As you may have heard, things turned contentious today with the Occupy Wall Street protests, as dozens were arrested in New York after protesters took to the streets in an effort to disrupt the typical symmetry of things in downtown Manhattan -- clashing with the NYPD in the process. I have the feeling that what happened today will either end the movement, which was/is more about the slow death of the American Dream and a rejection of what the U.S. has become than it was/is about banks, or fuel it to greater heights. Regardless of what happens, it does seem as though the two-month old movement has opened some eyes as to how f*cked this country is in many ways, as Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi notes in a post titled, "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests"...
“We’re all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. We see 10 million commercials a day, and every day is the same life-killing chase for money, money and more money; the only thing that changes from minute to minute is that every tick of the clock brings with it another space-age vendor dreaming up some new way to try to sell you something or reach into your pocket. The relentless sameness of the two-party political system is beginning to feel like a Jacob’s Ladder nightmare with no end; we’re entering another turn on the four-year merry-go-round, and the thought of having to try to get excited about yet another minor quadrennial shift in the direction of one or the other pole of alienating corporate full-of-shitness is enough to make anyone want to smash his own hand flat with a hammer.”
Financial writer Barry Ritholtz had some thoughtful words about it all as well...
In America, we are too busy dropping the kids off at soccer, running around looking for sales and bargains, racing to keep our heads above water. We seem to forget to get outraged. Our control over our once Democracy — the one we had a revolution against a monarchy dictating decisions from afar — slips away from us. Not with a bang, not even with a whimper, but with a 1000s acts of gradual ceding of power to the new Monarch. We have given up hard won rights to a coordinated attack from all three branches of government; Our Congress has become the legislative branch of eBay — Congressmen are auctioned off to the highest bidder; they even have a Buy It Now button to get specific legislation passed. The executive branch has fallen under the sunk cost fallacy, afraid to prosecute banks because we spent so many billions bailing them out. It turns out that even our once venerable Supreme Court is just as corrupted, with lobbyists partying with Justices and backdooring ethics by hiring their wives.
In short, our new overlords are enormously well funded, well connected, relentless and perhaps most of all, patient. This new King was not appointed by primogeniture, or even Divine Right, but by acquiring enough profits in the free market that they can buy control over society, even as they thwart that free market ideal for their own ends. We have become, in short, a Corporate Monarchy...The right question isn’t why am I angry, sad and outraged. The proper question is, why aren’t you?
I put together a gallery of pics from today's clash between protesters and cops after the jump.
Here's video from today set to Sinatra's "New York, New York."