Hi, Sallie Mae!

I see you are visiting my page, and you're taking a look at Occupy Sallie Mae. Yup. That's what we have up our sleeve! Are you ready for some really, really amplified and bad PR against your usurious practices?!? I am, and I'll be coming with a legion of protesters! Stay tuned.


Happy Birthday, AEM!!!!

AEM has just turned 1 - isn't that great! We've accomplished a lot in just one year, so think about what we'll accomplish in the next 12 months. Things just continue to get busier and busier for this small, but strong non-profit.

I have asked 27 people to pledge money to support the one-year anniversary. I just need 23 more people to chip-in. The last person sent $27. Thanks to all of you who have donated, and who continue to support an organization that visits D.C. on a regular basis. I'll be heading to that cesspool next week - can't wait! Used to live there, and miss it a great deal.

Student Loan Forgiveness Needs To Happen Now, And We Also Need To Use New Language To Wage Our Battle

Despite was others say about student loan forgiveness, it is not provocative at all. Claiming that sort of thing actually serves to hurt the measure. When it comes to economists who know what they are talking about, it's hardly brash or crazy or provocative or whatever. It makes a lot of sense, and I'll defer to the experts in this case.

Given the momentum of Occupy, and the fact that outstanding student loan debt is nearing $1 trillion, at this juncture a debt jubilee (across the board) makes perfect sense. As mentioned earlier, in "Endgame: When Debt is Fraud, Debt Forgiveness is the Last and Only Remedy," Zeus Yiamouyiannis makes reasonable arguments for why debt forgiveness is absolutely necessary.

After listening to the press conference call and reporting about the administration's measures to supposedly help bring relief to borrowers, I was - as an activist - very disappointed. These proposals are simply not enough to help the millions and millions and millions of borrowers who are struggling to make ends meet. Think about the co-signers on loans, and how the administration has also flatly refused at this point to help defaulters. They are leaving out scores of people who need help now.

The whole system is out of whack, and those who make money off the backs of students need to be put out of business. End of story. They need to be put out of business, the government needs to stop cashing in as well, and a debt jubilee needs to be implemented. It's time to stop bleeding average Americans, and this is a bold way to ensure that hemorrhaging will stop. We live in extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. Band-aid policies do no good when slapped on tumorous issues.

Debt jubilee now! Debt jubilee now! This is not dramatic - this makes sense.

That means we need to shift our language about this issue, too. When you throw out the term loan forgiveness, many people balk and idiotic right-wing pundits go haywire, and start frothing at the mouth. As Ann Pettifor, the founder co-founder of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, has made clear: we should not use the term "loan forgiveness." It automatically suggests that the person who is a debtor has committed a sin - this is the wrong language, and a campaign built on it will spark divisive views. When speaking, on the other hand, of the need for a debt jubilee, we can talk about the relationship that both parties entered together. We all know the system is rigged to benefit the loan sharks. After all, they help write all the laws that put the borrower at an extreme disadvantage. So, everything is on the books and against those of us who seek loans. They have enormous power over borrowers. It is off balance, and that is why we need a damned debt jubilee. This is the new language we shall use. We already have people on the streets, and people fighting with the pen as a sword - these are potent weapons, and they will serve to crush this usurious system.

I stand firmly with the folks calling for a Jubilee. I'll close with a fantastic Biblical passage that they discuss on their About page:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord … is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those that are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. – Isaiah 61

Police State: Occupy Oakland Turns Dramatically Violent

Occupy Oakland has been under siege for several hours this evening - tear gas (at least 6 rounds now), rubber bullets, and flash hand grenades have been used in extreme ways. The first siege actually began around 4:30 AM PST when riot police raided the camp. Apparently, our constitutional right to peacefully assemble no longer exists, at least not in Oakland.

Here's a very disturbing testimonial from a young man, who is visibly shaken. He talks about the crowd being tear-gassed this evening, and a woman being knocked unconscious.

The man says, "The police opened fired with tear gas and rubber bullets on the crowd, and flash hand grenades. One woman fell to the ground. She was lying there unconscious, bleeding. And a bunch of us ran back to try and get her, and when we ran back, the police opened fire, like on a second round, hitting me, and I watched her - she's already on the ground bleeding - I watched a flash hand grenade land right next to her head and explode right in her face."

Here's a picture of another young man who was hit in the head with a rubber bullet. If that thing had hit his eye, he probably would have lost it.

Oh, well, so much for constitutional rights for the 99%. Welcome to the authoritarian state. It infuriates me to Look at these young men, and their sad, shaken faces. They DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS. And meanwhile the clowns on Wall Street continue to benefit from starving the rest of us, and stealing our future. Basta! Basta!

One protester injured. Rubber bullet to the head.

Source: Tweet by @OccupyOakland

Oh, and here's what a "harmless" rubber bullet looks like:

Here's what it looks like when things turn really ugly. Let's compare a massacre in 1970 to images today . . .

Kent State

Occupy Oakland


Kent State . . . Hmmm . . . does the language sound familiar? "Bums" were killed? 

And in this lovely video, the sheriff tells them if they do not leave, that "chemical agents" will be used. He also states in Orwellian terms that it is now an "unlawful assembly." Uh . . . ACCORDING TO WHOM!?!? Watch to the end, when the police knock a protester to the ground. People scramble to help the person out - it appears she has been knocked unconscious - only to be struck by more flash hand grenades. The young protesters are screaming at the police to stop attacking them, but to no avail.

Obama Announces Executive Action to Help Student Loan Borrowers

I was on a conference call today with the White House to discuss President Obama's plan to help student loan borrowers. The piece can be read here.

"We Can't Wait" Speech by President Obama - This Wed. in Denver, CO

President Obama will be giving a speech entitled, "We Can't Wait," this coming Wed. in Denver, CO. In this speech he'll tell the American people that he's going to bypass Congress. Moreover, I've learned that he will be announcing executive action that will help people struggling with federal student loans and those who have lost their homes through foreclosures. Let's hope it has meat, and that the solutions he offers can be applied to private student loan debt as well.