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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Occupy Stonekettle Station, The Follow Up

Niven’s Law: The Universe doesn’t care if you’re having fun

Well, as expected, I managed to thoroughly piss off a number of you with the previous Occupy Wall Street post.

As a result, some readers won’t be back.

Sorry about that.

Don’t get me wrong here, it does bother me to lose regular readers, however if we all agreed on everything all the time, well, we wouldn’t be the people we are, would we?

Now, because I would like to keep most of you around,  at least those of you without personal hygiene issues, I’m faced with a decision every time I push the publish button, to wit: I can either keep doing what I’m doing, or start writing fluffy cotton candy bunny posts solely in order to blow rainbow flavored smoke up your ass.

I hate losing you, but you should know right up front that I’m unlikely to choose the later opinion. 

See, while I do care what you think, I write for myself first.

I’d write Stonekettle Station exactly the way I do now even if ShopKat and I were the only ones reading it.  If I was writing for you, I’d charge you more.  If I wrote to attract readers and sell page counts, well, I’d write porn.

That doesn’t mean that I go out of my way to offend you. 

For what it’s worth, it wasn’t intentional. 

And I did warn you first. 

It’s too bad you’re leaving, we were just going to open a bottle of 1608 and go out on the patio to soak in the hot tub with the naked cast of … ah, never mind, you’re not interested in that. If you gotta go, you gotta go. I understand.

For those that do choose to stick around however, a couple of things:

First, thank you, Pissed Off Regular Readers. Thanks for being reasonably polite in your comments and correspondence despite being unhappy with the post. I’ve been accused of cultivating sycophants in the comments section, thank you for loudly disagreeing with me. (Hah! Sycophants? In your face! And you know who you are. pthffffft!)

Second, thank you, Shiny New People, for actually reading the commenting rules.  And in fact you’ve managed to drive this week’s hit count on the rules page to an all time high.  It would have been cool if that huge green spike on the page load graph had been on, you know, an actual article and not the crummy old rules page, but, hey, hit count is hit count. Now if I could just get somebody to pay me for it.

Third, thank you, Warty Skinned Troll People, for continuing to send me finely crafted hate mail.  It’s cold here in Alaska, and your burning dislike warms the cockles of my flinty black heart.  In return, and as long as you already think I’m a condescending prick, allow me to offer this helpful tip: You can choose not to be offended.  You can. Or not.  But deciding not to be offended does wonders for clarity of thought – not to mention your blood pressure and spelling ability. Just saying.

That said, some clarification to the previous post is obviously in order:

- I never said that Occupiers are stupid or should go home.You may have read it that way, but that’s not what I said. In fact I said just the opposite. Here’s the quote (note the underlined part):

So what am I saying?  Occupy Wall Street is stupid and futile and everybody should just go home? No, not at all.

 

- I never intended to insult Occupiers by comparing them to Tea Partiers, that was an unexpected bonus.  If it’s any consolation, the Tea Partiers who wrote to me were massively insulted by being compared to you.  Not to be a dick or anything, but that’s something else you both have in common.

 

- I’m not going to apologize for being a capitalist.  I’ve already explained why and, really, at this point I should be charging you for it.

 

- Yes, I understand that there may, may, be reason to believe there are agents provocateur inciting the OWS crowd to violence. Then again, there may not be. So what?  When the agitator says, hey let’s go light some shit on fire – you have the option of saying no. Hell no.  You also have the option of sitting on the son of a bitch until the police show up. 

Here’s the thing: since you can’t see my email, look at the comments under the Occupy post. Take them as a whole.   Now, go read the comments on the various Occupy websites, and the ones under the numerous news articles. And the ones on the Twitter feeds. And the ones on Facebook. Read them objectively, without emotion. Look at them as an intelligence analyst would. Look at them as data.

Taken in the aggregate, what do you see?

Tell you what I see:

1) The violence, it wasn’t us.  It was caused by a) a few bad apples, or b) agents provocateur.

2) besides, you have to light shit on fire and break some windows to get the Man’s attention.

See it? 

See the logical fallacy?

You don’t have to look very hard to see those two reoccurring themes  - often they appear in the same comment, sometimes in the same sentence.  If you agree with the violence, then the agitator isn’t really an agent provocateur is he?  He’s actually one of you.

Either you endorse violence, or you don’t.  Make up your damned mind.

 

- Now, a number of you, including my most excellent friend, the sissy pacifist socialist liberal, Eric, do seem to believe that in certain cases violence against the machine is a justifiable method of getting the Man’s attention. Albeit reluctantly.  A number of you pointed out where that exact method worked to force change.   You are correct.

Eric did an eloquent job of describing precisely why I’m wrong to deplore violent protest over on his own blog, Standing On The Shoulders Of Giant Midgets (and on a related note, if you’re not reading Giant Midgets, you’re missing out. Seriously. Go there right now. You can thank me later). 

Would it surprise you that I agree? 

I do think that there is a time and place for violent protest, and even violent revolution.  I do think that in some cases, violent protest is the only option left to a people – and I’ve written sympathetically about some of those violent revolutions right here on Stonekettle Station, as recently as last week.

I can even see the conditions that would drive me to join in. 

We. Are. Not. Anywhere. Close. To. That.

You’ll be hard pressed to convince me that lighting shit on fire, smashing out bank windows, and breaking into buildings is in any way justified at the moment.  You’re welcome to try.  Give me a list of all the alternatives short of violence you have actually tried and an objective and reasoned justification for the violence and vandalism that has occurred so far. Please try to avoid the logical fallacy described in the previous paragraph and/or the street gang logic of “They dissed us, now we’re gonna bust some heads.”

Some of you took exception to being compared to the Tea Party. You’re the same folks who deplored the Tea Party’s talk of armed overthrow and secession and  revolution.  You’re not seriously going to try and tell me that your talk of revolution and their talk of revolution are different just because they talk about Second Amendment solutions and you talk about throwing Molotov cocktails, are you? 

Then again, not to be a dick or anything, there’s yet another thing certain extreme members of both sides seem to have in common. Just saying.

 

-  I do think that protest has its place in the daily maintenance of democracy. Peaceful protest. 

There’s an old adage about training a dog that goes something like: It is never, ever, necessary to hit a dog – but sometimes you’ve got to rap that bone-headed son of a bitch across the nose to get its attention.  That’s exactly why the Framers put the right to peacefully assemble into the Constitution.

End government corruption.  End runaway greed. Those are the basic messages of OWS, yes?

Those are things that every single American can get behind. End government corruption, end corporate greed (or at least put some limits on it). We can all agree to those basic ideals (well all of us except for corrupt politicians and greedy bankers but that’s just a quibble).  Left, right, conservative, liberal, OWS, Tea Party, black, white, brown, red, yellow, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, East Coast, Left Coast, Mid Westerner, meat eaters and Tofu twiddlers – we, all of us, can agree to that.  End government corruption, end the greed that tanked our economy and screwed us all.

So how come we don’t all agree?

Look, let me give you another example: Be kind to animals. Most of us can agree to that, yes?  Be kind to animals. Hell, even folks who eat meat and hunt can agree, in principle, to that, be kind to animals even if we don’t agree on exactly what “kind” means.

Here’s another example: Don’t shit in your food supply.  Anybody object to that idea?  Don’t shit in your food supply.

So why, when some Green Peace Nazi calls me a murderer and screams her bean sprout scented breath in my face to give up my gas guzzling truck, do I have the overpowering urge to go home and fill my gas tank with the rendered fat of little fluffy harp seals and eat a steak carved from the tenderloin of an endangered baby polar bear?

Ask yourself this, why do so many people just goddamned hate those PETA people? Or the folks from Green Peace?  After all, most of us agree with their basic ideals, be kind to animals, don’t shit in the food supply.

Answer that question, and then do something about it, and Occupy Wall Street will actually change things.

You light shit on fire, you smash windows, you throw rocks at the cops and get yourself arrested and you’re not the 99%.  Because 98.9% of us don’t agree with your methods – including the unionized cops who might be on your side if you’d rethink your strategy.

If you really were 99% of the country, you wouldn’t need to light shit on fire to change things.

So, figure out how to get 99% of your fellow citizens on your side. Hint, lighting their property on fire isn’t it.

 

- Finally I asked you to do some research.  Up above I asked you to go read the comments on the previous post.  I asked you to read the comments on the OWS sites and under the OWS news articles.  I asked you to check social media sites. I asked you to look at that information objectively, without emotion, as data

I asked you to filter it for commonalities.

What did you find?

What is the one single unifying thread that ties it all together (and incidentally, is also yet another point of congruency with the Tea Party)?

Did you see it?

I liked @andrewwnygard’s comment best:

Seriously? Go out and vote?

A stunning majority of you seem to have an astounding level of contempt for the basic institution of democracy.

An overwhelming majority of you seem to feel that, for various reasons, your vote doesn’t matter, that voting will not and cannot change anything.

You’re wrong.

Niven’s law: No technique works if it’s not used.

You cannot say that voting doesn’t work if you don’t vote.

You cannot say that the system is broken if you don’t use the system.

A lot of you said that you do vote and I’ll take you at your word, but it’s a good bet that some of you are fibbing because the simple truth of the matter is that a lot of Americans don’t.

In no election since 1944, have more than 65% of eligible Americans actually voted in presidential elections, and more often than not it’s closer to 45% – though 100% bitch about the results – and it’s even more dismal in the primaries where the actual candidates are chosen.  Want to know who the worst ones are? Young people, liberals, the very same people out in the street with OWS smashing windows right now.  They’ll rally and they’ll sing and they’ll shout, but they won’t go vote

It was the same thing in the 60’s.  The raggedy assed hippies would hold love-in’s and sit-in’s and anti-war rallies, they’d shout and sing Kumbaya and hand out flowers – and then on election day they’d all go get stoned, tune-in, and drop out.  I’m not saying they didn’t effect certain changes in our society, but Nixon was the president and nobody remembers McGovern and we’re sure as hell not living in the Age of Aquarius now are we? And the really, really ironic part is that an overwhelming  majority of those hippies are now conservatives. Why? Because if you really want to effect change, you have to be part of the system.

One hell of a lot of you have allowed yourselves to fall into voter apathy. One hell of a lot of you have declared that you won’t vote in the upcoming presidential election – for whatever reason.

No technique works if it isn’t used.

If you really are the 99% and you all vote, then it won’t matter if some of your votes aren’t counted and some of your chads dangle– you’ll still win. You damned well did in 2008 despite one hell of a stiff opposition.  And don’t give me the standard canard about the Koch Brothers either, you’ve got billionaire movers and shakers of your own, stop lighting their shit on fire and maybe they’ll help you out.

I keep coming back to the Tea Party for a reason – in the last election they got themselves organized, they knocked on doors, they made phone calls, hell, they bought themselves a robo-dialer and they used that sucker, they handed out flyers and petitions and buttons and email. They used social networking and the internet – and some of those tri-corner hat wearing blue haired old geezers had never sent an email before in their lives, but they damned well learned how and spammed every inbox they could reach. They were in front of every Wal-Mart and Target and in the malls and their front yards were full of campaign signs.  They lost a few, but they won the House and the Congressional Tea Party caucus is shaking up the halls of power right now.  They are half the Republican presidential candidate line-up and you can damned well see even old Mitt Romney kissing their wrinkly gray asses. I don’t agree with most of what they’re doing, but there they are nonetheless. And they’re there because they got more votes than you did. And they got more votes than you did because you stayed the fuck home.

No technique works if it isn’t used.

Your franchise, your vote, is the very foundation of our republic

Your vote is the core, the very heart, of the country and the people that are the United States of America. 

Your vote is the very source of freedom, of liberty, and of democracy. 

It’s not guns, it’s not the right of assembly, it’s not freedom of speech, it’s not religion or lack there of – those things only ensure the right to vote. That’s why those things came later, in the Bill of Rights and the other amendments that gave the right to vote to all Americans.  The right to vote itself was enshrined in the Constitution from the beginning.  

The only thing, the only thing, that makes this a country of the people, by the people, and for the people is your vote

That’s the one right that must be protected at all costs – or America is no longer America.

Now here’s the thing, so pay attention:  If you really, really, believe that the system is broken, if you really think that your vote has been stolen, then why isn’t that Occupy Wall Street’s number one message?

Instead of “Death to Capitalism” and “End the Fed” why isn’t “My Vote Goddamned Well Matters!” on those banners in Oakland? Why do you have this bullshit about ending the Fed or dumping the free market on your banners?Those things aren't what you're mad about. Fix the voting system, get people to exercise their franchise and actually elect candidates who are beholden to the people and not corporate interests  and those things will fix themselves. Ending the Fed isn't going to give you a voice in your government. And for Goddamned certain dumping capitalism for fucking Marxism sure as hell won't.

If you truly believe that the voting system is broken, then that should be the number one item on the OWS agenda. That should be the clear and unambiguous message of the movement.

You need an agenda that 99% of America can get behind? Start there.

Everything else follows.

And have some faith in the United States of America.

105 comments:

  1. I love your imagery. Now I want a polar bear steak.

    I have voted and vote in every election since I became enfranchised to do so. I encourage all of my friends and family to do so as well. Though I think the system is broken, or at the very least cracked all to hell, I think that the way to fix it is through the system, as well as yelling in the street.

    Though I don't always agree with everything that you write, I enjoy reading your blog, and will continue to do so. Nothing you have said has offended me in the least. :) In fact, it has made me think about some of my own stances a little more critically and examine how much of my response has been a knee-jerk emotional response versus an informed decision on an issue set in front of me. Thank you for that.

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  2. Did someone say sycophant? Reporting for duty, sir! (Kidding. I'm KIDDING.)

    I know I'm late to the party, I was trying to close a deal worth about $5 million so I can continue to pay my mortgage. Stupid mortgage.

    Jim, I will say that I do in fact support and empathize with the goals of the OWS movement. And I do vote. In every election, on every issue, no matter how small. I'm an election judge, I believe in and support the system. You know me - you know it's true.

    And yet...I understand why these folks feel disenfranchised. In spite of my continuous exercise of my franchise since reaching my majority, I see the gap between the haves and the have nots growing bigger and bigger and bigger every decade. The fact that I could reasonably be categorized as a "have" is immaterial - the system is fundamentally unfair. And the fact that I vote, in every election, on every issue, has done not one goddamn thing to change the status quo. In fact, the situation is worse. Much worse.

    So I get it. While I think lighting things on fire is the dumbass move of the century, I get it.

    It's a complex issue, and I think Eric's post clarified my thinking somewhat, but it's hard to know what the ethical and moral thing to do is, as a citizen.

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  3. Thanks, Jim. As I said on facebrook, I agrred with some of what you wrote about OWS, but disagreed with quite a bit, as well. It was actually a relief, because I was beginning to find it a bit creepy, the way you seem to read my mind.

    FWIW, the link to Eric's blog is taking me back to the previous Stonekettle post, instead.

    Anyway, keep up the great work!

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  4. A lot of people only focus on the national level of politics and the wide world view of things. However, if more people focused on how to bring things together and lift up their community bit by bit, person by person, then I think that things would have a chance of getting better.

    A good portion of the people I know ignore local politics completely, and as a result, know nothing of how their local political structure even works. They only come out to vote for the president. They might know who their state senators are.

    The apathy is strong.

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  5. The link to Giant Midgets is fixed.

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  6. "As a result, some readers won’t be back."

    Nothing wrong with culling the herd. Reality can, at times be an unsavory dish.

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  7. This post sucks. I thought is was gonna be a kreplach recipe!

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  8. I don't often comment at Stonekettle Station. I never have anything to say one of your regular readers do not. I never see the need to be redundant. However, this blog just resonated! Vote you jackasses! I cannot tell you how many of my progressive friends threw verbal tomatoes at me when I blasted one and all for the 2010 election results!Progressives sat on their collective asses in a snit and gave the house to the Tea Party. Thank you for making this clear. I vote. I have very little patience with those who do not. I cannot say I agree with all of your positions on OWS. I don't think any thing but prolonged occupation will convince the current "leaders" how serious we are. The method of distraction has worked to well for too long as we Americans eat the latest sex scandal up with spoons.It is the bright shiny object syndrome we all seem to suffer from. Add in the number of people who never bother to vote and you have the GOP / Tea Party House and a very narrow senate. I am not convinced that anything other than massive demonstrations will be taken seriously. The violence was inevitable, I agree. I am not happy nor do I excuse the violence but I was expecting something. I remember Kent State. We seem unable to resolve our issues until someone bleeds. I don't know why. I have to admit the only reason I was not joining our peaceful demonstrations when off work was the request my husband made of me. He too thought violence was heartbeats away and asked me not to risk being on site ( although we have had no issues). People are just so angry. The despair of unemployment, the idea that being unemployed is a lifetime development, the horror of losing a home, a car, a business when you personally broke no laws nor cheated is creating an anger that is reaching across the country. We are Americans, and as I read in another blog, we don't mind when you win or get rich but we hate it when you cheat. I think OWS is not about ending capitalism for the many I speak to. It's the rigged game. People are just furious because the bastards cheated.I know you will have to keep on writing. It is what writers do. Thank you for sharing thought provoking blogs.

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  9. The last contested election I didn't vote in was in November 1968. Because my 21st birthday was only weeks prior I had to register in person. To do so meant going AWOL from a TS training school. Not a good career move.

    I didn't agree with some of the column, I liked it. Very different things.

    You are not going to get rid of me by writing things I disagree with but still cause me to think. To get rid or me you will have to become boring.

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  10. Thank you for today's post. I didn't comment on yesterday's post because it left me feeling ambivalent and not knowing why. I have voted in every primary and every election for the last 52 years. I have even been a poll worker for several years. But reading your post made me feel I had not done enough or our country would not be going in the direction it is. I'm not good at the get-out-the-vote stuff because even though I know why I will vote, I have trouble articulating and debating those reasons.

    I had a favorite uncle who used to vote and then tell everyone he had "bought his 'griping license', had they bought theirs and if not they could just shut up".

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  11. I would question your contention that any significant numbers of your readers don't actually vote. (If that's what you meant...maybe you were just referring to the Occupiers.) My reason for saying that is completely unscientific and subjective; it is based on my belief that it's a tiny fragment, if any at all, of habitual non-voters who would ever be reading anything even a fraction as politically oriented as your blog.

    I do vote, in every election, but I will freely admit that it is one of the most depressing things I do, for all the reasons Janiece points out, and for many others.

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  12. So I think you misconstrued my comment - Really? Go out and Vote?

    The point I'm making is that when you vote for a fixed system, where both parties put forward candidates that are owned lock and barrel by the corporations through contributions and the revolving door of jobs and K Street Consultancies, well we might as well be voting in Soviet Russia or Kazakhstan or Cuba - IT DOESN"T MATTER WHO YOU VOTE FOR. They're all (OK 99% of them) corrupt, unresponsive to real American's needs and will NOT address the basic issues of our democracy.

    So you can waste your time voting for the existing machine, or you can organize and drive real change.

    Thing is that real change is fundamentally simple and can be accomplished by two changes to the current system -I outline these in my post:

    http://randompoliticalmusings.blogspot.com/2011/10/proposed-talking-points-for.html

    If we'd do these two things we'd get money out of the process of governing, and let the People of the United States raise the issues they find important to the surface through the democratic process, rather than limit the dialog through the corporate purchase of our representatives.

    They'll probably take Constitutional Amendments at this point, but hey, if the 99% want to take action, then let's coalesce the efforts on the major points of leverage, rather than splintering into minute actions that ultimately accomplish nothing.

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  13. Apparently I was less eloquent than I hoped. I want to be clear: I was not saying "violence against the machine is a justifiable method of getting the Man’s attention." If I believed that, I wouldn't have been grieving as much as I have been since I wrote that post.

    What I was trying to say was that violence is possibly the only thing that's worked to effect progressive change. That may seem like an endorsement of violence. But that would be saying the ends justify the means, a fallacy.

    I don't want neighborhoods burning, people throwing bombs, people beating each other bloody in the streets. We've done a good job in America of having a collective amnesia about the price that's been paid to get to certain points; first, many of us have forgotten what happened (or never learned it in the first place) and, second, many of those who remember have turned it into a bloodless abstraction.

    The fact--as you know, perhaps better than I do, Jim--is when someone gets caught in the blast of an improvised explosive, they suffer, perhaps to the point of death. The fact is someone shot by a strikebreaking cop has a piece of hot, high-velocity metal tear through the skin, muscle shredded, blood welling to fill the hole, a bone possibly fractured from the impact; no doubt you've seen bullet scars, I certainly have--you know they're inconceivably permanent, these dimples of hollowed flesh a slug once tunneled out.

    One might say that an anarchist's or union leader's or a policeman's cause was just without feeling their actions were justified. This is the thing I was trying to get at.

    What I would like to work, as I said, is the civilized institutions we have. I do not want more violence. You may recall, I saw your Niven and raised you Asimov: "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." If violence is what is necessary to effect change, then it logically means something has broken, something has failed: our institutions failed in conception, failed in execution, or those attempting to use those tools have failed.

    Finally, there's an obvious logical fallacy in your piece today that I have to point out: you assume the OWS people aren't voting and accuse the ones who say they vote of lying. Neither you nor I have any way of knowing whether these people are telling the truth, but there's no reason not to take them at their word, nor is there a good reason to assume that the relatively small number of people making the effort to show up at protests aren't also a big part of the relatively small number of people who vote; indeed, if I had to guess, my bet would be that most of the people making up the OWS crowd (like most of the people in the Tea Party crowd) are the same people who are actively engaged not just in voting, but in campaigning, leafleting, voter drives, etc. (joined, inevitably in both OWS and the TP movement, by people who are just there to stir shit, yes, but I have no evidence those folks are a majority of either group).

    (cont.)

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  14. (cont.)

    On a related note, your mention of the primary process undercuts your arguments to some extent, as one might well observe that the primary system "where the actual candidates are chosen" is a symptom of how representative democracy as established in the Constitution has ultimately failed in practice through the ossification of a two-party, oligarchic system. By way of personal illustration, I cannot recall if I've ever voted in a presidential primary since I registered as an independent/unaffiliated voter when I was 18; I don't know if the Republicans still allow independents to vote in their primary around here, but there's an apparent conflict-of-interest if I did, as I'm certainly not a Republican and might be tempted to help them nominate someone unelectable in the hope of helping a more liberal candidate (or I can vote for a more moderate Republican candidate as a safety in case the slightly-more-liberal Democrat loses--and implicitly vote against my own interest). Either way, if I want to vote in primaries, my choices in the current system essentially boil down to endorsing Party A or Party B, neither of which I especially care to affiliate with. Your argument would appear to be that I should buy into the two party system and to hell with my conscience; that's not a wholly unreasonable argument, but it is wholly unacceptable and unappreciated. In any case, whether you're right or not (I suspect you're not), it doesn't assuage my fear that the system has broken down and my professional and personal efforts on its behalf have been so much piss in the wind, which is depressing, though I don't suppose I'm clever enough to give up.

    I think you were on firmer ground with your first post, Jim. I wasn't pissed off, and I'm still not, but I am a little disappointed: first, that I apparently failed to make myself better understood, and second that you seem to be leaping to some conclusions in your follow-through.

    You know, I would love to be wrong. It's a bitch to be stuck arguing propositions that you'd like to be false; Cassandra probably hoped as much, that the Trojans were right and she was batshit insane with all her twaddle about Greeks showing up and wrecking the place; it would be good, she must have thought at least once or twice, to be dead-wrong and absolutely nuts than to be right and sliding helplessly along with her people into the gullet of something awful and irrevocable.

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  15. Oh, and by the way I've voted in every election since 1978 when I first could vote. I've voted for Reagan and Clinton. Never a Bush. I'm embarrassed to say I was mislead by Obama, but really saw no alternative. I believe if you don't vote you don't get to complain.

    And I agree with another poster - if you put forth points of view I wholly agreed to there'd be little reason to be here - I'm out in the bloggosphere to learn, not to admire myself in an echo chamber.

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  16. Jim, I have never missed an election since 1976 when I got to got for Jimmy Carter. When 2000 was in the balance, I was so naive I thought "Isn't impressive that we trust our government to sort things out and don't take to the streets." In 2004, when Ohio was stolen and W got his second term, I wept because I didn't recognize this country anymore.

    As westtexas8 stole from another blog: "We are Americans, we don't mind when you win or get rich but we hate it when you cheat." I think this goes for both Wall Street and our ability to have our vote counted.

    I honestly don't know what the resolution is.

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  17. Vote.
    Why does it matter? The Supreme Court. (for starters) (R) Gets you Thomas and Alito. (D) Gets you someone with more of an open mind. Don't like the direction the country is going in? If you don't vote, I don't care what you think. I don't respect you. You want to vote for Ralph Nader or some other nonentity. Go for it. Just don't whine about the election result afterwards.
    People were nattering on about what a liberal Obama was. Anyone who took him at his word realized he is a moderate. I don't agree with the man on every issue. I didn't expect to. I'm just happy that (R) isn't in power.
    It's been said before: if you don't vote, you give up your ticket to whine.

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  18. I'm always happy when people say they aren't coming back. I never wanted those people around anyway.

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  19. Wait... can I be your sycophant and Eric's at the same time?

    I suppose since I agree with both of you, and disagree with both of you, sycophantizing both of you is the next logical step.

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  20. It was mentioned in your previous post, that people disappointed in out current President are planning on not voting to send a message. What message? That you aren't getting the real picture of how much he has accomplished despite intense opposition, sometimes from OUR side? Andrewgynard said it like this: "I'm embarrassed to say I was mislead by Obama, but really saw no alternative." There will be no viable alternative next year, either.

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  21. First, I vote! Second the First time Bush Jr was electyed proved our vote DOES NOT MATTER cause the Supreme Court and Florida idiots can steal it!

    If we were REQUIRED to vote (as some countries do) you would have a great point and things would be different, but in this country, we can chose NOT to vote and/or be persuaded by various factions NOT to vote!
    As long as voter registration and rules that prevent people from voting are being put in place, we are screwed!
    Again, I vote and it still seems to not matter!

    As I said before, the stystem is broke AND stacked against us (99%), doing things though the system is a lost cause! I will still vote and encourage everyone to do so, but I don't trust that the results will be true to what the people vote for!

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  22. Folks, read the post.

    If you truly believe that the voting system is broken, if you really believe that @Tristan is correct, then that should be the number one item on the OWS agenda. That should be the clear and unambiguous message of the movement.

    Why do you have this bullshit about ending the Fed or dumping the free market on your banners? Those things aren't what you're mad about. Fix the voting system and get people to vote and those things will fix themselves. Ending the Fed isn't going to give you a voice in your government. And for Goddamned certain dumping capitalism for fucking Marxism sure as hell won't.

    Everything, every single thing, you're pissed off about depends from this single origin.

    If the objective of OWS is voting reform, then (as I said at the end of the post) everything else follows: rigged machines, bought politicians, term limits, campaign money, corporations as people, all of it. You want to get 99% of the population onboard with OWS? That's exactly how you do it, right there.

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  23. Well, see, Jim, I mostly agree with that: I'd be more likely to be on board with OWS if that were their message. Though--and I don't want to get into a long tangential story here--the last time I participated in an electoral reform campaign, the only thing that changed was that I got screwed out of a wad of cash every year while the system remains screwed up. Which is why OWS really needs something more solid by way of how they'd solve a problem and not just a list of complaints before I climb on board any bandwagons; once bitten, twice shy, you know.

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  24. Well, see, Eric, I think that depends entirely on where you were bitten. Twice.

    Just saying

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  25. I got slammed when I commented on your first OWS post that I "couldn't agree more". Guess I better gird my loins because I totally agree with this post as well. Fucking Vote. Thats it. Thats all. Fucking vote. And to those two people who told me via email that I was a 'brown nose', wtf?, for agreeing with you so often Jim, I'll say this; dogs are emotional creatures who crave being with their pack. It bothers me that you keep one in a kennel. Not because of the weather, I'm sure a husky can weather the weather just fine. But it breaks a dogs heart and spirit to be separated from it's people, it's pack. There, I disagree with Jim. Satisfied? Now, go stick a post it note on your mirror to remind yourself to check your voter status tomorrow so you don't have any excuse not to fucking vote. At least one of those email terrorists couldn't vote last time because they had moved and not updated their voter registration. No excuses, VOTE!

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  26. Voting COUNTS!

    I'm old enough to remember when we Liberals "showed Hubert Humphrey and the Democratic Party" by staying away from the polls because "our" candidate hadn't won the nomination.

    We showed 'em alright. And we're STILL suffering from the effects of the Nixon Supreme Court.

    Remember, the next president might nominate one or more justices to the Court. You want more people like Scalia or Thomas? Fine. Don't vote (or, vote for a 3rd party) and that's just what you'll get. Remember, if nobody voted for Nader, Bush The Lesser would never have been "President".

    Not happy with Obama? Me neither. But I'd far rather have him nominate the next justice than any of the lunatics that the Republicans are running.

    Get behind Obama and the Democratic Party or kiss your remaining freedoms and your country goodbye.

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  27. I may be the only commenter on here that's actually slept nights on a sidewalk for a local OWS demonstration. It's about as comfortable as you think it is. The homeless are a bunch of swell guys too and smell like Foul_Ole_Ron.

    So what's my biggest bitch? People do NOT take their social responsibility seriously. Society provides for you* and you owe some social responsibility in return.

    So what do I say to the clueless college students that actually stop by? The tiny, tiny minority. I tell them that if they don't take charge of this mess they can write off getting a decent job, finding a partner that isn't a financial time bomb, or ever, ever getting out of debt. They say "Uh, huh, thanks" and walk off. Well, except some of the 25-year-old guys that have figured out that their crappy job prospects have a lot to do with their crappy sex lives. They, look worried and walk off.

    We have to vote and then keep raising a stink so that our elected officials don't dare put their hands in the cookie jar. Even if they're on our side. Why do you think Congress legalized fraud? Because they could!! But first we have to get people engaged at all. We have to get them off zero.

    (*do you use steel? Of course you do. You can never repay the benefit that one social/technical advance gives you)

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  28. Yes, voting counts. I've been voting in every election since 1960. That said, I have to qualify the statement "Yes, voting counts." While voting in the presidential elections is vital, it's even more important to get involved with city, county, and state elections. That's where the politics start.

    Over the last couple of years, I've been reading about the fact that the Republicans have been working at the local and state levels to get their people into local and state offices so they can change the rules and laws on so many issues, including on how and where we can register and vote. Look at how many states since 2010 have changed the voting laws in their states so that they are disenfranchising thousands of voters, mostly the poor, the elderly, the students. This seems to have been something dedicated groups of ultra-conservatives have been working towards for a long, long time. And they seem to have succeeded.

    So what groups of progressive movers and shakers have been formed to come up with plans and talking points to be used to get progressives elected? How do we get diverse elements among progressives to come together and work for the good of all of us? After all, isn't that what we, as progressives want - a good government of the people, by the people, and for the people?

    I don't know, but I'm going to have to start looking. You are right, Jim, we have to get out and vote. but we're also going to have to start working and planning for the long haul. It won't be an easy job but it's a vital one.

    (Good grief, I can't believe I got up on my soapbox and ranted like that. Hope some of that rant made sense. :-) Phew!)

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  29. Been following this discussion with rapt attention both here and on Eric's blog - thanks to all involved for your insight and maturity.

    I suspect Jim's response to the idea that "voting doesn't work because you aren't choosing between real options" would be to push back a step: fine, go involved in the candidate selection process. Find (or be) a candidate who supports your cause and back them. Make noise for them. Bind yourself into the system at the level that needs change and use it as designed.

    I wonder if this issue is not so much a broken political system, but an understandable lack of trust and hope in such a system as currently constituted? And actually going through the pain of renewing ones trust and hope - and engagement - in such a system could still deliver positive results?

    In disclaimer, I should add that I'm a furriner, so feel free to jump on me all you want ;). But the area where I live is 'never' going to not vote Conservative. I'm oh-so-slowly realising that this doesn't completely shut off my options as a citizen...

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  30. Oh dear, I was just about ready to close down for the night, when I suddenly thought, "You do realize that Jim and all the others are going to think you're one of those silly people who believe in wild conspiracy theories! Good grief!"

    Well, that isn't what I believe at all. But having said that and having read many blogs from what seem to be credible sources who describe small groups of very rich people and the organizations they've set up and the actions of those groups in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and other states to push legislation favoring such things as new voting registration rules, union busting, destruction of public school education, laws on personhood for fertilized ova, etc, etc., well, it's almost enough to force one into believing in conspiracies.

    Maybe it is my age getting to me but it just seems like the daily news tells us of another dumb action taken by either a state government (have you read the requirements for groups in Florida to register new voters?) or Congress (really, it's vital that we make "In God we trust" our national motto instead of actually passing legislation to regulate those greedy so-and-soes on Wall Street?). It's enough to make me want to pull the covers back over my head and pretend I've been having a bad dream.

    I'll keep plugging away but it's sure hard to work up "enthusiasm for the mission".

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  31. The only thing, the only thing, that makes this a country of the people, by the people, and for the people is your vote.

    Not quite!

    I'm proud to vote, and I do, but I need a fresh lesson in how it is that the popular vote does not necessarily mean shit and new controls on who can vote are popping up state by state. Hell there changing county lines around here to change the demographics, red county, blue county.

    I'm just a worker guy and really can't understand all the complications of this convoluted voting system.

    But,

    seeing thousands of people in the street violent, or not hopefully, standing up for something, I understand. They're voting for something with their faces in the camera, not behind a curtain. It means something, and that too is what makes this country what it is. Turn those thousands into millions throughout the country, every day or even every weekend and keep growing and growing, they "will" be heard without ever stepping into the booth.

    Oh yeah! Guilty as charged sir!!! (of course I had to look up the word, ha!)

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  32. After reading the comments in the previous post, then checking out the comments from other OWS articles, I suggest you phrase things as, "Go out and vote, and if you don't like the choices you're getting, get up off your duff and run yourself, or find a candidate you CAN support, then DO something about it!" Unfortunately, doing nothing then complaining that things are going to hell in a handbasket seems to be par for the course these days.

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  33. First time commenter here and so I'm probably going to do stuff wrong (though yes I did read the rules).

    Brief intro: I am, philosophically at least, a Tea Partier. I think that, for the most part more government = bad and that in many cases big government is a major contributary factor to big corrupt corporations, hence my belief is that the best way to cut big corporations down to size is cut down government. I am also not a US resident let alone citizen though I'm hoping to change that.

    I was somewhat surprised to see the disdain you hold the Tea Partiers in because when I read what I've read in the initial post and this one, you actually seem to agree with a large chunk of what the Tea Party believes in. If you like the idea of free markets, voting and generally speaking doing things and not sitting around in a circle whining then you sound like classic tea party material. Moreover it seems to me you should actually go out and join a Tea Party and influence it in the ways you prefer (I'm guessing the primary gripe is the social conservative aspects). It doesn't seem to me as an outside observer that TP folks will mind that much. These guys are right now focused on cutting down government spending and regulation and are not, in general, worried about abortion, gay marriage or a dozen other things that your classic (christian) social conservative considers important.

    Moreover, should the TP get enough republicans in the Senate and a Republican president in 2012 I think you can expect to see a lot of the OWS crowd's complaints about cozy wall st deals dealt with in simple fashion. It will probably be traumatic for the 1% because I imagine laws will be passed cutting out huge chunks of corporate welfare and large "too big to fail" banks will be told to split themselves in to chunks that aren't too big and that if they don't then they can damn well fail anyway. I'm betting Wall St won't believe the latter and thus these large institutions will fail in spectacular fashion and bring down a lot of other large institutions. Quite probably a number of the 1% will end up owning lots of worthless paper as a result and will then go bankrupt too.

    Of course a number of OWS's allies, like the union movement (and particularly the public sector unions) are going to be very upset with a TP victory. Wisconsin is an example. And Wisconsin is also an example of why the TP will likely win on this issue. Basically as our host wrote, showing up and voting is going to be crucial. This is a TP advantage as when push comes to shove the TP will get out their vote effectively because they are a grass roots organization. TP members are also members of the Rotary, a church, the boy scouts and dozens of other local clubs and organizations and they will work on their fellow members in these societies.

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  34. So. Maybe it's not my place to speak, seeing as I'm not a US citizen, but I rather feel that an outsider's view of the situation might be of some small benefit to the issue. So, here goes:

    Jim, you are absolutely correct in saying that the current situation, while difficult, is not close to the point where "lighting shit on fire" becomes a legitimate tactic for opposition and to force change. However, if the situation does not improve, and soon, I fear that it's going to become perceived as a viable solution, and sooner than anyone of us might like.

    A bit if a recap of our story thus far: When the current economic turmoil started, it was 80 years, almost exactly, since the last time Wall Street and rampant unregulated capital broke the banks and sent Europe and the US careening off the cliff. Granted, we've had crashes before (I remember the dot-com bubble, and the yuppies of the early-to-mid eighties), but nothing of this severity since the Great Depression.

    Now comes the wrinkle: A second Great Depression was headed off (just), by a necessary measure that was decidedly unpopular, namely the bailouts. They halted the descent into full-blown depression, but left the country mired in a recession. Thus, the Republican victory in the 2010 elections, promising to focus on "jobs, jobs, jobs." We all know what they've been up to since they took office, so I shall elide the details. Suffice it to say that instead of the promised jobs, there has instead been bitter partisan strife about every single conceivable issue brought before both the House and Senate, and no real measurable improvement in the economy.

    The result? A large number of people who are a) without work, or much hope of finding work in the near future, left to worry incessantly about losing their homes, medical insurances and all the attending problems of wondering where their next meal is coming from, and b) feeling increasingly disenfranchised as the bickering of their elected officials are on full display.

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  35. [Continued]

    As I'm sure most of you know, this is not a unique situation in world history. The problem is that while things aren't getting any worse, neither are they getting measurably better, and when enough people feel that their situation is beyond hope of improvement, they are drawn to the political fringes as the center crumbles and shrinks. The Tea Party was the first sign of this, OWS is the second. And honestly? For all their media-coverage and the heated rhetoric? Both movements are comparatively mild and benign responses to the current crisis.

    So far.

    The question now is whether the OWS members will turn their anger into genuine political activity and campaigning. However, if they do, and are frustrated again, then there is a very, very real danger of something going badly awry indeed. It's my firm belief that we didn't see any riots out of the Tea Party due to the simple fact that for all the gung-ho rhetoric about "second amendment remedies", they won as has already been pointed out. However, the situation is now precarious. The system may be fixable, but it is an inarguable fact that at present, the wheels of the US government have ground to a halt, and the entire country (and those of us across the pond) have been affected by it.

    While I would strongly urge every member of the OWS movement to vote, and even to run their own candidates, I am deeply worried by the fact that the movement exists, just as I was worried by the Tea Party. It reminds me a little too closely of a time, not too long ago, when similar popular movements of people disaffected with economic woes and corrupt and ineffectual politicians grew up in Europe. Certainly, the conditions aren't right for similar movements to spring up (or return to prominence) in the US. But from this side of the Atlantic, I look at the US and I'll confess that I'm concerned that if the current state of affairs continues, the relatively benign movements we've seen so far will be replaced by something altogether uglier, and far more dangerous.

    *steps off soapbox, goes back to lurking*

    PS: Apologies for any mistakes. English is not my native language.

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  36. One thing to point out is that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE SOB'S IN CONGRESS GOT THERE BECAUSE HE GOT THE MAJORITY OF VOTES IN HIS/HER DISTRICT. Every single one of them. Not one of them was appointed there by some dictator or foreign overlord. They were all electorated, maybe not always fair and square, but close enough.

    And for those who whine about how it's a choice between Corrupt Pol A and Corrupt Pol B, well, that's because that's who wins the primaries. So why does corrupt pol A win his party's political primary? Well, because for some reason the voters almost *always* seem to select the candidate with the glossiest ads, the best mud-slinging commercials, etc. to elect, rather than the boring but sane candidate who was a Rhodes Scholar, has a Ph.D. in sociology, blah de blah. I.e., for some reason the voters in the primaries, the ones who chose the choice A and choice B that you get to vote for in the finals, almost *always* select the most corrupt candidate rather than the *best* candidate.

    Ask yourself this: Why did Obama win the Democratic primary? Hint: It had nothing to do with hope or change, and everything to do with MONEY. He ran a branding campaign that was unprecedented in Presidential race history to create a brand that even had its own logo a' la' the Nike "Swoosh". And he did this by being the most corrupt candidate -- by taking hundreds of millions of dollars from health care companies, Wall Street interests and probably even from the Koch Brothers. And you wonder why you got a milqetoast President whose health care plan is a give-away to Big Health, who has prosecuted not a single Wall Street insider for trashing the world economy, who, in essense, is bought, sold, and paid for? Folks, look in the $#!% *MIRROR*, for cryin' out loud!

    Reminds me of all those who whine that Bush stole the 2000 election. Maybe he did. But 49% of the folks who bothered to vote, voted for Bush... and the 40% of the electorate that didn't bother to vote at all, clearly had no problem with Bush. So what you end up with is that around 70% of the American electorate either voted for Bush, or didn't have any problem with Bush becoming President. And the outcome of the 2004 election was pretty much the same, with a few votes more or less. And you wonder why I don't buy these arguments that the disaster that was the Bush Administration was illegitimate? Hmm?

    The core problem is one of Peak Stupid, which is why I suggest buying stock in companies that make rope. That is, 50% of all Americans are below average, and average don't seem to be so smart nowadays. But the notion that voting is a futile act simply isn't supported by the facts -- yet. If the exit polls and the polls the day before election day say that 70% of the voters want politician A and then the vote counters say that politician B won with 70% of the vote, then, and only then, is it right for all hell to break loose. Until then... well. The chances of a good outcome from violent revolution, as I've previously pointed out, are none, and none -- I have no, ZERO, data points showing that any violent revolution EVER has had a good outcome. In short, it's something to do when the alternatives are even more dire, which decidedly is not the case right now. Though the Koch Brothers and their ilk are trying to change that, sigh!

    - Badtux the Democratic Penguin

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  37. I'm going to throw out two criticisms of Occupy Wall Street that deserve a giant Shut-The-Fuck-Up already.

    The first is the bitch about OWS protesters pissing and shitting, well, wherever. Really? Exactly where the hell are they supposed to go to the bathroom; in the public toilets? That's right; there are no municipal public restrooms in U.S. cities. (excluding San Francisco, but those are inadequate) People piss and shit in the street every f_king day in America because we can't seem to figure out that these are non-optional functions. Instead we have a system where citizens are expected to purchase something from a retailer in exchange for the dubious privilege of using their restroom.

    If you are a stranger to the city you are in you have no idea which retailer is willing to provide such a service to somebody of your class, race, color or dress code; tough shit. Is it after 11 pm; then you better find a dumpster to shit behind and hope you have a napkin. Otherwise you get to spend $10 in a bar for a beer you aren't going to drink for the privilege of using a filthy restroom. Fifteen bucks if you want a clean restroom.

    The City of New York which has tens of thousands of dogs shitting in the streets every day and spends millions of dollars on sewers, street cleaners, roads, sidewalks, bridges and god knows what other services could have figured out that large groups of collected people need to take a shit and provided a few porta-potties. It's a damn sight cheaper than the millions of dollars they're spending on riot police.

    Second; the stupid whining about burning shit in the streets. Here's a big secret people. College students across america drag couches, mattresses and other flammable shit into streets and light them on fire; on regular occasions. Because they're really, really drunk and "that would be cool dude."

    It isn't national news and it surely doesn't make the BBC. I know this because I used to do property management in my college town and one of my jobs was to patrol our properties and make SURE that any couches or mattresses in front of vacant houses or apartments vanished before they burned. About once a month I would miss one and about three in May would light leaving springs and a burned patch of asphalt.

    So, truth is that this is the same stupid bullshit that happens every day in America without notice. It isn't national news when some disgruntled employee/customer hucks a brick through a window and we don't get all huffy on CNN every time some bull mastiff leaves a giant pile of crap in the street.

    You're seeing it on the news because it's propaganda. So Shut-the-fuck-up-already; you've been told.

    p.s._ BadTux I'm stealing your "Peak Stupid" phrase and using it everywhere without attribution; mostly.

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  38. So Shut-the-fuck-up-already; you've been told.

    @Pangolin, only one person gets to decide what commenters can and cannot talk about here, you are not that person. Understand me?

    As to shitting in the street: there are very few municipalities that don’t have an ordinance requiring owners to clean up after their dogs. Most places have a law against public urination and defecation as well. Both for damned good and for what should be obvious reasons. I grant you that it’s a shame that many cities do not provide adequate facilities for either man or beast, but that doesn’t excuse leaving human waste in the street. It’s a disease vector if nothing else and a health hazard. In most municipalities, the permitting process for large public assembly requires the inclusion of proper facilities and observation of health and safety standards, which is one of the primary issues a number of cities have with the OWS folks who in many cases failed to procure the proper permits and provide the required services. Should the city provide at its own expense? Would that be cheaper than cleaning up after and policing the crowd as you suggest? Maybe. But I also note that the folks in Zuccotti park report that they’ve taken in over a million dollars in donations, and while some of that is paying for food and some has been donated to OWS groups in other cities, they’re not quite sure what to do with the rest. Port-O-shitters might be an idea; after all they’re providing a kitchen. What goes in, comes out.

    Most places have laws against lighting shit on fire as well, for what should also be good and obvious reasons. And sure, your example happens all the time, but it doesn’t make the news for good reason, because it’s not news. Lighting dumpsters on fire to block access to the illegally occupied Traveler’s Aid building? That’s news. Nobody is interested in a story about a crusty spoog soaked mattress getting torched on some frat house lawn, as you said, it happens far too often. OWS is different. And if you don’t like those images ending up on international news, then stop lighting shit on fire.

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  39. "@Pangolin, only one person gets to decide what commenters can and cannot talk about here, you are not that person. Understand me?"_ Jim

    Damn. My bad. Let's rephrase that to "I wish they'd..(insert idiot phrase here) without caps.

    My apologies and thanks for leaving it up; and for the verbal dope slap.

    For the tiny bit that it's worth Occupy Wall Street did, just in the last few days, secure a space to place porta-potties. Since they didn't actually have a clearly held or rented space nearby they couldn't rent them before due to the obvious objections of the venders.

    I still maintain that "they lit a dumpster on fire," while being stupid and pointless, is not worthy of breathless international news reporting. Note: I'm not defending this and have posted on my local OWS group page the idea that responsible adults should literally, sit, on such idiots.

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  40. Jim just after i commented yesterday i ran across this little tidbit:
    http://www.pdamerica.org/get-informed/view/participation-or-infiltration-when-the-tea-party-comes-to-occupy/
    i am a woman who likes to know something about a man before i lift my face for a kiss.
    i vote. i vote in every election. for those who denigrate this President who is doing wonders in spite of people like you i say i got nuthin' to say to you except "Feck Off".
    Jim Wright writes what's in his heart. i don't have agree with him in all things and it would be strange if i did but i like the way his mind works and i like the way he expresses his thoughts. i always wander away thinking more clearly.

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  41. @pangolin. Thanks. In hindsight I see how you intended it.

    I concur that the media is perhaps overplaying the "lighting shit on fire" aspect of OWS, but without a clearly understood agenda, a specific message, identifiable leaders, or a spokesman - that's what they're unfortunately left with.

    "A bunch of people are mad at various things" isn't exactly news.

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  42. As I've said before it's pathetic that we don't have a common message that's more articulate than "this shit sucks" or that most people joining local Occupy movements haven't even read this list of grievances from NYC OWS.

    It's pathetic that most OWS protests can't manage internal security and if they did they'd get attacked from within as well as without. As if we are somehow exempt from having idiots and jerks within our ranks.

    It's pathetic that we have to do this at all when we already have Congress and 50 state legislatures and god knows how many structured lobbying groups.

    But that's the nation that we have to work with. I'm grabbing the handles that I can reach. Oh, and I've missed one local election in my life with a two-item ballot and I was pissed for months; broke my perfect record.

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  43. My Mom & Dad always said,"If you don't vote, you can't complain." And since I like being able to complain when things are wrong, I vote. I proudly voted for Clinton the first time & less proudly voted for him the second time. I voted for Gore & suddenly understood the attraction of reality TV when I got addicted to all the coverage about the recounts. I voted for Kerry & couldn't believe that no one paid any attention to the voting weirdness in Ohio. (One county had nearly twice as many votes cast as people who actually lived in that county. Later, several elected officials in that same county went to jail for election fraud & it was barely a blip in the news.) I skipped classes from my MA program the day Rock the Vote was on campus because I felt it was important to get students to vote. I also participated in a guerrilla art campaign on campus about the Iraq war, in which we went out & traced chalk outlines of over 1000 people on the ground all over campus because the death toll of US soldiers killed there had gone over 1000. (We had the exact count for the day & drew that exact number of outlines). I voted for Tom Ridge as a Senator & a Govenor a couple of times because he did good things for my hometown. I voted against Santorum every single chance I got (& still don't understand why he lasted as long as he did). I couldn't vote in primaries, though-- in PA, you can only vote in party primaries if you're registered with that party & I'd registered as an independent when my Mom talked me out of registering as a Socialist. (I was 18 at the time, after all). I didn't really regret that until it was Obama vs. Hilary & so I switched to being registered as a Dem (which is what I've always been-- an old-school FDR-style Dem who believes in Capitalism with regulations & social safety nets. But when you're young & people keep calling you a socialist, you get to a point where you assume they're right)

    But it isn't just the shady elections that have disenfranchised voters-- it's the language, too. "Liberal" has become a dirty word to such an extent that politicians won't even use it to describe themselves. Clinton & Obama have been vilified as being extreme left-wingers & they're not even close. The political conversation in this country has been skewed so far to the right that we can't even have a rational discussion on social safety nets, let alone strengthen them-- and this is despite electing a President by a *large* margin who talked about health-care-for all during his campaign. So, for those of us who are true Liberals, we're stuck because we can't even get the politicians to start having the conversations we want them to be having, let alone proposing legislation-- not when even the moderate legislation that like the Jobs bill gets blocked. Meanwhile, politicians are talking about doing away with Child Labour laws, the ADA, & the EPA and *not* getting run out of town on a rail.

    People need to vote, certainly, but we also need for the conversation to become rational again. And we need for News stations to actually broadcast real, fact-based news so that people can make informed decisions. IT should tell people here in the US something when Fox News isn't allowed to broadcast in Canada because they don't have enough actual facts in their newscasts to qualify as a news station under Canadian broadcast laws. And people keep ranting about how "left wing" mainstream media is when there's an actual left-wing media that things like the New Work Times, MSNBC, & the Huffington Post don't even come close to.

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  44. Shit. I just spent 45 minutes writing a comment about the importance of local elections and taking action on a community level, and fucking blogger just ate it.

    Yeah. So.

    Fuck national elections and national events. You want to do some good, focus on your neighborhood and your community.

    What do I think of OWS? I think we'd all be better off if they spent their time, energy and money volunteering at their local high schools or senior centers or making their local parks safe for kids to play.

    All that, only more so. And with a comparison of unemployment levels in WV versus the nation too boot.

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  45. If this is not what Occupy is about, it should be (sorry for the length):

    For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor - other people's lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.

    Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people's mandate to end it. Under that mandate it is being ended.

    The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody's business. They granted that the government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.

    Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the market place. These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike.

    [...] We are poor indeed if this nation cannot afford to lift from every recess of American life the dread fear of the unemployed that they are not needed in the world. We cannot afford to accumulate a deficit in the books of human fortitude. In the place of the palace of privilege we seek to build a temple out of faith and hope and charity.
    -- FDR, 1936 Nomination Acceptance

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  46. Let me try again.

    Voting is so important that 100 years ago it was believed that society would fall apart if women were allowed to vote.

    Voting is so important that 50 years ago there was a push to keep people of color from voting, for fear what would happen if they came out to the polls.

    Yet if you look things rationally, your vote doesn't mean much on a national level. You're one of 350 million possible votes for president. If you live in a big state, how much does your vote for Senate count?

    But that's looking at it the wrong way. If you want to affect change you do it not by voting in a new president or Congress, but by becoming involved in local politics: your school board, your city council, and your state representative.

    It is those places where your vote truly means something, but these are the elections where it's hard to get people to turn out.

    Your school board official, your city councilperson, your elected state representative--these people are your neighbors. They are they to listen to you and to promote policies that directly affect you.

    The unemployment rate in West Virginia is significantly lower than the rest of the country. That is a result of two decades of state and local policies. (I generalize, but those policies and fiscal responsibility had a lot to do with where we are now.)

    So yeah, your vote in the presidential election may not mean shit, but that's not the vote you should be worried about.

    If you want to change things, you do it not by waving signs and yelling, but rolling up your sleeves and getting involved in your community.

    You don't like big banks and big business? Then put your money in a local bank and spend your dollars at local businesses.

    You hate the fact that US students are falling behind the rest of the world? Spend time volunteering at a middle school or reading to elementary school kids.

    These things won't get you on national TV, but they'll do a hell of a lot more to improve the world than yelling and waving signs.

    Hell, public parks are supposed to be places where kids can play--spend time picking up litter and making the area safe for those kids, and you'll truly be doing something concrete to affect positive change.

    That's what I was trying to say earlier.

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  47. Random Michelle, you're speaking about that old "think globally, act locally" notion which has resulted in 30 years of political failure at the national level. The problem is that political failure at the national level *matters*. My local city councilors can't do anything about the Wall Street banks stealing my retirement via creating the bogus 401(k) to replace the traditional defined benefit pension plans that were invested by professional fund managers, that was done on the federal level. My local city councilors can't create mandatory single-payer health insurance (that would violate federal law), my local city councilors can't outlaw corporate campaign contributions or expenditures (Citizens United), my local city councilors can't do anything about Wall Street banks crashing the economy by selling bundled liar loans as "AAA mortgage-backed securities", my local city councilors can't print money by selling bonds to the Federal Reserve at 0% interest, my local city councilors can't ... well, you get the point. My local city government is *very* well run but the federal government has done a very good job of hamstringing them when they try to clean up local elections or dealing with corporate malfeasance or otherwise deal with the fact that we have an entire class of oligarchs that behave like royalty and own close to half of the country.

    The national level matters. Liberals and leftists need to wake up to the fact that "think globally act locally" has been a recipe for complete and utter disaster. OWS to their credit at least understands that action has to be done on a national level, even if they aren't clear on what exact action needs doing and aren't doing anything particularly useful to make it happen. It's time that other liberals / leftists realize the same thing -- act locally sounds fine on paper, but when your locality is being hamstrung by a corrupt federal government, you're SOL.

    Anonymous: If 1% owns everything and each and every one of us of the 99% are utterly and completely beholden to them for every crumb of food we eat and every drop of water we drink, we are slaves as surely as if the chains of a tyrannical government were placed upon us. You are correct to mention economic tyranny as the biggest threat to our freedom today. But economic tyranny cannot be fought on a local basis, because those who would be our tyrants are not, for the most part, local to the majority of Americans (and the enclaves where they *are* local are beyond the jurisdiction of any of the 99%). That has to be done on a national level. Unless we can make that happen, we are screwed -- there will be either revolution ending in national disaster, or a police state that makes the former East German police state look like the good old days of freedom.

    - Badtux the "Act Globally" Penguin

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  48. I'd like to say that I appreciate the intelligence and research apparent in this message. I myself am not a Tea Partier or an OWS... I have voted in every national election and the local ones that I have had the time to become informed on before the election came up (i.e. where I had been or was planning on living in the location (city/state/school district/whatever) for long enough to have seen the state of things, or see the state of things change - until now. Having thought and concidered for years, struggling to see things change to see if any better option is available (and voting for the one who I believed capable of changing things), I am on the verge of believing that the politics cannot change things, or at least not for the better. While the Democratic system around which this country was designed allows for change, the system has a certain inertia that prevents change from being something other than gradual, and we no longer have enough time to allow the gradual changes - even if they were actually to occur - to correct the system.

    We are beyong the point where political change is possible. Each election is an opportunity for people to make a change by voting for the person that will make a change for the better. Unfortunately, the system doesn't allow for significant change, so compromises are made, one after another until the elected person no longer has any belief that the change can be made... The people who elected this change agent become more and more frustrated, eventually giving up. Either they try to find a different version of the change agent, or they stop trying.

    Meanwhile, the system continues to grow larger and larger, concerns get more complex and individuals less and less capable of having a comprehensive understanding of the issues, focussing on smaller, less meaningful issues. Is gay marriage, really the most important issue in our country, or is that a small problem that informs the larger issue, but has overwhelmed the fundamental - it's a point that people can (or at least believe they can) comprehensively understand and take a reasonable stance on, so they vote on it... For some people it's critical, for most it's secondary.

    I no longer believe that the system of government in place throughout this nation is capable of effecting the change that is necessary to correct the problems of the nation - the political corruption, economic imperialism, and systematic disenfranchisment are such as representative democracy cannot address. Add to that thepolically uneducated population (the 40 % who will never vote, and the 40% who vote for their party regardless who the party puts up), and you end up with a system that the founders identified as being unable to survive.

    I'm not out in the street with OWS or the Tea Party because neither of those movements is capable of effecting the change needed for this country.

    Unfortunately, I have come to the point that I no longer believe that our system can be corrected, but rather, that there will come an inevitable collapse. I will continue to vote, but if my hope lay in the political system, or indeed, in western society, I would no longer have any.

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  49. I've voted in every election since 1972, and I'd quit doing it (except for the fact that I still want to vote against religious idiots). Why? Because the financial interests have paid off both parties, so we'll get the same legislation either way. Here we had a Democratic administration, and the banks got bailed out, nobody went to jail, and the bill that was supposed to reform this isn't being enforced because the special interests don't like it. How, exactly, is this different from what would have happened under a Republican administration? I never used to believe the cynics who said it didn't matter which party was elected, but I'm coming around to that view myself.

    Anyway, excellent post. And if you don't listen to Dan Carlin's "Common Sense" podcast, you should.

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  50. I not only voted, I didn't vote for a single incumbent. I not only didn’t vote for incumbents, with a single exception (local treasurer election) I didn’t vote for a single Republican or Democrat. Judging from the election results, the majority of folks are still happy with the status quo.

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  51. Jim- I disagree with you on a number of points but absolutely agree that the OWwherever, be it OWS or Occupy Oakland, must own any violence on it's watch.
    It is all well and good to point to jerkfaces attaching themselves to the activities or provocateurs but wherever gratuitous violence and incendiary rhetoric comes from , within or without, it needs to be shut down unequivocally by the larger group.
    A number of years ago I was visiting the small town I lived in during college years and attended a rally on the heels of the Headwaters Forest deal. ( Anyone interested in the timber wars on the far north coast of CA can google Pacific Lumber Company, Judi Bari, and Tim McKay amongst others )
    I was there to hear Tim McKay whom I liked and admired until his all too early passing a few years ago.
    The bulk of the speakers were associated with Earth First! as was most of the crowd.
    Under Judi Bari's watch that group of Earth First!ers had come down strongly against tree spiking and other forms of monkey wrenching which could hurt loggers but I can't say I had much sympathy for the tree sits and all they employed.
    It is/was a consensus decision based group- a form of organization which OWS is using
    ( yes, Pangolin, I have been reading the OWS stuff and almost from the beginning )and which has some resonance for me as it more closely resembles the process my Alaska Native forbears used for a bazillion years to conduct public business as opposed to the hierarchial and often top-down way our larger society is structured.
    Some guy started hollering " Kill Hurwitz! Kill the SOB!" a couple yards from me. While the crowd started edging away from him, 6 women in yellow armbands moved in and surrounded him. As close as I was I couldn't hear what they were saying to him but he quieted and they edged him through the crowd towards local police on the periphery, where he stayed calmly.
    I asked folks around me what the yellow armband dealie was and the 2 who spoke up said they were "peacekeepers" trained to keep group gatherings from becoming moblike by defusing or removing folks who were getting out of control.
    As goofy as I thought/still think some of the antics and ideas that group had/has the "peacekeeping" thing has stuck with me. They OWNED behavior on their watch.

    Yes, voting matters a great deal and yes, local and national issues are important and yes, it all feels well out of control anymore.
    I've spent a lot of time lately reading about neoliberal economic policies we accepted without much question a number of years ago and the so-called centrist or Third Way approach Dems in this country have attempted to reconcile social concerns in relation to neoliberal economics . As best as I can see it has resulted in arguing over a very small patch of ground and effectively turned into the rut we find ourselves in.
    I'm not sure about OWS itself but I do think we are at a crossroads in general.
    Human institutions need constant attention to keep some semblance of serving the people who design/accept them as a framework to conduct public business.

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  52. Voting in important. Every vote does count. Every election day there are stories of candidates winning by just few vote. I personally know of a city election that was decided by 4 votes!!!

    Boycotting an election means the other side WINS!!!

    I hope as OWS develops and evolves - just like the Tea Party - they will decide on their message. and a way to get it across. It does not help that they are being seen as a bunch of kids and therefore their opinions do not matter or count. YET the Tea Party clamors about what will not be left for their children.

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  53. A couple of quick ones --

    1. Voting is fundamental, sure. But EDUCATION is the key. We need informed voters, not voters who parrot whatever slogan they just heard last night on [insert talking head here]. The TP-ers are seriously trying to kill government, including the free education it provides. Which in my view is a (perhaps unintentional) attempt to end informed voting.


    2. How you can quote Niven so extensively but omit any discussion of "Crazy Eddie" is beyond me. I go back and forth on whether OWS or the TP is Crazy Eddie ... but perhaps they BOTH are.

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  54. For those of you unfamiliar with Larry Niven or The Mote in God's Eye, and therefore don't get Nick's Crazy Eddie reference:

    "when population is at its maximum and food and water flow into the cities and sewage flows out just fast enough to keep people alive, it is Crazy Eddie who leads the garbage workers out on strike..."

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  55. Jim, I've been reading you since slightly before your America posts, and I've said the same damn thing every time:

    You're right, and you're blunt about it. I may agree with you, and it's glorious; I may disagree with you, and it's painful; I might agree with you but it's a damn shame that it is that way, in which case, well, it's a damn shame...

    Your last post was definitely in the "I wish you weren't right" (and the "well, that's not the whole of 'right'", but yeah) category for me. And I hate you for that.

    But the Engineer's motto tends to boil down to what looks like from your posts the Warrant's motto: in the end, the Real World Wins. So, thank you, even for pissing me off.

    On voting, however, I vote, every time, consistently, even when the choices are sycophantic conservative who's in business's pocket, or the splinter party who thinks they're too wishy-washy liberal; even when it's for school board trustee, none of whom I know anything about.

    Because my Grandmother couldn't vote, and there were years when I wouldn't have been allowed to, either. If nothing else, you vote because you can, and because one of the things that happen if you don't is that you might wake up tomorrow to find out you no longer can.

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  56. If you have ever filled out a tax form then you know what the OWS agenda is. So the author has either never filed a tax return or does not get it . Sorry, just trying to keep it real. I will still come here but I reserve the right to disagree from time to time.

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  57. EXACTLY! Every election, I wear my little "I voted" sticker to work. Even though I'm pretty liberal and live in a red town in a red state. And when my coworkers moan about politics, I always ask, "Did you vote? No? Then shut the fuck up. Don't talk about how 'your guy' would've been so much better. He's not your guy because you didn't vote for him."

    Jim, your first post on OWS made me really sit down and think, and this one has done the same. I think you - and your assistant ShopKat - can be proud of that, even if you're only writing for yourselves. The one thing that most people should be doing, and aren't doing, is THINKING about things.

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  58. If you have ever filled out a tax form then you know what the OWS agenda is. So the author has either never filed a tax return or does not get it . Sorry, just trying to keep it real.

    And today's passive-aggressive-sequence-of-non-sequiturs award goes to...

    Because I'm no longer down with the kids, and I inhabit a space so far along the y-axis of life's Argand diagram that I almost never keep it real, could you enlighten me as to the link between the IRS and OWS? Do they advertise on the tax return or something?

    And Jim, really hope you get 'it' in future, unless 'it' is some kind of communicable disease.

    Dan

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  59. Anonymous @ 10:53 PM 11/7/11.

    If you can pour p-ss out of a boot with the instructions printed on the heel, you can fill out a tax form.

    I've been doing it since I was 16.

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  60. Jim and All Ships at Sea (ie the rest of us reading this)
    I was inspired to contribute an echo to your Occupy post.

    Frankly, I've been mystified by the whole Occupy thing - most especially since the 'movement' hit *Canada* (for some god's sake!)
    Canada!
    Look, I've supported myself for 20 years now off the fat of those middle class, educated liberals - as what we call 'round here an 'artisan maker' (Artisan Blacksmith in my case - "Metal good! Wood EVIL!!")
    But in *Canada*?
    We DO NOT have the problem here that the USA had with banks screwing working class folks via sub prime mortgages (Really a penalty for stupidity, did anyone believe a house could infinitely increase in value? If you can't afford it NOW without some magic fairy godmother, WtF did you think was going to happen in two years when the 'special deal' was over? I paid *my* mortgage off living so far below the poverty line I've never had enough to be required pay any income taxes.)
    Canadian savings accounts are guarantied by the Federal Government to us *individuals* to something like $60K - *per account*. Not some fat ass banker - me *personally*. (As if I had that kind of money to begin with, because if I did, I would have payed that 65 grand mortgage off *right away* instead of taking 18 years to do so. Don't get me started on idiots and credit cards!)
    Yes our Big Three (AMERICAN) auto plants recently took a shit kicking, many lost blue collar work. Curiously however, both Honda and Toyota here in Ontario just completed HUGE expansions and massive hiring. Might be that the Big Three are making something people just DO NOT want to buy? (Look, I wanted to purchase a NEW Chev Astro last year, and guess what, they stopped making them. The 'new improved' will not pull a trailer, and is - get this - 47 1/2 inches wide inside. No plywood fit there. What IDIOT designed that one! And the salesman could not even determine the load carry ability. What CRAP is all that! I bought used in the end.)
    Yes, I consider it an absolute immoral *crime* that education can not be paid 1/3 via part time work, 1/3 via a summer job, and 1/3 more on an equivalent loan. (I mean, otherwise, who is going to pay taxes to support my old age security when I hit 65?) But this is Canada, and almost all our universities are PUBLIC, not private. Our taxes do too reduce the cost of universities (compared to the USA or Britain anyway). Don't like what's happening with funding - who did you VOTE for last time around??

    Like you Jim, and I sense a certain (visibly obvious) core of your readers, I am 'a child of the 60's' (and teen of the early 70's).
    "Been there, DONE that"!
    I can not agree with your advise on fighting 'the Man' more.
    Don't bring a stick to start a fight - against people with guns.
    If you go to some place you know damn well is going to turn into a riot, do NOT cry about what happens to you.
    Are you just stupid? Darwin does not reward the pathetic.

    Did you vote?
    Did you write your elected officials?
    Did you stop buying the product of a hated company - and followed that up with a letter sent to the company telling them why?
    Did you spend the same 30 minutes I just did writing an open blog post?

    Gee - all those are not only safe, they ALL have proven (time and again) more effective.

    Just not very exciting.

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  61. Nick from the O.C.November 8, 2011 at 6:03 AM

    Another Niven/Pournelle quote that I find applicable -- and that can cut both ways: "Think of it as evolution in action."

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  62. Anonymouse@10:53

    If you have ever filled out a tax form then you know what the OWS agenda is.

    Odd, I thought that was the Tea Party agenda.

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  63. I get a kick out of people who say things like the movement needs a more coherent message.

    What part of "We are the 99%" message do you not understand Jim?

    Add me to the list of people who think you are wrong on this one.

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  64. Sigh. I know I'm being grouchy here, but really...

    What part of "We are the 99%" message do you not understand Jim?
    If 'we are the 99%' is the sum total of the message, I'm imagining the following chant:

    What do we want?
    We...are the 99%!
    When do we want it?
    We...already are the 99%!
    So what are we protesting about?
    ...mumble mumble 99%!
    &c.

    The slogan is a descriptor -- and a very good one -- but nowhere near a manifesto or program. Do you really not think there's a difference?

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  65. Oh crap; we've all gone Crazy Eddie. (see Jim's reference)

    It explain's the mysterious attraction to a movement with odd messaging, no leaders, rambling manifesto's that nobody reads and that insists the that means to effect political change is to act like a big crowd of homeless people in front of finance offices.

    It also explains why we keep building new houses and storefronts when there are millions of vacancies. We build new roads when vehicle registrations are dropping and we keep bailing out the ever-bankrupt airline and motor-vehicle industry.

    We're Crazy Eddie to the core. Well, Mote In God's Eye readers know what happens next. Unless you're crazy eddie too.

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  66. Dear: grouchy sibusisodan

    Those blanks are for you to fill in yourself. Since you also don't get that there is nothing left to say. Have a nice life.

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  67. What part of "We are the 99%" message do you not understand Jim?

    The part where you claim to be 99%of Americans, but actually aren't anywhere near that percentage. I'd be surprised if you could actually muster 20% - if that.

    On the other hand, I guess it depends on how you define 99%.

    Your slogan, "We are the 99%," implies that all the folks who aren't in the American top 1% financially are all on the same team. That's demonstratively wrong for Americans, let alone those Occupiers in other countries. Your 99% message is a complete hash. What you're actually saying with that bullshit is this: We're 99% of the population and we all have different goals and agendas and beliefs and desires and things that we care about and a lot of those things are mutually exclusive and arranged in no coherent or prioritized manner, so basically we are a big mob of unhappy people who are angry at a bunch of different stuff.

    Your 99% describes the basic Type 1 Standard Issue American. I don't need to join a movement for that.

    OWS claims to speak for 99%, but that piece of the pie includes me and you sure don't speak for me. Nor, apparently, a majority of the commenters here. And you don’t speak for a majority of Americans if the polls are to be believed, let alone the rest of the world’s population.

    Which part of “we are the 99%” don’t I understand? The gibberish part, which so far is about 99% of your message.

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  68. Jim, I hope you don't lose any of your regular readers because most add so much to the interesting, reasoned dialogue here. As much as I look forward to your blog posts, I also enjoy reading the comments after. Your excellent writing followed by your readers' commentaries, with your protecting these pages from most of the trolls and zealots, is why your blog shines as one for thinking minds to read and participate in. I don't feel like regurgitating like I do after reading the comments following most blogs.

    The problem I see with too many summations of the Occupy movement is the use of the term "they." "They" who are behaving in antisocial ways are such a tiny minority, it undermines all the other hundreds and thousands when we focus on the few as if our support for the cause is dependent on the actions of the fringe and provocateurs.

    The arguments you and others have expressed for not supporting the Occupy movement are the same as those used against timber, mining, farm workers, auto, steel, textile mill and how many other labor organizers in our nation's history? All of them were called Reds, communists, radicals, dangerous, mobs, and so on as an excuse to bust their heads, even kill them without the rest of the country caring what happened to them.

    It is unrealistic to expect an organic movement to have specific leaders, especially right away, or to be able to control everyone who shows up. It isn't an orchestrated, well-funded movement by Koch puppet-masters, but an organic, spontaneous movement. Not to mention, the left always has a more diverse population working together than does the right. The left is full of differing opinions on the details and differing priorities. That's why it is harder to organize against group-think lemmings marching in unison.

    Also, when angry people respond aggressively to being bullied by police, it is unfair to focus on their angry response rather than the unnecessary power-struggle authorities are forcing on them to intimidate and to cause them to lash out. When we do that, we play right into the hands that are bankrolling the suppression.

    You're right about mob mentality and group dynamics, but it is the job of elected leaders and paid law-enforcement to remember that they work for those protestors too, therefore, it is their jobs to protect everyone by not triggering a mob response. They could let demonstrators have their sit-ins and camps, focusing only on predatory crime among them if it exists, and let the relationships between protestors and their targets take their course (just as smarter college administrations did during student sit-ins and rallies in the 1960s and early 1970s). Government officials and police are not forced to engage in unnecessary power struggles with demonstrators. They choose to do it, either because they are fascists at heart or because they are answering to their corporate masters. It's the same old story over and over again throughout history. (cont)

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  69. OWS claims to speak for 99%, but that piece of the pie includes me and you sure don't speak for me. Nor, apparently, a majority of the commenters here.

    Insofar as OWS is an incoherent expression of outrage at the fact that 1% of Americans have hijacked the American dream for themselves and pulled up the ladder behind them, I'd suggest that OWS *does* speak for all of us here, Jim. Pretty much all of us blog or comment on blogs because we're aware that things aren't right. Admit it: You think things aren't right with America too. Whether it's 'too big to fail' banks that privatize the profits while socializing the risks, or the continued gutting of public education in America, or the political bickering on Capitol Hill that prevents any attempt to deal with the very real problem of unemployment and joblessness in a depressed economy, or whatever, things aren't right.

    What OWS lacks is a coherent expression of that outrage, and a coherent strategy for doing something about the current situation. Insofar as that's true, your criticism of OWS are valid. I have that same criticism of OWS -- that it isn't going to change anything because, as an incoherent statement of outrage over the current situation, it simply lacks the focus and capability to do anything. But to state that you, or I, or anybody here, isn't part of the 99% that OWS claims to represent, is ridiculous -- we're outraged too by the current situation, after all. Otherwise, we'd be watching the latest "reality" TV show or going to a monster truck rally or something like that rather than blogging.

    - Badtux the Practical Penguin

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  70. Well, yeah, bumper sticker slogans are usually gibberish if taken at face value. Except maybe "Shoot Quayle FIRST!" that was popular in California during the presidency of GHW Bush. That was a mysteriously tolerated incitement to treason.

    Basically "We are the 99%" is a class warfare argument. It parses out as "we are members of the 99% of U.S. citizens whose economic and political lives are overwhelmingly dominated by the 1% of the wealthiest individuals in the U.S./world" With the also implied...."here to petition for redress of grievances."

    But really if you talk to people they are bitching about the 0.01% that own truly staggering amounts of money. They don't really mean their third cousin whose wealth stops at two houses, a nice boat and six or seven rentals.

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  71. “If you don’t vote, don’t complain.”

    Ah, the magic of voting.

    I don’t think that magic worked so well in the old Soviet Union, in China, in lots of banana republics in South America, and any number of sub-Saharan countries. Ask Robert Mugabe’s opponents from the last election, if you can find them alive or out of prison. Not that I think the United States has gotten to a similar state yet, but voting in and of itself is no guarantee of anything.

    As an old leftie on a rapidly shrinking blue island in the blood red state of Texas, I know all about wasted votes, and voting for the lesser of numerous evils. I also know that voting means more than going our once every four years to vote for president and “whatever else” may be on the ballot. Local elections matter as much as national or state ones. While Badtux is right that only acting locally is a recipe for failure, not acting locally gets you in a steamin’ heap of it here in Texas. Going out to vote in a local election with my newly minted voter 18 year old son last year was a proud right-of-passage for both of us.

    But as I have aged, I have also noticed that there are fewer and fewer areas for citizens to have their voices heard, even locally. Sure there are plenty of opportunities to speak (like blogs) but to be heard by those in power? The Powers That Be are increasingly selected by a process that relies exclusively on large donations and gives the bullhorn to the wealthy, leaving the little people muttering like the pee- stained pants guy who lives behind the dumpster near my lovely capitol building. Pee-stained pants guy can’t afford Texas’ pay-to-play democracy. Access to power is being narrowed daily, and little people are basically told to pony up or shut up.

    We are moving away from paper ballots to electronic ballots that can’t be traced and leave no records, on voting machines that are often made by blatantly partisan manufacturers (Diebold, anyone?) I expect more and more people to doubt the sanctity of the process. As Stalin said, it doesn’t matter who votes, only who counts the votes.

    I wish I could be more optimistic and “have more faith in the United States,” but then I see a Congress that seems to know less that a middle school social studies class, and the current crop of clown-car presidential candidates. I see a Supreme Court that is increasingly openly partisan. I hear allegedly intelligent, serious “centrists” like Bloomberg say things that are gob-smacking stupid. It’s really, really hard not want to give up and learn the words to “O Canada.”

    Though they are as disorganized as an ADD teen, I see the OWS people as simply yelling at the Powers That Be, screaming, “Listen to me!” It’s just step number one, getting the attention. And I see the Powers That Be hoping for an early winter to drive OWS off the streets so we can get back to bidness as usual. But even if OWS came up with a ten-point list of suggestions and/or demands, I doubt that it would make any difference. It’s going to take a lot to get the attention of the PTB, and I’m afraid that it will end up being something much more, shall we say, spectacular? Maybe we are at one of those rare historical moments. Some of the anarchists will get tired of shitting in the streets, and move to the “blow to head phase.” Some of OWS‘s others will go the way trying to influence the process.

    I hope the “others” win out, but we’ll see. I’m still going to try and learn what the hell hockey is about.

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  72. It is naive to believe there are no provocateurs among the protestors. There always have been in every large movement by the people against their economic and governmental oppressors, from the earliest labor movements in Europe, to all of ours in the states, to civil rights and antiwar movements, to citizens fighting the environmental destruction of their homelands. Business owners paid local authorities to bust heads, spy, and trigger violence. Agribusiness still busts heads when migrant workers attempt to organize.

    Where I hail from in the PNW, labor organizers and free speech organizers were massacred and then put on trial for it while local authorities responsible for it and their mining/timber/mill bosses skated. The J. Edgar Hoover FBI was notorious for lacing civil rights and anti-war movements with spies and provocateurs. In fact, evidence points to just such a provocateur/spy as being responsible for the Kent State killings of unarmed students, by firing a shot that caused the National Guard to freak out and start shooting students.

    In Seattle years ago, when some anarchists from Oregon broke windows during one of the big summits, that's all the media wanted to report. Now, there were thousands of demonstrators blocking those streets peaceably, and they did not appreciate the Anarchists breaking windows and tried to stop them. Really, the window breaking was short lived and was accomplished by only a handful of people, but it made for good footage with their scary looking black hoods so that is what was aired over and over again, undermining the many other thousands of protestors.

    At rallies and protests in my youth, it was very rare to see a burning a flag. It almost never happened. But every now and then there would be one lone soul doing it and the rest of us would either ignore them because they had a right to it, or we might shout at them to knock it off because they were playing into the hands of our enemies, whether by accident or on purpose. Yet, along with under-reporting the numbers of people at the demonstrations, the person burning the flag was spread across the media immediately after.

    When I worked for Abortion rights, there were anti-abortion people sprinkled among us as though they were members, but they weren't. What they really did was start discussions intended to make us doubt ourselves and the morality of our cause. The same was true when working for the Equal Rights Amendments.

    The media has become even more of a tool for its corporate owners and technology has evolved to make the spread of misinformation only that much easier and more insidious, So I'm not going to waste time on "maybe" such people are in the midst of these protestors. Of course they are!

    If we write off all these people from around the country, of various ages, with differing first priorities, and from varied backgrounds merely because a few immature personalities get carried away, the cities refuse porta-potty permits, and provocateurs are among them causing trouble, then we are doing exactly what is expected of us. The world's attention on the issue of the transfer of wealth with no consequences for the beneficiaries, and whatever sense of hope this movement inspires in others, will be lost. The banks will be right back to adding those fees again, as just one example. (Cont)

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  73. beemodern_ For what it's worth I actually know some of the "Black Block" anarchists that were running in Oakland. I don't think most of them are agents provocateurs. I think they're mostly 17-30 year old males that can't make progress in life due to whatever issues and are angry.

    Large numbers of unemployed, unmarried, unattached young men is a recipe for disaster in any society. I would say that the biggest factor pushing the Arab Spring uprisings was sexually frustrated young men.

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  74. It is plain wrong to say or write that the Occupy movement members are anti-capitalist. For the vast majority of them that is just plain silly.

    This movement was kicked off by college students ready and willing to participate in our capitalist system, but the system is rigged and it has been drained to the point it offers much too little for our citizens while reaping benefits for a tiny few and that is the system our young people are entering as young adults.

    We allowed them to be preyed upon financially for the last 10+ years and we allowed college financial aid to dry up so that they could be preyed upon by the private sector finance industry for school too. Now they are facing no jobs or jobs paying so little they cannot even afford to meet their needs, let alone marry and start families. Demanding reforms to end savage capitalism is not anti-capitalism!

    Green Peace and PETA are not the same.

    Finally, if I hear one more person haughtily ridicule the younger generation for their sense of "entitlement" I might just throw up in their face! The older citizens saying those things are the ones with the sense of entitlement but are too selfish, too self-involved, and too ignorant to even know it. I'm growing to detest them. If the young decide upon a Soylent Green solution, those callous, self-centered elders with mirrors wrapped around their heads are the ones who will deserve it.

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  75. Pangolin, It's the same for the anarchists out of Oregon, and for the growth of the Aryan Nation groups.

    Of course, others are no more responsible for them than they are for provocateurs in their midst.

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  76. I agree with Eric about the erroneous assumption that activists do not vote. I'd argue that most of them do, and that some of them involve themselves more in the voting process than mere voting. They tend to be the kind of people who do go to the next step when the system doesn't work.

    Why make that assumption anyway? Just another unfounded, unproven assumption to discount the people actually raising a ruckus instead of going quietly along, kvetching, but cooperating anyway.

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  77. Every left-wing protest of the past fifteen years has been afflicted by the black bloc kiddies, just like every right-wing protest of the past two years has been afflicted by the Aryan Nations racists. OWS not having a strategy for dealing with this reality is massive fail.

    Regarding the black bloc, they are young, impressionable, and easy to sway. Their fundamental philosophy is little different from that of Ayn Rand and her 1% followers -- i.e., that of perfect freedom without responsibility, a philosophy that is aimed at emotionally immature people who want to feel powerful despite the fact that they're not. These people are fundamentally incompatible with any protest movement that's all about holding the 1% responsible for making huge profits wrecking the world economy then demanding massive bailouts to socialize their losses. Given that, the fact that many OWS protests not only allow the presence of these people but actually in some cases condone their presence is... troubling, at the very least.

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  78. Following up on Beemodern, I heard some snide WSJ reporter say that OWSers were confused because they hated capitalism but loved Steve Jobs. He was trying to paint them as spoiled kids with Ipads and missed the point completely.

    I think OWS wants capitalism that creates wealth, creates good jobs, and creates good products. They don't want the crony bankster capitalism that creates wealth for a fraction and nothing else.

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  79. Why tell OWS what their agenda should be?

    If our election system is broken (it is, as others have described) and you believe that is the most important issue at hand, start your own movement!

    I just don't get the armchair quarterbacking of one started by others out of their own desperation for what they were facing in the moment they decided to go forward.

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  80. Jim says that voting is where it starts, but he doesn't say that's where it stops. If your gal isn't on the ballot, it's because you didn't put her there. If your guy isn't known, who will vote for him?

    We have seen that voting can make a difference. 2008 was a clear sign that voting works. What is it about the last 3 years that causes so many people to throw up their hands and say, "Voting doesn't work! It's time for violence."

    We voted President Obama in, then expected him to do all the rest. We relaxed, sat back satisfied in our collective recliners, and let the other side vote back. Now the Republicans have enough representatives to be able to stifle further change. We need to counter that. Lets take back the House, and start passing limits on corporate political contributions. Lets pass Bush tax cut repeals. Lets put regulations back in force. Lets get rid of personhood for corporations. Lets undo the things that have gotten us where we are, from where we were. It shouldn't be too hard. Just see what's been done the last 10 years, and undo it.

    Unfortunately, in order to repeal and regulate we have to fight against the massive monetary political power that has been unleashed in the last 10 years, but if we can get enough of the 99% to vote for a return to reason, we have a chance. For real change, we might have to put it in reverse and back up a bit, but then we can put it into drive, and go a much better direction.

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  81. Since Badtux mentioned Ayn Rand, I have to post this quote, attributed to one John Rogers:

    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

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  82. Pangolin, LOL! You rock.

    Janiece, I get it too. My 30-year-old, college-educated daughter living with her college- educated man, both working long hours at full time jobs (and she's worked since she was 15-years-old) cannot afford their own home or to marry and have a child. They are worried. It is the same for my son who works long hours for less and he's worked since he was 18. He and his girlfriend see no future beyond the working poor at this point. We did what we were supposed to do and raised intelligent, contributing citizens.
    They did what they were supposed to do, but this is what they inherit? Their entire generation is facing this, and they are the luckier ones!

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  83. Why tell OWS what their agenda should be?

    Ah, I see. In this new OWS America, people like me will just get told to shut up and go along for the ride, is that about Right?

    On the bright side, that's something else OWS and the Tea Party have in common.


    If our election system is broken (it is, as others have described) and you believe that is the most important issue at hand, start your own movement!

    I started a blog instead.

    And I didn't say that was the most important issue at hand, the Occupiers did. The commenters here did, including you.

    I just don't get the armchair quarterbacking of one started by others out of their own desperation for what they were facing in the moment they decided to go forward.

    I note that you were perfectly fine with me offering a critical opinion on the Tea Party, or conservative politicians, or cats. As I said in the post, if you expect me to blow rainbow flavored smoke up your ass all of the time, you're in the wrong place.

    @beemodern, you're putting me in an awkward position, you know why. I'd appreciate it if you'd stop.

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  84. I'm sorry Jim. You've personalized my comments to being directed only at you and your posts, but they weren't.

    I did not, nor would I ever say you should just shut up, not ever! I don't think you'll find it in my posts either, if you read them without projecting.

    I was questioning what OWS is criticized for, not whether they should be free of any criticisms at all. I thought this was a safe place for open debate.

    This is what it's come to, even between like-minded thinkers. It's disappointing, but it's your blog. I will stop.

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  85. I worry that Anonymous November 7, 2011 4:41 AM might be right. I don't see how he or she can be wrong, ultimately, until the public forces government to pass and uphold serious elections-funding reform, cleans up the voting systems in every state to keep the outcomes honest, severely limits corporate access to legislators, stops the practice of corporate lackeys writing legislation themselves, and enforces truth and fairness over the public airwaves now used as propaganda machines (we're starting to resemble Italy just a little too much for me). Without those, I'm hoping there is another answer, but I don't see it yet.

    Voting does count, because if enough people vote the attempts to manipulate elections are less likely to succeed.

    So many readers are contributing valuable food for thought. I love it when Jim's posts trigger such thoughtful discussion among thinking people with differing perspectives on goals/outcomes they agree on.

    It would help OWS if it were not still mostly a spontaneous response from frustrated young people, but had older, experienced people helping them. The Freedom Riders did have that (though some were still brutalized, and murdered). Martin Luther King Jr.'s presence and the constant vigilance of his trusted colleagues working with him prevented armed and rightfully angry young men at the marches from erupting in violence when they were attacked. It took concerted effort, mentoring, and steady, understanding, sympathetic support to keep all of those young people completely peaceful while under attack, but it worked when the cameras and TV stations provided the images to the rest of the country.

    OWS was started by a generation whose elders have pretty much abandoned the role of actually mentoring any young people other than the ones we raise in our own homes, and too many of us don't even do that much. We sure as heck don't care much for worrying about or focusing time and attention on other people's youth. Baby-boomers, as a generation (not all, but in general) have expected to just pay other people to provide what our children need just like we prefer to donate to causes rather than join organizations. So what we have here are young people trying, but without the benefit of experienced elders they trust, and who treat them so respectfully, they will follow their lead. The young leading the young and doing their best, and at this point, very leery of anyone who claims "leadership."

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  86. Nick from the O.C.November 8, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Recently, two families got together in the O.C. One family had three children (13, 12, 8) and both parents worked; they had a nice house and a live-in au pair to help out. The other family had two children (10 and 4) and one parent worked two jobs while the other stayed home to take care of the household. Both families were doing well financially and the kids were thriving.

    Yet while the kids played together, the parents discussed their mutual concern: both families realized that their kids were not going to have the same economic opportunities as they had had. The kids were very likely to go to college and might even get stable jobs with benefits; yet their futures were much less bright than the parents had had at this same time in their lives.

    What to do? We agreed to keep on keeping on, to keep on raising our kids the best we could, knowing that their lives were going to be much harder than ours. But we all agreed that we hoped and prayed that the situation would change.

    And we are the lucky ones. There are plenty of people, some of whom we know well, who are not doing well financially and whose kids are not thriving. What hope do they have for a better future for their kids?

    Therein lies the source for some of the OWS outrage. I get it, though I don't participate.

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  87. Jim,

    I agreed with a number of things in your Occupy Article, but there were some things were we parted ways a bit. I work about a block away and a few floors up from Frank Ogawa plaza, and have taken a walk through there, both day and night to see things for myself. I saw a lot of what you wrote about, and a few things that I think you missed on. I didn't reply because it seemed like my agreements and disagreements were already being covered by other commenters.

    I enjoy reading your stuff, even if you use too many words (just like a frickin' officer). You make people think. You provide a viewpoint that both affirms what a lot of us in the military think, and shocks those on the "outside" who think military folks only think/react one way. Your blog is a good way to show everyone that, just because we wore a uniform for a while, we didn't check our brains at the door.

    Well...at least not after the FIRST time we volunteered for something...

    You don't need me to say, but keep doing your thing, your way. You'll gain and keep more readers than you'll lose.

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  88. I don't comment very much at all and I surely won't be running off due to any disagreement, but I thought this was worth noting.

    I voted yesterday. Historically, I refused to, but when Bush II was elected, I found I was no longer able to justify this position and I have been to every election since that time. I can at least credit him with getting me into the booth.

    Yesterday, our elections were all local stuff - nothing of note really. Save one small thing.

    My ballots have something like 5 parties on them - Rep and Dem at the top, Working Family, Independent and Conservative. It is common to see the same name on a few lines.

    I opened my ballot - the first choice (of two) for State Supreme Court Justice had the SAME NAME on every line. This guy was apparently a Republican, a Democrat, A Conservative but for Working Families, and also, just to be sure, Independent.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

    Yes, there was a second position and the second one had different names, but in one case, how is that a "choice"?

    Don't know if it will change over time, but here is an image: http://www.orangecountygov.com/filestorage/124/126/1210/554/NEW_WINDSOR_11th_LD.pdf

    BTW: I left that selection un-voted-for. Did I have a choice???

    Oh - keep up the good work. I don't care if we disagree. Frankly, I am not certain we do, but I am new around here.

    JC

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  89. Although it was only a school board election, I was surprised at how low the voter turnout was yesterday. I voted at 6:30pm and was only around the 200th voter.

    I keep hoping this OWS stuff will motivate people to get to the polls especially when it comes to the more important elections in 2012.

    People need to remember that whenever they don't vote, they are in effect voting for whomever wins the election.

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  90. There's a headline in Ohio claiming a twenty-year high election turnout. Of course we had issue 2, the screw unions Y/N issue. It went down in flames, 61% no. Ohio did vote to opt out of Obamacare (issue 3). Not that opting out will survive the courts.
    I wanted to vote for polar bear steak, but it wasn't on the ballot.
    I'm guessing that people who read and comment on blogs such as this are voters. The ones who hang on every Kardshian gyration are the ones who won't bother with the ballot box.

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  91. Yes, it seems to me this morning that Maine, Ohio, Mississippi, and a number of other elections across the nation would tend to indicate that democracy is alive and well here in the United States of America. When enough people vote, even the Koch Brothers can be defeated - as Ohio demonstrates. I stand by my comments in the original post. Vote.

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  92. To those repeating the "no choice" stuff: If voting is such a useless act, why are Republicans so desperate to keep people from voting?

    And for those arguing for a third party: Math in a first-past-the-post electoral system is that it takes 50% + 1 votes to guarantee that your candidate wins. What that means is that the only way to guarantee that your candidate gets 50%+1 is to build a coalition of what would be smaller parties whose total share of the vote would be 50%+1 in a proportional representation system and, since we don't have a proportional representation system, run a single candidate for this coalition party. We have such a coalition party -- it's called the Democratic Party. Well, there's also another coalition of what would be smaller parties in a proportional representation system, called the Republican Party, but given that it appears to now be a coalition of various batshit crazy people, well. Let them have their own party, and concentrate on the primaries and getting *your* candidate selected as the candidate for the Democratic coalition.

    And for those who point to the Republican party in 1852, the Republican party basically happened because the Whig party disintegrated due to the slavery issue. Southern Whigs became Democrats, northern Whigs became Republicans (and a large percentage of northern Democrats became Republicans too, again due to the slavery issue). In short, the Republican party was not a "third party" after 1852, it was one of the two major parties -- the Whigs basically ceased to exist. You may rail about the laws of mathematics that over time mean third parties end up merging into one of the two major coalition parties if they wish to influence national politics, but math is math, and cares not about your opinion.

    - Badtux the Numbers Penguin

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  93. I know I'm a little late to the party here and wasn't sure whether to comment on this blog or the previous one.

    First, Jim, while I may not agree with everything you've written in the two OWS blogs (a first by the way), I do respect your opinions and can see where you are coming from.

    I do agree with you that the OWS movement has the appearance of a mob, the key reason being the lack of defined leadership. Even the Tea Party has Glen Beck and Michellle Bachman, as bat shit crazy as they are. I do believe a more defined structure and demands from the movement would go a long way towards respectability for the movement.

    As for the violence, I'm torn. As I was reading the first blog, I immediately thought of the quote from Asimov that Eric shared. I am a huge fan of Asimov, but I disagree with both of you on this one. If life was a sci-fi novel, then I'm sure there would be a nice, neat way out of this Seldon Crisis. But the truth of the matter is, there isn't. As you have stated, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is still growing, and as long as it continues to grow the end result will be violence.

    I do applaud you for suggesting a solution (which is one thing that I have not heard from the OWS movement) in advocating voting. Unfortunately, I see this as an idealistic idea that just does not work in reality. It would be great if everyone voted. It would be great if the people who were elected actually acted in the best interest of the country and it's people. It just isn't that way. I know others have harped on the "throwing your vote away" argument, so I won't go there. My issue with voting is that even if you do get a good guy or gal in office, the political machine won't allow them to do what is best for "the little guy". Between having to vote along party lines if you want help in getting re-elected and lobbyists throwing money at elected officials, nothing can actually get accomplished for the greater good. And that just isn't going to change, because the ones who can create the laws to make those changes are the ones benefitting from them not changing it.

    Perhaps violence isn't the answer, but (and I'm sorry to disagree, Jim) neither is voting. So, what are the alternatives?

    -Richard

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  94. I first registered and voted in 1960. I am of the opinion that the only means of helping ourselves to help tose in government to change our fortunes is to vote. At present, there is an on-line petition to enact a Constitutional Amendment to correct the Citizens United ruling. This move will never come to fruition becasue thse who caused the horrendous (IMHO) to be rendered will not allow an Amendment to hit the floor or to pass Congress. Only when these Congresspersons are voted out, repeatedly, will the elected officeholders recognize they must represent ALL the people and that corpoartions are not people, do not vote and are not answerable to anyone.
    You are correct, these young people must vote and effect change. I continue to hear about term limits. That ain't gonna happen either, Congress and SCOTUS control that, only through the ballot box can effective change be made.

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  95. quick pop in here, 11/11/11/, to say Thank you for your service.

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  96. Jim - your blog rocks. If I may add my 2 cents..

    I watch OWS and the early Tea-Party (when it was just mad about TARP, pre-Koch) with glee because it has started a conversation. The frustrations are the same, it’s just OWS’s ire is mostly directed at the government bribers and the Tea Party’s focus was the corrupt aspects of government – there is a Venn diagram connection there. I don’t join with my feet though; I did WTO protests in Seattle ten years ago with a specific beef about food security in the U.S. and developing nations (I’m not anti-capitalism). The WTO protest was effective in afflicting the most comfortable in our society for a week, but there is a very uncomfortable push that occurs in the streets eventually between protesters and the police during these events. It is like a mob, it often escalates to violence on both sides, both the police and the protesters get stereotyped and in the end both lose face to the greater public.

    So if you don’t protest, you’re right - voting is great. But getting elected officials to follow the will of the people (see TARP) after being voted in is difficult. This is because they need to keep that GDP up, otherwise it looks like the system isn’t working. They keep it up by pumping tax money into failing financial institutions, they pump incentives into an over-inflated housing market, they inflate the education system (college college college mantra), etc.

    So what to do? I think if you are pissed about the system, try to de-couple yourself from the system, specifically the debt system ala: http://www.oftwominds.com/blogoct11/notes-on-OWS10-11.html
    Instead of following organized labor’s lead, let’s follow gay rights activists lead and set up supportive, local communities that say f-you, we don’t need you, we don’t need your loans to live our life. We reject that the only way to live is by keeping up with the Joneses and pretending like we don’t have debt. Setting up this sort of community while working on the legislative aspects of curtailing corruption is the sustainable way to go. It feels really good too!

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  97. 1) I have a great deal of faith in our beloved nation
    2) I vote all the time, since I came of voting age pre Jimmy Carter
    3) OWS is a baby in a crib, it's got a long way to go and many obstacles (not the least is FUX Nooze)
    4) You don't loose readers cause they disagree with you, you loose them cause they are lefties and as such (as a long time Democratic activist) they are the non herding cats
    Keep up your lengthy but spot on or almost spot on commentary,
    I won't leave you cause we disagree, as whatever we disagree on is because we care about OUR Country and want it to prosper
    All the Best.
    Tom

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  98. Last night the OWS movement got a big boost when the NYPD moved in at 1AM to evict them from the park. The Press was barred from this, ostensibly to protect them.
    The protesters were told "You can come back if you don't bring tents."
    The Establishment (OMG, I used that word) will regret these transparent tactics. If they waited until New Years, when the Occupiers have said they would depart, the whole thing might have blown over. If Tony Baloney hadn't pepper-sprayed those ladies, Occupy might already have died out. Thanks for the arrogance.

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  99. John Healy's comments: That's usually the trigger for violence when people are demonstrating—authority’s need to force submission instead of just waiting it out. Police in riot gear surrounding demonstrators despite no rioting creates a sense of danger. When police are overtly intimidating or aggressive, it escalates.

    I don't know when people in authority, and those of us who support them, will ever learn that for most people, negative consequences do not encourage desired behaviors and outcomes.

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  100. Talk about poetic justice.

    Guys like you cultivate these kind of loons camping out at OWS. You're just not smart enough to recognize it yet, or perhaps you're just that shallow.

    90% of your audience is an offshoot of these loons.

    Why you're surprised when you show a moment of lucidity, and then the toadies rebel in your writing?

    Come on...

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  101. You'll note, Anonymous, that in the lead-in paragraph to the previous post I said specifically that I expected readers to disagree, and then in the lead-in to this post I said that "as expected" I pissed readers off. So no, Anonymous, I wasn't in any way surprised. But hey, I'm sure the rest of your pithy ad hominem tu quoque was right on the money.

    Maybe you can clear up a couple of things up for me:

    1) Given that you appear to agree with what I wrote in this post, but I'm still wrong, I hazard a guess that you're a Rand Paul supporter?

    2) You think I'm either stupid and/or shallow, and you imply that in your opinion at least 90% of my readers are the kind of loons you contemptuously despise, correct? Then why do you keep coming back here? Seriously? Do you actually think your snide little asides, sophomoric personal attacks, and Tea Party command of the English language will actually change my outlook on the world?

    3) Is it still poetic justice if I expected the response I got? And, in point of fact, said that I wrote the post expecting exactly that response from my "Toadies?"


    Here's an idea, Anonymous, start your own blog. Given your rather obvious lack of interpersonal skills, I'd be curious as to how you deal with persistent anonymous trolls like yourself - that is if anybody bothered to read what you wrote.

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  102. I'm giving some consideration to changing my name to Mr. Toadie of Toadie Hall.
    If I were as prolific as Jim, I'd go with J. Ranty McScreed.
    This blog, and 90% of the commentors are about discussion. Give and take. A little snarkyness around the edges on bad days.
    Jim, I salute you for cultivating this kind of loonyism.

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  103. Jim,
    I read your original OWS posting and thought it was mild in comparisson to your usual posts. I wonder whether people's reactions were due to cumulative stress of much more vitriolc criticisms in mainstream media both right and left.
    While i enjoy many of your more colorful pieces, the OWS piece centered me. Thanks!

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  104. I know I'm very late to this party, but I only found your blog recently. And if you knew me personally, you'd find a Guy Fawkes mask as my photo on Facebook. As a guy with a C in front of his title, I understand the system far more than most people.

    And a funny thing happened. I expected to (politely) disagree with you about OWS, but I didn't. My only thought is that the Tea Party is the gift that keeps on giving for comedy and abject horror, but my OWS view is a bit more nuanced. I agree they are the same coin.

    I think the issue is that of powerlessness or the feeling of it. I agree that the phrase for the next election should be "it's the vote, stupid" but that's where the nuance comes in. With corporations as people, money that would float the current debt of the entire European project, and the Fox disinformation machine the feeling is one of helplessness and that's why OWS doesn't have a clear message. Just a clear sense of hopelessness. It's about a lot of things but mostly about a "hard to articulate in a pithy sound bite" idea that regular people are losing power. And you're right. That's when generally things degenerate into people getting dragged from their penthouse offices and hung on the street. Just ask the Bourbons or the Romanov's about what happens when the peasants don't get their share.

    I mean, even Warren Buffet here sympathizes with the movement. Trust me old Warren isn't about to give them his money, he just realizes that if he pays a billion or so more in taxes the peasants won't drag HIM out of his office. If I had my way too, enlightened despotism is the way to go. Or at least enlightened self interest. But most of the modern robber barons don't seem to have enough sense to embrace that.

    It's hard for me to just say "vote" when the people of Wisconsin did, and the people of Alabama did and one produced laws that were detrimental to most common people (that'll learn you to listen to the Tea Party right there!) and the other was hateful to (illegal) immigrants. You know, the ones actually doing all the hard, backbreaking work that now is ruining said businesses in the state as their crops rot and their hotels go uncleaned. So I wonder out loud if the current educational system combined with Fox News has dumbed down everyone so much the majority may actually be incapable of connecting the dots to the best future and voting has become something of a joke. I have the luxury of living in MA where this is probably not true as we're, on the majority, pretty much on the progressive side, except for those Mormons who seem to be invading in droves which I don't understand. Or maybe I do because we actually have some of the best schools, but that's a subject for another comment.

    So while I agree with you on OWS in the main, I think "vote" is perhaps a bit overly facile and there is a deeper problem that goes unspoken because the question raises a very "un-American" discussion and that is, are the majority of people now too stupid and misinformed to understand how government works and vote accordingly? Is the propaganda working? The very fact that people want creationism taught should be a mind-blowing fact, how come it isn't? Why do we accept this and not tell them to go teach in it their religious schools but the public schools are secular and bang the gavel? And when these people are a majority (ahem, Kansas, Texas in places), what happens then when the Supreme Court doesn't write an opinion of two words, "fu&k off"? I tell you what; pitchforks and fire.

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