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Occupy Wall Street 
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Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
johnny larue wrote:
OK...when you phrase it like that ("entire generation"), you make it sound like NO ONE who is graduating is finding a job, and that is not the case. I believe I saw a stat that the overall unemployment for those with college degrees is closer to 4.5% than the 9% aggregate.

I can't speak to your situation; I don't know if your degree is in Nuclear Physics or Theory of Dance. When I left college 20 years ago, I entered into what was termed "one of the most difficult job markets for new grads ever" (do they say this every year?). My degree was in IT. I interviewed with several companies as part of on campus interviews and a few off campus. (A local bar would give you a free beer for every job rejection letter you brought in from April to June.) I received a total of 1 offer very late in the process and it was 50 miles away from where I currently live and I didn't want to relocate. So I took it and I commuted 50 miles each way. I had that job for 15 years before I eventually located a better job closer to home.

Now I'm not saying that the market in 1991 was the same as it was in 2011; it wasn't. This is much worse. But just because you got the diploma doesn't mean you gotta stop working at it. You ARE working at it? Well then work harder at it. Think outside the box. You willing to move or drive a long distance?

I don't mean to come off as an asshole, but you put in the long hours getting that degree, I don't like to hear it's going to waste. There's no guarantees in life. I have someone very close to me who achieved his bachelor's degree 10+ years ago but has been able to do nothing with it since. He doesn't bitch and he doesn't complain and he doesn't "march on Wall Street" or otherwise blame somebody else for his problems; he continues to plunk along and do the best he can with his otherwise limited job skills. And at the end of the day, he is still pretty much happy with what he DOES have.

Sorry...but life tends to reward the do'ers, not the complainers; that's just the way it is.


It's stuff like this that really makes me flip my shit, because I've been told this or a variant of it for the past ten years (the degree I just got is actually my second). Where have I applied for work? Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, New York, Georgia, Washington DC...and that's in about the past year or so.

I need to work harder, I've been told. Well, I get up and go to work every day, and I make instruments of death that are used to kill people and animals every day throughout the world. I'm not proud of what I do. It's blood money and I know it, but it's either take the money or I starve. That's a lot to weigh on a man's conscience, you know; the knowledge that something you built has led to someone's death. Like I said, I'm not proud. In fact, I'm goddamned ashamed. But it's all I've got.

Finally, a few words about Wall Street. I pay my bills. I don't spend more money than what I've got. Which is to say that I have always taken personal responsibility for my own finances. The Wall Street banks obviously didn't, and they bought off the government to bail them out. Billionaires have been paid ridiculous bonuses and salaries even though they scammed their customers, laid off their employees, ran their companies into the ground, and crippled the economy. Frankly, I think that myself and others have earned our right to complain.

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Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:37 am
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Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
I've been unemployed for a couple of long stretches since graduating nearly 30 years ago. But even with having watched all of my savings disappear twice, and moving to and living in areas that were and are not my near my top choices, I still can't understand what the movement is trying to accomplish. Corporate excess is bad, but shacking up on the street isn't going to change it. Stopping the bailouts and government corruption that fuels the corruption might, and that is something the people can control. Investors won't be nearly as willing to go with corporate high rollers when there is a great chance they'll lose everything. I'll be voting for people that want to reduce the size of goverment and eliminate the corporate insurance fall backs. Too little government and the corporations have too much control of our lives. Too much government and it becomes corrupted and has too much control of our lives. I'm convinced we are much closer to too much government regulation than we are not enough. I'll take my protest to the voting booth. The tea party folks took out a few of the establishment republicans, now maybe the occupy folks can do likewise and take out a few establishment democrats.


Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:29 pm
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Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
From the Frank Miller blog entry blasting OWS:
Frank Miller wrote:
The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached - is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.


Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:10 pm
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
johnny larue wrote:
From the Frank Miller blog entry blasting OWS:
Frank Miller wrote:
The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached - is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.

This just proves that Miller is a total dumbfuck, anoyne who calls Occupy a pack of "thieves" and "rapists" is either not paying attention or has severe brain damage :roll:


Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:23 pm
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
That's a wonderfully insane rant though. God damn, maybe I do need to read All Star Batman. I don’t think I could sit through The Spirit though.


Sun Nov 13, 2011 11:13 pm
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
AJR wrote:
That's a wonderfully insane rant though. God damn, maybe I do need to read All Star Batman. I don’t think I could sit through The Spirit though.

Yeah, The Spirit pretty much singlehandedly proves that Miller is a far better writer then director, there's nothing at all special about that film, even Sam Jackson as The Octopus couldn't make that film interesting.


Sun Nov 13, 2011 11:41 pm
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
Frank Miller also wrote the screenplay for The Spirit. No, I definitely wouldn’t be going into All Star Batman expecting quality, not from the kind of reception it received.

He was a great writer a few decades back.


Sun Nov 13, 2011 11:51 pm
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Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
All-Star Batman and Robin is the Plan 9 from Outer Space of comics. It's extremely entertaining, but for all the wrong reasons. Just don't spend any money to read it. I don't want to encourage the psychopath.

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Sun Nov 13, 2011 11:55 pm
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Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
It's strange to think that the person who wrote that blog post is the same person who, way back when, wrote this excellent scene in which Batman confronts a gathering of Gotham's wealthiest, most influential citizens.

Perhaps only superheroes get to decide when the criminals of the upper crust have done enough damage.


Mon Nov 14, 2011 2:41 am
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
johnny larue wrote:
ed_metal_head wrote:
The thing that really surprised me is just how in debt your college students are. I knew that a degree was pricey, but these kinds of figures are ridiculous. The government pays for a first degree here. If memory serves right, Germany has very little/no fees for its nationals too. Why is college so expensive?


Does everyone go to college then, or are they very selective about who "can" go? I would think laws of supply and demand would keep many people out.


Not really. Passing grades are sufficient to get into certain programmes. Obviously, that's not the case for Engineering or Medicine but I suspect those programmes are very selective at every institution of higher learning.

Again, Germany is a good example. I knew that most didn't charge any fees whatsoever but heard that it recently changed. Still, their students have a really sweet deal:

Quote:
Most colleges are state-funded. In 2010, five of the 16 states of Germany charged tuition fees at state-funded colleges, while in 11 states tuition was provided free of charge. There are no university-sponsored scholarships in Germany, but a number of private and public institutions award scholarships, usually to cover living costs and books. Moreover, there is a law which ensures that needy people can get up to 650€ per month for 4–5 years if they or their parents cannot afford all the costs involved with studying. Part (typically half) of this money is an interest-free loan which has to be repaid. Many universities planning to introduce tuition fees have announced their intention to use part of the refunded money to create scholarship programmes, although the exact details are mostly vague.


I've heard some folks say that the problems in the US are a result of the large loans that students can get. Do you folks think that a loan cap would essentially force universities to lower their tuition rates?

Shade wrote:
So why are 22 year-olds graduating with $50k in debt? Simple: they try to move up a group in quality of school without putting in the work. The good-to-great schools make their money from kids willing to pay their whole way. The other reason (and I'm thinking this is a very American thing) is that kids getting out of high school get set on a certain school or part of the country or desire to move away from home, and pay attention to all of those things rather than the reality that they don't know what they want to do. So a kid from North Carolina falls in love with Columbia and starts into debt he'll be paying off in his 70s. Or a girl from Illinois, with an offer from U of I, chooses to attend UCLA instead because it's more glamorous, and ends up getting the same quality of education for 1,000x the price.

All of this doesn't even mention community colleges that are virtually free and offer quality early-level education anyway.

Of course, there are exceptions, and some kids do get screwed by the system. But the majority of those in major debt are there because they put themselves there willingly rather than take a cheaper option.


I hear you, buddy, but at the same time I can understand those folks a little. A UCLA degree might teach the same material, but employers might be more likely to hire you (especially for higher paying jobs). In the end, I think it's about people trying their best to elevate themselves a little. Some of them don't have the means (either the intelligence or the money) to do so but the system allows them to try anyway. It's like that whole sub-prime debt thing, right? Most of those people could not afford houses. They wanted a house though (who doesn't want to own a house?) The banks gave them loans. Tough to give too much blame to the people.


Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:29 pm
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
ed_metal_head wrote:
I hear you, buddy, but at the same time I can understand those folks a little. A UCLA degree might teach the same material, but employers might be more likely to hire you (especially for higher paying jobs). In the end, I think it's about people trying their best to elevate themselves a little. Some of them don't have the means (either the intelligence or the money) to do so but the system allows them to try anyway. It's like that whole sub-prime debt thing, right? Most of those people could not afford houses. They wanted a house though (who doesn't want to own a house?) The banks gave them loans. Tough to give too much blame to the people.


I don't disagree with you, although I do think the housing and college issues are very different.

And you're not wrong at all about the likelihood of a good job thing being based on University sometimes. Perhaps I came down too hard on some people in my last post, my point is not that there's no good reason to go into debt, just that some don't think about it in the right ways.


Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:32 pm
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
There is apparently a surprise raid going on with the OWS camp right now. Reporters are pretty much banned from recording the event I hear.

Honestly, of this entire movement, the police crackdown worries me the most so far.


Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:17 am
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
ed_metal_head wrote:
I hear you, buddy, but at the same time I can understand those folks a little. A UCLA degree might teach the same material, but employers might be more likely to hire you (especially for higher paying jobs). In the end, I think it's about people trying their best to elevate themselves a little.


At my previous job I was hired out of a local state university as a mid-level analyst. Two years after I was hired, they hired a guy at the same position who had a degree from M.I.T. Hmmm...seems I got the better return on my tuition investment. (On the other side, I knew a programmer who only had a 2 year associates degree who stayed with the company for a couple of years and then went into business for himself as an independent consultant. Makes more money in 6 months than I make in a year. But at his current job on the east coast he's gotta be on location 1000 miles away from his family M-F and he has to fully fund his own "benefits".) A college degree is only as good as what you make of it.

ed_metal_head wrote:
It's like that whole sub-prime debt thing, right? Most of those people could not afford houses. They wanted a house though (who doesn't want to own a house?) The banks gave them loans. Tough to give too much blame to the people.


I had another friend who was a mortgage loan officer and he wrote about his views on the sub-prime mess from the "front lines". His take was that you had the the loan officers who were handed down these loosened credit restrictions on loans. Then you had people coming in who were high risk, but a) you had these loose credit restrictions and b) if they were a minority, you had this fear that if you declined them you were opening your company up to a discrimination lawsuit, so people got approved on the thinnest of margins. Not going to comment on how those high risk loans were later bundled into derivative instruments and re-sold, but I can certainly see how the institutions on the front lines were somewhat cornered.


Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:06 am
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
It's a bit off topic (Most of OWS is complaining about people making too much money; if the economy were better, however, and unemployment were lower, would they still be complaining about CEO pay?) but here is what my friend wrote:

[Part 1]

Johnny's Friend wrote:
I think it’s fair to assume that the mortgage implosion was ground zero for the present economic mess. Why? How? Well, its pretty simple. There was a loosening of lending standards that allowed for people who should not have been eligible for home loans to get them--and the standards applied to credit history (scores) and to capacity to pay (debt ratios)...and later it also allowed for limited (stated) or no-documentation loans that were only based on credit scores alone. "Traditional" common-sense lending effectively ended with legislation called the Community Reinvestment Act.

The CRA (Community Reinvestment Acts)--which was initiated under the Carter administration, was significantly revised by looser regulatory changes in 1995 by the newly elected Clinton administration. As such the CRA essentially gained the teeth which legally forced lenders to lend to people who would otherwise be rejected as bad credit risks. Fannie/Freddie adapted guidelines to bring ‘affordable’ housing to the masses. Programs like “Flex 100” and even more so, “My Community” were implemented...and were directly aimed at urban and minority borrowers. They allowed for 100% financing on homes with credit scores as low as 540, and debt ratios as high as 66%! (To put a perspective on this, at a 66% DTI Ratio, a person has almost no disposable income left for paying for groceries, utilities, child-care, gasoline, bus-fare, cell phone or any other day-to-day expenses. Unless there is income that cannot be counted in the underwriting process, it is nearly impossible to cover all expenses at this level of debt load...yet according the the automated FannieMae underwriting engine (DO/DU), this was an acceptable level and therefore would award and 'approve/eligible' decision to most files with a sufficiently high credit score).

In 1997, the first pool of subprime mortgages was securitized (by none other than Bear Stearns). And the genie was out of the bottle...almost 3 years before W was elected. Bush—who many like to conveniently blame for this mess--actually tried to incorporate additional governmental regulation of the mortgage industry already in 2003 (right in the middle of the huge refinance boom when conforming fixed rates dipped into the 4's and low 5's--ARMS were even lower), This change was to move governmental supervision of two of the primary agents guaranteeing subprime loans, Fannie and Freddie, under a new agency created within the Dept of the Treasury. However, it did not alter the implicit guarantee that Washington will bail Fannie/Freddie out if they run into financial difficulty; it is that perception enabled F/F to issue debt at significantly lower rates than their competitors (the so-called subprime lenders like Argent, Option One, New Century etc.). These proposed changes were generally opposed along Party lines, with some moderate Republicans siding with the Democrats, and eventually failed to happen. Why? The perception was “there is no problem”…why fix what is not broken?

Directly from the 9/11/2003 NYT article: "The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt — is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates."

What did happen was this: “These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. “The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.” (New York Times, September 11, 2003). Additionally, there were numerous instances of Republicans, now into 2004, looking to (further) regulate Fannie and Freddie...and the word from a very key player, Franklin Raines was that the assets in Fannie’s portfolio were "riskless". In my opinion, this was a very, very critical statement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN31-nKndg8

(...and please, no crap for this being right-wing "propaganda"...it took me all of about 1 minute to find a video with Raines' comments, there are others. Point is he, just like Barney Frank, was WRONG...and if correlations are taken to their end, Fannie's number-1 recipient of lobby funds was Chris Dodd, and number-2 was now-President Obama).

So again, the deregulation that put the teeth into the CRA occurred during the Clinton White House. That is 100% fact; Carter’s legislation was rhetoric. The Clinton CRA revisions let the genie out of the bottle with respect to allowing securitizing and bundling these mortgages to the secondary market. Once the genie was out, and with money was being made hand-over-fist at Fannie and Freddie--there was no putting the genie back in. And, of course, the strong F/F lobby made sure of that.


Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:27 am
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
[Part 2]

Johnny's Friend wrote:
This is important: Freddie/Fannie were the instrument by which CRA was implemented. Without them buying up and bundling the risky mortgages, none of this would have been possible. They made it possible for banks and mortgage companies to make loans that were simultaneously risky *and* low interest. Freddie and Fannie bought this paper and then bundled and sold those mortgages for full price as if they were not risky. The entire market proceeded as if this were true--this is how we ended up with paper that had no (bank) money backing it.

The other fact is that, with the exception of bankruptcy and foreclosure seasoning, Fannie and Freddie actually took lower FICO scores and higher DTI ratios for it's borrowers than did any of the so-called 'subprime' lenders like Option One, New Century, Argent etc. The Fannie and Freddie guidelines were far more reckless than the "subprime" lenders guidelines--IMO--and it’s my job to know the guidelines (I am a mortgage loan officer).

Now please recall that "riskless" quote by Raines. If leaders at Fannie/Freddie said that their loans were 'riskless', and yet wrote to a looser guideline than did the 'subprime lenders'...then those 'subprime' loans, at least in the eyes of the investment community, *must* be something less than risckless--they were underwritten to DTIs that were in some cases 10-15%--even 20% lower, and credit scores that were 40-50 points higher as their floors. To the investor, that doesn't sound bad, now does it? People like Raines, who recently had the likes of Obama in his back pocket, misled everyone as to the risk.

Now please don't go and blame "the people" either. "People" took the risky loans because they could, …because the loans were available to them...pretty simple. When a guy like me says that “based on your credit and income criteria--you qualify"…even if the criteria is ****ty, means that the problem lies with the loose criteria (remember the CRA’s?), not with 'the people'. If I turn a substandard borrower away because I feel they are not worthy, even though "they qualify"---who's gonna stop the guy at the next mortgage shop, or even bank, down the street? More so, who’s gonna protect me, the loan officer, if the would-be borrower comes back and says I discriminated against them?

The home price bubble deflation combined with the fact that many subprime loans were originated as 2 and 3 year ARMs that were set to adjust just as home prices fell in 5 key states was a big reason for the insuring chaos. Let’s talk about California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida and, for other reasons, Michigan. These are the five states that experienced a "pop" in their "housing bubble"...all before the rest of the country had any real problems.

Four of those five states (not MI) had experienced years of double-digit-per-year growth...there was a huge imbalance of supply and demand. Housing prices were stupidly high and increasing--and the only way for many people to afford a mortgage was to do ‘pick-a-pays’ (deferred interest) and interest-only loans...both of which are typically written as ARMs. When supply finally caught up, the rapid appreciation relaxed, leveled off and even fell in parts of these states...at about the same time that some of these ARMs came to adjust, some people with little or no equity on their homes defaulted on their loans. It was, in fact, the recipe for the perfect storm.

These were *mostly* loans written ‘on paper’ with no money behind them (they were generally not from banks, but from mortgage companies that securitized and bundled and then sold the loans as investments (called MBS's--bonds))…JUST LIKE THE "RISKLESS" PAPER OF FANNIE and FREDDIE. When the air started to come out of the bubble, mortgage companies could no longer sell their paper--investors had lost their appetite based on the increased defaults. Because the mortgage companies could not sell the paper, and because had no money of their own behind the paper (like a bank does), they started filing for BK11 one after another as their funding sources called their notes and lines-of-credit due. Even good sized banks, like IndyMac, were not immune. And it continues today.

When the bubble broke--largely because supply quickly overshot demand through new development/building, the media quickly ran with this and fanned the flames until the crisis spilled over, to greater or lesser degrees in the other 45 states. This caused a severe drop in new home sales and construction had a profound ripple effect throughout the entire economy...to where now it has reached the mortgage industry, where we have far fewer mortgage products to offer--even the most credit worthy borrowers.

And the downward spiral continues. Two things need to happen. Prices need to stabilize, and borrowing standards need to revert back to where buyers, especially first-time buyers have easy access to affordable, stable loan products.

The problem with the CRA’s was that there was no way to “lend to minorities” without collapsing the standards for the entire industry. This happened and pretty much everyone piled on to get at the free money. 10 years later, here we were. Give the market ****ty rules to follow and the market will produce ****ty results."



Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:29 am
Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
mailedbypostman wrote:
There is apparently a surprise raid going on with the OWS camp right now. Reporters are pretty much banned from recording the event I hear.

Honestly, of this entire movement, the police crackdown worries me the most so far.



I had wondered what the holdup was. As a bike-camper who has always searched for legitimate places to pitch my tent when travelling, I've encountered more NO-Camping signs in city parks than anywhere else. The occupiers have been camping for 2 months. Really?!
I don't know the specific rules/regs of the parks in which these folks are stating, but damn, 2 months... I know of no urban park that would permit that. These folks have likely been told to leave numerous times and probably been given written notice as well. -Those notices didn't get press.- Now they're being "forced" to leave and it's "oh, poor me" on the front page?! I'm rapidly losing interest in their "message".


Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:06 am
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Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
mailedbypostman wrote:
There is apparently a surprise raid going on with the OWS camp right now. Reporters are pretty much banned from recording the event I hear.

Honestly, of this entire movement, the police crackdown worries me the most so far.


I have no real respect for the NYPD. When you consider that at least a few times a year, they go off and shoot an unarmed person 32 times and get away with it...yeah, they can kiss my ass.

As for OWS, they need to reform and return. And if they get kicked out again, come back. And if they get kicked out again, come back again. Like Malcolm X said - get your voice heard by any means necessary.

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Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:47 pm
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Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
I have no real respect for the NYPD. When you consider that at least a few times a year, they go off and shoot an unarmed person 32 times and get away with it...yeah, they can kiss my ass.


I'm a native NYer (perhaps you are as well), and there are many, many reasons to dislike the NYPD, but using that level of hyperbole shouldn't be necessary.


Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:56 pm
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Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
Shade wrote:
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
I have no real respect for the NYPD. When you consider that at least a few times a year, they go off and shoot an unarmed person 32 times and get away with it...yeah, they can kiss my ass.


I'm a native NYer (perhaps you are as well), and there are many, many reasons to dislike the NYPD, but using that level of hyperbole shouldn't be necessary.


OK, maybe it isn't that often that they kill unarmed civilians, I'll give you that. But the amount of crap they pull and get away with is unacceptable in my opinion.

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Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:29 pm
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Post Re: Occupy Wall Street
When cops force the press out of a public location and use riot gear to disperse and arrest unarmed protestors under cover of media blackout, it ensures that the protest can no longer be dismissed from the national conversation.


Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:24 pm
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