Quotes of the day

“Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending “Freetrade” by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.

“Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors…

“Demand four: Free college education.”

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I had gone down to Zuccotti Park to see the activist movement firsthand after getting a call from the chief executive of a major bank last week, before nearly 700 people were arrested over the weekend during a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge…

“‘Is this Occupy Wall Street thing a big deal?’ the C.E.O. asked me. I didn’t have an answer. ‘We’re trying to figure out how much we should be worried about all of this,’ he continued, clearly concerned. ‘Is this going to turn into a personal safety problem?’

“As I wandered around the park, it was clear to me that most bankers probably don’t have to worry about being in imminent personal danger. This didn’t seem like a brutal group — at least not yet.”

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“I found the protesters I met to be friendly, welcoming and earnest — though totally misguided. Within minutes of arriving, a young woman encouraged me to join along in the fun and pointed me toward the free food (there’s a section of canned food and other groceries that have been donated to the protesters who are living in the park). ‘I’m going to give you a blessing,’ the woman told me, then began waving a smoking piece of sage around my face and body. She handed me a pamphlet about the agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that urges state legislatures to pass conservative policies. ‘Through ALEC, Global Corporations Are Scheming to Rewrite YOUR Rights and Boost THEIR Revenue,’ the handout read…

“Most of the people I ran into at the Occupy Wall Street protest were twenty-somethings, whereas from the early days the Tea Party movement skewed older and attracted a lot of families. Tea Party rallies took place throughout the nation, including smaller towns and rural communities — where as thus far Occupy Wall Street has been an urban phenomenon. This is important, because on any given day in a large city, there are people protesting stuff — what I saw here wasn’t much different than what I’ve seen many times on any given day when I lived in New York City, in places like Union Square or Columbus Circle. This just happened to be a higher concentration of people in one place. Also, the Tea Party movement’s backlash against big government is a lot closer to a mainstream opinion in America than the socialist, Marxist and anarchist messages of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.”

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“In three-weeks time, the Occupy Wall Street crowd has attracted high-profile attention. It has the purported backing of unions like the Teamsters and DC-37, New York City’s largest public employees union. It has attracted Hollywood types who love a good cause to drop in on; and has even generated a discussion group at a convention of liberal leaders taking place in Washington, D.C., this week.

“But the movement has at least one major obstacle to becoming a political force — the administration it would protest is on its side

“[I]t remains to be seen whether the protests will alienate the group into the fringe, leaving Obama looking like a moderate and pushing him toward compromise with the GOP, or whether the president will use the outcry to better position himself as a defender of the middle class — something he’s tried to do recently while rallying his base constituencies.”

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“But then, like the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street is not about a place, but a viral idea that American democracy should be more participatory. It is everywhere, with supporting protests showing up in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and dozens of other cities. And there is great potential for it spreading further. If you have not already, take a look at this Tumblr account called ‘We are the 99 Percent.’ It is a gripping, open-sourced place for people to vent their furies and frustrations about the downward trajectory of the American middle class. The blame is placed squarely on the wealthy individuals, the banks and the corporations that have largely escaped harm. Play this out. How many people, not currently involved in politics but savvy about building communities with new media, can come to a site like this and be inspired to get involved. The thing about viral efforts is they tend to explode into the national consciousness. You don’t see them coming, and then they are everywhere…

“No one knows what will happen next, but chances are better than even that more and more Americans will be taking an active role in making it happen. That is, after all, how politics works these days. Passions build and then burst into the public sphere. Technology provides the platform to let people self-organize, and more often then not, these people are stunned by their power once then take advantage of it. Over time, this self-awareness shifts the national debate, and then starts showing up in the polls. This dynamic is what brought the Arab Spring to the world. In the United States, it happened in 2005, with the rise of MoveOn and the NetRoots, to populist efforts that supported several successful Democratic cycles. It happened again in 2009, with the rise of the Tea Party, which reshaped the Republican Party. Now it is 2011. The left has increasingly lost faith in simply following President Obama’s lead. It may be happening again.”

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“A slice of the establishment media is increasingly taken with comparing Occupy Wall Street — the two-week old protest against “banksters” and corporate tycoons — with the revolutionary protests of the ‘Arab Spring.’ James Joyner correctly observes what an insult that is to the protesters who (however problematic some of them may be) risked death to overturn repressive dictatorships. Indeed, the comparison is doubly insulting to the intelligence of the reader, given that those making it generally support Team Obama, which is run and funded by said banksters and would be the dictatorship in this scenario. The people floating the metaphor do not expect or hope for a revolution. And the metaphor crumbles even further on close examination…

“In short, Occupy Wall Street does not appear to reflect any particular revolutionary sentiment among the American youth vote. As for the segment of the youth vote attracted to the protests, what are they going to do? Vote for Obama, as Kristof and his fellow travelers in the media almost certainly will? The hipster demographic is already disillusioned with The One. Write in someone like Ralph Nader or Bernie Sanders? Stay home with their bongs? The left-leaning media is having its fantasy moment here, but the primary beneficiary of Occupy Wall Street is probably the GOP.”

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Via HuffPo.

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