Please use this thread to share anything that tickles your funny bone in an Occupy context.  Seems like we could all use a good laugh these days.  We'll open with the hilarious letter from Goldman Sachs President Lloyd Blankfein Andy Borowitz below, "concerning Occupy Wall Street."

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A Letter from Goldman Sachs

Concerning Occupy Wall Street

 

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)– The following is a letter released today by Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman of banking giant Goldman Sachs:

Dear Investor:

Up until now, Goldman Sachs has been silent on the subject of the protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street.  That does not mean, however, that it has not been very much on our minds.  As thousands have gathered in Lower Manhattan, passionately expressing their deep discontent with the status quo, we have taken note of these protests.  And we have asked ourselves this question:

How can we make money off them?

The answer is the newly launched Goldman Sachs Global Rage Fund, whose investment objective is to monetize the Occupy Wall Street protests as they spread around the world.  At Goldman, we recognize that the capitalist system as we know it is circling the drain – but there’s plenty of money to be made on the way down.

The Rage Fund will seek out opportunities to invest in products that are poised to benefit from the spreading protests, from police batons and barricades to stun guns and forehead bandages.  Furthermore, as clashes between police and protesters turn ever more violent, we are making significant bets on companies that manufacture replacements for broken windows and overturned cars, as well as the raw materials necessary for the construction and incineration of effigies.

It would be tempting, at a time like this, to say “Let them eat cake.”  But at Goldman, we are actively seeking to corner the market in cake futures.  We project that through our aggressive market manipulation, the price of a piece of cake will quadruple by the end of 2011.

Please contact your Goldman representative for a full prospectus.  As the world descends into a Darwinian free-for-all, the Goldman Sachs Rage Fund is a great way to tell the protesters, “Occupy this.”  We haven’t felt so good about something we’ve sold since our souls.

Sincerely,

Lloyd Blankfein

Chairman, Goldman Sachs

 

Meanwhile, the 1% better watch out for probes. Oh those crazy British Columbians...

 

 

A political party hack was trolling one of the OWS livestream chatrooms yesterday, and somebody responded to them by saying, "I'd rather vote for RuPaul than Ron Paul."

Hysterical!  One wonders how many issues the two Pauls might actually agree upon though...

Here's a little humorous (but also dead serious) piece that I wrote, Ben, and have used as the basis for teach-ins:

Consensual Political Intercourse
by Mark E. Smith
 
"...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." --Declaration of Independence
 
Ever get the feeling that your government is screwing you? Legally, of course, that's something that it is not allowed to do unless you give your consent. Without your consent it isn't a consensual relationship and becomes rape. So my question is, did you give your consent or not?
 
"Of course not," my friends tell me indignantly. "Why would we consent to having our own jobs outsourced,  our homes fraudulently foreclosed, our children's futures mortgaged to pay for wars based on lies, big  corporations poisoning our food and water, and law enforcement pepper-spraying, beating, and arresting us for peaceful protests?"
 
"I don't know why you'd consent to things like that," I tell them, "but I'm not so much concerned about your reasoning--I just want to know if you did or did not give your consent."
 
"No!" they answer angrily. "We did not consent!"
 
And I hear their echoes everywhere I go.
 
"We did not consent!" shout the activists and protesters.
 
"We did not consent!" scream the progressives and regressives.
 
"We did not consent!" holler the downsized, outsourced, and foreclosed, young and old.
 
I hear them, but I'm not sure I'm buying it. If they didn't consent, how could things like this have happened? What if they actually had consented but are now ashamed of it and are trying to frame a perfectly innocent government for rape?
 
Now I'm not talking about implied consent, I'm talking about affirmative consent. Not just the failure to resist or to say no, but the act of saying, "Yes! I want it! Screw me! Take me for everything I've got! I'm yours!"
 
You see, our government may be aggressive abroad, but here at home it is not a rapist. It always asks you clearly and politely if you want to be screwed. And the process in which it asks is called the electoral system. Every four years our government asks us if we want to be screwed, and every four years we say yes. It even holds off-year elections every two years, and in most places citizens are asked to give their consent, at least to being screwed by state and local government, every year or several times a year.
 
"But we didn't say yes," people tell me. "We voted no!"
 
Ah, but we have secret vote counting in this country, so how can you prove that you said no? When votes are counted in secret it is the same as when intercourse takes place behind closed doors. It's your word against theirs and they say that you said yes.
 
"No," they tell me, "it so happens that the whole thing was caught on videotape and we can prove that we said no." And sure enough, there are CD ROMS with the poll tapes, the register books, and the actual ballots, proving that the citizens did not consent. But alas, the statute of limitations has run out and it is much too late to file charges now. "Why didn't you bring this evidence forward at the time?" I ask.
 
"Because it was withheld from us," they whine. "The government wouldn't let us have the proof until we'd spent years in court forcing them to release the records."
 
"You're telling me," I say, "that you had a few drinks with them, went up to their room, they asked you politely if you wanted to get screwed, and you said no, clearly and distinctly, but that they raped you anyway, and that when you tried to get the tapes to prove it, they wouldn't give them to you until it was too late for you to file charges?"
 
"Uh," they respond, "we thought that as long as there was a verifiable record of what happened, it would be perfectly safe."
 
If I hadn't seen the evidence with my own eyes, I don't think I'd believe that there had been any rape. People that dumb are so easily seduced that it isn't usually necessary to rape them. But I have seen the evidence and they were indeed raped.*
 
In 2000 the people clearly said no, but the Supreme Court didn't consider the evidence (the vote count, the illegal voter purges, the voter suppression, and the rigged ballots and voting machines) to be admissible, so an unelected President was installed against the express will of the people. That's rape. But by the time the government released the evidence, it was too late to do anything about it.
 
In 2004 the people again clearly said no, and this time one of the candidates had promised that he would ensure that they would be given an accurate record of the evidence, but at the last minute, he changed his mind. Once again the evidence was withheld and the unelected President was installed for a second term. And once again by the time the people were able to prove they'd been raped, it was too late to do anything about it and the damage could not be repaired.
 
In the 2008 election there was no need to meddle with the election. Since the only two candidates with any chance  of winning had virtually identical voting records, agendas, and big donors, people could vote however they wanted and the result would be the same. So once again the government asked you politely if you wanted to get screwed, and once again you shmoozed with them, had a few drinks together, and then went into their voting booth and said  no. And once again you're claiming that you were raped and that you didn't realize it until it was much too late to do anything about it.
 
And yet people still berate me when I suggest that they not go to the polls next time.
 
"If we don't vote, we can't complain," they say.
 
What good does complaining do?
 
"If we don't vote, the bad guys will win," they tell me.
 
Do the good guys win when they do vote?
 
"It's our civic duty and responsibility to vote," they claim.
 
In rigged elections with secret vote counts for candidates who can't be held accountable? Give me a break!
 
"This time it might be different," they say.
 
Really? Did we get a new Constitution that guaranteed us the right to have our votes counted and counted accurately? Did we abolish the Electoral College? Did we outlaw the optical scanners, electronic voting machines, and central tabulators the way that Germany's Supreme Court did because they conceal electoral processes from the public and are therefore incompatible with democracy? Did we establish publicly funded elections, equal ballot access,  and restore the Fairness Doctrine to get corporate money out of politics so that third party candidates have a level playing field? Did we eliminate gerrymandered districts? Did we gain proportional representation? What's different this time?
 
"People who don't vote are apathetic," they say.
 
Who's more apathetic, people who don't care who governs them or how they're governed, or people who refuse to delegate their power to officials they can't hold accountable?
 
Well, the first time somebody tells me that they've been raped, I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. But I will ask how it happened and if it seems to me that they were engaging in risky behavior, I'll suggest that they be more careful in the future.
 
The second time that somebody tells me they've been raped, and they explain that it happened in the exact same way because they ignored my advice, I begin to feel that they are at least partially to blame themselves.
 
But when it happens a third time and a fourth time, I have no more sympathy. Unless you enjoyed it the first few times, you wouldn't consent to allow it to happen again and again. So if you are one of the 99% who have been getting screwed, and particularly if you are one of the many who don't like what our government has been doing to us, but you  are going to cast a ballot in 2012  granting your personal consent of the governed for them to keep screwing  you, please try to understand that when you grant your consent, they have your explicit permission to screw you, so don't complain afterwards that you've been raped, because that's not rape, that's consensual political intercourse, so don't come crying to me!
-----------------------
 
*The Evidence:
 
Witness to a Crime: A Citizens' Audit of an American Election by Richard Hayes Phillips (Hardcover with CD ROM, Canterbury Press, March 2008)
How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008 by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman (Paperback - Sep 21, 2005)
What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election by Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld, and Harvey Wasserman
Did George W. Bush Steal America's 2004 Election? by Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld, and Harvey Wasserman (Paperback - May 30, 2005)
Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?: Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count by Steve Freeman and Joel Bleifuss (Paperback - Jun 19, 2006)
HACKED! High Tech Election Theft in America - 11 Experts Expose the Truth by Abbe Waldman Delozier and Vickie Karp (Paperback - Sep 5, 2006)
Irreparable Harm: The U.S. Supreme Court and The Decision That Made George W. Bush President by Renata Adler (Paperback - Jul 2004)
Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform by Mark Crispin Miller (Paperback - Jun 2007)
Loser Take All: Election Fraud and The Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008 by Mark Crispin Miller (Paperback - April 1, 2008)
Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast (Paperback - Apr, 2007)
 
 
Author contact: mymark@gmail.com  Website: http://fubarandgrill.org

Very well written and compelling, Mark.  Not so funny though, is it?  This reminds me of what Peter Block has to say about the need for us to shift from being "consumers" (even in politics) to "citizens."  Here's a taste from Community: the Structure of Belonging, my favorite book of his:

If what holds the possibility of an alternative future for our community is our capacity to fully come into being as a citizen, then we have to talk about this word citizen. Our definition here is that a citizen is one who is willing to be accountable for and committed to the well-being of the whole. That whole can be a city block, a community, a nation, theearth. A citizen is one who produces the future, someone who does notwait, beg, or dream for the future.

The antithesis of being a citizen is the choice to be a consumer or a client,an idea that John McKnight again has been so instructive about. Consumers give power away. They believe that their own needs can be best satisfied by the actions of others––whether those others are elected officials, top management,social service providers, or the shopping mall. Consumers also allow others to define their needs. If leaders and service providers are guilty of labeling or projecting onto others the “needs” to justify their own style of leadership orservice that they provide, consumers collude with them by accepting others’ definition of their needs. This provider-consumer transaction is the breeding ground for entitlement, and it is unfriendly to our definition of citizen and the power inherent in that definition.

The Meaning of Citizenship

The conventional definition of citizenship is concerned with the act of voting and taking a vow to uphold the constitution and laws of a country. This is narrow and limiting. Too many organizations that are committed to sustaining democracy in the world and at home have this constrained view of citizenship.Citizenship is not about voting, or even about having a vote. To construe the essence of citizenship primarily as the right to vote reduces its power––as if voting ensures a democracy. It is certainly a feature of democracy, but as Fareed Zakaria points out in his book The Future of Freedom, the right to votedoes not guarantee a civil society, or in our terms a restorative one.

When we think of citizens as just voters, we reduce them to being consumers of elected officials and leaders. We see this most vividly at election time, when candidates become products, issues become the message, and the campaign is a marketing and distribution system for the selling of the candidate. Great campaign managers are great marketers and product managers.Voters become target markets, demographics, whose most important role is to meet in focus groups to respond to the nuances of message. This is the power of the consumer, which is no power at all.

Through this lens, we can understand why so many people do not vote.They do not believe their action can impact the future. It is partly a self chosen stance and partly an expression of the helplessness that grows out of a retributive world. This way of thinking is not an excuse not to vote, but it does say that our work is to build the capacity of citizens to be accountable and to become creators of community.  pp.63-64

Perhaps the central and most compelling aspect of the Occupy movement is a rejection of the passive stance of the consumer and a bold and highly visible reclaiming of the role of citizen.

We have yet to dive deeply into the thematic issue of money/corruption in politics here.  I'm sure we'll get there soon enough.  In fact, I invite you to consider starting a new discussion thread on that subject, where I will repost this as well.  We are developing a new practice of offering "hosted" threads in order to make these forums more generative.  Would you be interested in beta-testing that idea with us?

 

Sure, Ben--sounds like fun. But perhaps not tonight, since it is already 5:00 a.m. here and I probably should be thinking of getting some sleep. Let me know what to do and I'll get started on it whenever I wake up. I've got two things to add to the topic, one serious and one humorous, so it might make an interesting thread.

 

 

Emily wins Soapbox Idol contest at Porcupine Freedom Festival 2011 with Top 10 Reasons why the Mafia is better than the state:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IErlI34-0so

 

Alright--it's been a long time since we posted anything here, and I think we can all use a good laugh.  This NYTimes "OpEd" is truly hilarious and terribly clever, although it may require a cursory familiarity with quantum mechanics to fully appreciate it.

A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney

Here's a sample:

Before Mitt Romney, those seeking the presidency operated under the laws of so-called classical politics, laws still followed by traditional campaigners like Newt Gingrich. Under these Newtonian principles, a candidate’s position on an issue tends to stay at rest until an outside force — the Tea Party, say, or a six-figure credit line at Tiffany — compels him to alter his stance, at a speed commensurate with the size of the force (usually large) and in inverse proportion to the depth of his beliefs (invariably negligible). This alteration, framed as a positive by the candidate, then provokes an equal but opposite reaction among his rivals.

But the Romney candidacy represents literally a quantum leap forward. It is governed by rules that are bizarre and appear to go against everyday experience and common sense. To be honest, even people like Mr. Fehrnstrom who are experts in Mitt Romney’s reality, or “Romneality,” seem bewildered by its implications; and any person who tells you he or she truly “understands” Mitt Romney is either lying or a corporation.

Enjoy!

Noir humor is when something is so tragic that all one can do is laugh about it. A commenter in Europe wrote to mailing list I subscribe to that if US voters understood the influence of the Koch brothers on US politics, things would change. This was my response:

Under United States Constitutional law, the popular vote doesn't
even have to be counted, can be overturned by a fraudulent vote count, the
Electoral College, Congress, or the Supreme Court, and, in any event, has
no influence whatsoever on policy decisions. Individuals and corporations
are legally allowed to spend as much money influencing elections as they
wish, as the US Supreme Court has ruled that money is speech and the
Constitution protects speech. As for those hundreds of millions of voters,
approximately half of the eligible electorate in the U.S., they are so
apathetic that they knowingly and voluntarily grant their consent of the
governed to a government that fewer than 10% of them approve of, and which
they cannot hold accountable. They don't care about wars, genocides,
bailouts, access to health care, or anything else, as long as they are
allowed to vote to delegate such decisions to candidates chosen by the two
major political parties on the basis of how much corporate money they can
raise, and who will therefore act in the interests of their corporate
donors rather than in the interests of their constituents.

In the '08 elections, both candidates, Republican McCain and Democrat
Obama, took time out from campaigning to issue a joint statement that they
both supported the bailouts, despite the fact that 90% of the US public did
not. That left voters with a choice between bailouts they opposed, and
bailouts they opposed, yet voters are so apathetic that they voted anyway.

Not only don't US votes have to be counted, as was proven in 2000 when the
Supreme Court stopped the vote count and selected the President themselves,
but more than 90% of US votes are completely unverifiable:

http://fubarandgrill.org/node/1353

US voters are so apathetic that they don't care if their votes aren't
counted and aren't verifiable, as long as they are allowed to vote for
candidates who won't represent them, cannot be held accountable, and will
not allow public opinion to influence policy decisions.

The US is the world's largest military superpower and has spent billions of
dollars on Homeland Security, including having the military supply local
law enforcement with weapons and training to suppress massive civil dissent
if it should become necessary. The US also supplies this training and sells
those weapons to foreign countries, including some of the world's most
brutal dictatorships, and the training in suppressing civil dissent
includes training in torture and the training of death squads, often led by
US military, CIA, or mercenary advisers on the ground, and this is such a
large proportion of the US arms market that the US cannot afford to allow
civil dissent to succeed at home for fear of losing market share abroad.

While there is some civil dissent anyway, the half of the population that
votes still believes in the capitalist imperialist system and continues to
vote to support it, consent to it, and legitimize it. Most of the civil
dissent in the US, outside of a few cities like Oakland, California, with
large minority populations, is nothing more than self-interested complaints
about not getting enough benefits from government, and has nothing
whatsoever in common with the global struggle against the social and
economic injustice of the capitalist imperialist system.

Treason by a President or Congress is tolerated by US voters because they
believe that as long as they are allowed to cast their uncounted ballots,
they are living in a democracy. Facts and evidence, even when known and
widely acknowledged, do nothing to alter this irrational belief. Neither
wars of aggression based on lies, wars begun without Congressional
approval, the loss of habeus corpus, the assertion of the President of the
right to indefinitely detain US citizens without charge or assassinate them
at will, or anything else has stopped US voters from continuing to vote. US
voters are so apathetic that they willingly allow their small children to
be publicly molested by TSA agents at airports rather than make a fuss.

What is worse is that foreign governments have allied themselves with the
US, participated in these wars of aggression based on lies, do business
with the same transnational corporations that own the US political system,
and despite the havoc they are wreaking, allow US-controlled financial
institutions to destroy their economies, responding to public protests by
purchasing more riot and crowd control weapons and training from the US.

The only glimmer of hope so far is that Russian and China vetoed the US
invasion of Syria. Normally, if the US President cannot get either UN or
Congressional approval for an unprovoked genocide, he will act unilaterally
and declare war by Executive Order as Commander-in-Chief (actually
Corporate-Puppet-in-Chief). But apparently, having the possibility of
retaliation by both Russia and China must have given Obama pause, as we
have not yet invaded Syria. That doesn't mean that we don't have covert
operatives on the group attempting to create cause to invade, but it did
postpone what would otherwise have been an immediate invasion.

Don't look to US voters for anything. They know the Koch brothers influence
on politics, but their choices are to continue to vote anyway, or to
forfeit what they believe to be their precious right to vote. If the only
two candidates with any chance whatsoever of winning in 2012 both promise
that if elected, they will declare martial law and end all elections in the
US, US voters will either vote for whichever one they consider to be the
lesser evil, or cast a protest ballot for somebody they know has no chance
of winning. They will not give up their precious right to cast uncounted,
unverifiable ballots for candidates who cannot be held accountable and who
they know will not represent their interests. There is nothing in the world
more apathetic than a US voter. As an election boycott advocate for the
past six years, I've had to contend with this irrefutable fact on a daily
basis.

If we don't keep our sense of humor, it's all just too awful.  That was the wise advice of the late Howard Zinn, among may others.  I'm sure you will find much to resonate with in his words on that and other counts, Mark.  

Nice to see you back here, btw!

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