Quotes of the day

“President Obama and his team have decided to turn public anger at Wall Street into a central tenet of their reelection strategy

“[I]t sets up what strategists see as a potent line of attack against Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, a former investment executive whom Obama aides plan to portray as a wealthy Wall Street sympathizer…

“How demonstrators channel their activism could depend on what they see and hear from Obama in the coming months — meaning the protests present opportunities and perils for the president as he starts to strike a more populist tone on the campaign trail.

“‘It’s not a danger — if [Obama] handles it properly,’ said Steve Hildebrand, an architect of Obama’s 2008 grass-roots organization who is not affiliated with the reelection effort. ‘I would encourage him to carefully listen to the people who are passionately protesting Wall Street, big corporations and CEO pay.'”

***

“At the Occupy Wall Street protest camp in Manhattan, protesters agonized over what to do about drum players who had turned part of the site into an impromptu dance floor. The neighbors were complaining about the racket. The protesters had tried to put a time limit on the noise, but the drummers were refusing to obey…

“In Minneapolis, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has been meeting every morning with a delegation of protesters – ‘at least, the ones who come forward and say they are the organizers,’ Stanek said. ‘It’s a little difficult because it seems like each day it’s been a completely different group of folks.’…

“The large group of activists who began meeting to plan the occupation in midsummer came from a variety of groups and backgrounds, and resolved from the start that they wouldn’t elect leaders, appoint a central planning council, or even name lead negotiators to deal with New York’s police or City Hall…

“A sign near the edge of the protest camp Friday echoed that sentiment.

“‘We’re here, we’re unclear, get used to it!’ it said.”

***

“‘Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,’ said one top hedge fund manager.

“‘It’s not a middle-class uprising,’ adds another veteran bank executive. ‘It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.’…

“Some on Wall Street viewed the protesters with disdain, and a degree of caution, as hundreds marched through the financial district on Friday. Others say they feel their pain, but are befuddled about what they are supposed to do to ease it. A few even feel personally attacked, and say the Occupy Wall Street protesters who have been in Zuccotti Park for weeks are just bitter about their own economic fate and looking for an easy target. If anything, they say, people should show some gratitude…

“Generally, bankers dismiss the protesters as gullible and unsophisticated. Not many are willing to say this out loud, for fear of drawing public ire — or the masses to their doorsteps. ‘Anybody who dismisses them publicly is putting a bull’s-eye on their back,’ the hedge fund manager said…

“‘There is a view that it will be a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing,’ said one financial industry official.”

***

“Zizi Elnagouri, a voluble native of Alexandria, Egypt, has spent five years selling pastries on the corner of Cedar and Broadway. She whirled her hands as she spoke, flapping her apron to make a point. ‘From the beginning of this, we lost all our business,’ she lamented. Elnagouri took matters into her own hands, venturing out into the square to tell the occupiers ‘we are out of business.’ Some were glad and others sympathetic. But Zizi was shocked. ‘I couldn’t believe they were American. Do you see how they look? What they are wearing? I don’t believe. This must be the Third World!’ Zizi is accustomed to well-fed New Yorkers in suits, not people begging for free donuts. “Sometimes they buy coffee… it depends on who gives them money. I feel sad for them. It’s hard for Americans to start the day without coffee.” But although she said the destitution in the square reminded her of the Third World, the occupation didn’t strike her as another Tahrir. ‘We were fighting for a big, big thing: for life, to eat, against a giant snake that would kill us.’ Unsurprisingly, she employs a smart breakfast metaphor: ‘Here, they’re not fighting to eat, say, regular bread, but… special bagels or something.'”

***

“Beneath the allegedly young idealism are very cobwebbed assumptions about societal permanence. The agitators for ‘American Autumn’ think that such demands are reasonable for no other reason than that they happen to have been born in America, and expectations that no other society in human history has ever expected are just part of their birthright. But a society can live on the accumulated capital of a glorious inheritance only for so long. And in that sense this bloodless, insipid revolution is just a somewhat smellier front for the sclerotic status quo.

“Middle-class America is dying before our eyes: The job market is flatlined, the college fees soar ever upward, the property market is underwater, and Obamacare is already making medical provision both more expensive and more restrictive. That doesn’t leave much else — although no doubt, as soon as they find something else, the statists will fix that, too. As more and more middle Americans are beginning to notice, they lead more precarious and vulnerable lives than did their blue-collar parents and grandparents without the benefit of college ‘education’ and health ‘benefits.’ For poorer Americans, the prospects are even glummer, augmented by ever grimmer statistics on obesity, childhood diabetes, and much else. Potentially, this is not decline, but a swift devastating downward slide, far beyond what post-war Britain and Europe saw and closer to Peronist Argentina on a Roman scale.

“It would be heartening if more presidential candidates understood the urgency. But there is a strange lack of boldness in most of their proposals. They, too, seem victims of that 1950 moment, and assumptions of its permanence.”

***

Via Reason TV.

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“The guest list Thursday night [at the White House state dinner for South Korea] was diverse. It included Utah’s conservative GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and capitalist-bashing filmmaker Michael Moore.”

Via Newsbusters: