Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is ‘Occupy Wall Street’ a Political Movement or a Circus? The answer is…Yes.

When penning the lead for this blog post, I was torn between two options:

Option 1 – For a good time, drop acid and run around Liberty Plaza naked, armed with a bongo drum and a dime bag, and see how many hugs you can collect.

Option 2 – An enthusiastic liberal response to the Tea Part has finally begun; born in lower Manhattan, its message is spreading across America like an air-born pandemic.

I really don’t know which lead to go with…and therein lies the problem. Having spent some time down in Liberty Plaza today, I am not sure whether to celebrate the ‘occupation’s’ many virtues or chastise its many flaws.

So I’ll attempt to do both. 

Occupy Wall Street, a populist movement that has been gaining momentum since 2,000 protesters assembled there on September 27th, has a lot to say. But as the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets have, to an extent, accurately conveyed, it is not exactly sure how to say it.

As I strolled through Liberty Street Park today, I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know if I should watch the interpretive dance show on my left or stare at the topless woman on my right. I tried to  read a leaflet on how the bank bail-outs were allocated but I couldn’t concentrate because the topless woman kept shouting “I am the first amendment.”

And as I attempted to hold a conversation with one of the protesters about whether or not the police had been harassing him, I found myself reflecting on why the topless protester did not have nicer breasts. This bothered me.

Because there is something undeniably inspiring about this ‘occupation’ that contains, among countless other things, a fully stocked and staffed First Aid station, mountains of donated food and water and free legal advice for the 700 people that were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge October 1st.

And as I walked around in a daze, I felt a populist energy I have not felt since I worked for Obama’s campaign back in 2008. It was a feeling I enjoyed. And one that I missed. 

Now I am remiss to do this because I do not want to diminish the value in what is transpiring here, but I think a little ridicule is called for if it serves as an attempted wake-up call. Because some of what is happening is jeopardizing the integrity of most of what is happening down at Liberty Plaza.

Exhibit A – This man’s sign says “Tax the Rich. Shitcan the Tea Party, America’s doucebags.” Now these are all valid points and truths I agree with. However, I cannot see the truth because it is blinded by the kaleidoscopic visual clusterfuck that is his outfit. I would have clobbered him in the head to knock some sense into him but, as you can see, he was wearing a helmet.

The Tea Party is fairly easy to de-legitimize because their racism, homophobia and other fairly transparent sources of hatred are not difficult to spot. But the Occupy Wall Street movement, if it is to accomplish anything, will never approach legitimacy if nimrods like this are representing it.

Just looking at that guy makes me want to vote for whatever political party he does NOT represent. And if I were a Democratic politician, I would be terrified to even remotely endorse a movement that this man supported.   

I love my city. It is unparalleled. George Carlin once said that New York was the best city in the world because when you walked down the street, you had to make a decision every ten seconds of whether you would stare at the most beautiful woman on the planet…or the craziest asshole on it.

In this case, the beautiful woman is the litany of valid socio-political agendas being championed by O.W.S. and the crazy asshole is…well…all the crazy assholes championing them.

The central message here is that Washington’s elected officials should more pro-actively defend the economic interests of the average working American, not those of millionaires and corporations.

I agree with this sentiment whole-heartedly. But if I was on the fence about it, I doubt this person would sway me. What the fuck is this creature? Seriously...this thing scares me. 

There are so many secondary and tertiary agendas on parade in so many vibrant colors that the 50/50 balance of political activism and theater of the absurd that has manifested here threatens to cancel itself out; imploding in a blurry fog of pepper spray, tits, tie-dye and recycled leaflets.

An essay in an ‘Occupied Wall Street Journal’ newsletter that is being distributed downtown, lauds the diversity of issues being forwarded. And although Americans sounding off about the policies they disapprove of is noble, it is also counterproductive.

If ‘we the people’ oppose everything today, we will accomplish nothing tomorrow.

Is this the time to express our outrage with Republican opposition to the Buffet Rule that would raise taxes on the rich? Yes! Is this the time to attach provisions to that argument that address climate change, health care and nuclear waste? No.

If we oppose everything, we will accomplish nothing. 

And to all those people in Liberty Plaza, trust me, I’m with you. I’m unemployed, the government does not seem to be doing anything to get me back to work and I am furious about it. Every day, I walk the streets of Manhattan, handing out resumes as I wander in the shadows of towering skyscrapers; omnipresent reminders of how good corporate America has it and how grim my future looks. Sometimes I feel like, well, like the walking dead. Kinda like this guy.

This is one of the many zombies that has participated in O.W.S. He is angry about Washinton’s turning a blind eye on the plight of the average working zombie. But he is also lost and confused and ambivalent about what to do with all this outrage.

So I would like to volunteer myself to be the voice of the undead.

Here is what we want, here is what we need and here is what the people we elected into office have to give us.

We need money to stimulate job creation and Obama’s Jobs Bill, though flawed in many ways, is still a step in the right direction and a lot better than the Republican ‘cut taxes and hope for some trickle down magic’ antidote to this plague of unemployment.

Where should that money come from? Well, since the Tea Party insists that it should come exclusively from spending cuts, the O.W.S. movement should insist that it come entirely from increasing tax revenue. And whenever someone objects, direct them to the video below from one of America’s most beloved fiscal messiahs.

But that is only the start. We also need to adjust (I said ADJUST, not ABOLISH!) financial regulations so that they do not stifle small businesses but do eliminate corporate tax loophole exploitation and prevent little things like mark-to-market shenanigans (Do you remember Enron? If not, you’re parents do), sub-prime mortgages, predatory lending and all the other cute little gimmicks that creative capitalists come up with to stuff their wallets while fist-fucking the average working American.

So what should they do to pursue these goals here on Wall Street? Well, for starters, take off the zombie make-up, put on a fucking shirt, get serious and get specific about what we want and what we can actually accomplish. If the message gets honed and targeted at something tangible like the Jobs Bill, perhaps that message will be heard by the mainstream media, not mocked and/or ignored.

We need to harness all this crazy and transmute it into progressive fuel the same way the Tea Party has harnessed racism. Take all that hippy, all that zombie, all that lunacy and transform it into viable political activism and hopefully, political capital.

And we need to do it now because the movement is spreading. Today, Unions and college students marched in support of it. People with higher political profiles are coming out in favor of it and thanks to social media and the many organizations involved, it has  spread to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and nearly fifty other cities.

If it continues to spread, soon the whole world will be listening to what this movement has to say. So people need to get specific about what they want to say and they need to get serious on how they go about saying it. 

For more info on Occupy Wall Street, visit or

Join the movement. But please, for the love of God, keep your shirt on!