Tag Archives: Politics

Occupy Boston: The roots of peaceful protest



Video of interviews taken on September 30, 2011

On October 9. 2011, this picture-perfect Boston day, I took a walk over to a part of Boston called Dewey Square. On September 30, 2011, this little section of Boston located between the Federal Reserve Building and the Financial District became the home of a protest movement called Occupy Boston. This movement is associated but separate from the one in NYC known as Occupy Wall Street.

My only exposure to this movement was only through some press coverage in the Boston area. The interpretation that I was left with from the press is that these were a bunch of people that didn’t know how to organize of have a real agenda. I decided to find out for myself.

As you approach this meridian patch of land nestled between two main roads, it looks like the local EMS is having an outdoor tent sale. As you get closer the people come in focus, then the signs. It really is a hodgepodge of both people and messages on the signs. As I approached this urban campsite, there were spectators, “residents” and skateboarders in the mix. I was struck by hand made signs that adorned different tents. “Library”, “Sacred Space”, “Students” and of course an “Info” were the first tents I saw.

Once entering this dense collection of tents, I was struck by how organized it actually felt. There was a main path with tents and a swarm of meanderers on either side of me. I passed the food tent that was offering free food to anyone that asked. I then made my way to the “Media” tent and spoke to a few people there. It was amazing to see how connected this media tent was. Computers with social media publishing tools, some video being watched and some sound equipment accented the hum of organized chaos. You could feel the energy that people had. They were part of something bigger than themselves and they were all in!

I continued my own walkabout to discover a fair amount of young adults that dressed and smelled like many of the people that followed the Grateful Dead. While I never toured with the Grateful Dead, I did have my share of Grateful Dead experiences. However, there was one distinct smell that made it unlike a Grateful Dead show, or should I say the lack of one… pot. There was no Mary Jane adding to the experience here. Bravo for to the organizers for taking that out of the mix. Clearly some things have changed since the time of the Dead shows.

As I walked to the other entrance/exit of this mini tent city, I saw a motorcycle with a Ron Paul sticker. A young man who looked to be about 20 was holding a sign that said “End the Federal Reserve”. To be fair, he was clearly part of the Ron Paul folks there. You gotta love the Ron Paul movement, they leverage any opportunity to get their message across. Having not done a podcast with Jeff in over two months, I was itching for a good political debate. Now was my chance. End the Fed, I thought, putty in my hands.

I approached this young adult with a smile and a question “Why do you want to end the Federal Reserve?”. His answer was filled with passion, if not anything else. “Because they caused all the problems with this economy,” he said. I responded, “Can you give me an example of how they have caused this economic downturn?” Clearly struggling with an answer, he grabs his friend next to him and says, “This guy wants to know why we should end the Fed.” His friend laughs and says, “It’s all you man. You are holding that sign, not me.” While I was disappointed that I was not going to get my debate, it did emphasize something that struck me about the Occupy movement in general, they are a protest, not a solution.

This is where the press does the movement a dis-service. They are treated harshly because they don’t have a 50 pont plan to solve the economy. They are taken lightly that they can’t articulate the specific causes for the economic turmoil that we face. However, they don’t need to. At least not now. The movement needs only to maintain the vigil. This allows the conversation to be changed. It allows the conversation to not be about the wars. It need not be about how taxes can’t be raised under any condition. It IS about how people are hurting, how they are frustrated and how they feel left out of the American Dream.

I am one who prefers to debate the issues with facts and come to a conclusion on what direction we should go. This, however, is a peaceful protest that has social media savvy. As these disparate Occupy groups come together using the very social media tools that have a business model of high revenues and low numbers of employees, they also empower themselves with one of the most powerful and efficient ways to organize people and disseminate a message. If successful, these groups can tap into a generation that now finds itself in a world far less embracing than the virtual one they grew up with on XBox. If this generation mobilizes, it can have an unprecedented impact on both our political and economic environments. This could be the movement that dumps a different kind of TEA back into Boston Harbor.

Budget Control Act of 2011


It’s hard to not be cynical on this plan. Instead of putting my spin on this plan, it is now your turn. We have great thinkers who read this blog. Let’s here from you. Here is the .pdf legislative language (all 74 pages). Have a read, tell us who is the big loser politically is and give us your comments.

Check Please!


I’m at that time in my observations of what is happening in Washington DC where I just want to ask for the check and get out of this dysfunctional restaurant where the floor show and the food are both equally bad.

Last night, we saw more finger pointing. The President placed the blame on the Republicans for not wanting a balanced approach that includes cuts to spending and increase in revenues, yet earlier in the day he backed the Reid plan which contained no revenue increases.

But wait, The Speaker of the House spoke right after the President and had his own spin on things. Among other things, he claims that his plan is born out of the “bi-partisan” efforts in Congress. Well Mr. Speaker, if it were bi-partisan efforts, why can’t your plan pass the Senate? Five Democratic votes out of a total of 193 Democrats in the House does not make it a bi-partisan effort.

The sad thing is that both parties are not telling the American people the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The truth is that regardless of what happens over the next week, the US credit rating is going to go down. Why? Well, it’s not about the debt ceiling. It is about the debt and our inability to get control of it. The Democrats and Republicans talk a good game, but neither one are serious. They are both part of how we got here. They are two sides of the same coin. How else can we answer the following questions:

  • Is removing a loophole that was created by lobbyist efforts really a tax increase?
  • Does a tax system that allows a $200 billion company to pay no income tax make any sense?
  • Does a government that spends money in other countries building their infrastructure while our own is falling apart make sense?

However, the markets see this country for what it is… an over-spending entity, that does not invest in itself or its people. It is an entity that believes you can strangle your own bad habits by cutting revenue sources ’till it hurts. The result will not be a default. That is not what the markets are worried about. The result will be the belief that we cannot get our fiscal house in order. In fact that result is already there. The steady decline of the dollar was the early sign. We pay more for things now than we did last year even though demand is soft. The next step will be the lowering of our credit rating which will trigger higher interest rates for the US to borrow. This will have a domino effect on other interest rates that are tied to government rates. The average consumer will see a steady increase in some of the rates they are paying. This begins a spiral effect that is tough in a good economy and could prove to be devastating in our current sluggish economy.

Remember this at the next election. It’s time to vote out the immature kids who can’t play nice. It’s time we vote in some adults who can bring in not the “Change we can believe”, but deliver on the “Change that we need”… fiscal discipline on all fronts.

The Constitutionality of the McConnell Debt Ceiling Plan


Isn’t it odd that the in the House of Representatives, the Republicans added a rule to read parts of the Constitution that justifies any new bill while the Senate Republicans want to defy the Constitution? Senator Mitch McConnell wants to allow the President to propose an increase to the debt limit in which Congress will vote on its “approval”. Unlike a bill that would come out of Congress and allow the President to sign it and therefore become law, the McConnell plan allows the President to veto a Congressional vote that is not in favor of an approval or “Disapproves” the proposal. According to the McConnell plan, this veto would then allow the president on his own power to raise the debt ceiling.

This is wrong on multiple levels. Politically, it is cowardly to see the desire to on one hand allow the debt ceiling to be raised, but on the other hand have a majority vote against it for political cover. Politics, however, has not always been the most noble profession and this is no exception. The big problem is with the Constitutionality of this this move. The framers of the Constitution were very clear about which branch has the ability to raise debt.  It is spelled out in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution that the branch with such power is the Legislature:

Powers of Congress
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

The McConnell Plan would transfer this power, albeit with a time limit, to the Executive Branch by enabling the President to usurp Legislative power and rule of law with the use of a Veto. The Constitution is very clear about putting the purse strings of the United States in the hands of the Legislature.  They understood that the body to authorize spending must be separate from the body that actually spends. The concentration of both authorizing and spending power in one person’s hands is too great.

James Madison warned of this in The Federalist Papers #47. He wrote:

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. Were the federal Constitution, therefore, really chargeable with the accumulation of power, or with a mixture of powers, having a dangerous tendency to such an accumulation, no further arguments would be necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system.

Madison warns us of placing powers in the hands of one branch that are not subject to the checks and balances of the others. Congress should not be able to circumvent the Constitution and cede power to the President (even if they wish to). It is odd that the very party that wants to see the President ousted from office in the next election is so willing to hand over their own power to the very same President.

Our only hope, if this plan becomes law, is that the Supreme Court in short order declares this plan to be un-Constitutional. However, that in and of itself creates a domino effect of issues surrounding any of the debt related activities that the President under the plan.

Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution states:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

If the Supreme Court were to rule on the plan as un-Constitutional, what would happen to any debts taken under that plan? Is there a Constitutional crisis when two sections of the Constitution would conflict?

Given the limited time before the United States has to raise the debt ceiling and the Constitutional issues with the McConnell plan, I have to question the judgement of the very people considering it on both sides.

Episode 123 – GOP 2012 Romney’s to Lose, Bachmann’s to Win?



Who is going to challenge Mitt Romney for the 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination? Will it come from the evangelical right, as conventional wisdom dictates, or with everyone so far to the right, will the challenge come from the left, through Huntsman? Are Pawlenty and the others positioned properly? Is there a hidden anti-Mormon vote that will sink Romney and Huntsman? Do the Republicans want to beat Obama so badly that they’ll hold their nose and vote for anyone they think will win, including the chameleoon-like Romney? Does Ron Paul have a shot, and why does he keep winning straw polls? All these questions are dealt with in the show, plus the issue of remaining in Afghanistan and Pakistan, whether or not we should be declaring war on Libya, and what is it about the new Green Lantern movie that sends chills down our hosts spines? Always irreverent and informative, it’s PoliTalk. Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion…without the fighting!

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

You can get the PoliTalk Podcast on iTunes and Zune

Of you can play right the show here by clicking on the play button below:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/politalk/Episode_123_-_GOP_2012_Romneys_to_Lose_Bachmanns_to_Win_.mp3%20

Episode 122 – Obama Up Medicare In GOP Out



The Democrats turn the tables on Republicans and use health care to their advantage in winning a long-held Republican Congressional seat in New York. Why did things change? What does this mean for the 2012 elections? Are Republicans worried so much about singing to the choir that they’re missing the tone of the electorate? As President Obama continues to climb in the polls, will Republican pot shots continue to pay-off, or will they backfire? With so many candidates leaving the race, what are the Republican prospects in 2012? Always entertaining and informative, it’s Political — the political podcast. Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political talk…without the fighting.

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

You can get the PoliTalk Podcast on iTunes and Zune

Of you can play right the show here by clicking on the play button below:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/politalk/Episode_122_-_Obama_Up_Medicare_In_GOP_Out.mp3%20

Episode 121 – Gas Prices Go Up, Poll Numbers Go Down



We all know there’s fallout from the rise in gas prices, but in this episode Jeff and Glenn go beyond the rising numbers to talk about the larger political themes, from gas prices to big banks to big business, and look at the specific issues driving the politics and policies around gas prices. Leaving the gas behind, they also talk about the 2012 presidential primary process. Glenn explains why so many on the Republican side are waiting to get in, while Jeff chides them for waiting too long, and costing themselves a chance at a presidency that is within their grasp. Jeff explains how the electoral math has shifted for President Obama, leaving him vulnerable in key states and promising a close race…a race many Republicans seem reluctant to wage. Glenn closes the show with a passionate explanation about why the Royal Wedding, and specifically the British Monarchy it represents, shouldn’t be the object of such media saturation here in the United States. Note to self: Glenn won’t be invited to many Royal cocktail parties in the future. Always engaging and informative, it’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast, co-hosted by Glenn Gaudet and Jeff Kimball.

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

You can get the PoliTalk Podcast on iTunes and Zune

Of you can play right the show here by clicking on the play button below:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/politalk/Episode_121_-_Gas_Prices_Go_Up_and_Poll_Numbers_Go_Down.mp3%20