Free Markets, Free People


More signs of OWS Astro-Turf

And big media collusion.  Dana Loesch has the story.

Big Journalism has learned that the Occupy Washington DC movement is working with well-known media members to craft its demands and messaging while these media members report on the movement. Someone has made the emails from the Occupy D.C. email distro public and searchable. The names in the list are a veritable who’s who in media.

Journolist 2.0 includes well known names such as MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan, Rolling Stone’s Matt Tiabbi who both are actively participating; involvement from other listers such as Bill Moyers and Glenn Greenwald plus well-known radicals like Noam Chomsky, remains unclear. The list also includes a number of Occupy organizers, such as one of the Occupy Wall Street main organizers Kevin Zeese.

There is a lot of behind the scenes manipulation going on with this movement on the left as the Obama water carriers swing into coordinated action.  Read the whole article and check out the examples.

The Obama campaign and Obama himself is trying very carefully to help craft the message so he can at least tentatively embrace the movement, characterize it as a populist movement and try to use it to give his re-election chances some momentum.  Yesterday Obama made the comparison between the OWS movement and the civil rights movement of the ‘60s.  Having been around for that, I’ve got to say I’m just not seeing it.

To this point, OWS is a ragbag confederation of the usual A.N.S.W.E.R groups and the movement still hasn’t issued any coherent statement of its purpose except to harass the rich and attempt to lay the blame for – well you name it—at their feet.  As you’ll see, OWS now has “professional” help to help them put something together.

Obviously there is a lot of anger out there – we’ve known that for years, actually, as we’ve watched wave election after wave election take place and have witnessed the rise of the Tea Party.

But most of that anger and discontent was aimed at government.  And that has put this Administration on the defensive.  Where it could once claim outsider credentials, it is the government establishment now.  Obama knows that if the focus of discontent stays on government, his re-election chances are not good.

However, this movement offers a perfect opportunity to shift focus and blame.

It comes as no surprise then that media water carriers and spin doctors along with the administration see this as an opportunity to expand on the class warfare meme and shift blame and focus away from government.


Twitter: @McQandO

Occupy Wall Street — from grassroots to Astro-turf

It may have begun as a genuine grassroots movement (and a rather lame one too boot) but the professional left is now taking it over and it is a true Astro-turf movement now.

Don’t believe me?  Listen and learn:


Yes friends, that’s the SEIU’s Stephen Lerner telling you what the plans are for the rest of the week.  For instance, notice that the Chicago protest is a planned protest ginned up by the SEIU (most likely with bussed in protesters).   Notice too that the visits to millionaire’s homes in NY City isn’t a “Occupy Wall Street” event per se, but one planned by the SEIU.

That’s Astro-turf in the political sense.

Look it up.


Twitter: @McQandO

Occupy Wall Street – grass roots or astro-turf?

I’m kind of digging the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests because they’re so … well, I don’t know.  Entertaining?  Provocative?  Clueless?

Are they a genuine protest or just, as Doug Mataconis thinks, a collective temper tantrum?

I’m not sure (a little of both? Percentage of the mix to be determined.), but what I am pretty sure of is “corporations and bankers” didn’t get us into the fiscal mess our government is in, politicians did.  So I’m having difficulty understanding the current focus of the protest.   And the 99% claim (they’re protesting the 1% with all the money and who, coincidentally, also pay most of the freight when it comes to income taxes).

Look I understand the frustration of those who are out of work and who believe that we’ve been shafted.  But the “shaft” didn’t originate on Wall Street.

Of course all the usual suspects on the left, now that OWS has picked up a little steam thanks to the media, are trying to claim the mess as a reflection of their ideology and attempting to co-opt it. 

But I’m still at a loss to understand what it actually is all about and, if it is about what I think it is about, how misguided it is.  While there’s certainly some reason to think Wall Street (to use the apparent OWS “generic” term, it seems, for corporate America and bankers) isn’t blameless in all of this mess, it is absolutely clueless to try to sell the premise that it is they who are solely or mostly responsible for it. 

I do know one thing, while they may claim to represent the 99%, that’s a claim that doesn’t include me, for many reasons, the top picture being one of them.

On the other hand, I certainly understand the frustration that has driven people out into the street.  The average length of unemployment is now at 40.5 weeks, the longest in 60 years.   From June 2009, when the recession officially ended to June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income has fallen 6.7 % to $49,909.

Lots of reasons to be frustrated, certainly.

But, and here’s the question I see no one answering, why is it to the advantage of corporate America and the banks to have people unemployed and with less money to spend?  How does that “help” them or advance whatever agenda it is that the OWS crowd would like to pin on them?

That makes no sense does it?  And, of course, the one thing corporate American can’t do is make you buy or use their product, so it would seem self-defeating to hurt you financially or alienate you.   Yet if you listen to many of the OWS folks, that’s exactly what they believe those folks want to do.

That said, ideologically and politically, this is perfect for a particular side.  It’s exactly what the Obama administration wants to see happen as it helps underscore their class warfare pivot and it helps legitimize it while also helping, even mindlessly, to shift the blame – something this administration constantly seeks to do.

But according to the Financial Times, the President himself is unofficially backing their cause.

The paper wrote: ‘While not endorsing the protests, Barack Obama and Joe Biden have expressed understanding of the movement that has spread rapidly across the country.

‘Mr Obama said people were angry because Wall Street had not been ‘following the rules’.

‘His vice-president even compared the movement on Thursday to the Tea Party, the conservative movement which has upended national politics in the past two years.’

In fact, Wall Street has been following the rules – those outlined by government in their legislation and policies.   See Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. See housing bubble.  See what government facilitated. While we may find that to be intrusion into a market that distorted it beyond recognition and facilitated the collapse of the housing market and the consequent disruption of all other markets, but you won’t find Obama and the boys talking about that. 

There are no protesters in front of Fannie and Freddy.  Instead we’re led to believe by people who know better that this is all a result of a plot by greedy Wall Streeters to cash in at the expense of the people and to collapse the economy – or something like that.

Nope, this is a handy adjunct to a particular ideological argument.  This is the result of political rhetoric that has targeted a certain group or class as the “bad guys”.  Look through history, folks, this is an argument that at various times has resonated.  I won’t bore you with the examples, but there are plenty.  And for those that succeeded, they essentially diverted attention from the real evil that was either in the process of installing itself or further strengthening its hold.

So my question, and it would actually take someone in the media who had a sense for getting to the bottom of something like this, is how much of this is really grassroots and how much of it is actually astro-turf?

We have a president who is foundering.  We have a political party in desperate trouble, electorally.  We have a class warfare argument begun to attempt to distract the public and shift blame.   And now we have the “popular” uprising to complement it.  And, of course, the compliant lefty pundits to carry the water of class warfare and attempt to use emotional arguments to sell the blame shifting.

Yes, a bit too convenient for me.   But we’ll probably never know because there simply don’t seem to be any real investigative reporter types who have an interest in chasing down possibilities like this (following connect-the-dot relationships, tracking money, etc) at least when it might redound on the current administration.

I remember their reporting about the Tea Party and how, without any proof whatsoever, they claimed much of it was a result of astro-turf.  Now, there really seems to be no curiosity at all about what the roots of this little movement might be.

Should people be frustrated and mad about where we are today?  Sure.  It’s a result of decades of bad decisions, poor policies and attempted social engineering.  It isn’t a result of “Wall Street” per se.  But admitting that or letting that meme establish itself would be fatal to the current administration.  Diversion and blame shifting are necessary.

Thus the rhetoric.  Thus the convenient and properly themed protest.

It is suspiciously like political theater designed to divert and earn re-election because there are few other options.  Nothing more.


Twitter: @McQandO

It’s Going To Be A Long, Hot August

The videos of what are described as “angry” townhalls around the country keep pouring in. Here’s one from Green Bay, WI.

Of course there are tons of others.

The Democrats and the left have answered the protests by claiming that they’re nothing more than “right-wing extremists” under the control of powerful interest groups. Thus the charge of “astro-turfing”.

These accusations by the DNC seem to ignore the Tea Party movement’s origins which was, on inspection, a true grass-roots movement (and one that has taken both Democrats and Republicans to task for their profligate spending). Notice too that they include the “birthers” in their vid to underline their “extremist” claim.

The White House, instead of trying to calm the waters, has chosen employ Saul Alinsky against the protesters:

A key part of the developing strategy: ridicule the opposition — and portray those who disrupt meetings with loud chants and signs as part of the same ilk of people who showed up at campaign rallies for John McCain and Sarah Palin right after the 2008 Republican National Convention.

So this turns into a propaganda war. The left will be attempting to turn public opinion against the protesters by portraying them a certain way.

Patronizing opponents is a tried and true tradition in Washington, and Democrats have used the tactic with success. They ridiculed the hundreds of thousands of conservatives who protested the stimulus package as “tea baggers.”

But Republicans are just as responsible for the perception. The folks who tend to show up at protest events tend to be to the right of the mean in the party. And, as the spread of the birther movement demonstrates, not a small chunk of these Republicans are reactionaries. The challenge for the White House and Democrats is that they find a way to separate genuinely anxious conservatives who ask good questions — even if those questions are provided by conservative groups — and the crazies who tend to pack town hall meetings.

Of course, most reasonable people would suggest, upon reflection, that if this was an “astro-turfed” movement, those who are paying for it would have much tighter control and avoid the obviously unhelpful signage and any connection with the birther movement. That’s obviously not the case.

So the right and Republicans have the momentum, at least for now, but it isn’t clear if they have an advantage for the reasons stated.

The challenge for Republicans is to prevent the media from labeling everyone who attends a meeting with a Democratic lawmaker and who calls him or herself a conservative as a crazy person. Some polling suggests that the percentage of Republicans who don’t know whether President Obama was born in the United States is fairly high, although it is hard to say how much of that confusion stems from ignorance or from a generally jaundiced, perhaps racist, view of the President.

A range of smaller, ideologically conservative interest groups are organizing the protests. Finding pockets of activist-oriented arch-conservatives in places like Texas, Missouri and Indiana is easy, especially if the set goal is to defeat Obama-care, which is being sold to these people as the approach of government-run health care, something that these folks have been worried about for years. Add to the mix a desire to hand the progressive President and his agenda a decisive defeat.

And there’s an interesting question about pushing back on the left – where are its activists and organizations?

The more troublesome question for Democratic strategists is why the major Democratic groups, including Organizing for America, the labor unions, Health Care for America Now, seem to be flatfooted and unable to match the much smaller conservative organizing capacity in these critical districts. One answer is that the media pays attention to the loudest voices, which are coming from the right. The other is that organizing around major — even popular — reforms of existing institutions is tough. The Democrats don’t have a single bill right now, and the elite left is worried about what’s not in the cards — a public plan — and is therefore fairly unenthusiastic. If the liberal elite isn’t enthusiastic, the liberal base — less knowledgeable — will be as well.

And of course, there’s the media – which, it seems, leans mostly toward helping the administration. For instance, the conclusion of the article from which I’ve been quoting from Mark Ambinder at The Atlantic:

To focus minds, Democrats are coordinating TV and radio ad blitzes, including the biggest expenditures by the Democratic National Committee to date. President Obama, his cabinet and his vice president will be ubiquitous. Quickly responding to disinformation will be a key goal, an administration official said, pointing to this morning’s release of a video from Linda Douglass, a former television and print reporter who serves as a key White House health care adviser, which rebutted a misleading video posted on the Drudge Report.

Linda Douglass “rebutted” nothing. She made a bunch of claims she’d have difficulty substantiating. But that is how it is being reported. The implication is that what is coming from the right is “disinformation” and the only true source of factual information is the White House.

I think we all know that dog won’t hunt.

But this should be a very, very interesting August.

[Welcome RCP readers]


Apparently Community Organizing Is A Bad Thing Now

To hear the left talk about these protests that are springing up and townhalls held by various Representatives and Senators, you’d think that such protests are just unAmerican.

And, of course, the usual raft of “astro-turf” allegations are being thrown around.  I’ve watched a few of the videos though and these folks doing the protesting seem pretty darn dedicated to stopping the big health care grab.

In fact, what I see happening is the right using the same sorts of tactics and methods that the left seemed so comfortable with during the Bush administration. Web 2.0 communications that networks protesting groups and keeps them updated and mobilized. I guess there are those out there that can’t imagine that happening at a grass-roots level anymore, although that is the MO the left developed previously while denying the astro-turf allegations.

In fact, I’m somewhat surprised because the right is less likely to run in packs like the left is, so a tip of the hat to the righties – good community organizing guys.

As for the left, suck it up and have the good grace to suffer in silence, recognizing that what you’re seeing now is what you defended as the highest form of patriotism during the previous 8 years.