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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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