DISCLAIMER

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Amazing poster from DREGStudios

A small piece of good news


I love the sentiments demonstrated by the article shown here and hope that it will spread to other people who are being evicted. I believe that some leeway should be shown to those who were harmed by this collapse as it was clearly not there fault.

I would suggest that police and local governments take several clear and simple steps to add decency back into the housing crisis
  1. Unless the bank has the physical document of the mortgage, they cannot repossess the house; this is simply a matter of the law that has been overlooked with the rise of robo-signing. 
  2. As an act of civil disobedience, simply refuse to evict certain demographics from their houses for defaulting on their mortgages; this is not to give them back ownership of their home, but rather to allow them to stay inside during the winter
    1. Do not evict the elderly or disabled who have no place to go.
    2. Do not evict those with small children, as these children will be severely affected by homelessness.
    3. Do not evict returning service members as they deserve better after fighting for our country. 
  3. If you must evict somebody of compromised health, age, or ability, direct them to the nearest shelter or support group so that they can receive prompt and adequate assistance with their situation 
Article from ThinkProgress.com

Movers And Sheriff’s Deputies Refuse Bank’s Order To Evict 103-Year-Old Atlanta Woman

103-year-old Vita Lee. (Photo credit: WSB TV)
Yesterday, a Deutsche Bank branch in Atlanta had requested the eviction of Vita Lee, a 103-year-old Atlanta woman, and her 83-year-old daughter. Both were terrified of being removed from their home of 53 years and had no idea where they’d go next.
But when the movers hired by the bank and police were dispatched to evict the two women, they had a change of heart. In a huge victory for the 99 Percent, the movers “took one look at” Lee and decided not to go through with it. Watch WSB TV’s Channel 2′s video report about the incident:
The stress of the possible eviction made Lee’s daughter ill; she was rushed to the hospital the same day. Lee had one message for Deutsche Bank: “Please don’t come in and disturb me no more. When I’m gone you all can come back and do whatever they want to.”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Occupy Wall St. Versus Wall Street: A Cost Comparison


By Josh Sager

One common theme among those who criticize the “Occupy” movement is to point out the monetary costs of the occupations to the public. It is undeniable that the protest camps that have sprung up across the country require a police presence as well as several other accommodations by the local governments; these costs are eventually passed to the public in the form of taxes, fines, and other charges.

According to a recent study, published in the Associated Press, the total cost of the response to occupations nationwide is around $13 million. A vast majority of the costs incurred by the occupied cities was paid to police officers, who have been receiving overtime to watch the “Occupy” camps. Cities where there have been significant police actions against the protest camps account for large amounts of the $13 million total, due to the massive police presence necessary for the actions. In addition to funding the police, money has been spent to clean the areas around the occupation which have been used far more than usual (bathrooms, parks, etc.). Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the responses of the police to the protests, the fact that significant amounts of city funds have been allocated to deal with the protests.

It is undeniable that the occupations around the country are expensive for cities, but how do these costs compare with the costs of the actions of the other occupants of Wall Street: The bankers and stock brokers. According to the estimates of the IMF [International Monetary Fund], the recent banking collapse and subsequent recession have cost the world economy approximately $4.1 trillion dollars. A toxic mixture of deregulation and greed created the perfect environment for unscrupulous bankers to make gigantic profits at the expense of society as a whole.

The occupiers have been extremely vocal about the need to regulate banking and market speculation so as to prevent a future crash. When you compare the costs incurred from the actions of the two residents of Wall Street, the occupiers and the bankers, it gives necessary perspective as to the costs of the occupations. Would you rather have to pay $13 million now, to allow protesters to work towards economic change, or pay another $4.1 trillion later, when the banking system collapses due to a lack of reform? The recent unscrupulous actions of bankers have cost society approximately 315,385 times more than the actions of those who have stood up to protest the banks; in face of the numbers, who truly deserves the ire of the population at large for wasting society’s resources?

Even if one agrees with the ideals of the protests or simply believes that they have the right to protest, the fact remains that millions of dollars have been spent containing and regulating the protests. In order to retain a balanced budget, as is mandated by most cities, revenue must be increased in some way to offset the costs of police overtime. One possible method of funding the costs of the reaction to the “Occupy” protests is through a federal block grant funded by a slight reduction in some of the Bush tax cuts: As calculated by the think tank AmericanProgress.org, the Bush tax cut for millionaires reduces tax revenue by approximately $120 million per day ($5 million dollars per hour); this means that the total costs of the police reaction to the occupation could be recouped by cancelling 156 minutes of the Bush tax cuts received by millionaires.

It makes no logical sense for people to point out the costs of the occupations when there are far more expensive issues for them to focus upon. When compared to the problem that they are protesting, the occupations cost an insignificant amount to society. Everybody who comments on the costs of the occupations in the future should simply consider that the same amount of money is lost every two and a half hours that the Bush tax cuts are extended for millionaires.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Political speech < Consumer Camping?

By Josh Sager
Urban camping is not an unusual occurrence, but with the rise of the occupations, it has become a fact of life in some cities. Shown below are two photos, one of a pre-movie premiere (Twilight: Breaking Dawn) camp and one of an "Occupy" encampment (Occupy Boston).



 Picture of Occupy Boston Encampment

Image
Picture of Twilight movie premiere camp (CBS News)

As you can see from the above photos, both camps are very similar in terms of location, structure, and spacing. In both camps, there are tents and makeshift structures placed in an empty lot, which are intended to allow a small group of occupiers to live in relative comfort until their goal is met; the primary differences between the two camps lies in their purpose, goals, and how they have been reacted to. 

Throughout the country, "Occupy" encampments have encountered serious interference from local governments, zoning boards and police forces; the justification of this interference is commonly health concerns over the urban camp sites. Oakland and New York police forces have raided or even attempted to shut down the occupy sites in their jurisdictions over "health and safety" concerns. 

While it is true that any urban camping site has numerous issues surrounding it in the fields of health and cleanliness, there are numerous examples of raids on "Occupy" sites, but I have yet to find any raids on other urban camps, such as movie premieres or sale lines outside of stores. In both camp types there is a significant need to deal with personal hygiene and campsite sanitation, but as this issue is present in both camps it would stand to reason that if one is deemed appropriate, then the other should also pass muster. 

At both the occupations and other urban camps in wintertime, there is a need for insulated tents, bedrolls, and jackets so that the people camping remain safe during adverse weather. At several occupy locations, such as Occupy Boston, the police have prevented campers from bringing in cold weather gear, citing fire safety and zoning as the rationale. How is it safe for campers in movie premiere lines to have winter gear, but unsafe for "Occupy" campers to have the same gear in a similar situation? Either the authorities are being negligent in allowing campers to have dangerous gear at the movie camp, or are using a false justification to prevent the "Occupy" protesters from being safe and comfortable.

If the differences between the reactions to the occupations and the other "urban campsites" is not in the physical presence, then it must be in another characteristic of the camps. The "Occupy" camps are intended to promote a political message and protest issues present in society, while the other camps are based around the increased consumption of goods. The constitution of the USA guarantees the "right right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances", while it mentions nothing about the right to wait outside of a business in order to receive a service or good faster; I am not saying that the shoppers don't have a right to wait in line for days rather than risk receiving their goods a little later but, unlike the occupiers, their actions are not constitutionally protected.

If it is truly unsafe for people to camp on the streets for a protest, then it must be unsafe for those who are camping to receive a commercial good; unless the police are willing to argue that commerce and quick consumption are more important than a constitutionally protected political protest, they must either stop all urban camping or stop breaking up the occupations.

A Plea to the Police from an Occupier

By Josh Sager

At the outset of this article, let me make two things abundantly clear:
1. YOU are members of the 99% who have been harmed like the rest of us by the recent excesses in Washington and the board rooms.
2. A majority of the police officers at the occupations are good people who are simply trying to keep the peace and follow orders; these officers should not be tarred with the same brush as those who have brutalized the protesters.

Police officers, like teachers and firefighters, are public sector workers vital to the safety and prosperity of any society. You are here to protect the public from the more violent and antisocial of our society; a job which unfortunately is stressful, underpaid and often dangerous. You chose to be a police officer out of a desire to “protect and serve” the members of society, only asking to be paid a fair wage for your hard work.

Unfortunately, in recent months police officers, such as yourselves, have been used against the occupy protesters and with us, your own interests. The occupations are fighting for the rights of the 99%, which includes you, to have a basic standard of living and job security. We support unions, public sector workers, and the social safety net, creating a nexus of issues that we likely agree upon with you. Do you support your right to unionize? Do you want to have your salary and benefits protected in the face of austerity cuts? Do you want social security and Medicare to be there for you when you retire? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you have common ground with us. Neither the occupiers nor the police gain anything from conflict between our groups, rather we would both be stronger if we stood unified.

Austerity cuts are targeted upon the middle class because that is where the easy money is; unlike the poor, we have money that can be taken but unlike the rich, we cannot buy lobbyists. Your situation as public sector workers is particularly precipitous due to the recent attacks on public sector unions, salaries and benefits. I fear that, unless people stand up and protest, the public sector will continue to decline: You, like teachers, will be expected to do more with fewer resources, and accept less in compensation for your hard work. Look no further than the recent action of the state legislatures in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Florida to see the beginnings of the trend I have outlined. I, as many other protesters, think that it is unfair that some of the hardest working and most vital workers in society will suffer as the rich continue to rake in the profits.

While there have been numerous cases of police overreaction and brutality against the occupations, we can all agree that this has been due to a small number of bad people. Pepper spraying or beating peaceful protesters (Oakland, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, etc.) should not be tolerated regardless of the protest’s ideology because that protester may one day be you or your child off at college. Violence by the protesters should not be tolerated either, and we will publicly repudiate any violence perpetrated by our side; I hope that the police would be willing to do the same.

I do not ask for you to pick up signs and join us, although you would find yourselves welcome and appreciated, but I do ask you to consider the following 5 things:

1. Please, regardless of what you are ordered, use your own judgment as to the level of force that is necessary to keep yourselves safe and upholding the law. Follow the good example of the numerous police officers who have arrested the protesters that break the law with minimum force. Police/protester violence only serves to causes physical injury to one side and public image injury to the other. 
2. Regardless of your beliefs on WHAT we are saying and doing, do we not have the right to protest our government under the first amendment?
3. Consider which political group is more in line with your interests: The occupations or the 1% and the politicians who they have bought?
4. By suppressing the protests because of “orders”, who are the police “protecting and serving”: The citizens who you interact with every day, or a small cabal of elites who have gained control of our political processes. 
5. Before you act violently against these protests, think about what people will say in several decades. Consider the past protest movements that have been violently suppressed by the police and imagine yourself to be one of those police; 40 years later, would you rather be one of the police known for standing against brutality, or one of the police officers using the batons?

I hope people see the irony of this sign at a POLICE BRUTALITY MARCH at Occupy Boston

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Path of Occupation

By Joshua Sager

Mahatma Gandhi observed a sequence of events at the time of his non-violent protest movement that seem to be occurring with the occupations. Gandhi used nonviolent marches and hunger strikes in order to achieve social/political change in India. The entire purpose of a march is to have a noticeable and physical sign of support in order to express a point of view; an occupation is simply an extension of this tactic over a longer period of time. The occupations are marches in slow motion, where people live in symbolic locations in order to express a point rather than using short term marches. Due to the similarities between the occupiers’ nonviolent tactics and Gandhi’s, the sequence of responses to the occupations parallels that of what Gandhi observed during his movement. - “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”

“First they ignore you…”
When the Occupy movement was in its infancy, the mainstream media simply didn’t cover it. Regardless of the reason for the lack of coverage, vast portions of the media either briefly mentioned the occupations as a curiosity or completely ignored them. National media only began significant coverage of the occupations when arrests and police violence on Wall Street reached a level that was impossible to ignore. At this point, the sheer size, novelty and influence of the “Occupy” movement has largely overcome the media block, receiving coverage in most major media outlets on a regular basis.

“…then they laugh at you…”
One only needs to look at the comments of media and political figures in order to see the attempts to write the occupations off as a joke. Accusing the occupiers of being “nutty” (Karl Rove), a group of hippies (Rush Limbaugh), dirty and unwashed (Newt Gingrich) or young suburban anarchists (FOX News) are just a few of the attacks on the legitimacy of the occupations as a serious movement. The occupations are diverse, not composed entirely of hippies, anarchists, or young suburbanites; I would also point out that these same people didn’t refer to the Tea Partiers as nuts when the wear colonial costumes. In addition to the character attacks on the occupiers, numerous news sources have stated that nobody knows what the occupiers want; a statement that is disingenuous. While a set of demands has yet to be given to the public, the occupiers have expressed clear grievances with corruption, and inequality inside of our government.

By laughing at the occupiers, politicians such as Representative Peter King (R-NY) - who called occupiers “losers” - hope to mitigate the impact of the movement’s message. With the “Occupy movement”, it is far easier to attack the messenger then the message. The ideas of fair taxation, peace, and democracy of the people rather than the rich are not easy ideas to fight, as they have vast bases of support. If those who want to fight the occupier’s message are to succeed, it can only be through discrediting the occupiers, rather than arguing in favor of war, corporate monarchy, and protecting the rich.

“…then they fight you…”
The next type of opposition predicted by Gandhi is aggression. The occupations have reached the point where they have media exposure and, if public opinion polls are to be believed, people are beginning to support them. Fox News’s own opinion poll concluded that just under 70% of their respondents support the protester’ views, an amazing number considering the source. One can also look at the sheer numbers of people showing up to “Occupy” rallies across the country to gauge the increases in support for the protests. over 37,000 people showed up for the recent day of action in NYC, a precipitous rise in support from the earlier protests.

Occupations in cities across the country have experienced violent police actions intended to break them up. While nobody has been killed, tear gas, batons, and even crowd control grenades have caused severe injuries to occupiers while they are expressing their first amendment rights. Violent opposition to the occupiers, coupled with their ardent posture of non-violent resistance, has only led to increased media exposure and support for the occupations. As with past protests, violence against the protesters only serves to motivate them further and galvanize others. 

“…then you win.”
While Boston’s occupiers have yet to make any concrete demands, the political narrative has begun to change. Politicians have begun to talk about income inequality, fairness of taxation, and political corruption rather than just budget cutting. While the change in topics is only a small start, it is an important one, and one that is necessary for actual change when going into the 2012 elections. For real change to happen, the politicians must first be focused upon the issue

Gandhi’s words predict that if only they stay the course, the occupations will achieve the change that they desire; proving yet again that nonviolent resistance can change not only the hearts and minds of the people, but the government itself.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy USA: Worst Police Brutality Cases

Over the past two months, the Occupations across the country have faced an extreme response by the police relative the threat they represent. Police have attacked the occupations as though they were domestic terrorists; utilizing LRAD sound cannons, flashbang/concussion grenades, nonlethal chemical weapons, rubber bullets, beanbag cannons, and simple batons in order to break up peaceful protests.

Don't get me wrong, there are times and places where such actions are justifiable (Look at the recent Penn State riot). Violent protests are a danger to the public welfare and might very well require physical force to suppress, but nonviolent protests should not encounter such a push back. The "Occupy" movement is entirely peaceful, utilizing a type of long term sit in (Essentially a "Live In") and marches in order to make their point. There is minimal graffiti, and no rioting associated with the occupations, but rather a concern for the public safety. At the Occupy Boston site, we have voted to not only attempt to minimize the negative effects of our occupation on our neighbors, but to re-sod the area where we live after we finish using it (the grass has been destroyed by the tents) and to act as an impromptu homeless shelter (we provide clothes, food and shelter to all who come). Police cite violence and crime in the camp, which is arguably true because we do have occasional problems; we have a zero tolerance policy for violence, drugs, and alcohol, enforced by removal from camp. The Occupations are not a threat to the public, nor are they guilty of anything other than challenging the rich, a crime that is apparently punishable by violence and incarceration.

I was under the impression that we are living in America, a country where we have constitutionally protected rights, not a repressive police state. The entire purpose of the first amendment is that the government may not always like what the citizens are saying, but they must not attempt to prevent the citizen from speaking. From a purely rhetorical standpoint, have we not sanctioned other governments for suppressing speech in similar ways in the recent future (Ex. China, Iran, Libya, Egypt, etc..)?

I am personally biased towards the Occupations due to my heavy involvement with the Boston occupation, so look at these videos and come to your own conclusions: Excessive force, or justifiable riot control.

 
This video is possibly the most egregious of a long series of egregious police brutality videos; in it, Kayvan Sabeghi, an Iraq war veteran is beaten by the police; to add insult to injury, Sabeghi was charged with resisting arrest. The police beat Sabeghi so badly that his spleen ruptures and then he is refused medical attention for hours in jail. A ruptured spleen only occurs when EXTREME force is exerted on the organ and is unbelievably painful. I seriously doubt that the police failed to notice that Sabeghi was in agony and unable to walk while incustody, thus the only conclusion is that they didn't care. Sabeghi was very close to the police before the incident, but he was not obstructing them, merely walking in step with them; his actions don't even get to the standard of obstructing traffic, never mind interfering with police business. When the officer begins to beat Sabeghi, he doesn't simply let him run, but follows him and continues the assault. The actions of the police officer go so far beyond misconduct that they enter the realm of criminal assault. Police officers are not allowed to indiscriminately beat protesters until they suffer severe injury (never mind chasing after and beating a man fleeing for his life).



In this video, notice how the police officer not only hits the legal observer (designated by the green cap) with the scooter, but parks it ON his leg. Once the scooter is parked on the guy's leg, the officer calmly walks away until he manages to kick the scooter over. After the observer manages to dislodge the scooter, the police beat him with batons until he loses consciousness and then arrest him, bringing him to the hospital in cuffs; the charges are resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. I don't even think that I need to comment on how wrong this is and if you require explanation as to why this is wrong, please seek professional help.

This video was shot on the quad at the University of California Davis. The protesters were engaging in a sit in, when they received a three hour warning that they would need to disperse. The important factors in this situation are that the protesters are UC Davis students, in their own quad and there was no allegation of violence or property damage by the police. This video was shot when the order to disperse time limit was up. Clearly, the police officer doing the spraying is enjoying himself (look at the flourish of the can before he starts spraying), and none of the police officers consider the students a threat. The police officers turn their backs upon the students in numerous occasions, not something that you would do if you consider the person threatening enough to pepper spray.

This video is of the famous Scott Olson shooting in Oakland, Ca. The man on the ground is Olsen after he was hit in the face by a tear gas canister. Firing a gas canister, similar to a filled tin can, directly at a crowd is very dangerous as it can break bones and damage soft tissue. Olsen was shot directly in the face and when you consider his location with that of the police line, the police must have been firing directly at him. While the shooting of Olsen could have been accidental, what comes after was clearly not. Notice how the police observe Olsen laying on the ground, not helping, while waiting for the protesters to come back to help. Once the protesters come back to drag Olsen to safety and medical attention, the police throw a flash bang directly into the group. How were the concerned protesters a threat while they were tending to their fallen friend? I would like to point out the similarities between this strategy and that of terrorists worldwide: A common terrorist tactic is to detonate a smaller explosive first, then wait for the first responders to arrive before detonating a larger blast.

Who hasn't seen this video, shot on Wall street, of women being corralled and pepper sprayed? The women are clearly boxed in and not a threat to anybody, but Anthony Bologna still comes by and assaults them with pepper spray. Bologna lost ten vacation days and received a transfer to Staten Island (closer to his home), where he was promoted to a special projects coordinator(with a raise). Sadly, the only lingering consequences of his reprehensible actions is the social stigma he will receive as being know as "That guy who pepper sprayed those women" and the grief that Anonymous can throw his way.



This video was taken on the college campus of Berkeley. The police actions can be broken down into two important parts: the crowd action and the arrest action. The "crowd control" methods utilized by the police in this situation are to crowd the students into a cluster and jab them with batons. The students are not resisting arrest, nor are they able to move away. The only purpose of this action is to inflict pain on the protesters while preventing them from escaping; a goal that is wholly outside of law enforcement's charter in this country (although perfectly fine in North Korea). Police can use force like this in riots, but this is clearly not a riot. Once several people are arrested, the police assault those who they have in custody. Look at the video at 1:20, and you will clearly see a cuffed and held protester being beaten by a police officer for no apparent reason. I don't care what you are protesting or where, the tactics shown by the police in this video are needlessly aggressive and sadistic.


While this video does not contain the same level of violence contained in the rest, it is arguably one of the most disturbing. What makes this video disturbing is a combination of two factors: First, the police shoot a rubber bullet at an unarmed man who is at the time asking them whether he is far enough from them for them to be comfortable. Police are simply not allowed to shoot at people who are not a threat; that is both against police procedure and illegal. Secondly, the police shot at a man who was filming them and very well could have been a member of the press. Unfortunately, police have recently begun to target journalist intentionally so as to prevent them from covering the raids on the occupations. Several dozen press agents have been either assaulted or arrested at "Occupy" sites, even while they are holding their credentials. I see this event as  just part of the pattern of press suppression that is intended to silence the coverage of the response to the occupations. HOW CAN WE TOLERATE THIS PRESS SUPPRESSION IN AMERICA WHEN WE HAVE FOUGHT WARS TO "PROMOTE FREEDOM" ABROAD?

Dishonorable Mentions
"She was coming right at us!" (Homage to South Park)
Baghdad or Oakland?

I would like to conclude with a question and a statement: 

What the hell has happened in this country, where corporations are considered people and given the right to speak, while people are treated without humanity while their right to speak is taken away?

I don't care whether or not you support the Occupations, these actions cannot be tolerated by anybody; I a pro-choice but if pro-life activists were attacked like this at their protests, I would defend them; I think that the Tea Partiers are ignorant, bigoted and wrong but if their rallies were broken up with such force, I would see it as the same affront to freedom that I see with the occupiers. Freedoms must be universal, or someday you will find yourself under the boot of a government that disagrees with you and is willing to silence you with violence.

Josh Sager -- The Sarcastic Liberal  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Progressive Ideals on the Rise


By Joshua Sager

The growing occupations all across the USA and the results of the recent state elections both point to one common phenomenon: Progressive ideas seem to be gathering momentum independent of the major political parties. As we have not had a progressive political party in the past several decades, many people may need a description of progressive ideals:


Major Progressive Ideals:
  1. Taxation rates are highly dependent upon wealth; the rich pay a higher percentage of their income while the poor pay less.
  2. Maintaining a strong social safety net.
  3. Increased regulations on banking and industry in order to protect the consumer and public good.
  4. Focusing upon protecting the rights of the minority, whether the minority is a race, religion, or class.
  5. Decreased aggressive military spending and increased domestic investment.


As you can probably see, the "left wing" Democrats don't currently even vaguely resemble a progressive party; they, as a group, are willing to cut the taxes of the rich while shredding the social safety net of the poor and continuing the Bush era attacks on civil rights.

Keep in mind, I in no way consider the Republicans superior to the Democrats in terms of policy. Voting Democratic is like jumping into a swimming pool without looking to see if there is water while voting Republican is knowingly diving into an empty pool; there is always a chance that the Democrat won't hurt you but for the Republicans it is only a matter of how badly you will get hurt. Over the past several decades, the political discourse has moved from a normal Progressive/Regressive political spectrum into one where we have a center right Democratic Party and a psychotic Republican Party. The current Democratic party holds the views of the past (70s and 80s) Republicans, while the Republicans are so far right as to be illegitimate. The rightward shifting of the major political parties makes the emergence of a progressive movement even more amazing.

Political polls often run into an interesting divide between party affiliation and policy positions. Americans as a people have been shown to support progressive policy over regressive policy 60% to 40%. Unfortunately, the individual policy positions are eclipsed by the heuristics of party affiliation and the marketing incompetence of the Democrats. The marketing and funding of the right wing has resulted in far more right-wing policy than should normally be the case.

Many people identify with the Republican Party but support progressive ideas when asked about policy due to the amazing messaging of the Republican Party. Progressives must default to supporting the Democrats due to the terrible consequences of the Republicans getting into power (8 years of Bush, case in point), thus the Democrats are validated even though they continue to stray ever rightward. The legislature lives in a right leaning bubble (Washington Bubble) and votes in ways that do not truly represent the views of their electorate. I am beginning to hope that the American people are waking up to the political spectrum shift and the pendulum will soon shift.

The Occupy movement is simply the tip of the iceberg in the discontent with the current right wing politics. People are angry that the rich get ever richer and the poor starve; all while the politicians that should be fixing the problems are getting bought by the corporations so that they will perpetuate the problems. Thousands of people are living in camps to protest the current politics. The views that the occupiers have shown are, in the most part, progressive and the occupiers may be motivated enough to make a difference. We have swung so far to the right that all but the extremists are becoming uncomfortable.

I am of the opinion that politics is like many things in nature: There is a balance that sometimes gets disrupted and needs a catastrophe to swing back to neutral. The economic crash and the Republican attacks on the poor created a catastrophe which, fortunately, may have opened the eyes of the public. The recent state elections demonstrated that extreme laws such as those that attack unions, "personhood" amendments, and voter disenfranchisement will no longer be tolerated. The extreme right is very well funded, but they have yet to translate money into votes (not that they wouldn't if they could), thus they may have overreached. 

Republicans: You forced the progressives aside and threw yourselves off a cliff. The Democrats are only barely holding on behind you and can still be saved. Now, the people can either throw themselves off the cliff after you or pull the Democrats back from the edge and to the left. You have become the party of the insane, the angry and the ignorant; so extreme that the majority of the country cannot stomach you. 

Democrats: You have one chance. Pull yourselves back from the edge, run to the left and help the people. You have a massive groundswell of support and could rout the right wing if you truly became progressives rather than the least of all evils. Progressive policy works to protect the poor/middle class and will improve the lives of the people; improvements that you can take credit for if you need a personal motivation to do the right thing

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy Boston Issue Survey Results


By Joshua Sager
Throughout the last few weeks, I have been disseminating an online issue survey across all Occupy Boston email lists, websites, feeds and social media. Over 260 people have replied to my survey, giving me a sample of Occupier' views on over 60 issues, from which to draw conclusions. Before you read the results, keep these four points in mind:
  1. I understand that not everybody took the survey, but I took a large sample size from as diverse a group as I could in order to achieve a representative sample. I wrote, administered, and analyzed the survey on my own, thus it is limited by the resources/time available to me.
  2. These results are only speaking as to the aggregate views of the occupation on an issue by issue basis; they are not intended to be used as a definitive guide for deciding upon the demands of our group.
  3. The results are simply a tool intended to help all working groups with their work (EX. ideas/spp can use them to guess which proposals will pass the GA before they bring them up. FSU can use the results in order to target lessons to points of interest, etc...)
  4. All answers are rough due to the huge size of the 99% as well as the several biases inherent in all surveys. I tried to minimize bias and maximize exposure, but there will always be some error in this type of survey.
My analysis of the survey results included three levels: Support Intensity, Block Override Potential, and Average Support.

In the first level of analysis for my survey results, I found the ratio of respondents that support any single idea to those who don't support it. I divided the answers into three brackets: low, Middle, and high. The low bracket (score of 0-3) is composed of the people who would not support the proposal in any way and would likely be difficult to persuade otherwise. The middle bracket (score of 4-6) is composed of the people who are on the fence and could possible be swayed to the one side or the other. The high bracket (score of 7+) is composed of the people who will support the proposal no matter what. By finding the ratio between those who would support a proposal and those who wouldn't, I can estimate the aggregate levels of support for every included issue. Any issue that has a high ratio of support to oppose is largely uncontroversial and identifiable as a common ideal for the protesters.

The second level of analysis is intended to determine whether the answer to a survey question could pass the general assembly if there were a block enforced. In our process, a block is the most extreme opposition to a proposal in the GA [General Assembly]. If a block is imposed, there is a 90% required consensus in order to push the blocked proposal through the GA. In order to determine whether a measure would push past a block, I calculated the ratio between the frequency of the high bracket of support and the frequency of the block score. Any ratio larger than 9 indicates that the measure could push past a block (90%), but due to the margin of error in my study, I consider any ratio under 15 to have potential for blocking.

The third level of analysis for my survey is intended to determine the  average level of support for every issue. I use a simply arithmetic mean calculation to determine the average level of support and apply the low/medium/high support brackets. An average support of over 7 indicates a high average support for an issue while an average of under 4 indicates low levels of support.


All survey results are open source and are available to be used by any Occupy Boston working group, writer, or individual member; I only ask that you do not alter or misrepresent my survey in order to change the results or to portray it as the official voice of the occupation.

Occupy Boston Issues Survey

NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL OR BINDING SURVEY. I AM DOING THIS AS AN INDIVIDUAL TO PRESENT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY SO THAT THERE CAN BE A MORE REFINED DISCUSSION ON OUR EVENTUAL GOALS AND PRINCIPLES. As we have yet to decide upon a set mission statement or series of guiding principles, I am sending this survey out in order to gauge the views of the Occupy Boston protesters. I have attempted to represent every major issue that I have encountered while talking with the other Occupy Boston protesters over the past ten days and put them into a rating system. Please use the below form to make your opinions on the issues known so that I can bring this to the GA in the future. If you know anybody who is unable to attend the protests, please send this to them because odds are, they are part of the 99% as well and deserve to have their voices heard. Thanks, Joshua Sager Contacts for suggestions: jsager99@gmail.com

Election and Interest Reform


Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Systemic Political Reform


No










Yes


  •  

Social Safety Net


Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Taxes


Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Banking and Federal Reserve Policy


Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Debt


Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Worker's Rights


Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

War and International Aid


Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

No interventionism










Large amounts of Interventionalism

No Aid










Large amounts of Aid

No










Yes

Trade


Not At All










Totally

Not At All










Totally

Not At All










Totally

Block










Total support

Privatization and Health Policy


No










Yes

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Law and Imigration


Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Block










Most important Issue

Environmental


Block










Most important Issue