the name on the front  that counts, not the back. Allvoices

For Repubs to not, as former RNC Chairman Michael Steele suggests, go the way of the Whig , the search begins for younger, hipper, Marco Rubio types – though Rubio himself may already be damaged goods. He's just old enough to have made his bones spewing RNC rhetoric, yet young enough for a makeover. All this being way down the road of course

Our bet is the next Repub star combines the Prez' soaring oratory and rhetorical prowess with a similarly telegenic presence that embodies the changing face of America. To help distinguish the one percent economic agenda from the political blunder of hating on gays, non-Caucasians, women and un-angry white males. Since it happens they all vote. businessinsider

Policy initiatives will be buried in rhetoric about protecting our future, along the lines of the Waltons' Save Our Children and similar, neutral sounding political claptrap, designed to further the agenda of privatizing public resources for big-time investor pay-outs. And stick American citizens with the bill.

Public Service, as defined by the American Founding Fathers was defined as :

"..a positive Passion for the public good... this public Passion must be Superior to all private Passions. Men must be ready, they must pride themselves, and be happy to sacrifice their private Pleasures, Passions, and Interests, nay their private Friendships and dearest connections, when they Stand in Competition with the Rights of society."

Whether provided by government or otherwise rendered, such service is far from the minds of the Lords of Finance. Their sole competition : the rights and demands of the Americans who staff their stores,  ringing up customers at the Sports Authority, Dunkin Donuts, and Staples, delivering pizzas for Dominos, or hefting trays for diners at the Outback Steakhouse. A hundred years of such servitude will bring them no closer to a decent retirement, let alone the heights where the Citizen will spend his gilded golden years as a historical footnote. nation

Americans seemed willing to live with such inequities when they were left unstated. However attacks on institutions that serve the public - schools, transportation , government - not to mention a steady slew of insults terming low wage workers  "moochers"  - have become too much to bear and caused resentment. Had the one percent simply thanked America for their massive wealth and left the levers of politics alone, we may never have heard of Occupy. NY Daily News

In a curious case of self-defeating political activism, one percenters  vowed to defeat the Prez - or fire their workers - even as their profits continued to soar. huffpost

Even the campaign workers who chant “Mitt!Mitt!” up to the bitter end get thanked, Citizen-style, when he leaves them stranded the day after, canceling their campaign credit cards and leaving hotels, restaurants, and other vendors without payment. Allowing them to realize too late what the electorate long ago figured out. Examiner


The end of two seasons. On the one hand, the end of the election / political season as the ruling parties remount positions for an upcoming battle over deficits and the looming, so-called fiscal cliff. The Prez, having run his last election, initially shows spine. huffpost

In and around New York, more pressing concerns, a dedicated Day of Service mobilizes thousands who fan out to hard hit areas of the City. The storm arrived at the outside of the normally accepted Hurricane season. Warmer water has a way of doing these things. The world of ideas and endless debates becomes trivial, obscene even, as the needs of the many push the narrow concerns of the few - electoral and otherwise -  to one side. NY Times

Occupy emerges stronger and more aligned with the 99 percent, in particular those who see water rage through their streets and homes. They need help wherever they can get it, and government, be it federal or local, is slow to respond. The secret of living is giving Occupy discovers, putting aside stock slogans and chants for boots on the ground where they're most needed : Rockaway, Breezy Point, Long Beach, parts of Long Island, Lower Manhattan.

Outages, shortages, and rations are the norm as terminus distribution points in New Jersey are rocked by storm surges. New York imposes odd-even day rationing based on the last number of a driver's license plate. Americans residing in the Northeast, especially metropolitan New York, live, for a time, like most of the global population : third world conditions. It's a rude awakening. The intrepid Tim Pool broadcasts footage of some of the most devastated areas using remote drone technology. Timcast

For Occupy Sandy, it's reminiscent of the early mobilization at Zuccotti as the group leverages vast networks and its previous encampment experience, to organize and aid the relief effort.

Things may get interesting should the Occupiers bump into Lord Blankfein, who they largely blame for destroying the US economy. However, chronic anger may give way to a more nuanced view, as the Lord himself joins the Rockaway clean-up. If nothing else, they can thank him for perpetuating the structural imbalances that drove the US economy over a cliff (the first one) and solidified the income inequality that created the movement. Gothamist

Doctors without Borders (MSF) heaps further praise on Occupy Sandy, citing the group's immediate and ongoing recovery efforts, organized and directed with meticulous attention to logistics and bringing help to the most vulnerable. Doctors Without Borders

At the same time they're serving the storm-ravaged community, OWS wunderkind advance a practical application of their theory on consumer debt, often held by bailed out banks, which can be summed up in a concise two word epithet : f--k them.

The group announces a Rolling Jubilee, an intent to buy back distressed American consumer debt – in order to forgive it. It's a variation on a tactic used by Financial Lords like Paul Singer, who typically enriches himself through such activity.


The OWS take is that debt inherently minimizes human potential, and is primarily incurred by taking loans to finance  basic human needs. This allows the one percent to achieve astronomical wealth while creating fundamental conditions of servitude.

Result :  the funneling of the under-educated to dead-end service jobs at the bottom of the economic pyramid  - and the educated to working long hours servicing crushing student loans for the nation's banks and mega-corporations. Education having previously been thought of as the bedrock of economic security. Forbes

The dialog explodes certain myths on the personal nature of debt. Concerned Americans may  check out the Debt-Resistor's Manual (a collaboration between OWS and Strike Debt - it can be downloaded here),  which offers tips and techniques, all while reminding Americans that they are not defined by their personal balance sheet: “You are Not A Loan” 


Says Strike Debt organizer Pam Brown, "We are also in the process of building an international organization analogous to a union. In the same way factory strikes improved conditions, withdrawing from the debt system opens up space to reclaim our future.” (video above)
In These Times


OWS advances in the legal realm too, winning a settlement from NYPD who have to cough up $50K to the three alleged protesters they busted, 1984-style, for “thought crime.” And you think we're were joking. Gothamist

It's a tough week overall for NYPD. On the heels of the settlement comes an international human rights group's report that the US is failing in certain democratic measures.


Released by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (a treaty organization of which the US is a member), the report surveys member countries and finds tactics used by authorities to suppress Occupy have trashed the constitutional protections traditionally guaranteed in the United States.

"There is no part of the world where suppression of protest is not a problem, and the U.S. is no exception," Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur says. "Fighting for a meaningful right of free assembly is vital because there can be no democracy without this right. There is no choice - we have to succeed if we want to leave the world a better place for those who come after us."

Translation :  we're a lot less unique than we used to be.  Village Voice


With Occupy moving from slogans toward solutions, it upsets the status quo all over again, as citizens graduate from democratic discussion to direct activity.

As may be expected, they clash from time to time with establishment relief organizations like Red Cross and FEMA and Bloomie's office, with whom tensions are always bound to simmer. As usual, when you're outside on the front-line - either of democracy or a national disaster - tempers can fray.

Still, Occupy Sandy and the groups  work mostly well together as pictures of the National Guard  receiving disaster relief training from occupy seem to indicate.


Newly empowered, the OWS tweets to journalists taking a second look that Occupy “offshoots” are not by-products of a disappeared movement, but rather a “network of networks, a movement of movements.”

At the same time, a rising tide of wildcat strikes at Wal-Mart and other retailers is on the horizon as the group coordinates around Black Friday actions. HuffPost

Submitted by M-Bed
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