Friday, December 9, 2011

Some Tea to Occupy my time

Welcome back. #occupymyweek day 4

Today I would like to discuss the idea I hear bounced around occasionally about the Tea Party and Occupy being almost the same. Dude, we should totally join forces. O rly?

On the surface you can see the resemblance of leaderless groups upset at government excess, but underneath that shiny veneer... well, everything starts to crumble. Let's talk about this shall we?

I have been sitting here in front of my computer now for a couple of hours pouring over the Tea Partys main websites, the Constitution, and news articles galore. Informing and enraging. I read an article under the "News" heading at titled "Tea party is nothing like ‘Occupy’ movement" (we know that don't we?) in which they describe the chaos outside of a Tea Party event in D.C. caused by over 500 Occupy protesters who "were attempting to break into the building and were aggressive". It goes on to mention some people who were able to escape the buildings even though protesters were blocking all the exits with small children, and that the protesters would beat them, and that some protesters knocked down and surrounded an elderly woman. Hmmm. Interesting this didn't make the news, as the media loves this type of sensationalist story. Why someone would make up and disseminate this type of falsehood is completely beyond me. Making out non violent protesters to be blood thirsty wild animals. I guess some people will believe anything though. So after reading this and several other articles I realized that the Tea Party considers those aligned with Occupy to be a bunch of anarchist deadbeat socialists. It's all over their websites, total disdain for Occupy. Once more the chatter about how we just want a handout. We want the government to forgive all of our debts, that we overspent and now we're angry about it. I also was perplexed by their repeated animosity towards unions, which are apparently socialist bullies. So, they really don't like us, but they did seem to like the next guy.

I recognized in several articles their deep adoration for Ronald Reagan. Why? Because he embodied everything their party is about! Cut government spending, check. Reduce Income and capital gains taxes, check. Reduce government regulation, check (they seem to love making references to the free market). The public debt rose from $712 billion in 1980 to $2,052 billion in 1988, a roughly three-fold increase. So failure on point 1, right? And the inflation rate, 13.5% in 1980, fell to 4.1% in 1988, which was achieved by applying high interest rates by the Federal Reserve. Oh my, colluding with the enemy? Apparently the Tea Party kids don't remember or maybe know about that one. Also deregulation was a contributing factor in the downfall of the banks which ended in a government bailout (meaning Obama is a damn socialist!). By the way the claim about deregulation, that's not my opinion it's the governments, if you've been following this week you would have read that part already. So really all we have left is those awesome tax cuts, mostly aimed at the wealthy. Let me break it down for ya fellas: the share of total income going to the 5% highest-income households grew from 16.5% in 1980 to 18.3% in 1988 and the share of the highest fifth increased from 44.1% to 46.3% in same years. In contrast, the share of total income of the lowest fifth fell from 4.2% in 1980 to 3.8% in 1988 and the second poorest fifth from 10.2% to 9.6%. This is when the rich started getting richer and the poor started getting poorer. We like to call it "Reaganomics", or "trickle down" economics. This is one of their heroes.

After reading their rants about the Constitution, I took the time to read through a good deal of it. I didn't get what their complaints were about though. Although, I wonder how much most of them actually know about the founding of this country. Michelle Bachman can't seem to get her facts right. She mentioned that the authors of our countries founding documents fought tirelessly to end slavery, and singled out John Quincy Adams as one of the greatest heroes of this cause. He did campaign against slavery, she got that right. He was 9 however, when the Constitution was signed (therefore probably not an author), and died in 1948. The 13th amendment, which ended slavery, was not ratified until 1865. She also mentioned the shot heard round the world (referencing the start of the American Revolution) happening in Concord New Hampshire, not Massachusetts. Sarah Palin's quote about Paul Revere; "He who warned uh, the British that they weren't gonna be takin' away our arms, uh by ringing those bells, and um, makin' sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed." Paul Revere, first leader of the NRA. I find myself amused at the lack of a grip on history that some of their party seem to have, since they are supposedly all about getting back to what America was founded on.

So in closing I will state that I feel the Tea Party is mostly comprised of ill informed and misunderstanding people, mostly from the upper middle class, who want to hold on to their money by not paying taxes. They want big business to be allowed to run amok, unfettered by any protection of worker rights, or laws to control excess. They have no empathy, for the people who got fucked by the banking collapse that they didn't create. If we are unemployed or broke, it's our own fault. We need to just go get jobs and stop whining. Have a work ethic, you know.

This merely brushes the surface, but it's late and it's been a long day. Occupy and the Tea Party share almost no goals in common. There is no uniting the two, so let it go.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Is this thing even on? Mic check!

Welcome to #occupymyweek day 3

— noun
1. a person who hurts, persecutes, or intimidates weaker people

Hey guys lets talk about cops. More specifically the cops at the occupy protests. The ones who show up in full riot gear (which is only fitting considering they are about to start rioting, right?),with the mean mugs going, because it's all about intimidation.

There was a police presence from day one when the police surrounded the bull statue on Broadway near Wall St. I'm not sure what they expected, maybe violence against the bull? Or was the assumption that if they blocked off the supposed meeting area that the protest just wouldn't happen. Whatever the idea behind it, I know for sure that the statue stayed fenced off for at least seven weeks and it probably still is. It is also supposedly under 24 hr. surveillance. This is your tax dollars at work. Guarding a statue 24 hours a day in New York City, a statue that was never a target of violence or hatred from Occupy.

Try finding a single news report of violence involving someone definitely tied to the occupy movement, it may take a while. This was always supposed to be a non violent movement, and it has been. Violence enters the equation when you throw police into the mix. When they show up the violence kicks off. Some of these officers are there to do their duty and do it within the boundaries of the laws that they are sworn to uphold, others are bullies, plain and simple. I could list specific incidents or specific victims, but doing so doesn't do justice to the numerous victims I don't name. I have watched videos of police assaulting protesters until I feel physically ill. Beatings, draggings, pepper spraying peaceful gatherers with no real reason. The UC Davis pepper spraying debacle was probably the most widely publicized instance of this type of unnecessary and excessive action. I even found a couple of quotes from my city's own Norm Stamper (former Chief of Police during the 1999 WTO debacle) about this very issue “It is clearly an abuse of tear gas when it is used against passive demonstrators who are taking part in acts of civil disobedience which are such a rich part of our democracy,” and “Today it is being used indiscriminately and that is really appalling”.“We should recognize that we are a tool of community in the advancement of public safety and good. Police today have lost sight of their purpose.” Indeed sir, indeed. That, from Norms mouth really means something.

More surprising is the nonchalance displayed by these cops while perpetrating this violence. Pepper spraying a crowd of people who aren't even in a threatening stance and then just walking away. Some of them even flaunting the fact that they are doing it brandishing the cans to the crowds, "look at me!".  I wonder how these people sleep at night, are they complete sociopaths? Do they really believe that what they are doing is some how protecting society?

New York City, the place where it all started. The city whose Mayor stated "I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world." A rather telling statement of his opinion on using the NYPD as his own personal mercenaries. The Mayors army has also been accused of assaulting reporters who are trying to cover the protests and even arrested, assaulted, and jailed a member of the City Council. Way to go guys, because as you've already been told "the world is watching".

There is an unsettling bit of truth behind Bloomberg referring to the NYPD as an army. A lot of the current trend of more hostility from the police may be linked to the post 9-11 militarization of police forces nationwide. With Police Departments purchasing more military gear, sometimes seeking military training, and in some cases adopting a more military mentality, a side effect of our war on terrorism. The problem is it's being used against peaceful Americans who have repeatedly demonstrated that they do not condone resorting to violence, even when faced with it.  I gotta ask, is this protecting and serving?.

In ending I will say that I don't hate all police, but I do believe that some of them aren't afraid to cross the line of the law. Unfortunately, you can't tell the difference until it's too late.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Can you hear me now?

 Welcome back to #occupymyweek day 2

Let's see if I can keep this up.

Today let's talk about intentional disinformation, let's talk about the media, let's talk about the smear campaign launched against Occupy.

Did anyone else notice a complete lack of coverage when this movement started, kinda like maybe it wasn't happening? The problem was people were serious about this issue and so they stuck to it. The media HAD to cover it at the point when it looked like it might take off. So Occupy groups popped up all over the country, city to city. Hallelujah! All rise. Media coverage was quite scarce, and never dared to show, or even admit to the size of the crowds or the amount of support behind this movement. So the people took it upon themselves to show the truth, through the wonders of the internet we all got to see photos and videos of throngs of people participating in one of the most massive civil upheavals of the last 30 years at least. Now the media is fucked, whatever will they do? People are getting accurate information, which is something they are not supplying. Uh oh. So, yes indeed, what will the media beast do?

Cue the smear campaign. I felt that the attempt to discredit this movement began very quickly, perhaps to try to keep it from gaining momentum and spreading. "This movement doesn't have any real identifiable goals". "It's just a bunch of lazy trust fund kids". "Shiftless roustabouts". I have seen interviews with eloquent folks who were participating, just not on the news. It was better for them to piece together clips of eight different people with eight different takes on what the issues and possible solutions were, it made it look like a muddled mess. One thing stands out to me though, everybody shares one idea in common, that there is something wrong with the economic system in this country. So it's possible that everybody was unified by that alone.

The disinformation machine also vomited up the notion that the people who support this movement all want something for nothing. We all want a free hand-out at somebody else's expense. When in actuality that was part of what was being rallied against, the banks getting a free hand out at the tax payers expense. Because of bad business practices standing on the back of greed, these banks were failing. The U.S. senate issued Levin–Coburn Report found "that the crisis was not a natural disaster, but the result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street". The government said it first guys. So WE are not the ones looking for a hand out, we were mad about the last one.

Now the shift has changed again. The average Joe is caught in the financial bind right now, so tell Joe the economic impact of the protesters on his money. That's right, all protesters are hypocrites because we are throwing away millions of dollars of tax payer money on Police. We need them there to have a peaceful protest. It is all our fault, sorry we invited them. I have read so many articles about this recently, just how much the protests are costing America (although it's probably not as much as that little war we started in Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction that have yet to materialize). The massive Police presence was the ideas of the politicians in the cities where these protests occurred, not the idea of the protesters, and just so you know, I think some mayors might have over reacted. Peaceful protests don't require armies of cops in full riot gear to show up and start the riot themselves... but I'll cover that tomorrow.

How many friends can I lose with this?

welcome to #Occupymyweek day 1

OK. Time for me to weigh in on this current situation. For a week. Srsly.

First a few words about partisanship. There is lots of finger pointing and ugliness along party lines. "Republicans are bad","No, democrats are bad". I say fuck them both.
Due to certain lines drawn in the sand by these two parties I would side with the Democrats if anybody, but wait, I'm not done yet. While the Republicans tend to villanize the Occupy movement, the Democrats want to spoon with them. But that doesn't mean I trust them, they haven't delivered the change we demand yet either. A lot of my lefty friends might be upset about this post, but look who's in office and look what's happening (yes, i understand the seeds were planted earlier than this administration, but nothing has really changed, and yes, Obama [don't give me any crap! Seriously. Gays can now join the military and go get killed in wars but still can't get married? Washington state works towards legalization of marijuana, but federal drug laws take precedent, and 14 of our dispensaries are raided? wasn't the war on drugs a Reagan thing?] is sleeping with the enemy). I understand some people will get in line with the Republicans based on religious and gun issues alone (which is interesting to me as church and state are supposed to be separate, and it has NEVER been illegal to own a gun in the U.S. and I don't suspect that it ever will be). But all of that aside we need to recognize that ALL politicians are responsible for the current mess we are in, not one or the other. The problem is with our system. If anyone thinks that special interests and lobbyists never gave anything to Obama then they are fools. Obama is bought and paid for like every other politician in America. I am not hating on him specifically, I just find it interesting that the ire of many seems to be leveled solely at the Republicans, as though they alone are the problem. Newsflash! You are wrong. the capital in our capitol is the real problem.

The fact that we elect officials who in turn allow themselves to be bought off by big business feels like the proverbial slap in the face. It kills me that some people are only upset with big business, (and maybe those "damn Republicans"). The politicians are elected by the people to serve our interests, yet they sell us out regularly for any special interest group (i.e.- big oil, banks, tobacco, corn, Halliburton) that gave them enough dough. That is the root of the problem. I saw an interview with Michael Moore (the left-wing liberal poster boy) on Piers Morgan Tonight where he basically placed the blame squarely on big business. He stated (non-verbatim) that politicians who supported big business interests over that of the common man were just being good employees, as they work for these corporations that paid them off, so we can't get mad at the politicians only the corporations who pull their puppet strings. WHAT?! Are you fucking serious?! WE elect these politicians, they should never have sold themselves off to begin with, the blame lies squarely on their shoulders for that. The spineless money grubbing bastards need to be reminded that they serve the people and not money.

Hopefully thousands of Americans taking to the streets and expressing malcontent for the current state of political affairs will make the politicians take notice that they are being watched and that we are fed up. We will see. Or maybe this raging smear campaign/PR war we see on the nightly news will prevail, but that is another topic for another day this week. Stay tuned true believers...