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Here’s a quick roundup of some progressive causes you might be interested in this week. Feel free to visit each campaign that you care about and adding your signature to help create lasting change.

Protect wild horses: Tell the U.S. Forest Service to maintain wild horse habitat this year and avoid the horse removal and roundup that is being proposed. Ten percent of the horses’ habitat is at risk right now, so it’s vital that we speak up and protect what little land they have left to roam.

Save the Northwest orcas: The National Marine Fisheries may remove the Pacific Northwest’s killer whales’ protection soon if we don’t speak up for them. Click here to ask that this critically endangered group of whales—with a population below 100—be continually offered protection by the National Marine Fisheries and local laws.

Tell the House and Senate to provide relief for Hurricane Sandy victims! I can’t believe we are still having to ask for this months later. What a gross disregard for American citizens, Congress; you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. I think we should all call every day until this relief is passed and sent! Click here to ask that the Sandy Relief Package be passed immediately.

Stop Arctic drilling: After yet another oil spill—just this past New Year’s Eve—have we not learned that drilling in the Arctic—or any of our fragile areas, for that matter—is not the answer we seek? We need a renewable energy strategy now; our children are going to hate us when they live in a world without power because their parents didn’t stand up to the oil companies and Congress, demanding sustainability for all, right now. Make them proud and secure their future by asking that we stop drilling now and start seeking solutions elsewhere.

Ask Weezer to renounce tobacco company ties. I still can’t believe this band—still popular with many teens and young people abroad, as well as with some folks of my own generation—allowed themselves to be marketed and sold with cigarettes. In Indonesia, their recent concert was sponsored by a tobacco company that actually passed out cigarettes during the concert itself! Weezer hasn’t said anything about this “special relationship,” and it’s about time they did. Ask them to stop wasting peoples’ days, and to speak up and out against tobacco use and to stop using cancer sticks to make sales.

Welfare to Work proposals

I love Republican thinking---NOT!

 

I love how Republicans think. Really, I do. Especially after the latest news about possible changes to the Welfare to Work Program, which was originally backed by Clinton.

The economy is in shambles and the Obama Administration is looking for ways for states to make the welfare to work program easier on the poorest Americans while cutting through red tape faster. The Administration has requested a waiver plan—the details of which can be found HERE.

In response, Republicans at the national level are calling foul. Representative Camp called the waiver plan "a brazen and unwarranted unraveling of welfare reform," while Hatch called it a "power grab."

Is it just me or does the national Republican party line—also backed by Hatch—sound a little bit like Marie Antoinette’s infamous, “Let them eat cake” line?

What are the people with no job skills who can’t get jobs supposed to do in this economy when even some of the most skilled laborers and white collar workers can’t find jobs?

Part of the need for waivers comes from the red tape needed to find gainful employees for the welfare recipients and their families. Even states with Republican governors are asking for waivers; the Obama Administration is listening, but the Republicans at the national level seem more interested in politicizing the issue rather than listening to the individual needs of the states and the people.

The individual that heads that Welfare to Work program is no better; his pitch sounds like the salesman from Glengarry Glen Ross or like Arnold Swarnegger as the Terminator.

A direct quote:

"We will hold states accountable," said George Sheldon, head of the federal Administration for Children and Families, the HHS agency that oversees the program. "If states are not meeting their performance targets, their authority to test new ideas will be terminated."

Let’s be completely clear here.

The Obama Administration is not hijacking the plan. The Obama Administration is looking to find workable solutions within the plan.

Which is slightly different than George Sheldon’s idea, which is to terminate the right to try new ideas.  I know that we are living in 2012, but statements like that his  and those of Camp and Hatch are absolutely terrifying. I shudder to think what the next progressive step is after the termination of ideas.

Is the HHS facing a cultural revolution of sorts where all workable ideas and solutions are shut out? Or is this a bigger problem that involves issues of class warfare and race at a deeper level?

Either way, it’s important to be wary of the rhetoric. We need to focus on what’s really important, which are the needs of the American people.

 

The new "messy" of the democratic process

The reasons that our democracy seems to be stalling are much deeper than just "democrats vs. republicans."

I’m sitting in the Douglas County Democratic Caucus in Omaha, Nebraska, looking at more red-faced frustrated people than I’ve ever seen in a single room. You might think they’ve just concluded a discussion about the Republican party, or a contentious vote regarding legislative candidates. Instead, the room is in an uproar over a messy hearing over a small aspect of legislative order. This is the inherent “messiness’ of the democratic process; a process that few people truly understand and one that even more people misattribute to political resistance.

Before the caucus opened I had an opportunity to speak to the caucus delegates individually; a private school teacher, an attorney, a disabled veteran, a retired farmer, a retired police officer, a surgeon. These individuals were invested in their party, and excited about the future of their city and their state. They were in it together. However, as the caucus began I saw the individual melt away and become a “caucus member,” a member of a demographic voting bloc in which the divisions, not the common causes, were emphasized. To a point, this is the nature of a caucus, to give the various interest groups a voice in the party’s agenda. The interest group, however, has become the primary agenda.

The allegiance and the promotion of special interests has become the political landscape in the nation as a whole. Party ideology may provide the greatest number of interest groups with some common cause to rally behind, but the primary allegiance is to that interest group. Be it veterans, various minorities, LGBT, retirees, public school teachers, or individuals 18-24, or 65 and older, special interests are what leverages party politics among the Democratic Party. Attempting to synthesize interest groups is the intrinsic “messiness” of the democratic process.

Now, take into account a public ignorance of the democratic process. Studies have shown that people are not only ignorant of the process, but of civics in general, which shows a slackening investment in our civic awareness as a public. This is particularly true in more local democratic events for any interest group, organization, or political entity. When you attend a local association forum or local political function, the special interests come out just as strongly but the difficulty in moving forward is compounded by the lack of procedural understanding. The result is a very messy democratic process indeed.

We, as a nation, need a grassroots political movement. Not the kind that either Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, or President Obama claim to have, nor the Tea Party or the Occupy Wall Street movement have been branded as. Instead, we need a grassroots political movement toward education and investment in the democratic process as a process. We pride ourselves on being a democracy, yet understand little about the fundamental procedures and philosophy that are its foundation.

Few people seem to acknowledge that democracy was created to exist in perpetuity, to evolve and improve with the people, as the people govern themselves. Instead, we find a bureaucratic piece of machinery that is loathe to evolve and seems separate from the people. This is the time not to invest ourselves in a political ideology, but in the political process that allow all people to participate in their own governance.

The battle Obama should have waged instead of healthcare reform

Looking back on Obama's first term, it's clear that he only had one congress in which to get something done. Here's my take...

The 112th congress has been, without disclaimers, one of the most counterproductive and divisive in the last century; a Republican-controlled funhouse of conservative/libertarian talking points steamrolled through the voting process and destined to die on the Senate floor.  President Obama, in the meantime, has seen almost every major initiative, appointment, or bill stalled out on the Senate floor by filibuster-happy Republican minority. The Republican tactic here has been simple: stall out the Democratic agenda until we can get a conservative in the White House, or take the Senate. In the meantime, the GOP has been trying to point to Obama has a failed-policy President, or a do-nothing President, either of which would be the direct result of Republican obstructionism. This got me thinking, President Obama's only real opportunity to fulfill that "hope and change" promise from 2008 was in the first two years of his presidency. What consumed the majority of that time period? Healthcare Reform.

Obamacare has been, by all accounts, a precedent-setting piece of legislation to be sure. It was a major step toward making insurance companies and health providers accountable for their products, services, and pricing. It also took a historical step toward the socialist democratic ideal of providing every American citizen with adequate healthcare (if that label frightens you, consider public education, the U.S. postal service, and social security). However, there were elements of the healthcare plan that were so revolutionary as to be frightening to a large swath of the American public, something the Republican opposition wasted no time in harnessing. Now, with a few provisions of the Affordable Care Act as it was named under deliberation by the Supreme Court, it's possible that Obama's window of opportunity may have been for naught. If the Supreme Court, which is a demonstrably conservative and partisan group, announces in June that part or all of the bill is unconstitutional, it's likely that Democrats and President Obama have to go back to the drawing board.

Healthcare reform was undeniably an important issue to address, and I can see how it would be an attractive target for the Democratic leadership. Healthcare costs and the unbelievable lack of regulation of the healthcare market was creating a free-for-all on the American people's savings accounts. However, there's another avenue to help the American people that would have been a better use of their time and probably would not have been nearly as hard to pass, may have received slightly more bipartisan support, and would not be subject to a judicial review that could undo everything. That avenue is in raising the minimum wage to a "living wage".

In July of 2009, congress raised the minimum wage from $6.55 to $7.25. However, an individual working 40 hours a week and never taking  vacation will still only earn slightly over $15,000 in a year. For a single parent with one child, $15,000 is beneath the poverty line. This essentially makes minimum wage a national endorsement of individuals within our workforce staying in poverty. If such a premium is placed on working and paying taxes, particularly by the political right (who are the most disinclined to support a minimum wage increase), then why is are the working poor such a wuickly growing segment of society? Increasing the minimum wage from something that maintains a class of working poor, to a federally mandated wage that would allow any individuals that work full-time, who have dependents, to be considered above the federal poverty line. Obama's first two years in office would have been better served by creating a "living wage" as a minumum wage, one guided less by federal poverty standards (which are notoriously unfair and prone to "gaps") and more by cost of living. Here is an easy reference list of my reasons for promoting a living wage over healthcare reform:

Economic stimulus - A living wage is more likely to stimulate the economy because it creates a healthier consumer class. As consumers purchase more, companies see larger revenue streams and increase hiring. The old, tired conservative mantra against raising minimum wage is predicated on the idea that most people in poverty do not work. This is patently untrue, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown. Instead, we should be looking at the possible investment to be made among those individuals living below the poverty line, and the incentive that a living wage would provide individuals to re-enter the workforce if they hadn't been previously. With a greater consumer class, economic recovery would be bolstered and unemployment would begin a stronger upward spiral. This is a far more "capitalistic" way of stimulating the economy than regulating a market to hold down costs which, indirectly, puts more money in the pockets of consumers.

Healthcare cost - One of the greatest inhibitors of cost equality in the healthcare industry is the underinsured or uninsured that are forced to use the costly care of an Emergency Room visit as their primary care. With a larger number of hosueholds earning a living wage, a larger number of people would be inclined to purchase health insurance. In addition, as a greater number of unemployed seek more menial employment, they'll be more likely to accept benefits such as employee-provided health insurance. Finally, as the middle class (in terms of household earnings) grows, peripheral aspects of healthcare such as preventative care, prenatal care, and geriatric care may see larger consumer traffic.

Real estate - Growing the middle class is the most reliable way to improve all markets. Of course, the hamstrung real estate market has been a hindrance to economic recovery since the downturn of 2008. As a result, the housing market is flush with empty homes awaiting buyers, which further dampens the surrounding housing market. By creating a living wage, individuals will be more able to afford homes in lower-middle markets. As those homes are purchased, and consumers increase their buying, the tradeoff to upper-middle class individuals is greater profits and an improved ability to purchase higher cost homes as well. It would be a slow-starting ripple effect, to be sure, but as long as lending practices stay sustainable, a living wage could greatly improve the health of the housing market.

Social responsibility - We have a responsibility, as a nation, to provide a way to success. That doesn't mean creating opportunities for people, it means providing individuals the ability to creating their own. Minimum wage, as it stands now, does not provide people with ample enough income to create those opportunities; whether it be purchasing a car to get to a job, purchasing a house to beign building equity, investing in a company, or just providing the bare necessities for their families. Even at $7.25 an hour, or $9.80 an hour (which has recently been proposed by Se. Tom Harkin, D-IA), an individual working in the U.S. should be at least paid enough, hourly or salary, to meet the basic expenses of what is required to create opportunities for oneself. We have a responsibility as a developed, democratic nation and world power to provide our citizens with at least that much.

Of course there is resistance from conservatives, who seem to pander to the business sector in all things, who say that not only will raising minimum wage not benefit those in poverty but it will also be detrimental to businesses. However, what businesses lose in wages to personnel, they will often see returned in the form of increased consumerism. Other say that increasing the minimum wage is further reason for companies to outsource their labor needs, which is just as much a tax code issue as it is one of corporate responsibility. There would be hurdles, had Obama chosen to pursue a living wage rather than healthcare reform, but I feel the benefit would have been more susbtantial than that gained from what ultimately became a watered-down effort to regulate the healthcare market. In addition, there is historical precedent in raising the minimum wage, which takes it out of the hands of a Supreme Court riddled with ideologues. Healthcare reform is undeniably needed in the U.S., but it's not nearly so pressing a concern as the millions of working (and non-working) poor in the country that have been used as political capital rather than invested in as human capital.

 

Mitt Romney and the Great American Disconnect

Why Mitt Romney Doesn't Understand the American People

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's recent gaffe where he stated he was not concerned about the poor people of America because they have access to social programs to help them is not just a misunderstanding between him and the press on his true meaning. It is a genuine statement of his beliefs, though he is now trying to say he did not mean it the way it sounded. However, this is just damage control on his part. For someone with Mitt Romney's huge degree of wealth (he is definitely one of the top members of the one percent), relating to the very poor of America on any kind of personal level is practically impossible. He just doesn't have any frame of reference for it, and his statement is just a reflection of this.

Now, this does not mean Mitt Romney hates the poor or has anything against them. That is very unlikely to be true. He simply does not understand them, their needs, wants, desires, or even prospects of getting wealthier. Having never known what it is like to be extremely poor, he literally comes from a different world than those on the financial fringe of society. Even the middle class will be very nearly beyond his understanding, if he understands them at all. He comes from a world of privilege, where money has never been an issue for him. This alone makes him a poor candidate for president of the United States.

No matter how good someone's intentions may be for this country when they run for president, those intentions are going to be difficult to turn into anything that will be truly helpful to the vast majority of the people in this country if a basic understanding of the needs of the 99% is not there. Mitt Romney does not have this understanding, so how can he be expected to create legislation to put before Congress that will be of real benefit to the people in the nation who need it most? He has more wealth than the last eight presidents, including Obama, put together. He understands the needs of rich people....very rich people. He may claim to have empathy with the poor and may study the conditions of the economic underclass to try to figure out what they need to give them more security, but that disconnect is going to remain because he has no frame of reference from which to relate to them.

Of course, there are issues with all of the Republican candidates for president that make them unsuitable to the job, but in Mitt Romney's case, the major disqualifying factor is his extreme wealth. While that is not a bad thing in itself, it does make it difficult for him to be a good president for the American public. A good president needs to understand the American people on a more personal level in order to craft good legislation that will benefit them and the country as a whole. America can not be run like a trust fund for rich men. It has to be run like a country full of people from all different walks of life and economic backgrounds, and the needs of each have to be taken into consideration and met as best as possible. When the president is so far removed from the mainstream of American society that he can not relate to those below his own economic status, and makes statements showing this to be true, then that candidate is not who we need as president of this country.

Fortunately, even though Mitt Romney is surging ahead of the other Republican presidential candidates in the primaries, he is still far behind Obama in the polls, so his chances of winning the presidency are remote even if he does get the Republican nomination (at least they are remote now, but things can change quickly in politics). Obama may not be perfect, but few presidents are even close to that impossible standard. At least he understands the majority of the American people and can relate to them in a way Romney never will. This makes Obama the best choice for the presidency that we have at the moment, and it is in the best interests of the country for him to continue in that roll. For now, it seems the American public agrees with this sentiment and sees Mitt Romney for who he is. He is simply a person who has good intentions, but lacks the ability to do any real good for the country because most of the people in it are people he can not understand.

The State of the Union--The Facts Separated from the Fiction

Don't Let Fox News Pull the Wool Over Your Eyes Tonight

Tonight, President Barack Obama gives his third State of the Union address to the nation. He will be going over some of the most important issues facing our nation right now (and almost certainly a little political talk regarding this year's presidential election, as well). Most media outlets will provide balanced and impartial comments and commentary on this address, but there are a few, Fox News being prominent among them, that will most likely spin whatever the president says to make it look bad....even if he gives irrefutable proof that things are good. That's the nature of the beast on conservative stations, sometimes.

No matter what Fox News or any other biased news outlet may say after the address, here are some real FACTS on the important issues our nation is facing right now, how the president has played a role in these issues, and what the outlook is for the future regarding these issues. Whether you're watching the address now or have already seen it, arm yourself with these facts and you'll know when any biased news outlet is trying to sway you to its side through distortion. This will make you a more informed voter when it comes time to go to the polls in November, which will benefit the country as a whole.

Fact #1--Since the last State of the Union address, there have been 1.9 million new jobs created in the private sector. Further, the president's overall job creation track record right now is larger than seven out of the eight years that Bush was president, so he's really on a roll with getting new jobs made and available to the public. So if anyone says the president isn't creating new jobs, that is simply not true.

Fact #2--2.5 million young adults were able to finally get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, another Obama administration initiative. This same act has allowed 2.65 million senior citizens to save around $570 each on prescription drugs in the past year.

Fact #3--Last year, the United States military, under the leadership of President Obama, eliminated some of its worst enemies, making the world a safer place for everyone. These enemies included both Al Qaeda's operating chief (Atiyah Abd al-Rahman) and propagandist (Anwar al-Awlaki), as well as its leader....the one former president Bush failed to capture during his entire presidency....Osama bin Laden.

So you see, no matter what Fox News or any other conservative news outlet may tell you, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, has indeed accomplished some lofty and important goals during the past year, and his initiatives have made a big difference for the good of this country. He still has plenty of work for the good of the nation that he wants to do, and is trying to do with Congress's help. He will likely touch on work still to be done in his address, but he has a clear history as a president who makes a difference. This can only be expected to continue throughout the rest of his presidency, be it one or two terms. As an informed voter, you can help decide which direction the country will go in based on your knowledge of the facts of this presidency.

Balanced Budget Amendment Fails In House

...and that's a good thing.

The House of Representatives voted on a constitutional amendment to control federal spending, the Balanced Budget Amendment, on Friday. The bill was voted down by just 23 votes in the House, largely along party lines, with 261 votes for, including 25 Democrats. Had it passed into law, it would have made fiscal responsibility, particularly with regards to discretionary spending, a constitutional mandate for the federal government. There’s serious implications in amending the nation’s Constitution to maintain a cap on federal spending, not the least of which is whether it actually is constitutional or not.

The last time a Balanced Budget Amendment was attempted was in 1995, where it passed the House with 300 votes, but was struck down in the Senate. “Since that time,” Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) criticized, “our national debt has grown by over $9 trillion, including nearly $4 trillion in new debt in just the last three years.” There are a number of things that Rep. Miller is failing to neglect.

The first is the deepest economic recession since the Great Depression and the massive amounts of federal stimulus monies that were necessary to prevent the country from slipping into a true depression. The second is that the nation was on track to pay off its national debt, and its spending was low enough to create an annual surplus, in 1999 at the end of the Clinton administration. After the Congressional budget Office released that data, however, there was a run on federal dollars by lawmakers, and two wars that were paid for almost entirely on borrowed money (of which $3 trillion of that $4 trillion “new debt” is interest owed by Defense). It’s interesting to me that the fiscal hawks that are lecturing everyone about overspending is the same Party that go us into the budget mess in the first place.

The Balanced Budget Amendment, though in principle a positive force for accountability, would greatly tie the hands of the government to respond to another economic collapse in the future, and every economist worth their salt says that their will be one. The other issue with a BBA is that in the 14th amendment it explicitly states that the government’s sovereign debt will not be questioned or doubted. In other words, lawmakers can not pass legislation that might devalue American debt, or damage confidence in it, to foreign investors. That would make a Balanced Budget Amendment unconstitutional, as it attempts to control our sovereign debt by manipulating spending, which may also hinder growth from public investment.

Ultimately, a Balanced Budget Amendment may sound like a constitutional provision that would make the country more secure, but it actually poses immense risks. Public investment, whether the current short-sighted GOP wants to admit it or not, has been a cornerstone of American progress and one of the greatest attributes of our federal government. The idea that collectively American people pool their resources to help move the nation forward, investing in themselves in a big-picture way that would be largely impossible for private ventures. Occasionally it’s messy, corrupt, or wasteful, but the net benefit of such a system is evident enough that our nation has been pursuing this principle for over 200 years. Tying the federal governments’ hands at a time when widespread public investment to shore up our flagging economy would be irresponsible.

GOP Advances A Bill To Federalize The Right To Carry Concealed Weapons

Attempting to avoid the pesky states rights issue, congressional GOPers are pushing a federal 2nd amendment law.

The broad paintbrush with which the GOP colors their argument for limited government and state rights seems to be missing some bristles. The most recent example of Republicans attempting to curb state’s rights in favor of an ideological agenda comes in the form of The National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act (RCRA). As law, the RCRA would allow anyone that has a concealed weapon permit from their home state to travel to any other state regardless of that state’s requirements and laws. For instance, someone from Nevada, who issues permits to any resident or non-resident that applies, can travel next door to California, where the right-to-carry laws are much more stringent, and still be within the bounds of the law. The only state that would see immunity from this would be Illinois, who currently does not allow concealed weapons.

Although 2nd amendment rights have been a core Republican belief for decades, the bill they’ve introduced runs counter to another core belief of the party’s, states rights. By creating a federal bill that creates a blanket right-to-carry law, they’re superceding individual states’ rights to regulate and police according to their own legal code. Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican from Arizona where there is no right-to-carry permit needed, attempted to explain it this way, ““It’s kind of like having a driver’s license. There are some states that have stricter driving laws than others.” The exception here, of course, is that although cars can be dangerous, concealing a handgun is a whole different level of danger and, in states like Arizona, Alaska, and New Hampshire, it’s almost totally unregulated.

The bill has the support of a broad cross-section of Republican lawmakers, including some Blue Dog Democrats. However, Rep Dan Lungren (R-CA), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said that he felt the law was overstepping. “It’s a states rights issue,” Lungren said, eluding to the inherent federalism in passing such a sweeping piece of legislation.

Advocates for the bill say that some smaller states have already agreed to honor one another’s carry laws, and that there needs to be some federal standardizing of right-to-carry for concealed weapons. This despite the fact that other efforts to create some federal standard for the U.S. legal patchwork across state lines, like Obama’s health insurance exchange, have been fought on the grounds of 10th amendment states rights. As we’re long understood, it all depends on who’s submitting the legislation.

Republicans Push for Raising Taxes On the Poor and Middle-class

The GOP is pushing their base to support a tax increase on the middle-class and poor...something they swore they wouldn't do last summer.

There has been a well-documented rally of support behind one of the most recent proposed fixes for both our government deficit and income distribution. Raising taxes on the wealthy, though what exactly “wealthy” constitutes is debatable, has been supported by a majority of Americans by most polls. However, Republican lawmakers are pitching a different sort of tax reform and income distribution: raising taxes on the poor. This move comes on the heels of a Congressional Budget Office report that shows the media income of the American family at just $26,000 a year, and the lowest fifth of American households’ income growing only 18% in three decades (as compared with the wealthiest 1% who saw a 275% increase).

The rationale behind the conservative support for raising taxes on America’s lowest earners is from another report that shows that between 47% and 51% of Americans did not pay taxes in 2010. Many Republicans point to this statistic, with the majority of those not paying taxes being the lowest earners, as evidence that taxes need to be increased on the them so that everyone shares the tax burden. As Sen. John Cornryn (R-TX) said on the Senate floor, “to show how out of whack things have gotten, 30 percent of American households actually made money from the tax system by way of refundable tax credits -- the earned income tax credit, among others.”

Many Republicans have pointed to those in the lowest earning bracket as getting a “free ride” on government money, rather than struggling to break out of the lowest fifth income bracket. Of course this scapegoating of the poor, that the poorest people are just lazy and used to receiving government handouts, is a holdover from the Reagan administration when many in the GOP complained about “Welfare Queens”. However, this is a different world, and with people living in poverty the highest it’s been since the Great Depression, there are a number of systemic and institutionalized issues that Republicans are ignoring in calling for a tax hike on our low-income earners.

Foreclosures, corporate restructuring, layoffs, and skyrocketing medical bills are just some of the systemic problems that are contributing to near record unemployment. To continue to characterize a growing portion of the middle-class that is negatively socially mobile is an irresponsible neglect of the facts. It’s easy for people with jobs, with incomes, and without the need for government assistance to deride the growing class of people living below the poverty line. It’s much more difficult to look at a system that’s already benefiting you, and to show enough compassion that you fix the system to benefit everyone.

New Poll Shows Americans Support Occupy Wall Street

In fact, it's roughly the same number of Americans that support the Tea Party, and you can bet there's some overlap.

There has been some political resistance to the Occupy Wall Street protestors, particularly from the conservative right, but a new AP poll shows that at least a third of Americans support the protests and twice that number of angry with the cozy relationship between Wall Street and the government. The poll’s numbers come at a time when public dissatisfaction with the political establishment is epidemic from all strata of the public spectrum. OWS is entering its third month and has spread to cities all over the country, and even across the globe, as widespread public unrest over economic injustice and political “crony-ism” asserts itself in the international discussion.

The new poll from Associated Press/GfK  shows that 37% of respondents back the protests on Wall Street and elsewhere, which is one of the first tests of public approval for the movement. The majority of the supporters are Democrats, but according to The Huffington Post, the anger and discontent with the same issues are widespread. The poll shows that, among supporters of the OWS movement, 64% identify Democrat, 22% identify Independent, and only 14% identify Republican.

The OWS movement, in many ways a similar popular uprising to the Tea Party rallies of 2009, maintains some significant differences. Chief among those is that Occupy Wall Street supporters criticize the government, but believe that Wall Street and the private sector has been allowed to run amok, while Tea Party supporters blame the government entirely and believe that free market capitalism will be the saving grace for the country.

Either way, both movements and much of the rampant public discontent is a result of the slow economic recovery and high unemployment. Of the respondents, 58% say that they are “furious” about the present politics in Washington, with many disappointed in lawmakers for the brinksmanship and political posturing over basic federal functions like passing budgets.

A new counter-movement to the OWS, calling themselves the “53%”, or the 53% of Americans that pay taxes, have been mocking the OWS as “lazy-asses” and “liberal nuts” looking government handouts. The insinuation here is that OWS protestors are welfare recipients and non-taxpayers, angry at Wall Street because they’re not, as Herman Cain put it, “employed or rich.”

This has been, by far, one of the most pervasive and damaging misconceptions by opponents of Occupy Wall Street. OWS has been, for the most part, a demonstration of collective disappointment by people, both employed and unemployed, with advanced degrees and long work histories, yes even taxpayers, that are disgusted with the manipulation of our Democratic process by big business. It’s not a secret, it’s not revolutionary, but it’s high time it changed.

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