DISCLAIMER: I do not attempt to be polite or partisan in my articles, merely truthful. If you are a partisan and believe that the letter after the name of a politician is more important then their policies, I suggest that you stop reading and leave this site immediately--there is nothing here for you.

Modern American politics are corrupt, hyper-partisan, and gridlocked, yet the mainstream media has failed to cover this as anything but politics as usual. This blog allows me to post my views, analysis and criticisms which are too confrontational for posting in mainstream outlets.

I am your host, Josh Sager--a progressive activist, political writer and occupier--and I welcome you to SarcasticLiberal.blogspot.com

Friday, December 30, 2011

What is Unconstitutional?

By Josh Sager

One common meme among the right wing in the United States is the classifying of things that they don’t agree with as unconstitutional. The accusation of unconstitutionality as a partisan attack is leveled by a wide variety of political actors, ranging from candidates for president to political pundits. This tactic is used to sway low information voters to argue against their own interests through appealing to their loyalty to an imagined interpretation of the constitution.

Republican presidential candidates have recently declared a wide range of government functions to be unconstitutional during the 2012 primary debates and in press releases. Virtually every candidate on the primary stage, as well as numerous right wing political strategists, have claimed that the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) is unconstitutional; a claim that is blatantly false given not only that the interstate commerce clause allows the federal government to regulate a wide variety of services but that the idea of the mandate was supported by most of the people who are now fighting it. The entire idea of the mandate was created by the Heritage Foundation (an extremely right wing think-tank), promoted by Gingrich, and implemented by Romney.  Unless many on the right wing are willing to argue that their own ideas are unconstitutional when adopted by the Democrats, they clearly don’t believe their own claims of unconstitutionality to be true.

The allegations of unconstitutionality are not limited to the health care fight, as many Republican political actors have made similar claims against policies that they don’t like. Rick Perry, Ron Paul, and numerous other right wing leaders have both claimed that the entire social safety net (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) is in fact unconstitutional due to the fact that it is never mentioned in the constitution.  Other right wing leaders have decried various policies such as welfare, federal monetary policy, banning prayer in schools, and protecting women’s rights as unconstitutional overreaches of federal power.

Unfortunately, this epidemic of claiming progressive policy as “unconstitutional” is not only rampant but acting as a mask for the policies that are truly unconstitutional. Using the constitution as a partisan tactic is both abhorrent to the political discourse and simply dishonest on its face. Rather than fighting a policy position on its merits, those who use this tactic simply smear the policy with lies and need not present any facts. Because the claims are not rooted in reality, there is no way to fight them with the facts and thus the left wing is unable to effectively counter this tactic; this tactic is similar to claiming that the moon is made of green cheese and thus any samples taken from the moon are obviously fake because they are not made of 

It is important to exclude true originalists (basically, Ron Paul) from the tactical component of this argument as they are not using the allegation of unconstitutionality as a tactic but rather as a genuinely held belief. The concept that anything not expressly mentioned in the constitution is called originalism and, while it is widely discredited as a realistic political belief, that doesn't mean that those who hold this belief are immoral.

Regardless of whether the allegations of unconstitutionality are genuine or merely an immoral tactic, they desensitize the public to the claims when there are truly unconstitutional things happening in politics. In recent years, we have seen numerous demonstrably unconstitutional legislations suggested and even passed in some occasions. The recent, bipartisan, reauthorizations of the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) and the Patriot act are two examples of legislations that have blatantly unconstitutional aspects that have passed without significant challenge. The Patriot Act infringes upon our fourth Amendment rights while the NDAA (in its amended form) infringes upon our 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendment rights. While the NDAA and the Patriot act are probably the most relevant examples of recent unconstitutional legislation, such legislative overreach is not limited to defense policy. The widespread attacks on a women’s right to an abortion and everybody’s right to vote are simply two examples of non-defense policy that are in fact, unconstitutional. How is it that virtually an entire party of the US government can unite behind the false accusation of unconstitutionality while supporting or ignoring genuinely unconstitutional policies?

The problem in this situation is the use of constitutionality as a tactic rather than a fact. When constitutionality has become devalued to the point where it is dependent upon the partisanship of the sponsor of a bill, it is no longer considered a true ideal; if the constitutionality of a bill is seen as partisan affiliation dependent, everything the other side suggests is automatically wrong, no matter how reasonable, while everything that your side suggests is automatically right, no matter how egregious. The constitution is the framework of the laws and politics of our country, not a specific set of rules that apply to one party more than the other. I can, and often do, disagree with somebody and believe that their positions are either ignorant or immoral (See: Tea Party), but I can’t use the constitution to attack their policy where it is not unconstitutional. The constitution should not be used as a partisan weapon nor should we devalue its constraints to the point where truly unconstitutional legislation passes unquestioned.

Credit to Sam Seder: Case in point.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Republican Reality Show

The Republican Reality Show
By Josh Sager

As the 2012 presidential primary deadline comes closer, it is becoming increasingly evident that the Republican primary is not actually a political race; it is actually a brilliantly designed and executed reality show. Each of the political candidates on the stage represents a different segment of the Republican party and, as with many reality TV shows, the entire purpose of the primary is to “vote them off the island” in order to determine which contestant remains to get the big prize.

When I refer to the Republican primary process as being a game show, I don’t extend this to past election cycles. I have no right to completely deride an entire party’s ideology, as in the USA everybody is entitled to their opinions. I may not agree with the conservative narrative, but that simply means that I will argue the issues with anybody who holds conservative views. The current Republican Party has gone insane and divorced itself not only from the facts, but from all political convention; unlimited money and partisan distillation has allowed a very well-funded core of completely unqualified and extremist candidates to take over the right wing narrative. The Republican Party is no longer a legitimate political party, but a caricature of the extreme right wing brought to life; they are crazy, ill informed, hyper-religious, bigoted, and proud of it.

No outsider can argue with a party that has disregarded all facts, as all members of the party are creating a new narrative that they consider facts. When I see the current Republicans, I am reminded of the scene in “Alice in Wonderland” where Alice meets the Mad Hatter and tries to apply logic to an illogical mind. It is this degradation of the sanity of the party as a whole that has brought about the situation where an entire primary race can be looked at as a reality TV show.

The Game (The Primary and the Debates)

The “Republican Primary Show” is a reality game show where numerous conservative politicians get together and attempt to win the grand prize of the party nomination to the office of President; the runner ups receive prizes such as Fox TV shows, book deals, and speaking engagements. This game show is virtually no holds barred and the audience expects blood: they boo gay soldiers while cheering executions, torture, and war.

The game show aspect of the primary plays out during over a dozen televised debates, where contestants compete for the hearts and minds of the audience. Contestants must walk a fine line during the “episodes” so as to simultaneously reject reality enough that they are seen as true conservatives, while not appearing completely insane. For example: Rejecting evolution, climate change, and Obama’s policies are mandatory, yet claiming that vaccinations cause mental retardation is simply a step too far. If the candidates are too sane, they have no chance to win the game as the right wing audience will hate them (Huntsman Syndrome), but they must at least appear rational and balance in their rejection of reality so as to avoid being seen as unable to hold the office (Bachmann Syndrome).

Meet the Contestants (The Candidates):

Mitt Romney: Representing the plutocratic segment of the Republican Party, Romney is the contestant that everybody knows is the favorite but nobody wants to win. The dislike of Romney goes far beyond the customary rooting against the establishment and into a category where the race has two real candidates; Romney and the “Not-Romney”. In reality show terms: Romney is the skilled and intelligent contestant who everybody on the show wants to take down to make a name for themselves and everybody in the audience wants to see taken down.

Rick Perry: Representing the Deep South ultra-conservative segment of the Republican Party, Perry is the contestant who shows initial promise to take down the favorite but then falls to self-inflicted wounds before he can even face his rival. In reality show terms: Perry is the contestant who comes on strong and appears to dominate the first half of the game, but then stumbles on his own inadequacies in front of the audience, thus killing his momentum before the game even ends.

Michelle Bachmann: Representing the anti-everything, Tea Party segment of the Republican Party, Bachmann is the wild card candidate who comes onto the scene as a whirlwind and leaves just as quickly. In reality show terms: Bachmann is the flash in the pan contestant who everybody knows is insane, but is kept in the game because she is so amusing to watch. Nobody thinks that she is going to win, but other contestants like her because she makes them look balanced and the audience sees her as a constant source of amusement, thus she is allowed to remain on the stage.  

Newt Gingrich: Representing the entrenched, 20th century establishment segment of the Republican Party, Gingrich is the undead contestant; he is ugly, mean and smells to high heaven, but every time it looks like he has fallen out of the contest, he pops back up stronger than ever (and slightly more aromatic). In reality show terms: Gingrich is the antagonist who nobody on the stage likes and the audience will only support if he will take down a contestant that they hate even more.

Ron Paul: Representing the Ayn Randian libertarian segment of the Republican Party, Paul is the crazy outsider who looks progressively saner as his competition degrades with time. The current Republican Party has moved so far out to the right (and away from reality) that Ron Paul is one of the more moderate, balanced and consistent candidates. In reality show terms: Paul is the cross season candidate who everybody knows and many like, yet will never win; he just keeps coming back for more every season, while the show degrades around him (Example: Survivor).

Herman Cain: Representing no particular demographic of the Republican Party, Cain is the comic relief candidate who many find amusing until his antics stray into the distasteful and he is shunted off of the stage. Modeling your economic policy off of Sim City and quoting Pokémon music are comic relief but allegations of sexual assault are not, thus Cain the jester becomes simply an embarrassment (A heroic accomplishment considering this field) to be voted out of the competition.

John Huntsman: Representing the sane segment of the Republican Party, Huntsman is the lone voice of sanity in the right wing wilderness. I won’t use reality show memes to describe Huntsman as he actually deserves better; he is an old school Republican who, while conservative, still lives in reality and subscribes to science. In any other situation, Huntsman should be the frontrunner in the pack of fools, lunatics and flip-floppers that he is sharing the stage with. Unfortunately for Huntsman, being the sole sane person in an asylum filled with the insane is a lonely position and not one that has any chance of growing into a nomination.

Where we go from here

I would just like to conclude with two comments: One for Democrats, the other for Republicans.

1.      To Democrats: You must fight back against the insanity of the right wing if you want the USA to resemble anything that has been in the past or is now. If you stop pushing against the right wing agenda and the weakness of your own politicians, we will live in a fascist theocracy within a generation. Money and religion have bought the other side and will use their influence to shape the country if there is no pushback. The 2010 election demonstrated what happens if you don’t go out to vote and remain active in the political process; a bunch of crazy, corrupt lunatics take over the government and bring us to hostage situation after hostage situation in order to get a partisan agenda passed.
2.      To Republicans: Look at what your party has become. Your politicians are neither conservative, nor are they principled in any way. The Republican Party only serves the rich and will bring about the downfall of the USA if allowed to take over. Republican politicians spend huge amounts of money giving tax cuts to the rich (but never to the poor, as demonstrated by the payroll tax fight) and cut safety regulations. If you support the middle class, safe workplaces, public education, a secular society, civil rights or a clean environment you simply should not be a Republican; if you support any of those ideals, either make a new party or push for reform inside of the Republican political establishment quickly.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Boston Occupier - Issue #3

The Boston Occupier - Issue 3

Friday, December 16, 2011

Updated Occupy Tactics Brainstorm

This link is to the Google document version of this article: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Xl5ZMK2pkeN710Nu3cAKCiIxiHuS3lSdCp23tvma3ro/edit?hl=en_US

Occupy Boston Potential Future Tactics Analysis
By Josh Sager
NOTE: This is draft 1.2

With the eviction from the Dewey Square site, the occupiers of Boston must consider how to continue the movement through the winter and beyond. This document is not official in any way, neither is it an attempt to coopt the decision-making process of the movement; it is merely an analysis of our possible actions in regard to cost and effect. All of the below protest tactics are possible but they do have pros and cons; as there is little empirical data on the effects of protest tactic utilized by the occupations, all pros and cons are qualitative rather than quantitative.
There is no way to analyze every possible protest tactic, as there are virtually unlimited methods of protest available to the occupations; however, anybody who wants to add a tactic or discuss the below tactic can contact me at jsager99@gmail.com. (I will only talk about non-violent tactics and civil disobedience.)

Table of Contents
1.      Physical Occupations/Sit-ins
a.       “Occupy Our Homes”
b.      Re-occupying after a raid
c.       Occupying political offices
d.      Occupying banking offices
e.       Blockading political/economic institutions
2.      Marches
a.       City-wide protest marches
b.      Targeted marches to a significant location
c.       Specialized marches
3.      Economic Protests
a.       Boycotts
b.      Economic blockades
c.       Re-direction of economic activity
4.      Non-Traditional Protests
a.       Flash mobs
b.      Light projections onto buildings
c.       Micro-occupation
d.      Symbolic funerals
e.       Symbolic weddings
f.       Rewritten manger scenes
g.      Mic-checking political/economic leaders
h.      Living theater protests
5.      Messaging
a.       Solidarity symbols
b.      Poster campaigns
c.       Outreach to artists
d.      Buying media ad time
e.       Proposing model bills to politicians
f.       Passing model legislation through the general assembly
g.      Letter writing campaigns
6.      Education
a.       Running educational seminars
b.      Distributing informational pamphlets
7.      Political Actions
a.       Voter registration
b.      Running an “occupy” candidate
c.       Endorsing candidates
d.      Operating as a PAC for issue promotion
e.       Petitions
f.       Pledges
8.      Miscellaneous
a.       Hunger Strikes
b.      Banner Drops

Physical Occupations/Sit-ins

Re-occupying after a raid (Framed for Occupy Boston)
Description: It is possible to pick a new location in the city for the occupation to build a new “occupy” camp after the raid; this action has been done at other occupation such as Occupy San Francisco.
Positive: The new location could assist the homeless who were evicted from Dewey when it was raided. The physical presence of the occupation acts as a symbol for those who follow the movement as it is one of the signature tactics of the 99% Movement.
Negative: As the judiciary has ruled that there is no right to occupy, the police would rapidly crack down on this site and it would be shut down very quickly. This option wastes resources and would not accommodate the transition to the second stage of the 99% movement. As was demonstrated with the Dewey Square occupation, there are numerous problems with occupations that would likely detract from the message of the group; this tactic has also diminished in its effectiveness and likely would not survive the winter.

“Occupy Our Homes”
Description: Several occupations across the country have adopted a strategy of occupying foreclosed building in protest of the actions of the bankers and the waste of allowing buildings to remain empty where there are homeless. In several cases, citizens facing foreclosure have been given support in the form of a small occupation on their lands; in most of these cases, the banks have neglected to force eviction while the occupation is on site.
Positive: Helping average citizens retain their homes is an effective and positive protest method; with the level of public discontent over the current housing crisis at a peak, the occupiers can show themselves as helpers of the middle class. As the protestors are not squatting on public land, there is little chance that their detractors will accuse them of blocking public use of that land. As the mortgage problems are so widespread, the tactic of helping people who are evicted would likely garner large levels of support from the public; it is non-aggressive and it is seen as a public service rather than a nuisance.
Negative: If this practice were to become widespread, the banks would likely fight aggressively against these occupations; arrests would eventually begin to increase due to top down pressure on authorities. This tactic disproportionately helps those in middle class areas because their properties would be more able to accommodate a significant occupation, while those living in lower class areas would simply not have the physical space (house versus apartment).

Occupying Political Offices
Description: Staging small scale, temporary, occupations at political offices, campaign offices, and lobbying offices is a tactic that can be used to demonstrate discontent with the actions of the occupied group. Politicians whose headquarters were occupied would have a constant reminder of the existence of the occupiers and what they stand for. Political campaign headquarters and lobbying offices which were occupied would have their operations impeded and potentially stopped in the short term. 
Positive: This tactic can be used to target specific candidates or groups and obstruct their actions without impeding the public. In addition to targeting the operation of specific groups, it is virtually impossible for the politicians to ignore the occupiers when the occupiers are waiting in the next room. If the area occupied is considered public space, such as a political office, the owners have little standing to evict the occupiers until the end of business hours; these areas are indoors and would be able to accommodate long term, daytime protests. As the areas occupied are small, there are low requirements for the number of occupiers to cause an obstruction. 
Negative: If the area occupied is private property, such as a campaign or lobbying office, those occupying them would be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and potentially disturbing the peace. In many cases, the occupation of an area will not obstruct the operations going on there enough to have an impact. The areas occupied in these actions are often small or otherwise less visible than a public thoroughfare, thus the visibility of these actions is entirely dependent upon the media.

Occupying Banking Offices
Description: Staging small scale occupations of banking institutions and banking offices could be used to obstruct the operations of banks. As one significant focus of the occupy movement is protesting the actions of the bankers, any disruption of major banking operations would fall in line with “occupy” values and goals.   
Positive: If significant disruption of the bankers was achieved, it would send a message to the banks that people are not only angry with them, but are willing and able to demonstrate their discontent.
Negative: The actions of the occupiers would likely only interfere with the lower level operations of the banks as the higher level banking operations are usually located in secured buildings; likely such disruptions would only inconvenience the customers and lower level bankers, neither of whom are the targets of the occupier’ protest. The occupiers of banking buildings would be subject to arrest for trespassing and potentially disturbing the peace.

Blockading Political/Economic institutions
Description: Instituting physical blockades of buildings containing protested businesses is a very effective way to disrupt businesses. As seen in environmental, labor and pro-life protests, simply refusing to allow entry into a contested business is a direct and immediate way to shut down operations of a business.
Positive: Simply blockading an institution is both overt and extremely disruptive. Even a short term blockade of lobbying offices, banks, or the capitol would make huge news headlines.
Negative: This tactic is very risky towards the protesters, both in terms of public opinion backlash and legal consequences. The blockaders would be subject to arrest immediately and this tactic might be seen as overly aggressive by some in the public (and occupations). With the rise of internet communications, many operations (political and banking institutions included) require much less of a physical presence; it would be unlikely that the targeted operations would be shut down completely.


City-Wide protest marches
Description: The political protest march is one of the staple tactics utilized by political/social protests for decades. Marches through the city streets, coupled with signs and slogans, is used to make people pay attention to an issue that the marchers care about; these are used to mobilize support and act as a physical show of support for an idea.
Positive: Marches are very noticeable and can be used to raise awareness of a political/social movement. In most cases, marches are legal and protected speech, thus the likelihood of arrest at a peaceful march is less likely than many other tactics (occupations, sit-ins, etc.). Marches have been proven to be effective over years of protests in the USA and the world.
Negative: Marches obstruct traffic and can often irritate people who could otherwise be swayed to support the cause. Marches are common and thus garner less interest than other, more innovative and new tactics. Unless there is are significant numbers of protesters, a march is easily overlooked and thus ineffective in conveying its message.

Targeted marches to a significant location
Description: Targeted marches are identical to city-wide marches, but have specific routes and locations visited so as to target the effect of the march upon the focus of the protest. Banks, political offices, selected businesses, or other focus points of 99% protest are march locations in order to show these groups the level of opposition to their actions in a tangible form; often this is used to obstruct traffic to a target or to compel it to change its actions in the face of massive discontent.
Positive: Targeted marches focus the effects of a march on a specific target, increasing the impact on several specific locations, while decreasing collateral obstruction of the public.
Negative: Targeted marches operate at specific locations rather than large swathes of the city, thus the visibility is focused on a much smaller area (More focus, less spread).

Specialized marches
Description: Specialized marches are marches that have a unique theme or defining characteristic; candle lit marches, costume marches, and dance marches are three examples of ways that marches can be altered to garner more visibility.
Positive: Marches with unique themes are much more notable to the public than a generic march. Anything that is unique tends to draw attention in the public eye more so than something that people have seen before.  
Negative: See either City-Wide marches or Targeted Marches.
Examples: Giving everybody in the march a common and symbolic costume or theme (bankers, zombies, etc…); using candlelight to light the march; utilizing a band or musical theme to draw attention to the march (brass band parade); having everybody in the march dance down the street; etc…

Economic Protests

Bank Transfer days
Description: Large, coordinated, removals of money from the top 5 banks into smaller credit unions is a potential protest tactic; this was done earlier in 2011 and was one factor that led to the retreat of the banks in the $5/month checking account charge.
Positive: Transferring money from the big 5 banks and into credit unions both makes a point to the bankers and could have potential to disrupt bank activities. When a significant number of people leave the big banks, they will have a decreased, although still significant, control over the wealth of the USA. Transfers to smaller banks help them, while harming the large banks that caused the recent economic crisis, making it an effective and highly targeted protest tactic.
Negative: Due to the very nature of this protest, there is a very high level of attrition. Since people cannot remove their money from banks multiple times, more people must constantly be drawn in for this type of protest to have any repeatability. Due to the concentration of wealth at the top, the banks will still function while the rich citizens and corporations keep their money in the system.

Description: Boycotts of goods and services is a method of protest that harms a group where it hurts; it’s pocketbook. By refusing to patronize a certain business, a group can register discontent with the business’s practices or goods.
Positive: Boycotts are virtually without cost, as they are by their very definition the foregoing of buying certain goods. The only costs incurred in a boycott are the costs of buying alternative goods (generic V. name brand) and services and the costs of transportation (where there are travel differences).
Negative: Unless a significant number of people or businesses sign onto and follow the boycott, it is completely ineffective.

Economic Blockades – Wise Father
Description: Occupiers can stall a business from the inside through clogging up internal operations. Protesters select an inexpensive good which to buy and then stall the checkout line for as long as possible; they can also return said good and stall customer service. Help lines can be mass called in order to clog up the service board, thus disrupting operations. This tactic is essentially a physical version of a Denial of Service attack.
Positive: This tactic is not illegal and can disrupt the internal working of a business without the protesters risking arrest.
Negative: The vast majority of people inconvenienced by this tactic will be low level workers and patrons of the business; usually middle class workers. The business must be carefully selected to minimize the collateral disruption to those who are not the target of the protests (Ex. Tiffany’s).

Redirection of Economic Activity
Description: Rather than instituting large scale boycotts, protesters can redirect economic activity from big businesses to smaller ones in the area. An example of this tactic would be to stand outside of Bank of America and attempt to redirect people to a local credit union; giving them reasons to switch, directions and contact information.
Positive: By giving an alternative to the boycotted good or service, the occupiers can both financially harm a targeted business, but at the same time support a local small business. Unlike a boycott or financial blockade, this tactic is not disruptive to the average citizen, nor does it cause disruption to the low level workers inside of the store.
Negative: Depending upon the situation, this tactic could be illegal and expose protesters to trespassing charges.

Non-Traditional Protests

Flash mobs
Description: There are numerous types of flash mob, but they are almost a gathering of people at a predetermined location/time who act in concert for a short amount of time and then disperse. Flash mobs are extremely flexible and can act in a way similar to a march but condensed into a small area and time period; people quickly gather, act out a routine, and disperse.   
Positive: A well planned and timed flash mob can be very eye catching and thus an effective method of conveying a point. There is an extremely high level of flexibility in a flash mob’s utility due to the varied types of actions and protests that can operate through such mobs. There is a small chance of being arrested at a flash mob because police rarely mobilize in time to deal with the crowd.
Negative: By their very nature, flash mobs are short term and localized, thus they cover a small number of people when compared to more lengthy and spread out protests. Flash mobs require perfect timing and planning to be effective.

Light projections onto buildings
Description: As pioneered by the Occupy Wall Street protestors, the use of a high powered projector, a computer, and a mobile power source can be adapted to create large projections onto buildings.
Positive: Light projections are not illegal nor do they leave any damage that would need to be cleaned up by low level workers (unlike standard graffiti).
Negative: The equipment required to create a strong projection is relatively expensive and difficult requires some expertise to set up. Projections are only feasible at night and on certain buildings (due to space, reflections, and light absorbing materials).

Micro-occupation (untested)
Description: A micro-occupation would involve a small scale, symbolic occupation. By creating hundreds of brightly colored, small scale (1 Foot * 1 foot) tents stamped with the 99% symbol, we could hand out a new type of political sign. People who support us would hang these tents outside of their houses or apartments in a show of support for the movement. Using these tents in leu of actual tents allows for the idea of an “occupation” to persist while removing the camping during the winter time and the risk of arrest.
Positive: This protest tactic is cheap, and simply requires money for materials and that occupiers/supporters have locations to hang the mini-tents. As these tents are essentially lawn ornaments, there is virtually no risk for arrest or police harassment.
Negative: This protest tactic is untested and could lack the visibility of other protest methods.

“Replying” to credit card offers with notes – Kate
Description: In all credit card offers and other bank solicitations there is a pre-paid envelope; postage on this envelope is only charged to the banks when it is sent back to the banks from the sender. In leu of simply discarding the offers, a protester can reply to the bank offers by putting notes or other junk mail into the reply envelope to be returned to the banks. The banks will essentially be paying for the protester’s postage and will be obligated to open the letter because it could be a legitimate reply.
Positives: This tactic is legal and without any cost to the protester. As every envelope must be opened by the banks, it is potentially expensive and time consuming to them if a significant number of protesters use this tactic.
Negatives: This tactic is only available to those who have consistent mailing addresses

Symbolic funerals (untested)
Description: Holding imaginary and symbolic funerals for concepts such as “The American Dream”, the 1st Amendment, or fair elections, is a potential protest tactic. These funerals would be conducted on public land in a manner virtually identical to a standard march.
Positive: The staging of a funeral for a well-known and liked idea is a powerful image. This tactic can be used to convey concern over an issue while at the same time informing people to the values of the movement as a whole. Mock funerals are a new tactic and thus would draw attention from the public more effectively than a common march.
Negative: This protest is untested, but it is essentially a themed march. See specialized march negatives above.

Symbolic weddings – Joshua Eaton
Description: Conducting symbolic weddings between institutions in protest of corruption, collusion and corporate personhood. Examples of two institutions that this tactic could apply to are the Federal Reserve and the big five private banks.
Positive: Same as symbolic funerals
Negative: Same as symbolic funerals

Rewritten Manger Scenes – Joshua Eaton
Description: Staging manger scenes with an occupy theme; using tents as the structure and altering the scene to support the narrative of the occupations. Carols and Christian themes can be adapted to support ideas such as unionizing carpenters, helping the poor, and raising awareness of those without homes.
Positive: This tactic is new and would draw attention to the protests just out of novelty. If conducted with proper permitting, these protests would be legal and conductible on public grounds.
Negative: Many religions Christians could misinterpret the use of the Manger scene in the context of the occupations as a slight towards Christianity.

Mic-Checking political or economic leaders
Description: The mic-check is a signature tactic of the occupations. The occupiers use this method of sound amplification instead of electronic means during meetings; over time, it has adapted to use in protests, particularly during political meetings/speeches. When used in a protest, the mic-check is essentially a type of flash mob.
Positive: There is no material requirement for this protest tactic, nor does it require a large crowd to execute. Mic-checking is very specific and causes a high level of disruption in the speech/meeting but only a minimal level of collateral disruption.
Negative: As with all protests on private property, there is a chance of arrest that the protesters must assess. While disruptive, this tactic is only viable in short bursts at a political rally due to security shutting down the “mics”. For other negatives, see the flash mob entry.
Living Theater Protests
Description: By acting out a scene or skit in public place, occupiers can push an agenda and promote information among the viewers: imagine a scene where four people: 2 police, 1 robber, 1 banker; get together to discuss the theft of public money. The police arrest the robber and let the banker go, all while a narrator describes why the banker gets away free even though they stole more. The possible situations are virtually endless, and draw attention of the public onto vital issues.
Positives: These skits could be informative and amusing, making them easily digestible informational seminars. Having spontaneous and random scenes acted out and filmed in the streets would be unique and would probably draw significant attention; it would also be amusing and would allow occupiers to protest in an entertaining and non-threatening manner. The risk of arrest in these actions is minimal, just as long as the actors don’t obstruct traffic or trespass during the protest.
Negatives: None


Solidarity Symbols
Description: By creating an easily recognizable and mass produced sign of solidarity (Ex. A tent with 99% on the side) which can then be adapted into signs, stickers and other goods, the occupiers can allow people to easily and cheaply show support to the occupiers.
Positives: This tactic is cheap and easily done. By allowing people to show support simply through bumper stickers or house signs, the occupiers can get some of the less motivated supporters to show their support; as shown in political campaigns, simple signs posted on lawns can allow supporters to passively support their candidates. If enough people show their support, people will be more likely to take the occupations seriously, simply due to the inertia of positive support (Argument ad populum).
Negatives: This tactic is not likely to sway significant numbers of people to the cause quickly nor would it impact those who actively oppose the occupations.

Poster Campaigns
Description: Utilizing posters and wheat based glue, the occupiers could spread information quickly and cheaply across the city. Posting numerous posters on well-traveled routes (Ex. Boston Common area, major transportation hubs, etc) would allow the occupiers to spread information about the movement and the ideals behind it.
Positive: There is a much lower cost to a poster campaign than an official ad campaign; the only requirements are an industrial printer, a paste, and volunteers. Posters can be posted everywhere and can be replaced quickly if removed. A large variety of posters can be printed and thus a rotating/varied set of posters can be used to inform people over a wide range of issues.
Negative: In many cases, placing posters on private property is considered trespassing and can cause the distributor to be arrested. Oftentimes, the poor or lower middle class workers of an area are the ones who are left to clean up the results of any poster campaign.

Outreach to artists
Description: There are numerous artists, whether visual or audio, who support the occupations, thus hosting art shows and music festivals is a potential method of drawing in support. By drawing people to the occupations through art, music, and food, the occupiers can increase awareness of issues and entice people to support the ideals of the movement, even if the viewer would otherwise be unlikely to seek out the protests without the draw of amusement.
Positives: Music, art and food are all draw that can entice people to attend events that they know little about. If the occupiers make a good case for their cause while the festival is going on, those who attend would likely be swayed to support the cause of the occupations.
Negatives: The space, materials, and equipment required for these festivals would likely be expensive for the occupations. In some locations, the occupiers would have a hard time getting a permit for the event.

Buying media ad time
Description: The occupations could use mass media, whether print, radio, or television, in order to promote their cause. Ads are a staple of most political movements and have been shown to be effective in swaying public opinion at the margins of support.
Positive: Ads raise awareness of the occupations and the issues that the occupiers support. Ads are a well-established form of information spreading and have a proven positive effect when utilized correctly.
Negative: Ad space is expensive and it is unlikely that the occupations could compete with the opposition to the occupations in terms of ad purchasing. As shown in a leaked letter, lobbying groups are willing to spend far more money than we can raise in ads, thus attempting to compete with them is directly is ineffective. A lot of people inside of the movement are opposed to the idea of spending money for an ad buy, thus the occupations risk a split if they spend significant money for ad time.

Proposing model bills to politicians
Description: It is possible that the occupiers could write their own legislation to present to a sympathetic politician for sponsorship in the legislature. Groups such as ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce have been utilizing this method of pushing public policy for years; while the occupiers don’t have the level of money that these groups do, a high enough level of human support can push politicians to act on suggested legislation (such as in the civil rights struggle).
Positive: There is no more direct method of affecting public policy than to write the actual laws which are passed by the legislature. If the bills are kept, virtually un-amended, the ideals of the occupation could be formed into law (For the closest example to this, look at the recent decision in CA which stated that corporations are not people in a non-binding resolution).
Negative: Many occupiers have little faith in the current political system. It is unlikely that any “occupy” proposed bills and amendments could pass the currently gridlocked legislature.

Passing model legislation through the general assembly
Description: The occupations could use their “General Assembly” process to create and pass legislation as a statement of values and demands. By creating and “passing” sample legislation, the occupations could both propose reforms to politicians and at the same time make their views on issues known. If a concrete statement of values in the form of a sample law passes out of the occupation, it directly combats the major criticism of the occupations; that they are unfocused, ill-informed, and have no central values.
Positive: This tactic is without cost or risk to the occupiers; it is an effective way of demonstrating a set of values/goals for the occupiers (likely a populist set of values that benefits the middle class) and is an exercise in pure democracy. By “passing” legislature as a occupy community, the occupiers can live the values of pure democracy that they would prefer the country to adopt.
Negative: Getting consensus on a proposed bill would be very difficult; it would also require people with strong writing skills and knowledge of civics to create a realistic bill for people to support. With the decentralized nature of the occupations, any sample legislation would need to be highly specific to the location and not infringing upon the right of the other occupiers.

Letter writing campaigns
Description: Writing letters to political representatives is a well-established method of pushing a political agenda.
Positive: Letter writing campaigns appeal to the older demographics in the 99% movement, thus such a campaign would allow those uncomfortable with social media to participate in the movement. The only costs of a letter writing campaign are those of writing materials, postage, and time.
Negative: There is a high level of time investment and writing skills required for this to be effective. It is entirely possible that big money would eclipse any letter writing campaign; money has replaced constituent voices in many politicians’ decisions while they are in office.


Running educational seminars
Description: Educational seminars such as the FSU or the Zinn lecture series can be used to raise awareness for issues that matter to the occupiers. While not a direct protest method, increasing awareness on vital issues can increase support to the occupation, just as long as the occupiers have a defined solution to the discussed problems.
Positive: Teaching people about the issues vital to our country has a long term effect on their views. Those who are better informed on the issues are more likely to be able to act in their own self-interest and thus support the 99% over the 1%.
Negative: Informing small (relatively) groups of people on issues has little direct effect on elections or policy. People self-select themselves when they attend the seminars, thus those who are unwilling to show initiative are not affected by this tactic.

Distributing informational pamphlets
Description: Written articles, graphs, and informational diagrams can be mass printed and handed out during marches and around occupations. These pamphlets would inform readers of issues facing the USA as well as the goals/ideals of the occupations.
Positives: Spreading information on the issues benefits the occupations, as many situations facing the average citizen are unfair but not well known; consider the bank bailout and the shadow bailout. There is little risk of arrest from handing out pamphlets on the street and there is little risk that the information distributed would harm the occupations.
Negatives: Writing and distributing informational pamphlets is a time intensive process that requires dedication. This tactic is not likely to be effective until a central series of demands or complaints is decided upon within the occupy movement because without consensus there would be no central narrative to the information handed out.

Political Actions

Voter Registration
Description: The occupations could hold large scale voter registration drives at their events so as to ensure that everybody who supports the ideals of the occupation votes. As those who are registered have self-selected themselves to attend the occupy events, they would likely support the values of the occupation when voting.
Positives: Voter registration is sorely needed due to recent restrictions on voting (Voter registration laws) and apathy of the population; by supplying the registration to the people, a more democratic model of governance can be promoted. Politicians are dependent upon votes, thus a large uptick in voter registration is an effective way of swaying politicians to listen to the people.
Negatives: Many people in the occupy movement don’t support the current political system, thus they would not likely support the widespread enrolment of people into a system that they believe fundamentally broken. Depending upon the location, voter registration laws can open the groups doing the registration to civil liability (See: Florida). 

Running an “occupy” candidate
Description: Many third parties and independent candidates have run for office over the years, thus one potential tactic that the occupations can utilize is to select, fund, and support a candidate/candidates to run in any number of elections. If the person who is running as the “occupy” candidate gets elected, it puts a foot in the door for the occupiers to effect policy from within the system. 
Positive: This tactic could lead to political legitimacy for the occupations in our current system; look at what the Tea Party did with the Republicans (regardless of your views on their beliefs), running a large number of candidates in the 2010 election. By using a similar model, the occupations could potentially gain power inside of the system which could then be used to push an agenda.
Negative: Many within the occupations don’t believe that the current system is salvageable and thus resist becoming involved in it; this belief is strong enough in some that it could potentially split the movement. With the increase in money in politics there is a real likelihood that the corporate entities that the occupiers protest could drown the campaigns in money, thus reducing the chances of this tactic being possible to implement.

Endorsing candidates
Description: By endorsing a candidate, the occupations could promote certain politicians who are ideologically in line with the occupiers. This tactic assumes that there is a defined set of beliefs for the occupiers and that there are politicians who hold the same views.
Positive: By simply endorsing friendly candidates, the occupiers gain many of the advantages of running their own candidate with a decreased monetary and time based burden. It is easier to support existing candidates within the two-party system than to create a third party to compete with both of the entrenched parties.
Negative: There is little assurance that any politician would keep their promises to the occupiers once they entered office. As with running an “occupy” candidate, this threatens movement cohesion by splitting those who believe in reform from those who believe in a reset.

Operating as a PAC for issue promotion
Description: Rather than endorsing a specific candidate, there is potential that the occupations could engage in pure issue advocacy.
Positive: By pushing an idea, not a person, issue advocacy is far more flexible and adaptable than supporting a specific candidate. Acting as issue advocates, the occupiers could affect policy indirectly and without losing internal cohesion; the occupation would not be directly buying into the political system, rather supporting an ideology, thus those who don’t wish to perpetuate the current political system and those who wish for reform could work without conflict.
Negative: By removing themselves from involving themselves with politicians, the occupiers reduce the direct effect on individual electoral races.

Description: Citizen petitions to show support for ideals can be drafted, distributed and given to politicians. The occupations could, once they decide upon central issues, draft petitions in support of the values of the occupations and gather large levels of support. While the petitions are non-binding, they can be used to compel politicians to act in conformity with them out of fear of losing their next election (See: Wisconsin recalls)
Positives: This tactic is an effective way to show support for a cause while at the same time informing people to the beliefs of the occupations. This tactic is low risk and low cost, but very labor intensive.
Negatives: This tactic requires consensus among the occupiers as to beliefs and proposed solutions to problems in the country. If those who believe the system to be completely corrupt are correct, petitions are meaningless because money has taken power over politics.

Description: Pledges can be drafted, passed through the general assembly and presented to politicians as a sign of solidarity with the occupations; the clear exchange would be the support of the occupations in exchange for the politician’s commitment to act a certain way when in office.
Positives: Politicians are always looking for support from groups, thus giving pledges for politicians to sign would allow the occupiers a foothold in the USA political process. Groups such as the Tea Party (I hate the comparison, but it is apt) have massive power over politicians due to pledges, demonstrating the potential for the occupations to gain similar power.
Negatives: Many citizens consider political pledges to be contrary to a democratic process and thus this tactic would be very controversial within the occupy movement. By pledging allegiance to a group other than the citizens of the USA, there is a conflict of interest that can potentially have dire consequences (Case in point: Grover Norquist). There is no enforcement mechanism preventing the politician from reneging upon receiving support from the occupations.


Hunger Strikes – Joshua Eaton
Description: One potential tactic for the occupiers would be to institute a mass hunger strike; such a strike would draw attention and demonstrate dedication to the cause.  
Positive: Hunger strikes, whether political or social have been shown to draw the attention of the public; as a hunger strike is self-destructive rather than aggressive, others are unlikely to be irritated or obstructed by the tactic (in comparison to marches, which obstruct traffic).
Negative: Hunger strikes are dangerous and there are those who are simply unable to participate due to health issues. While a hunger strike sends a message, those in power may simply not care enough for it to be a valid tactic (The bankers drank champagne from the balconies of New York and taunted the protesters.)

Banner drops – Joshua Eaton
Description: Covering the sides of buildings with roll-down banners dropped from the roofs is a visible and large scale tactic that can be used in leu of smaller posters. A single large poster, dropped down the side of a building could potentially reach thousands of people directly and more if the media covers it.
Positive: This tactic is extremely visible and would likely draw large amounts of attention; look at the 99% projection on the Verizon building as a model of what the media/public response could look like. The banner would not cause damage to any building nor would it require significant cleanup.
Negative: Unless the building owners were to give permission to the occupiers (an unlikely possibility), the banner would be illegal; those setting it up would be arrested for trespassing and potentially other, more serious, crimes such as breaking and entering. A banner that could be dropped down the side of a building is expensive and would be lost quickly to the police or the building owners.