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Taibbi writes: "For those saying that Occupy Wall Street hasn't had a concrete effect, take a look at this. It's not much, but it's a little something. The leaders of the House Financial Services Committee announced yesterday that they will be holding hearings on the SEC's practice of concluding settlements with Wall Street defendants without forcing the accused to admit to wrongdoing."

Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Occupy Wall Street's Political Impact

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

20 December 11


Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns


or those saying that Occupy Wall Street hasn't had a concrete effect, take a look at this. It's not much, but it's a little something. The leaders of the House Financial Services Committee announced yesterday that they will be holding hearings on the SEC's practice of concluding settlements with Wall Street defendants without forcing the accused to admit to wrongdoing.

This whole thing seems to be the creature of ranking Republican Spencer Bachus. From his site:

"The SEC's practice of using 'no-contest settlements' has raised concerns about accountability and transparency, and I'm pleased the Committee will examine these concerns in a bipartisan manner," said Chairman Bachus.

If they actually do something about this, then it'll be time to give them a pat on the back. But in the meantime, we can expect to see a lot of things like this in an election year marked by an absence of a real galvanizing message coming from either party. With OWS and populist anger generally filling that messaging void, there are going to be a lot of politicians who will look to capitalize by doing things like, for instance, beating up on the SEC in a few days of well-publicized but ineffectual hearings.

Spencer Bachus to positioning himself as a champion of Wall Steeet reform is, of course, hilarious. Not only was he one of the leaders of the opposition to even the very mild Dodd-Frank reform, he went out of his way to stall changes to the rules governing derivative trades that would have prevented abuses like JP Morgan Chase's rape of Jefferson County, Alabama. This was particularly egregious because Bachus, who was the House's third-biggest recipient of Wall Street money and a heavy beneficiary of donations from Chase, happened to be Jefferson County's congressman.

So this guy is no enemy of the banks. What yesterday's move does show, however, is that politicians are listening to the specific complaints of OWS. A year ago, we would never have even seen hearings like this coming from the likes of Bachus and Barney Frank, who also supported them move. But now, everybody is trying to find a way to ride the wave. It's too early to celebrate any of this, but it can't be a bad thing. your social media marketing partner


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+65 # AndreM5 2011-12-20 15:02
I think it was Bachus who unabashedly stated that it was the business of government to "serve the banks."

He appears to be a corrupt tool of the highest order.
-22 # AndreM5 2011-12-20 15:07
+37 # John Locke 2011-12-20 17:31
This play is based on the Federal Judge who refused the latest SEC Settlement proposal and is requiring the SEC to make this very change.
+31 # pgobrien 2011-12-20 15:09
One wonders if indeed the battle is not yet lost. One fears that the monied class already owns so much of everything -- including the means of communication and possibly soon the very Internet -- that resistance is futile. One is fearful, yes.
+50 # Jim Rocket 2011-12-20 16:36
We didn't start with a perfect democracy that devolved to what we have now. We started with kings and nobles who were basically the biggest gangsters and their henchmen. It took hundreds of years to get the fairness that seems to have peaked about 1975. In short, resistance is NEVER futile. We have to realize that we're playing a long game.
+85 # Billy Bob 2011-12-20 15:28
If you really want to discuss whether or not OWS is having a political impact, let's have this same discussion again in 5 years. This is a movement, not a fad.

The teaparty is the last attempt of Milton Friedman's zombie corpse to seek revenge on all humanity for the Renaissance.

OWS, on the other hand, is more like the civil rights movement. Things are going to change or this movement is going to grow in proportions and expand its influence.
+40 # reiverpacific 2011-12-20 16:03
So what of the people and families who have lost their homes, workers who have lost their 401K's, pensions or life savings and small businesses who have been floored by the bastards in some cases all of the above?
Isn't THAT the point?
"They" should dispossessed of all holdings (to be paid back to the hurting many), be driven to the pillories through the streets and left there "for daws to peck upon", over the holiday season, including the politicians and lobbyists bought and paid for by them, who in turn should be made to wear hair shirts with the logos of their owners year-round before being hounded from their smug seats of government prior to being deported to an off-shore island with a nasty climate, no golf-courses, hostile inhabitants and made to survive at the pleasure of the islanders!
+16 # pgobrien 2011-12-20 17:46
Somebody is really angry ...
+19 # X Dane 2011-12-20 22:07
With VERY good reason
+7 # Lolanne 2011-12-21 17:44
Amen to that!
+38 # George Kennedy 2011-12-20 16:42
Billy Bob, you're right on the money. OWS is a movement and like the Civil Rights Movement, it doesn't go away. It grows, it is infectious because its time has come. The 1 percent might want to appear impervious to its impact but they are due a day of reckoning - and it's coming. The key is to be persistent, organized, and keep their eye on the prize: CHANGE!
+9 # Billy Bob 2011-12-21 07:16
Thank you.
+46 # GaryE 2011-12-20 16:56
We saw a segment on 60 minutes about foreclosed homes in Cleveland being torn down on the city's dime because the banks walked away from these homes just as the families had before them. Why shift the cost to the public treasury? Banks should be required to pay this cost! Furthermore, many of these homes were in good condition before the scavengers went to work on them. But the real tragedy is the failure of capitalism. Wisdom would be renting these homes out to families that need housing but cannot afford to buy homes.
+24 # X Dane 2011-12-20 22:17
My thoughts too Gary. People should be allowed to rent the houses, preferably the former owners, so whrn times get better, they may be able to buy their home back, if they chose. It must be awful too for the people on the streets, where so many hauses have been demolished
+15 # RLF 2011-12-21 07:29
If the banks abandoned these homes...they should be given to their former owners to get them back on the tax rolls...whether the bankers like it or not. Renting is what the 1% does to the reason for the government to hold on to this property.
+38 # RMDC 2011-12-20 17:28
Maybe a more important effect of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the provision in the National Defense Authorization Act which allows the military to arrest and detain American citizens without charge, without trial and without habeas corpus. The Pentagon can ship anyone it considers a "terrorist" like OWS has already been called to torture camps at Guantanamo or anywhere in the world.

Bacchus only said the committee would "examine" the concerns. That generally means congress will build a fire-wall of protection for the banks and then come down hard on whistle blowers, protesters, and bank critics.

Welcome to Gulag Amerikkka.
+15 # pgobrien 2011-12-20 17:47
That's pretty scary, and looking less and less outrageous by the day. What is the solution?
+7 # RLF 2011-12-21 07:30
Hanging the 1% from the lamp posts with all of their progeny!
+30 # CL38 2011-12-20 17:36
The right, in essence has said to the 99%, "Let Them Eat Cake". Newt - the history 'professor' and others on the right would do well to remember what happened to the French 'aristocracy'.
+18 # jon 2011-12-20 22:08
The major difference between now, and the French Revolution, is that the French Aristocracy did not have a Rupert Murdoch and Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc.

It is going to be difficult to overcome thirty years of systematic fascist propaganda.

We need to get the money out of elections and restore the fairness in broadcasting act. Until those two things happen, it is going to be increasing oppression.
+7 # Erdajean 2011-12-21 09:55
It happened a lot more recently to Mussolini and Clara, Hitler and Eva, and more recently still in Romania -- when good, civilized people just had more than they could endure.
We should be getting to that point, right about now --
It would go a long way if the clean-up campaign started with Bush, Cheney and their cheering squad. Of course our tax dollars go to protect them from all harm.
+14 # sheila Cee 2011-12-20 21:42
All the banksters and those who have and still are screwing the 99%ers should have to make restitution to them. BEcause of their illegal activities millions of people lost their homes, pensions, etc which should be returned to their rightful owners with the cost of doing so falling on those who committed the fraudulent acts that harmed so many people. Then these thieves should be sent to prison to rot.

Whistle-blowers who expose the crimes of these people in power should be rewarded, not persecuted.

As far as the National Defense Authorization Act is concerned, its provisions look like the end of freedom in this country and finalization of the dictatorship that G.W.Bush longed for, complete with its gestapo (our newly militarized police forces).

Please tell me......Where are those aliens who were supposed to save us when we came close to destroying ourselves?
+18 # ruttaro 2011-12-20 21:53
The logic that under-grids unionism is that action taken collectively has more power than if taken by an individual. Although the OWS has done much to focus our attention on gross inequalities that exist in society, how the wealthiest 1% are grinding the rest of us under their heels and the real threat to our democracy, I fear that the OWS will be inexorably marginalized. This is no criticism of the occupiers but of the rest of us who write our long responses to these articles and each other. We need to do more. The structures of power have not been effectively challenged. This is our task. For months I have advocated for all of us to put pen to paper (forgive the old-fashioned approach)and demand that our Congress reps and Senators either support a Constitutional Amendment that makes all elections to federal office publicly funded or they do not get our votes. I have done this! If we unite like a union of voters imagine what 99% could do!! -- and demand this we will shatter the rotten foundations that corrupted our republic and incarcerated our democracy. Take money out of politics and the fresh winds of real representative democracy will flush the stench out of the Washington. The moneyed interests tremble at the possibility! Do this and our politics will be invigorated with the power of ideas and the strength of organized citizens ensuring that government of, for and by the people does not perish. We owe this to the occupiers, the conscience of the 99%.
+8 # fernly2 2011-12-21 06:08
Bachus was one of the Wall St insider traders mentioned on web page while his criticism of Angelides conclusions in the FCIC report guarantee that he will do any thing to block the Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011, HR 1489. He is a cold blooded specimen that deserves to live in a zoo. The voters of Jefferson County must vote him out.
+7 # mwd870 2011-12-21 06:57
"The SEC's practice of using 'no-contest settlements' has raised concerns about accountability and transparency, and I'm pleased the Committee will examine these concerns in a bipartisan manner," said Chairman Bachus.

OWS should get credit for this small victory. Politically expedient or not, we now have the words of Chairman Bachus in writing.

I'm not sure why anyone would think OWS has not had a concrete effect. They woke half the nation from a stupor-like acceptance of the economic inequalities in our country, caused in large part by corrupt Wall Street practices.

More people signed on to support Dylan Ratigan and friends, the first to advocate ending the influence of money in of politics. A few lawmakers have recently taken up the cause.

I'd like to think the spirit of OWS is alive and well. More to come.
+2 # wleming 2011-12-21 15:32
matt and a few others remain to tell the tale, stewart-- and colbert: satire, the final educative mode that has not been banned. but for the doc. film and satire-- theres nothing critical left.... its all over.. the newspapers but tearsheets for the reaction.... occupy wall street is the final attempt at restoring intelligence... the dummy down for now marches on.....
+1 # boudreaux 2011-12-23 08:52
My thoughts are that when a house looses value then the pmts should go down to that value too making it easier for those who are fighting so hard to keep their homes. If the value goes down then so should their pmts to the banks, I may be crazy for thinking they could do this but it just seems fair to me.....
+1 # Joan Manning 2011-12-23 11:41
I think it's a mistake for the OWS not to have spokespersons and a national organization. Right now it's easy for the 1% and their media to pretend the OWS are terrorists, hippies. commies, or whatever. Politicians will continue to pretend they don't understand what the demonstrators want.

Remember the Civil Rights movement had the NAACP, MLK, and several other prominent figures. The women's movement had Gloria Steinem, The National Organization for Women, and Betty Friedan's book "The Feminine Mystique."

It's not enough that most of us know what the OWS is saying. What's necessary is to focus the message so sharply on the 1% that they can't deny it. That requires at least a few articulate leaders, an organization, and a publication (a website won't do). If they don't act - and quickly - ways will be found to silence them permanently.
+1 # jky1291 2011-12-24 23:46
Van Jones of the American Dream Movement and many others eloquently expound the goals of the Occupy Movement in the Contract for the American Dream. In fighting the most corrupt and powerful forces the world has ever seen, it is necessary to adopt a limited laser focus on the essential issues required to advance progressive improvements in our political and economic systems upon which everyone agrees, uniting a majority needed to achieve those goals, rather than diminishing support necessary to achieve any progress with a laundry list of issues that generate controversy. The Contract for the American Dream developed last summer by grassroots participation would serve as an excellent guide for future activities to build the momentum needed to overcome the inordinate influence of the wealthy, special interests, and multinational corporations. It is essential that a candidate that genuinely supports and will fight for the fundamental issues presented in the Contract for the American Dream is identified, recruited, and elected as an Independent 3rd party President to wrestle our country out of the death grip of the multinational corporations.

If one only votes for the lesser of 2 evils the result still cannot be acceptable. If President Obama wished to run in 2016, I would wish him well, hoping he had learned what is required to truly represent all of the citizens of this nation, not just the wealthy 2%.

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