Saturday Links

Saturday, October 29th, 2011
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38 Responses to “Saturday Links”

  1. #1 |  Franklin Harris | 

    “The Tea Party groups, largely portrayed as anti-government, largely sought permits, paid fees, and followed protest regulations. The Occupy movement, largely portrayed as pro-government, has largely thumbed its nose at protest rules and regulations.”

    I suspect that’s because the Tea Party and OWS are, like most political movements, more about personality and culture than about policy.

    Tea Partiers are culturally conservative and respect authority in general (churches, their elders, etc.) if not federal authority. They also tend to support local police and have respect for police power in theory if not always in practice. But they main thing is they are temperamentally legalistic, thus their obsession with doing things by the letter of the law, be it making the federal government abide by the Constitution (good) or their “illegal is illegal” stance on “illegal” immigration (bad).

    The Occupiers are fundamentally self-centered. The only “authority” they respect is their own, e.g., their “general assemblies,” and while they want a stronger federal government that magically starts doing what they want, street-level authority figures (city governments, police, etc.) are in direct competition with OWS’s “authority,” and that makes them The Man and something to be ignored, unless they can be co-opted (e.g., the laughable attempts of some Occupiers to try to convince the police to — um, switch sides, I guess).

  2. #2 |  nospam | 

    One of the big issues I had with the tea parties was the whole permit thing. If you’re going to pretend to be all mad as hell and your not going to take this anymore [/Howard Beale], why are you asking permission to complain? Seriously, they invoke image of the Boston Tea Party, then apply for a permit. Was a permit issued to dump tea in the harbor? Did Rosa Parks ask for permission to keep her seat at the front of the bus?

    The tea party wasn’t ready to man-up when it came to protesting so they were easily co-opted. The occupy movement seems to be a totally different critter.

  3. #3 |  tariqata | 

    With the caveat that I’m an outside observer – I sympathize with the Occupiers, but I’m not camping out with them for a number of reasons – I think that the portrayal of them as “pro-government” is false. It seems to me, from the statements I’ve read and discussions with friends who are out there protesting, that the movement may be pro-government in the abstract, but one of the issues it’s challenging is the legitimacy of governments as they actually exist, because they are inextricably bound up with the interests of global capital at the expense of the public good. That could well make a difference in the way that the movement seeks to relate to existing governments.

    I also wouldn’t venture to pass judgment on their strategy at this point, but I think it’s a mistake to base any analysis of it on the assumption that they’re “pro-government” without that clarification.

  4. #4 |  nospam | 

    “(e.g., the laughable attempts of some Occupiers to try to convince the police to — um, switch sides, I guess).”

    I wonder if this might change some opinions on supporting police and fire fighter pay and pensions. I imagine the fire fighters burnt a lot of good will when they helped the police steal all the heaters and generators of the protesters right before some very bad weather.

  5. #5 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    The Occupiers are fundamentally self-centered.

    Certainly seems so. “Yours-is-mine” sums it up.

    Many people will disagree with this assessment, but I stand by it. It isn’t the first time I’ve heard the message Occupy is drumming.

  6. #6 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Let me fix that for you NYC Police Union:

    “Any assault on a protester by a police officer is not only punishable as a felony in the State of New York, but will also be met with swift and certain legal action, which will seek monetary damages against any individual who causes injury to a New York City citizen.”

  7. #7 |  Lint | 

    Regarding the headline of the day: Sarah Jessica Parker strikes again!

  8. #8 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    From Schiff video:
    “You want to disband the Board of Education? You’re an idiot.”
    “Sir, it is called the Department of Education”

    Lulz.

  9. #9 |  derfel cadarn | 

    If the NYPD(NY Corruptest) have the ability to sue individuals that might injure them in the performance of their duties then why does the other side not have the same ability? Not all persons having interactions with the police are guilty of crimes yet the police are protected. If it is good for the goose it is good for the gander,if it cannot not work for both sides it cannot work for anyone.

  10. #10 |  Pete Guither | 

    The story of OWS is that there are a whole lot of people fed up about what’s going on in this country right now. When you have a populist uprising, there’s going to be a chaos of divergent messages.

    Not everyone protesting is going to understand the complexities of economic or political theory, nor should they be required to in order to protest. Some may see a symptom as a cause and so on.

    With this kind of mix, it’s stupidly easy to interview a group of protestors and say “Oh, the protests are all about hating the rich,” or “the protests are about wanting to get money without working for it” and on and on. And the protests drive the media crazy because there’s no 30-second sound-bite to explain it all.

    The clear sense that I’ve gotten is that the overall thrusts of the protests (once you weed out the distracting noise of anarchists and socialists) have not been against the notion of people getting rich, but rather the notion of the rich (or more accurately some of the rich) having different rules than the rest of the population. It’s the sense of “cheating” that disturbs them (and in this, they have more in common with the pre-co-opted Tea Party than they’d want to admit).

    It’s also something that can’t be fixed in a sound-bite or a petition.

    This sense closely relates to the theme of Glenn Greenwald’s new book, which deals with the inequalities in the justice system.

    It was a mistake to dismiss the Tea Party as a bunch of racists and Republican shills and ignore the underlying legitimate economic concerns. The same is true with OWS.

  11. #11 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    The Tea Party is in favor of local solutions, which they can affect locally. They therefore tend to comply with local jurisdictional requirements like permits, while ignoring wider social constructs, such as political correctness.

    The Occupiers believe that they are in favor of some kind of ill defined magical State that would wave its wand and make everybody happy except for the Greedy Capitalists. They see actual government as a tool of the Status Quo, and so the scorn permits. They believe (against all the evidence of history) in the consensus of the mob that they are a part of, so they obey the strictures of Political Correctness (which never apply to criticism of Wrong Thinkers).

    In short the Tea Party is composed of believers in democracy, while the occupiers are perfect little Stalinists just waiting for a charismatic figurehead to tell them who to start liquidating.

    *spit*

  12. #12 |  David | 

    Both the Tea Party and Occupy Whatever have extremely valid points about the dysfunctional nature of our political/economic system as it exists – Tea Partiers are correctly outraged over absurd levels of government spending and debt, while the Occupy crowd is railing against a system of regulations and incentives that’s overwhelmingly structured to prop up the rent-seekers while erecting barriers to entry against people who don’t already have the means to go rent-seeking.

    The problem is that the Tea Party, by and large, can’t accept that cutting wasteful spending means cutting spending they generally like (defense), while the OWSers don’t realize that the solution to their problem is less government, not “better” government (however they define that).

  13. #13 |  EH | 

    tariqata:
    “…one of the issues it’s challenging is the legitimacy of governments as they actually exist, because they are inextricably bound up with the interests of global capital at the expense of the public good.”

    Only in the most abstract of interpretations. Your take on this topic is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and aligns with criticisms of the occupation for using things like Apple computers and money.

  14. #14 |  EH | 

    “The regulation we want is the market,” said Schiff. “That’s what works.”

    Prove it, dude.

  15. #15 |  Jeremy | 

    Didn’t take long for C. S. P. Schofield to start trolling.

  16. #16 |  tariqata | 

    @EH: I’m sorry to be dense, but I’m really not sure in what way I’m throwing the baby out with the bathwater by arguing that I don’t think the Occupy protesters’ actions or goals – which I recognize are diverse and not always clear – can be simply summed up as “pro-government”, particularly without drawing a distinction between ‘ideal’ government(s) and actual governments, which many of the protesters are critiquing. I tried to sketch out, as broadly as possible, my understanding of that critique. I’d be interested if you would clarify your criticism of my interpretation.

  17. #17 |  John Thacker | 

    I don’t think it’s a surprise that groups composed of people who follow the law and rules would be more likely to view those laws as onerous and in need of change, whereas groups composed of people who ignore the laws and think that they’re only for other people don’t really see the burden.

    To make an analogy, someone who doesn’t pay his taxes at all doesn’t really care if his legal tax rate goes up or down. It’s people that pay their statutory taxes that want the rate to go down.

    To make another analogy, there are some rich and connected people who are perfectly happy for pot (or other things) to be illegal because they know that they can still get theirs, and they know that the law only really comes down hard on the Wrong Sort of People. Something similar affects civil liberties in general, say the PATRIOT Act or wiretapping– most people care a lot less when they assume that the law isn’t going to be used exactly as written against them, only against those other people.

    without drawing a distinction between ‘ideal’ government(s) and actual governments, which many of the protesters are critiquing.

    My conviction is that the Occupy protestors are the ones failing to draw a distinction between ideal governments and actual governments. They want more government power because they imagine that the government could actually function in an ideal manner, ignoring what actual governments do.

    Both pro-market people and pro-government people tend to notice the flaws of the reality of the other side while ignoring the flaws in a real market or real government. However, given reality, I think that the real market, with its flaws, is still better than real governments.

  18. #18 |  Li | 

    I’ve interacted with the local occupy protestors, and listened to a number of them both on and offline (livestream is a great source for listening to speeches given at these rallies), and I have come to a few conclusions about the movement. I agree with tariqata’s analysis generally; characterizing the group as either pro or anti government is sort of missing the point. Most of them seem to be happy with the idea of a government functioning to keep people from hurting one another out of greed or avarice. There is nothing anti-capitalist about this idea; Smith was clear that ensuring that thieves and vandals don’t get the upper hand is key to maintaining order in the economic sphere, and that this is a useful function of government. So, you might say that the OWS protestors seem to be pro-regulation. People like Peter Schiff are of the opinion that regulation in any form is a bad thing, but given the way that the CDS market has ballooned to 70+ trillion and the Derivatives market has ballooned to more than 1.4 quadrillion dollars in a regulation vacuum, I would say that is an unsupported belief. That much money collecting in dark pools is highly destabilizing, as we saw when AIG was on the brink of collapse, and it is only possible because those markets are unregulated free for alls. And then there is the other side; the protestors seem to be anti-government when it comes to giving unfair advantage to favored businesses, and in regard to the flagrant wasting of money on anything related to ‘defense.’ There is a strong anti-war sentiment in the group, but this may simply reflect strong anti-war sentiments amongst the majority of Americans, rather than being a special characteristic of the people who are occupying. They are certainly anti-bailout, and I’ve heard a number of statements that could be wrapped up as ‘business that make bad bets should be allowed to fail, or at the least should have a change of leadership if that is not realistic.’ Basically, they believe in fairness, both in economics (no more cheat codes, i.e. getting money from the FED at 0% and then giving it back to them to make a risk free 3%) and in governance (no more executive lawbreaking and immunity to the powerful.) They believe in peace and the principle that the law should apply equally to all. I frankly came away with a very positive view of the group, and I can understand why these sentiments are getting such wide spread support from the public.

    So, to sum up, OWS is anti-government when it comes to the nexus of power between business and government, and the way that allows the powerful to break the law with impunity and make money through cheating or through having their risks reduced to zero. They are pro-government when it comes to the idea that there needs to be regulation of businesses so that they don’t destroy everything with their greed, and in support of basic social services so that people aren’t starving on the streets. It’s a powerful message, albeit one filtered through the opinions of many thousands of people rather than handed down from a small roster of leaders. Their tactic of willfully breaking minor laws like camping ordinances and protest permits to bring attention to the massive lawbreaking that is occurring in the upper reaches of power has a strong philosophical backing (Thoreau, Ghandi, and King) and harkens back to the protest movements that got our nation, and India, started. And their tactics are working. It’s very difficult for protests not supported by corporate power to break into the media consciousness; the tactic of setting up camp and never leaving makes ignoring them impossible. I wish them luck in effecting the change they seek.

  19. #19 |  John Thacker | 

    I also think that the Tea Party people felt that their protests would get worse, biased coverage and treatment from officials unless they followed every rule. I don’t know if the Occupiers simply expected nicer treatment, or whether they want to provoke confrontations.

  20. #20 |  KBCraig | 

    Hey, that last thought sounds familiar! ;)

    Me, on Facebook yesterday: “Sadly ironic, yet strangely funny: Tea Partiers proudly pointing out that, unlike #Occupy, they procured permits, paid fees, and obeyed all laws while protesting excessive government.”

  21. #21 |  me | 

    “tied to a tree in his backyard (with his penis)”

    How did he manage to tie it to a tree with his penis ?

  22. #22 |  EH | 

    tariqata, you are overgeneralizing criticism of policies and (non-) action as questioning the “legitimacy” of government itself, mistaking the part for the whole. The mistake is in your attempt to “sum up.”

    Also, it appears to be your assertion (if in fact you are responding to #1) that “not anti-government” means “pro-government,” which is straight-up binary thinking without nuance.

  23. #23 |  Miko | 

    “Thought: The Tea Party groups, largely portrayed as anti-government, largely sought permits, paid fees, and followed protest regulations. The Occupy movement, largely portrayed as pro-government, has largely thumbed its nose at protest rules and regulations.”

    Portraying OWS as pro-government is just a media tactic to discredit the movement. It was largely organized by David Graeber and other anarchists, which is why it ignored the law. It also was set up to use consensus democracy, which has so far prevented the pro-government infiltrators from foisting their idiocy on the movement. As such, it instead has developed a culture of treating those in positions of power as irrelevant and worthy of being ignored.

    Portraying the Tea Party as anti-government is just as silly. It was set up by hard-core Republicans in order to protect their privileges from perceived threats like immigrants and people of color. It focused exclusively on electoral politics and on demands to those in positions of power. As such, it has developed a culture of reverence for those in positions of power as the sole source for political change.

  24. #24 |  C.A. | 

    “The Tea Party groups, largely portrayed as anti-government”

    Someone may have portrayed them as anti-government, but mostly they just appeared to be anti-tax, anti-Obama, and anti-universal health care. They certainly appeared to be all for government programs like Social Security and Medicare, and especially the military. Still, the point is well-taken–at least they followed the rules in setting up their protests.

  25. #25 |  tariqata | 

    EH: I was responding to Radley’s point that the media is largely portraying the Occupy movement as “pro-government”.

    Perhaps I’m being unclear, because my argument is that “not anti-government” does not mean “pro-government”, and that trying to understand the Occupy movement and its goals and actions as “pro-government” without nuance is more likely to lead to misunderstanding.

    I don’t think that the protesters are questioning the legitimacy of “government itself”, and probably shouldn’t have used that language, since I certainly didn’t mean to imply that by challenging specific governments the Occupy protesters are challenging the principle of government. However, I do think that their critiques of the actual policies and practices of existing governments, and particularly the argument that the links between, for example, the US or Canadian governments and business interests are too close, indicates a concern on the part of the protesters that those governments are (often) unable or unwilling to represent and defend the interests of the broader public. Because of those concerns about and criticisms of specific governments, I am not all that surprised that if the Occupy protesters do not follow all of the rules set by those governments.

  26. #26 |  DoubleU | 

    I like all the “No, the xxx movement really means what I say and think it means.” I guess no one really understand either the tea party or the OWS people.

    From the list of DEMANDS and videos of the OWS they seem very pro government and want the government to provide everything.
    The biggest problem I see on here against the tea party is that they don’t like illegal immigrants.

  27. #27 |  Jesse | 

    I think the most relevant thing Schiff proved is that OWS as a whole is a fractured, balkanized hissy fit at rich people with very few critical thinkers in attendance. (Some of those rich people richly deserve criticism, but only if their wealth was a result of government largess and/or rent seeking and most of the OS

  28. #28 |  Jesse | 

    Whoops accidentally hit enter….

    (Some of those rich people richly deserve criticism, but only if their wealth was contributed to as a result of government largess and/or rent seeking. Most of the OWS people seem unable to make any such distinction.)

  29. #29 |  Tim P | 

    I wish the legalize pot movement would follow the tea party example. Any real change has to start with honesty and play by the rules. The attempted end run of medical marijuana is dishonest and that’s the reason it’s not working. If you believe that marijuana is not harmful, that it can be used without great harm to society, and you are a free man that should be able to make free decisions, then go in through the front door. That’s what the tea party is all about with taxes and big government.

  30. #30 |  Lucy Steigerwald | 

    An opera about collard greens. This is (also) why I read the Agitator, Radley.

  31. #31 |  buzz | 

    “It also was set up to use consensus democracy, which has so far prevented the pro-government infiltrators from foisting their idiocy on the movement. ”

    Not that they kept idiocy from the movement.

    “Portraying the Tea Party as anti-government is just as silly. It was set up by hard-core Republicans in order to protect their privileges from perceived threats like immigrants and people of color. It focused exclusively on electoral politics and on demands to those in positions of power. As such, it has developed a culture of reverence for those in positions of power as the sole source for political change.”

    No, you’re describing the caricature of the tea party. Or perhaps projecting that the first thing you would think is a problem is (illegal) immigrants and people of color. They are protesting wild ass government spending and the increased taxes that will have to be levied to continue down that path. Not just on the 1%, since most of the income tax to be collected is from the middle 80%. At least the ones that pay taxes. They focused on electoral power as opposed to “hold my breath until you change to the way I like it” because they are grown ups.

  32. #32 |  JOR | 

    Focusing on electoral power is about the most childish and naive thing you can do. Simply bypassing law enforcement (and helping others do likewise) is the best way to affect change in actual peoples’ lives. Compare the fruitless impotence of polite, electoral efforts to relax statist border controls with the relative success of millions of undocumented Mexicans simply crossing the border and doing whatever it is they want to come to the US to do. Everyone who works off the books or under the table or simply fails to file or otherwise keeps their income out of the taxman’s hands makes the combined efforts of every “small government” tax reformer look like the ridiculous, pathetically ineffectual pandhandling that it is.

  33. #33 |  Les | 

    #18, I think that’s a fine analysis. But there is absolutely no evidence that the OWS movement is “working.” It’s getting media attention, but there’s no reason to believe it’s going to change the way government and corporations work together to empower each other. And the fact that many or most of the occupiers are planning on voting for the presidential candidate who’s received more money from the securities and investment industry than any other in the last 20 years certainly doesn’t indicate an interest in or understanding of what’s necessary to make real change.

  34. #34 |  Tim P | 

    Did anybody watch the entire 20 minutes of Peter Schiff vs OWS? When I watched the short 2 minute clip linked above I was astonished at the ignorance of the young man in the Arab scarf. Then I watched the long clip and realized he was the smartest of a very dumb lot. I was glad to see that a rich and successful guy like Mr. Schiff did not know what a meme is. I didn’t know either.

  35. #35 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    I’ve been thinking over this for a couple of days (I hope that somebody is still reading this at this late date), and I want to say that I object to what appears to be the assumption that the Tea Party is hypocritical for claiming to want less Federal Government while at the same time wanting money spent on halting illegal immigration and on the military. Both of those issues can be seen as matters of defending the nation; one of the core functions of the federal government and one of the few spelled out in the Constitution. There is at least a faction of the tea party that isn’t simply for “less government”, but instead for getting the Federal Government to cease spending so much time, energy, and money on matters that are none of its legitimate concern, while neglecting matters that should be at the core of its business.

    Now, that is a position that can be argued with, but it is not internally senseless.

  36. #36 |  Sam | 

    As Peter Schiff has never made money in an unregulated marketplace, where does this confidence in it come from?

  37. #37 |  pam | 

    The OWS are the 60% that voted for Obama and found out they got fooled again.

  38. #38 |  EH | 

    2nd of 3:
    those governments are (often) unable or unwilling to represent and defend the interests of the broader public.

    I agree, and I think this is summed up (sorry) by the desire for people in government, particularly regulators and DOJ employees who have been hamstrung or are sleeping on the job, to do the jobs they were hired to do.

    I would go so far as to speculate that if law enforcement doesn’t happen to the agents of the crash that the 1% can be confident that they are participating in a completely deregulated market, or at least as free as possible in this day and age, hence Schiff’s confidence (per Sam@36).

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