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The Emperor Has No Clothes

Everyone that is familiar with Occupy Wall Street seems to have an opinion on what they need to do next. Not surprisingly, I have a few thoughts myself. But let me back up for a minute and reflect on my observations of what #ows has done so far.

Everyone agrees that #ows has succeeded in changing our national conversation. Before #ows, we had to endure daily conversations and maneuvering over debt reduction. An issue that exactly no one in America gives a shit about. We didn’t give a shit about the debt when George W Bush was exploding it, and we don’t give a shit about it now. Occupy moved the conversation back to what we do give a shit about; jobs. Actually, the conversation went far beyond jobs. Until #ows came along, I would have been downright orgasmic if we were merely talking about jobs. No, #ows took it s step further and got America talking about income inequality and the growing chasm between the rich and the middle class, let alone the poor.

That accomplishment alone was nothing short of a fucking miracle. But that wasn’t all they did. They inspired millions of people all  around the world to take to the streets and join them. How they did this is the key to my thoughts on the future of the movement. I was having a conversation with a fairly brilliant friend of mine (you know who you are) last week, who pointed out that #ows are the 3 year old in the room, pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. They didn’t craft a list of demands, make the movement even remotely political, or appoint a leader. They remained purposefully ambiguous. This, in my opinion was fucking genius. If you’re reading this blog you most definitely can’t relate to this, but most people hate politics. They hate the lies and the liars, don’t understand policy, or simply don’t have the time to invest in figuring out what’s going on. I believe that by remaining apolitical, they’ve succeeded in appealing to a much broader segment of the public than they otherwise would have. Let me pause for a moment to acknowledge the fact that I’ve made a complete reversal on this point. I originally believed that it was essential that they coalesce around a single message. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Advocating for a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood, for example, would have severely limited the appeal of the movement. It would have limited the appeal to people that understand the issue, and understand how big of a factor that issue plays in the corruption of our government. It would have limited the appeal to liberals and independents, since republicans are reflexively pro-corporation. This (among many others) was the big mistake the teabaggers made, even before they were co-opted and Koched up. They were anti-Obama, which meant that right off the bat, 50% of Americans were opposed to whatever they were up to. It would have limited the appeal, and put the protestors in the position of having to educate people on the issue. No, it was much smarter to camp out and merely point out the fact that the emperor has no clothes, because most Americans can plainly see it.

Camping out was also a really important component of their strategy. It showed their commitment, but it also highlighted how dire the situation is. It drew far more attention than daily protests would have, and it served to recruit more people into the movement than marches would have.

Now that the encampments are being violently torn down all across the country, everyone has some advice to offer the movement. Let me throw in another observation here, I am not among those that believe that these occupiers don’t have a fucking clue what they’re doing. Not because I’m a sunny optimist, but because of what I’ve observed so far.

They have outsmarted my billionaire mayor at every single fucking turn. Emperor Bloomberg tried to break up the camps early on, with a unilateral decision that didn’t include a discussion with the corporation that sort of owns the park. It turned out that the owners of the park weren’t opposed to the occupiers. Oopsie, Mikey. You should have checked on that first, rather than assuming that you’re the king of New York City. When tearing down the camp didn’t work, he and his lapdog Commissioner Kelly decided that they would create the most hostile environment they could. That spectacularly backfired when daily video of NYPD brutality spread around the world like wildfire. Then they tried mass arrests which led most Americans to ask, “how could 700 people have acted in a way that merits being arrested, in a single day? Are the NYPD trying to muzzle free speech?”. When that caused worldwide outrage, they decided to try and destroy the movement from within by sending the city’s homeless, drunk, drug addled, and mentally unstable down to live with the protestors. While that created a cultural clash in the camp, the protestors managed to overcome that too, forcing Bloomberg to up the ante. His next move was to have the camps’ generators seized on the eve of a big (and rather ugly) storm, claiming that they were a fire hazard. What did the protestors do? They brought in some bicycle powered generators.

The final move by Bloomberg was to violently tear down the camp once and for all, claiming that conditions were “unsafe” and that there was violence and drug abuse happening in the camp.  This is something we’d been hearing from mayors all across the country. It was an angle that actually got some traction among supporters of the movement. I watched the “unsafe” mantra ripple among my social networking circles. This was the angle that I found most insulting to my intelligence. Let me get this straight; there are rapists and drug dealers in the camp that are making it dangerous for everyone else, so you have to shut it down? Are you fucking kidding me? Your inability to keep the peace means that the movement needs to be dismantled? I believe that the job of law enforcement is the same within the occupy camps, as it in society at large. Their job is to identify, arrest, and make a case against criminal elements in society. This job isn’t any different within the #ows camp. Claiming that they can’t do that job without decimating free speech is total fucking bullshit. 50% of all drivers on the road in most major cities are legally drunk between the hours of 10pm and 3am on weekends. We could virtually eliminate all drunk driving deaths in America by imposing a curfew barring anyone from being on the road from 10pm to 6am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Does that seem like a reasonable solution to anyone? Why would anyone buy into this bullshit excuse on the police’s part for why the protests need to be shut down? Whats their goddamned incentive to keep make sure the occupations are safe?

Anyway, back to Occupy’s response to Bloomberg’s latest move. Five hours after the raid began, attorneys for the movement slapped an injunction on Bloomberg preventing him from blocking the occupiers’ access to the park.

This group has their shit together. Anybody who doesn’t realize that, just isn’t paying attention.

Moving forward, I don’t believe the encampments are crucial to the movement any longer. I feel as if it’s time to spread out among the community and broaden the base. Most people that are of the opinion that Occupy needs a clear message now, I believe, overestimate its current reach. We live in a bubble, and I don’t think that there are as many of us as most people think there are. I think that the focus needs to be on raising awareness. They need to organize marches all across the city.

I believe that espousing an agenda is the most effective way to limit Occupy’s reach. They need to keep pointing at the naked emperor. No matter which agenda they adopt, they immediately reduce their pool of potential recruits by 50%. I’m not convinced that they’re anywhere near the point of needing to create a solution. We need to get the percentage of Americans that are involved in the movement up into the double digits before even thinking about putting forth a policy paper.

I don’t believe that they should appoint a leader. Doing so would just give the opposition a target to focus in on. So far, the attacks on the occupiers have been blatantly lame attempts at deriding them. Putting forward a single person will only serve to focus those attacks and muddy the conversation.

All of that said, I believe that the occupiers have a plan for the future. I don’t believe they intended to stay camped out forever because that just wouldn’t be consistent with what I’ve seen from them so far. They needed to have their camps violently torn down. They needed for the world to see the militarization of America’s police forces all across the country. Most people wouldn’t have believed it if they hadn’t seen it. Some still don’t. I don’t believe that they were caught off guard by these raids, and I don’t believe they need my, or anyone else’s advice because I haven’t seen them fuck up yet.

I mostly offer up my advice because I wouldn’t be living up to my pseudonym if I didn’t. But I have faith in the movement that helped to give me hope. Not the bullshitty Obama, corporate owned, kind of hope. But actual hope. The kind of hope that comes with Americans coming together, rather than screaming at each other across partisan divides.

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Disposable People

You know that I’m a political junkie. I’m intellectually curious about several other topics as well. Technology is a big interest of mine. Among the topics that I don’t give two shits about, is sports. I don’t get the obsession with it. Sports seem as trivial as reality shows to me.

Yet, I spent this weekend enraged over a story that, on its face, appears to be a sports story. I’m referring to the Penn State, raping of (probably) dozens of little boys story. This story is so fucking vile, that no political maneuvering by any slimy and corrupt politician, has ever made me more ill.

Here are the broad strokes for anyone not following it. Nine years ago, Mike McQueary, an assistant football coach at Penn State, walked into the locker room at Penn State and witnessed another assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky RAPING a 10 year old boy. Not fondling, not groping, but RAPING. Upon making this discovery, did he pry Sandusky off of the poor boy? NO! Did he call the police? NO! He left, allowing the rape to continue, even though both Sandusky and the victim had seen him. Before I continue with the events as they occurred, I want you to think about something. I want you to think about the horror that 10 year old boy was suffering at that moment. I want you to think about the hopefulness that he must have felt when he saw another adult enter the room. The hope that this person was going to stop the brutal anal rape that he was enduring. And then think about how he must have felt when that “hope” evaporated and he realized that no one was going to help him. So fucking tragic. Okay, back to the events that ensued. This gutless piece of shit calls not the police, but his father, to tell him what he had seen. Does the father instruct McQueary to call the police? NO! This family obviously suffers from moral bankruptcy issues. The father tells the son to report what he saw to the head coach of the Penn State football team, Joe Paterno. WTF? The head coach? Does Joe Paterno call the police after hearing of the horrific RAPE of a child? NO! This vile, piece of shit, asshat, who has four kids and a litter of grandchildren, doesn’t do a goddamned thing. How feckless and self serving does a parent of four children have to be to allow the RAPE of a child to go unreported? He decided to keep the incident “in house” at Penn.

Why am I writing about this? Because it’s a perfect representation of what Occupy Wall Street is shining a light on. This isn’t just a story about a pedophile and the soulless peices of shit that did nothing to stop him. This is a story about how people of privilege shit all over the poor (and therefore the powerless) in order to preserve their wealth and power. 

This fucking monster Sandusky, made sure that he preyed on poor kids from broken homes. In fact, he started a foundation for children in need. Their mission statement reads, “The Second Mile is a nonprofit organization serving the youth of Pennsylvania. At The Second Mile, we are committed to helping young people achieve their potential as individuals and as community members and providing education and support for their parents and youth service professionals.” Apparently, Sandusky wanted to make sure that some of these kids achieved their potential by locating his penis, and forcing it on them.

He wasn’t preying on privileged kids. He never raped the child of a Penn State administrator. No, he carefully chose his victims among a class that he deemed to be powerless. And he correctly assumed that his position of power would shield him from paying for his crimes. The Jerry Sandusky is a pedophile allegations didn’t start in 2002. They date back to at least 1995, which is why he abruptly retired from the Penn State coaching team in 1999. People at Penn State have been covering up for a RAPIST for nearly two decades. Why?

It’s about the money, Lebowski. Nobody wanted to tarnish the very lucrative Penn State football machine. And no one gave a shit if a few dozen poor kids got raped in order to keep the money machine flowing. They were just collateral damage, completely disposable in the pursuit of all of that beloved cash. I can’t tell you how fucking disgusted I am with this whole thing.

This situation is emblematic of the problems in America. We have a growing class of people that have to deal with a shrinking field of opportunities. 43% of working Americans earn so little, that their tax liability is completely wiped out by the standard deductions that we all take. There is something fundamentally wrong here. Our wages are shrinking and our poor population is growing. With less means, comes less power. And over and over again, we’re being told to just shut up and take it. New unjustifiable bank fees? Suck it up and pay! Health insurance premiums doubling and tripling on you? Suck it up and pay! Can’t find a job after months of looking? You’re obviously just lazy. Wanna go to college to better yourself? Suck on this;

 

It’s getting harder and harder to stay in the middle class every year, and it doesn’t matter how hard you try. The opportunities are being systematically taken away from us at the hands of an obnoxious 1% that believe we’re powerless, and that we’re just going to suck it up and take it.

And the entitlement that the elite feel is growing exponentially, relative to our shrinking opportunities. Whether it’s about RAPING poor children, or using tax payer dollars to pay out exorbitant bonuses, the ruling class feel entitled to take anything they want. And up until now, their sense of entitlement has been bolstered by the fact that we’ve been sitting back and taking their shit. We pay more, we work more, and we accept that having less is just the way it is.

No more. It’s time for this to end. It’s not okay to RAPE children, and it’s not okay to rape the middle class. That’s why I fully support Occupy Wall Street.

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Powerless

It’s a state of being that I simply don’t believe in. I fundamentally believe that the only circumstance under which a person is powerless, is one that is self imposed. Once you accept the notion that you’re powerless, you’re fucked.

As I’m watching the Occupy Wall Street movement evolve, my belief that powerless doesn’t exist is being reaffirmed. This is a group of people that weren’t deterred by the fact that the main stream media ignored them. They weren’t deterred by the abhorrent, and sometimes brutal treatment they received from the police. They weren’t deterred when the media finally decided to pay attention, only to diminish and deride. They weren’t deterred when people claimed not to understand why they’re pissed. They just kept doing what they were doing, with little regard for what the world around them was saying.

And their determination spread around the world like wildfire. People are joining the movement in droves in cities all around the world. They decided they weren’t powerless, and the world had no choice but to believe them.

We, as a country are in pretty hopeless times.

We have corporations whose imperative lies in exploiting the American worker as much as they can in order to increase their bottom line in order to sell their goods to other countries. I say other countries, because our corporations are acutely aware of the fact that Americans are running out of money. That’s why they’re not hiring. They would hire up to increase production if there was a market for their goods. They’re not not hiring because they’re “uncertain” about whether or not their taxes are going up. And frankly, you would have to have undergone at least two lobotomies in order to believe that horseshit. They’re not hiring because there’s no one to buy their shit. We’re all spending what we have at the Apple Store. There’s nothing left to spend anywhere else!

We’re in hopeless times because we no longer have a government that serves the people. They’re too preoccupied fellating their corporate masters, and there’s nothing they won’t say or do in order to get that corporate cash. And there’s very little daylight between the two parties anymore, at least not when it comes to protecting and preserving the middle class.

We have a supreme court that is hell bent on giving corporations supreme power over the people. The supreme court is where the corporations are looking for some serious deep throat action. Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, and Clarence Thomas have never, ever, not once in their miserable lives ever stood up for a person that works for a living.

We’re fucked because on that rare occasion that we actually elect a good person to office, it takes them roughly ten minutes from the time they’re sworn in to realize that they have to raise $35,000 a day to keep their seat. If you know nothing about two candidates running against each other for a seat, other than how much money they raised, you can predict the winner 94% of the time if you assume that the candidate with the biggest war chest will be the winner. That is fucking disgusting, but it’s the system of governance we’ve been reduced to. It doesn’t matter who you vote for; your candidate is a whore, because the system turns them into a whore.

It’s all pretty fucking grim. Regular readers of this blog know that I’m the opposite of a partisan hack. I’ve probably used more words to describe how democrats, and specifically Obama have failed America, than I have detailing republican corruption. I do that because republicans have clearly been tools of corporate America for decades. Any thinking person can see that. But it’s democrats, our last bastion of hope, that are no longer any hope at all. Obama isn’t going to do s fucking meaningful thing to save our economy or our middle class.

At this point, you’re probably wondering how it’s possible for me not to feel powerless, while being completely cognizant of the fact that corporations, politicians, and even the courts are all determined to fuck the middle class. My sunny optimism is still alive and kicking because we still have one (yes, just the one) option available to us. It’s not an option that’s as easy to exercise as going to vote. This option entails getting the majority of Americans on the same page, which is why the ongoing theme in this blog, is to leave your partisan delusions behind.

Most people don’t realize this, but congress isn’t the only mechanism by which a constitutional amendment can be created. Both Dylan Ratigan and Cenk Uygur have started to organize a movement to call for a constitutional convention. Here’s Cenk describing what he’s doing;

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg0O3OyWi5Y[/youtube]

I know that this sounds like a long shot, but it’s the only option that we have to reclaim our democracy. I truly believe that there’s no other solution.

Occupy Wall Street is a fucking brilliant lead-in to taking the next step. It’s helping people to focus in on who the real enemy actually is, rather than bickering over partisan sideshows. Up until now, our problem has been that we’ve been too busy demonizing the other party, to really focus in on the real problem. I’m not saying that there isn’t a long way to go before a constitutional convention can happen. I’m saying that we don’t have any other options. If we don’t believe that we can make this happen, then we render ourselves powerless. That’s when we’re fucked.

If you can donate time or money to the cause, please do it! Right now, Cenk is more focused on creating the organization and gathering volunteers but funding the operation will be necessary. Here’s the link to sign up to get involved;

http://www.wolf-pac.com/

If you can’t find the time or the money to get involved, then you can help to focus the conversation. Stop with the liberal versus conservative debates. They’re not getting us anywhere. Focus on the one issue that any rational American can agree on. Once we take care of this problem, we can have real debates on how to govern.

And look, most of the issues that divide us all get solved by extricating corporate money from our political system.

You want smaller government? Great! The lion’s share of pork in our federal budget is there because special interests have paid to put it there.

You want to end the wars? Awesome! We have a better shot at ending them when they should end, if defense industry lobbyists aren’t paying to keep them going.

Do you fucking hate unions? No problem! They won’t be able to influence our elections either.

Want to end Monsanto’s domination over the world’s food supply? Done!

Wanna legalize pot? Imagine how much easier it will be to do that, without pharmaceutical lobbyists putting up a road block.

Think that climate change is a hoax? Great! You’ll be more confident in the scientific findings when all of that pesky special interest money stops polluting (so to speak) it.

Are you in favor of capitalism and the American dream? So are we! But capitalism isn’t what we have right now. I’ve been making an argument lately that seems to be resonating with people that think they’re against Occupy Wall Street. I’ve started to explain how box stores have come to dominate the retail industry in America. Most people don’t realize how this all works. When Walmart or Home depot decide that they want to open a store in your community, they get the cost of building that store paid for in tax payer dollars by buying the local politicians. And once the store is built, they strike a deal in which they get to keep the sales taxes they collect for a specified period of time. How the fuck are you supposed to compete with that, if you want to open up a store of your own? The advantage that these companies have, by being to strike a better deal with suppliers because of the volume that they can commit to buying isn’t enough for them. They need to make sure that they crush any possibility of competition. That’s not fucking capitalism, and no one can make an argument that is is. Do you see my point?

No one can argue with this if you stop framing the argument on partisan terms. Change the way you speak to your friends, frenemies, whackadoodle Rush Limbaugh loving in-laws, and whoever else you talk politics or world affairs with. And if you have people that you only talk to about celebrity gossip, talk to them about this issue too.

Get involved in any way you can. We need to believe that we’re not powerless anymore! Please forward the Wolf-Pac link to your friends, frenemies, etc. 

http://www.wolf-pac.com/


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Guide To Spotting A Grassroots Movement

It’s funny, the most striking thing to me about Occupy Wall Street is the thing that nobody really seems to be talking about much. It’s the thing that makes it abundantly clear that Occupy Wall Street is a genuine, people powered movement, and it’s the thing that makes Occupy Wall Street more obviously credible than the tea party movement was. What is it? It’s the fact that the vast majority of people in the movement voted for Obama. They voted for Obama and yet, they’re taking action because they feel that Obama hasn’t. They’re doing something that most people are simply incapable of doing; railing against their own political party in order to do what they feel is in the best interest of the country.

Contrast that to the tea party. They sat on their fucking hands until the guy they were vehemently opposed to from the beginning, got elected president. Protesting against the guy you always hated gives you an inherent inauthenticity.

Now protesting in order to force the guy that you voted for to deliver on his promises, that’s what patriotism looks like. It’s putting your country ahead of the political team you’re on. And it’s a sign of an authentic movement. Wearing a tri-cornered hat isn’t patriotism. It’s fucking Halloween.

Regular readers of this blog are aware of how I feel about blind dedication to a party; it’s stupid, and you will fuck yourself and everyone else when you put your party before your own self interest. We collectively need to start looking more critically at what our politicians do on a case by case basis, rather than sticking by them because they’re in “the right” party.

How different would our current situation be today, if conservatives had stuck to their conservative principles during the Bush presidency? Would we have an intelligence community authoritatively monitoring us without warrants or probable cause? Would we have massive deficits if they had stood up and screamed every time the words “emergency supplemental” were introduced by the administration and the republican congress? Okay, we probably still would have gone to war, but there are some issues in which I believe would have turned out differently if conservatives had been conservative when their president was running the country.

I believe that liberals and conservatives are inherently different on the issue of blind loyalty. I believe that conservatives, by their nature, “conserve”. They are more accepting of the status quo, regardless of how shitty the status quo is. And I believe that they viscerally prefer less nuance in their decision making process. They like for things to be clear cut, allowing them to make black and white choices. I think that liberals are all about the nuance, maybe too much sometimes. I think that liberals are more prone to bucking the system. Any system. Liberals are, by definition, more liberal in how they process information. By liberal, I mean generous. Liberals are more generous with their critical thinking and more open to looking deeper into issues, and more open to changing their opinions as new information is presented. Not all liberals are like that, but I feel very comfortable in saying that more people that call themselves liberals are capable of it, than those who call themselves conservatives.

Participants of the Occupy Wall Street movement are, in my estimation, the most liberal with their thoughtfulness. They voted for someone that they believed would change the system. When he didn’t deliver, they realized they were wrong and did something about it. Admitting you were wrong is one of the hardest thing for most people to do. The occupiers have done that. They deserve to be praised for that. And that act of admitting they were wrong tells you that this is an authentic movement.

Instead of being praised, they’re being ridiculed and dismissed by the main stream media. By contrast, the tea party were given the benefit of the doubt, and mostly praised right from the beginning. They were praised for being a “grassroots movement” Fox News actively promoted the tea party, which should have been the first sign of inauthenticity. Not just because it was Fox, but because having a massive media conglomerate behind something these days, means that it’s not a movement for the people.

Don’t be fooled by the positive coverage that some of the MSNBC hosts are giving Occupy Wall Street. Here’s how things at MSNBC work; the network has very little control over anything their hosts say. That’s generally written into their contracts. They can “encourage” the hosts to go in a certain direction, but they can’t tell them what to say. If they become too problematic in what they say, they eventually get fired like Phil Donahue did. He had the highest rated show on MSNBC and still got fired for being against the Iraq war, when it wasn’t fashionable to do so. I know that Maddow isn’t giving Occupy Wall Street a ton of coverage. I can’t speak to how much the other hosts are talking about it, because I don’t watch it much. Here’s Cenk Uygur revealing his experiences with MSNBC;

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrKKkGl3TnY[/youtube]

 

The next sign of the inauthenticity of the tea party was all of that bussing people into rallies crap. What kind of fucking moron gets on a bus that will take them hundreds of miles to a rally for free, and doesn’t ask, “Who paid for this bus?”. And to add to the irony, they took advantage of that free bus ride to protest the notion that someone might get healthcare for free. If you’re against people getting free shit, you might want to consider paying your own way, you fucking hypocritical asshats. They were the opposite of a grassroots movement. That should have been obvious to anyone with two braincells to rub together.

Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, has been turning down big donations. They’re not falling into the same trap that the teabaggers fell into. When the unions decided to join the movement, it was decided at a general assembly meeting, that they would allow the unions to participate with the caveat that the unions would not be allowed to speak for the movement. They’re being much smarter about not being co-opted than the teapublicans ever were.

In terms of main street media coverage, we’re living in opposite land. They’re taking every cheap shot they can to discredit this movement from claiming that George Soros is funding them, to claiming that they’re in that park to have sex and do drugs (is that supposed to be a deterrent?). They’ve been called every name in the book. The main stream media is actively working to break up this movement. And since we all know that the mainstream media is owned by giant corporate entities, their disdain for this movement should tell you that it’s probably a movement that is fighting for you.

This movement is the real deal. You can tell that they’re the real deal because it took them a while to come up with a message. You can tell it’s the real deal because there are still a lot of people holding up signs advocating for things that are off message. You can tell it’s real because many police forces across the country are doing everything they can to break them up. You can tell it’s real because people in the movement have the conviction to camp out and literally occupy.

To summarize, a fake grassroots movement includes;

-Corporate media backing

-Asshats getting on free busses to stop people from getting life saving health care

-Fuckwads trying to take down a president they always hated

A real grassroots movement includes;

-People smelling bad because they’ve got the conviction of living in a fucking park indefinitely

-Corporate media ridicule

-A message that comes together over time as momentum grows

-NO corporate donations

I hope this helps to clear up any confusion that anyone may have had.

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Musings Of An Occupation

So I made it down to Wall Street to join the occupation on Saturday, and I’d like to share my impressions of what I saw.

The first thing that I noticed is that there was no main stream media presence present. I saw a local ABC affiliate there, a well as NY1, also a local network. At this point, I’m going to take a moment to comment on the main stream media’s coverage of Occupy Wall Street. If they’re covering it at all, they’re covering it for the purpose of deriding, dismissing, and diminishing it.

Check out this article published in that bastion of liberalism, The New York Times. I’m having a hard time deciding on where to begin pointing out how big of an asshat Andrew Ross Sorkin is, but I’m feeling particularly bitchy today, so let’s give it a shot. Let’s start with the reason why Sorkin covered the protest at all; he went to go check it out when he was told to, by a CEO of a Wall Street bank. Let me get this straight; your job is to cover events as they pertain to Wall Street and you ignored a nearly three week long protest on Wall Street until you were ordered to do so, by someone that was the subject of the protest? ASSHAT! And when you did finally go down there, you went for the purpose of determining if the subjects of the protest had to worry about their safety? ASSHAT! Talk about being disconnected with average Americans and their concerns! Let me tip you off to something that you may not be aware of, Andrew. When hundreds of people gather anywhere to make a statement, they’re representative of hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions. If someone has an opinion, any opinion, there are other people out there that share that opinion. Whether those opinions are shared by 1% or 99% of a society is something that you, as a reporter should investigate. But to assume that those opinions are contained within the number of people in that protest is asinine, you fucking douchebag. There are several other digs at the protesters in the story, buy you can easily spot those on your own, so I’m going to move on.

To be fair, I have some criticism of the coverage from the left. Randi Rhodes spent two weeks diminishing the protesters because they’re not focused enough for her. How about instead of slamming this movement, you work to help them focus their message since they’re actually doing something? Oh, and stop referring to them as kids. A person in their 20s isn’t a child. I love you Citizen Radio, but your disdain for people that show up wearing expensive clothes is just stupid. I purposefully showed up carrying a very large Chanel bag. My patent leather designer bag is shiny, but it hasn’t blinded me to what’s going on in this country. I am fully cognizant of how lucky I am to be in the financial position that I’m in. I’m the opposite of an asshole for advocating that everyone have the opportunities that I’ve had. I made the calculation to not look poor at the protest in order to demonstrate that everyone has a horse in this race. Showing disdain for supporters that obviously aren’t poor is dickish and counterproductive because it demonstrates a kind of anti-capitalism that most people simply don’t share. Some of us are very much for capitalism. We’re just fighting for the kind of fair capitalism that puts more people on a level playing field. I’m not against rich people. And I’m definitely not against people getting rich. I’m fighting so that more people can get rich. What are you fighting for, Citizen Radioites? 

This video clip from the Young Turks talks about some asshattiness from Erin Burnett;

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x4ly3Gr3kw[/youtube]

Ben pretty thoroughly espoused my thoughts on her comments, but I want to add one thing. If Erin Burnett genuinely can’t figure out what Occupy Wall Street is all about, she seriously needs to reconsider her career in the information dissemination business. Perhaps professional trade show booth bitch might be a career more in line with her talents?

I wasn’t able to make it down to the protest for the first three weeks that they were going on, although I was following them closely. I get updates and photographs from the protests from 400 people all around the world on my G+ stream, so I felt like I had a pretty good grip on the situation. Over and over again, the main stream media has criticized the protesters for lacking focus. Before I actually went down to the protest, I was of the opinion that this criticism was unfounded and mostly out there as a way to dismiss the protesters. That opinion changed after I actually saw what was happening for myself. There is an obvious lack of focus going on in Zuccotti Park. I saw signs advocating the legalization of marijuana. I saw signs and petitions to stop fracking. I saw anti-war signs. I saw people with a myriad of different agendas down there. While I agree with most of the causes being espoused, I can see that the diversity of thought down there is muddling the message. That lack of clarity is, in my opinion, the biggest liability of this protest.

Let me describe Zuccotti Park for those of you that don’t know the area. It’s not really a park as much as a very small public square. It’s a whole block, but blocks downtown are very small. They’re not at all what you think of as a city block in New York. You can walk the length of the block in about 50 paces, and the width in 20 paces. To get into the park, you have to walk down a small set of 3 steps, so it’s somewhat enclosed. If that park were filled to maximum capacity, it would hold maybe 400 people. The park is physically located about 3 blocks south of Wall Street, and 3 blocks east of The World Trade Center. Several blocks east of that is Battery Park, where you can take ferries to The Statue Of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Staten Island.

It’s a high traffic area for tourists since they have to walk past that park to get to a lot of the attractions in lower Manhattan. I tell you all of this because I saw hundreds of tourists stopping to see what was going on in that park. With the wide swath of messages being espoused in that park, I’m not sure that many of those passers-by walked away with an understanding of what it’s all about. The fact that I had a better grip on the message before I went down to the protest, than I did after I saw it for myself is a huge problem. To  the “free hugs” people, I want to say, I love you but you need to FOCUS.

In my opinion, the single most important issue that needs to be addressed in America, is the corrosive effect that money has had on our politics. No other issue can be addressed until we get the money completely out of the system. Wall Street is the quintessential symbol of that corruptive force. The fact that the protesters chose Wall Street as the location for this movement tells me that they get it. They just need to focus their message so that the disengaged masses also get it. Until they do that, they’re missing an opportunity to educate and recruit more people into the cause.

Dylan Ratigan is laser focused on the money issue. I agree with him on almost nothing, but he’s dead on correct when he talks about the money being the root of all of our problems. He’s been down to Zuccotti Park, and he seems to be getting increasingly more interested in what’s going on down there. I hope that he can help to focus the troops.  

That criticism aside, let me tell you what else I saw. I saw an incredibly diverse group of people that included every race that you can think of. The ages of the protesters ranged from teenagers to the elderly. I saw whole families with small children there. There were protest signs written in Arabic. There was a table dedicated to Hispanic outreach. They have a media center. Yes, an actual media center. There’s an information desk. They have several tables filled with food for anyone to eat. They don’t care if you’re homeless or just passing by for a free meal. The assumption is that if you’re taking the food, you’re in need so no one is going to stop you. How disgustingly fucking socialist! To summarize, they’ve created a self sufficient community.

I’m going to keep going down there as often as possible to watch the evolution of this protest. I believe that they’re off to a good start. If you’re not in the area and want to help, here’s a link with resources. Winter is coming, so I’m guessing that they will need winter clothes, blankets, and propane heaters.

Here are a few pictures I took while I was down there:

They were out of the English version when I was there

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Jobs Brand Of Capitalism

When my iPhone alerted me to Steve Jobs passing last night, I found myself awash with a profound level of sadness that I couldn’t explain. I couldn’t explain it because I didn’t personally know Steve Jobs. My relationship with him didn’t extend beyond my enthusiasm for the products that he brought to market. Products that I absolutely love, by the way. But still, he was the CEO of a company that made stuff that I loved. It felt strange to feel such strong emotions under these circumstances. As I scrolled through social networking sites, I realized that I wasn’t alone. Lots of people were lamenting their seemingly irrational grief over the passing of a complete stranger.

The more I read, the more I realized that my reaction wasn’t “abnormal”. Steve Jobs had an unusual effect on millions of people that he never met. As I read messages of adulation and sadness, it occurred to me that in this time of worldwide disdain for corporate titans, the world was truly mourning the loss of a corporate titan. My G+ stream was filled with equal parts; Steve Jobs tributes, and Occupy Wall Street updates. Many of which were being posted by the same people.

And then I thought about the main stream media coverage (such as it is) of Occupy Wall Street. Most of it consists of dismissing the protesters as “dirty hippies”, or naive, confused children. Many of the derisive comments have been petty, commenting on the way the protesters look. They’re to be dismissed either because they’re unkempt and smelly, or because they’re wearing designer clothes and carrying around Apple products (that was really one criticism on a CNN discussion). Apparently, the media can’t make up their minds about which basis they should be dismissive of the protestors upon. And when the media isn’t derisive about the protests, they’re simply confused about why they’re even happening. They just can’t seem to crack the code of what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about. Seriously?

What does all of this Occupy Wall Street talk have to do with Steve Jobs? Simple; one of the things that opponents of the Occupy Wall Street movements like to say, is that the protesters are “anti-capitalism”. That line always pisses me off to no end. It’s the thinking of either a simpleton, who is incapable of any level of nuanced thinking, or of a hypocrite with an agenda to discredit the opposition.

Nobody is opposed to capitalism. No one. We’re opposed to being financially raped by a system designed to protect our rapists. We’re opposed to the idea of a health insurance CEO getting a $124 million bonus because his company had a banner year of fucking people out of life saving treatments, thereby increasing the company’s profit margin. Health insurance isn’t capitalism, it’s exploitation. They’re not making a product that people want, they’re exploiting on the human desire to stay alive. We’re opposed to banks and investment firms making a goddamned fortune by fraudulently jacking up the value of real estate by giving mortgages to millions of people that should never have qualified for loans. That’s not capitalism. That’s fucking fraud.

The world mourns the loss of Steve Jobs at a time when corporations are reviled because Steve Jobs represents capitalism at its best. He created beautiful products that the world wants to buy because they work well. There’s something in it for the consumer. Apple’s approach has always been to entice consumers by making products that are irresistible in their design and performance. I’ve always said that I prefer Apple’s approach to Microsoft’s. Apple lures you in by making a product that you want. Microsoft pushes you into buying their products by making sure that you have to upgrade in order for your shit to keep working. I prefer to be lured rather than pushed because that’s good capitalism.

That’s the kind of capitalism that I can get behind. I want to say to all of the simpletons that accuse me of being anti-capitalist: Don’t worry, I’m fighting for you too, even if you’re too ignorant to fight for yourself.


R.I.P. Steve Jobs. Thanks for all of the good capitalism you brought to the world.

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Cheney In Wonderland

I’ve been trying to write a post about Dick Cheney’s autobiography for weeks now. I highlighted every single demonstrably wrong thing that he said in the book, with the intention of debunking it all one by one. I even went as far as to read the awful George Tenet book that I couldn’t get through when it originally came out. I looked up statements from Colin Powell, Condi, and even George W Bush refuting Cheney’s claims. I was armed and ready to fire away at the book. But when I started writing that post, I realized that this approach was both pointless, and a waste.

It was pointless because any diligent follower of politics already knows the facts about Iraq, Bin Laden, and Katrina. It would have been a waste of a post because I would have to completely skip over the things that really struck me about Cheney in this book.

So I’m going to write a post about my impressions and observations of Dick Cheney, as a result of reading his book because I think it will make for more interesting reading.

The first thing that struck me about the book is that the prologue, the fucking prologue is the day of 9/11. Seriously, Dick? First of all, he obviously has no idea what purpose a prologue is supposed to serve. Secondly, the worst goddamned day in American history is the thing he’s salivating to talk about first?

I can’t understate how much Cheney gives the impression that he was running the show on that day. In his version of the story, he was literally calling all the shots because of “communication issues” on the president’s end. Don’t get me wrong, I tend to believe this account because I remember Bush’s famous “My Pet Goat” seven minutes. There was nothing in that performance that told me he was prepared to deal with a kid with a skinned knee, let alone a major attack on America. I just find it fascinating that Cheney chose to say what he did. Most people, after having served a president, have the decorum to never ever malign or damage that president’s reputation or authority in any way. Not Cheney. He’s classless and feels no loyalty or respect for Bush (you’ll see more evidence of this later). He has no qualms sharing an account that makes the president look like a hapless rube while Cheney “has everything under control”.

At one point during that attack on that day, Cheney actually gave the order to shoot down flight 93 after it had gone off course. I don’t have a problem with the order being given under those circumstances. I have a problem with the fucking vice president giving that order, because the guy who was never legitimately elected to be president in the first place can’t (unsurprisingly) handle the job. He claims that he had approval from the president to give that order, but that statement isn’t at all consistent with the lack of communication between the two of them throughout the day.

So there are a few things that struck me about Cheney’s upbringing. They mostly struck me as odd, given the political ideology he advocated for later in life. He talks about his father who, while struggling to make ends meet while getting through college, decides to take a civil service exam and subsequently takes a government job instead of finishing college. He then takes another, higher paying government job. At one point in the book, he writes (about his father)


He was also proud of the pension that came with federal employment – a pride that I didn’t really understand until as an adult I had learned about the economic catastrophes that his parents and grandparents had experienced and that had shadowed his own youth. I’ve often reflected on how different was the utterly stable environment he provided for his family and wondered if because of that I have been able to take risks, to change directions, and to leave one career path for another with hardly a second thought.So let me get this straight, Dick: the government came in on a white horse and saved your family in a much more overt way than it helps the average American and yet, you join the party whose aim is to destroy government because it’s never helped anyone?

At this point in the book, I’m realizing that naming him Dick was nothing short of prophetic.

Another interesting event: in 1959 Dick was awarded a full scholarship (which included room and board) to Yale. He ended up getting kicked out for getting shitty grades. What kind of asshole pisses off the gift of a free ivy league education? And my first question about the grant is, was it a federally funded grant?

When he got back to Wyoming from Yale, he took a union job where, “I was earning $3.10 an hour, which was good pay in those days, and picking up a lot of overtime and time and a half.” It’s nice to see you enjoying the benefits of union membership, Dick.

At some point, he decides to go back to school and enrolls at the University of Wyoming because they had to take him regardless of his shitty academic record, because he had graduated from a Wyoming high school. Let me work through all of this; so Dick went to a socialist, state funded school because the government had a mandate that they had to take him? This fucking asshole has been the beneficiary of government handouts and regulations his whole miserable life. But his sucking off the government teat didn’t end there. While he was in school, he earned some extra money by reading to a veteran who had lost his sight. Dick’s $1.75 an hour was paid for by the granddaddy of all socialist medicine; the veteran’s administration.

I honestly can’t comprehend how someone can have so much disdain for government when they have directly benefitted from its existence in so many ways. But not learning lessons from life is an ongoing theme in Dick’s life.

At one point, he and Lynne are engaged so he starts saving money for their honeymoon. He gets a bad case of food poisoning and has to go to the hospital. He didn’t have any insurance, so he had to spend all of the money he had saved on medical bills. Here’s another example of Dick’s imperviousness to learning from facts and life experience. There are three kinds of people in the world; the kind that can empathize with people, even though they’ve never been in their shoes; the kind that can empathize with people only if they’ve been in their shoes; and then there’s Dick, the kind that have been in your shoes, but still want you to go fuck yourself because they’re wearing much more expensive shoes now. Look Dick, you didn’t have insurance because you couldn’t afford it. How about you learn something from that experience and apply that to your political ideology?

Another part that I found fascinating was when he talked about his draft dodging. The dodging wasn’t interesting, the way he ignored it was. Here’s everything he said about it, in its entirety:

Shortly after I began work on my PhD, I had turned 26 and was no longer eligible for the draft. In the days when I had been, I had received deferments as a student and father. Earlier, when I was doing line work, I had been classified 1-A, but draft numbers were low and I wasn’t called. If I had been, I would have been happy to serve.

I find it fascinating that there’s no emotion or explanation here at all. He doesn’t explain the deferments, doesn’t talk about how the possibility of drafted made him feel, nothing. Just says that he deferred (he left out that it was 5 times), and then contradicts his actions by saying that he would have been happy to serve. Okay Dick, that sounds plausible. And again, this is a guy who was terrified of dying in a battle. One would think that those days of worrying about getting drafted would have occurred to him when his administration started a war and an occupation. But no, not Dick! He’s got some kind of fucking Kevlar vest that deflects wisdom and learning.

Another interesting part – he’s talking about Nixon’s chances of getting reelected in 1972. He writes:

Richard Nixon’s reelection was far from a sure thing. It looked very much as though the war in Vietnam, which he had said when he was campaigning in 1968 he knew how to end, would be an issue in 1972. Meanwhile, the hefty bills for Lyndon Johnson’s determination to fight the war in Vietnam and fund his great society had come due.

There were two components I found interesting there. First, he had already had experience getting a president who kept pushing for an unpopular war reelected. But the second part is more important. His lack of self awareness in talking about Johnson’s “hefty bills” being due is unfuckingbelievable. This asshole went on to serve in an administration that never bothered to pay for a fucking thing they passed is whining about cleaning up after someone else’s financial mess? Seriously Dick?

A particularly galling part of the book is when he talks about the speech President Ford gave, announcing that America was done with Vietnam. He writes:

I remember distinctly that when he spoke those words, some people in the audience wanted to cry and some wanted to cheer, but there was an unmistakable sense of relief for all of us that transcended one’s view of the war. Indeed, even for me, and I had supported the effort, hearing the president say those words was welcome in a way it’s hard to describe. We had lost more than fifty-eight thousand young Americans in the war, and Vietnam had divided us as a nation for so long. The war in Southeast Asia had ended in an awful way, but at least it ended. It was over.

I was fucking livid, reading that paragraph and thinking about what he had pushed to do with Iraq. Either the emotion he speaks of here is complete bullshit, designed to make him appear to be less of a robot, or he learned jack shit from that experience. Are you picking up a pattern yet?

This post is already very long, so I’m going to get to the rest of the book in part 2, which is disturbing and twisted in a completely different way than part 1.

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Anthony Weiner’s Penis May Have Saved Social Security

Which makes me a big fan of his penis. In fact, I may be a bigger fan of his penis than anyone he actually shared it with. Because of Anthony Weiner’s penis, Obama appears to be acting more like a democrat in a way that we haven’t seen since the campaign.

Why do I believe that Americans owe Anthony Weiner’s penis a big debt of gratitude? Because one day after losing that seat to republicans, Obama announces that he’s taking social security reform off the table. This is a complete reversal from every signal the administration has ever sent out on the topic of social security. We obviously have Anthony Weiner’s penis to thank for this.

This reversal may (I’m being a sunny optimist again) be good news for Obama’s testicles, since they appear to finally be dropping. We’ll see what happens over the next few days, but it appears that Obama is finally starting to realize that the problem isn’t that crazy, rabid liberals have unrealistic expectations. The problem is that that he has failed to protect the needs of the middle class.

I’m optimistic because I’ve come to expect nothing from Obama, in terms of standing up to teapublicans. So when he shows even the slightest hint of a spine, I’m overcome with joy and optimism. But I’m still a pragmatist, so I’m a little concerned about the statement the white house released on the matter. Here’s the statement:

“The president’s recommendation for deficit reduction will not include any changes to Social Security because, as the president has consistently said, he does not believe that Social Security is a driver of our near and medium term deficits”.

I’m concerned because the statement should have stated that social security has never added a dime to our deficit because it’s a deficit neutral program by design. He needs to start reframing issues, rather than talking about them in republican terms. He needs to make it clear that since social security is a deficit neutral program, that any objections to it are purely ideological. He needs to put this cutting social security bullshit to rest forever. He needs to dispel the lies about social security once and for all. He needs to articulate the facts that no one ever hears. He needs to let Americans know that 2011 is the first year that social security has paid out more than it’s collected. He needs to talk about the $2.5 trillion dollar surplus that social security has at this very moment. He needs to point out that social security is collecting 8% less than it was projected to collect because of income inequality. Regardless of how much someone makes, they’re done paying into the system once they’ve earned $106,800 a year. Since we have fewer people making $90,000 a year, and more people making upwards of $1,000,000 per year than ever before, the system is being strained by that wealth disparity. Obama needs to make these facts clear, not to garner support for social security (70% of us, liberals and teapublicans alike adamantly want social security to stay), but to bring the argument back to a fact-based framing.

I know, I know, he gives me an inch and I want a mile (did I mention how big a fan of Anthony Weiner’s penis I am?).

James Carville is advising the Obama administration to panic. I hope they do. Obama needs to radically change course, not out of fear of losing reelection, but out of duty to the American people. I frankly don’t give a shit about his reelection. If he stays on the course he’s been on, four more years of this shit is nothing I’m fearful of losing. He was elected by people that were hoping for change. He owes two and a half years of change that haven’t yet materialized.

I’m going a step further than Carville. Obama needs to take the fight to republicans. He needs to push for temporarily lowering the medicare and social security eligibility ages as part of his jobs plan. Anyone that is in their 60s is virtually unemployable in this economy. Lowering the eligibility age to 60 on both of those programs will enable some of those people to retire from the work force early, thereby lowering the unemployment rate right away. And he should make the argument that taking them out of the private insurance system will keep premiums flat for everyone else, since they won’t have to pay out those medical bills. At the same time, lowering the average of the medicare risk pool should help medicare.

This will make John Boehner’s head explode, since most Americans will be for it. He and all of the republican presidential hopefuls will have to run against Obama’s plan. He would force them to explain how they don’t give a shit about your mother or your grandmother and that they’re your problem to deal with, because anything else would be a big government intrusion in your life. Yeah, that’s going to play well.

Republicans have created an illusion of a version of a socialist lefty they want to fight against. I think that Obama should turn into an actual socialist lefty that they’re completely unprepared for.

I for one, hope that Anthony Weiner’s penis is actually powerful enough to help make my dream a reality.   



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Snatching Defeat From The Hands Of Victory

That should be the tagline for the democratic party. How can I say that a week after democrats successfully recalled two state senators in Wisconsin, and a day after they successfully defended two Wisconsin senate seats? I can say it because they’re poised to fuck up the rest of the work that needs to be done in Wisconsin.

Here’s the deal; Scott Walker, whose approval rating is abysmal is eligible to be recalled in January. Sounds like a great position for democrats, right? Not so fast. National democratic strategists (I use that term loosely and with with much disdain) are now thinking about rolling the Walker recall vote into the 2012 election. Why would they let this asshole keep screwing working people in Wisconsin for another year and a half? Because it’s not about the people. It’s about the politics. And to rub salt in the wound, it’s about bad politics.

These brilliant “strategists” think that they have a better chance of recalling Walker if they ride the Obama wave in 2012. Yup, you read that correctly; The Obama Wave. I don’t know what the fuck they’re doing, but I’m looking at the polls. The only waving being done here is by Obama, waving at his approval rating as it fades into the distance. He has plummeted into the high 30s. That’s right, the guy that defeated the pirates and killed Bin Laden is within 10 points of Bush when he left office. Now, depending on who you talk to, the low approval ratings are either because 70% of us are among the unreasonable “professional left” or, Obama is just the most ineffective president in recent history. But that’s a topic for another post, or several previous posts, as the case may be. My point is that they’re factoring in a mythical movement that isn’t validated by one single piece of empirical evidence. There’s no Obama wave. There is Obama frustration and Obama apathy. There is a decided lack of “wave”.

I believe that the Walker recall has a better chance if it’s a stand alone election. The polls clearly show that Wisconsinites want him to get the fuck out now. I don’t know why you would dick around for another year, hanging your hopes on an advantage that doesn’t exist.

On top of the sheer stupidity, waiting for 2012 clearly sends a message by democrats; We don’t give a shit about Wisconsin or it’s citizens. We just want to win.

This is exactly why most people don’t pay attention to politics and why they don’t vote. All of the options fucking BLOW, and the politicians are getting worse and worse at pretending they don’t suck.

But don’t despair, there is a glimmer of hope. Wisconsinites can buck the national democratic party and get the recall signatures on their own. They can snatch victory from the hands that want to snatch defeat from the hands of victory. Wait, I’m all confused now. Well, you get my point. Wisconsinites have the opportunity to set an example by ignoring the democrats’ nonsense and the republicans’ tyranny. If they take it upon themselves to rectify the situation, independent of either party, they have the chance to give us all hope that we can buck this two shitty party system that we have.

Both parties are being allowed to be shitty by us. It’s time that we start getting active in a meaningful way. I’m talking to you, Wisconsin! Go get em!


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Here Comes The Austerity

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Remember how I told you that we would know if we were going to get fucked on the debt ceiling deal, as soon as we found out who was going to be in the “super congress”? Yeah, we’re totally fucked. I knew we were fucked when Harry Reid announced that Max Baucus was going to be appointed to the committee. If past is prologue, he’s going to lead the charge to fold to any middle class decimating cut the republicans come up with.

Announcements from Mitch McConnell and Boehner today confirmed that. We got five back benchers plus Jon Kyl. No Paul Ryan, no Eric Cantor, no republican with political asperations beyond their current position. Why? Because being on the commission that guts the middle class isn’t exactly an inspirational resume item.

We’re fucked.

Our only hope is that Jon Kyle doesn’t intend for these cuts to be a factual statement.  

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