Patterico's Pontifications

11/15/2011

Dominic Tierney to Occupy Movement: More American Flags, Please! (Update: Judge Clears the Way to Clear Out Zucotti Park)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 1:32 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing. Follow me by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: The more I think about it, the more I realize Tierney’s title (“Occupy Wall Street’s Image Problem”) shows how little he understands the problem. With fawning coverage in the MSM, they don’t have an “image” problem. They have a “behavior” problem so severe that the MSM can’t hide it from the rest of us.

Update (II): Via breaking news email, we learn that New York Supreme Court Judge Stallman has decided not to issue a restraining order on the police as they move to push the protesters out of Zucotti park.  (Please note that in New York State, the “Supreme Court” is their lowest court, and their highest court is called the Court of Appeals.)  Pull up a bowl of popcorn as we get to see more “image problems” (meaning, bad behavior) on TV tonight.

Dominic Tierney over at the Atlantic writes about the Occupy movement’s image problem. Thus he explains that:

To succeed, OWS needs to Americanize the movement. Politics in America is like a game of capture the flag. The United States is a highly ideological nation with a clear sense of its history as a narrative arc. And the right and left get to battle over who will write the next chapter in the American story.

Here, the model for OWS to copy is the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King understood how the game is played. Despite the best efforts of racists to paint King and his supporters as un-American, radical, and pro-communist, the civil rights movement successfully presented itself as the next installment in the great American tale. King deliberately reached back to the founding of the nation and asked that the country’s ideals be extended to all Americans: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” Today, even conservatives like Glenn Beck embrace King and the civil rights movement.

Meanwhile, the cautionary tale is the anti-Vietnam War movement. By the late 1960s, the Vietnam War was highly unpopular. But incredibly, the anti-war movement was even less popular than the war. The protesters were widely seen as un-American: rioters, desecrators of the flag, and advocates of amnesty, acid, and abortion. The protesters got a “reputation for being elitist, radical, and unpatriotic.”

And to be fair to him, there is some truth to that. He is not the first person to notice that Americans have a long tradition of “conservative revolution,” where people claim that they were not changing things so much as vindicating what America has been about all along. The most noticeable example of this were the Republicans of the 1850’s and 60’s. Where William Lloyd Garrison famously burned a copy of the Constitution, the Republicans argued that they were fulfilling what America was supposed to be about: the fulfillment of the promise of the Declaration of Independence. Even the very name of their party was a reference to Jefferson; in Jefferson’s day it was called the Republican party, and it was only over time that it became the Democratic-Republican party and finally the Democratic party. So it was a way of saying that the Democrats had gone astray from Jeffersonian principles and they were about restoring them.

Which was kind of crap when you think about it. The (Lincoln) Republican party was also the party of a stronger federal government (although that element of their doctrine has been overblown by some) and industrialization while Jefferson wanted America to remain decentralized and agrarian. At most they only arguably were perfecting one Jeffersonian principle, not all of them. But they still cast themselves that way and thought of themselves that way, setting a template for change in American politics that successful movements have followed.

So he is right, to some degree, but Dominic, you know what might really help the image of the Occupy movement?

If they were, you know… a little less rapey.

And they might try pooping on police cars a little less.

I know, I know… baby steps, but here’s the thing… if you wrap yourself in the flag as you do those things, that tends to offend patriots more than if you kept the flag out of it altogether.

More seriously, the deeper problem with his analysis is that these movements didn’t just wrap themselves in the flag to fool the yokels. They were brought forward by people who genuinely believed that they were carrying forward what America was all about. I might say that it was crap for the Republicans of the 1860’s to think of themselves as perfecting Jefferson, but they genuinely seemed to believe it. The same goes for Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Mr. Teirney writes, damningly:

Compare photos of OWS rallies and Tea Party events. From a distance, you can’t always tell that the leftwing protests are in the United States. By contrast, the Tea Party is awash with the stars and stripes.

Overt patriotism can make people on the left feel a little nervous. But when the nation’s symbols have such meaning to so many people, why cede the flag to conservatives?

What Mr. Teirney fails to recognize is that the Tea Party doesn’t just wave the flag but takes it guidance from the principles that this country was founded on—that the American Flag uniquely represents. The occupy movement is not grounded in such principles and are often antithetical to them. And that is why if you suddenly see flags at their rallies it will be an empty gesture at best.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Daily Beast Goes After O’Keefe

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:29 am

At the Daily Beast, Howie Kurtz has a piece titled: “Allies Accuse James O’Keefe of ‘Hit Job’ in Undercover NPR Sting.” A deck headline says: “The two men who pulled off James O’Keefe’s NPR sting are now criticizing the conservative activist for what one calls a ‘hit job.’ They tell Howard Kurtz exclusively why they feel exploited.”

Reading those headlines, you could not be blamed for concluding that O’Keefe’s colleagues were claiming that the video was a “hit job” in the sense of being deceptive or misleading. The quotes are accurate, to be sure, but they seem to imply something that I don’t think is delivered by the actual piece, in which the O’Keefe allies seem to be complaining (among other things) that O’Keefe pulled the trigger too fast:

James O’Keefe, the man behind the undercover project, wanted to make the hidden-camera video public immediately last February as Congress debated whether to kill NPR’s funding. Templar insisted on waiting, and a confrontation ensued.

In a series of interviews with The Daily Beast, Templar says he had designed the effort to be “a very thoroughly researched and impeccably executed project that was by no means limited to NPR. James wanted it to be a hit job.”

What’s more, says Templar, O’Keefe “didn’t seem to care about the reasons why we were doing this. All he cared about was that he had people saying embarrassing stuff on video. I came to learn how desperate he was in terms of money and needing to rehabilitate his reputation.”

The piece is an interesting read, but don’t fall for the lazy one-dimensional spin. “Simon Templar” (if that is his real name) obviously has some bones to pick with O’Keefe, and I am not going to opine on whether they are legitimate gripes. I have chatted with both men before and don’t want to take sides. But Templar doesn’t seem to be saying the piece was a fraud.

By the way, I have had mixed feelings about the NPR piece. As you can see from this post of mine, I agreed with some criticisms of his editing of that piece, while identifying some other criticisms as misleading.

I will say also that O’Keefe has faced a campaign of vilification as has been experienced by few others. People continue to falsely accuse him of an attempted wiretapping, of being on “parole,” of being a convicted felon, and various other falsehoods. He constantly has people calling his probation officer to try to get him thrown in jail for doing things that have been pre-approved. I don’t think the probation officer listens any more. It’s the story of the Pack of Leftists Who Cried Wolf 8000 Times.

As you read the piece, never forget: it’s Howie Kurtz. So keep several grains of salt handy.

After the Green Rush

Filed under: General — Karl @ 5:50 am

[Posted by Karl]

The establishment media equivalent of the Friday document dump is exiling a story to Saturday, which is what the New York Times did with a story on the crony capitalism that might be nicknamed the Green Rush:

The government support — which includes loan guarantees, cash grants and contracts that require electric customers to pay higher rates — largely eliminated the risk to the private investors and almost guaranteed them large profits for years to come. The beneficiaries include financial firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, conglomerates like General Electric, utilities like Exelon and NRG — even Google.

A great deal of attention has been focused on Solyndra, a start-up that received $528 million in federal loans to develop cutting-edge solar technology before it went bankrupt, but nearly 90 percent of the $16 billion in clean-energy loans guaranteed by the federal government since 2009 went to subsidize these lower-risk power plants, which in many cases were backed by big companies with vast resources.

When the Obama administration and Congress expanded the clean-energy incentives in 2009, a gold-rush mentality took over.

The story undoubtedly disappoints former Enron adviser turned NYT columnist Paul Krugman, who has picked up the lefty meme about a “Moore’s Law in solar energy.”  There are a number of reasons to be skeptical about that, the most obvious being that if there was anything like Moore’s Law going on with solar energy, the industry would not be dependent on government subsidies, mandates and loan guarantees.

As usual, there is a part of this that is news not fit to print in the NYT, but left to a new book from Peter Schweizer:

The so-called 1705 Loan Guarantee Program and the 1603 Grant Program channeled billions of dollars to all sorts of energy companies. The grants were earmarked for alternative-fuel and green-power projects, so it would not be a surprise to learn that those industries were led by liberals. Furthermore, these were highly competitive grant and loan programs—not usually a hallmark of cronyism. Often fewer than 10 percent of applicants were deemed worthy.

Nevertheless, a large proportion of the winners were companies with Obama-campaign connections. Indeed, at least 10 members of Obama’s finance committee and more than a dozen of his campaign bundlers were big winners in getting your money. At the same time, several politicians who supported Obama managed to strike gold by launching alternative-energy companies and obtaining grants. How much did they get? According to the Department of Energy’s own numbers … a lot. In the 1705 government-backed-loan program, for example, $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted as of Sept. 15 went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers—individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party. The grant and guaranteed-loan recipients were early backers of Obama before he ran for president, people who continued to give to his campaigns and exclusively to the Democratic Party in the years leading up to 2008. Their political largesse is probably the best investment they ever made in alternative energy. It brought them returns many times over.

RTWT, as it only gets worse from there.  Even if you discount the possibility of crime, the Green Rush is a companion story to that of Occupy Wall Street, as Kenneth Anderson explained in analyzing the Blue One Perecent:

The two tiers of the New Class have always had different sources of rents ***.  For the upper tier, since 1990, it has come through its ability to take the benefits of generations of US social investment in education and sell that expertise across global markets — leveraging expertise and access to capital and technological markets in the 1990s to places in Asia and the former communist world in desperate need of it.  As [Christopher] Lasch said, the revolt and flight of the elites, to marketize themselves globally as free agents — to take the social capital derived over many generations by American society, and to go live in the jet stream and extract returns on a global scale for that expertise.  But that expertise is now largely commodified — to paraphrase David Swenson on financial engineering, that kind of universal expertise is commodified, cheaply available, and no longer commands much premium.  As those returns have come under pressure, the Global New Class has come home, looking to command premiums through privileged access to the public-private divide — access most visible at the moment as virtuous new technology projects that turn out to be mere crony capitalism.

Again, when progressivism is no longer a source of spoils, its power will be much diminished.

–Karl


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.2137 secs.