Occupy Wall Street: Understanding the Movement

In previous posts about the movement, I poked fun at the seemingly absurd and logically inconsistent demands posted by one member of the movement. I even came up with the sarcastic nickname, “Occupussies” to rival the similarly lewd label of “Teabagger” for the Tea Party movement. I also pointed to the small size and scale of the Occupy Wall Street-inspired Foreclosure on Wall Street West as an example of how the media may have been overplaying the movement’s significance. I also covered movements that have sprung up in reaction to or in parody of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Lastly, I argued that unless the OWS movement joins an established power base, or erupts into violence, it will fizzle and die.

Suffice it to say, my coverage of the movement has been anything but balanced.

However, I am sympathetic to the movement’s argument that there is too much corporate financing of election campaigns. I would contend that union-financing of elections is similarly egregious. I personally would ban private institutional and individual donations to political campaigns entirely. In its place, I would establish a public fund available to both political parties, in equal allocations.

The main wrinkle to this proposal is that third-party candidates would lose out. Therefore, the fund would have to allow for a process to accommodate these interests as well. I just don’t know how to achieve this solution in an equitable manner at this point.

In the interest of a more balanced approach to the OWS movement, one progressive blogger recommended that I post the following video. He believes it might provide readers with a more sympathetic view of the movement. I disagree, primarily because the behavior of the people in the video seems far too communitarian for my tastes. The video also shows the group organizing via modern mobile devices, which the very corporate interests OWS opposes have made possible. The same progressive blogger has answered the second criticism with the following comment on Whatever Works:

“This argument gets used a lot about the environmental movement, too.  I don’t think it’s fair in either case.  People are part of the society they  live in.  There isn’t really a feasible way for them to opt out of corporate America and still live within their homes and families.  It’s difficult to impossible to abstain from corporate America, even for the Unabomber.”

Either way, you can decide whether this video via The Maddow Blog and MoveOn.org inspires or annoys you.

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About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Conservative clean energy crusader, national security hawk, financial analyst, engineer, and former military officer.
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101 Responses to Occupy Wall Street: Understanding the Movement

  1. pino says:

    I personally would ban private institutional and individual donations to political campaigns entirely.

    What do you do if Vern, Alan and I get together, pool our money, and buy radio time? Or make a movie?

    I tend to think that pushing power more local would help. Not sure how THAT gets done, but hey…

  2. james kelly says:

    Sean,
    Third party candidates already lose out. Why haven’t we seen one in a televised debate with Democrats and Republicans since Ross Perot? (He scared ’em. Look it up) A more free and open electoral system would be great.

    Also, dissing ows for using corperate produced goods and tecnology is really grasping at straws!
    I’ve heard similar complaints about tea party / small government folks using roads, police, firemen, schools, social security etc. Face it, we all use what’s available. A dose of objectivity is needed in too many of these conversations. At least you admit your bias, however ridicule won’t help anyone understand this movement.

    Here’s my take on ows, and the growing worldwide unrest: If these folks could get decent jobs,
    they wouldn’t be protesting.

    • “Also, dissing ows for using corperate produced goods and tecnology is really grasping at straws!”

      I wouldn’t call it grasping at straws, but the counterpoints you make about the Tea Party using roads, etc., are perfectly apt ones.

      “Here’s my take on ows, and the growing worldwide unrest: If these folks could get decent jobs, they wouldn’t be protesting.”

      I agree for both OWS and the Tea Party. I haven’t looked at the data, but I bet the percentage of the unemployed who are about to hit 99 weeks (after which they stop getting their unemployment checks) is probably above 30% and rising (just a guess). If there is one good thing that comes out of employment insurance, it is social stability.

  3. If corporations and unions are to be taxed and regulated, that is governed, then they should not be excluded from any part of the political process, including making donations to favored candidates. Special interest groups ranging from the Sierra Club to Right to Life to many non-profits are “corporate” in the sense that they are an organized group of people working toward a common goal. Indeed, for profit corporations fit the same definition. Worse than that, public financing is no more than those elected deciding who will be able to play the electoral game since they will control, legislatively, budgets and definitions. I adamantly oppose public financing because it is neither republican nor democratic (small r and small d).

    • All great points.

      I think the problem is that they have a disproportionate role in our political process. Assuming you accept this proposition (you may not), how would you propose the system change in order to reduce both corporate and union influence in elections?

      I am clearly not wedded to public financing only, as your points are clearly a huge risk. That said, I still think the little guy has far less influence than these big institutions. What is one to do?

      • We have the freedom to organize in parties and pressure groups. We ought to actively maintain local, precinct level political organizations. We ought to take an interest in local governments. I just wrote a column on that subject here https://sites.google.com/site/orthovoxwritings/home/columns-2011/111007-ov-20-vote-local

        No corporation nor union is going to spend any more on politics beyond a positive return on their investment. It hurts the bottom line. The best reform is to drastically reduce the laws and regulations to the optimal level needed. Every law and regulation is an opportunity for some one, some corporation, some union, some non-profit, or some on to rent seek a privilege, a protection or a tariff.

        They have a disproportionate role because they are disproportionately regulated.

        • “They have a disproportionate role because they are disproportionately regulated.”

          An interesting proposition. The only problem is that unions are not profit-driven organizations. Nor are they heavily regulated. Your positive return on investment thesis really only applies to corporations.

  4. The maldistribution of income or wealth is promoted by persons who should know better. The percent of either ‘owned’ by various percentiles of income distributions, are nothing more than an after the fact, descriptive statistic. These distributions are not independent, variables acting as functioning as causes of effects. The major problem is that the ‘absolute’ numbers are ignored. I lived quite as a truck driver on the median income. Even poverty folk live quite well in this country. The complaint about unequally distributed income comes from envy, covetousness, greed, and ignorant egalitarianism. Marxists and socialists, of course, are inauthentic egalitarians and, caring nothing about true justice, stoke the mob’s emotions with economic absurdities.

  5. Xerik says:

    I’m still trying to figure these guys out. They want things on a golden platter. The whole minimum wage raised to 20 an hour over a 10 year plan is 2.45 pay raise every two years *more than any minimum wage job will increase by*. I talked to a coworker who agreed with a lot of these (99%) about wanting better living conditions yet don’t work for it.

    I agree there is some corporate greed even among the banks and personally think they should have sold off their loans to another bank instead of getting a bail out. But what these people ask for is far worse in my opinion.

    But I don’t think we should do away with donations of a political party, maybe a low level cap buy that should be it. But I think we need to do away with lobbyists that in my opinion do cause a lot of the problems.

    But I do try to understand children who have as much greed as the corporations they are against.

  6. Good God. Can someone just drive a tank through that park already? These people have zero care or concern that they’ve forcefully, willfully, and CARELESSLY occupied private property, and yet they whine about how its their “rights” have been infringed upon and how nobody should take THEIR properties over (foreclosure). Hypocrites.

    • The problem with bringing tanks in, is that the movement only gets stronger. Though I’d like to see how the “international community” would react to it. It would probably be like our reaction to Tianamen Square — a lot of hand-wringing but no action.

      • I don’t think you have to speculate about how the international community would respond to OWS. They responded by pouring out into the streets.

        How would they respond to a Tianamen Square scenario? They’d just have to suck it up and wait, same as they do with all the other messed up things our government does.

        • “I don’t think you have to speculate about how the international community would respond to OWS. They responded by pouring out into the streets.”

          Sorry, I should have been more clear. I was talking about foreign governments, not foreign citizens.

    • “Good God. Can someone just drive a tank through that park already?”

      Damned kids! Get off my lawn!! Does it make me a bad person for picturing you with your pants up around your ribcage shaking your fist at the neighbor kids? Seriously coffee almost came out my nose when I read that.

      “These people have zero care or concern that they’ve forcefully, willfully, and CARELESSLY occupied private property,”

      OK, if you insist, I have more reality cards. Forcefully? Was there some violent eviction that only you heard about? Who was forced, and forced into what? Oh, you mean they forced you to come out on your porch and miss two minutes of Rush Limbaugh so you could shake your fist at them. So sad.

      Willfully? Yes, it was willful. I thought you guys on the right were all about bootstrapping, using your will to make things happen?

      CARELESSLY? You’ve got that one in caps, so it must be important. And like so many other things you say, it just has no reflection on real life. This location was very carefully selected based on location and terms of use. Do you think everyone showing up there was a random fluke?

      “and yet they whine about how its their “rights” have been infringed upon and how nobody should take THEIR properties over (foreclosure). Hypocrites.”

      Poor Vern. I can only imagine how painful this process is for you. Even after we win a lot of things that you will enjoy, you’ll still be ticked off about it.

  7. And another thing – why can’t these losers just rent the park for their protest? Oh yeah, because they’re BUMS and expect someone else to pay their way instead.

    • If I were Brookfield Properties, I would simply submit a rent bill to the New York City mayor’s office or to whatever precinct government where the park is located. The reason Brookfield caved is because local politicians threatened to use the machinery of government to make their lives very difficult, not because of their fear of the protestors.

      You have to love corrupt governments.

    • You really need to lay off the “they don’t pay their share” Kool-Aid. Why should they pay to use public spaces? Their longstanding arrangement with the City of NY is that the space will be available to WE, THE PEOPLE 24 hours a day if we choose to use it. I am only speculating here, but it would seem like the flipside of that arrangement would be something like big old tax breaks for Brookfield.

      I pay taxes Vern. Most of us do. We paid for the parks and the roads and the public schools and libraries. How dare you call us freeloaders when we want to use what we’ve already paid for?

      • XO, first, are you down there physically protesting? If so, then “us” is appropriate and I’ll concede that point.

        Second, however, it’s privately owned property that was offered to the general public as a PARK – i.e. a recreational area. How’s that going for the citizens of NY with all the squatters, drugs, sex, etc. there? See any kids out there tossing a football with dad, or little kids running around playing tag? I doubt it. The squatters have made it so unsanitary who’d want to be sending their kids down there?

        Third, you may pay taxes, but are you seriously trying to tell me that 99% of those 99% do? My guess is they’re more of the 43% who don’t.

        Last, not only are they freeloading in a private park, and taking advantage of the local washroom facilities normally reserved for customers at local businesses (granted, some businesses are OK with this, but many aren’t), but now they want to “freeload” on the justice system. This morning’s headline in the NY Daily News: “Protesters want all charges dropped or they’ll clog up the courts.” Formerly protesters, now THUGS. Congratulations. Looking forward to more violence and more damage from your heroes.

        These guys had two directions they could have gone in, and they chose the stupid, easy path that will ultimately make them (more of) a joke.

        • Vern, Vern, Vern. What am I going to do with you?

          “XO, first, are you down there physically protesting? If so, then “us” is appropriate and I’ll concede that point.”

          Wrong again, Bob! This movement is much bigger than the physical display in the streets. Just like Seal Team 6 didn’t hitchhike over to Abbottabad, there is an enormous network of people supporting this effort in a variety of ways. I’m one of them. I know, it would fit your narrative a lot better if there were only a handful of people behind this, and you only had to deal with the ones you could see. I predict a lot more emotionally upsetting stuff in your immediate future.

          “Second, however, it’s privately owned property that was offered to the general public as a PARK – i.e. a recreational area.”

          Vern, can you show me where it is written that parks are limited to recreation, and are not suitable for public meetings and gatherings of a serious nature? There is no such thing, it’s another of the many, many things you make up.

          Even if it were true, what would the appropriate location be for a protest? Or should only “real” Americans be allowed to protest? In Vern’s imaginary world are protests limited to sidewalks only? Good thing you aren’t the one who sets the limits for what free citizens can and cannot do in America.

          “How’s that going for the citizens of NY with all the squatters, drugs, sex, etc. there?”

          Squatters, huh? To me, a squatter is someone who occupies a vacant property without paying the owner. It must mean something completely different to you.

          I know Sean Hannity swears that drugs are easy to score there, and Sean here posted one picture of some people having sex. In reality world — and by that I mean the world where Sean Hannity is a major pussy — there have been zero accounts of drug use with zero drug arrests. It’s not permitted by the general assembly, because they don’t want to provide any valid reason for breaking it up. You see Vern, in real life, we’re nowhere near as stupid as you think we are.

          “See any kids out there tossing a football with dad, or little kids running around playing tag? I doubt it.”

          Honestly Vern, sometimes it’s hard to resist the temptation to take the things you say and write a comedy character. I would love to pretend I was you and say all kind of hilarious shit, but I truly don’t want to mock or offend you.

          OK, so back to reality world. I’ve seen footage of people walking by with their dogs, mingling with protestors. I know people never did yoga or tai chi in Norman Rockwell paintings, so you don’t believe those are valid ways citizens can use parks. In the real America, it’s white dads and kids throwing footballs around, because those are the real Americans.

          It’s in Manhattan, New York, Vern, not Manhattan, Kansas. They’re known for a more avant garde and sophisticated, 24-hour lifestyle. Not so much with the wide-open spaces.

          Reeling Vern back to the land of terra firma, there’s a crazy little place called “Central Park” in Manhattan, which has more space than all the Norman Rockwell families in Manhattan could use up even if they all went there at the same time. Nothing is very far away in New York, not sure how familiar you are. I think pretty much everybody knows Zuccotti Park is busy right now, so if you want to go run the kids around that’s probably not the park for you.

          I grew up in Chicago, near Lincoln Park, which is much, much bigger than Zuccotti Park. Even so, sometimes we would go there and there would be so many people hanging out, cooking out, family reunions, softball games, whatever, that we’d have to keep going for a while until we found some space that we could use.

          Was that a travesty? An injustice? We didn’t think so. Just other citizens who got there first doing what they wanted to do. We didn’t feel entitled tell others what they could do, where they could do it, and how long they could do it for.

          “The squatters have made it so unsanitary who’d want to be sending their kids down there?”

          Wrong again, Bob! In response to sanitation complaints, OWS formed cleanup committees which have done a fine job. The group has been not only very peaceful, but extraordinarily cooperative. They’ve been very responsive. I know how irritating that must be for you. They have obviously refused to read your script.

          Better luck next time!

          “Third, you may pay taxes, but are you seriously trying to tell me that 99% of those 99% do? My guess is they’re more of the 43% who don’t.”

          You brought up that fallacy about the 47% before. I didn’t address it in the comments, but I did a blog post about it, which has apparently gone viral. My blog is pretty new, I don’t understand Twitter, and am generally not a good social networker. Up until today, my blog’s busiest day was 48 views. Right now I’m getting over 1,000 hits an hour with my “Open Letter to the 53%,” which was inspired by my conversation with you.

          Anyway, it addresses the fatally flawed math your position rests upon. And to answer your question, yes, the vast majority of the 99% movement are working, contributing, tax paying Americans.

          http://medic343.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/open-letter-to-the-53/

        • XO,

          Catching up on some prior comments:

          “there is an enormous network of people supporting this effort in a variety of ways. I’m one of them.”
          If not in the streets protesting, how are you supporting them, then? Blankets? Food? Money?

          #1 you guys have down, 2 and 3 are definitely fuzzy, and I don’t think 4 will ever happen since I hear now they’re not having to cook. ;).

          “Damned kids! Get off my lawn!! Does it make me a bad person for picturing you with your pants up around your ribcage shaking your fist at the neighbor kids? Seriously coffee almost came out my nose when I read that.
          Haha. Glad you enjoyed it. The thought of you fantasizing about me in some old-guy pants does creep me out a little, though. 😉

          “I have more reality cards. Forcefully? Was there some violent eviction that only you heard about?”
          Are you completely blind to the violence that’s happening with these movements? Furthermore, passive aggression is still a form of aggression. It doesn’t need to be violent to force somebody.

          <Willfully – they took over private property, were asked to vacate it, and refused. I'd say that's a pretty willful violation and disrespect for the law.

          Carelessly – Huh? Commend them for pulling of what you think is an amazing feat of organization? It's a glorified flash mob, big deal. My 16-year old nephew could get one going just as well or better that has far more purpose than yours does with far less smell, drug dealing, theft, and public sex. And while you're flipping through your "reality cards" (btw, do they have things like "Mom", "Bus", "Dog", "Boot", "Grass" and the like so that you can function in everyday life?) you might also want to check a dictionary for the word careless. Careless is made up of two words: Care, and Less, i.e. "with disregard" Your beloved squatters could care less about the fact that the park is private property, that they're damaging it, and that for that matter, could care less about the laws and the court system, and the cost all this is incurring to the city. Hence, "Careless".

          Squatter: You can choose whatever definition suits you, but try putting this on your flash cards. "SQUATTER. One who settles on the lands of others without any legal authority; this term is applied particularly to persons who settle on the public land. 3 Mart. N. S. 293."

          And where should they protest? AT THE VOTING BOOTH. If they want to assemble, so be it – they can do it legally on any public land just like dozens of others have done before them. Maybe they could ask the Tea Party how to do it properly.

          “In response to sanitation complaints, OWS formed cleanup committees which have done a fine job. The group has been not only very peaceful, but extraordinarily cooperative. They’ve been very responsive. I know how irritating that must be for you. They have obviously refused to read your script.”
          Haha. You just disproved your point. In RESPONSE to sanitation complaints? You mean they had to wait until Daddy told them to use the toilet before they actually did? How about being proactive? They shouldn’t need to be told to clean up. Besides, they’re only doing that to keep Brookfield at bay. Past protests by lefties have clearly shown that sanitation is hardly a true concern for them.

          “Extraordinarily cooperative”. As compared to what, your past protests? Not much of a standard to compare yourselves to, I’m afraid. I’ll admit, OWS is showing a little bit of maturity now.. Can’t say much for their brothers and sisters around the country or internationally, though.

          “Vern, can you show me where it is written that parks are limited to recreation, and are not suitable for public meetings and gatherings of a serious nature? There is no such thing, it’s another of the many, many things you make up.
          “Suitable” is a subjective word, so let’s say “legal”. On that point, we’re both wrong here, XO. NY Parks are actually very strictly defined as to what can be held there, and when, with clear bylaws enforcing them. Had OWS been in a truly “public” park, they would have been illegal.
          Source; http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_about/rules_and_regulations/rr_1-05.html

          “Private spaces for public use”, however, such as Zucotti Park, have no such bylaws.
          Credit where it’s due – OWS was smart to pick Zucotti for its stand-off. Well done.
          Source: http://www.good.is/post/public-space-private-rules-the-legal-netherworld-of-occupy-wall-street/

    • Why don’t you rent the sidewalk if you want to walk down it?

  8. Scott Erb says:

    I heard a story on NPR this weekend about OWS. It seems they are trying to have a good relationship with the park and the police. They have sanitation crews, have made arrangements with the trash removers on where to bring trash, and interviewed one guy with a wire brush cleaning off something painted on the sidewalk. The idea that these are rowdy occupiers with no respect for property is misguided. Yeah, there will always be trouble makers, but I think to call them losers is misguided, Vern. They’ve actually handled this pretty well — and they are having an impact. Even Republicans like Eric Cantor have walked back earlier criticism of the movement, recognizing that it’s tapping into something real.

    Sean, to the extent you’re “unbalanced” coverage mimics the way some on the left treated the tea party, you have a good point. I think both reflect real and legitimate reactions to a stagnate gridlock in Washington, and problems neither party has been able to answer.

    • Scott

      “Sean, to the extent you’re “unbalanced” coverage mimics the way some on the left treated the tea party, you have a good point.”

      I would have to disagree with that for a number of reasons.

      1. People on the left understood almost immediately what the tea party’s agenda was. They wanted smaller federal government and lower taxes. Speaking for myself here, I rejected that platform because it’s anti-middle class, and heavily favors the rich. I actually thought about it and considered the math before rejecting it, which is a major difference between the two movements.

      OWS had to wait until the right stopped ignoring, then mocking us, then they got around to trying to figure out what we have to say. We heard the tea party and listened to them, and waited to mock them until after determining that their ideas were ridiculous. Which didn’t take long, by the way. The tricolored hats with teabags hanging from them and signs that say, “I came unarmed — THIS TIME!” made it really clear who we were dealing with.

      2. The tea party was heavily supported by the corporate-owned mainstream media. The tea partiers (and by the way, they called themselves teabaggers first, and only stopped doing it when it made the rest of us ROFLOFAO) had gangbusters support from Fox News right out of the gate. Fox, that “fair and balanced” network, actually organized and promoted tea party rallies. That’s an editorial leap that no other major network in America has taken before to my knowledge. The only media that immediately supported OWS was independent and foreign news outlets.

      3. When you look at the actual support for the two movements, their structures are diametrically opposed. I have personally seen video of one of the Koch brothers (I forget which one, sorry) discussing how they came up with the idea and how pleased they were with the results. Following the money gets easier to do the more you practice it, and it’s not even slightly challenging in this case.

      The tea party was the result of decades of work by the wealthiest 1% of the population, including use of wordsmith Frank Luntz to come up with talking points that would get actual grassroots conservatives to support the agenda of the Koch brothers — who no tea partier should support if they were to be ideologically consistent. They apparently didn’t realize the real tea party was a rejection of corporate greed, and the original tea partiers were ideologically much closer to OWS. That’s why we mock them.

      Ron Paul is a perennial outsider for this very reason, because he won’t play along with the 1% agenda. He is, at a minimum, ideologically consistent. The tea party is not. Witness senior citizens showing up on Koch-funded (Prosperity for America, most Orwellian name ever) school buses to show their “grass roots” rejection of public healthcare. They’re carrying signs that say both “No socialized medicine” and “Keep your hands off my Medicare.” That’s why they got ridiculed. That and the many other contradictory, idiotic things they said. Because having pensioners and people who live in trailers fight for the Koch brothers to not pay taxes is just bizarre to people who can do math.

      The right is now furiously looking for a way to scream GEORGE SOROS! about OWS. Good luck with that. I know for a fact this movement is “crowd funded.” Don’t believe me? Go to the Facebook page of Dennis Trainor, his YouTube page is “NCFT.” (No cure for that). He solicited small donations from supporters, many of whom were unemployed and underemployed, to participate in documenting the OWS movement in DC. There were many others. We’ve been buzzing about this for a long time. There is no one driving organization with a major funder. That’s a fundamental difference in structure. This isn’t a small group working their own agenda. This is a huge group of people working our common agenda. That’s why you’re not going to stop it.

      (Crowd funding and social media would be, IMO, the solution to the campaign finance reform problem.)

      To summarize, OWS = grass roots. Tea party = Astroturf.

      It’s a lot faster to lay Astroturf, and the results are perfect immediately. Growing grass from seed takes much longer and looks patchy at first, but it’s real. That’s the difference. Astroturf is a lot more expensive and you can’t walk barefoot on it. Real grass covers the real earth and feeds carbon-based life forms.

      “I think both reflect real and legitimate reactions to a stagnate gridlock in Washington, and problems neither party has been able to answer.”

      I agree that there are certain issues that both sides share. The Koch brothers couldn’t have carried out their little plan without appealing to the genuine concerns of conservatives within the 99%. I believe you will find that when the Occupation reaches its apex, the changes it brings will be very satisfying to people on both sides of the spectrum.

      There’s a myth on the right that people on the left get plenty of representation in the media and by the Democratic party. Tea partiers swear to me it’s true on a regular basis. They sometimes even tell me my views get represented on FOX!!! I’m not sure what I could say to get them to understand how insane that narrative is to us. We haven’t had actual progressive policy in this country in a mighty long time. We have a two-party system — Republican and Republican Lite. It sucks. And we’re done taking it.

      Here’s an article with a lot of good charts and data about OWS’ issues, from that commie pinko dirty hippie rag Business Insider:

      http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall-street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-2011-10?op=1

      • Scott Erb says:

        It is an amazing spontaneous grass roots movement that nobody expected to take hold. I admit when students asked me about it back in its first week I mistook it for something like the old anti-war protests or anti-globalization stuff. They raise good points, but the protests were easily ignored and mocked.

        This is really different, and I’m not sure where it’s going. It could dissipate with winter and the election season, or it could be a force next summer and beyond.

        Remove the political differences (I’m much closer to OWS than the tea party politically) and I still think one can compare the reactions. They are different kinds of movements, but each were quickly demonized by the other side. I won’t go into whether one or the other was justly mocked, only that people could easily cherry pick bits of info (for Sean a picture of a guy pooping on the flag, on the left quoting some loon’s racism at an event) to suggest that represents the movement. My own opinion (and I’m thinking I might want to shift to research this) is that a comparison of the tea party and OWS will show vast differences, but also reflect some similar aspects of the rise of social media and discontent with 20th Century “ideological” politics. Interesting times.

        • “I won’t go into whether one or the other was justly mocked, only that people could easily cherry pick bits of info (for Sean a picture of a guy pooping on the flag, ”

          That picture was not from OWS, it was from an anti-Iraq war rally.

        • Scott,

          I tend to agree with your characterization. What bothers me most though, is that the Tea Party never presumed that they stood for 99% of the country. I think this is one of the things that most bothers me about the OWS movement. While I am in the definitely not in the top 1% of wage earners, I could not disagree more with some of their incipient demands. I get their anger, but I think they are misplacing the blame. As you’ve noted on multiple occasions, the factors that put us in our current mess are the result of many broad macroeconomic and demographic trends that have taken place over the past three decades. These trends include globalization along with the rise of an Indian and Chinese middle class. The rise of India and China is also spurring rising energy costs and resource shortages that are embedded in nearly every cost and thus contributing to inflationary pressure on goods. The greed of both Wall Street and Main Street, along with government encouragement from both parties. helped spur an asset bubble in housing, which was fueled by a loose monetary policy enacted by Alan Greenspan as a means to help get the American economy out of the 2001 recession and after the second shock of the 911 attacks. Another factor includes an aging demographic in the United States, which is leading to spiraling Medicare and Medicaid costs. High corporate tax rates in this country as well as high labor costs and increased global competition, led US corporations to offshore.

          The bottom line is that the current mess is the result of the complex interation of rational actors reacting to broad macro and demographic trends in a way that no one could predict. It is natural for humans to construct stories that blame one side or another, but in reality everyone is to blame as they have reacted to several broad forces sweeping the course of history.

  9. I’m not trying to point a finger, just a point of clarity.

  10. Sean

    “the Tea Party never presumed that they stood for 99% of the country.”

    I know you’re a bright guy. At this point if you don’t get this, it’s because you don’t want to get it. And you even reference it below, you’re not in the top 1% of wage earners. That’s what they’re talking about. It’s not an ideological number, it’s a demographic number. Is the resistance to their efforts based in logic? Or emotional dysfunction?

    Further, the tea party — and the right wing in general — have been running their discourse as if they not only are the majority, but they own the whole country. Reference the “moral majority” from the 1980s, right on through the tea partiers and the “real America.” So what does that mean, the rest of us are fake Americans? “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” So you’re either in support of Bush or you’re a terrorist? There’s no way to be a dissenting American? Can you imagine the mass flipout that the right wing would do if Obama said something that extreme? You guys don’t own patriotism.

    For decades now you’ve been talking to the rest of us like it’s your country and we’re just living in it. Do you really not see that it’s not polite to approach a conversation in this way?

    You mentioned before the whole thing was too “communitarian” for your liking. That may be absolutely what it comes down to. This movement is about people working together for the good of all. Ayn Rand’s tragic little skeleton must be twirling like a turbine in her grave.

    We’re moving into a stage of our development as a nation where people are going to have to choose between deciding to work together as a community or continuing to pretend that each man is an island.

    We’re at a lead, follow, or get out of the way moment. The majority of our citizens get it, and want to work together. That’s left AND right. Witness Fox News’ poll showing 70% of their own viewers supporting OWS, with support from the left almost unanimous. That’s not even close, that’s a slam dunk mandate. Not a GW Bush “51% if you turn a blind eye to all the dirty tricks” mandate, a REAL one. So “lead” is no longer viable, you’re going to have to pick one of the other two options.

    “As you’ve noted on multiple occasions, the factors that put us in our current mess are the result of many broad macroeconomic and demographic trends that have taken place over the past three decades.”

    So you think it’s a coincidence that Reagan introduced laws designed to divert money to the top of the socioeconomic ladder, and then the money all surprisingly flew in that direction? Are you really peddling that with a straight face? Do you not get how insulting that assertion is?

    Here’s what you’re saying the factors are that got us to the mess we’re in:

    *globalization
    *the rise of an Indian and Chinese middle class.
    *rising energy costs and resource shortages
    *The greed of both Wall Street and Main Street
    *government encouragement from both parties.
    *an asset bubble in housing,
    *loose monetary policy enacted by Alan Greenspan
    *aging demographic in the United States… Medicare and Medicaid costs.
    *High corporate tax rates in this country
    *high labor costs and increased global competition, led US corporations to offshore.

    There’s one gigantic chunk of our economy – truly the lion’s share – that is conspicuous in its absence above. Most of the OWS people — including the LIbertarians — identify it as a major source of the problem. I have a pie chart for 2008 federal discretionary spending. It shows this one expenditure using (ironically) 53% of the budget, with the next largest category being “transportation” at 7%. Can you guess what it is? Hint: It doesn’t appear in your breakdown above.

    “The bottom line is that the current mess is the result of the complex interation of rational actors reacting to broad macro and demographic trends in a way that no one could predict.”

    When I read this it reminded me of Hurricane Katrina. I lived in New Orleans in the early 1980s. My friends and I used to joke about having a power plant between our place and the levee. It’s a bowl-shaped city, on the coast, six feet below sea level. George Bush, epic rocket surgeon, said, “Nobody could have seen this coming.” Nobody except the Army Corps of Engineers, and everybody who lives in Louisiana, that is. The right wing ideology rests heavily on denial and refusal to accept accountability. There, I said it.

    “It is natural for humans to construct stories that blame one side or another, but in reality everyone is to blame as they have reacted to several broad forces sweeping the course of history.”

    One thing that I really hope will be an outcome of OWS is that our national discourse will no longer take place within the right-wing frame. The false equivalency, like the one above, is patently offensive. While the idea itself is true, its application here is an affront. You’re saying the poor are equally to blame for having been crushed by the greed of the wealthy?

    Everyone is not equally to blame. The handful of people at the top of the economic pyramid embarked on a plan to buy our government and pervert it to suit their financial interests. This was deliberate. They threw a ton of time and money into it. They own this fiasco, and they deserve the ass kicking they’re about to get.

    • “I know you’re a bright guy. At this point if you don’t get this, it’s because you don’t want to get it. And you even reference it below, you’re not in the top 1% of wage earners.”

      I get that. What I don’t like is that this movement presumes to speak for the 99%, when many in this country don’t disagree with their principles.

      “Further, the tea party — and the right wing in general — have been running their discourse as if they not only are the majority, but they own the whole country. Reference the “moral majority” from the 1980s, right on through the tea partiers and the “real America.” So what does that mean, the rest of us are fake Americans? “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” So you’re either in support of Bush or you’re a terrorist? There’s no way to be a dissenting American?”

      Both sides presume to know what is best for the country, but the Tea Party just wasn’t arrogant enough to claim to speak for the “99%”.

      “Can you imagine the mass flipout that the right wing would do if Obama said something that extreme?”

      First, Bush’s comment was directed at sovereign countries, not Americans. Second, Obama has scapegoated an entire class of people – the “evil” rich. Some of those “evil” rich like Cornel West and Kanye West, members of the “1%” are out helping OWS. Attacking people because they are successful is no way to unite a country.

      “You mentioned before the whole thing was too “communitarian” for your liking. That may be absolutely what it comes down to. This movement is about people working together for the good of all. Ayn Rand’s tragic little skeleton must be twirling like a turbine in her grave. We’re moving into a stage of our development as a nation where people are going to have to choose between deciding to work together as a community or continuing to pretend that each man is an island.”

      This “stage of development” sounds awfully like Marx’s concept of dialectical materialism, in which history is the product of class struggle, and capitalism falls apart under its own weight due to its internal contradictions. Lenin tried this philosphy and it failed, leaving hundreds of millions of human souls in abject misery. OWS is nothing new. Human movements rarely are. I believe strongly in the concept of rugged individualism. In my life, with the exception of the military, I’ve benefited more by being on my own than by working with others. I have frequently felt stifled by the restraints of “the group”, and have most often succeeded when I do things on my own. I may be different than most, but for me being constrained by an oppressive community would be akin to a fate worse than death. My view is both political, but even more so, personal. I am by nature, an introvert, and I find more inspiration internally than externally. It is simply who I am. When some one with values that are fundamentally different than mine claims to speak for me, my hackles rise and I get suspicious, especially if that person can’t tell me where they want to lead me.

      “We’re at a lead, follow, or get out of the way moment. The majority of our citizens get it, and want to work together. That’s left AND right. Witness Fox News’ poll showing 70% of their own viewers supporting OWS, with support from the left almost unanimous. That’s not even close, that’s a slam dunk mandate. Not a GW Bush “51% if you turn a blind eye to all the dirty tricks” mandate, a REAL one. So “lead” is no longer viable, you’re going to have to pick one of the other two options”

      We are indeed. But in life there are two sides to every coin. I prefer to lead from the other side. When I see people openly violate private property rights, a right that is the lynchpin of our modern democracy, I simply cannot support the perpetrators. They don’t speak for me any more than the Tea Party speaks for you.

      “You’re saying the poor are equally to blame for having been crushed by the greed of the wealthy?”

      It depends on the person. The migrant worker making $20k a year, who purchased a $700k house in California deserves nothing but blame for his actions. Don’t you think? How could the wealthy possibly be responsible for greed on this scale? Do you honestly believe the wealthy sought to “crush” the poor, and thereby destroy their own customers? Do you think they deliberately crashed the system? Most importantly, where do you think this movement is going? How do you intend it end? What is the point?

      Many people will say OWS is a point in and of itself. But what these folks don’t understand is that power is a concrete force. The movement must culminate in something or it will fizzle and die. All movements do.

      “There’s one gigantic chunk of our economy – truly the lion’s share – that is conspicuous in its absence above. Most of the OWS people — including the LIbertarians — identify it as a major source of the problem. I have a pie chart for 2008 federal discretionary spending.”

      I am guessing you are talking about the “wars.” If you look outside of discretionary spending, and look at total spending, SS, Medicare, and Medicaid now consume about 40% of the budget. The 47% are draining the federal income taxes provided the 53%. The population is beginning to learn that it can vote itself money from the treasury. The more this trend continues, the less the American house of cards can stand.

      “Witness Fox News’ poll showing 70% of their own viewers supporting OWS, with support from the left almost unanimous.”

      You do understand what an information warfare campaign is, right? This poll was unscientific. As such, one can vote on it as much as one likes. If someone in the OWS movement sends a few Twitter messages to their followers, they can organize a dedicated group to vote in the poll.

      “They own this fiasco, and they deserve the ass kicking they’re about to get.”

      If you are recommending a violent revolution, bring it on. Only one part of the population has been trained for war, and I assure you the OWS folks aren’t it.

      • “I get that. What I don’t like is that this movement presumes to speak for the 99%, when many in this country don’t disagree with their principles.”

        So you’re still going to just keep saying that the 99% refers to people that agree with us, rather than a straightforward demographic breakdown, huh? It almost seems like an obstructionist thing, where you find stuff to be mad about, then when it gets explained over and over and over and over and over and over you just keep going “lalalalalala I can’t hear you.” So much fake outrage on the right. It’s kind of like running around throwing smoke bombs and yelling.

        We totally get that a certain group of people, like 29% of Fox’s audience, don’t support us. I don’t think the 1% bother to watch Fox. The world revolves around them, why should they watch news?

        “Both sides presume to know what is best for the country, but the Tea Party just wasn’t arrogant enough to claim to speak for the “99%”.”

        Sean, the American right is, without a doubt, the most arrogant batch of people on the face of planet earth. I say that without hesitation. Let’s take a poll of every human being on earth, ask them to identify who are the biggest bullies, the biggest tantrum throwing, arrogant, “don’t give a shit about you” arrogant fuckers in the WORLD, and I promise you it’s the American right. You guys just plainly and simply aren’t in a position to call anybody arrogant.

        “First, Bush’s comment was directed at sovereign countries, not Americans.”

        Wrong again, Bob! That narrative was directed at the MILLIONS of us who poured out into the streets to protest the onset of the Bush Doctrine. Yes, we were told over and over again by our fellow citizens, that we were either with Bush or with the terrorists. The revisionist history is really fucking tedious.

        “Second, Obama has scapegoated an entire class of people – the “evil” rich. Some of those “evil” rich like Cornel West and Kanye West, members of the “1%” are out helping OWS.”

        OK, if you’re going to pick up where Vern left off with making up stuff so you can throw more smoke bombs, please link me to the clips of people throwing the word evil at EVERY rich person. You see, on the left, we’re into nuance. You guys are the ones who think everything is black and white. We get that everybody’s different, and we need to take people as they come. Oprah’s not evil. Neither is Warren Buffett, George Soros, Cornell West is a college professor, so I highly doubt he’s a billionaire. Steve Jobs wasn’t evil. The Pritzker family, Anderson Cooper, oh how tedious to make a list of rich people progressives just adore.

        “Attacking people because they are successful is no way to unite a country.”

        Is that why we’re attacking them? Or is that more propagandist bullshit from the military-industrial complex’s playbook? Like where we economically rape and bomb the shit out of a country and then say they hate us because of our freedom? We don’t hate them for being successful. I don’t even hate them at all. I want to disempower them, because they’re fucking everything up.

        “This “stage of development” sounds awfully like Marx’s concept of dialectical materialism, in which history is the product of class struggle, and capitalism falls apart under its own weight due to its internal contradictions.”

        So what?

        “Lenin tried this philosphy and it failed, leaving hundreds of millions of human souls in abject misery.”

        I know you’re a bright guy. Are there any modern socialist countries without the abject souls yadda yadda? Like in reality today?

        “OWS is nothing new.”

        Really? When was the last one we had?

        “Human movements rarely are. I believe strongly in the concept of rugged individualism. In my life, with the exception of the military, I’ve benefited more by being on my own than by working with others. ”

        Right. Well I have to say, a lot of the belief in “rugged individualism” is bullshit. It’s just a way of pretending that you haven’t benefitted from the input of others. For example, Ayn Rand’s ever so noble railroad tycoon, the rugged individualist. Really? I guess she missed the part where the railroads were one of the most heavily subsidized industries this country has ever seen. So he was a rugged individualist who used a shitload of tax dollars and cheap immigrant labor to do it all by himself.

        “I have frequently felt stifled by the restraints of “the group”, and have most often succeeded when I do things on my own. I may be different than most, but for me being constrained by an oppressive community would be akin to a fate worse than death.”

        Is your need to do your own thing more important than everybody else’s? Because in order for you to get your own way 100% of the time that means a lot of other people have to yield to you. Might they find it oppressive? Or is there some reason your needs should always come first?

        “My view is both political, but even more so, personal. I am by nature, an introvert, and I find more inspiration internally than externally.”

        It has nothing to do with being introverted. It has to do with being willing to work with others and recognizing that their voice is just as important as yours. It’s about playing nicely in the sandbox.

        “It is simply who I am. When some one with values that are fundamentally different than mine claims to speak for me, my hackles rise and I get suspicious, especially if that person can’t tell me where they want to lead me.”

        I will suggest for your consideration that some of this perception is distorted by your anger. The people are holding up signs that say “I am the 99%,” not speaking for anyone but themselves.

        Apparently it’s just anathema to the right wing thought process, but this whole thing is about not having anybody lead anybody, but letting everybody come together and see where we decide to go together, as a group, in a way that works for everybody. You guys are the ones who can’t deal with not having someone barking orders and demands. We’re tired of that shit. We’re not playing that game anymore.

        “I prefer to lead from the other side.”

        From the “I refuse to participate in the solution” side? What side?

        “When I see people openly violate private property rights, a right that is the lynchpin of our modern democracy, I simply cannot support the perpetrators.”

        You know, this false narrative about property rights, and the tenacity with which you cling to it, is really telling. It’s open to the public 24 x 7 x 365. They’re the public. How are they violating property rights? It’s just the little right wing control freaks tripping because they can’t boss us around like they normally do, because we’re sick of getting shoved in the fucking locker. Nobody’s violating shit, get over it.

        Even if they were violating property rights, I think we’ve arrived at the bottom line in the disagreement. On the right, property and MY rights are the most important thing. On the left, the rights of EVERYBODY are the most important thing, not mine more than anyone else’s. So if my property conflicts with somebody else’s human rights, my property will be the thing that has to give. I know, that makes Republicans’ blood run cold. What?!? Fuck that! I have every right to poison thousands of villagers in countries I’ve never been to, because I can extract their oil! Fuck them, they probably all got cancer some other way. Game over, you guys lose. Take a deep breath and relax into it.

        “It depends on the person. The migrant worker making $20k a year, who purchased a $700k house in California deserves nothing but blame for his actions. Don’t you think?”

        OK Vern — oh I mean Sean, show me a migrant worker who bought a $700K house. One example. Have you ever even met a migrant worker? I know a shitload of them. If they did buy a $700K house they had 1,400 Mexicans living in it, because those people scrimp to the bone and send every penny they can back to Mexico. And please, please don’t tell me how wrong I am. It’s my family. I fucking know them.

        “How could the wealthy possibly be responsible for greed on this scale?”

        Did you bat your eyelashes when you said that?

        “Do you honestly believe the wealthy sought to “crush” the poor, and thereby destroy their own customers?

        Roger that. Strap on the codpiece and fly the “mission accomplished” banner, it’s a done deal.

        “Do you think they deliberately crashed the system? Most importantly, where do you think this movement is going? How do you intend it end? What is the point?”

        One of my primary interests is cognitive science, and I realize it’s possible that you guys just really, literally don’t have the brain wiring in place to accommodate this particular thought circuit, so I’ll lay it down again. I don’t intend it to end. This is not about each of us stepping up to have a big battle of wills where the bossiest one gets to tell everybody else what to do.

        This is about true democracy. Democracy forged in mutual respect, where we all decide things together as a group, so everybody gets to be happy as much as possible. I know you guys hate social justice, but that’s something you need to take a serious look at. Right now we don’t have justice, we have “just us.” We want liberty and justice FOR ALL.

        “Many people will say OWS is a point in and of itself. But what these folks don’t understand is that power is a concrete force. The movement must culminate in something or it will fizzle and die. All movements do.”

        Another thing right wingers do all the time in conversation that comes across both bull headed and arrogant at the same time, is to assure the other person that they don’t understand. A lot of people are having a hard time wrapping their heads around this movement, specifically because it’s an organically developing expression of humanity over materialism. I can hear Vern’s blood vessels rupturing in his brain. But yes. We’re going to put the human condition at the very center of our democracy for a change. Take a deep breath and relax into it.

        “I am guessing you are talking about the “wars.” If you look outside of discretionary spending, and look at total spending, SS, Medicare, and Medicaid now consume about 40% of the budget.”

        I have to laugh about the 800 pound gorilla in the room, that we’re going to sort of jerk our head towards without actually looking,and then turn right back to attacking the poor. It’s OK. The military industrial complex is on the chopping block. I’m sure that’s upsetting for a lot of people who are addicted to endless war. Take a deep breath and relax into it.

        Promoting the general welfare is in the Preamble. Levying taxes to pay for it is in Article 1, like first order of business. Yeah, I know, the common defense. The whole system is completely out of whack. The hawks have had their turn at bat for a long fucking time, and you’re done now. It’s somebody else’s turn. We’re not going to kill people overseas so Dick Cheney can take even more money from them anymore.

        ” The 47% are draining the federal income taxes provided the 53%.”

        Yeah, about that. You know that Open Letter to the 53% that I wrote in response to Vern? Well. On October 16, my blog had a total number of views since its inception of about 900. I was averaging maybe 20-30 hits a day, all-time high was 48. My goal was to break 50 in one day.

        I published that open letter to the 53% on October 17. That one post got 6,537 hits the first day, 3,001 yesterday, and in the last 3 1/2 hours, has gotten another 1,077 hits. You see, the 53% people are arrogant as all fuck get out. I know, they don’t think so. They think they’re the only ones who pay, and everybody else is a freeloader. I pay just as much as they do, but they’re so full of themselves that they insist I’m trying to take their money. It makes me feel a big fat “fuck you” when I hear that whole line of reasoning. So I wrote that post.

        Apparently I’m not the only person who feels that way. That shit went viral from a blog nobody has ever heard of, that had 8 subscribers and nobody gives a shit about. But it made people want to stand up and cheer.

        I know you don’t get it. I know you don’t agree with it. I know you think we’re all so totally wrong. I invite you to consider the fact that the way you view yourself and the way others view you are two very different things, and not in a good way.

        “They own this fiasco, and they deserve the ass kicking they’re about to get.”

        “If you are recommending a violent revolution, bring it on. Only one part of the population has been trained for war, and I assure you the OWS folks aren’t it.”

        Yes! You nailed it! We’re going to end the military-industrial complex and our violence-based society by taking up guns against the people who fucking love killing everybody! GENIUS! LOL Take a deep breath and relax into it. You’re not going to stop it any more than you’ll stop the sunrise.

        • “Yes! You nailed it! We’re going to end the military-industrial complex and our violence-based society by taking up guns against the people who fucking love killing everybody! GENIUS! LOL Take a deep breath and relax into it. You’re not going to stop it any more than you’ll stop the sunrise.”

          Thank you for making my point.

  11. Below is an idea popular among the OWS crowd. I’m wondering what you gentlemen in here think of these proposals.

    A good idea from Warren Buffet

    Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling: “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just … … pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election”.

    The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 – before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

    Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure. Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

    Congressional Reform Act of 2011

    1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.

    2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

    3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

    4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

    7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make these contracts with Congressmen/women. Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work. If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. Don’t you think it’s time? THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!

    If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete. Please keep it going, and thanks.

    • XO,

      Here’s my critique:

      “1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.”

      I like the spirit of this one, but I don’t like its implications. In effect, fewer middle class folks would be attracted to running for office, because they simply could not afford to serve.

      “2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.”

      Sounds like a good idea, but I would have to dig into the details and learn more about it before making a decision.

      I agree with provisos 3 through 6. However, I don’t fully understand #7. What contracts are they talking about?

      So it looks like I am for 4 of 7, need more info on 2, and disagree with one of them. Not too shabby. 😉

  12. Chris Van Trump says:

    Ultimately, I suppose my problem with the OWS concept (despite falling firmly within the demographic of the “99%”, in most ways) is the lack of direction. I’ve seen lots of passion, and lots of individual attempts to steer things in one direction or another, but the movement as a whole seems rudderless.

    And, frankly, there’s a word for a bold statement of displeasure devoid of a plan to rectify the situation that precipitated it, and it’s not “post-ideological thought”, it’s TANTRUM.

    In effect, a very large percentage of the OWS base comes off as an angry 2-year old, pissed off and squalling because the other kid has more blocks than they do.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of the way corporate America functions. I think that the corporate pay structure has become increasingly top-heavy, and that the lunatics are running the asylum there, but ultimately, is it really the government’s role to step in and set mandatory maximum pay rates?

    We’re promised equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. We can do some work on the former, but the latter should be avoided like the plague.

    • “Ultimately, I suppose my problem with the OWS concept (despite falling firmly within the demographic of the “99%”, in most ways) is the lack of direction. I’ve seen lots of passion, and lots of individual attempts to steer things in one direction or another, but the movement as a whole seems rudderless.”

      One problem that is going to continue to stick in a lot of people’s craws is that this is a whole new animal. There’s never been one quite like this before. The whole point is that we’re not playing the game anymore, because it’s rigged for us to lose. So the more insistent you are that we operate in the same old way that has gotten us into this mess, the more frustrated you’re going to be.

      I realize there’s an emotional aspect to it. Look at the fertilizer spread all over this thread about usurping private property by occupying the park. The park is available to the public 24x7x365 per its longstanding arrangement with the city. Another blisteringly simple concept that people choose not to get because, emotionally, this movement pisses them off and they don’t like it. Sean and Vern both think people should be charged rent to use the park, because they don’t like the people who are using it or what they’re using it for. That’s not a logical position, it’s an angry, tantrum-y position. We’ve already paid to use public parks, learn to love it.

      “And, frankly, there’s a word for a bold statement of displeasure devoid of a plan to rectify the situation that precipitated it, and it’s not “post-ideological thought”, it’s TANTRUM.”

      There’s a word for downplaying the validity of others’ complaints, too; it’s called “minimizing,” and it’s a go-to move for abusers. It’s a way of not being accountable for your own bad behavior (or avoiding things that are too emotionally difficult to deal with, when people do it to themselves). In this case you’re talking about other people, so it’s abusive rather than self-protective. It’s like when a guy punches his wife in the face, and later says it was no big deal, he only slapped her and she should quit whining. The system is broken. You know it too.

      So according to you they have no plan, because their ideas don’t fit into the little pigeonholes you’ve so graciously set aside for them and their stuff you don’t give a shit about. Are you SURE they had no plan? What if the plan was to come together and decide, as a group how to fix the problems? What if the plan involved making a plan that treated root causes rather than symptoms? That was the plan I knew was in the works, and hey, what do you know? That’s what’s happening. Must be a coincidence, like Reaganomics happening, followed by a huge shift of capital to the rich.

      “In effect, a very large percentage of the OWS base comes off as an angry 2-year old, pissed off and squalling because the other kid has more blocks than they do.”

      You know, one thing I’m really not going to miss when the dust settles on all this is the right-wing frame for every conversation. You guys are just fucking rude on a routine basis. Another psychological go-to move for the American right, projection. That’s where you do something and claim the other person is doing it. Then you can do the old standby false equivalency, which you guys do all the time.

      Yeah, I know, the next thing will be “Hey, what ‘you guys’? I’m not in the right wing, I’m a moderate/centrist/independent.” That’s another big one in your playbook, never admit where you actually stand, always define your position as the center, because again, it’s your world, we’re just living in it. The whole playbook is played out.

      “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of the way corporate America functions. I think that the corporate pay structure has become increasingly top-heavy, and that the lunatics are running the asylum there”

      Again, there’s a very strong possibility that the people you diss and mock are going to create changes that you will be quite pleased with. But because you’re not the one driving the conversation, it’s not happening within your frame, on your timetable, and according to you little definition of how the game should be played, you’re going to dump all over it. Then you’ll still reap the benefits, and you’ll find some other way to revise history to discredit those who did the heavy lifting. Nice.

      • Chris Van Trump says:

        First off, let’s begin with the fact that yes, I AM in fact a centrist, no, I do NOT adhere to the majority of right-wing political theory. I’m a social libertarian and a fiscal conservative; when I was 18 I took a political alignment test, and the result I got back was “Libertarian Fascist”. Which is to say I’m reasonably patriotic, believe in the smallest government we can get away with that makes as few laws as possible governing behavior, and if you break them we shoot you. The role of government, ultimately, is to secure the safety of its citizens, not their success.

        Now that that’s out of the way, we can continue.

        You’re operating under a false assumption regarding this whole OWS affair. Specifically, this is not a new animal. There is, as they say, nothing new under the sun, and this has been done before. Repeatedly.

        Woodstock ended August 18th, 1969.

        It also failed to change the world.

        The concept of decrying the system as rigged, and declaring an intent to address “root causes” and work outside the system to address the problems is nothing new. And it almost invariably fails.

        For the simplest of reasons; most people like the system. The system is safe.

        The system, in fact, is set up to preclude people like you (no offense, though I’m sure you’ll just call me rude in the rudest fashion you can imagine [again]) from taking control of the the system. It’s set up to prevent *anyone* from taking control of it.

        What makes democracy an appealing form of government is not its efficiency; I think we can all agree on that. It’s the stability it offers. Barring a truly major shift in public opinion that unites the entire nation in a single movement, democracies tend to lumber along in a single rough direction as dictated by all the various forces pulling in their own particular direction.

        Now, the logic that I’ve seen presented by a lot of OWS supporters is that the system is rigged; the corporations control too much of it, and they use their money to buy influence in voters and politicians.

        Hell, they’re probably right. We’ll never see a truly fair election in this country until we completely redesign the electoral system from the ground up. Specifically, exclude the use of private funds, extend the electoral process to cover a wider range of debates and primaries, probably extend the length of a term of service while simultaneously cutting the number of terms that can be served to *one*, and a handful of other changes that would, in all likelihood, restore a measure of individual statesmanship to the mix that has been missing since George Washington made his farewell address.

        There’s one other complication though. The bit about buying elections can also be said, of course, about unions. And other special interest groups. And rich individuals. And celebrities who wield disproportionate power to sway opinion, wholly separate from their financial influence.

        The system is more complex than “Corporations are evil!” Corporations are not, in fact, evil. They’re amoral. They’re entities that exist to generate profit. That’s all. Anything else is window dressing. Window dressing typically calculated to make them *more profit*, at that.

        Unions? Equally amoral. Their concern is not for the well-being of the average American, but for the well-being of the union members, and all-too-often, for the well-being of the union *officers*.

        Special interest groups? Eh, I think you see the pattern by now.

        They’re all buying influence with voters and politicians, because they all have their own disparate agendas. These are the aforementioned forces all struggling to pull our democracy the way they want it to go.

        And all of them will be more successful than OWS unless it learns to pick a direction, preferably one in which there’s already some momentum, and start pulling.

        I hear an awful lot of talk. “We’re going to figure out what to do, we’re going to address root causes, we’re going to work outside the system because the system is broken”, but so far all I’ve seen *is talk*. Not direction.

        Hence: rudderless. Directionless. An amorphous mass of individuals, all pissed off for their own reasons, all with a common grievance against the boogeyman of the moment, who have banded together to say how pissed off they are.

        You’d be a lot more effective if you put forth a focused agenda, working *within the system*, to go along with all that rage.

        • Chris,

          You really ought to start a blog. That was VERY well said.

        • “First off, let’s begin with the fact that yes, I AM in fact a centrist,”

          How did I predict that? Almost like I’ve read your whole playbook.

          “when I was 18 I took a political alignment test, and the result I got back was “Libertarian Fascist”.”

          Describing yourself as both a centrist and a fascist simultaneously is pretty hilarious. So if fascists are in the middle, who’s on the right?

          You open the conversation with the insistence that the far right is actually the center, and the discourse can begin there — so far to the right that my position doesn’t even exist. The world in your mind literally revolves around you, and you believe that’s as it should be.

          “The role of government, ultimately, is to secure the safety of its citizens, not their success.”

          So we’re 86ing the Preamble then? The part about promoting the general welfare?

          “Now that that’s out of the way, we can continue.”

          Phew! I was so worried for a minute that this whole conversation would be rudderless, or that your position might not be the point of reference.

          “Woodstock ended August 18th, 1969. It also failed to change the world.”

          Were there any differences between Woodstock and Occupy Wall Street? Hm, let’s see if I can think of any.
          *Woodstock was a music concert, not a protest
          *Woodstock lasted for a weekend
          *Other Woodstocks didn’t then spring up all over the world in support

          So other than having nothing in common other than you don’t like them, they’re exactly the same.

          “The concept of decrying the system as rigged, and declaring an intent to address “root causes” and work outside the system to address the problems is nothing new. And it almost invariably fails.”

          Well you must be really relieved that none of this is going to work! Whew! They must all be going home now that you’ve dismissed them.

          “The system, in fact, is set up to preclude people like you (no offense, though I’m sure you’ll just call me rude in the rudest fashion you can imagine [again])”

          You guys are hilarious! You approach every conversation as if the world revolves around you, and then take offense when someone uses the F word. I’m surprised how sensitive you are, since Sean repeatedly assures me how much tougher you guys are, and Vern thinks we should be run over with tanks. I never imagined you were such hothouse flowers.

          “Barring a truly major shift in public opinion that unites the entire nation in a single movement,”

          Good thing there’s nothing exactly like that going on right now! Nope, nothing so see here but a few hippies.

          “Now, the logic that I’ve seen presented by a lot of OWS supporters is that the system is rigged; the corporations control too much of it, and they use their money to buy influence in voters and politicians.

          Hell, they’re probably right.”

          So that’s why you’re not supporting them? Or just because you don’t get to drive the discourse? Cause honestly, with all of you guys, it kind of seems like the thing you don’t like about it is that you can’t control it.

          “We’ll never see a truly fair election in this country until we completely redesign the electoral system from the ground up.”

          The weird thing is, that’s exactly what they were doing at OWS instead of having Woodstock. Good thing there’s no law that any of you have to cash the reality checks you’ve been given.

          “The system is more complex than “Corporations are evil!” Corporations are not, in fact, evil. They’re amoral. They’re entities that exist to generate profit. That’s all. ”

          Hey thanks for telling us all the stuff that we’ve been discussing for years.What would we do without you guys? Oh, right, we’d re-forge our democracy.

          Thanks for all the critiques on our movement and how we could be more effective.

        • Chris Van Trump says:

          “You open the conversation with the insistence that the far right is actually the center…”

          Technically, the Libertarian Fascist line is used because I found it hellaciously entertaining at the time.

          As for the rest, you can view it the way you like. I weigh each position (and candidate, for that matter) on individual merit. You want to smoke pot? Smoke pot! You want to have gay marriage? Have gay marriage! What goes on with your personal life is your own damn business, until it impacts mine. So, if you want to smoke pot, and you get caught driving while intoxicated, well, that’s a bit of government intervention that I wholeheartedly approve of.

          Ultimately, I find government intervention in the lives of individuals beyond a guarantee of opportunity (which functionally includes safety) to be counterproductive at best, and condescending at worst.

          Then again, you’re a liberal. You LIVE for condescension, and have no faith in the ability of the “little people” to think for themselves. Instead, you imagine yourself as the vanguard of an enlightened far-left army, poised to seize the reins of government and finally do away with all these evils like individual achievement and dissenting opinions.

          Or, maybe I’m just being a generalizing twit. You tell me, you’re the expert.

          “So we’re 86ing the Preamble then? The part about promoting the general welfare?”

          First off, the Preamble is a PREAMBLE. An introduction. It has no legal standing, nor has it ever. Secondly, how does one define “promoting the general welfare”?

          You, apparently, define it as a guarantee of outcomes. That, no matter your personal aptitude, attitude, or industriousness, you will be guaranteed an outcome not worse than someone who might, for example, work harder and smarter than you.

          I cannot agree.

          When we guarantee outcomes, we remove incentive for advancement. Opportunity, that we can guarantee, and for the most part, we do. With opportunity, we have achievement. When we guarantee success, what is there to achieve? Whose welfare are we protecting by creating a caste of clients to the state?

          We’re back to that classic far-left mistrust of the masses, the idea that people are too stupid to look out for themselves, and too stupid to succeed without Big Brother handing them everything that they might need at no cost to themselves, just cost to the people who have *already* succeeded.

          Or wait, maybe I’m just painting your movement in broad strokes, and assigning beliefs to you that you may not hold, all in the name of attempting to demonize my opponent in order to undermine his position.

          Now, the smart thing to do here would be to debate me on the concept of opportunity, how much you think we as Americans have, and how you think it could be improved.

          Or, you could continue as you have been, and just encourage people to write you off as a far-left nutjob.

          “Good thing there’s nothing exactly like that going on right now! Nope, nothing so see here but a few hippies.”

          Pretty much. Or at least that’s the way you’re managing to present yourselves to a significant portion of the population, and your personal behavior here does not help your cause. You may feel as though you’re scoring points, but you’re just alienating people, rather than attempting to bring them to your side.

          You’re a minority. You may claim to be the “99%”, but if you truly were, you wouldn’t need to be protesting anything; you’d be able to elect any candidate you wanted to do functionally anything you wanted to do.

          Instead, you’re shouting on street corners.

          See, in the civilized world, when someone says “I don’t see the point to your position”, the proper response is to say “Well, here’s why I see things the way I do”, not “Fuck you you right-wing prick, you people are all the same and you hate anything you don’t control.”

          Which brings us back to Woodstock. The late ’60s saw the rise of the hippie movement, a time of significant social unrest, wide-scale demonstrations against unpopular government policies, and what was the ultimate result of that?

          The people of the United States elected Richard Nixon.

          Twice.

          “Hey thanks for telling us all the stuff that we’ve been discussing for years.What would we do without you guys? Oh, right, we’d re-forge our democracy.”

          No you wouldn’t. You’d fail. You, personally, would definitely fail. Quickly.

          Because rather than attempting to reach out to people who don’t agree with you, you attack them in a blind ideological rage, incandescent with fury at the very thought that their world view might not match up with your own, because in your own mind you are *so very clearly correct*.

          You’re vastly more interested in stroking your ego than in winning people over. Your movement presents itself poorly, and will in all likelihood either pass into the night with little more than a whimper, or, if you’re *lucky*, get co-opted by someone who is better organized and prepared to compromise in order to work within the system, and as such do more than just shout at people from street corners.

          You say you’re going to change the world, but how do you intend to accomplish that? A violent uprising? I find that difficult to believe. A slow process by which you influence the people around you into seeing the validity of your beliefs and opinions? Unlikely, with people like yourself as representatives. You say you want to work outside the system, but working outside the system precludes you from taking the legitimate options of electing politicians who are responsive to your views, and dumps you back to either the slow, steady method which will take decades to yield results, or a short violent method that would be nearly impossible to initiate and undoubtedly end in failure.

          Short of consigning all dissenters to some sort of far-left reeducation gulag, you’re not going to manage much more than the Tea Party did. Which is to say that you might become a thorn in the side of the Democrats, if you get a bit more organized, but you probably won’t be accomplishing much more than blatant obstructionism.

          Working within the system, you would at least have that effect; bringing your grievances to the public stage, and quite possibly wielding political power disproportionate to the size of your electorate.

          Much like the Tea Party, whom I don’t care much for either. For very similar reasons, all things considered.

    • We’re promised equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. We can do some work on the former, but the latter should be avoided like the plague.”
      Well said.

  13. ““Yes! You nailed it! We’re going to end the military-industrial complex and our violence-based society by taking up guns against the people who fucking love killing everybody! GENIUS! LOL Take a deep breath and relax into it. You’re not going to stop it any more than you’ll stop the sunrise.”

    Thank you for making my point.”

    Oh, OK. So when a majority of your fellow citizens implement democracy,when that involves you not being the baller and shot caller, you’re down to take up arms against us. Because again, it’s your country, and the rest of us are just living in it, so we should continue to shut the fuck up and let the military industrial complex grind the whole world into dust. And if we don’t those humble, patriotic guys on the right will shoot us.

    And you call other people terrorists?

    • Again, you presume OWS represents the majority. If they did, they’d be in power.

      • Stay tuned, we’re working the math on that right now.

        My rebuttal to the 53% movement is one of wordpress’ top posts of the day, second time. Over 3,000 hits so far today. Apparently a lot of people would like to give the 53% crowd a one-finger salute.

        • XO,

          Congratulations. My best day was only 610. 😉

        • It’s not about me. It’s about how many people feel very, very strongly about this.

          And you know, as a humble patriot, I would think that instead of…

          “The problem with bringing tanks in, is that the movement only gets stronger.”

          … you’d think the problem would be that attacking Americans who are exercising their constitutional right to peacefully assemble. Do you remember hearing anybody on the left saying the teabaggers should be run over with tanks? I didn’t. And those nutfucks were threatening to shoot us.

          • XO,

            No, I don’t remember them being threatened by tanks, but I also don’t recall the Tea Party violating private property rights. Public access or not, Brooksfield has the right to set “reasonable” rules for use of its park. Brooksfield yielded because local politicians threatened to make life difficult for the company – union style.

            I also think Vern was joking when he said the government should bring in tanks. I also think the argument that bringing in tanks to put down the movement in the absence of widespread violence, would, in fact, strengthen the movement, is a reasonable one. I don’t think this argument is at all inconsistent with your contention that it also would be unconstitutional. Additionally, it would also violate the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, unless the tanks were driven by National Guardsman.

  14. After reading the (lack of) rules governing the use of private space designated for public use, I retract my “invading” comments re: OWS in regards to Zucotti Park. if Brookfield was stupid or naive enough to leave legal room open for an OWS to squat as they are, then Brookfield owns it. Point OWS (but they’re still losers! ;))

    • So Vern, what do you think about the ideas floated above for changing how Congress operates? Or about the other issues building up steam among the OWS movement, specifically:

      * Break up the too big to fail banks
      * End the fed
      *Move to direct democracy
      * Overcome Citizens United (it isn’t feasible to overturn, at this point it will require a constitutional amendment)

      Are you in favor of any of those outcomes? If they make any of those things happen are they still whiny squatters? Or citizens who worked to improve our country?

      • Fair question, XO.

        If they actually achieve something constructive, I said right from the beginning and I’ll say it again that I’ll give OWS far more credit later than I’m giving them now. So far from what I’ve seen, however, they appear to be just like any other left-wing protest. Passionate, but useless.

        Also, I don’t call shouting in a park “working”. I don’t consider it “fighting”, either. All overglorification, in my opinion. I realize there are people actually working behind the scenes to organize this and take it to the next level, but I’ll await their next move before passing judgment on OWS’s overall success. Until then I’ve seen no actual “work” to date, just squatting, shouting, and yes, whining.

        As to your points of ending the Fed and such, sure. There are aspects of those things which anger me and I do believe they are all in need of reform. But here’s the thing – the affect of those things on my life is minimal because when you’re not co-miserating with a bunch of losers, you can actually look ahead to the future and dodge boulders instead of just looking down at your feet or up at the sky all the time and getting smoked by them. Ignorance costs, and they’ve been ignorant a long time. (By the way, I’d add “Education Reform” to that list.)

        OWS are miserable because they feel out of control. That’s the fundamental difference between them and the 53%. They feel either helpless to prepare for a crisis, or they decide to plan for it after it’s already happened. After the crisis happens, they wonder why no one warned them beforehand, or saved them now. The reason why is simple: Natural Selection. The 53% adapted, moved faster, and thought further ahead, yet OWS apologists refuse to do this work (citing reasons of “social justice”) and instead wants others to do it for them (you know, because that’s “fair”). Life doesn’t work that way. It’s survival of the fittest, and if them being obsolete in this workforce isn’t a strong enough testament to that, I don’t know what is.

        I’d be impressed if they changed any of those things you have on your list, but the last time a protest changed anything was the 60’s and comiserating has never changed anything ever. We’ll see.

        • “If they actually achieve something constructive, I said right from the beginning and I’ll say it again that I’ll give OWS far more credit later than I’m giving them now. So far from what I’ve seen, however, they appear to be just like any other left-wing protest. Passionate, but useless.”

          I’ll pass the word along to the whiny, useless losers. It’ll give them something to live for.

        • “I’ll pass the word along to the whiny, useless losers. It’ll give them something to live for.”
          I’m not sure words will do it, XO. Perhaps writing the message into a monotonic chant set to bongo music while twinkling your fingers up or down and spinning around in peyote-induced circles would be a better way to communicate with them. 😉

          And yes, they are useless. They have to be. If i could take a vacation for a month and not have anyone urgently wanting or needing me back the entire time, I’d say I was useless, too.

  15. “If not in the streets protesting, how are you supporting them, then? Blankets? Food? Money?”

    Well Vern, this probably won’t count, because you’re not trying to count anything, but apparently the people out in the streets have been tearing up that response I wrote to you about the 53% thing. Atlanta and Charleston OWS have sent a ton of people to my blog to read it. One woman told me she was printing it out to take to OWS NYC and read to the people there.

    Even if those things hadn’t happened, something me and the other 99%ers understand deep in our bones, which you may never get, is that this is a moral thing. We’re taking a stand. All you have to do is take it. The obstructionists, like everybody in this thread except me, are going to dump all over it no matter what, because that’s how y’all roll. And it won’t change a thing.

    “Haha. Glad you enjoyed it. The thought of you fantasizing about me in some old-guy pants does creep me out a little, though. ;)”

    Well believe me, it wasn’t a turn-on for me. Besides, how do you know I’m not some chick with huge hooters?

    ““I have more reality cards. Forcefully? Was there some violent eviction that only you heard about?”
    Are you completely blind to the violence that’s happening with these movements? ”

    Blind to? You mean like in terms of not being aware of any violence beyond people getting beaten up and arrested? I’m not aware of any violence at all. Who told you there was, Sean Hannity again? Vern, that dude would rather climb up a tree to tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth.

    <Willfully – they took over private property, were asked to vacate it, and refused. I'd say that's a pretty willful violation and disrespect for the law.

    Wow, you are so grasping at straws. That's not what happened in real life.

    "Carelessly – Huh? Commend them for pulling of what you think is an amazing feat of organization? It's a glorified flash mob, big deal. My 16-year old nephew could get one going just as well or better that has far more purpose than yours does with far less smell, drug dealing, theft, and public sex. And while you're flipping through your "reality cards" (btw, do they have things like "Mom", "Bus", "Dog", "Boot", "Grass" and the like so that you can function in everyday life?) you might also want to check a dictionary for the word careless. Careless is made up of two words: Care, and Less, i.e. "with disregard" Your beloved squatters could care less about the fact that the park is private property, that they're damaging it, and that for that matter, could care less about the laws and the court system, and the cost all this is incurring to the city. Hence, "Careless"."

    Just out of curiosity, did you ever whine about the costs and inconvenience of the tea party rallies, or suggest that they should have to rent the parks, or say they were dealing drugs?

    "Squatter: You can choose whatever definition suits you, but try putting this on your flash cards. "SQUATTER. One who settles on the lands of others without any legal authority; this term is applied particularly to persons who settle on the public land. 3 Mart. N. S. 293.""

    So the whole part about "available to the public" only applies to your "real Americans" again? Do you understand why you guys are viewed as just obstructionists who refuse to deal in good faith?

    "Haha. You just disproved your point. In RESPONSE to sanitation complaints? You mean they had to wait until Daddy told them to use the toilet before they actually did? How about being proactive? They shouldn’t need to be told to clean up. Besides, they’re only doing that to keep Brookfield at bay. Past protests by lefties have clearly shown that sanitation is hardly a true concern for them.

    “Extraordinarily cooperative”. As compared to what, your past protests? Not much of a standard to compare yourselves to, I’m afraid. I’ll admit, OWS is showing a little bit of maturity now.. Can’t say much for their brothers and sisters around the country or internationally, though.

    “Vern, can you show me where it is written that parks are limited to recreation, and are not suitable for public meetings and gatherings of a serious nature? There is no such thing, it’s another of the many, many things you make up.
    “Suitable” is a subjective word, so let’s say “legal”. On that point, we’re both wrong here, XO. NY Parks are actually very strictly defined as to what can be held there, and when, with clear bylaws enforcing them. Had OWS been in a truly “public” park, they would have been illegal.
    Source; http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_about/rules_and_regulations/rr_1-05.html

    “Private spaces for public use”, however, such as Zucotti Park, have no such bylaws.
    Credit where it’s due – OWS was smart to pick Zucotti for its stand-off. Well done.
    Source: http://www.good.is/post/public-space-private-rules-the-legal-netherworld-of-occupy-wall-street/&quot;

    You're right Vern. They have no public support. They're just stupid dirty hippies who have no right to protest. Everything is fine, fine! We'll pull Herman Cain out of his MENSA meeting, he'll do his 9" 9 toppings $9 tax plan, and it'll all be fixed. The country will be just. fucking. great.

    As Journey once said, Don't stop believin!

  16. First off, the Preamble is a PREAMBLE. An introduction. It has no legal standing, nor has it ever.

    erbrooke Community Centre, Court of Queens’ Bench judge Gerein wrote, at ¶16:

    “The preamble to a contract is nothing more than an introduction to that about which the parties have actually agreed. It puts the agreement into context. It describes the goals of the agreement. It speaks to what went before and the spirit in which agreement was achieved. On the other hand, it does not contain any promises. It does not contain any restrictions or commitments. It could be removed entirely without in any way altering that which was agreed to and set out in specific terms.”

    “Secondly, how does one define “promoting the general welfare”?”

    I would think a common sense interpretation would be like not letting corporations destroy the air, water and land that we all use to sustain life, pervert our government and judicial systems for their own profit at the expense of our nation as a whole, and making sure our citizens can see doctors when they get sick. Like generally working to not let people do things that fuck everybody over.

    “You, apparently, define it as a guarantee of outcomes. That, no matter your personal aptitude, attitude, or industriousness, you will be guaranteed an outcome not worse than someone who might, for example, work harder and smarter than you.”

    You guys make up so much bullshit. Guaranteed outcome how? Are you saying Paris Hilton works harder and smarter than me? Were slave owners more industrious than the people they enslaved, or just more deserving? We’re not asking you for a handout, get over yourselves one and all.

    “When we guarantee outcomes, we remove incentive for advancement. Opportunity, that we can guarantee, and for the most part, we do. With opportunity, we have achievement. When we guarantee success, what is there to achieve? Whose welfare are we protecting by creating a caste of clients to the state?”

    I don’t know how much Ayn Rand you read, but she used the same twisted semantics. Using loaded phrases that aren’t defined, like “guaranteed outcome” or “caste of clients to the state.” I don’t know how you crunch all that around in your head, but when I try to extrapolate I can guarantee you it has nothing to do with my thought process, or that of the other 99% people.

    “We’re back to that classic far-left mistrust of the masses, the idea that people are too stupid to look out for themselves, and too stupid to succeed without Big Brother handing them everything that they might need at no cost to themselves, just cost to the people who have *already* succeeded.”

    No, Chris, we understand the super fucking simple concept of divide and conquer. If we don’t want to get fucked right over by the wealthy– like they historically pretty much always love to do — we have to stick together. I know, the right wing thinks that’s a form of violence against them, asking them to be accountable for the effects their behaviors have on everybody else. You’re going to have to learn to deal with it, though.

    “Or wait, maybe I’m just painting your movement in broad strokes, and assigning beliefs to you that you may not hold, all in the name of attempting to demonize my opponent in order to undermine his position.”

    Or making shit up outright, even.

    “Now, the smart thing to do here would be to debate me on the concept of opportunity, how much you think we as Americans have, and how you think it could be improved.”

    Actually the smart thing for me to do here is work on shit that matters for a while.

    “Or, you could continue as you have been, and just encourage people to write you off as a far-left nutjob.”

    Whatever works for you! I give no fuck what you think. I’m sure OWS will rapidly dissipate and you’ll get the last laugh and I’ll hang my head and sob for days.

    “Pretty much. Or at least that’s the way you’re managing to present yourselves to a significant portion of the population,”

    I know, you really do think that. You know. In response to Vern the other day, I wrote an open letter to the 53% people. My own little one-finger salute to the wingnuts who think their contributions are the only ones that matter, and that their citizenship is more valid than everybody else’s. I put it on my little dinky blog that about 20 people a day read. Then beyond any explanation, someone did a thing called “stumble upon,” and well, it became a barn burner. Turns out I’m not even close to the only person in this country who thinks the 53% should suck it. To my utter amazement, that one post has had 16,000 hits in three days. People are throwing that thing all over the internet. So you go ahead and think that this is some little fringe thing that nobody gives a shit about. Think whatever you want.

    “You’re a minority. You may claim to be the “99%”, but if you truly were, you wouldn’t need to be protesting anything; you’d be able to elect any candidate you wanted to do functionally anything you wanted to do.”

    Time will tell, won’t it? Be sure not to take any credit for the excellent changes that are coming.

    yadda yadda. I have important stuff to do.

    • Chris Van Trump says:

      Just want to reiterate this.

      Nixon.

      Twice.

      “No, Chris, we understand the super fucking simple concept of divide and conquer. ”

      Well, you’ve obviously got the “divide” part of that down pat.

      You’ll have to try harder for the “conquer” half though.

      Screaming and cursing that people who disagree with you only works when you’re already in power, and can make them disappear.

      “Turns out I’m not even close to the only person in this country who thinks the 53% should suck it. To my utter amazement, that one post has had 16,000 hits in three days.”

      I wrote a post on a very small, limited audience, video-game related forum about the old theory that Kirk, Spock, and Bones from Star Trek represent the id, ego, and super-ego respectively. It got over 3000 hits in a few weeks.

      Seriously.

      16,000 ain’t bad, and you deserve kudos for getting it. But it’s not an earth-shattering number that indicates you’re on the right track, it’s a number that could just as easily indicate that there are a reasonable number of people in your filter bubble. And preaching to the choir converts no-one.

      “Actually the smart thing for me to do here is work on shit that matters for a while. ”

      What, precisely?

      I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that the “shit that matters” is either talking about ways to solve the issues that trouble you, or ways to organize more protests.

      Of course, most of the “solutions” I’ve seen out of OWS are things that I’ve seen come out of three guys sitting in my living room shooting the shit about how to solve the problems of the world, so you apparently either have a very inefficient means of debate over there, or a vast number of divergent opinions on what the problems are, much less how to solve them. I’ve seen absolutely nothing about how these theoretical fixes will be enacted, of course.

      As for organizing more protests, you might want to try harder on that. The local guys at Occupy Delaware are borderline embarrassing.

      Oh, and since I can be absolutely certain you’d do much the same if I started making noises about abandoning the field of debate, I’ll close with this: “Runnin’ away are ya? You yellow bastard!”

    • Just because you have an audience of 3,000, XO, doesn’t mean you’re right. I’m sure Neo-Nazi’s get a bunch of hits on their sites, too. Besides, isn’t that what you say about Fox News when it’s pointed out again and again as fact that they destroy all the other cable news networks in ratings – that just because they’ve got the ratings, it doesn’t mean they’re right?

      All you seemed to have accomplished is that you got a big bunch of losers to comiserate with you and agree with your comiserating rant. Big deal. I was genuinely happy for you when I heard you got the traffic, but now that you’re pumping yourself full of ego because of it, I take it back. Instead I’ll say thank you for keeping their whiny, “I’m dying for significance” ramblings over there instead of here.

      As for your “salute” to the 53%, they’re people who go out and get something rather than sitting back and demanding someone give it to them. Of course you’re mad at them, because they get the good things before you do, because that’s what happens with TRUE initiative – it gets rewarded. The early bird gets the worm, fortune favors the bold – pick your cliche.

  17. Scott Erb says:

    Vern, I bet a large percentage of the OWS group are also in the 53%. Moreover, in studying the international political economy (one of my areas of focus), I can tell you that the arguments they make are grounded in real theory and evidence, not just envy and ‘helplessness.’ There is reason to believe that a nexus of big money and big government has created a system whereby the winners can rig the game in their favor, harming the economy and limiting opportunities. Remember, many people who don’t pay taxes also work hard and give all they can to try to make a life for themselves and their families. To have those who made it sneer down at them and insult them is a form of class warfare.

    Now, one can debate the substance of the theories that drive OWS, but to ridicule and belittle that movement is simply wrong — even Republicans here who tried that early on are recognizing that there is real substance to the movement, it’s not just another ‘left wing protest.’ If you’re getting your news about it from FOX and the right, you’re probably getting a warped perspective. Look at it with an open mind, respecting that citizens exercising their right to protest and speak out are good for a country, even required for a thriving democracy. You don’t have to agree with their points, you can argue against them, but belittling them and asserting that they aren’t adapting or that some kind of social darwinist system is in play and they’ve failed is very misguided. Not only has social darwinism been rejected, but there is a mountain of evidence that proves that success is in large part a result of factors of ones experience and position in society, not personal attributes, intelligence or hard work. Social Darwinism has been falsified.

    • Hi Scott.
      Taking the movement on its own, I don’t disagree at all that the system is rigged. I get the frustration with wage disparity, concern over the environment, all of that, so I agree in part with your statement that there’s probably some of the 53% in OWS, but only as far as the frustration is concerned.

      OWS isn’t just about changing the state of the 1% anymore, if it ever was about that. It’s now an attack on the 53% as evidenced by XO’s loser-magnet post on his site. if that’s the true “soul” of this movement – that people in perpetual victimhood expect simply to steal their way back to the middle from the 53% who get and stay there on their own, then I think these loud OWS mouthpieces deserve all the rejection and criticism they get. While I can identify with some of the frustration they have towards the system, I can’t for one second identify with the self-pity and sense of entitlement that drives it. They act like they’re the only ones who’ve ever been poor.

      I also can’t identify with what I consider to be outmoded tactics to get their message across. I believe they’re not only stupid and ineffective, but also hypocritical. Protest Wall Street for actions they took under policies which allowed them to take those actions, but don’t protest the members of Government and the public sector who created those policies in the first place and are still sitting in office??? If you’re really after Wall Street and reducing its influence then you have to be after the former Wall Street cronies embedded in the Administration that are loyal to them and not the people. OWS isn’t going anywhere near them, however, and because of that I don’t think they’re serious, and because of that, i don’t take them seriously.

    • “Not only has social darwinism been rejected, but there is a mountain of evidence that proves that success is in large part a result of factors of ones experience and position in society, not personal attributes, intelligence or hard work. Social Darwinism has been falsified.”

      First of all, I’m not claiming Social Darwinism here – with respect I believe you’re taking me dangerously out of context. Second, I don’t disagree with you that success is in large part a result of the factors you say (Malcolm Gladwell does a great job of exploring this in his book “The Outliers”). However, when you look at the research around entrepreneurship, it’s shoddy at best. There is no decent “measure” at the moment of entrepreneurial ability accurate enough to predict entrepreneurial success and say truly what it’s caused by. There are cases daily of people who succeed in spite of their position in society and their experience, or succeed precisely because of their personal attributes, intelligence, and hard work (along with a little bit of luck). The only place someone can really get aggregate data from on entrepreneurship is the Kauffman Foundation and they are one of the organizations I work with on precisely this matter.

      Simply put, if Social Darwinism were that “proven” to be completely false, it would be predictable, and it isn’t. Therefore my position is one that I don’t believe or disbelieve in it – I think it’s wrong and useless either way.

      “…but belittling them and asserting that they aren’t adapting or that some kind of social darwinist system is in play and they’ve failed is very misguided.
      I’m aware that I’m painting the brush extremely wide here, but it’s on purpose. Brevity’s sake for one, but more to counter the point that members of the “middle” part of society who act must somehow be forced to take care of all the needs of the “lower” part of society who choose not to act, and do so without question.

      We’re not talking about charity cases here – that’s another matter. I think we’re talking about people who are more than capable of doing a little better for themselves if they got over some of their own entitlement issues and stopped feeling sorry for themselves, even if just for a moment. I think much of America has this belief that they somehow already work too hard, or give to much, or don’t have enough yet that’s all subjective. I just came back from a very poverty-stricken part of Mexico where there are people happy for a roof over their head. I come back to hear kids bitching that they’re “underwater basket-weaving” degree that they spent $50,000 on isn’t getting them a job.

      The 1% doesn’t owe me anything, even if I got screwed over by them. The reason why is I always had choices that were up to me to make. That’s what makes this country great – there’s always resources, and always choices. Anyone who’s been poor and risen up the ranks will tell you that. Anyone successful who stays successful will say the same.

      I’ll take it one further: there’s always resources and always choices where there is real effort and sacrifice. That’s why I don’t agree with you re: the commonality between OWS and the 53% beyond the frustration. I believe OWS’s definition of those two words is far different than how the 53%, or most people on this blog, define it.

      Did I make the effort to try and get a better sense of when the first Internet bubble would burst? Nope. It put me on my ass. Did I blame the government, or the industry, because of it? Nope, because it wasn’t either of their fault. Did I sacrifice some time, or money, to get a better sense of the state of the industry? Nope. Did I have the option to? Absolutely. Instead, I just hoped that things would be OK because I didn’t want to leave a field I was in, had been successful in, and invested a lot of time, effort, and pain to be successful in. The market was changing, I didn’t adapt, and for a while, I was left behind.

      You have to admit that there have been businesses that have failed because they didn’t adapt. The same applies to people. I’ve failed to adapt and then “failed” before. That’s not why I criticize OWS. I criticize them for what they choose to do (or not do) after it happens. Instead of creating their own resources (for the most part – I agree that they’re using their democratic resources somewhat), they seem to simply just want to take more of the resources of others, and not just the 1%’s resources, either.

  18. Scott Erb says:

    OK, I’m sorry for taking you out of context. I still think you’re caricaturing the movement. Also, I think that if you read analyses of the financial crisis — “All the Devils are Here” by Nocera and McLean, “The Big Short” by Lewis, “House of Cards” by Cohan, “The End of Wall Street” by Lowenstein (I won’t put Taibbi’s Griftopia there because he’s obviously coming from the left — the others are by respected journalists and experts), it’s hard not to conclude that there is some truth to the claim the insiders are rigging the game and have a large bit of responsibility for the problems we face. Economists have been noting that as well. If it were just that some people managed to succeed and others didn’t in a fair game on a level playing field that would be one thing. But there is a lot of evidence that the game is rigged, the playing field is not level, and it’s harming most of society. If one believes that evidence, OWS is a logical and so far quite successful response. The political parties won’t take it on because they need the campaign contributions. This is a very effective way to get the message out. Rather than ridiculing them, perhaps it might make sense to really look into whether or not they have a point — that the insider elites in the big money big government nexus are harming the economy and perhaps even being undemocratic. OWS would then be a response in the best traditions of American democracy.

  19. Sean said on my blog, in response to what he specifically disgreed with in my “loser magnet” post:

    “That the movement speaks for everyone who is not included in the top 1% of income. I also don’t agree with disbandIng the Federal Reserve, which was originally established to prevent people from losing all of their cash in bank runs. I also don’t believe direct democracy is manageable in a country of 310 million people, which is why our system is organized as a Republic. I also don’t agree that the bottom 99% finance the top 1%. The top 1% finance themselves.”

    I wanted to respond to this in the small amount of free time that I have today.

    I think that if you understand the issues at hand and legitimately disagree with them, no harm, no foul. If you believe that our income disparity is as it should be, you’re entitled to hold that opinion. If you feel like money and government interact correctly in our country, that’s your right. I have no problem with a legitimate discussion where someone understands my point and disagrees with it. I reserve that same right. We can agree to disagree. I love free speech.

    Chris suggested ways that I could convince people to my way of thinking. I really have no interest in that. It seems like a lot of the time spent discussing issues with the right wing is wasted, because they just throw out distortions and nonsense that keeps people riled up so we can’t ever get to the real conversation.

    Witness the fact that now, at the tail end of 2011, even Fox News is beginning to acknowledge that climate change is real. Up until now, they’ve just stayed busy mocking people who wanted to “whine” about it. They work ridiculous memes about “snowmageddon” designed to assuage any lingering doubts a viewer may have that perhaps 97% of the world’s scientists understand it better than Gretchen Carlson does.

    It’s the same playbook that gets used over and over. We’re not going to discuss actual healthcare reform, because we’re going to call end-of-life counseling “death panels” and pretend it’s about “pulling the plug on grandma.” There are still people talking about the president’s birth certificate, for God’s sake. Of all the time-wasting non-issues on the planet.

    It occurs to me that engaging in this sort of conversation is entirely a waste of time and effort, which is obviously why they keep doing it. It’s like trying to get a kid to stop running through the house pulling things off of shelves so you can talk to him; by the time you finish picking up one mess, he’s made two more. As long as you keep allowing him to run amok, he’ll keep preventing you from having a meaningful conversation that he doesn’t want to have. Taking it a step further, if he had been a good kid all along he wouldn’t mind having that conversation.

    I’ve browsed this blog a bit, and I get why it’s called “Reflections of a Rational Republican.” Even many conservatives get that the discourse on the right quickly turns to apeshittery. If they’re that difficult for you to talk to, imagine how the rest of us feel. And not for nothing, note that even among the more rational Republicans, mocking and dismissal is a central theme.

    Unfortunately people on the left have tended to approach the national conversation not like an adult with a bratty child, but one adult to another. On the left, we try to talk about facts. On the right, we have a stockpile of bratty moves that get constantly reused because they work really well at preventing a true progressive agenda from getting anywhere near implementation.

    OWS is the beginning of the end of that era. Why should I convince you that this is different than some squatters doing a flash mob at a rock concert who have no idea what they’re talking about and they’re hypocrites anyway because they all have cell phones and they still have to poop even if there are no toilets? What’s in that for me? Once the conversation moves past actual exchange of ideas or refinement of my own thought process, as it did with Chris, I have to break camp.

    Y’all are in the process of getting left behind. Get it or don’t, your choice. The ship is sailing. Don’t believe me? OK, your choice.

    A much more effective use of my time and effort is reading and considering the thoughts of people who actually want to have the same conversation I find important. I haven’t seen any meaningful discussion of it from the right, though I’m sure there is some going on in the thinktanks. William Kristol opined that since Democrats are in power Republicans should shut up and sit tight and let the Obama administration bear the brunt. But even that isn’t discussing the actual issue, only how to manipulate public anger for their own benefit.

    The right doesn’t discuss it in good faith because when you strip away the projection, minimization, oversimplification, false equivalencies, factual inaccuracies, emotional manipulation, gross distortion and outright lies, the people who actually support their position are seriously outnumbered. It is an anti-populist ideology at its core. That’s why they never let an authentic discussion come to the table if they can help it. And if you get too close, they start talking about “Second Amendment remedies.”

    Politicians on both sides are having a big old fail party on OWS. Republicans are a non-starter. Not only are their actions and policies automatic disqualifiers, their ideology is anathema and will never be accepted by this group.

    The Democrats have a rude awakening coming too, once we figure out how to throw the bums out. They pay lip service to our ideology, then cater to the right with their policies. Both parties need to see the handwriting on the wall. Bill Clinton was caught on tape at the Pete Peterson Foundation admitting to Paul Ryan that the Democrats want to end Social Security and Medicare too. Tick tock, motherfuckers, pack your bags.

    Coming back to the original point, there is no focused policy agenda (and the ideas I floated out there were merely examples of issues salient to a lot of OWS people) for the same reason OWS is fundamentally different from the tea party (aside from the grassroots v. Astroturf discussion above).

    This isn’t a policy issues movement, as the tea party was, defined by taxation levels and size of government. This is a moral issue movement.

    As one of you mentioned, I think it was Chris, corporations are amoral. This is a conversation we on the left have been having for a long time. “Corporations are people, my friend.” I don’t know which part of that is more insane, the idea that corporations are people or that anyone who would say that with a straight face is your friend. They’re not immoral, they’re amoral. They exist only to take as much as they can while giving as little as possible back. Period, click. The left fully understands that as part of our ongoing discourse.

    What OWS comes down to is this: Life vs. Property. Humans vs. Corporations. Right now our government lets money trump humans every time. Once we establish a new moral focus where life is more important than property, policies will change.

    People who want to come down on the side of corporations have the right to do so. This position is only taken by people who define it as money (mine) is more important than human rights (yours).

    Those who find themselves on the other end of the status quo, where money (yours) is more important than human rights (mine) are obviously not joining Team Corporation.

    For the active 99%ers, money (anybody’s) is less important than human rights (anybody’s).

    You may believe that the first group outnumbers the second and third groups combined. I agree to disagree as we stand poised to test that theory.

    • “Witness the fact that now, at the tail end of 2011, even Fox News is beginning to acknowledge that climate change is real. Up until now, they’ve just stayed busy mocking people who wanted to “whine” about it. They work ridiculous memes about “snowmageddon” designed to assuage any lingering doubts a viewer may have that perhaps 97% of the world’s scientists understand it better than Gretchen Carlson does.”

      XO, to be clear, I have always thought denying global warming simply ignored the data, though I think a debate on whether it is anthropengic is needed. The problem is the right denies it is happening in the first place, while the left denies that global warming could be caused by anything other than human activity.

      “Y’all are in the process of getting left behind. Get it or don’t, your choice. The ship is sailing. Don’t believe me? OK, your choice.”

      XO, I don’t think we will get left behind, because I don’t think the majority of Americans will support this movement any more than they did in the 1960s. That said, I could be wrong and will continue to watch the movement with interest. If you turn out to be right, I will be the first to admit it.

      “Those who find themselves on the other end of the status quo, where money (yours) is more important than human rights (mine) are obviously not joining Team Corporation.”

      I don’t think it is that simple. I believe that the free market is simply more efficient in allocating resources than pure democracies. The tyranny of the majority can be a very evil thing. Witness what happen to blacks in this country until the late 1960s. I believe in equality of opportunity, but not equality of outcome. I believe in my right to determine my own destiny, win or lose, stand or fall, rather than having the community force it upon me.

      That said, captialism, like any other system in human affairs, has its own deficiencies. Things are clearly in a bad way in this country, otherwise the OWS and Tea Party movements would not have arisen out of nowhere. I think the problem is government. You think it is corporate greed. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle.

      “I agree to disagree as we stand poised to test that theory.”

      I agree. Let’s watch and see what happens in the next few months.

  20. “[W]e have to be careful not to allow this to get any legitimacy. I’m taking this seriously in that I’m old enough to remember what happened in the 1960s when the left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy. We can’t allow that to happen.” — Peter King, (R)-NY

    Just saying.

    • Fair enough.

      One could read this statement in both positive and negative ways. The civil rights movement certainly wasn’t a bad thing, and rightly shaped policy, but the decline of the family that the 1960s sexual revolution inadvertently inspired clearly was not.

      • “Things are clearly in a bad way in this country, otherwise the OWS and Tea Party movements would not have arisen out of nowhere. I think the problem is government. You think it is corporate greed. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle.”

        We also get that the government is the central problem. However, we can’t get to them because their bosses on Wall Street already tell them when to jump and how high.

        “One could read this statement in both positive and negative ways. The civil rights movement certainly wasn’t a bad thing, and rightly shaped policy, but the decline of the family that the 1960s sexual revolution inadvertently inspired clearly was not.”

        Clearly? Clear to whom? Decline how? Are Republicans no longer allowed to marry other white Christians of the opposite gender and have 2.3 kids and a dog? How have your rights been infringed, and how will they be infringed when gays eventually get the same civil rights every other taxpayer has?

        • “Clearly? Clear to whom? Decline how?”

          Clearly to anyone who looks at the data. This isn’t just about how rights are infringed. It is also about social stability. Just look at divorce rates, or at the decline of the black family for instance: http://www.economist.com/node/21532296.

          For rights, how about the rights of the unborn? No need to answer that one, because any debate here presumes that both sides can agree on what constitutes a “life,” which they cannot.

          And to be fair, minorities and homosexuals have more rights in some instances than straight, white males. For instance, they get special protections under hate crimes legislation when others do not. Affirmative action was also a misguided policy under the Johnson Administration, which is why I always refused to list my race any time I applied to an educational institution. It hurt caucasians and especially Asians of my generation far more than it likely harmed yours.

  21. Alan Scott says:

    XO,

    As one of the far right Global Warming deniers I resent your patronizing tone as if we are all morons. But you are right that since we cannot convince each other of anything in that vein, it simply is not productive. I will therefore go after you on the left’s solutions to Climate change .

    You say we deny reality. Well your side is amazing in your denying that the economics of all alternative energy simply do not work . I know the drill from you guys. As you have spent a lot of time trying to convince people like me of Global Warming, I have bloodied my head against brick walls , telling your guys that without green welfare , wind and solar are totally worthless for any large scale energy production . And you know what, all kinds of false arguments are used, saying that it does work. They also cite all of the big name companies and even the US military going green as evidence that this crap works .

    All of my mentioning of how these groups are incentivised to go green financially from the media and the government fall on deaf ears .

    One of my last arguments has to do with nuclear power . I know all of the environmental drawbacks to nuclear, but if Climate change was really the crucial issue your side says it is, every green believer would be in love with nukes, because it simply is the only non carbon emitting source that can produce energy in large quantities. Since most green believers do not favor nukes, I say they are not serious about bringing down CO2 levels.

    • “One of my last arguments has to do with nuclear power . I know all of the environmental drawbacks to nuclear, but if Climate change was really the crucial issue your side says it is, every green believer would be in love with nukes, because it simply is the only non carbon emitting source that can produce energy in large quantities. Since most green believers do not favor nukes, I say they are not serious about bringing down CO2 levels.”

      Alan has a good point here.

  22. “As one of the far right Global Warming deniers I resent your patronizing tone as if we are all morons.”

    People on the left find conversations that discard science as an opening premise non-starters. I’m sorry that feels patronizing to you. We’re just hooked on facts.

    “I will therefore go after you on the left’s solutions to Climate change .”

    See, this is something that makes these conversations really unappealing to me. You don’t want to work together to find solutions. You want to “go after me.” It just doesn’t feel like a productive use of my time, sorry.

    “every green believer would be in love with nukes, because it simply is the only non carbon emitting source that can produce energy in large quantities. Since most green believers do not favor nukes, I say they are not serious about bringing down CO2 levels.”

    One thing you might want to look into is getting your information about left wingers from actual left wingers. NPR did a piece about how nuclear is actually the greenest option we have right now, I think that was bout three years ago. I know Thom Hartmann had a guy on a while back and we went all over it then, too. Are we “in love with” it? No, for obvious reasons. But it’s the least disgusting option we have right now.

  23. I don’t have an opinion on that. The context is unclear.

    • My retort to this one-percenter would be if he or she has a problem not paying enough taxes, why not simply write the IRS an even bigger check?

      • Out of all that, your take-away was that he feels like he’s not paying enough taxes. Not much to really say to that.

        • Well, my takeaway was a bit more than that, but the only constructive thing I could say was that he could alleviate his “white” guilt by paying more taxes rather than demonizing others, and compelling them to pay more taxes. Furthermore the post, which is on an unabashedly progressive website, has all the elements of the usual liberal screed of Republicans being responsible for everything wrong with this country, and being fascists, etc., etc.. It then demeans the 53% as not being smart enough to “get” the movement in a manner reminiscent to the famous quote in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” and then accuses them for being hypocrites because they believe in Jesus. Silly proletarians, believing in religion that veritable opiate of the masses.

          I am not all that religious myself, so to assume that the right is filled with nothing but religious whack jobs is equivalent to arguing that the left is filled with nothing by America-loathing cowards who refuse to fight in our country’s wars. Both contentions are patently unfair.

          The bottom line is that I found the post to reek of that smug, self-satisfied, snarky arrogance that pervades columns by people like Paul Krugman.

  24. Well, my takeaway was a bit more than that, but the only constructive thing I could say was that he could alleviate his “white” guilt by paying more taxes rather than demonizing others,”

    This is an example of the kind of thing that makes me not go any further with conversations. Did he say he felt guilty? No, no he didn’t. He said he thought the whole argument was disingenuous on the part of the 1%ers propagating it, and misguided on the 47/53%ers supporting it. That’s not guilt. He didn’t demonize anybody, either. So we’re back now to you running around pulling things off shelves which I will have to clean up before we can talk about it. I’m opting out.

    “and compelling them to pay more taxes. Furthermore the post, which is on an unabashedly progressive website,”

    Yes, we should do like the right wing does, and pretend we don’t have a position. This refusal to own up to who you are and what you stand for is weaselly. Fox News isn’t fair or balanced. Daily Kos doesn’t pretend to be unbiased.

    ” has all the elements of the usual liberal screed of Republicans being responsible for everything wrong with this country, and being fascists, etc., etc.. It then demeans the 53% as not being smart enough to “get” the movement in a manner reminiscent to the famous quote in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” and then accuses them for being hypocrites because they believe in Jesus. Silly proletarians, believing in religion that veritable opiate of the masses.”

    Yeah. None of that was actually in the article, except for the logical fallacy of the 53%, which is based on facts rather than smugness. If being factually correct makes someone seem smug, so be it.

    “The bottom line is that I found the post to reek of that smug, self-satisfied, snarky arrogance that pervades columns by people like Paul Krugman.”

    You forgot that he’s ugly and his mother dresses him funny.

    • “Yeah. None of that was actually in the article, except for the logical fallacy of the 53%, which is based on facts rather than smugness. If being factually correct makes someone seem smug, so be it.”

      So the article didn’t blame the S&P downgrade exclusively on the Republican Party?

      On the 53%, what specific “logical fallacy” are you talking about?

      “Yes, we should do like the right wing does, and pretend we don’t have a position. This refusal to own up to who you are and what you stand for is weaselly. Fox News isn’t fair or balanced. Daily Kos doesn’t pretend to be unbiased.”

      Of course Fox News is biased. But so are The New York Times, MSNBC, and the Wall Street Journal, all of which pretend to be fair and balanced. I don’t even have cable, so I can’t follow Fox News even if I wanted to. The Economist, a British paper is the one I trust most, because it isn’t mired in U.S. politics.

      “This refusal to own up to who you are and what you stand for is weaselly.”

      Really? Who am I? What do I stand for? Why is a point of view different from your own, “weaselly?”

      • “On the 53%, what specific “logical fallacy” are you talking about?”

        He addresses that in the article — specifically the 47%ers who think they’re 53%, and the 53%, pushing for tax breaks for the 1%.

        “Of course Fox News is biased. But so are The New York Times, MSNBC, and the Wall Street Journal,”

        That’s a false equivalency. Fox’s entire editorial stance and operation is unique. There has literally never been a network like Fox, which is the brainchild of Richard Nixon, formed to nothing but a propaganda vehicle for the GOP. Further, while no news organization is without bias, all mainstream media is corporate owned. So dismissing Daily Kos because it’s the work of actual citizens, who are not regulated by corporations in their speech, well it just doesn’t play well with me. I already know what corporate America has to say. I like hearing from other citizens.

        “all of which pretend to be fair and balanced.”

        Fox’s MOTTO is “fair and balanced,” which you just admitted it is not. It is even less fair and balanced than other networks, and again, has unique, partisan editorial positions.

        “I don’t even have cable, so I can’t follow Fox News even if I wanted to. The Economist, a British paper is the one I trust most, because it isn’t mired in U.S. politics.”

        That’s cool. I notice you’re more informed than a lot of people. I like to look at a wide variety of information sources too, for the same reason.

        “This refusal to own up to who you are and what you stand for is weaselly.”

        Really? Who am I? What do I stand for? Why is a point of view different from your own, “weaselly?”’

        I should have been clearer. I wasn’t addressing you, specifically, Sean. I meant the collective “you,” in terms of right-wing Americans, who frequently claim to be neutral, independent and/or centrist, and then hit all the Fox talking points. That’s what I find weaselly, the continuation of the “fair and balanced” myth wherein Fox’s viewers also believe they are centrist and well-informed. I respect the fact that you put right in your banner what your position is. It’s a little uncommon on the right among the non-insane.

        • XO,

          Fair enough. I have noticed folks on the 53% site, who are actually 47-percenters. That is a fair criticism that can also be levied at the 99% movement. Witness Kanye West, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, et al. Some of these folks probably recognize themselves not among the 99%, but nonetheless supportive of their cause, but likely not all of them.

          On the Daily Kos, I wasn’t dismissing it because it was written by ordinary citizens. I was merely pointing out its left wing bias. That said, I had no idea that it was meant to be an unfiltered site without corporate influence. I’m intrigued. Please tell me more.

          I misread your original “weaselly” comment, so I appreciate the clarification. My view is that the term “weasel” describes just about every politician in existence. 😉

  25. “Witness Kanye West, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, et al. Some of these folks probably recognize themselves not among the 99%, but nonetheless supportive of their cause, but likely not all of them.”

    99% is actually too low a figure. the “1%” we’re talking about is actually something like 0.00017%, the wealthiest 400 people in the country. I forget the actual number. But that doesn’t look good on a sign. Either way, celebrities don’t have any liberal corollary to ALEC. They don’t manipulate oil prices, own sweatshops in Malaysia, or outsource jobs. They’re just people with really high-paying jobs.

    “On the Daily Kos, I wasn’t dismissing it because it was written by ordinary citizens. I was merely pointing out its left wing bias. That said, I had no idea that it was meant to be an unfiltered site without corporate influence. I’m intrigued. Please tell me more.”

    Daily Kos is the left’s answer to the dozens of well-funded thinktanks on the right. People start blogging at Daily Kos because they want to have an intelligent political conversation with others on the left. It’s no more free of corporate influence than any other part of America, but there is no editor who decides what gets published and what doesn’t. It’s a community where people challenge each other about ideas and form groups to focus on specific issues. Sort of a self-selecting left-wing thinktank.

    Jesse LaGreca, the guy who shocked Greta Van Susteren’s producer by actually knowing what he was talking about, is a regular on Daily Kos. Anyone can join and post blogs (they call them diaries). Then people can leave “tips” (click on like,sort of) for a given diary, increasing that writer’s standing in the community if they did a good post. If somebody reads something they think more people need to see, they can click “recommend” or “hotlist” which gives it a more prominent position for wider distribution. Thus people rise to prominence by offering something to the community as a whole, as perceived by the community.

    “We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view” Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

    “I misread your original “weaselly” comment, so I appreciate the clarification. My view is that the term “weasel” describes just about every politician in existence. 😉 ”

    Yeah, we’re getting ready to have a big fat “throw the bums out” party. I’ll be interested to see how the Occupation affects 2012. If Obama thinks the Occupiers support him, he needs to set the crack pipe down.

    • “Either way, celebrities don’t have any liberal corollary to ALEC. They don’t manipulate oil prices, own sweatshops in Malaysia, or outsource jobs. They’re just people with really high-paying jobs.”

      Nobody manipulates oil prices. And Hollywood also outsources jobs. Ever wonder why they film on location in Czechoslovakia, Canada, or New Zealand? Its’ cheaper than filming in Hollywood. I consider actors to be the worst sort of rich because they are what von Manstein referred to as “stupid and industrious.” In other words, they have a major platform, but limited mental capacity to spout off their ill-informed views. It drives me nuts. I much prefer to hear from folks like Rachel Maddow, with whom I disagree to the very core, but at least are intelligent. Michael Moore — not so much.

      “Daily Kos is the left’s answer to the dozens of well-funded thinktanks on the right. People start blogging at Daily Kos because they want to have an intelligent political conversation with others on the left. It’s no more free of corporate influence than any other part of America, but there is no editor who decides what gets published and what doesn’t. It’s a community where people challenge each other about ideas and form groups to focus on specific issues. Sort of a self-selecting left-wing thinktank. ”

      Very interesting. Thank you for providing more color. I honestly had no idea.

      “Yeah, we’re getting ready to have a big fat “throw the bums out” party. I’ll be interested to see how the Occupation affects 2012. If Obama thinks the Occupiers support him, he needs to set the crack pipe down.”

      That said, don’t push Obama too hard. It might help the Republicans win. 😉

  26. Alan Scott says:

    XO,

    There are a few climate changers who accept Nuclear power, but they are a minority . And ,,, who is it that protests and sues the pants off of anyone trying to move nuclear energy forward ? Here is a clue, they ain’t right wingers. Again if time were so, so critical to fix this non problem, you guys would be marching, demanding the government give all of that money to big nukes instead of Solyndra and it’s brother black holes .

    • Alan

      The main problem you’re going to find with getting everyone on the left behind nuclear power is that it’s acceptable only because there is no other alternative outside the military-industrial complex, which currently has our government on lockdown.

      If we had been pursuing renewables since the 1970s, as us loony lefties wanted, we’d have a clean, affordable grid. Why didn’t that happen? Well. Big oil and big coal have no interest in pursuing the R&D on that. They dumped truckloads of money into nukes — which really are a piss poor solution that should never have been developed at all. But of course the utility companies knew they could make money on it, et voila.

      The reason solar and wind aren’t affordable right now is that the ones with the money are dead set against it. For one thing, they’d have to have re-invested in the grid, which is not how robber barons play. That’s not the left’s fault.

      And again, a lot of us on the left grasp the unfortunate reality that for the time being, nuke really is our best option. Sorry to not have a completely unified position for you.

  27. “Either way, celebrities don’t have any liberal corollary to ALEC. They don’t manipulate oil prices, own sweatshops in Malaysia, or outsource jobs. They’re just people with really high-paying jobs.”

    “Nobody manipulates oil prices.”

    Actually the Koch brothers and other true 1%ers do. They do it all the time. They’re also behind ALEC, one of the most insidious organizations ever. They use the money they make manipulating oil prices to purchase our government and pay for buses to bring pensioners to tea party rallies to fight against healthcare. Say what you want about Soros, he doesn’t use his wealth to push legislation that makes him even more money. The Kochs do, in ever-expanding ways.

    “And Hollywood also outsources jobs. Ever wonder why they film on location in Czechoslovakia, Canada, or New Zealand? Its’ cheaper than filming in Hollywood.”

    The actors don’t make those decisions. And again, there’s really no left-wing corollary to ALEC, which absolutely directs legislation in this country.

    ” I consider actors to be the worst sort of rich because they are what von Manstein referred to as “stupid and industrious.” In other words, they have a major platform, but limited mental capacity to spout off their ill-informed views. It drives me nuts.”

    You know, I have a wingnut that’s been a close friend for decades IRL. She sends me all kinds of racist obnoxious lowbrow tea party emails, even when asked repeatedly not to do so. Because when I confront the contents with fact checking she just ends up getting really pissed off, and I end up having to let her have her little tantrum or stop being her friend. I don’t send her stuff I know she’ll disapprove, but that’s a one-way street. Anyway, she says the same thing, how she just wishes lefty celebrities would just shut up because what do they know, anyway? Then she sends me quotes from stone to the bone idiots like Charlie Daniels and Hank Williams, Jr. Go figure.

    ” I much prefer to hear from folks like Rachel Maddow, with whom I disagree to the very core, but at least are intelligent. Michael Moore — not so much.”

    Rachel Maddow is the shit. I like Michael Moore a lot. I respect a man who speaks truth to power.

    “Very interesting. Thank you for providing more color. I honestly had no idea.”

    You’re welcome. I really didn’t get what it was all about until I joined, either.

    “That said, don’t push Obama too hard. It might help the Republicans win. 😉 ”

    Yeah, there’s approximately zero percent chance of the Occupation voting for anyone on the Republican platform, even Huntsman. I saw a YouTube piece by a young (black) man analyzing Herman Cain’s interview with Lawrence O’Donnell. He had a number of excellent insights into the political process in general. But he did a little research on Herman Cain and gave a cultural perspective that I wasn’t entirely prepared for; he said Cain’s father was a “house N*,” and that’s what he raised Cain to be, too. That’s apparently a very common sentiment in the black community. So don’t get your hopes up about Hermie, because white liberals think he’s a complete idiot. I can’t imagine who’s going to vote for him in real life, aside from Republicans ranging from non-racist to mostly non-racist. Which frankly will leave out a noticeable chunk of your base.

    It remains to be seen how the Occupation will develop. I still don’t believe they should be making demands or solid plans, because support is still spreading horizontally. As soon as it starts to spread vertically, like with a platform, the horizontal expansion will level off. And right now, there’s a really good foundation for making some people listen. I’m OK with being patient.

    We’re working out the bugs. I checked out the OccupyMarines and OccupyPolice links, it did my heart so good. I think the OccupyMarines are legit, haven’t seen anybody calling themselves “ex-Marines,” always a dead giveaway. I went to the general assembly for OccupyPolice tonight, and discovered that it’s a purely civilian-based scam, seeking donations, has no genuine support among law enforcement. So we’re testing the people’s mic via social networking, and the blogosphere, getting the word out to shut the scam down. We’ll see how it goes. At least I busted them on the first meeting, within the first week. The rep #OWS agreed with me, so their reputation is quickly becoming trash.

    I may have to step up my game and organize a genuine OccupyPolice, however, just to nip that shit in the bud. I’m really not feeling that with my other obligations right now, but again, I’m tapping the people who can come forward to see if they will.

    • “Actually the Koch brothers and other true 1%ers do. They do it all the time.”

      OK, I’m going to have to call BS on this one. Oil futures are traded on an open market where buyers are matched with sellers. Out of sheer curiosity, how is it that they manipulate oil prices?

      “The actors don’t make those decisions.”

      But they are certainly complicit with those decisions.

      “Yeah, there’s approximately zero percent chance of the Occupation voting for anyone on the Republican platform, even Huntsman.”

      I agree. That’s not what Obama should be worried about. He should be worried that they either support a third party candidate, or that they don’t vote altogether. Either outcome benefits Republicans.

      “But he did a little research on Herman Cain and gave a cultural perspective that I wasn’t entirely prepared for; he said Cain’s father was a “house N*,” and that’s what he raised Cain to be, too. That’s apparently a very common sentiment in the black community.”

      I am not a big Herman Cain supporter, but the man’s more accomplished than any other candidate including Romney and Obama, in the sense that he started with nothing and made a tremendous success out of his life. You have to respect that. He wasn’t born wealthy like Romney, nor as the son of two PhDs like Obama. Furthermore, I would dismiss any argument based purely on ad hominem (i.e., Cain’s father was a “house N”). The fact that the individual you mentioned portrays this as a “cultural” argument does not seem to reflect well on his community if what he is saying is indicative of it (I hope it’s not).

      “I went to the general assembly for OccupyPolice tonight, and discovered that it’s a purely civilian-based scam, seeking donations, has no genuine support among law enforcement.”

      Fascinating. Good on you for vetting them! 😉

  28. Alan Scott says:

    XO,

    You have given me so many points of view that I violently disagree with . You have the right to say them. First off, Michael Moore. I cannot think of anything the man has ever said that I would not consider to be a blatant lie .

    ” If we had been pursuing renewables since the 1970s, as us loony lefties wanted, we’d have a clean, affordable grid. ”

    That is a total fantasy, plus it is not at all provable . I went through the 1970s and saw the failures of renewables. Even 3 decades later with all of the latest technology brought to bear, they are still a fraud . If we had continued to pursue green technology since the 1970s, we would have become Lower Slobbovia in the 1980s and today we’d be ever lower .

    ” Big oil and big coal have no interest in pursuing the R&D on that. They dumped truckloads of money into nukes — which really are a piss poor solution that should never have been developed at all. But of course the utility companies knew they could make money on it, et voila. ”

    Did you hear the one about the guy who invented the 200 MPG carburetor in the 1970s, out of junk parts in his garage ? The oil and car companies bought him out, destroyed the carburetor and all of th drawings, and then killed him to shut him up .

    Trust me, if renewables and green technology was not worthless , some evil capitalist would have developed it .

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