Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What If The Republicans WANT Us To Fall Off The Fiscal Cliff?

Pretty much everyone has been wondering how congressional Republicans can be so boneheaded as to allow this country to "fall off the fiscal cliff," i.e., allow the Budget Control Act of 2011 to take effect that would raise taxes on all Americans and massively cut government services. Economists unanimously agree: this would have a devastating effect on our nation's economy, possibly plunging us into another recessionary period. Look at the effects of Greece's austerity measures, which have resulted in chaos and the rise of Nazi-like fascism.

Jonathan Chait of New York magazine writes, "we are not dealing with rational people here. We are dealing with House Republicans." He, and others have argued that the Republicans have nothing to gain by letting us go over the fiscal cliff. Taxes rise, which is every Republican's nightmare, and then Obama has all the leverage he needs to maintain high taxes on the rich while cutting taxes for middle class Americans, which is the plan he prefers. Republicans wouldn't dare to oppose a tax cut for the middle class just because it doesn't include one for the rich. Such a move would be unpopular. Chait argues that the Republicans have nothing to gain by holding out.

But there's a hole in this logic. And its a big one. What if the Republicans secretly WANT to go over the fiscal cliff? Is there something in it for them?

Hear me out. It makes sense.

Ignore the taxes for a second, and look at what else happens when the Budget Control Act goes into effect January 2nd:

"According to Barron's, over 1,000 government programs - including the defense budget and Medicare are in line for "deep, automatic cuts."

Think about this for a second. Sure, Republicans are big national defense boosters, and they don't want cuts to our war machine. According to the White House, Army operations and maintenance would lose nearly $7 billion next year, the Navy more than $4 billion, and diplomatic programs and embassy security would lose $1.2 billion. 12.2 billion. That's not pocket change, and Republicans will not be happy about that part.

But what else will be cut? "Over 1,000 government programs and Medicare." To the tune of $87.8 billion. $87.8 billion!!!!!!

Now we're talking about something Republicans want, badly. They've wanted to cut those programs for decades. As my friend Robbie Republican puts it, "It's time to stop giving those communist hippie freeloaders money for their drugs, their spinning shiny rims and ghetto subwoofers. Let them work for a living. I hear McDonalds is hiring." One huge part of the Republican platform is smaller government, cutting "entitlements." And this would be the largest cut in government programs for lower-income Americans in history.

Let's enumerate some of these cuts...

-Most domestic programs would be sliced by 8.2 percent

 -Total payments to hospitals through Medicare would be cut by more than $5.8 billion next year, while prescription drug benefits would be trimmed by $591 million.

-The Library of Congress stands to lose $4 million for its books for the blind and handicapped.

-The National Institutes of Health would lose $2.5 billion. Rental assistance for the poor would fall by $2.3 billion; nutrition programs for women, infants and children would lose $543 million.

-Inquiries and investigations, a mainstay of the Republican House, would lose $11 million. Salaries and expenses in the House of Representatives would drop by $101 million. However, under the terms of the budget law, salaries for lawmakers would be exempt. 

And these are just the bare bones detailed in The New York Times article. The list is much longer. Billions longer. Maybe even Big Bird isn't safe.

I repeat-- these are things the Republicans have been trying to cut for decades. And they get it all, in one fell swoop. They don't even have to lift a finger.

Yes, taxes go up. Yes, defense spending is cut drastically. But both of these issues are temporary, and everyone knows it. It's very, very easy to cut taxes. It's very, very easy to justify defense spending with the global threats America faces. If no deal is struck by January 2nd, taxes will rise and defense budgets will be cut, sure. But by next January 2nd, it's very likely that taxes and defense spending will be restored to somewhere near their current levels.

The other programs? Programs for the poor and middle class? Programs for the arts and sciences? Programs for education? The Democratic desire to restore funding to these initiatives will be met with fierce resistance from the Republican caucus, and the public support behind them will not be strong enough to overcome it. Many of these programs were created back in the salad days of the Clinton Presidency or other Democratic administrations, and have had their funding slowly stripped during the Bush years. It will be very hard to get that funding back with the current makeup of congress.

Obama could try to save these programs, refusing to lower any taxes until the Republicans agree to end or reduce these doomsday cuts, but the Republicans will then argue he's holding Americans hostage, making them pay more unless he can increase the size of government. And they'd be right. That would be a tough position to be in.

When viewed in this way, it makes perfect sense for Republicans to sit on their hands and wait for January 2nd. They get all the cuts they've always wanted, and the things they don't like--higher taxes, lower defense spending-- can be and will be fixed within months. Once taxes are lowered again (even if taxes remain on wealthy Americans), Republicans believe that the "entitlement" cuts won't significantly impact the economy--THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN THEIR BELIEF. So they look forward to rolling into the November elections being able to say they took a stand against big government and won. And if the economy doesn't crash and burn, the Democrats will be hard-pressed to argue they're wrong.

Of course, if these spending cuts do have a devastating effect on the economy, as the Democrats and most economists say, the plan goes awry. But even then, Republicans will pivot, and argue the fiscal cliff wasn't to blame. They'll say Obama got the tax plan he wanted. They'll point to billions in government savings, helping to move toward a balanced budget (even if a slow economy has hurt government revenues and isn't reducing the national debt). They'll sell any downturn as a continuation of the previous recession, and you know what? Enough people will believe it to help the Republicans remain relevant.

It's a gamble, but what's the alternative? Make a deal with Obama and give him everything he wants? That's not flying with this group of "boneheads."

Democrats agreed with the Budget Control Act because they thought there was no way it would ever be put into action. To me, this seems to be a very bad miscalculation. They've played a game of chicken with the Republicans-- but the Republicans are willing to get hit by the train, if it means getting what they want in the long run.

Hope you've saved up a nest egg and packed a parachute. Because we're going over this cliff, and it's going to cost a lot to climb back up again.

UPDATE: It appears that I was right.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lets Stop the Shooting And Start Making Sense

If you want a briefing on the Republican Party's response to school shootings, I point you to Robbie Republican's post-Virginia Tech article. To quote Robbie: "If everyone on the Virginia Tech campus was allowed to carry a gun, then the massacre would have never happened. Cho Chun Chi would have started shooting and somebody would have popped a cap in his ass. But nooooo. The teachers are too scared that if you allow guns on campus, some kid is going to go crazy and start shooting up the school. What are the chances of that???"

It's an argument made by right-wing-minded people every time a tragedy like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School happens. If only those kindergarteners had weapons, THEY COULD HAVE DEFENDED THEMSELVES.

Of course, its an argument that inevitably swallows itself. If guns were even more prevalent in our society, it would stand to reason that the likelihood of them falling into the wrong hands would go up, not down.

With 26 dead (mostly children), plus the shooter, the question comes up, "What to do about gun control?" According to the nation's leaders during the Presidential campaign, there's nothing to do. Barack Obama made it clear he was too gutless to take on the issue, and Mitt Romney was so far in bed with the gun lobby that he practically spits ammunition when he brushes his teeth in the morning.

But hey, for shits and giggles and possibly saving lives, I'm going to attempt to propose a practical solution.

First, let us all, Democrats and Republicans, agree with the following statement:

"Law abiding, sane, responsible people should be allowed to own firearms. Crazy, criminal people should not."

All agreed? No? Well, then leave. The rest of you, lets move to step 2.

In order to reduce gun violence, we need to enact measures to keep guns out of the hands of those who might cause harm.

Here we get into our first tricky area. "Who might cause harm." How do we define these people? There are a lot of angry, wacky people out there who won't necessarily start shooting up schools or movie theaters. How do we distinguish the harmless crazy from the harmful crazy? And once we do, how do we make sure that legally purchased firearms don't find their way into the wrong hands?

My proposal:

1. First, you should be required to first apply for a permit, which then requires you to spend a number of hours at a licensed shooting range before you're allowed to have a gun of your own. Sort of like being a restricted driver with a learner's permit. At this point in the process, a background check is begun, looking at criminal database, homeland security databases, no fly lists, and a new database where psychiatrists and counselors can report potentially violent patients.

2. When the required hours are achieved, you must pass a written exam on gun safety. Like a driver's license written exam.

3. After passing the written exam, you must pass a "gun test," like a driver's test-- demonstrating mastery of gun safety and proper use at a licensed gun range.

4. If the background check clears, then a gun can be issued. In order to sell the gun, the title must be legally transferred to another licensed person.

None of this prevents a weapon from being owned. In fact, by focusing on gun safety, it assures that gun owners are more responsible. Just like there will always be drunk drivers, there will be people who pass the tests and still screw up. But imagine if no drivers' licenses were issued, and any person could drive with just a minimal background check and no training. How dangerous would our roadways be then?

What this does do is increase the time it takes to get a weapon. And in that time, a lot can happen. There are a lot of people brought in at different stages of the process who have the opportunity to shut it down if its clear a guy is intending something terrible.

Of course, the gun lobby doesn't want anybody to have the power to deny someone a gun. After all, a gun is a product that makes a lot of money for its manufacturers, and making it harder to obtain a weapon hits the business's bottom line.

If manufacturers were really serious about safety, they would include features like smart biometric triggers, a feasible technology that allows a gun to be fired only by it's registered owner. This kind of technology should be required.

And of course, you ban rapid fire killing machines like assault rifles, which have been banned before and should have never been allowed back into stores. Short of creating your own army, there's no reason for such a weapon.

You enact these measures, you reduce the risk. You won't end shootings altogether, but you make it much harder for the batshit crazy people to destroy lives.

Of course, for that to happen, the government has to step up to the gun lobby and focus on protecting its people. But as long as the NRA supplies the big bucks, the bullets will fly.

Who will they hit next?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why The Republicans Are Losing

From the New York Times... August 28, 2012:
One party platform stated that Hispanics and others should not “be barred from education or employment opportunities because English is not their first language.” It highlighted the need for “dependable and affordable” mass transit in cities, noting that “mass transportation offers the prospect for significant energy conservation.” And it prefaced its plank on abortion by saying that “we recognize differing views on this question among Americans in general — and in our own party.”

The other party platform said that “we support English as the nation’s official language.” It chided the Democratic administration for “replacing civil engineering with social engineering as it pursues an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit.” And its abortion plank recognized no dissent, taking the position that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”
No, they are not the platforms of the Democratic and Republican Parties. They are both Republican platforms: the first from 1980, at the dawn of the Reagan revolution, and the second the 2012 Republican platform that was approved on Tuesday afternoon in Tampa, Fla.
Not so hard to see why Republicans may have lost Hispanics and women, no?

The Republicans' election day disaster wasn't a Mitt problem. In many ways, Mitt was the perfect Republican candidate for an election day that now hinges on a handful of swing states that demographically, geographically, and philosophically lean towards the Democratic party: A business-side moderate from a blue state. The problem was the rightward shift in the Republican party's platform, a shift brought on by the party's decision to rely on the evangelical vote, regarded as a key to victory in Bush's 2004 election.

The party's platform shift aimed to galvanize its supporters on the far right, a historically apathetic voting block that demonstrated what it could do in 2004. But it came at a cost the Republicans didn't seem to anticipate: alienating the socially liberal or moderate Republicans that made up a portion of their party. According to a 2012 PEW Research poll, 23% of Republicans FAVOR gay marriage, as do 58% of independents. 30% of Republicans and 60 percent of independents believe abortion SHOULD BE legal. And a majority of Republicans and Independents believe the government should invest in clean energy like wind and solar. These percentages are not insignificant--when your candidate fervently goes against all of these, you will ostracize voters who factor these issues into their decision. Someone who dislikes Obama tremendously, but loves their gay son will be hard-pressed to vote for the guy who's angling for the bigot vote.

According to exit polls, Obama beat Romney among the 41% of voters who identify themselves as "moderate"-- by 15 percentage points!

Abortion and gay marriage bans may help win local and state races--although Akin and Murdock found out the perils of being too far right--but at a national level, it's hard to see how an adherence to far right social views is beneficial. For the vast majority of Americans, putting these issues on the ballot is akin to putting out an opinion poll--they're not impacted by the results, but they make their voices heard. It's a cheap trick from Karl Rove's playbook that worked well in the past, but is starting to cost the Republicans--because the beliefs of Americans are changing as rapidly as our demographics, perhaps even faster. There was a time in this country when the majority of people thought owning slaves was okay, when people thought that denying women the vote was perfectly natural, when people believed that "separated but equal" was fair. The vast majority of Americans have "evolved" concerning these beliefs, and there's a clear trend future Americans will repudiate the ideas that gays shouldn't marry and abortion is murder: 56% of young Americans support abortion rights (compared to 30% who don't), 70% support gay marriage. Will these young voters change their minds when they get older? Doubtful. And their kids will be even more likely to resist the social conservative viewpoint.

The far-right's war is already lost. Fighting it will only hasten the Republican party's demise.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Voting Cheat Sheet

Who should you vote for?

Well, if you're still undecided, here's a handy cheat sheet:

 -You think the economic crash that occurred less than a month into Obama's Presidency is Obama's fault.
-You believe the gays shouldn't be allowed to get married.
-You believe abortion should be banned, in pretty much all cases.
-You want us to go to war with Iran and/or Syria.
 -You believe that we should cut programs for the poor at a time when more Americans rely on them for survival than ever before, while giving tax breaks to rich people.

-You think the economic crash that occurred less than a month into Obama's Presidency is the result of eight years of Republican mismanagement.
 -You don't care if the gays can marry each other or not.
-You believe that abortion is a tragedy but you can't possibly know every woman's circumstances and as such, can't make the decision for them whether or not to abort a pregnancy.
-You'd prefer to avoid another costly war in the middle east.
-You believe in raising taxes on the wealthy to bolster the safety net for poor Americans during this financial crisis.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Refugees of Lower Manhattan

On satellite maps of the Korean peninsula at night, you can see a clear line. The place where the lights stop, and the world is plunged into darkness. A split caused by the madness of a reclusive dictatorship. 

Now that line exists somewhere else. The island of manhattan. Not caused by a madman but a mad storm. North of the line people dress as vampires and goblins like its any other Halloween. But its south of the line where everything resembles haunted houses. 

Ishaan Tharoor on wrote an excellent essay describing the eerie scene: 

"Each morning since the hurricane, I’ve woken up in Lower Manhattan not to an alarm or car horns on the street, but to the overwhelmingly weird silence of this alternate reality. I scrub myself clean after heating water atop a gas stove, sip from a lukewarm bottle of orange juice, and then trudge down pitch-black flights of stairs with the lantern that is my dying iPhone. By the time I’ve emerged into the sunlight, I’m ready, almost, to start running away from zombies. Yet, 20 minutes and a shared cab later—this new tradition, itself, a kind of surreal act of post-cataclysm New Yorker bonhomie—I’m in Midtown, where Sandy has become, like every other horrible natural disaster in the world, just something that happened somewhere else."

Monday night, my wife and I were watching Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close while the storm raged outside. We had just reached the point of the movie when the child hears his father's last message from the Twin Towers on 9/11 when the power flickered. In the brief moment of darkness, the sky outside our window, visible just above the buildings across the street, lit up with a bright blue-green burst. We knew from the news reports we'd been watching for the past few hours that the flash wasn't lightning, but a transformer exploding. This flash was bright and massive. Which meant it was close. A few minutes later the power went out for good. 

We were prepared, to a degree. One benefit to the Hurricane Irene hype was that we had purchased two 2-gallon containers for water, dozens of candles and several flashlights. Years ago, my Uncle Moe shipped me a battery-operated radio, "just in case," and it soon became our only link to the outside world. 

My wife and I, curious to see the extent of the outage, went up to our rooftop. The wind blew so fiercely up there I thought we'd fly off. The city immediately around us was pitch black, save for a few emergency stairwells with battery power. The Empire State building and the city beyond tantalized with its luminescence, seeming even brighter contrasted with the ghostly foreground. To the south, the lights of the freedom tower still shined. In the distance, across the river in Jersey, more transformer explosions lit up the sky like firecrackers. 

We returned to our apartment and played cards by candlelight, drinking 2 buck chuck and listening to the ever-worsening news until we couldn't take it anymore, then turning to Z100 and 95.5 for some lighthearted pop music. I was never so thankful for Katy Perry. We went to bed to the sounds of kids screaming outside and police sirens. An occasional flash of red and blue from the cruisers patrolling the streets was the only thing illuminating our room after we snuffed the candles out.

We woke up to a different world. No electricity, still. Even more alarmingly, no cell service. Desperate for an outside world that didn't come through an AM/FM antenna, we mustered up our courage and descended the lightless stairwell to traverse the post-apocalyptic streets of a powerless East Village. 

It wasn't quite that bad. Not apocalyptic, but... Surreal. The bodega on the corner of 4th st. and 2nd avenue was open, even though its aisles were lit by flashlights. Two girls begged for a discount on Ben and Jerry's ice cream. "but it's going to melt!" they whined. 

The great recession of these past three years didn't bring back the bread lines of the 1920's, but Hurricane Sandy brought something much weirder: Pay phone lines, as everybody's precious iPhones had become little more than fancy paperweights. Lines also stretched down the block at the MUD coffee truck parked on 9th street. 

Northern Spy Food Co. was handing out free food, as much out of charity as emptying out their soon to be warm freezers. Other restaurants set up ramshackle operations, heating up food with portable stoves in front of their doors or using the gas in their dark kitchens. Pizza was the most popular... Hungry eyes following people carrying pizza boxes and long lines at Mozzerella Pizza on Avenue A spoke to that. 

The streets reminded me of the way they looked shortly after 9/11, with people gathered outside sharing stories of what they experienced during the storm. One guy we met worked at a clothing store on Bond Street. He told us his boss called him to make sure the store was okay... The store, not his employee, mind you. 

We stopped at the Con Ed plant on 14th street, where a large utility truck had broken down in the floodwaters. Driftwood was piled up in the street. A sharp line, a foot high on the side of a building showed how high the water had risen. A few people were wringing out what they could salvage from the sopping wet interiors of their parked vehicles. 

I asked one of the utilities guys outside the plant what the status was. "Man, I haven't even been inside yet," the guy said. I took that to mean they hadn't quite started repairs. 

Returning to our apartment, we packed a bag with our things and headed uptown to my sister's apartment, which thankfully had power. Leaving the darkness of the East Village and lower manhattan behind, I wondered, what about people not as fortunate as us? What about the people with no place else to go?

I have no doubt in the resiliency and resourcefulness of my fellow New Yorkers. The very fact that the first thing some people did was open up their doors and go about business as usual, even if it was in the dark, is a testament to that never say die attitude city-dwellers here share. 

Right now though, I know all us refugees of lower manhattan--and those throughout the northeast sitting in the dark--desire the same thing. 

For the lights to come back. For things to go back to normal. 

It'll be a harder road back for those outside the city. But I know we'll get there. We always do. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New York City Sandy Survival Tips (based on every disaster movie I remember)

1. Avoid the Empire State Building. It'll be the first to go.
2. The Brooklyn Bridge is also not a good place to be.
3. The New York Public Library makes a great shelter because you can burn the books to keep warm.
4. Watch out for WOLVES.
5. The Statue of Liberty's torch is the safest place to be. It always survives.
6. Hang out with Bruce Willis. He will protect you.
7. Don't just stand there staring at the tidal wave, RUN.
8. Zombie-vampires are smarter than you think. Avoid their traps.
9. Government, police, and other authority figures will freak out, so follow the orders of the nerdy young scientist they all refuse to listen to.
10. If there's something strange in your neighborhood, don't call 911, call Ghostbusters.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

I Hate To Say I Told You So But I Told You So, Obama Will Lose To Romney

By Robbie Republican

My fellow Americans, are you feeling as good as I feel today? I woke up this morning, and the sun was shining, the air was fresh and crisp, and the birds sung their sweet songs. I took my hunting rifle and shot a sparrow to feed Reagan, my pet wolf. He loves the taste of a fresh kill. As do I. And nothing tasted sweeter than the lifeblood of the Democrats, slowly seeping from their Muslim leader, Barack Hussein Obama, as he stumbled off the debate stage last night.

Ooh boy what a massacre. Did you see Obama sweating? I haven't seen a President go down like that since Carter bent the knee to the Soviets. At least Carter was born in America. My favorite part of the evening? Taking shots of Kentucky Bourbon every time Obama said "uh." You'd think that would leave me with quite a hangover. But us Republicans can handle our liquor. No Chappaquiddicks for us.

I have to hand it to Romney. I told everyone that he was going to win this election, even back when everyone I knew was busy pretending to give Herman Cain a chance. But I never thought he'd be able to go head to head like that against a man who can read a teleprompter as well as Obama does. It was Obama's wedding anniversary, which shows how much the demoncrats care about marriage. If I was still married, I'd tell Jim Lehrer to find a real job and I'd stay home to eat the anniversary dinner my wife cooked for me. But I guess if Obama can't fit Netanyahu into his busy schedule, he's not too concerned about making time for the First Lady.

Of course, predictably, the lame-stream media is already trying to make excuses and rewrite history. They say Obama was flustered because Romney was inventing things on stage. They say that nothing Romney said during the debate resembled the platform he's been running on for the past few months.

Well, duh, of course it didn't!

The Commies and the Hippies just don't get it. They were too busy murdering babies and smoking weed in college to ever attend a debate. If they did, they'd know the object of a debate isn't to advance one policy or another. The goal of a debate is to WIN!

And to win a debate, sometimes you have to argue a side you don't believe in, because the evidence is more persuasive. Romney knew that telling those independent voters tax cuts for the rich would help the economy was something that just wouldn't win them over. So he, as the blacks say, "flipped the script!" He argued against cutting taxes for the rich. Later, he argued he was actually in favor of the health plan Massachusetts adopted while he was governor, the model for Obamacare. Heck, he defended Medicaid. Medicaid!!!

The tactic was brilliant. Nothing Obama could have said would have turned the tide. Was Obama supposed to argue against what Romney was saying? He couldn't! It was mostly Obama's own policies! Was he supposed to try to sound like he had a better plan? He couldn't! The plans Romney touted were Obama's plans all along!

Faced with Romney's debating mastery, Obama crumbled. By the end of the evening, he looked ready to climb back into the dark terrorist cave he was born in. Happy anniversary indeed.

Don't worry 53-percenters. Romney's on our side. He's not really going to replace Obamacare with Romneycare. He's not really going to keep taxes high for us job producers. All that was just for the win.

Expect more of the same in the upcoming debates. When Romney says he's pro-choice, get ready to see Obama explode like a suicide bomber.

I know, I know. Too far. But come November, we won't need to worry about offending him, or Muslims rioting in Libya. Because our country will be safely back in the hands of those who were in charge before the world fell apart. The Republicans who managed things so brilliantly before ACORN, Jon Stewart and that whore Katie Couric stole the Presidency for the socialists.

Remember, my fellow patriots. Get out there and vote. And be sure to tell your Democratic friends about the new voting regulations that require them to cast their ballots in a cylindrical bin in the corner of the room. They'll be too busy sticking their noses in the air to see the sign labelled, "Trash."

Every vote counts.

As always, I'm Robbie Republican. God bless you, God bless Romney, and God bless 53% of the United States of America.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apple's Blunder Not A Blunder... Yet

You've probably seen the flat Eiffel Tower, post-apocalyptic San Francisco, Brooklyn's new location in Manhattan (and vice versa), and other hilarious (or annoying, depending on your level of iPhone maps dependence) gaffes included in the new iOS 6 maps program. Apple's decision to replace Google Maps in their new iPhone operating system with.a far inferior navigational tool has caught a lot of heat, and for good reason.

But Apple's stock fell from the $700 dollar level to around $678 at recent trading, and already, some analysts are calling the fiasco "Apple's undoing."

Okay, let's hold up a second. This might not be so bad for Apple. Actually, it might work out quite well.

This is undeniably a hiccup in Apple's mobile dominance. Whether it's more than that depends on the next moves by Google and Apple...

1. Google's move. Clearly, Google has emerged a big winner from Apple's iPhone maps blunder. Like the locked out NFL referees, their value to the iPhone was largely taken for granted. It took Apple "locking Google out," for iPhone customers to recognize Google's superiority over "replacements." It goes beyond maps... Google is also responsible for the phone's default search capability and the algorithms that figure out from your typos and bad grammar what you really mean to look for. Before this episode, users rarely distinguished the built in Google apps from the iPhone package. Suddenly, the wonderful, amazing iPhone looks like a wonderful, amazing piece of hardware running some pretty wonderful, amazing Google apps.

And here is the advantage for Google: without Google Maps and other Google products on the iPhone, Android phones are suddenly much more attractive. The fact that these popular and useful services are available on Android phones could cause some users to switch, and attract new smartphone buyers. If GPS and getting around is a priority for you, you'd be hard-pressed to make a case for the iPhone's cribbed-from-GPS-devices-crica-1999 navigation quality.

Google could, in theory, not release its products to work on the iPhone, releasing them exclusively for Android.

However, indications are that Google is developing a Google Maps app to be available through the Apple App Store. A modest charge for these apps could potentially make up for the loss in licensing fees Apple used to pay them. Or the app could make money by being ad-supported, and we all know Google is the king of mobile advertising.

Either way, Google wins. If they hold onto Google maps for Android, they gain a marketing advantage. If they sell it through the Apple App Store, or offer the app with ads, they retain some marketing advantage (its free on Android, $$$ or ads on iPhone) while making money on the side.

2. Apple's move. Apple certainly could block Google's apps from the App Store. But doing so wouldn't provide any benefit for them. By shutting out Google, they'd be conceding a pretty big advantage to Android. Use the iOS maps for 5 minutes and argue that Apple is EVER going to catch up to Google. You can't. The "search" company has spent more than a decade and millions of dollars on development, and it's created the most up-to-date, most detailed digital representation of our world that's possible with current technology. Apple took out a dusty atlas and painted Salvador Dali images on it.

Also, Apple has nothing to lose by allowing the Google Maps app and other Google apps to be sold. Apple reaps a large percentage every time someone makes an App store purchase. In effect, instead of paying a licensing fee to Google... they can  now make money every time a Google app is sold.

As stated earlier, Google could offer a free app, supported by advertising. Apple wouldn't make any percentage from that. But they also wouldn't lose any marketing advantage to Android, and they still wouldn't need to pay Google a licensing fee. 

If this all goes according to plan, then really, the shift to those terrible Apple maps wasn't a blunder at all, but a calculated move to save money on licensing fees and possibly make more money by taking commission off of Google app sales.

The only way this doesn't work out for Apple is if Google withholds their apps exclusively for Android. But Google would have to calculate that the income raised by increased Android purchases would outweigh the money to be made by selling apps in the Apple App Store or selling advertising against a free app. Clearly, Google is developing an iOS app, so they've made their decision already.

"Apple's undoing?" Hardly. This blunder could end up being a money maker for both Apple and Google. In essence, its a more efficient way of getting the companies to work together, without pesky contracts and licensing fees littering the battleground.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why Mitt Romney Endangers American Lives

Four Americans are dead in Libya, including the U.S. ambassador to the country, after a rocket attack that came amidst protests against a cheesy, poorly produced, anti-Prophet-Muhammed film that was filmed in the United States and went viral in the Muslim world.

While the rest of the country mourned the dead and decried the act of violence, Mitt Romney went on the attack, accusing President Obama of apologizing to terrorists.

What actually happened is far different.

The American embassy in Cairo, feeling the heat from Muslim reaction to the film, distanced themselves from the film, stating in a tweet: "U.S. Embassy condemns religious incitement." That caught some flack for seemingly going against the right to free speech. They later wrote, "We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."

Now, the American embassy is doing exactly what its supposed to do. It is not the embassy's job to explain "sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," to a populace that for decades was thrown in jail or murdered for proclaiming unpopular beliefs. It is the embassy's job to smooth things over. Their job is to avoid violence in the interest of maintaining diplomacy. The filmmakers certainly had the "universal right" to make their film, however, free speech is not without consequences. If you're Michael Richards and do stand up, and respond to African-American hecklers with liberal use of the n-word, you'd better get ready for the backlash. And as we know, unflattering portrayals of Mohammed (who, according to the Muslim religion, isn't even allowed to be represented in a positive image), often result in protests, which lead some extreme factions to violence.

It's simple cause and effect--insult Mohammed, incite violence. No one's saying violence is the appropriate response to hate speech. We're just saying, it happens. So if you don't want people to die, you should probably resist the urge to insult the prophet.

Now, lets say someone in this country does decide to insult Mohammed. It's their right, sure. But the U.S. government shouldn't be insulting Mohammed, the same way they shouldn't insult Jesus, or Moses, or any other religious leader. The problem is, when an American citizen's insult travels around the globe (the way Pastor Terry Jone's Koran burning did, or the way our soldiers pissing on the Koran did), America's enemies use it as a weapon against America. "See!" they tell their followers. "This is America. Not the home of the free, but the home of hate. They hate Islam! They want to destroy you!" They publicly screen that crappy anti-Mohammed video, and say to those inclined to listen, "This is what America is about! This is what America represents!" They take the action of one individual or one small group and use it to represent what America is all about.

To respond to those extremists, it is necessary for a representative of the United States to stand up and say, "No, this isn't what we're about. We believe in free speech, and that means, sometimes, one of our citizens says or films something idiotic and offensive, like the hit ABC show 'Bachelor Pad.' But we as a country also believe in the freedom of religion. And we believe that it is irresponsible, and wrong, to use one's right of free speech to denigrate and shame another person's freedom of religion."

That's what the embassy said. That's what Hillary Clinton said: "Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."

It's a statement aimed at refuting what the extremists say-- that the actions by a very few represent the feelings of the greater whole. It condemns violence, while making it clear that perceived cause of the violence--religious intolerance--is not what America represents. In short: "What the extremists tell you is a lie."

Mitt Romney, clearly, does not believe this. Instead of standing up for the majority of Americans who don't think all Muslims are terrorists, he's standing up for the few that do. Instead of telling the world that this hateful, anti-Islam video doesn't represent the best of America, he's saying to the world that it does. Hate, according to Mitt Romney, is America's greatest export. And he's damn proud of it.

"It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks," Romney said.

Except, well, of any of the American representatives commenting on this attack, it's Romney who gives the terrorists what they want. Instead of telling the extremists, "Your justification for this violence is bogus," he's AGREED with them. He's saying America doesn't have to distance itself from the film the extremists used as an example of America's intolerance. Rather, he's arguing that America should defend and support what the film had to say! It's free speech, so Romney will stand by it to the bitter end, even if that speech was made by an Egpytian Coptic Christian with a criminal history who clearly intended for the film to cause violence.

As far as the international stage is concerned, it seems that Romney and Obama have very different ideas about how a President should behave. While Obama believes a President should show America is better than what its enemies say it is, Romney believes a President should show America is EXACTLY what its enemies say it is.

You decide which is better. You decide which action really sides with the terrorists.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Obama vs. Romney: Convention Speech Proposals

The Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention are now over, and as Brian Williams reminded NBC viewers tonight, there are 60 days left before the Presidential election. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have delivered their longest speeches to date, presenting their best pitch to the nation.

But that's the thing. Both speeches were a lot of talk. A lot of rhetoric, patriotism, jokes, bluster, criticism of the other party that, depending on your viewpoint, could be deemed more opinion than fact. Truth is, while I might listen to every word, lets face it... a lot of Americans just get caught up in the whirlwind of language.

So I took the text of both the RNC and DNC keynotes, and cut out the patriotism, the bluster, the vague promises, the long-winded biographies, and biased lines about the other party’s views. I took out the things they promised NOT to do (because it's easy to say what you won't do, what you WILL do instead is a harder question to answer.) I was also careful to take out everything that seemed like more of a statement of principle or belief rather than a statement of definitive action. Because ultimately, despite wildly different belief systems, what happens in the next four years will come down to ACTIONS, not words. What actions do Romney and Obama find so important that they felt the need to mention them so clearly in their most important speech?
Behold, the specific, actionable proposals made by each candidate in their convention speeches--in their own words--edited only for grammar and readability.
-Cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses. 
-Reward companies that open new plants, train new workers and create new jobs in the United States of America. 
-Open new acres for oil and gas exploration.
-Invest in wind and solar and clean coal.   
-Commit to Israel’s security and pursue peace.
-Use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways.
-Reform the tax code so that it’s simple and asks the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000. 
-Take full advantage of North American oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables.

-When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice.

-Reduce taxes on business. Simplify regulations.

-Repeal Obamacare.

-Protect the sanctity of life.

-Honor the institution of marriage.

So there you have it. It seems a lot simpler once you get rid of the fluff, no?

Both Romney and Obama want to increase the amount of energy produced in the U.S., but Obama believes renewable energy should be a large part of that, Romney believes that traditional energy resources like coal, oil, gas and nuclear power are the only way to go--he pointedly mocked the fight against global warming.

Obama wants to reduce taxes on the middle class while raising taxes on people making over $250,000. Romney wants to reduce taxes on businesses.

Obama wants to reward companies that keep jobs in America (presumably through tax breaks or incentives). Romney wants to "simplify regulations," which, while vague, indicates that he's up for repealing current laws intended to protect the environment, assure public safety, or limit potential fraud or financial abuse-- laws that might hurt a company's profit margin.

Obama wants to use money saved by ending the wars to "nation build" at home and thereby stimulate construction jobs. Romney wants to save money by ending "Obamacare." While he says he'll replace it, in this speech he's vague about what that replacement will be.

Obama made it a point to say commitment to Israel and the peace process must not waver. Romney made it a point to promote a voucher program to give families a choice of which school to send their child to.

Finally, Romney was very clear and emphatic near the end of his speech when he spoke on social issues. A law against abortion (although he did not say whether it would contain an exemption for rape victims or anything else). A law against gay marriage.

These are the things the candidates were most unequivocal about... and they seem a good indicator of what actions they would take while in office.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Logic, and Pro-Life

Pro-Lifers claim that life begins at conception, and that a fetus in the womb is equivalent with an infant, a 35-year-old, or Ryan Seacrest. (They're right about Ryan Seacrest).

Yet, some of these Pro-Lifers do things with pictures of fetuses that... well... no one in their right mind would do with photos of dead human beings.

Like this: Fetus Trucks Circling Downtown Tampa

Can you imagine any sane person driving a truck plastered with graphic pictures of murdered adults? Of course not.

So why is covering a truck with photos of abortions okay???

I guess it's because... drumroll... Pro-Lifers don't really believe fetuses are people.

If Pro-Lifers really valued these fetuses as children, there's no way they would parade around their naked, bloody, dismembered corpses in public. That's not something we do with human beings. If you value a life, you don't treat that life like another murder image to plaster to the side of your truck. A death is a tragedy, not a marketing ploy.

If these fetuses really were human beings, you'd expect Pro-Lifers to treat them like human beings-- with love, a proper burial, mourning, respect. Instead, their "crime scene" photos are used to shock and disgust people. How does that convince anyone that their life is worth something?

But I guess logic isn't the strong suit of the Pro-Life community.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you want to end abortion, dead baby photos are not the way. A ban is not the way.

All the discussion of rape exemptions, sonograms and dead babies distracts from the real issue at hand. Abortion, most often, is a symptom of our larger societal ills: poor education, poverty, sub-standard health care. When a woman gets pregnant, it should be a joy... but unfortunately, these issues often make it into a tragedy. If we alleviate these issues, the amount of abortions in this country will drop significantly.

Provide comprehensive sex education, including birth control, to prevent teen mothers. Provide assistance for single parents and lower-income families. Improve the health care system so mothers-to-be don't have to worry about how to afford medical bills. Create incentives for minimum wage employers to provide paid maternity leave for their hourly workers. Create a program to help poor families afford babysitting costs. Provide maternity care for those who choose to go forward with giving a child up for adoption. Provide extra assistance for those who choose to raise a child with disabilities.

Give that pregnant woman all the support she needs for 9 months of pregnancy and for 5 years after that (the most crucial in a child's development), and you'll make the experience of bringing children into this world--and raising them--a less painful one. If you do that, there will be less reason to make the agonizing choice to abort a child.

But that takes a lot of work. A lot of money. And a lot of logic.

Driving trucks around with photos of dead babies is just a whole lot easier.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Homophibia Isn't An "Opinion," It's Wrong

Jessie Bering has a nice story on today, a rebuttal against conservative claims that accepting homosexual behavior is wrong. (he must have read my piece a few weeks ago) He makes four main points:

-Homosexuality is not a choice. Because no one "chooses" to be straight. There's not a moment in everyone's life where they stop and think, "Hmm, men or women??? This is sooo hard to decide!!!!!" Bering writes: "A true heterosexual... has never experienced meaningful same-sex desires and understands that one cannot choose to act on what is simply not there." If that's true, then isn't it equally valid to say a gay man or woman similarly never faces such a "choice?"

-Homosexuality is not any more disgusting than heterosexual relations. To wit, homosexuals are not the only ones participating in anal sex, and... I mean, if its totally legal for Rosanne Barr and Tom Arnold to get it on, well, we shouldn't really be concerning ourselves with legislating relationships based on how pleasing or disgusting they are to think about. Bering writes, "...because of disgust rhetoric, [bigots] have sexualized gays and lesbians to such a degree that all they can see in them is contaminated bodily excretions. Lofty emotions such as love and romance are for actual straight human beings like them, not for filthy animals fornicating and spreading disease."

-Homosexuality is not a mental illness. Bering writes: "The American Psychiatric Association officially removed homosexuality from its diagnostic manual in 1973. The consensus—which has been reiterated many times since—was that in spite of the toxic social conditions in which they so often find themselves, the majority of gays and lesbians are well-adjusted, high-functioning, and contributing members of society. Emotional health issues such as depression, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts found at higher than average rates among gays and lesbians are the consequences of their living in an intolerant world." Well said. The only harm that comes from this "mental illness" is the harm inflicted by other people.

-Homosexuality is not "unnatural" or "against God." Here's where Bering goes a little off the rails... "what all men really should be doing is putting their penises to the promiscuous use for which they were intentionally designed. And about every other day, women should fill their vaginal canals with the seminal fluid of a different man. If that makes you uncomfortable, take it up with the Creator." The truth is, he doesn't really need to go there. The reality is, interpretations of the Bible vary among different religious groups and among the followers in that group. While evangelicals may uniformly believe God is telling them "gay is wrong," others who believe in God do not believe that. Remember.... the Bible was once interpreted to say that the world was flat, that black people were the sons of Cain, that Jews murdered Jesus, and so on. We've since become enlightened otherwise. As for unnatural... have you read 50 Shades of Grey? No one is calling for that behavior to disqualify couples from marriage. Not all straight couples can have kids, or want to. If the sole purpose of a marriage is to generate offspring, then why not outlaw sterile couples or childless couples as well? And what is natural? Hell, light bulbs are unnatural. Are we outlawing them?

All the other arguments against homosexuality are equally bunk. All gays are pedophiles? Well, we already have laws against pedophilia. It's as ridiculous an argument as saying all gun owners are murderers. See what I did there?

Are all lesbians just man haters? Well, I play on a softball team with a few of them, and they seem to like me.

Will we all start marrying animals? Let's say you want to marry your dog. How do you know if he wants to marry you? The issue here is consent. Two adult males or two adult females can freely voice their consent to marriage. Your dog's "ruff ruff" does not constitute a legally binding agreement.

The bottom line is, there shouldn't be any laws regulating anything two consenting people do with each other, as long as they aren't hurting anybody else. And making you feel disgusted doesn't qualify as hurt. Otherwise the makers of The Real Housewives shows on Bravo would be in jail right now as far as I'm concerned.

If you're allowed to wear a clown costume while hanging upside down with a banana in your ass singing the Star-Spangled Banner while a girl you met at the bar hours before gives you a Red Hot (like snowballing, but with hot sauce), then you really shouldn't be concerned if two people of the same sex  who love each other want to get married.

Really, why do you want the government in your bedroom so bad?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

It Must Be Obama's Fault

Cat Murder Rate, Hooliganism On The Rise

The best two paragraphs of journalism this year:

Cats aren't just a danger to others, they're also a danger to themselves. The cats in the study were seen engaging in such risky behavior as crossing roadways (45%), eating and drinking things they found (25%), exploring storm drains (20%) and entering crawl spaces where they could become trapped (20%).
Male cats were more likely to do risky things than female cats, and older cats were more careful than younger ones.

Of course, it's the damn tomcat teenagers.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do No Harm

"Do no harm." It's the Hippocratic oath, taken by doctors upon their graduation from medical school. It should also be the goal of every law our government passes. It should be the mantra congressmen recite every time they enter the Capitol Building. Our government's job is to keep us safe... not to punish us.

Punishment is how totalitarian governments keep their people in line. The United States, since its inception, has believed punishment should only be reserved for those who harm others (even if administrations throughout our history have sometimes forgotten that.) That's why we call it justice.

But punishment is what banning gay marriage is all about. Plain and simple. You can't call it justice.

Gay marriage is not a thing that harms others. A law against gay marriage is not a law that protects people. It's a law that protects the moral beliefs of one subset of citizens, around 50% of Americans (most living outside major population centers) and thinning out by the day.

When a man marries a man, or a woman marries a woman, NOBODY IS HARMED. Nobody dies, no one suffers financial loss or bodily injury. Why make a law against it? Who is harmed?

-The Children! Oh, Think of the Children!!!!
-Themselves! Their immortal soul!
-Marriage!! Marriage is harmed!!!!

Let's take these one by one.

The Children! First of all, there's no law against single parents adopting children, there's no law against shitty parents, and there's no law against Octomom. Kids are screwed up everyday by heterosexual couples and other unorthodox unions. On the flip side, we see kids who turn out perfectly fine after being raised by single parents, unmarried parents, divorced parents, etc. Just because two people are of the same sex does not disqualify them from being good parents. No scientific study has ever shown same-sex parenting results in universal harm to children. In fact, the few examples we have are doing pretty well. To address another issue-- no kid has ever decided to become gay because they thought it was cool. People don't decide to become gay any more than they decide to breathe. It just happens. It's happened as long as there have been human beings. Somehow, our species lives on. If parents are truly horrific--abusive, neglectful--we already have laws to punish them.

Their Immortal Soul!!! Evangelicals are not evil people (most of them, anyway). As part of the evangelical belief system, it's a given that anyone who has not accepted Jesus will go to hell--eternal damnation alongside Hitler, Osama, and the guys who wrote the Macarena. Evangelicals don't want people to go to hell... because they CARE. So it is with love that they want to make gay people suffer. Because suffering a little in this mortal world will save them an eternity of suffering in the afterlife.

Well, that's sure nice of them... but not everyone has that belief system. In fact, Christianity itself is divided on the issue. The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin... but is it a sin greater than any other? The Bible has a whole list of sins that people tend to do on a regular basis. Turning on the TV on the Sabbath is a sin. Yelling at your mom for nagging you is a sin. Not marrying your dead husband's brother is a sin. The list goes on. Christianity says that Jesus died on the cross so our sins may be forgiven. Judaism teaches that repentance can remove the severity of God's decree. I don't know what Muslim views are, but I'm pretty sure there's room to wiggle out of hell there too. Just because someone sins doesn't mean their soul is damned. A homosexual can do a great number of things to help the world and make it a better place-- surely the weight of a man's deeds can make up for a man's failings. That's what modern religion teaches us. In Ancient Greece, people used to be damned for the sins of their fathers!

God! Once again, not everybody believes in this guy (or, according to the movie Dogma, Alanis Morissette). And in America, we have separation of church and state, so the government should not be looking to protect God's feelings. All world religions believe God gave us free will-- the ability to rise, or the ability to fall. Why would he do that if he wanted us to force everybody to do his will? God gave us the ability to make our own moral choices because he wanted us to learn the wisdom of making those choices. If we proscribe morality--personal morality that doesn't affect the lives of other people--then we short circuit free will. We take away the meaning behind making a moral choice. If there is no choice, then what can we learn? We're not people, but walking reactions to stimuli. God only knows that we lived our lives afraid of punishment, not that we were wise enough to make the right choices.

Plus, he's a big guy. There are way worse things humanity does to hurt his feelings.

Marriage! Is a word, a concept. At the very most, an "institution." It is not a person. Gay people getting married does not harm people in heterosexual marriages. Heterosexuals have done enough damage on their own. Look at the divorce rates, episodes of Teen Mom on MTV, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. Are we really saying that the institution of marriage is under threat because MORE PEOPLE WANT TO GET MARRIED?? That's ridiculous. If anything, the fight for gay marriage has shown just how important a loving, official If a group of people are fighting this hard for the right to be married, then it must be something worth fighting for. Why exclude them? Because they don't look like you? Because they can't have kids? Does a sterile, interracial punk rock pierced-to-the-nines couple threaten other people's marriages? In the 1950s, a lot of people may have thought so. Only bigots and cranky old people do now.

Are you going to say, "Well, I guess I won't get married, because if the gays do, its not special anymore"? What are you, three years old? You wanted the toy truck when you were the only kid who had one, but now that Jimmy and Sarah and Maxwell got one--screw that, its not cool anymore? Are you going to say, "I'm going to get divorced because Sam and Dave are getting hitched"? Why? So you can be available for a little gay union of your own?

Will gay marriage open the door to polygamy? Incest? Beastiality? Well, only if you believe love between two consenting adults is the same as those things. Which it is not. Power imbalances, issues of consent, potential for abuse and coercion is just not as present in a union between two equals.

President Obama is right to support Gay Marriage. Now he's got to follow through. It's time for America to grow up and stop acting like children. We're at war overseas. The economy sucks. Cadbury Creme Eggs are smaller than ever. THERE ARE BIGGER PROBLEMS WE SHOULD BE DEALING WITH.

Do no harm. We follow that oath, and America stays alive. We break it, and the patient dies on the table.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Why The 99% Doesn't Like The Occupy Movement

Remember when it was called "Occupy Wall Street?"

Remember when the protests were near the offices of the investment banks and trading firms that helped bring on the financial crisis?

Remember when "Occupy Wall Street" framed the debate as, the 99% vs. the elites who abused their role in the financial system and gambled with the fiscal health of the United States?

Well, that's all in the past.

What is "Occupy" now? Well, just read the description of their "May Day" (emphasis mine):

"We are here to celebrate our power as people who have found unity of purpose. Today we assert our power as working people. We declare our solidarity with all people of the world. We affirm our rights to economic security, to meaningful work, to health care, to public services, to safe and healthy communities, to free, quality public education from pre-K to college, and to civil liberties..."

Wait, there's more!

" We seek an end to an era wherein a handful of political and economic elites govern in the name of democracy. We want an end to assaults on our human rights. We want an end to tax breaks for the rich. We want an end to the attacks on our right to organize. We want an end to the mass incarceration of people of color. We want an end to all wars and an end to the militarization of our foreign policy. We want an end to our current political system that is bought and paid for by 1%- ers. We want legalization, equal rights, civil rights, and a path to citizenship for immigrant working families. And we want citizenship to mean, as it should, that all people are to be treated justly and equally by their government."

 Phew! Anything else, occupyers? To the schedule of events!!!

"Guitar Workshop and Rehearsal with Tom Morello

Meditation Flash Mob followed by Kirtan

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Contingent! 

Occupy the Rent Guidelines Board: A Tenants’ General Assembly"

 So... in short, Occupy is now about every single liberal cause and hippie movement of the last 60 years, with a grab bag of anarchist ideas and communist philosophies. Their goal is to not only end corporate malfeasance, but also to return to a simple way of farm living and learn guitar.

To accomplish these targeted, "unified" goals, which are absolutely all related to one another and all have the same urgency and context, the May Day organizers have planned to hit the 1% right where it hurts... right in the gut of the 99%.

Yes, that's right. In order to teach those "government elites," they're going to help shut down transportation and commerce for the day. In other words, make it really difficult for working people to get to work and do their jobs. This will hurt the 1%, because they'll be forced to either stay home in their mansions and play tennis in their indoor recreation areas, or they'll need to take their helicopters to work or risk being late for work at the companies they own. HOW WILL THE 1% SURVIVE!!?!?!

Surely, when the 1% see the streets they rarely ever travel on blocked by guitars and wannabe-Buddhists, they'll immediately surrender, handing Jimmy Ninetynineperecent the keys to the Capitol Building. "We so sorry, 99%," Mr. Moneybags will say. "Your rendition of Knocking on Heaven's Door while blocking traffic on 5th Avenue really spoke to my soul, and convinced me to take you completely seriously. I admired how organized and focused your movement is. The 526 things you said you wanted? Done."

And then the 99% will rejoice!! Who cares if their lives were made more difficult and annoying for a day!? Who cares if someone lost their job because the ladies boutique they worked for had slow business due to the Occupy protest blocking the street? Or an ambulance couldn't get through to save a life because Harry Hippieshoes was leading a parade of Pro-Palestinian, Anti-Israeli Mexican Immigrants For Legalization of Marijuana and Exotic Animal Ownership?

Okay. Enough with the sarcasm. But as one who identifies with many of the 828.3 causes the Occupy movement represents, I'm terribly frustrated. Because instead of fighting for something everyone can get their head around--the out-of-control corruption of our financial system by investment banks, risking our money to help themselves get richer--the movement is instead broadcasting a muddled message and carrying out actions that only seem designed to malign police officers and the working class. A YouTube video of a cop pepper-spraying protesters gets a lot of clicks, and makes people mad at cops, but does it really do anything to focus our attention towards the growing gap between rich and poor in America? No.

"Why is the general public so negative about the May Day protest?" an Occupyer asked the popular social news site Reddit--a site that helped drive the initial protests. The best answers could be summed up like this:

"When you inconvenience and annoy the common man, he does not rally to your side. He sees you as the enemy, not what you're fighting against."

That's why the Occupy movement will fail. They're occupied with too many things, and they're occupying the wrong places.

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