Can Occupy Wall Street Win?

The Occupy Wall Street movement faces obstacles its Tea Party counterpart didn't.

Colin Cookman, an AfPak analyst for the Center for American Progress who I follow on Twitter, has started a new blog. His first post, “Thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street movement,” is interesting because it applies his research in an unusual and helpful way.  After a long windup, he gets to the crux:

Abdulkader Sinno’s Organizations at War, has a number of very important lessons that I think can potentially be applied here. One basic assumption of Sinno’s argument is that “movements” or “the people” or “societies” do not make war (or, by extension, politics). Organizations do.

As a dedicated fan of The Wire, I subscribe to this view of human political behavior. Despite its loose and anarchic character, I think the OWS movement is a distinct political organization, albeit a very fragmented and decentralized one right now. Those characteristics give it a level of resilience that have allowed it to carry on its activities for the past several weeks even at the geographical heart of the political / financial system OWS (at its broadest level) seeks to overturn.

Sinno further argues that decentralized organizations like OWS (or the 1980s Afghan mujahadeen movement, in his case study)’s strength of resiliencybecomes irrelevant in the absence of continued harassment by the rival political order they seek to challenge. After you clear or are ceded the public square, being decentralized and having a thousand different voices arguing for a different course of action or policy priority is not in fact especially conducive to your organization’s goals. Decentralized organizations that want to continue to survive go through the messy process of centralization in order to be able to develop complex political strategies and effectively allocate resources to achieve those goals. (Sinno doesn’t make this comparison, but this also somewhat brings to mind Jared Diamond’s theories of civilizational density and complexity in Guns, Germs, and Steel— societies that reach a level of accomplishment in complex tasks like industry and war require a certain level of density and hierarchy to feed a system that allows for specialization in warmaking and the manipulation of political symbols.)

[…]

“The longer organizations take to centralize,” Sinno notes, “the more likely they are to be defeated by rivals that can take the initiative, or to fall apart.” It’s difficult to identify the contenders at this point, but presumably at some point soon you will see established groups like ANSWER or black bloc anarchists or whoever challenging whatever currently constitutes the OWS organizational core, which will either result in those rival groups being shut out of the bigger organization (if something within OWS has centralized sufficiently to counter their claim on its political space) or them taking control and marginalizing other parts of the movement (in which case, given their limited public appeal, it will probably fall apart into something more resembling the rioting in London over the summer.) The further possibility is that the movement is supplanted by another, bigger and better-centralized rival political organization entirely.

[…]

Herein lies the dilemma for the OWS as it attempts to articulate a policy agenda. “Wall Street” is a much more diffuse target for revolutionary ouster than a single political leader (and the means of challenging it within the relative confines of the existing political system much more complex than simply winning an election), which means centralizing and building political support for a more complex strategy will be hard (see also the Egyptian protesters’ difficulties in dismantling the army system, even though they convinced the army to dump Mubarak). Any single legislative priority proposed by the eventual central leadership (in the event that one emerges) is likely to lose a certain amount of support from subsets of protesters who don’t see that as the main priority or don’t trust Congress to actually enact systemic reforms (with good reason). Maybe they can overcome this and reach consensus behind this, but the legislative process doesn’t particularly play to their strengths.

[…]

I haven’t seen signs yet that OWS has reached the strength, reach, or level of coordination (all characteristics of a relatively centralized political organization) where it can start primarying Democratic incumbents and then carry them through to election (and I’m not even sure if the movement has even suggested an interest in such a strategy at this point). The Democratic party’s presidential candidate is already effectively locked in and can only be pushed so far in the absence of a primary process, as he already expects to have to tack to the center for the general election (and at this point probably has considerably more resources to resist the OWS’ challenge than the OWS can bring to bear against him, even assuming they could talk Ralph Nader into throwing in once again).Soros rumors aside, OWS doesn’t appear to have any sizable financial resources behind it yet with which to support a down-ticket pressure strategy, or any other strategy beyond the decentralized seizure of abandoned space.

In the absence of an OWS capture (even partial) of the Democratic Party, though, it’s hard for me to see what other options are going to be available to it over the medium to long term.

The more likely avenue for success, it seems to me, is that the Democratic Party captures Occupy Wall Street rather than vice versa. There are signs of it happening already, with major Democratic politicians at least paying lip service to the frustrations and inequities that fuel the movement.

Cookman’s right, I think, that Obama isn’t going to tack full-on socialist and start breaking up the banks and redistributing income in a way that was frankly standard operating procedure as recently as the 1960s. But we could see a stronger push towards ending the Bush tax cuts, eliminating tax advantages given to the investor class, and other much milder sops to the OWS movement.

Eliot Spitzer argued in classic Slate style that “Occupy Wall Street Has Already Won.”

Occupy Wall Street has already won, perhaps not the victory most of its participants want, but a momentous victory nonetheless. It has already altered our political debate, changed the agenda, shifted the discussion in newspapers, on cable TV, and even around the water cooler. And that is wonderful.

Suddenly, the issues of equity, fairness, justice, income distribution, and accountability for the economic cataclysm-issues all but ignored for a generation—are front and center. We have moved beyond the one-dimensional conversation about how much and where to cut the deficit. Questions more central to the social fabric of our nation have returned to the heart of the political debate. By forcing this new discussion, OWS has made most of the other participants in our politics—who either didn’t want to have this conversation or weren’t able to make it happen—look pretty small.

[…]

Of course, the visceral emotions that accompany citizen activism generate not only an energy that can change politics but an incoherence that is easily mocked. OWS is not a Brookings Institution report with five carefully researched policy points and an appendix of data. It is a leaderless movement, and it can often be painfully simplistic in its economic critique, lacking in subtlety in its political strategies, and marred by fringe elements whose presence distracts and demeans. Yet, the point of OWS is not to be subtle, parsed, or nuanced. Its role is to drag politics to a different place, to provide the exuberance and energy upon which reform can take place.

Now, I would dispute the notion that these issues have been “all but ignored.” They’ve been at the core of our public policy debate for as long as I can remember and they’re really what drove the Tea Party movement. The difference, aside from funding and organizational ones Cookman points to, is that the Tea Party sees themselves in common cause with the top 1% and therefore sees redistribution as dangerous to their interests while OWS sees the 1% as the cause of their problems.

Can Occupy Wall Street and its Democratic Party allies make the case that too many of the 1% got there because of a rigged game rather than through working harder and smarter than the rest of us? If so, it might be possible to peel off some of the Tea Party and reunite the New Deal coalition that was fractured by Vietnam and Civil Rights movement.

One thing’s for sure: It won’t survive in its current incarnation very much longer. It’s mid-October and it’ll get too cold for overnight campouts soon.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Gerry W. says:

    The establishment is too big to overcome. If we talk about jobs, all of them are bickering over taxes, but they believe in free trade and the loss of millions of jobs. At the end of the day, you have 2 billion cheap laborers, automation and the loss of jobs, lean principles and the loss of jobs, and mergers and consolidation and the loss of jobs. The free market has been left alone for too long and little can be done as we lost so much. People in the end, will accept cheap labor wages and/or just sit where they are at and draw some welfare. Policies could have been put in place years ago on globalization to invest in our country, but we went the route of ideology and all that failed. Sad to see China is building whole cities with our jobs and money.

    Look at what the common person is up against.

    The Tea Party is a one trick pony and does not address the issues many see.

    Obama is a globalist and that means lost jobs.

    Cain has come out and said that people should stop griping.

    Romney says we need more tax cuts and talks about Reagan. But Reagan did not have globalization to deal with.

    Guiliani says the same with the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts. Another one that is clueless.

    Lou Dobbs says we need more small business. This after the fact that we closed down factories since the free trade agreements were signed by Clinton.

    Veronique De Rugy, economist from George Mason Univ., on C-span, said that it was okay to lose jobs and the Wal Mart was hiring.

    William F. Cohen, former Clinton defense secretary, said that we will trade more with India. Well, I don’t know why when we gave up 1/3 of our manufacturing.

    Carlos Guiterrez, former Secretary of Commerce, says the same old talking points.

    Right wing writers say we do not need to manufacture small widgets, but have no idea on how to replace the lost jobs.

    Other countries have healthcare to their advantage when people rely on either themselves or private industry to provide healthcare here. You lose your job, you lose your healthcare.

    David Keating, club for growth, says we trade with our states and we can trade with other countries. Of course, he does not talk about the cheap labor. He had a lot of angry phone calls on C-span from unemployed people.
    ……..

    The few good people, Fareed Zakaria, John Avalon, and Tom Friedman have been sending alarms for years and are not listened to.

    In truth, you will have more redistribution, by mismanaging the economy, by failed ideology,and by throwing more people out in the streets. So, while the Tea Partiers want less government, more people are getting angrier. Their problem is the lack of organization and no one to speak for them. Or if there is, then that someone is not being heard and shut out. Marcy Kaptur was on C-span and told Obama not to have more free trade deals, but he did not listen. While the free market will always win, no one has come up with what will replace what we lost. You just have the same old, same old, while the world passes us by. The hierarchy can make their mistakes and it is always the little guy that loses.

  2. Mr. Prosser says:

    If the Democrats can’t bring in some of the OWS does that bring up the prospect of a third party siphoning off the more progressive factions?

  3. Stan says:

    The last 30 years have seen a massive transfer of wealth up the income gradient. I think this is due to a combination of economic factors and an aggressive push by the people at the top to increase their share of the pie. The government has helped the process along by changes in the tax code, by lax enforcement of union bargaining rights, and by an overly friendly attitude to business as shown, for example, by the decision of the Bush administration not to allow Medicare to bargain for lower drug prices when Medicare Part D was enacted.

    If nothing else, the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon has changed the conversation. In this respect, it resembles the demonstrations about living conditions we’ve seen recently in Israel.

    I don’t know if it will accomplish anything in the long run. The American right is determined, well financed, and enjoys considerable public support. So, like Zhou Enlai’s view of certain events in French public life, it’s too soon to say whether Occupy Wall Street will have a lasting effect. I hope it does. Thirty more years of increasing inequality would be a disaster for American public life, even for the rich.

  4. john personna says:

    I was initially put off by your title because I think a “win” is too hard to define. We can put it at some narrow goal line (though when that goal is invented by foes that does make it rather inauthentic), or we could declare it now, as Spitzer does.

    For me the big thing is that OWS’s breakthrough is not a win of philosophy. It didn’t come from a new book, or idea, or charismatic speaker. It’s got a few Marxists, but it also has a few Ron Paul guys. It is a response to conditions.

    The Limping Middle Class

    Some great graphs there. Increasing GDP. Increasing productivity. Falling middle class income.

    So I’d guess OWS will run for a while, and then become something else … and even that is a “win.”

  5. john personna says:

    FWIW, I think if OWS doesn’t “win” now, something stronger will probably win in 10 years. And by that I mean something like Roosevelt Trust-busting, rather than anything … un-American.

  6. Burl says:

    With this movement still going with energy, it is time that they developed more organization. They need to have a mission statement, 4-5 realistic, attainable goals, a structure, some sort of leadership group, and a process for decision making. They need to keep the whole thing as flat as possible (read the book “The World is Flat”). Just what are their goals? No one seems to know. I have heard everything from pay off student loans to flat taxes to decriminalizing marijuana. They need to decide about political involvement; local elections will be coming up soon and they should be involved. Change starts and is most effective with the local councils, commissioners, school boards, and mayors. That is where the real power is. This will take time, a lot of footwork, meetings, and communication. But that is how things get changed. That is the system.

  7. john personna says:

    @Burl:

    They need to have a mission statement, 4-5 realistic, attainable goals, a structure, some sort of leadership group, and a process for decision making.

    I hear ya .. but here’s the thing. Some of us will acknowledge these difficult economic conditions while saying “I’d don’t have an answer.” At the same time they’ll say “for me to take OWS seriously, they should have answers.”

    Do we require more of the movement than we ourselves can offer?

    In other words, focus on the problem might be moving the ball down the field.

  8. superdestroyer says:

    The OWS protestors are some of the most loyal Democratic voters around. Why would the Democratic Party want to move left to appease a group that has no where else to go.

    What will sell any of the ideas to the Democratic Party is if they generate more tax revenue that the Democratic Party can hand out to the core groups. Putting an end to stupid students loands does not help the academics that are part of the base of the Democratic Party. Raising the minimum wage does not help the state and local governments who would have to raise wages and lay people off.

    How does laying off 1-2 million in defense industries, 1 million in the insurance industry and a couple of middle of people in the health care industry does nothing for the economy, job creation, or creating better paying jobs in Manhattan so that hipsters can have a higher standard of living.

  9. steve says:

    “The difference, aside from funding and organizational ones Cookman points to, is that the Tea Party sees themselves in common cause with the top 1% and therefore sees redistribution as dangerous to their interests while OWS sees the 1% as the cause of their problems.”

    This is why the Tea Party persisted and OWS probably will not. The top 1% have the resources to support a movement, including the ownership of media. However, since you brought up the war analogy, maybe John Boyd has some relevance. He noted that having the strong moral side in a conflict was the most important factor in determining outcomes (rough paraphrasing). These folks are mostly just asking for jobs while noting that the people who destroyed the world economy were bailed out by everyone else. I think they have a good moral case. Granted, they are pretty weak on the other two necessities.

    Steve

  10. john personna says:

    @superdestroyer:

    FWIW, I think “$20 minimum wage guy” is just some guy. I doubt the rest of the kids will approve that message, but if they do, well we can give them some economics lessons.

    Similarly, I don’t think student debt forgiveness is going to work. Neither can we just replace loans with $25K Pell Grants. Actually on that, I’m afraid the loan and higher education bubble is going to have to explode before it is treated.

  11. JKB says:

    Win what?

    I seriously doubt it since they are being embraced and embracing the Democrat Party, which has helped more of the 1% by rigging the game than you can imagine. GE, Solyandra, are just the ones in the news now.

    Or could it be the incorporation of the environmentalists who help to take money from poor people so the 1% can get a 38% discount on a Tesla?

  12. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    You seem conflicted, JKB. You oppose the benefits to the 1%, but you oppose these people opposing the 1%. I’d think that what you’d want to do is support them, and keep them on-target.

    (Or alternately, don’t count your sell-outs before they’re hatched.)

    BTW, as an aside:

    While the 2012 Tesla Model S is an expensive, luxury car, not everyone buying it is an A-list celebrity or wealthy businessperson.

    Admittedly, some of the recipients we talked to were business owners or executives in industries as diverse as car dealerships through to solar panels, renewable energies, medical equipment and of course, the tech industry.

    But a large number of reservation holders were fairly average white-collar workers from a range of industries, with positions in large firms, earning moderate to good salaries — many of whom had been saving up for years to place an order on the right electric car when it arrived. Most of these reservation holders were between 45 and 65 years of age.

  13. Ron Beasley says:

    I agree with Spitzer – they have changed the conversation. Before this the millionaire talking heads on TV weren’t talking about it. The vast majority of politicians, both Ds and Rs, didn’t think they had to talk about it, worry about it or do anything about it. That has changed. The class war that has been going on for over 30 years has gone mainstream.

  14. Hey Norm says:

    The discussion, thankfully, finally, has changed from an imaginary short-term debt crisis to a very real short-term demand/jobs crisis. This is largely because of Obama, but the OWS movement is amplifying the message. You see the results…the Senate Republicans issuing a jobs plan…or what passes for one on that side of the aisle…and Boehner getting up in Obamas grill about a House Jobs plan issued sometime back. Now these two plans are both just reiterations of Republican talking points…tax cuts for the rich and de-regulation…neither of which have ever created significant jobs…but the discussion is finally about the right thing. So as I see it OWS is winning.

  15. Dave Schuler says:

    As you suggest obliquely in your post, James, whether OWS can win depends on the operative definition of winning. If by winning you mean have an influence on policy, they can win. If you mean electing a few Congressmen running on OWS issues, they can win.

    If you mean overturning the existing system and ushering in an egalitarian parousia, they can’t win.

    Something of what you think that any populist movement, Tea Party or OWS, can accomplish depends on what you think our problems are. If you think that the concentration of wealth over the last 30 or so years is due to a series of mostly well-intentioned policies that had bad secondary effects (which I do), changing those policies is difficult but possible. However, if the concentration of wealth is due to rent-seeking, reducing that concentration can only be effected by reducing the opportunities for rent-seeking. Otherwise all you’ll accomplish is in whose hands wealth is concentrated not the concentration itself.

    If, on the other hand, you believe that the concentration of wealth in fewer hands is due to the opportunities that a flat earth (in Tom Friedman’s sense) affords to the most talented and hardest working only (which I don’t), then nothing whatever can be done and the OWS is doomed to failure however winning is defined.

  16. john personna says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    In your second case redistribution becomes justified.

  17. James Joyner says:

    @Dave Schuler: Oddly, I think all three explanations are partly right, although I emphasize the first and third.

    Deregulation and lowering taxes were mostly good but went too far. There was no doubt substantial rent-seeking, although I don’t think it’s the grand conspiracy that the OWS crowd does. And I think the world actually is much flatter, which means those who aren’t extraordinarily hard to replace will be.

  18. Dave Schuler says:

    @john personna:

    Agreed. Justified but futile, like trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it.

  19. Coogan says:

    If the OWS people want to really help people and bring change, try some of these:
    1- Go to a local school: be a mentor or tutor, 2- Paint, caulk lower income houses, 3- Volunteer at a homeless shelter, 4- Adopt a pet, 5- Rake leaves, clean up the yards of older people, 6- Organize a Halloween block party for kids: businesses will donate candy and prizes. 7- Get involved in a local church, 8- Organize a job or health fair: 9- Work with neighborhood patrol groups to monitor and report crimes, 10- Teach adult literacy, this can help someone get a job: put those degrees to some practical use.
    While these may not seem glamorous or exciting, at least you would be actually helping people instead of sitting around a park surfing the net all day. This will also help them connect and is good pr.

  20. Ron Beasley says:

    At least New York isn’t burning but Rome is.

  21. john personna says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    We are lucky that “burn a car” is not one of our modes of youth protest. Well, rarely.

  22. john personna says:

    @Dave Schuler on redistribution:

    Agreed. Justified but futile, like trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it.

    Two weeks ago fixing the “carried interest” hole was “class warfare” and “redistribution.” A week ago the (initial) answer to OWS was “get a job, art major.”

    I’ll take “justified” as two weeks progress.

  23. Ron Beasley says:

    @Coogan: All good things to do but it doesn’t address the basic problem – the government is owned by Wall Street.

  24. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    FWIW a conspiracy is not required. All that’s needed is aligned interests and feedback loops. For instance, Washington benefits New York, and then Washington receives more money and more lobbying from New York. Repeat.

    It isn’t even necessary that all actors in Washington or in New York have the same agenda. It’s only necessary that they act loosely in parallel.

  25. Ron Beasley says:

    @john personna: I don’t think we can equate OWS with a mob of drunken sports fans.

  26. john personna says:

    Someone yesterday reminded me of a good word in this discussion …

    Financialization is a term sometimes used in discussions of financial capitalism which developed over several decades leading up to the 2007-2010 financial crisis, and in which financial leverage tended to override capital (equity) and financial markets tended to dominate over the traditional industrial economy and agricultural economics.

  27. john personna says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I was really just starting from the feeling that car-burning seemed so European. It felt unsurprising in that context, and I had a moment of cultural superiority where I thought Americans didn’t do that. Then I remembered that they did, sometimes.

    It is good though that OWS has stayed safer and saner that the worst American youth examples.

  28. Modulo Myself says:

    @john personna:

    I work in Lower Manhattan and have been to OWS numerous times. I’ve seen little in the way of anger. Compared to every other lefty thing where there always some sort of bs spillage of personal grievances, there’s something real and unified occurring.

    The message is unfocused, yes, but that’s due to the absolute simplicity of the message–people count more than corporations.

    Also, one of the things we’re seeing now is that no one who is criticizing OWS or going on about class warfare and entitled hippies has the courage to assert the opposite: that corporations count more than people. But it’s brutally clear that the last thirty years American power has been based on that principle. They should be asserting that, yes, because that’s what supposedly works. Instead, it’s just endless rationalizations and pseudo-funny mockery and Panglossian-statements about somehow this being the best of all possible worlds.

    Basically, OWS is pushing for a conversation, but power in this country is so deluded and lost that it really can’t articulate what it stands for. I think the revelation that the powerful are tiny and timid, and are hiding behind police and vain statements and rants on 24-hour news cycles is also empowering.

  29. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: I don’t think that has anything to do with OWS, though–or that it’s even resonating beyond the circles who engage in blog debates. That was a case of the public genuinely not understanding the tax structure and Obama doing a really bad job of explaining the so-called Buffett Rule–the rollout of which predated OWS.

  30. jan says:

    @Coogan:

    While these may not seem glamorous or exciting, at least you would be actually helping people instead of sitting around a park surfing the net all day. This will also help them connect and is good pr.

    I agree with your ‘simplicity,’ as these are all feats an ordinary person can engage in to help, at least in a localized way. However, as you say, it lacks the glamor, excitement, and won’t catch the media’s eye, that is for sure. Small gestures, though, do have the opportunity to expand and become bigger ones. But, because they involve ‘stepping stone’ kinds of progress and oftentimes ‘boring’ sticktoitiveness they are commonly ridiculed and shunned.

    It reminds me of Steve Job’s wife who, for years, has been a active sponsor in the College Track program — helping underprivileged kids prepare for college. She’s done this quietly and without fanfare. Job’s never participated in Buffett’s share your wealth program either. Both, simply contributed to society, as they saw fit, without drum rolls. But, in the case of Job’s wife, she has definitely helped a contingency of young people have an opportunity of a better life. Steve Job’s, in the meantime, is being looked at as another “Thomas Edison” of the tech age.

    It’s ironical too, because it is often the small, insignificant moments in a person’s life (versus the sensational ones) that end up being memorable and oftentimes having the greatest impact on an individual.

    As far as “winning” anything —> the OWS group are creating a media splash. However, it will depend largely on the perspective of the ‘observer.’ What will they take away from these mob gatherings, visually, rhetorically? Without a cogent message their main impact, IMO, will be their intransigence behavior, scattered with a potpourri of generalized demands, ending with, “We want it now.”

    Therefore, I think it will give air time to lots of random grievances, expanding the discontent in this country, and giving Obama yet another disenfranchised constituency to his reelection, and where we end up, who knows.

  31. ponce says:

    Judging by the butthurt OWS has caused the fringe right, they’ve already won.

    But history shows the only way to beat an aristocracy is to chop off their heads…and I doubt America will ever reach that point.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    In a remarkably short time — and despite desperate efforts by the media to ignore them and later to ridicule them — OWS has changed the dialog in this country. As Modulo says above, nothing is more empowering to OWS than the flailing, disconnected or utterly hysterical reactions of conservatives and me-too Democrats. A few dozen people banging on drums in lower Manhattan seems to be all it takes to pique the guilty consciences of the oligarchs and their media servants.

    Will they succeed? As Dave and James point out, it’s all about the definition of success. But before OWS the oligarchy held essentially all power and now some tiny fraction, some tenth of a tenth of a percent of that power has shifted to the crowd in Zuccotti Park. Not so bad for a crowd no one wanted to support.

    By the way, an embarrassingly bad shot of me — forgive the frazzled look, two days of interviews at Comic Con NY — donating some loose cash at OWS. http://twitpic.com/70c6av

  33. Terrye says:

    I read recently that 48.5% of the households in this country are receiving some sort of government support. And despite what these silly little people ranting and raving about capitalism might have to say..a lot of them do have lobbyists.

    People lobby for financial for college students. There are organizations and unions that lobby for workers rights and benefits. There people who lobby for non governmental organizations who do all sorts of community organizing.

    I think a lot of these young people just want something for nothing. They can say what they will about those awful capitalists, but there would not be any wealth to share without the wealth creators.

    So, the biggest problem these young people face is their own stupidity.

  34. anjin-san says:

    @Jan

    Before you and Coogan get too cozy, you might want to review some of the statements he has made regarding OWS protesters:

    Coogan says:
    Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 07:43
    I am surprised that the mayor has let this go on so long. The FBI needs to look into the backgrounds of each of these people. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they are communists, or at least extremist – subversives. And let’s find out who is behind this. The next thing you know, these people will be trying to blow up the bridge.

    Go to a local school: be a mentor or tutor

    I am a little confused. A few days ago, the OWS protesters were commie subversives, or possibly terrorists, that the government should crush. Now he wants them to work with kids in the schools.

    Silly me, I keep forgetting that everything on the right is shaped by a single, overriding principal. The expedience of the moment.

  35. anjin-san says:

    ranting and raving about capitalism

    Questioning our assumptions about the system seem to me to be a quintessentially American course of action. Its strikes me as odd that it should infuriated anyone.

    silly little people ranting and raving

    It is easy to imagine British aristocrats saying similar things about the founding fathers once upon a time.

    I think a lot of these young people just want something for nothing

    Could you provide some specific statements made by protestors that support this conclusion?

  36. WR says:

    @Ron Beasley: There was a great moment on ABC’s This Week last Sunday — their round table of millionaires actually spoke (via satellite) to an OWS protestor — the one whose unaired Fox video had gone viral. And he pointed out that he was going to be the only working class person on any of the Sunday shows. There were nervous giggles from the panel, and they quickly changed the subject.

    Oh, and George Will tried one of his patented phony gotcha questions at the guy, who lobbed it back at Will and then demolished the ludicrous false premises it was based on.

    So yeah, there already is a difference in the discourse.

  37. I continue to be amazed by just how much the inside the beltway posters and commenters here don’t get it.

    The Tea Party wants to compete in the marketplace of ideas. You don’t like their ideas, so be it. Occupy Whatever doesn’t even want a marketplace. To equate or compare the two is ludicrous.

  38. michael reynolds says:

    @charles austin:
    And how exactly do you conclude that OWS doesn’t want a marketplace?

  39. Gerry W. says:

    @Terrye:

    I read recently that 48.5% of the households in this country are receiving some sort of government support. And despite what these silly little people ranting and raving about capitalism might have to say..a lot of them do have lobbyists.

    Let us agree to what you say and also add the Bush tax cuts. The problem with all these accessories is that they do not attack the overall problems. While some of the above is necessary, they cannot compensate what is going on in the world. Overall, you need to define what will create that upward movement for all and we still have to deal with globalization, in which no one has done to date-only to have more free trade agreements and more loss of jobs.

    And we see what is happening today in desperation to do something. The democrats are spending, the republicans want more tax cuts, the fed is printing money, and the states have gone to casinos for jobs.

    The force of free markets (globalization and cheap labor) is more overpowering than any benefits or accessories and what any politician is talking about. Obama’s spending is not dealing with the problems and the republicans answer is more of the same.

    The wealth creators has an additional 2 billion cheap laborers to choose from to make their materials.

  40. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    No one read the explanation :-), they were too busy penning “class warfare” pieces.

  41. ponce says:

    The wealth creators…

    America’s net worth has dropped over $10 trillion dollars over the past few years, so we need a different term

  42. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    Before you and Coogan get too cozy, ….

    I blockquoted twice, statements that I find agreement with, dealing with poster Coogan. I haven’t commented on some of his others. Like some of you (scratch that, most of you), I have found little to be in consensus with. However, every once in a while, a middle ground is surprisingly reached and I do agree with you.

    Maybe it’s all part in parcel of what I loosely see the Serenity Prayer as advocating: where you change what you can change (what is within your power), and accept or let the other stuff alone. That’s how I am interpreting Coogan to be saying, in his own way.

  43. Ernieyeball says:

    @michael reynolds: “Just drew out 99 weeks of unemployment and I’m trying to stretch my very limited resources till January so I can draw an extra $200/month in Social Security when I sign up. Come on down to Sleepytown and my hand will be out so I can collect enough to pay for my Health Insurance until I qualify for Medicare.
    Thanks in advance.

  44. jan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    In a remarkably short time — and despite desperate efforts by the media to ignore them and later to ridicule them — OWS has changed the dialog in this country.

    Actually, the media ‘ignored’ OWS at the beginning because there were so few of them. Then the unions became involved, seizing on an opportunity to once again be a part of a protest movement, disrupting daily activities some place in the country. Afterwards, the media blasted on board in greater numbers, as did all the dem politicos, who saw OWT’s growing numbers to be of benefit to their own sagging poll ones.

    While I agree with you that dialogs have been opened in this country about Wall Street, I’m not convinced, though, if it has changed dialogues for the good in uniting people towards solving mutual issues and interests at hand.

    Even the normally liberal-sensitive NYTs seems to be at odds with itself in how to present these protesters in their write-ups.

    “Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” said one top hedge fund manager.

    “It’s not a middle-class uprising,” adds another veteran bank executive. “It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.”

    Now the twitter photo you posted visually disputes their assessment, as that gentleman indeed did look middle-aged and middle class in his demeanor . Of course that is judging a book by it’s cover, again, which is not always accurate. Take Whitey Bulger, for instance, who appeared like a nice white-haired Santa Claus type, when he was captured by the FBI, and immediately remanded back to Boston for somewhere around 20 murders, give or take a few.

    Then you have the also liberal based LATs diving into the OWS with some trepidation.

    Lastly, there are these stressed out OWS people, who seem to be throwing more of a tantrum than trying to convey what their purpose is. This is a case, IMO, of words and actions being non-persuasive to their cause.

  45. Lit3Bolt says:

    @john personna:

    Only when the Packers win the Super Bowl. =P

  46. anjin-san says:

    To equate or compare the two is ludicrous.

    I am inclined to agree, but for a different reason.

    The tea party is no more that a GOP rebranding scheme designed to mitigate the damage the failed Bush Presidency did to the GOP brand. They have long since been bought and paid for by the very people OWS is protesting against.

  47. Thanks for the mention and the thoughtful discussion. James’ prediction that the Democratic Party is more likely to coopt OWS than vice versa sounds about right to me, and the more I think about it (particularly in comparison to the Republican’s experience with the Tea Party), the more I think it has to do with the fact that the Dems have had an established sitting president atop their party and the GOP has not.

    With no George Bush and no control of Congress, the Republicans as an organization in 2008 were decentralized enough that the Tea Party (with a little money) could make a real impact coopting the party structures (at least through the 2010 election cycle — we’ll see what happens in this one with the Romney pushback). With Obama in office the Democrats are just by nature more centralized right now (even with the vagaries of the Senate and House), and it’s a much bigger lift for OWS. But yes, if they are smart, the Dems will certainly leverage the OWS’ message in the election and run with it. I think this is Dave Schuler’s point as well — as a distinct political organization, OWS may not be the ones to “win”, but they still have the potential to be effective at changing the political landscape.

  48. ponce says:

    Well now:

    Occupy Wall Street live: protests spread around the world

    • More than 950 protests held in over 80 countries
    • 60,000 people gather in Madrid’s central square

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/oct/15/occupy-wall-street-times-square

  49. James Joyner says:

    @ponce: It’s an impressive manifestation of anger. Europe has had these sort of things going on for years now. It hasn’t stopped the austerity measures, because the political class isn’t seeing any viable alternative.

  50. anjin-san says:

    because the political class isn’t seeing any viable alternative.

    I think a more honest assessment might be that it is because the people they work for have said “we are not paying for this crap, pass the pain along to the middle class and the poor”, and the political class is following their marching orders.

    For a great example of how this works, take the case of the San Bruno/PG&G gas explosion last year, followed by ‘Dianne Feinsteins utter failure to go to bat for her constituents and her shameless shilling for PG&E.

  51. Burl says:

    @anjin-san: Tea Party did a lot of dumb things, not the least of which was turning away from its own beliefs when it started having $1000 a plate gatherings. This destroyed what credibility they had with many working class people.

  52. ponce says:

    It hasn’t stopped the austerity measures, because the political class isn’t seeing any viable alternative.

    True, but in Europe, you never know who will throw the first brick through the mansion window…and the mob will rush in.

  53. grumpy realist says:

    I think the difficulty a lot of us have with OWS is the lack of target/demands. People get together and make a noise. OK, you’ve informed us, you’re pissed. You’ve got enough bruhaha from different locations around the US (and maybe world -wide) that we know that There Exists A Problem. You’re upset. Yes, we already know that . Now what?

    Now, the next question is: what is the problem and how to fix it? This is where OWS is falling down. Historically, protest movements that have succeeded have been able to crystallize their demands and present them to the authorities. Free-floating angst can’t do anything until it gets to the point where everything gets overturned, in which case we’re not talking about negotiating with the power-holders, but talking about a revolution. And contrary to our Western History classes blethering on and on about “freedom”, “the French Revolution” and “the U.S. Revolution”, most people’s revolts historically haven’t worked out very well. In fact, the Sicilian Vespers is about the only other time a peasant minority managed to pull off a revolt, and that was through brilliant application of the whole balancing-of-powers schtick.

  54. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    The tea party is no more that a GOP rebranding scheme designed to mitigate the damage the failed Bush Presidency did to the GOP brand. They have long since been bought and paid for by the very people OWS is protesting against.

    …and, the OWS aren’t being compromised by the people they are against? Billionaires like hedge fund boss Soros, to start with. And, even though many condemn Obama, wouldn’t you say the majority are democrats, liberals, anarchists, with sprinkles of Marxists and Socialists thrown in for color? Basically each group, the teas and the OWS, have different ideological footings, albeit, some of their grievances do overlap.

    It really is naive, though, to act as if political movements, be it left , right or ‘other,’ don’t have some kind of money-bucks person in the background, channeling funds to them. As for the Teas, during their infancy, where the OWS group is today, they were primarily self-funded, spreading events through word of mouth and via the Internet. Buses were paid for by individuals participating in the events. Signs were home-made. There were no structured organizations or ideological subsets involved like there are in the OWS such as the myriad of Unions, the Alliance for Global Justice, MoveOn.org, Adbusters. Teas initially were fairly ‘pure’ in their purpose, and their alliances, arguing for smaller government, less intrusion into their lives, and later the repeal of Obamacare. As they grew, expanded then you had GOPers and their non-profit entities coming out and attempting to coop the teas, bringing them over to the establishment right. In some cases it worked. And, in other cases it didn’t.

    Nevertheless, it will be revealing how the OWS evolves over the days, months and longer. Can they consolidate their demands, becoming a more serious, enduring counter force to all the societal ills they are protesting? That remains to be seen. However, the Teas have already proven themselves as a viable movement, just by their large voter participation and successes in 2010, especially in the state houses. Whether they can maintain this momentum or not, going into 2012, is their next hurdle. Certainly, being slimed by the left as terrorists and ‘teabaggers’ has diminished their credibility. However, will it ultimately slow down their determination and efforts to get the vote out in 2012, or simply feed their now-organized talents to vote in people who will implement the type of governing they want?

    It will be an interesting ideological storm played out in political theater.

  55. David M says:

    @jan: The Soros connection is a lie. Doesn’t really matter that it’s not true though, it’ll be repeated as gospel by the right.

    The tea party was just the GOP complaining there was a Democratic President, among other imaginary grievances. At least OWS has identified a real problem rather than having to resort to protesting against nonsense like death panels and government takeovers of healthcare.

    Also, regarding the beginnings of the tea parties, I seem to remember them being promoted by Fox News…not exactly grass roots.

  56. Ben Wolf says:

    …and, the OWS aren’t being compromised by the people they are against? Billionaires like hedge fund boss Soros, to start with.

    No, actually, they aren’t. OWS has so far avoided the failure of the Tea Party in being co-opted by money. Soros can give all he likes, the very fact OWS is so decentralized is definitive evidence no one is controlling it.

    And, even though many condemn Obama, wouldn’t you say the majority are democrats, liberals, anarchists, with sprinkles of Marxists and Socialists thrown in for color?

    No I wouldn’t, and nor should you allow your preconceptions to control your thought.

    It really is naive, though, to act as if political movements, be it left , right or ‘other,’ don’t have some kind of money-bucks person in the background, channeling funds to them

    You believe this because you’re an authoritarian. In your mind no one can do anything without getting permission from their masters. You envision society as a rigid heirarchy controlled entirely by the powerful.

    However, the Teas have already proven themselves as a viable movement, just by their large voter participation and successes in 2010, especially in the state houses.

    If your definition of success is getting elected, its no wonder the right is in intellectual and moral decline. The Tea Party accomplished jack squat other than gaining control of the House for the Republican establishment.

    Authoritarians (i.e. conservatives) don’t get popular protest. They have no concept of people engaging in mass resistance on their own because to authoritarians, the comman man and woman are just drones with no will or capacity for self-direction.

  57. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Buzzzzzz. Get a job, art major! Buzzzzzzzzz. Protests are a waste of time! Buzzzzzzzz. Get a job, art major! Buzzzzzzzzzzz. Drum circles won’t make things better! Buzzzzzz. I don’t care what the protesters say! Buzzzzzz. Get a job, art major!

  58. jan says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    You believe this because you’re an authoritarian.

    Based on that political compass quiz, I’m a ‘libertarian.’

    I look at the teas political sway as being more libertarian than authoritarian as well. What’s with that flag they carry around saying “Don’t tread on me!” The very premise of the teas is for government to loosen it’s hold on people, staying out of their lives. The OWS people, though, seem to be pleading for government to step in and control the 1% they see as making their own lives unworkable/miserable.

    Ben, the teas I’ve met and know are extremely independent. You’re right, that mass protest is not in their DNA, but, not because they view the common man as drones. On the contrary, they see the common man/woman as being the directors of their own lives, not needing the government to come in, put a band aid on their problems, taking more control of their lives in the process, making them drones, subservient to the capriciousness of a centralized authority figure — Uncle Sam.

    Most tea party types, earlier, felt the Constitution would protect these freedoms and rights allowing them to individuate, and not be subjected to the intrusion of excessive governmental demands. But, during Bush’s term, followed by Obama coming into office, their concerns escalated, reaching a tipping point, whereby many became politically enthused and involved for the first time in their adult lives, joining others with similar concerns calling themselves The Tea party.

  59. ponce says:

    Most tea party types, earlier…

    were Ron Paul supporters, until the Koch Bros took over the movement.

    Which why the Tea Phonies are even opposed by a majority of Republicans now.

  60. jan says:

    @David M:

    I read your Soros links saying he was not involved. However, Soros has so many political entities that he funnels money into, like the Tides, MoveOn and simply a plethoria of others, which is then secondarily given to groups, such as OWS, Adbusters, that it is really hard to untangle the truth of the matter. And, this goes for the Koch Brothers and their political interventions as well.

    The teas first railed against Bush. They decried his medicare Plan D. He spent like “a drunken sailer,” was one phrase often used when talking about Bush. When Obama came in, with all of his leftist ties, his call for a stimulus plan which so many people objected to, the teas seemed to just come out of the woodwork against him and his policies. Yes, FOX, as did other media, published stories about the teas, questioning their numbers and the speed at which their movement became a household topic.

    I personally think the teas were more on topic in their messaging than OWS is. But, that is obviously subject to one’s perspective. They both, though, have become mass movements centered around dissent — the teas being more representative of the right’s goals and OWS the left’s grievances.

  61. Ben Wolf says:

    With each day I’m more confident OWS is here to stay. Despite intense pressure from the Democratic Party and the liberal “establishment” (Move On, etc.) the protestors have resisted and continue to resist becoming the Democrat’s Tea Party. And despite Jan’s insinuation they’re all unreconstructed lefties, I’m seeing a great many self-described libertarians among the demonstrators. Actual real libertarians, unlike the vulgar libertarians we see regularly demanding the people shut up and do what they’re told (Doug Mataconis and the Reason crowd).

  62. Ben Wolf says:

    Karl Denninger was one of the founders of the Tea Party before it was corrupted by money. Of OWS he says:

    “One of the things that the Occupy movement seems to have going for it is it has not turned around and issued a set of formal demands,” said Denninger. “This is a good thing, not a bad thing. Everyone is looking for a set of demands.” Denninger added that once the protesters formally approach the banks and government with a list of demands, “then somebody is going to say, ‘Well, we gave you 70 percent. Now go home.’”
    In the case of the Tea Party, Denninger says such organization was actually the group’s downfall. “One of the things we wanted was the end to bailouts and an end to government deficit spending, and as you can see that didn’t happen,” said Denninger, who today manages The Market Ticker.
    Denninger added that demonstrators with Occupy Wall Street and the offshoots across the world shouldn’t just abandon their goals. “Stay on message, which is that the corruption is not a singular event,” he said. “You can’t focus in one place. You have to get the money out of politics, which is very difficult to do, but at the same time you can’t silence people’s voice.”

  63. jan says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    With each day I’m more confident OWS is here to stay.

    Time will tell……

    I enjoyed your Karl Denninger excerpt. I had not heard of the guy, let alone that he was one of the tea party founders. But, what he said was intriguing, in that he thought not making any demands was a better strategy for OWS. I don’t necessarily agree with that, being that it would give more clarity and credentials to the movement to have said goals. However, on the other hand, it makes sense too that far too often people pat you on the head, when some of what you want is granted, leaving some real important issues not addressed.

  64. Gerry W. says:

    @jan:

    The teas first railed against Bush. They decried his medicare Plan D. He spent like “a drunken sailer,” was one phrase often used when talking about Bush.

    Bush lived by ideology. Whenever he was in trouble, he spent the money. Bush “stayed the course” and ran both the economy and two wars into the ground. And Cheney said “deficits don’t matter” and the Limbaughs and Hannities were cheering that the deficits were only a small part of GDP. Bush was warned of his voodoo economics by his father.

    I personally think the teas were more on topic in their messaging than OWS is

    Yeah, the Tea Party is a one trick pony and does not speak for the masses and controlled more by the right wing. Hence, the demonstrations. Stop ignoring the middle class.

  65. WR says:

    @jan: Hands up, who’s surprised that Jan is spreading the lie that Soros is funding OWS?

    Pretty hilarious that she spreads lies that have been debunked, and then whines about how the meanie Dems hurt the Teaparty’s credibility.

  66. An Interested Party says:

    Now the twitter photo you posted visually disputes their assessment, as that gentleman indeed did look middle-aged and middle class in his demeanor .

    Umm, jan, sweetie, the person in that photo is Michael Reynolds…oh, and by the way, regarding your NYT link, hedge fund managers are hardly the correct unbiased sources to judge the OWS movement…

    The teas first railed against Bush. They decried his medicare Plan D. He spent like “a drunken sailer,” was one phrase often used when talking about Bush.

    Bull$hit…there was no Tea Party movement when Bush was president…

  67. Scott O. says:

    @jan: As for the Teas, during their infancy, where the OWS group is today, they were primarily self-funded, spreading events through word of mouth Fox News, talk radio and via the Internet.

    FIFY

  68. anjin-san says:

    The teas first railed against Bush.

    Really? Perhaps you can document this. Cause it sounds like a fairy tale to me.

  69. James in LA says:

    “The teas first railed against Bush.”

    This is a new low in boldfaced lie-telling. Jan does it with such ease I just scroll over her nonsense now.

  70. JKB says:

    @john personna:

    I’d think that what you’d want to do is support them, and keep them on-target.

    What target? You don’t end crony capitalism by going after the people who have no reason to listen to you. You end it by going after those you you can rattle. And right now, they should be rattling the White House gates. Not participating in a diversion supporting the current thieves inside the Beltway.

    Sure the Dems support this group, they aren’t going after the politicians who sold themselves. No to mention, with all the love being given to the protestors by the MSM, the politicians and even the bloggers like here, it keeps the attention off the gun running by this administration, the political payoff that is Solyandra, the failure of a big part of Obamacare, the weakness of Obama over Iran’s attempted direct attack on American soil, the new and exciting war Obama has involved us in ….

    And if Breitbart’s evidence proves, they probably will be moved to violence to facilitate the Dem dream of overthrowing representative democracy as articulated by Jesse Jackson, Jr, the Dem governor of North Carolina, Obama, etc. When your politicians start waxing hopeful for an abandonment of the Constitution and frequently ignore the rule of law, it’s the politician who need protesting

  71. michael reynolds says:

    A bit of reportage. I was at the Occupy San Francisco March today, largely because my 14 year old son wanted to go.

    I have no idea how many people were there. It seems like a lot when you’re in the middle of a crowd but I couldn’t get a perspective.

    The crowd was about what you’d expect for SF — for the real SF, not the parody. The crowd struck me as about 40% 20-somethings, another 40% 30–somethings, the rest older. I supplied the only two kids I saw. Mostly white, some African-Americans and Asians.

    The dress was Gap/Timberland/Eddie Bauer. Not fashionable but clean. Maybe 5% were your basic dreadlocked hippie street people.

    The mood was not angry in the least. The chanting came and went and was basically pretty unimaginative. The signs were probably 75% on-topic with the rest being a grab-bag of nonsense. My favorite: “I’ll believe Corporations are People When Texas Executes One.”

    They marched from the bottom of Market to Union Square (where we joined) and down Market to City Hall. At that point, unfortunately, the speeches started and I was trapped in a group of seated protesters. The PA system was crap so the audience tried repeating what was said aloud, phrase by increasingly tedious phrase.

    Some guy in suspenders and the obligatory unfortunate facial hair who I didn’t catch much of — I was playing thumb war with my daughter. Followed by some idiot of a middle-aged woman talking utter nonsense ranging from something to do with slaves and Native Americans then on to free rivers and from there to assorted other silliness. By this point the crowd had thinned. No one was paying much attention.

    When the woman finally shut up we all leapt to our feet — quite a few of us were too old to be sitting on concrete — and my family and I made off.

    The mood throughout was good-natured, elaborately polite, kind, and often witty and humorous.

    The local ABC affiliate interviewed my wife — probably on grounds that she was wearing an eye-catching blue shirt, and then my son, probably because he was the only high school kid there.

    The police were professional, the demonstrators were in no way violent or provocative.

  72. ponce says:

    Be interesting to see if any Democrats try pandering to OWS like the Republicans who started humping the Tea Party’s leg once it had been safely hijacked from the Ron Paul supporters.

  73. jan says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Bull$hit…there was no Tea Party movement when Bush was president…

    Let me pinpoint this for you…when the teas formed their groups in the Winter of ’09 (approximately), many of their gripes were aimed at Bush, his medicare perscription plan, and his inordinate spending. They made it clear that they were angry at not only the left, but also the “elite” republicans, as they liked to term those in charge of the GOP.

  74. David M says:

    @jan: Where is the portal to this alternate dimension where the tea party is complaining about Medicare or military spending? (If it’s not a portal, maybe a combination of hallucinogens?)

  75. anjin-san says:

    many of their gripes were aimed at Bush

    Jan…. sweetie…

    “Document” does not mean you make yet another ridiculous, unsupported claim. It means you offer some credible supporting evidence.

    No one will be holding their breath.

  76. An Interested Party says:

    No to mention, with all the love being given to the protestors by the MSM, the politicians and even the bloggers like here, it keeps the attention off the gun running by this administration, the political payoff that is Solyandra, the failure of a big part of Obamacare, the weakness of Obama over Iran’s attempted direct attack on American soil, the new and exciting war Obama has involved us in ….

    Where is all this alleged “love” being given to OSM by the MSM? What is the alleged “weakness of Obama over Iran’s attempted direct attack on American soil”?

    And if Breitbart’s evidence proves, they probably will be moved to violence to facilitate the Dem dream of overthrowing representative democracy as articulated by Jesse Jackson, Jr, the Dem governor of North Carolina, Obama, etc. When your politicians start waxing hopeful for an abandonment of the Constitution and frequently ignore the rule of law, it’s the politician who need protesting

    Yet more wonderful paranoid conspiracy mongering you provide…when you get back to the land of reality, do let us know…

  77. G.A.Phillips says:
  78. G.A.Phillips says:

    My favorite: “I’ll believe Corporations are People When Texas Executes One.”

    well mine are from NY, giant banners, ones says”NO GOD, NO COUNTRY,NO MASTERS”hmm… that kind of reminds me of a song. The second says **** THE TROOPS!!!”
    And so many clips like this….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIlRQCPJcew&feature=player_embedded

    Where is the media to cover all this Hate? Hanging on Obama’s jock that’s where!

    These mob gatherings are all anti Jew, and anti American.

    And the Democrat party just loves it.

  79. James Joyner says:

    @anjin-san: It’s true that, from the earliest days, the Tea Party complained about the Bush bailouts along with the Obama bailout. That’s both my recollection and backed by Wikipedia and contemporary sources. But it’s also true that the movement didn’t get started until Obama took office–and did so in fact within his first month in office.

    Amusingly, even though we now credit Fox with being the main stoker of the movement, it was CNBC that really kicked it off in earnest with the Rick Santorelli rant and subsequent calls for Americans to rally.

  80. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    What target? You don’t end crony capitalism by going after the people who have no reason to listen to you. You end it by going after those you you can rattle. And right now, they should be rattling the White House gates. Not participating in a diversion supporting the current thieves inside the Beltway.

    Seriously? That’s not a talking point?

    You think that the only people who can hear OWS are the people who walk by in NY?

  81. JKB says:

    @john personna: You think that the only people who can hear OWS are the people who walk by in NY?

    I know that isn’t one of their talking points, or it might be, they seem to have different ones everyday. But what is known, they don’t seem to really have an over arching theme other than “somebody has something I don’t and I want it.”

    Hardly matters that the whole world can hear. As long as they are just threatening to burn out the rich, the politicians will sleep easy at night. If they want change, they need to motivate the wrong people (the current DC elite) to do the right thing using the only thing politicians understand, self-interest. And nothing motivates politicians more than fearing they are about to lose their gravy train job.

  82. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    I meant the “they should move” thing is one of the silliest complaints against OWS. They have long since gained global attention. They are getting their message(s) out just fine.

    Hardly matters that the whole world can hear. As long as they are just threatening to burn out the rich, the politicians will sleep easy at night. If they want change, they need to motivate the wrong people (the current DC elite) to do the right thing using the only thing politicians understand, self-interest. And nothing motivates politicians more than fearing they are about to lose their gravy train job.

    That is the common ground between right and left, that politicians should set down their spoons and step away from the gravy train.

    I’d say that OWS is fairly unanimous that “corporate personhood” needs to be reexamined. That my not be an easy sell on the right. Perhaps an even trade? What if all political donations could only come from individuals, and neither from corporations or trade unions?

  83. john personna says:

    When I was a kid, Robert Reich was so far left that he became a cartoon to me. He was my placeholder for naive socialism. Oh how times have changed. Maybe he would still be the great pinko, further out there on the left, if the world were closer to the old center (with Reagan as “right”). Now though, I think he has a good observation:

    Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and the other tribunes of today’s Republican right aren’t really conservatives. Their goal isn’t to conservative what we have. It’s to take us backwards.

    They’d like to return to the 1920s — before Social Security, unemployment insurance, labor laws, the minimum wage, Medicare and Medicaid, worker safety laws, the Environmental Protection Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, the Securities and Exchange Act, and the Voting Rights Act.

    We kind of knew that. Modern conservatives do want to go back to the 1920’s for their model of government responsibility. And they do forget what the 1920’s wrought, in the 1930’s.

  84. Murray says:

    Although OWS has had an impact and has changed the conversation somewhat, the greatest challenge they face compared to the Tea Party is that they don’t have a News Corp promoting them.

    The Tea Party only took off after Obama’s election when Fox News in particular were using them 24/7 to pounce on Obama.

  85. Nikki says:

    The Tea Party only took off after Obama’s election when Fox News in particular were using them 24/7 to pounce on Obama.

    For that reason alone, one knows that OWS is a grassroots movement. That it is truly people-powered. The people are speaking, letting the powers that be know that the people are very, very angry. The polls show that a majority of Americans are aware of OWS and are supporting it. It’s a real movement and it will endure.

  86. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    well mine are from NY, giant banners, ones says”NO GOD, NO COUNTRY,NO MASTERS”hmm… that kind of reminds me of a song. The second says **** THE TROOPS!!!” […] Where is the media to cover all this Hate? Hanging on Obama’s jock that’s where!

    I know it’s pointless to confuse you with facts, but: Actually they aren’t. They are from Portland and nearly 5 years old:

    Which also might explain why it’s not extensively covered by the MSM. They lack time machines.

    Perhaps you shouldn’t regurgitate everything the right-wing blogosphere utters without any filter mechanism.

  87. michael reynolds says:

    @Ebenezer Arvigenius:
    Oh, I get it, you’re going to hide behind the arrow of time and blame our lack of time machines. Well, let me point something out to you: if we had less regulation and fewer onerous taxes we’d probably have a time machine by now. How do you expect job creators to build time machines if they have to provide health care benefits to scientists?

  88. jan says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s true that, from the earliest days, the Tea Party complained about the Bush bailouts along with the Obama bailout. But it’s also true that the movement didn’t get started until Obama took office–and did so in fact within his first month in office.

    The above is an except from your post about the teas, James.

    And, below is my earlier post about the teas.

    The teas first railed against Bush. They decried his medicare Plan D. He spent like “a drunken sailor,” was one phrase often used when talking about Bush. When Obama came in, with all of his leftist ties, his call for a stimulus plan which so many people objected to, the teas seemed to just come out of the woodwork against him and his policies.

    My paragraph opened with problems the tea people had with Bush, not saying nor intending to imply the official tea movement had been formed yet. The roots of tea party sentiments, though, were festering in the wings, IMO, years before Obama’s election. It was, after all, during Bush’s era the term RINO became popular in conservative circles, deriding his compassionate conservatism, increased deficits and spending that were propagated under Bush and the GOP elites. It was only after the 2008 election, with Obama being elected as president, along with a Congress having profound liberal majorities, did these roots of dissatisfaction give way to something visable and viable on the ground called the Tea Party. However, the build-up of frustration and open dissatisfaction with DC policies were the ingredients producing such a seemingly spontaneous combustion of massive proportions so shortly after Obama took office.

  89. matt says:

    @David M: What’s really funny is that people on 4chan were heavily involved with planning OWS well before it happened. At the time I laughed at them cause I figured it’d turn out like their usual protests against Scientology. Never guessed the btards would manage to pull something off like this..

  90. anjin-san says:

    The roots of tea party sentiments

    You mean “We want stuff from the government too, we just don’t want to pay for it”?

    Probably so…

  91. c.red says:

    Can I just say this is one of the best actual discussions I have seen on this site in a while? Very little name calling and insults. Which is actually pretty high praise because I like this site for just this reason.

    As for OWS, I see them changing the dialogue which is definitely a “win” because the dialogue has been retarded until now. Unfortunately, not so much that they affect actual change, which is bad because I honestly see this as a warning shot.

    I see this movement going away, or at least receding into background noise, but the actual issues which they are trying to addres would be better to be looked at now… the next iteration of this movement could be much more serious than this one.

  92. jpe says:

    They have long since gained global attention. They are getting their message(s) out just fine.

    Getting PR is still a long shot from getting anything done. Since the movement is mostly young douchebags, and since young douchebags don’t vote in droves, the smart money is on this being a flash in the pan. An expensive one for NYC, but a flash in the pan nonetheless.

  93. An Interested Party says:

    Since the movement is mostly young douchebags…

    Hmm, that sounds about the same as saying that most of the Tea Party crowd are racists…

  94. Ben Wolf says:

    @c.red:

    Can I just say this is one of the best actual discussions I have seen on this site in a while? Very little name calling and insults.

    Looks like jpe decided you were enjoying yourself too much.

  95. jan says:

    I guess the “1%” title that the OWS groups are carrying around as their emblem of protest is not necessarily an original one. Back in 2006 a movie was made by the Johnson and Johnson scions with the same name and theme, The One Percent.. In it are namesakes of big companies who apparently participated in the film, along with Milton Friedman as somewhat of a capitalistic straight man in the movie.

  96. Ben Wolf says:

    @jan: “We are the 99%” is the slogan.

  97. jan says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Thanks. I turned that one around, didn’t I.

    The rich kids made the movie about the 1%, 5 years ago, and that’s where I think the current OWS movement got it’s 99% meme, in depicting the remainder of that 1%.

  98. Scott O. says:

    @jan: The title of his first movie is “Born Rich” It can be seen here:

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/born-rich/

  99. jan says:

    @Scott O.:

    That is probably it, Scott. I just caught the trailer, which was interesting. One of the commentors said that Warren Buffett disowned his grand daughter for appearing in the movie. But, that’s just second hand stuff. So, who knows. If true, though, it seems out of character for Buffett to do so considering his bent on wealth inequities.

    Just an additional off-topic post —> Here is someone who is a real role model. Dewey Bozella is his name.

  100. An Interested Party says:

    The rich kids made the movie about the 1%, 5 years ago, and that’s where I think the current OWS movement got it’s 99% meme, in depicting the remainder of that 1%.

    Yet something else that you pulled out of your ass…if you want to know the origins of the movement, why not simply look

  101. jan says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Yet something else that you pulled out of your ass…if you want to know the origins of the movement…

    Nope, just something of interest pulled from the internet, just like you found your piece in Mother Jones. Really, interested party, stop making yourself out to be the God of Truth & Knowledge, when it’s all pretty much serendipity, conjecture, and one’s experienial POV at play in most everyone’s posts .

  102. An Interested Party says:

    Nope, just something of interest pulled from the internet…

    Oh? From where? I’m not making myself out to be anything, but if you are going to make a claim, you should at least be able to provide evidence to support that claim…

  103. jan says:

    @An Interested Party:

    but if you are going to make a claim, you should at least be able to provide evidence to support that claim…

    This was from my original post with no claim made. I merely noticed the similarity between the current movement and a movie made 5 years ago, dealing with 1% versus 99%.

    I guess the “1%” title that the OWS groups are carrying around as their emblem of protest is not necessarily an original one. Back in 2006 a movie was made by the Johnson and Johnson scions with the same name and theme, The One Percent..

    Ben posted the protestors are the 99%. So, I then said:

    Thanks. I turned that one around, didn’t I.

    The rich kids made the movie about the 1%, 5 years ago, and that’s where I think the current OWS movement got it’s 99% meme, in depicting the remainder of that 1%.

    See that word think? It’s an ‘assumption,’ not a claim. I thought people would find it novel that such a movie was made a number of years ago, dealing with similar OWS issues being brought to light by the rich, themselves. However, you seem to be on high alert to quibble about wording, giving you the opportunity to level your insipid charges .

    Go find some lint balls to take issue with.

  104. An Interested Party says:

    Go find some lint balls to take issue with.

    I needn’t bother, as lint balls are more reality-based than you…

  105. Nikki says:

    dealing with similar OWS issues being brought to light by the rich, themselves.

    Yes, jan, the children of the rich were sending out warning shots 5 years ago. Yet, here you are defending the status quo. Why don’t you stop and think about that?

  106. john personna says:

    I love the illogic, that since “rich kids” care about the poor, they must be wrong.

    Wouldn’t the smug, self-satisfied, thing be to go play some tennis?

  107. Michael says:

    @michael reynolds:

    How do you expect job creators to build time machines if they have to provide health care benefits to scientists?

    Wait, wut? The “job creators” don’t actually build anything. If a time machine was built, the scientists would be the ones who built it, and after the “job creators” had siphoned off all the paper representing this new form of wealth, those scientists would likely be unable to afford to buy or use one, finding themselves among the ranks of the unemployed. It’s fair enough that they would no longer be employed after having completed the task, but they need to be fairly compensated so as to enjoy a share in the wealth they helped create. Otherwise, it’s the bread line, right?

    I think this is what OWS is really all about. The workers are the ones who actually create products and provide services, which equate to wealth. The “job creators” actually do not create wealth, they merely accumulate the vast majority of it. Sure, I get that financial backing is a necessary component, but under our current system, the workers do not share in the wealth they create by their labor, being treated as expendable commodities. The workers probably enjoy a better standard of living than they otherwise would, but only for as long as they remain useful (read profitable).

    Then, when the proverbial sh** hits the fan, we get the whole “bailout” thing, the idea being that we have to save these corporations because “hurr durr, they create jobs.” By accumulating most of the wealth, they have gained the power, and the longer it goes like this, the harder it becomes to enact change. If the guy with all the marbles takes them and goes home, the game is over…

    I’m not sure anything short of a violent uprising could change our current state of affairs, but with control of the government comes control of the military, so I’m also convinced that a revolution would fail. The powers that be need only see that the people have just enough that they will not risk their lives in revolt, and things will continue as they are. The rich will get richer, and the poor will become more so. Eventually, there will be no middle class in the U.S.