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Investors Business Daily
What is the real point of "Occupy Wall Street"? The violence in Oakland offers the first clue. Now with politically connected union bosses and Acorn involved, it might just be worth looking at its links to Democrats.
Now that Oakland's streets have been "redecorated" with shattered glass, cement chunks and burning garbage from the Occupy Wall Street movement, it's critical to see that these acts are no aberration, but came after calls for force and violence. What makes it disturbing is how close the White House is to them as election time approaches.
United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, speaking on radio host Ed Schultz's show last Monday, declared, "What we need is more militancy." Asked to clarify, Gerard said: "I think we've got to start a resistance movement. If Wall Street Occupation doesn't get the message, I think we've got to start blocking bridges and doing that kind of stuff."
The Canadian union leader then denounced Americans' 2008 election of Tea Party representatives to the House as "nut jobs," and called for more force and illegality: "We ought to be doing more than occupying parks. We ought to start occupying bridges. We ought to start occupying the banks' places themselves."
Despite his proletarian persona, Gerard is close to Occupy Wall Street's criteria for the 1%, pulling in a $188,000 salary and benefits. He's won an honorary college degree and attended galas in his honor. He's served on the board of the Apollo Alliance, tied to one-time Obama "green jobs" czar Van Jones, and served on the board of the Economic Policy Institute, a George Soros front. And he heads the tony-sounding Blue-Green alliance, which links labor to wealthy environmentalists.
That's elite all by itself. But more to the point, he's political. He's got the White House ear as a frequent visitor, and has been appointed to the White House Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. On that board, he evidently had enough clout to delay the U.S.-Colombia free-trade treaty for nearly two years.
Now Gerard's calling for taking U.S. bridges and banks by force, depriving citizens of their property, access to money and right of passage. This isn't democracy — it's violence, as the Oakland protests showed.
Two months ago another White House ally, Teamsters chief Jimmy Hoffa, openly called for his members to "take these sons of bitches out" in Congress, as Obama stood silently at his side. "They got a war with us and there's only going to be one winner," he growled.
Hoffa's Teamsters, it should be noted, have the most violent record of all labor unions, clocking in 454 incidents of violence since 1991, according to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research in Washington.
Then there's the SEIU-linked Acorn, which has made OWS its latest cause. The Obama-tied group had supposedly disbanded, but now operates as New York Communities for Change (NYCC), using the strong-arm political tactics of community organizer Saul Alinsky.
Since it was discovered that NYCC was a prime funder and director of the Occupy movement, Fox News reports that the group has been shredding documents, firing staff, offering up alibis and surveilling Fox News personnel.
One starts to wonder: Is Occupy Wall Street a grass-roots movement, or a corrupt, violent organization whose real center is the Obama administration itself? One thing's for sure: It isn't interested in democracy.
By Mark Steyn
Way back in 1968, after the riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, Mayor Daley declared his forces were there to "preserve disorder." I believe that was one of Hizzoner's famous malapropisms. Forty-three years later Jean Quan, mayor of Oakland, and the Oakland City Council have made "preserving disorder" the official municipal policy.
Last Wednesday, the "Occupy Oakland" occupiers rampaged through the city, shutting down the nation's fifth-busiest port, forcing stores to close, terrorizing those residents foolish enough to commit the reactionary crime of "shopping," destroying ATMs, spraying the Christ the Light Cathedral with the insightful observation "F**k", etc.
And how did the Oakland City Council react? The following day they considered a resolution to express their support for "Occupy Oakland" and to call on the city administration to "collaborate with protesters."
That's "collaborate" in the Nazi-occupied France sense: the city's feckless political class is collaborating with anarchists against the taxpayers who maintain them in their sinecures.
They're not the only ones.When the rumor spread that the Whole Foods store, of all unlikely corporate villains, had threatened to fire employees who participated in the protest, Regional President David Lannon took to Facebook:
"We totally support our Team Members participating in the General Strike today — rumors are false!" But, despite his "total support," they trashed his store anyway, breaking windows and spray-painting walls. As the Oakland Tribune reported: "A man who witnessed the Whole Foods attack, but asked not to be identified, said he was in the store buying an organic orange when the crowd arrived."
There's an epitaph for the republic if ever I heard one. "The experience was surreal, the man said. 'They were wearing masks. There was this whole mess of people, and no police here. That was weird.'"
No, it wasn't. It was municipal policy. In fairness to the miserable David Lannon, Whole Foods was in damage control mode. Men's Wearhouse in Oakland had no such excuse. In solidarity with the masses, they printed up a huge poster declaring "We Stand With the 99%" and announcing they'd be closed that day. In return, they got their windows smashed.
I'm a proud member of the 1%, and I'd have been tempted to smash 'em myself. A few weeks back, finding myself suddenly without luggage, I shopped at a Men's Wearhouse, faute de mieux, in Burlington, Vt. Never again. I'm not interested in patronizing craven corporations so decadent and self-indulgent that as a matter of corporate policy they support the destruction of civilized society.
Did George Zimmer, founder of Men's Wearhouse and backer of Howard Dean, marijuana decriminalization and many other fashionable causes, ever glance at the photos of the OWS occupiers and ponder how many of "the 99%" would ever need his 2-for-1 deal on suits and neckties? And did he think even these dummies were dumb enough to fall for such a feebly corporatist attempt at appeasing the mob?
I don't "stand with the 99%," and certainly not downwind of them. But I'm all for their "occupation" continuing on its merry way. It usefully clarifies the stakes.
At first glance, an alliance of anarchists and government might appear to be somewhat paradoxical. But the formal convergence in Oakland makes explicit the movement's aims: They're anarchists for statism, wild free-spirited youth demanding more and more total government control of every aspect of life — just so long as it respects the fundamental human right to sloth.
What's happening in Oakland is a logical exercise in class solidarity: the government class enthusiastically backing the breakdown of civil order is making common cause with the leisured varsity class, the thuggish union class and the criminal class in order to stick it to what's left of the beleaguered productive class.
It's a grand alliance of all those societal interests that wish to enjoy in perpetuity a lifestyle they are not willing to earn. Only the criminal class is reasonably upfront about this. The rest — lifetime legislators, unions defending lavish and unsustainable benefits, "scholars" whiling away a somnolent half-decade at Complacency U — are obliged to dress it up a little with some hooey about "social justice" and whatnot.
But that's all it takes to get the media and modish if insecure corporate entities to string along. Whole Foods can probably pull it off. So can Ben & Jerry's, the wholly owned subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch corporation UniLever that successfully passes itself off as some sort of tie-dyed Vermont hippie commune.
But a chain of stores that sells shirts, ties, the garb of the corporate lackey has a tougher sell. The class that gets up in the morning, pulls on its lousy Men's Wearhouse get-up and trudges off to work has to pay for all the other classes, and the strain is beginning to tell.
Let it be said that the "occupiers" are right on the banks: They shouldn't have been bailed out. America has one of the most dysfunctional banking systems in the civilized world, and most of its allegedly indispensable institutions should have been allowed to fail. But the Occupy Oakland types have no serious response, other than the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by government-funded inertia.
America is seizing up before our eyes: The decrepit airports, the underwater property market, the education racket, the hyperregulated business environment. Yet curiously the best example of this sclerosis is the alleged "revolutionary" movement itself. It's the voice of youth, yet everything about it is cobwebbed.
It's more like an open-mike karaoke night of a revolution than the real thing. I don't mean just the placards with the same old portable quotes by Lenin et al., but also, say, the photo in Forbes of Rachel, a 20-year-old "unemployed cosmetologist" with remarkably un-cosmetological complexion, dressed in pink hair and nose ring as if it's London, 1977, and she's killing time at Camden Lock before the Pistols gig.
Except that that's 3 1/2 decades ago, so it would be like the Sex Pistols dressing like the Andrews Sisters. Are America's revolting youth so totally pathetically moribund they can't even invent their own hideous fashion statements?
Last weekend, the nonagenarian commie Pete Seeger was wheeled out at Zuccotti Park to serenade the oppressed masses with "If I Had a Hammer." As it happens, I do have a hammer. Pace, Mr. Seeger, they're not that difficult to acquire, even in a recession. But if I took it to Zuccotti Park, I doubt very much anyone would know how to use it, or be able to muster the energy to do so.
At heart, Oakland's occupiers and worthless political class want more of the same fix that has made America the Brokest Nation in History: They expect to live as beneficiaries of a prosperous Western society without making any contribution to the productivity necessary to sustain it.
This is the "idealism" the media are happy to sentimentalize, and that enough poseurs among the corporate executives are happy to indulge — at least until the window-smashing starts. To "occupy" Oakland or anywhere else, you have to have something to put in there.
Yet the most striking feature of OWS is its hollowness. And in a strange way the emptiness of its threats may be a more telling indictment of a fin de civilisation west than a more coherent protest movement could ever have mounted.
By Bill McGurn for the Wall St. Journal
In 1982, two social scientists—George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson—published an article in the Atlantic in which they argued that a city window left broken is an invitation to further disorder. Their message was as simple as it was unconventional. Sweat the small stuff (graffiti, aggressive panhandling, petty crime) and you'll stop problems before they grow bigger.
In the three decades since, mayors and police chiefs across America have transformed their cities by taking the broken-window message to heart, especially in New York. Now Occupy Wall Street has taken a high-profile part of Manhattan and turned it into an anarchist campground worse than the Tompkins Square Park of the 1980s, when it stood for the worst of New York—encampments of the homeless and a haven for drug dealing. The OWS protesters seem to have no fear of Michael Bloomberg: A sign at one entryway warns hizzoner that if he tries to interfere, he will be the one arrested.
For most, the Occupy movement has been a lark. For Woodstock wannabees, it's a romantic trip back to the Vietnam War protests they weren't around for. For television cameras and leftish documentarians, it's a feast of crazy signs and even crazier behavior. For a certain kind of Democrat, it's the answer to the energy of the tea party ("We are on their side," President Obama said of the Occupy movement to ABC News just three weeks ago).
The president is by no means alone. The mayor of Oakland, Calif., Jean Quan, issued words of support for the Occupy movement that sprang up outside her City Hall, claiming that sometimes "democracy is messy." Indeed it is: According to the San Francisco Chronicle, eyewitnesses claim her husband was among those who helped close the port down last week.
Ditto for Mayor Vincent Gray in the District of Columbia. On Friday a mob from Occupy DC attacked the Washington Convention Center where a conservative group was holding its meeting. The police did not protect them, and some who called for help claim 911 operators hung up. Earlier in the month, the D.C. government issued a press release boasting that "a fired-up Mayor Gray" had spoken in a freedom march that had "merged with separate demonstrations in support of DC voting rights and the Occupy Wall Street movement."
In short, instead of seeing "broken windows," too many of our urban leaders have persuaded themselves that the drugs, sexual assault and vandalism that have accompanied the Occupy movement are all "isolated incidents." In New York, Mayor Bloomberg says that he won't tolerate the kind of violence they had in Oakland. Of course, this is the same mayor who complains that the protesters have no right to erect tents when the whole of Zuccotti Park is blanketed with them.
Thus far too, those looking for the fallout have focused mostly on the political. Pollster Doug Schoen has warned his fellow Democrats that support for the Occupy movement will come back to bite them. George F. Will made the same point from the other side: "Conservatives," he wrote, "should rejoice and wish for it long life, abundant publicity and sufficient organization to endorse congressional candidates deemed worthy."
Until very recently, however, few have paid attention to the economic ramifications. In this, Bloomberg News is way ahead of its owner: A recent story noted that the same people assailing the lack of jobs and protesting income inequality are devastating local businesses. The owner of a café near Zuccotti Park told the reporter that the 103 jobs he created when he opened in June are now in jeopardy.
There's no denying that local businesses are suffering. Still, the economic ramifications of these protests go well beyond the painful drop in sales receipts that neighborhood merchants are suffering. Longer term, there surely is a broken-window aspect to urban investment, which raises important questions our occupied mayors seem largely oblivious to.
What company thinking of moving to Texas or even Connecticut, for example, will be persuaded to stay in Manhattan after witnessing the mayor's impotence here? How many trade groups or associations are going to move their big meetings from the nation's capital after they've seen the lack of police protection at the convention center? Who's going to sink money into Oakland—which clocked in below Flint, Mich., on a recent Forbes ranking of cities by job growth—when they see a mayor unwilling to call in the cops even after businesses have been openly attacked?
Our progressive mayors may think themselves reasonable when they turn a blind eye to the public disorders that have characterized the Occupy movement. In fact, they are sending a signal that imperils the urban development they so profess to love. For the message they are sending to business is this: When the crazies come for you, you're on your own.