Quotes of the day

“House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she supports the growing nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement, which began on the streets of downtown New York City in mid-September.

“‘I support the message to the establishment, whether it’s Wall Street or the political establishment and the rest, that change has to happen,’ said Pelosi in an exclusive interview with ABC News “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour. ‘We cannot continue in a way this is not relevant to their lives.'”

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“As the Occupy Wall Street protests spread from Lower Manhattan to Washington and other cities, the chattering classes keep complaining that the marchers lack a clear message and specific policy prescriptions. The message — and the solutions — should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since the economy went into a recession that continues to sock the middle class while the rich have recovered and prospered. The problem is that no one in Washington has been listening.

“At this point, protest is the message: income inequality is grinding down that middle class, increasing the ranks of the poor, and threatening to create a permanent underclass of able, willing but jobless people. On one level, the protesters, most of them young, are giving voice to a generation of lost opportunity

“It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation. That’s the job of the nation’s leaders, and if they had been doing it all along there might not be a need for these marches and rallies. Because they have not, the public airing of grievances is a legitimate and important end in itself. It is also the first line of defense against a return to the Wall Street ways that plunged the nation into an economic crisis from which it has yet to emerge.”

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“Whether OWS just wants to end corporate welfare and protect workers’ rights, or whether they want the roads paved in gumdrops and to see every American entitled to a backrub from Sofía Vergara, they’re not interested in officially saying. To borrow from the old protest-march chestnut—What do we want? (We’re not gonna tell!) When do we want it? (Now!)

“Back at the OWS encampment at Zuccotti Park, it’s a hygienic disaster area: greasy hair, stained shirts, crusted trousers—and that’s just the journalists. There seems to be one reporter on the ground for every 10 to 15 activists. The encampment is divided into sections—media, kitchen, medical, sign-making, comfort station, meditation circle, musical entertainment. There’s even a People’s Library whose offerings are lent on the honor system with no due dates—a VHS tape of The Who’s rock opera Tommy and books with enticing titles like White Racism: The Basics, Since Predator Came: Notes from the Struggle for American Indian Liberation, and HOMOTHUG: The Secret Life of Rudy Giuliani…

“Movement types will doubtless accuse me of cherry-picking protesters. But during my two days in the park, I have every variety of nutcake conspiracy theory pushed my way, up to and including Wall Street having created communism and the American Zionist Council assassinating JFK. But don’t take my word for it. New York magazine went to the trouble of surveying 100 protesters whom they identified as being ‘in it for the long haul.’

“What they found probably won’t sit too well with the labor leaders and Tweeting celebrities who’ve joined Occupy Wall Street in solidarity, at least if they pause to pay actual attention to what they’re supporting. Of those surveyed, 37 percent said capitalism was inherently immoral and can’t be saved. When asked to rate their own liberalism, 41 percent were ‘fed up with Democrats’ and ‘believe the country needs an overhaul.’ Which might be the position you’d expect from most principled, yet disillusioned, liberal activists. But a full 34 percent were ‘convinced the U.S. government is no better than, say, al Qaeda.’ If those numbers hold as the movement grows, that will mean that despite the ungodly amount of hype that OWS has received in the last two weeks, the ’99 percent’ of America they represent is more like 99 percent of a Noam Chomsky book discussion group or 99 percent of a labor mixer for Wobblies (several of whom, by the way, I meet in the park, despite my having thought the Wobblies extinct).”

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“Occupy Wall Street may peter out and have no lasting significance whatsoever. And the respectful coverage by some in the media, the earnest attempts by bien-pensant commentators to guide the protesters to a coherent policy agenda, the evident nostalgia of Baby Boomers for the palmy days of their youth in the ’60s, the painful envy on the left of the success of the Tea Party​—​it’s all somewhat comical.

“However: In politics, sometimes you have to take idiocy seriously. The complaints in the ’60s against life in oppressive Amerika were childish. The nuclear freeze movement of the early ’80s was foolish. The anti-Iraq war movement of a few years ago was both silly (‘Bush lied, people died’) and disgraceful (‘General Betray Us’). But movements can have political impact even if they aren’t worth much morally or intellectually or even numerically. And while one would hope the main effect of such flaky movements would be to discredit their allies, it doesn’t always work out that way. ‘General Betray Us’ did not, for instance, prevent a big Democratic win in 2008…

“There is still time. And the fecklessness of the Obama administration, and the idiocy of the left, may mean that conservatives can get away with playing prevent defense over the next year. But the Wall Street protests serve as a useful reminder of the volatile and unpredictable nature of politics at a moment like this​—​and a reminder that it’s generally better to be on offense.

When you’re on offense, though, it helps to have a quarterback.

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Via Mediaite.

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Via the Daily Caller.

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Via Reason TV.