OCCUPY WALK USA

Ides of March walk 2013

How the Corporate Right Hijacked America’s Courts to Enrich the Top 1 Percent

How the Corporate Right Hijacked America’s Courts to Enrich the Top 1 Percent

America’s political-economy is caught in a vicious cycle, with concentrated wealth at the top leading to outsized political power.
May 10, 2012  |
For a generation, America’s political-economy has been gripped in a vicious cycle. Those at the top of the economic pile have taken an ever-growing share of the nation’s income, and then leveraged that haul into ever-greater political power, which they have in turn used to rewrite the rules of “the market” in their favor. Wash, rinse and repeat.

It’s the result of years of institutional investments by the corporate Right to advance a reactionary legal regime in America’s courts. In the process, the richest Americans now have their hands in both our legislative and judicial branches, while working America has become a voiceless stepping stone.

“The more pernicious effect of economic inequality comes indirectly through its impact on political inequality,” says MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, co-author of Why Nations Fail. In an interview with Think Progress, Acemoglu explained what he called, “a general pattern throughout history”:

When economic inequality increases, the people who have become economically more powerful will often attempt to use that power in order to gain even more political power. And once they are able to monopolize political power, they will start using that for changing the rules in their favor.

This dynamic is best understood in the realm of electoral politics. In a study of something that most people already consider to be obvious, Larry Bartels, a political scientist at Princeton, examined lawmakers’ responsiveness to the interests of various constituents by income, and concluded:

In almost every instance, senators appear to be considerably more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of middle-class constituents, while the opinions of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution have no apparent statistical effect on their senators’ roll call votes (PDF).

Or consider ALEC, an organization funded by major corporations that writes laws that, among other things, curtail workers’ rights to organize and disenfranchises the poor, elderly and people of color. It then lobbies state lawmakers to pass its “model legislation,” and sweetens the deal with junkets – all-expenses-paid vacations at posh hotels for legislators and their families – where they can rub shoulders with the titans of industry.

Look at the fruit that union-busting bears for the wealthiest Americans:

Click for larger version
(click for larger version)Another way the wealthiest Americans have rigged the rules so more of the national income flows upward may be just as consequential, but less well understood. A 30-year campaign to push America’s courts sharply to the right has borne abundant fruit for those in the top 1 percent.

We see it reflected in today’s Supreme Court, which, having unleashed a flood of super-PAC cash into our political campaigns in a decision that wasone of the most brazen examples of judicial activism in the court’s history, now stands poised to overturn not only the Democrats’ healthcare bill, but much of the jurisprudence that supported the welfare state developed since the New Deal.

study by the Constitutional Accountability Center found that the Chamber of Commerce had won 65 percent of its cases heard by the court under Chief Justice John Roberts, compared to 56 percent under former Chief Justice William Rehnquist (1986-2005) and just 43 percent of the cases that came during the Burger court (1969-1986).

But that’s only the beginning. “The Roberts Court,” wrote Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, is “slowly but surely… giving corporate America a handbook on how to engage in misconduct. In case after case, it seems big companies are being given the playbook on how to win even bigger the next time.”

Many of the court’s rulings have overturned long-standing precedents. While conservatives constantly rail against judges “legislating from the bench,” it is far more common for right-leaning jurists to engage in “judicial activism” than those of a liberal bent. That’s what several studies have concluded. Media Matters offered a run-down of a couple of prominent ones:

A 2005 study by Yale University law professor Paul Gewirtz and Yale Law School graduate Chad Golder showed that among Supreme Court justices at that time, those most frequently labeled “conservative” were among the most frequent practitioners of at least one brand of judicial activism — the tendency to strike down statutes passed by Congress. Those most frequently labeled “liberal” were the least likely to strike down statutes passed by Congress.

A 2007 study published by University of Chicago law professor Thomas J. Miles and Cass R. Sunstein… used a different measurement of judicial activism: the tendency of judges to strike down decisions by federal regulatory agencies. Sunstein and Miles found that by this definition, the Supreme Court’s “conservative” justices were the most likely to engage in “judicial activism” while the “liberal” justices were most likely to exercise “judicial restraint.”

In a recent opinion, two federal appeals court judges suggested that all efforts to protect workers, consumers or the environment were unconstitutional, including regulatory efforts by the states. It’s a radical view, but one that has gotten increasing traction in conservative legal circles. It is also the culmination of years of institutional investments by the corporate Right to advance what’s come to be known as the “law and economics” movement, which analyzes legal rulings “costs” – essentially applying neoliberal economic logic to the field. Its advocates eschew the notion that human rights or economic fairness are inherently valuable factors for the law to consider.

The model has gained increasing influence in American courts, and that’s no accident. In his book, The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle for Control of the Law, Johns Hopkins scholar Steven Teles writes that conservatives, reacting to what they viewed as liberal hegemony in the legal community of the 1960s, fought hard to shift the legal terrain rightward.

Spurred by their overlapping grievances, informed by an increasingly sophisticated of how to produce legal change, and coordinated by strategically shrewd group of patrons, conservatives began investing in a broad range activities designed to reverse their … organizational weaknesses. While similar kinds of organizational development were happening in other domains … in no other area was the process of strategic investment as prolonged, ambitious, complicated and successful as in the law.

In 1998, the Washington Post reported that “Federal judges are attending expenses-paid, five-day seminars on property rights and the environment at resorts in Montana, sessions underwritten by conservative foundations that are also funding a wave of litigation on those issues in the federal courts.”

Funding for the seminars, run by a group called the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), also comes from foundations run by companies with a significant interest in property rights and environmental law issues.

One of the group’s funders was the John M. Olin Foundation, which invested millions of dollars in the law and economic movement – endowing university chairs, funding think-tanks and providing early support for the Federalist Society, which was founded in 1982 by former attorney general Ed Meese, controversial Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork and Ted Olsen—who years later would win the infamous Bush v. Gore case before the Supreme Court in 2000 and then go on to serve as Bush’s solicitor general. The foundation said in a 2003 report to its trustees, “All in all, the Federalist Society has been one of the best investments the foundation ever made.”

In 2005, the Olin Foundation actually declared “mission accomplished” and closed up shop. The New York Times reported that after “three decades financing the intellectual rise of the right,” the foundation’s services were no longer needed. The Times added that the loss of Olin wasn’t terribly troubling for the movement, because whereas “a generation ago just three or four major foundations operated on the Right, today’s conservatism has no shortage of institutions, donors or brio.”

If the economics and law movement were to become the standard in our legal culture, it would represent a massive upward redistribution of wealth. Not only would “transfer payments” – unemployment benefits, assistance for needy families and the like – be deemed unconstitutional, but so would minimum wages, job training programs, subsidized student loans and most of our already threadbare social safety net. And that environment will have been purchased for a princely sum by those who have profited so handsomely from America’s spiraling income inequality.

http://www.alternet.org/story/155379/how_the_corporate_right_hijacked_america%27s_courts_to_enrich_the_top_1_percent?page=entire

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.

May 11, 2012 Posted by | This is why we walk | Leave a comment

TACTICAL BRIEFING #32: MAY 12 – OCCUPY’S TURNING POINT

TACTICAL BRIEFING #32: MAY 12 – OCCUPY’S TURNING POINT

JESUS G. PASTOR

TACTICAL BRIEFING #32 – Occupy’s Turning Point

We innovate spontaneously – we play jazz

Hey you nimble dreamers, occupiers, believers,

Last May 15, a hundred thousand indignados in Spain seized the squares across their nation, held people’s assemblies and catalyzed a global tactical shift that birthed Occupy Wall Street four months later. Our movement outflanked governments everywhere with a thousand encampments in large part because no one was prepared for Occupy’s magic combination of Spain’s transparent consensus-based acampadas with the Tahrir-model of indefinite occupation of symbolic space. Now exactly a year later, a big question mark hangs over our movement because it is clear that the same tactics may never work again.

Spring re-occupations have largely failed here in North America. The May Day General Strike was stifled by aggressive, preemptive policing that neutralized Occupy’s signature moves. In light of these challenges, Saturday’s May 12 rebirth of the indignados could be a tactical turning point.

Across the world, authorities are using “lawfare” to piecemeal outlaw any tactic that we used last year. In Spain, there is an attempt to criminalize the use of the internet to catalyze nonviolent protests and occupations. The International Business Times reports that this is part of a larger European move to “punish those who use social media and instant messaging to organize and co-ordinate street protests.” Canada wants to ban wearing masks at “unlawful assemblies,” a legal designation often used to disperse nonviolent protesters. Meanwhile Germany is taking a more direct route: they have simply issued a decree “banning” the Blockupy anti-bank protest in Frankfurt. As in the U.S., when outlawing free speech and the right to assembly doesn’t work, authorities are increasingly using brutal, paramilitary force.

The power of Occupy lies in its ability to harness the collective intelligence of our leaderless movement to tactically innovate. We move at viral speed – always one step ahead. “Fight, fail, fight again, fail again, fight again… till victory.” When one tactical constellation fails, we innovate spontaneously – we play jazz.

Across the world, indignados are preparing for a big blast on Saturday, May 12. Some, like Occupy London, are planning to retake the squares and set up encampments. Others have totally new tactics in mind. Whatever happens, let’s learn from the indignados with an eye towards our Camp David inspired May 18 #LAUGHRIOT and the global convergence on Chicago to confront NATO …

Let’s be humble … let’s “fall in love with hard and patient work” – and keep in mind that this is all just the beginning.

for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ

OccupyWallStreet.org / Tactical Briefing #29#30#31 / Be present on May 12 and on May 18 spark the#LAUGHRIOT then swarm Chicago.

SHARE URL: http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/tactical-turning-point.html


Adbusters #101 is a tactical mindbomb. Grab it off newsstands worldwide. Or go toadbusters.org/subscribe or call Renee at             1-800-663-1243      . Adbusters #102 will be out early June.

May 11, 2012 Posted by | Occupy Walk News, This is why we walk | Leave a comment

The Occupy Walk USA Team’s First banner made for NATO protest

The Occupy Walk USA Team’s First banner made for NATO protest

May 10, 2012 Posted by | This is why we walk, Walking Blog | Leave a comment

Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda

Protest NATO/G8 Summit – May 2012 – Chicago

Posted on May 1, 2012 by cang8

Click here and join Noam Chomsky, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Anthony Arnove, Vijay Prashad, Angela Davis, Rashid Khalidi, Tom Morello, Barbara Ransby,
Jesse Jackson Sr., Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Medea Benjamin, and many others in signing the petition: No to NATO!

Protest the NATO Summit in Chicago…

Click here for information on the People’s Summit on May 12-13. 

THEN…
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Noon rally at Petrillo Bandshell
(corner of Jackson and Columbus),
then march to McCormick Place

Join in a legal, permitted, family-friendly march and rally!

Among those scheduled to appear at the rally…
Jesse Jackson, Sr. – Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Malalai Joya – former member of Afghan Parliament
Reiner Braun – ICC No to War – No to NATO, Germany
Malik Mujahid – Muslim Peace Council
Kathy Kelly – Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Vijay Prashad – author of “Arab Spring, Libyan Winter”
Leah Bolger – President, Veterans For Peace
Carlos Montes – Committee Stop FBI Repression
Kari Fulton – Environmental Justice Network
Larry Holmes – International Action Center

Download an overview of NATO and G8, including how they are linked, some things we can do to take back our future.

Download the half page flyer for the May 20 march & rally here.

Click here for the start of the rally and march (north end).
Click here for an arial view of the opening rally site at the Petrillo Bandshell (Butler Field in Grant Park)
Click here for the ending point of the march (south end).

Click here for transportation directions for those coming to Chicago from out of town.

Interested in biking to protest NATO and promote a better world? Click here!

At the invitation of the White House, military and civilian representatives of the 28-nation US-commanded and largely US-financed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are meeting in Chicago, May 20-21, 2012.  We say…

  • Jobs, Healthcare, Education, Pensions, Housing and the Environment, Not War!
  • No to NATO/G-8 Warmakers!
  • No to War and Austerity!

Click here to download the “Chicago Principles”

To endorse the NATO/G8 protest, send an email to CANGATE2012@gmail.com with contact information.

To make a donation to the protests, please mail a check made out to:
8th Day Center for Justice/CANG8
and send to:
CANG8, P.O. Box 408942, Chicago, IL  60640
Please put CANG8 on the memo line!

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Check out the new position papers, resolutions, and call to action:
Vision Statement and Call to Action from Environmental Committee
Call to Action from The International Coordinating Committee No to War – No to NATO (ICC)
Updated Labor resolution against NATO and G8.
Opposing NATO and the G8… Why LGBTQ Folks Should Be Involved
Interfaith Position Paper Opposing NATO and G8

May 9, 2012 Posted by | This is why we walk | 1 Comment

Chicago May 2012 Protest NATO and G8

Chicago May 2012 Protest NATO and G8

May 8, 2012 Posted by | This is why we walk, Walking Blog | Leave a comment

Occupy Movement Protesters Looking For Places To Stay During NATO

Occupy Movement Protesters Looking For Places To Stay During NATO

May 7, 2012
Lincoln Square Landlord Terry Keenan is opening up his Lincoln Square two-flat to NATO protesters. (CBS)

Lincoln Square Landlord Terry Keenan is opening up his Lincoln Square two-flat to NATO protesters. (CBS)

John CodyReporting John Cody

CHICAGO (CBS) – Occupy Chicago activists are looking for help finding fellow demonstrators find a place to stay during the NATO summit, so they’re asking Chicagoans to let them occupy their houses, apartments, back yards, or churches.

Kyle, a housing staffer with Occupy Chicago, said the group is receiving notice from Occupy supporters around the nation who need a place to stay next week through the end of the Summit.

“National Nurses United is sending in 800 people in buses that they’re paying for,” he said. “So that right there is 800. We also have contacts with various occupations saying, ‘Oh, hey, we’re sending up 100 people to you, we’re sending 50 people to you.”

Kyle said Occupy Chicago is seeking space for 2,000 protestors, and says they’ll even accept space donations from Republicans or political conservatives, just so the protestors can avoid sleeping in parks, and avoid being arrested by police.

Occupy Chicago volunteer Terrence Keenan said just about any space will do.

“Back yards, or anything. People taking people into their houses,” he said. “Any commercial space that would be available for hundreds of people, any sort of warehouse space or anything for camping, because I understand the weather’s gonna be rainy this weekend.”

Keenan said he’s opening his two-flat  in Lincoln Square for protesters coming to Chicago.

“We’re having people come out from Buffalo … pretty much any major city is sending out groups of people,” he said. “We’ll also have smaller cities as well, even ones like Mizzoula, Montana.”

Keenan’s neighbors in Lincoln Square seem to have few concerns.

“I hope it doesn’t last all through the night because we have to get to work in the morning, but I’m sure everything will be just fine,” Patrick Fernando says.

One restaurant owner who lives in the neighborhood even suggested it might be good for business.

Occupy Chicago is hosting about 2,000 protestors. The group says it needs free housing for 75 percent of them.

Kyle said Occupy Chicago will supervise anyone who hosts occupy visitors, to ensure orderly behavior. He said Occupy Chicago has four hard and fast ground rules:

1. Leave no trace of your visit. Pickup any and all litter
2. Respect the host.
3. No drugs or alcohol at the site.
4. Low noise levels.

Kyle says Occupy particularly wants larger spaces, like churches or industrial spaces.

Those interested can email OccupyChiHousing@gmail.com or call            (773)536-9634

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/05/07/occupy-movement-protesters-looking-for-a-place-to-stay-during-nato/

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Walking Blog | Leave a comment

NATO Teach-in on UStream

NATO Teach-in on UStream

Watch your walkers participate in a press tactics teach-in with Rachel at Occupy Chicago. Recorded live.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/occupywalkusa

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time out for the NATO summit!

Time out for the NATO summit!

Hello everyone, Occupy Walk USA has taken a break from walking for a moment, rest assured we will be right back at the walk as soon as we return from Chicago for the Nato Summit. The Occupy Walk USA team unanimously voted to going. We feel it is our responsibility to get to Chitown and make sure that all the peoples voices are heard at NATO and not just the corporate voices as they wage a class war upon the rest of us.

Occupy Walk will be there for the entire event and everyone here will be able to keep up with what is happening — the mass media will no doubt give the Occupy Protest a 2 sentence coverage of the event.

We will keep you all updated and as stated above we will back on the walk by May 24th from the exact spot where we hit the pause button.

Smile we love you all.

May 7, 2012 Posted by | This is why we walk, Walking Blog | 2 Comments

Noam Chomsky on America’s Economic Suicide | | AlterNet

Noam Chomsky on America’s Economic Suicide | | AlterNet.

May 5, 2012 Posted by | This is why we walk, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Occupy Walk USA

Occupy Walk USA

May 4, 2012 Posted by | Walking Blog | 1 Comment