I've just come back from reading the responses of a group of right wingers who were discoursing – if that's the word for it – on the #OccupyWallStreet movement. These same people, who loudly cheered the demonstrations by the so-called Tea Party in 2009, are now utterly furious that this motley collection of “grubby, out-of-work hippies” are doing much the same thing. One even compared the moral worth of the two groups by noting that a lot less Teabaggers got arrested, compared to the Occupiers. That sort of led to a discussion on what sorts of behavior warrant arrest, and if Teabaggers, with their guns and placards comparing Obama to Hitler or the Joker, were really much better a group of protesters than the Occupiers, who usually showed a higher ability to spell their messages correctly, if nothing else.
Of course, it overlooks the basic fact that whereas the Tea Party never was anything more than a phony grass roots ad campaign cooked up by the Koch Brothers and Faux News, the Occupiers, with their slogan “We are the 99%”, actually do represent a groundswell of sentiment in America.
And that has the Teabaggers, dupes of the wealthy elite the Occupiers oppose, very nervous and upset. How dare this rabble publicly disrespect the Masters?
The Teabaggers, claiming to be populists, clamored for an end to estate taxes on inheritances exceeding four million dollars, a continuation of the tax cuts for the ultra wealthy that Bush imposed, and an end to government involvement in such programs as Social Security and Medicare. As populist movements went, it was right up there with “Chickens for Colonel Sanders”.
When the Occupiers say “we are the 99%”, they don't mean that 99% of Americans agree with them. They mean that 99% of Americans are in the same boat as them, and have seen the gains the middle and lower classes have made since the end of WW2 vanish as the wealth concentrated into the hands of just 1% of the population.
Even at median levels, the disparity in America between haves and haves-not has gotten immense. The top 50% of the population control 97.5% of the wealth, and the bottom 50% just 2.5%. And it's rapidly worsening.
It isn't just economic; it's political. Citizens United pretty much assured that Americans had lost control of their country to the corporations, and the behavior of Obama and the Republican Congress has done little to persuade me otherwise. And the corporations, mindless eternal sociopaths intent only on maximizing profit and externalizing all costs, will not hesitate to strip the entire American economy bare, even as it undermines their own greatest source of income. They pull the strings of the Teabaggers and the Republicans, and lo and behold, the Teabaggers dance to their tune: that of eliminating all taxes for the rich, and all benefits for the poor. They've been cheering the GOP for their refusal to even consider the Obama jobs bill, because bills that create jobs are socialist.
A favorite whine from the right wingers about the demonstrators is “Well, don't these people have jobs?”
Well, not as such, no. And that sorta brings us about to the reason they are there in the first place.
The Teabaggers – the privileged elite and America's fascist movement – control the GOP in Congress. And they have a policy of making Americans servile, frightened, and utterly dependent on employers – them, of course – for basic, or any, sustenance.
It's a tribute to their ministry of propaganda that they were able to find a couple of hundred thousand working-class dupes to run out and chant their slogans at town-hall meetings for them. It took enormous promotion by Faux News (who even went so far as to doctor video to make their rallies appear much larger than they actually were, and who even organized some of those rallies). This would be the same Faux News who are clucking about the lack of wealth and taste shown by the OccupyWallStreet people, many of whom didn't attend the right colleges.
Despite the huge sums of money from psychotic fascist billionaires, funding hundreds of fake think tanks, Faux News, and the vast echo machine of talk radio, the public approval ratings of teabaggers, Republicans, and Congress are all at record lows. Only 14% approve of Congress in general, and only 9% approve of the GOP leadership. The percentage of people who strongly approve of Congress is three percent, which Gallup dryly noted might as well be zero, as it falls within the four point margin of error.
Obama, to his credit, has actually been out campaigning hard for his $477 billion jobs bill. And he has been effective enough that yesterday McConnell tried a clumsy parliamentary move in the Senate, tacking the jobs bill to a poison-pill piece of legislation regarding Chinese currency manipulation that he knew the Democrats in the Senate would never pass. Reid blocked the attempt, but the intent was clear enough: Republicans hoped to force the Senate to vote down the bill, and that would spare them the political disaster of refusing to consider or voting the unalloyed jobs bill down in the House.
And it will be a political disaster for the Republicans, who are already coming the grips with the fact that they have nobody who can beat Obama in the general election – nobody, that is, who is going to get nominated by the red meat party base.
If they block the jobs will, the public, already highly skeptical of them, will turn on them with fury. The Teabaggers are increasingly seen for what they are – a fake populist movement that exists to defeat popular will. Even among Republicans, their approval numbers have dropped into negative numbers.
The American people see a Republican party that is actively trying to obstruct economic recovery. The people support increasing taxes on the ultra-wealthy by huge margins. They want curbs on the political and financial power of major corporations. They want to keep Social Security and Medicare safe, and they want an effective and accessible health care system. And above all, they want good jobs with decent benefits. The teabagger-ridden GOP opposes all these things.
And so the OccupyWallStreet movement keeps growing. It began as a fairly typical rally of a couple of thousand one Saturday afternoon, but instead of everyone going home for dinner at the end of the day, leaving no trace they had ever been there, some stayed. Only a few dozen at first, but then it began to grow. Tony Baloney maced those women, and it grew. Some moron thought it would be a good example of corporate power to conduct a mass arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge, and the movement grew. Now it's in 15 cities, and it's thousands, rather than dozens, and it's still growing.
The corporate media tried ignoring them, and when they could no longer be ignored, tried dismissing them. Business Insider, normally an excellent source of financial information and, interestingly, one of the strongest voices against the economic inequality of unrestrained capitalism, has tried open mockery. Ten days ago, there was a piece written by one Julia LaRoche, and it was one of those vacuously disapproving articles that are written in such a way that as you read it, you can almost hear the hens clucking and scratching at dirt in the background. She wrote, “Poor hygiene: While wandering through the camp site, I asked several people how long they've been there and if they've taken a shower. Some people said they would go to friends' apartments to clean up. However a bunch of the protesters confessed to me that they have not showered since the start of the movement. In my opinion, the smell is extremely pungent. And the camp site is littered with trash, cardboard and garbage bags piled up. Nudity: At least two women had their naked breasts exposed. Apparently, it is legal. (I asked a police officer nearby.) But there's no question it's inconsiderate. The site is surrounded by popular tourist destinations in the Financial District and there are tons of families with young children that frequent those locations. Drugs: Another thing that caught me by surprise was the use of marijuana. I walked right by a protestor smoking weed in broad daylight. The police must have been just 20 feet away too. If you're at a protest site surrounded by hundreds of police officers and trying to get out your important message out, then it's probably not the best idea to light one up!”
Oh, dear. How dare these crass people go all WalMart on Julia's ass! Today's BI was no better: The header was “Seriously, Protesters?” Apparently BI is in a huff because the intrepid newshen spotted protesters wearing Lululemon. And using cell phones. This was the same reporter who last week was in a towering snit because the protesters were so unforgivably declassé. Next week BI will doubtlessly accuse the protesters of mixing plaid with stripes and wonder why people have stopped taking them seriously.
Then the corporate media complained that they didn't have any kind of clear message. OccupyWallStreet promptly posted a declaration, available below. Now everyone could see who they were, and what they wanted.
But since ignoring them and laughing at them haven't worked, the next step will be savage repression, and that's when things will turn interesting.
You see, these aren't just the “save the whales” type polite little feel-good rallies that the monied right so delights in disparaging. It isn't just a small group of Concerned Citizens putting in a few hours doing Good Works.
This is Americans – working and not working, tech savvy and non tech savvy, well dressed or in jeans, and they are fighting for the quality of their lives, and possibly for their lives, period.
These aren't just chants from tiny minorities. OccupyWallStreet is a low, gentle growl from a very large dog who has lots of teeth.
The apologists for the teabagger handlers should consider this before they make their next foolish move.
First official release from Occupy Wall Street
Posted: October 7, 2011