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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Occupy Wall Street’

The Convenient Radical

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Right next to the tables where the chess players wait, chessboards laid out, clocks set up, to gull some passing businessman or arrogant NYU student out of his lunch money, the remnant of the Occupation remains.

Below the break-dancers spin and tumble enjoying the first days of spring. A bad drummer by the fountain persistently whacks away providing a dissonant soundtrack to the yuppies toting bags full of supposedly organic groceries from the stalls of the farmers’ market.

Occupy Wall Street isn’t much in the news now. It lost the battle on the southern frontier and has settled into a prolonged brawl with Trinity Church that was doomed from the start. Not too long ago, the Occupiers earned constant headlines. Now they have been reduced to a single folding table manned by a beardo with a banner featuring Martin Luther King and Obama. “I have a dream, not a drone,” it reads.

A homeless man toting a rusted shopping cart full of bottles and cans stops by to chat with him and then moves along after dropping a dime in the coffee cup.

Thanks to New York City’s recycling laws, the cans and bottles are money in the bank. The homeless man with the rusted shopping cart is working for a living while the Occupier has a coffee cup and is protesting for a living.

This is Occupy Wall Street and even though spring is in the air and the weather is warm enough for a renewal of the occupation, you don’t hear much about them anymore. And there are good reasons for that. There are bands to follow, streetcorners to squat and trends to hop on elsewhere in the country. If you’re going to protest for a living, California with its more temperate weather, is a better bet than New York City, where the warm weather is only now waving a flag while promising to show up in a month or two. But the bigger reason is that Occupy Wall Street is now surplus to requirements.

New York City radicalism is a lifetime occupation for a small fringe, but the fringe is mostly ignored. The Trotskyite fronts never stop organizing anti-war rallies and informational events, no matter who sits in the White House.  If Dennis Kucinich won in 2016 and replaced the Defense Department with the Department of Peace, on the next day the usual suspects would still assemble at Union Square, right between the chess players and the breakdancers, and demand an end to war.

Under Clinton, the anti-war business was booming on the fringe, but the news media never deigned to show up and inflate rally counts the way they did once Bush was in office. The same press releases against the War in Yugoslavia were ignored until they were dusted off and swapped out for Afghanistan and Iraq and then suddenly the media couldn’t get enough of them.

The same aging Stalinists, Maoists and Trots, the Grandmothers for Peace and the Schoolteachers for Socialism and the ragged college students clutching their copies of Noam Chomsky, suddenly became important and relevant when they marched against Bush, even though they had been marching against Clinton without a single reporter in sight, have now gone back into purgatory.

The signs are still there. Smeared and taped to lampposts they denounce American imperialism in Syria, drone strikes in Afghanistan and the usual Latin American aperitifs. There are movie showings, speakers and rallies– but no further attention is paid to them. Because they are no longer convenient.

Occupy Wall Street, which under all the coats of paint was the same thing with a different brand, is no longer convenient. It served its purpose as an election weapon. Now that the election has been won, by the class warrior glutted on Wall Street money, no one cares about the little hairy man sitting at the folding table and trying to push buttons.

The remnants of the occupation sit at their card tables, like the last Japanese soldiers on a lost island, unwilling to understand that they were nothing more than a tool that venture capitalists investing in Green Energy and medical IT and a hundred other things, not to mention the usual mortgage men, used to get what they wanted.

Occupy Wall Street was every bit as hollow as any other election stunt. It was a temporary alignment between the agenda of the left and the far-left or the far-left and the really-far-left. The details, like the slapfights between the various species of Maoist, don’t matter. What does matter is that there are, as Elaine on Seinfeld once said, successful and unsuccessful Communists. The successful kind pose for official portraits. The unsuccessful kind have to compete with breakdancers, chess players, and burly black men wearing pink “I Am a Girl” jackets collecting petition signatures for the U.N. Plan International campaign to fight gender inequality.

The convenient radical is only convenient when the left, in all its varied forms, is out of power leading to a common front. Then his toxic ideas bleed into less radical sections of his movement. Each setback radicalizes the opposition until it becomes hard to tell the men from the pigs and the liberals from the commies. And then success is achieved, some section of the coalition is carried forward into power and their unlucky cousins are left behind at their folding tables.

That is how the Democrats turned so far to the left and adopted most of the talking points of the anti-war movement. But then once in office, they still found that they had wars to run. It’s all very well to say that Martin Luther King had a dream not a drone, but it’s hard to fight terrorists with dreams. Even when your anti-war credentials are impeccable, you sometimes come to the conclusion that it takes a drone.

These days the anti-war movement is making more headway with some Republicans than Democrats; which shows how desperate they have become. And Anti-Wall Street? The Democratic Party is Wall Street. Take away the V.C.s, the trial lawyers and the entertainment industry, and you have eliminated the non-contractor funding for the party of the jackass.

Occupy Wall Street, like Obama pretending to scold Wall Street’s bonuses, was a joke. A joke that its supporters and his supporters never understood. The punchline is power. Those who have it and those who don’t.

The radical is a convenience. In a common front, he provides ideas and energy. If he cleans up well and comes up with some moneymaking ideas and a seat at a non-profit foundation, then he can get an invite to the White House even if he has blood on his hands. But for every radical who finds a spot on the board of the family foundation of some deceased Republican millionaire, there are a dozen who never get a clue or come to understand the nature of their profession.

When the alignment has passed, then the convenient radical either becomes a successful leftist or he gets a job peddling Fifty Shades of Grey at the nearby Strand bookstore, once a radical haunt, now made over into another Barnes and Noble, under the guiding hand of the wife of Senator Ron Wyden; a most successful leftist indeed.

Like every other profession, some radicals move up the ladder and others remain toting around books full of Marxist theory among the skyscrapers of the Capitalist reality. The passion and energy is a bank that the left withdraws from when politically convenient and ignores when politically inconvenient.

The energy and appetites of the beast still lurk in every city where the theoreticians spin their webs, the propagandists inflame and the perpetual students gesture animatedly. As progressives they believe that inevitably every terrible idea that they have will go mainstream and the last sixty years have largely borne them out in this. But the filtering mechanism is the issue.

In the era of Obama, the filter is weaker than ever. The pattern echoes the ongoing one of every prior administration which, even in its conservative periods, has been more willing to let in bad ideas than the left. But the floodgates are not entirely open either because the one great difference between the successful leftist and the unsuccessful radical is the old maxim about why treason never prospers.

The leftist and the radical, successful and unsuccessful, are both tyrants at heart. But the leftist understands that tyranny is a vehicle for personal power and prosperity. The radical does not.

The difference between the leftist and the radical is that the radical sits outside to promote the cause, while the leftist profits from his shivering. The radical can, and often does, become the successful leftist, but to do so he must learn the basic lesson that the endgame is wealth and power. That wealth and power can come from wrecking a nation, but the wrecking ball can’t come too close to the homes of the Marxist millionaires picking up the tab.

The convenient radical understands this. Like Noam Chomsky or Oliver Stone, Howard Zinn, Bill Ayers or Michael Moore he has the timing and the instincts to get the right exposure at the right time and then profit from it. His ideas are radical, but his instincts are impeccable. He knows the right people and the right buttons to push. But most of all, he doesn’t collect donations in a coffee cup. While he writes furious essays denouncing capitalism or screams at Wall Street through a megaphone, he has a broker and an investment plan that will ride out the tough times.

Though the convenient radical may despise those on the left to the right of him, he understands how to cater to them and how to embed his ideas in theirs. The inconvenient radical is a man of poor instincts. He is the sort of man who is still sitting under that statue of George Washington lifting his sword to mark the departure of British troops from New York City watching the breakdancers spin and the shoppers move dazedly in the organic triangle between Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and the Farmers’ Market without realizing that the occupation is over and it’s time to move on.

Wall Street has won because it is simply capital and the liberals and the leftists have their capital that they need investing. Money always wins, in one form or another. Societies may collapse into dysfunction, but there will still be someone there selling them coffee and croissants at the end. And someone advancing him money and investing in coffee cup manufacturers and looking at commodity prices and calculating supply and demand. They may not do it well, but they will do it. There may just not be a middle class to do it with.

The convenient radical understands that Wall Street reflects his priorities. If he wants to push billions in bad loans to minority homeowners or invest in Green Energy, then it will be on board. Money will be lost, but it will be someone else’s money. The inconvenient radical does not understand this. He thinks that there will one day be an actual victory. The banks will fall and be replaced by communes where food will be awarded based on the results of quizzes about the life and ideas of Michel Foucault .That is what makes him hopelessly stupid, occasionally convenient, but largely useless.

The inconvenient radical does not understand that the commune is not an option. There will either be a society with a large middle class dominated by the middle class or a society of the poor dominated by the upper class.

The convenient radical understands this and seeks the society in which a large underclass is dominated by a narrow elite. This is the society that he tirelessly inveighs against and wants to create. This outcome is what makes the left into the totalitarian entity that it is. The knowing hypocrisy is what distinguishes the successful leftist, from the inconvenient radical.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Debt Ridden NY Times Squeezing Writers, Golden Parachuting CEOs

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Is it time to say kaddish for the New York Times?

Investors in the paper may already be doing so.  The last time they received a dividend was in late 2008.

The NYT, considered by many to be the global paper of record, has incurred more than $300 million in net losses since 2005, and its advertising revenues have been declining for five consecutive years.

In fact, the paper’s own financial report made headlines when its third quarter revenues were so much worse than expected that the value of its shares plummeted 22 percent, its biggest one-day drop in at least thirty years.  Investors were warned to expect dismal news for the next quarter, as well.

But while the newspaper industry as a whole has been in a funk for years – with Internet news, blogs, and other ’round the clock news sources available—many for free—there are elements of the NYT‘s precarious financial position that make it unique.

The most significant is the stench of hypocrisy hovering over the differences in the way the NYT handles its executives versus its writers.

Remember how the New York Times lionized the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street vigilantes?  What a shock to learn about the barrels-full of money it has thrown at even departing bigwigs, while keeping its proletariat writers at stagnated pay levels, and, in the words of its own union leaders, trying repeatedly to “decimate their health plan.”

For nearly two years, the daily writers at the New York Times (whose union members are represented by the Newspaper Guild of New York), have been working without a contract. Those approximately 1100 workers have repeatedly been met with what they have described as “draconian” efforts to force not only pay cuts and alterations to their health and pension plans, but also forced, unpaid, increases in their work week.

In fact, less than two weeks ago, on Oct. 8, approximately 400 NYT reporters staged a brief walkout because the sides were so far apart and the writers felt increasingly under siege.  In a video interview during that walkout, a member of the union talks about the paper’s hypocrisy.  In a July editorial, the Times attacked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for his anti-union activity, saying:

“Labor, so long in decline in the private sector, is also losing its clout in states and cities, unable to match or withstand the unfettered bank accounts of industry. The people who kept Mr. Walker and his policies in power are just getting started.”

And yet, the NYT writers have been stonewalled for nearly two years, with management doing its best during that time to wring out still more concessions from them.

At the same time that the Times has been refusing to increase salaries or benefits by even a minimal amount, it has been throwing multiple millions of dollars at its top executives, past and future, this year alone.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. is the great-grandson of the founder and owner of the New York Times Co.  He is the Chairman of the board of the NYT and its publisher.  Sulzberger appointed Janet Robinson CEO of the paper in 2004. Robinson had spent nearly twenty years rising through the ranks on the business side of the paper, and was long viewed as a quiet complement to her boss.

Although the NYT is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, it is, essentially, a family-owned business, and in addition to rapidly declining corporate financial health, alleged competition from family members in executive positions led to Robinson’s abrupt ouster in December, 2011.

And while the NYT allowed the door to hit her backside on her way out, the bundle of dough they threw after Robinson must have made for a somewhat softer landing.  Her severance package amounted to nearly $24 million — more than the company earned in the previous four years.

But that’s not all the paper has given away to bigwigs in the last year.  The new CEO, Mark Thompson, is about to slide into place in early November, with his path greased by a total pay package of $10.5 million.  That package includes a signing bonus worth as much as $4.5 million.

Thompson’s new annual salary is an increase from what he made at his last position, as the director general of the British Broadcasting Corp.  His role in that position was to cut jobs and save money through office and plant consolidation.  That reputation isn’t likely to make him a hit with staff writers.

The NYT  announced this week, just days before Thompson is set to come on board, that it has reached a tentative agreement with the Newspaper Guild.  Nothing, it has been repeatedly stressed, is yet set in stone, let alone laid out on paper, concerning this agreement.  Nevertheless, the Guild’s president Bill O’Meara, wrote that “the agreement preserves the workers’ pensions, protects medical benefits and boosts compensation.”

Interesting that an agreement — no matter how tentative — would have been entered into before the new CEO arrives.  Given Thompson’s past experience, it is hard to imagine he was hired to do more than continue his practice of slashing costs.  The union probably should have gotten the terms in writing before agreeing to allow the issuance of a press release announcing the deal.

So Robinson and Thompson get millions of dollars. Robinson was paid to get out, while Thompson will be paid to make the lowly writers miserable enough to get out.

And this, from an October, 2011 NYT editorial rhapsodizing over the Occupy Wall Street mission:

Income gains at the top would not be as worrisome as they are if the middle class and the poor were also gaining. But working-age households saw their real income decline in the first decade of this century. The recession and its aftermath have only accelerated the decline.

Research shows that such extreme inequality correlates to a host of ills, including lower levels of educational attainment, poorer health and less public investment. It also skews political power, because policy almost invariably reflects the views of upper-income Americans versus those of lower-income Americans.

Tell that to the union. And perhaps the members will say kaddish.

‘Occupy Oakland’ Votes to Support BDS Movement Against Israel

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Participants of the Oakland chapter of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ voted on Wednesday to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The vote, which took place during a ‘General Assembly’ meeting, yielded nearly-unanimous results in favor of joining the BDS movement with 135 Yes votes, 1 No vote, and 12 abstentions.

One longtime anti-Israel activist and current Occupy Oakland participant said that “most people thought the main thing was to make a statement in support of justice for Palestine, and that’s what they did.” Still, the activist admitted, it wasn’t “entirely clear what [the proposal] was asking of the GA.”

Klein: Funding Occupy

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Veteran Radicals Head Occupy Movement

The so-called leaderless Occupy movement is in fact operating what appears to be a nerve center staffed by professional agitators deeply tied to groups funded by billionaire activist George Soros. The groups, most prominent among them being the Tides Center, have been involved with Occupy since the anti-Wall Street movement’s inception.

The radical connections have been largely missed by the general public. CNN, the only news media outlet to receive exclusive access to Occupy’s alleged headquarters, did not fully identify the activists found running it.

Last week, CNN ran a piece titled “Exclusive: Inside the offices of Occupy Wall Street.” In the piece, CNN quoted activist Han Shan, identifying him only as “a member of Occupy Wall Street’s press relations and direct-action working groups.”

“This is just an office space that a handful of people have tried to make a resource for the Occupy Wall Street movement,” Shan stated. Shan’s radical resume goes far beyond Occupy. He is the former program director for the Tides Center-funded Ruckus Society and an activist with the Tides-funded Adbusters.

Shan was also listed as the contact person for protests outside the 2000 Democratic National Convention. Those protests were sponsored by both Adbusters and Ruckus.

Adbusters magazine is reported to have come up with the Occupy Wall Street idea after Arab Spring protests toppled governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. The Adbusters website serves as a central hub for Occupy’s planning.

Working with the Ruckus Society, Shan was a leader of the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle that turned violent. Ruckus helped to spark those riots.

Ruckus is directly tied to Occupy. This column previously reported that official direct-action training resources for recent Occupy events include several manuals from the Ruckus Society, which trains radical activists in “direct action” techniques. Ruckus was also listed as a “friend and partner” of the Occupy Days of Action held last month.

Ruckus is funded by the Tides Center, which has been involved in Occupy since the movement’s onset. Another grantee of Tides is the Adbusters magazine. MoveOn.org, which has joined Occupy, is funded by Tides.

Tides functions as a money tunnel where major leftist donors provide large sums that are channeled to hundreds of radical groups. One prominent Tides donor is Soros.

Besides accepting major donations from Tides, Ruckus is also funded directly by Soros’s own Open Society Institute.

Meanwhile, another Occupy staffer loosely identified by CNN is Haywood Carey, who is labeled simply as an Occupy “activist.” Carey, however, was a paid employee of the Change to Win labor federation from 2008 to 2009. The federation is a coalition of four member unions: The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Service Employees International Union; United Farm Workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

In his book Beyond the Fields, labor historian Randy Shaw notes that the groundwork for the founding of Change to Win were laid out by SEIU activist Stephen Lerner. As this journalist was first to report, the tactic of blocking bridges, already used by Occupy Wall Street to hold up the Brooklyn Bridge, was institutionalized by Lerner.

Meanwhile, another professional radical running Occupy not yet fully identified by the news media is Beth Bogart, who has been widely quoted as helping run the movement’s press relations department in New York and other cities.

Not mentioned in most media accounts is that Bogart, formerly known as Beth Bogart Fenton, is co-founder of Fenton Communications. Fenton is an extremist-led outfit that crafts the public relations strategy of Tides grantees. It came under new scrutiny after this reporter published a series of exposés tying it to Occupy Wall Street.

Fenton Communications has been behind the public relations strategy of a who’s who of far-left causes, organizations and activists, from representing Soros himself to Health Care for America Now to crafting strategies for MoveOn.org and a litany of anti-war groups.

NBC Pairs With Controversial Group

NBC-owned television stations in cities across the nation just teamed up with a nonprofit “journalism” group funded by a billionaire husband-and-wife team who not only spent millions campaigning for President Obama but also topped donor lists for groups such as ACORN and MoveOn.org.

The nonprofit, ProPublica, will contribute to the news operations of all NBC owned and operated stations, including those in such cities as Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, the network announced Monday.

The NBC affiliates will get early access to investigative reports from ProPublica, which describes itself as an “independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.”

Also included in the arrangement are local radio stations owned by Comcast, which purchased NBC Universal earlier this year. On its website, ProPublica describes itself as championing the values of the “weak” against the “strong.”

Controversial Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., a friend of Obama who was embroiled in a national race scandal in 2009, sits on the board of ProPublica.

You Just Might Be An ‘Occupier’

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Many of us are scratching our heads trying to make sense of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its sundry clones around the world.

With apologies to the comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who first made a name for himself with the refrain “then you just might be a redneck” (example: “If you have 24 pickup trucks and none of them work, then you just might be a redneck”), let’s examine the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon.

* If you refuse to recognize that every idea of Marx’s was debunked over 160 years ago, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you wear Nike shoes, designer jeans, and carry your smart phone to the demonstrations against capitalism, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you think the United States controls an empire, even though you cannot think of any colonies it owns, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you think other people must always be required to relinquish their material things so that you can pursue social justice and feel idealistic and righteous, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you consider your own property to be sacred while other people’s property should be used for social engineering, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you favor academic departments in which only enlightened leftist opinion can be expressed and where there is no room for non-leftist dissenting opinion to be heard, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you use the term Islamophobia often but never use the term Islamofascism, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you believe everything wrong with the world is because of the United States, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you think there is nothing useful to be learned from the fact that Cuba used to be the richest country in Latin America and today is the poorest country in Latin America, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you are not aware of the fact that Cubans steal boats to sneak into the U.S. but no low-income Americans steal boats to sneak into Cuba, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you think there is nothing we can learn from comparing the histories of East Germany with West Germany before the unification, or North Korea with South Korea, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you think all arguments can be settled by telling a non-leftist he
reminds you of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you support proposals that make real problems of the world worse, just as long as advocating them makes you feel caring and righteous, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you prefer that poor people in the Third World starve rather than embrace capitalism and live like you do, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you believe terrorism is caused by poverty, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you believe SUVs threaten life on earth, and more generally that the planet is in imminent danger of destruction unless everyone does what you want them to do, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you believe one country is rich and another poor because the rich country stole wealth from the poor country, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you demand social justice but have no idea how to define what it means or explain how to achieve it, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

            Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

A Tale Of Two Movements

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Like many other families this past Sukkos, my husband and I took the kids to the park over Chol Hamoed. But we left our mitts and bats in the car when we arrived. This was a trip to Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

We were curious to see the much publicized protestors of Occupy Wall Street, and I wanted our kids to get a taste of “history” in the making. And, rest assured, this is a piece of history my kids will remember.

The first thing that greeted us as we parked our car several blocks away and got closer to the police barricades surrounding the park was the odor. It was a terrible stench that crept up on us and, both physically and figuratively, never left us until we moved out of the Wall Street area the protesters now claim as their own.

I repeatedly warned my kids not to touch anything as we navigated our way through clusters of sprawling protesters on grounds littered with empty food plates, grimy tarps propped up by poles to cover sleeping bags, and a distinctly strong smell of marijuana. It was dark when we arrived at the park and a large group of protesters were loudly and almost absurdly communicating via their “mic-check” system.

These Occupy Wall Street protesters were predominantly young and white. Most of them looked like college students from universities like the New School or residents of the Village. They did not exactly impress me as being “disenfranchised.” Indeed, the only truly poor people I was able to make out were a couple of homeless men eating donated food from a makeshift open kitchen, surely blessing their luck and hoping the supply won’t run out anytime soon.

I stopped some protesters and asked them what they hoped to achieve. I was dumbfounded. Apparently the caricature of brain-dead college kids hanging out in the park is not an exaggeration. The first several protesters gave answers in an inane and almost adolescent tone: “We want a better world.” “We want equality.” “We’re here for a better planet.”

Though we finally did strike up a conversation with one hardcore opponent of the capitalist order – a young psychology teacher with no real working knowledge of finance – most of the protesters simply struck me as Woodstock wannabes.

I was relieved when we left the park. Relieved to end a conversation with one of the protesters, a teacher who told us how proud he was to be part of “the 99%” – the protesters’ phrase for the percentage of Americans supposedly united against the one percent of our country’s top earners. It wasn’t “fair,” he claimed, for so few people to have so much wealth – never mind that many of them worked hard to earn it – and it was only “fair” to demand the government tax them further to ensure that everyone shares in that wealth.

What a difference from the last protest I took my daughter to – a Tea Party rally in midtown Manhattan. Besides the common bond of a shared philosophical affinity, there’s something comforting in taking your child to a gathering where you see a patriotic man dressed up as a founding father rather than a man holding a sign proclaiming “Queers love the 99%.”
The Tea Party rally was a G-rated event to which you could bring the whole family. It promoted family values over vulgarity, work ethics over entitlements, and independence rather than dependence for 100 percent of Americans.

As an Orthodox Jew I not only felt welcome but validated. Tea Party goers waved Israeli flags along with American ones, while Occupy Wall Street protests are laced with signs that read “Hitler’s Bankers,” “Gaza Supports the Occupation of Wall Street.” and “Congress Should Print the Money, Not the Zionist Jews.”

The difference between Occupy Wall Street protesters and Tea Party rally-goers is greater than just one group wanting more government intervention and one wanting less. It’s more than a difference between one group contesting American capitalism and one wanting to restore that capitalism to its earlier glory. It is an intrinsic conflict between two peoples and two social ideologies, between protesters with no real message who want to continue on the downward moral spiral that began in the 1960s and rally-goers yearning for the bygone era of “Leave it to Beaver.”

One cannot separate fiscal and moral values. They are intrinsically intertwined. Work ethics and work go hand in hand. Internalized values that restrict misbehavior and encourage good behavior cut across the spectrum of our daily lives. And caps set in place to govern social conduct and prevent misconduct are similar to caps erected to govern monetary behavior and prevent financial liability. Those bent on an agenda of accepting monetary entitlements and forcing others to grant them look for entitlements in other areas of life as well.

I didn’t just sense the difference between the rally at Zuccotti Park and the Tea Party. I felt it. And I resent the Wall Street protesters co-opting percentages of fellow citizens in their quest to collapse our existing capitalist and social structure. No – alas – I am not one of the “millionaires and billionaires.” But don’t lump me together with the anarchists in “the 99%.”

Sara Lehmann is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn.

Troubling Signs In Zuccotti Park

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

There is an element in the Occupy Wall Street movement that should concern the Jewish community. It is not that this so-called people’s protest against alleged corporate greed and banking industry excess has become defined by several anti-Semitic signs in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park and some movement-related videos that have surfaced. It hasn’t.

Rather, the cause for concern comes from the cavalier attitude displayed by protest organizers, as well as pubic officials who have endorsed the movement, to the apparent anti-Jewish and anti-Israel impulses of at least some of the protesters.

Indeed, there has been no effort we have seen to make the point that anti-Semitism is not part of the movement’s message even as some are trying to make it so. The sad truth is that anti-Semitism has all too often been a factor in anti-capitalist movements and has led to great tragedy. We have learned that the phenomenon must always be taken seriously.

Yet prominent Democrats like President Obama and former House speaker Nancy Pelosi have publicly expressed support for Occupy Wall Street while ignoring the anti-Semitic placards and statements that have increasingly been a subject of conversation among columnists and in the blogosphere.

It was not too long ago that the newly emergent Tea Party was accused of racism by liberal pundits and Democratic Party officials – based on signs and comments that were far more vague and insubstantial than what has been seen and heard from the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

Occupy Wall Street seems to be getting a pass from the mainstream media and elected officials alike.

The New York Times’s Joseph Berger, for example, seemed to pooh-pooh fears of anti-Semitism, writing last Friday:

 

Among the hodgepodge of signs that have sprouted in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, one man in jeans and a baseball cap has been carrying placards that shout their suggestions: “Google: Jewish Billionaires” and “Google: Zionists control Wall St.”

At the same time, among the sea of tarps under which protesters have been sleeping, a sukkah, a makeshift hut, was erected to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot….

The protesters, clustered together in a kind of ad hoc Athenian democracy in the canyons of Lower Manhattan, firmly deny that their demonstrations against corporate greed and the political power of banks exhibit antagonism that singles out Jews.

 

Mr. Berger went on to quote a Jewish protester: “You’re going to get a few wackos. You can’t help it in a population of this size.”

While it’s difficult to take issue with that statement, it hardly explains the widespread silence in the face of the anti-Semitic manifestations, however sporadic or infrequent, that have emerged – particularly when contrasted with the hullabaloo that always seems to erupt when allegations of racism or anti-Semitism are made against individuals or organizations on the right.

Mr. Berger cited an article on the website of Commentary magazine which argued that “it isn’t just a few crackpots engaging in anti-Semitism.” Mr. Berger quoted the Commentary article as saying the “main organizer behind the movement – Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn – has a history of anti-Jewish writing.”

Mr. Lasn indeed expressed great concern about the fact that many neoconservatives associated with President George W. Bush were Jewish. According to Fox News chief political correspondent Dick Brennan, Lasn asked whether “the Jewishness of the neocons influence[d] American foreign policy in the Middle East.” He also, according to Mr. Brennan, drew up a list of people he calls the 50 most influential neocons and wrote: “half of them are Jewish…and if we see maleness, whiteness, Jewishness or intellectual thuggery, then let us not look the other way.”

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Who’s Behind The

Anti-Wall Street Protests?
 
A public relations firm closely partnered with the George Soros-funded Tides Foundation represented last week’s newsmaking anti-Wall Street march past millionaires’ homes in New York, this reporter’s website, KleinOnline, has learned.
 
Fenton Communications has been behind the public relations strategy of a who’s who of far-left causes, organizations and activists, from Soros himself to Health Care for America Now to crafting strategies for MoveOn.org and a litany of anti-war groups.
 
Fenton, which works closely with Tides, first made its name representing communist dictatorships in the 1980s.
 
Fenton’s founder is tied to President Obama and to a slew of Saul Alinsky-style community organizing groups directly involved in recent U.S. street protests, including in Wisconsin and New York.
 
The find brings further evidence that the anti-Wall Street movement is a well-planned campaign and not the spontaneous uprising its leaders claim. Already, questions have been raised by the news media about Adbusters, the magazine that is reported to have come up with the Occupy Wall Street idea after Arab Spring protests toppled governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. The media has been probing Adbusters source of funding – the Tides Foundation.
 
Tides acts like a massive clearinghouse of donations to a slew of liberal groups. Critics have alleged the center acts to obscure the ultimate sources of donations by collecting significant sums of money from a few large donors and then funneling the money to thousands of liberal causes. Soros’s Open Society Institute is a prominent Tides Center donor, giving the group $3.5 million between 2007 and 2009 alone.
 
Last week’s Occupy Wall Street protests march past millionaires’ homes was first announced in a press release entitled, “Community Groups and Progressive Organizations Join Together to Plan ‘Millionaires March’ with Occupy Wall Street Protestors.” The press release was sent to reporters and was also posted in various Occupy Wall Street affiliated websites. It listed contact information for Doug Gordon, senior vice president of Fenton Communications, who was named as an Occupy Wall Street spokesman. 
 
Fenton Communications was founded in 1982 by David Fenton, an activist who served as a photographer for Bill Ayers’s domestic Weather Underground terror group. It works in conjunction with the Soros-funded Tides Center that funded Adbusters.
 
Fenton used the Tides Center to set up its Environmental Media Services in 1994. Tides reportedly originally ran EMS’s daily operations.
 
David Fenton serves on the board of numerous Tides-funded groups while his firm represents more than 30 Tides Center grantees, as well as Soros himself and the billionaire’s Open Society Institute. Fenton helped to craft Moveon.orgs attacks on Gen. David Petraeus.
 
While David Fenton first photographed Ayers in the 1960′s, he later served alongside both Ayers and Obama on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago nonprofit which channeled money to a slew of progressive groups, including the Tides Center and the Alinsky-style Midwest Academy training outfit. Obama served as a paid director on the Woods Fund board from 1999 to 2002.
 

Midwest’s founder, Heather Booth, has been training unions on how to use the economic crisis. Citizen Action of Wisconsin, an arm of Booth’s Midwest Academy, is part of the Moving Wisconsin Forward movement, one of the main organizers of the major Wisconsin protests in February. 

 

 

 

Is The White House Returning

Favors To Its Friends?
 
The sister-in-law of John Podesta, President Obama’s influential White House transition director, served as the lobbyist for a wind power firm that was just awarded a $135.8 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The company is Brookfield Asset Management. It boasts a board of nine directors, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s long-term girlfriend.
 
The Energy Department’s promise to Brookfield marks the latest in controversial massive alternative energy loans to companies with strong ties to the Obama White House and to top Democrat lawmakers.
 
Last month, the grant was finalized to build the 99 megawatt Granite Reliable wind project in New Hampshire’s Coos County, making it the state’s largest wind plant.
 
Since 2009, Brookfield has been represented by the lobby firm Heather Podesta and Partners, LLC.  Podesta, a top financial bundler for Democrat politicians, is wife of lobbyist and art collector, Tony Podesta, who is the brother of John Podesta.
 
John Podesta is director of the Center for American Progress, which is reportedly highly influential in helping to craft White House policy, reportedly including the stimulus bill from which the loan to Brookfield was granted. The center is funded by billionaire George Soros. Its board includes Van Jones, Obama’s former green jobs czar, who resigned in September 2009 after reports surfaced that he had founded a communist revolutionary organization.
 

Brookfield, meanwhile, has been much in the news because of Zuccotti Park, which Brookfield owns and where the Occupy Wall Street protesters are currently holed up. The protesters have reportedly been making a mess of the park, which is named after Brookfield’s co-chairman, John Zuccotti.

 

Hamas Chief: Gilad Shalit

Deal Emboldens Us
 
Mahmoud al-Zahar, the chief of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, admitted in an interview that the exchange of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners emboldens his group to think about kidnapping more Israeli soldiers to extract more concessions from Israel.
 
Al-Zahar was asked about this possible emboldenment on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on New York’s WABC Radio. The Hamas chieftain replied: “Then Palestinian Authority in Ramallah negotiated for many years and they failed to release anybody. Now by the kidnapping [of Shalit] and the release, the Palestinian people succeeded to set free this number [of prisoners] by this way.”
 

He continued, “I think it’s good for the Israelis to think thoroughly, solve the problem smoothly and not to give a chance for the repetition of this event. It is wise to the Israelis to schedule the release of the rest of the Palestinians.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/quick-takes-news-you-may-have-missed-115/2011/10/18/

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