Togane, Japan
December 31
I'm teaching English in foreign countries as a way to see the world. I lived in Germany for three years and have been in Japan since August of 2011.


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OCTOBER 6, 2011 1:04AM

The Occupiers Can Win

Rate: 16 Flag

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” --Gandhi


It feels like a lifetime since I’ve posted a political blog entry, but I just can’t resist adding my voice to the chants going out from Wall Street and all across America these days.  About two months ago I moved to Japan and since then my focus on politics has taken a back-seat to the major life-changes I’ve been going through.  It wasn’t long after I look my leave-of-absence from the political world that thousands of my fellow citizens found themselves diving in head-first and igniting a movement that has the potential to completely change the American political landscape for a generation.  This post intends to serve the dual purposes of A) spreading some of my optimism about the potential of the Occupy Wall Street movement to bring about significant political change and B) keeping with the primary purpose of my political writing which has always been to provide like-minded people with arguments to potentially sway conservative-leaning yet open-minded citizens to our point of view.

First and foremost, you should tell your conservative friends that if they like the Tea Party, they should love the Occupiers.  After all, this is a grassroots movement of citizens disillusioned with the broken system standing up and demanding change.  I seem to recall the pundits on Fox News and other cable channels lauding the Tea Party for that very reason—regardless of their specific views, they were participating in the political process in the full spirit of the American tradition of Free Speech and the right to organize.  You’d think that even if they disagree with the message of the Occupiers, they should at least acknowledge that their zeal for peaceful demonstration is as American as it gets, and intrinsically no more or less valuable than that of the Tea Party.

Of course, we know that there is in fact a world of difference between what lies at the core of the Tea Party and what drives the Occupiers.  While it’s true that most of the average citizens who go to Tea Party rallies are well-intentioned people who honestly believe in the message they’re sending, their movement is “grassroots” in name only—it is in fact a collection of various political organizations funded by right-wing think-tanks like Americans for Prosperity which are themselves funded by the wealthiest Americans and corporations, the very people who are responsible for the economic conditions the Tea Partiers’ anger is a product of.  Their anger is justified and their willingness to protest is admirable, but they’ve been misled and misdirected into serving the enemies of the very kinds of change they really need.

Conversely, the Occupiers are a true grassroots movement, not funded by any billionaires but started “from the ground up” in the most literal sense of the term.  Just a few hundred citizens decided to direct their anger at the very people responsible for their financial hardship and they took to the streets and kept at it—not just organizing a single protest for a day and then going home having been completely ignored by the media, but sticking to it until people finally started paying attention and more powerful allies began to join their fight.

The right-wing propaganda machine wants us to dismiss them as a bunch of left-wing hippies who don’t understand how the world really works, and this has worked so far and will continue to work on the Fox News audience for a long time to come, but they should be reminded as often as possible that just as the Tea Party was not quite the neo-Klan rally gathering of racists and bigots that the “liberal” media sometimes portrayed them as, neither can the Occupiers be characterized with such a broad brush.  Fox News has constantly reminded us that there are Independents and Democrats among the Tea Party crowd, and we should all be reminded that there are indeed some Tea Partiers among the Occupier crowd as well.

The movement to restore fairness to the American economic system should not be considered either right-wing or left-wing and we should resist as much as we can the efforts of the corporate media to drive a wedge between the Occupiers and conservative-leaning citizens who would share their sentiments if only they were given an objective look.

I won’t waste time going into the justifications of the Occupy Wall Street movement itself, as anyone interested in understanding their message could read any of a thousand other blog posts, check out this website, or simply watch the movie Inside Job.  The central fact—and it is a fact—behind this movement is that Wall Street traders, aided by their bought-and-paid-for tools in Washington (on both sides of the aisle) who’ve been deregulating their industry since the 1990s in exchange for campaign donations, inflated a financial bubble that dealt a crippling blow to the middle class when it burst.  Moreover, those responsible for this fiasco have continued to thrive thanks to a giant taxpayer bailout, even awarding themselves record bonuses as if to spit in the faces of all the people they’d screwed over once they were through screwing us.

I’ll say it again: if you like the Tea Party you should love the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The Tea Party movement was so popular (among those who failed to follow the money) due to the perception that it was a struggle of the Little Guy against the Big Guy, a reaction to the financial crisis and the ensuing bailout that enraged everybody regardless of political affiliation.  Yet somewhere along the way the anger was diverted from Wall Street and directed at the handful of people in Washington who were actually trying to fix the system.  The Occupiers have brought the anger back to where it started and where it belongs, and if the success of the Tea Party is any indication it will soon be a force to be reckoned with.

Just look at what the billionaires and the corporate establishment have managed to accomplish by harnessing the momentum that the Tea Party provided them with.  They were nearly able to derail health care reform entirely, and while a bill was ultimately passed it was so watered-down and establishment-friendly that its main element is actually a mandate to buy insurance from the same profit-driven companies that were the reason the American health-care system was in such need of reform in the first place.  They’ve prevented anything whatsoever from getting done on climate change, deflated any pressure there might have been to restore the civil liberties demolished by the Bush administration, allowed state and local governments to slash funding for education and public services while handing out corporate tax-cuts, secured at least a two-year extension of the Bush tax-rates, and in the biggest irony of all made last years’ Wall Street Reform Act so ineffective as to ensure that if nothing else is done by the time the next bubble bursts, the entire financial-collapse and subsequent taxpayer-bailout is guaranteed to happen all over again.

Much has been made by the mainstream media about the lack of “concrete demands” from the Occupier movement.  The lack of specific demands never stopped the Tea Party from having such a major influence in Washington.  And if the Tea Party can be said to have made any demands at all, it was always to prevent something from getting done (e.g. “Kill the Bill!”).  The spirit of the Occupier movement is to get those in power to actually do something to fix the broken system.  The specifics of what that is can be debated by policymakers, but without that pressure from the ground there will never even be a debate.

One of the best suggestions is this one put forward by Alex Pareene at Salon to demand that Wall Street forgive the debts of the 99% who bailed them out.  It’s got both moral and practical justifications: they’d be bankrupt if not for our help so why shouldn’t they save us from bankruptcy?  Not only that, but imagine the stimulative effect on the economy if all of a sudden the middle class had all that capital freed up to spend on consumer goods rather than debt payments to banks.  If the Occupiers take up this idea as a rallying cry, it might just become a real issue in the 2012 election.

The timing of this movement could hardly be more perfect, as right now the Obama White House is suffering from a complete lack of momentum and yet it still has time to change course.  When he came to office Obama had a movement of energized citizens behind him but his failure to harness that energy and lead the country in a different direction caused it to fizzle out in a matter of months.  If he wanted to ensure his re-election there’s a new movement full of energy just waiting to be harnessed, if he just had the political courage to stand up, take the mantle, and run with it.

Among the Occupiers’ demands, I believe the immediate firing of Tim Geithner, (referred to by insiders as “Wall Street’s man in Washington”) should be near the top of the list, along with the rest of Obama’s disastrous economic team to be replaced by people actually willing to fight the bankers and hand out indictments where appropriate.  Obama has done so much to appease the Wall Street crowd and yet they still aren’t satisfied, so his best chance at redeeming his administration is to give up on their support entirely, take a cue from Franklin Roosevelt, and welcome their hatred.  As the Occupy movement grows it should become increasingly clear to him that making an enemy of the most hated institution in the country is not, as the establishment-insiders in their beltway-bubble would have him believe, political suicide.  He won’t need their campaign cash with such strong wind at his back.

At the very least, the Occupy movement can play the same role as the Tea Party movement in providing strong and vocal support for policies to bring about more economic fairness for the middle class, throwing its support behind any politician willing to fight for their popular and just cause and fighting tooth-and-nail against all those Wall Street puppets who stand against them.

Finally, as the number one argument that will get thrown back in your face by conservatives when you insist that the rich should pay their fair share is that “the top 1% pay 40% of all federal taxes and the bottom 51% pay no taxes at all”, I just want to offer you a couple of links that will allow you to quickly shoot down that talking-point.  Here it explains that between 1987 and 2008, the top 1%’s share of the national income increased at five times the rate of their share of taxes.  Here you’ll find that while the top 1% do pay 40% of all federal income taxes, when you factor in other kinds of taxes including payroll tax and sales tax their actual share is actually between 22 and 28%, right in line with the 25% of the national income they control.  And here you’ll find that when you don’t just cherry pick the federal income tax, the bottom 51% do indeed pay a decent chunk of their income in taxes.  You can cite these facts, or you could simply remind them that when a family making less than $30,000 a year pays 13% in taxes, they have to use everything left over to pay for food, heating, car insurance, and all the other bills, while when someone making millions of dollars a year pays 34% in taxes, they’ve still got millions left over.

The Occupy Wall Street movement deserves as much support as we can give it.  It’s about time we’re seeing the pent-up rage of the middle class spilling out onto the streets, and if the history of class-struggles in the United States is any guide, there’s reason to believe that they might actually succeed.

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The NYPD is going from bad to worse in dealing with the protest. Do they realize how they look to the rest of America, and the rest of the world?

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." --JFK
Amen to that! Rated.
The Links at the bottom dictate that I stash this post for latter use Kem, you always were among one of the top reporters on OS but you place way to much store on what FOX news has to say. Rupert Murdoch and his poodle Roger Ailes are being systematically discredited on an international scale:

As for Obama he has played the shill for Wall Street for the last 3 years but he must have friends in higher places than this world. He has gotten the proverbial another chance and if he seizes the moment and comes down on his one time benefactors like the hammer of Thor his presidency still has a chance to go down as one of the great moments in American history.

As for RW’s comment. What is the old proverb: violence begets violence.
'true grassroots movement':

not to take away from your fine piece, but

credit is due to the people behind ADBUSTERS as the original 'voice' for the occupiers (please see their blog of 13 july 2011 )

The good folks at adbusters have been at this a while, and credit them for their hard work and willingness to stand up for all humanity. They are all about singularity, one world for everyone, Aloha personified in acts and deeds. It is very difficult for most Americans, even so-called progressives, to deal with what they say- you've all been had by not just Wall St. but much deeper down by Madison Ave. Celebrity and modern advertising, which began after the Civil War and mushroomed with Wild West Shows, now rules the minds of the truly washed brain, a close inspection shows cultures unexposed to this are full of happy, un-stressed people, and adbusters points this out, but one must be self-aware enough, and aware enough of the human condition itself, to reject corporate rubbish. I've seen surfing co-opted by corporatism in the "civilized" world in my lifetime, yet never have been so happy as when surfing in New Guinea with "natives" so peacefully unaware of what they were (not) missing.

To the Tea Party, I say again it has 3 components: 1. The Klan/JohnBirch/Koch-Welch crowd of horrible haters; 2. The tri-tip hat, US flag apparel group of libertine eccentrics who are always present in US political organizations, bless them and their Uncle Sam outfits; 3. The normal, scared to death folks who have everything in common with Occupy Wall St., but most of whom have been suckered by paragraph 1 above and simply don't have the knowledge yet they need to join our brothers and sisters united ... the good news is these young people have the 60s to look to, and are, as hippies always have been, patient and loving enough to enlighten those not as fortunate in their overall knowledge and understanding. Next come the Unions, then the good Tea Partiers (originally inspired by an NBC! commentator, some liberal bias ;) and, we win and all the hard work and sacrifice those of us who marched last time around for peace and equality finally taste victory over evil and greed.

Imua (Onward!)
Complain about the way the police are handling things if you want…but remember that the way the police handled the crowds at the Democratic national convention in 1968 almost insured success by the protesters.

My guess is the crowd encourages the police to over-react…and are grateful for each instance of them doing so. If you can get your opponent to help you—always do so.

Let’s truly hope this movement works to the advantage of the country and the world. Inequality of wealth and income has ALWAYS been a problem on this planet…and this may finally be the way it is dealt with properly.
" keeping with the primary purpose of my political writing which has always been to provide like-minded people with arguments to potentially sway conservative-leaning yet open-minded citizens to our point of view."

Now I understand why I've always found what we have to say to be fundamentally similar in a way I don't find with anyone else on OS; that's exactly what drives my political writing.

Very well done.

Token needs to see this post.

Congratulations on the EP
My guess is the crowd encourages the police to over-react

The crowds have NOT been encouraging the police to over-react.

Do you read anything other than porno, moron?

what exactly is wrong with getting democracy, and using it?

protest is politics for people without a vote, and substituting violence for debate and voting does not make the nation better. non-violent protest? excellent, but if you block the processes of business, there will be violence, and if you stay in 'designated areas,' you will be there a long time.

demand citizen initiative, the base of democracy, and with that tool make america as good as the people. it won't be done over night, of course, and there's the problem:

"i'm not sure what i want, but i want it now."
Hooray for Occupy Wall Street! Rated.
Very well said. I'm conservative, but like you say, I do lean in the middle. This resonated with me. But, I do wish that more level-headed conservatives were being aired, instead of the usual whackjobs.
Excellent! Your argument is so convincing, I will watch for the protests to start in Atlanta soon. I am old enough to remember Chicago 1968 when the cops lost their freakin' minds, and it appears to be happening again in NYC. The Whole World is Watching was the chant then; this time it will be literally true.

there is actually a long history of "debt forgiveness" going back to ancient times although in modern times, its something of a bizarre concept that would surely break the entire economic system if not done carefully, and how can it be done carefully? I am reminded of obamas homeowner mortgage debt relief program which only has a rate of something like 5% and surely, thats intentional isnt it. "dream on"! anyway though Im rooting for the Occupiers although that seems like a kind of sinister shorthand. I prefer the 99%.
see also occupy wall street, my speech to the masses
Excellent and well-reasoned piece. If you're correct about the origins of the Tea Party movement, then they've gone wildly astray, attracting right-wing bigots and fascists, and lots of "village idiots" who follow their prejudices without a critical thought in their heads. The Left will certainly attract its share of similar dolts, I'm sure. It's about time progressives woke up and took to the streets. Let's hope Obama does the same.
Looks like a National Filibuster, long time in coming
Many of these people seem to be much more informed than the Tea Party, which as you say is at least partly AstroTurf. they have a great chance of winning after all they are doing a much better job representing the vast majority of the public.

Most important of all though, is the fact that if they can't win then that would mean that this isn't a democracy at all, since a sincere democracy would respond to the will of the people!
Glad to see you back, Kemstone.

Of course the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in D.C. aren't defending the "Occupiers." They are likening the "Occupiers" to "mobsters" -- because while the "tea party" traitors are anti-labor and pro-corporate and pro-plutocratic, the "Occupiers" are pro-labor and anti-corporate and anti-plutocratic.

(I attended a pro-Wisconsin-labor rally here in Sacramento earlier this year, and a contingent of "tea party" traitors showed up to let us know how much they hate labor unions. The "tea party" traitors are NOT on our side, and personally, I believe that trying to make them see the light is fruitless. We should focus our energy, time, money and other resources on defeating the corporatocrats and plutocrats instead.)

The rich and the super-rich aren't going to give up what they've stolen from us without a fight. We don't need their approval of our budding movement. We just need to keep fighting them.

The biggest threat to the "Occupiers" is that the Democratic Party establishment co-opts them/us. The Dems, headed by Obama & Co., are slimy -- if they see the new progressive movement taking root, they'll act like they've been on our side for the past three years when they haven't, and they'll try to take things back to normal as soon as possible.
The medium (free assembly) is the message. We want to tax the rich, tax stock trades, abolish the capital gains rate and consider all money earned as money earned. Period.

This nonsense that flash trading, short selling and rampant speculation provides the market liquidity which supports capital formation is bullshit. Even Warren Buffet knows it. Return sanity to the markets by regulation which insures that they exist for the purpose of forming capital to create and grow actual creation of wealth.

And as for using police to confront protests which have yet to present a clear and present danger, I urge their leaders to recall that summer at Kent State which left four dead in Ohio.

Another great post Kemmy (is it okay to call you "Kemmy")
I have written a 3 part series on the history on America and the New World. Part one deals with what exactly went on before the Caucasians came here and the lies that have been perpetuated by the Smithsonian approved academia that have been force feed down the throats of Judeo-Christian people . what you have been told is a carefully choreographed version of staged discovery. Part 1 deals with with material suited for All Hallows eve So enjoy the read it gets far more intricate in Part 2. Happy Halloween.