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Matt Taibbi writes: "All of which is a roundabout way of saying one thing: beware of provocateurs on both sides of the aisle. This movement is going to attract many Breitbarts, of both the left and right variety. They're going to try to identify fake leaders, draw phony battle lines, and then herd everybody back into the same left-right cage matches of old. Whenever that happens, we just have to remember not to fall for the trap. When someone says this or that person speaks for OWS, don't believe it. This thing is bigger than one or two or a few people, and it isn't part of the same old story."

Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Why OWS Is Bigger Than Left vs. Right

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

17 October 11


Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns

was surprised, amused and annoyed all at once when I found out yesterday that some moron-provocateur linked to notorious right-wing cybergoon Andrew Breitbart had infiltrated
a series of private e-mail lists – including one that I have been participating in – and was using them to run an exposé on the supposed behind-the-scenes marionetting of the OWS movement by the liberal media.

According to various web reports, what happened was that a private "cyber-security researcher" named Thomas Ryan somehow accessed a series of email threads between various individuals and dumped them all on, Breitbart's site. Gawker is also reporting that Ryan forwarded some of these emails to the FBI and the NYPD.

I have no idea whether those email exchanges are the same as the ones I was involved with. But what is clear is that some private email exchanges between myself and a number of other people – mostly financial journalists and activists who know each other from having covered the crisis from the same angle in the last three years, people like Barry Ritholz, Dylan Ratigan, former regulator William Black, Glenn Greenwald and myself – ended up being made public.

There is nothing terribly interesting in any of these exchanges. Most all of the things written were things all of us ended up saying publicly in our various media forums. In my case, what I wrote was almost an exact copy of my Rolling Stone article last week, suggesting a list of demands for the movement. I said I thought having demands was a good idea and listed a few things I thought demonstrators could focus on. Others disagreed, and there was a friendly back-and-forth.

So I was amazed to wake up this morning and find that various right-wing sites had used these exchanges to build a story about a conspiracy of left-wing journalists. "Busted. Emails Show Liberal Media & Far Left Cranks Conspired With #OWS Protesters to Craft Message," wrote one.

Breitbart's site,, went further, saying that the Occupy Washington D.C. movement is "working with well-known media members to craft its demands and messaging while these media members report on the movement."

The list, the site wrote, include:

...well known names such as MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan, Rolling Stone’s Matt Tiabbi [sic] who both are actively participating; involvement from other listers such as Bill Moyers and Glenn Greenwald plus well-known radicals like Noam Chomsky, remains unclear.

Aside from the appalling fact of these assholes stealing private emails and bragging about it in public, the whole story is completely absurd. None of the people on the list, as far as I know, are actually organizers of OWS - I know I'm not one, anyway.

In fact, I was surprised by the entire characterization of this list as being some kind of official wing of OWS. I thought it was just a bunch of emails from friends of mine, talking about what advice we would give protesters, if any of them asked, which in my case anyway they definitely did not.

This whole episode to me underscores an unpleasant development for OWS. There is going to be a fusillade of attempts from many different corners to force these demonstrations into the liberal-conservative blue-red narrative.

This will be an effort to transform OWS from a populist and wholly non-partisan protest against bailouts, theft, insider trading, self-dealing, regulatory capture and the market-perverting effect of the Too-Big-To-Fail banks into something a little more familiar and less threatening, i.e. a captive "liberal" uprising that the right will use to whip up support and the Democrats will try to turn into electoral energy for 2012.

Tactically, what we'll see here will be a) people firmly on the traditional Democratic side claiming to speak for OWS, and b) people on the right-Republican side attempting to portray OWS as a puppet of well-known liberals and other Democratic interests.

On the Democratic side, we've already seen a lot of this behavior, particularly in the last week or so. Glenn Greenwald wrote about this a lot last week, talking about how Obama has already made it clear that he is "on the same side as the Wall Street protesters" and that the Democratic Party, through the DCCC (its House fundraising arm), has jumped into the fray by circulating a petition seeking 100,000 party supporters to affirm that “I stand with the Occupy Wall Street protests.”(I wonder how firmly the DCCC was standing with OWS sentiment back when it was pushing for the bailouts and the repeal of Glass-Steagall Act).

We've similarly heard about jumping into the demonstrations and attempting, seemingly, to assume leadership roles in the movement.

All of this is the flip side of the coin that has people like Breitbart trying to frame OWS as a socialist uprising and a liberal media conspiracy. The aim here is to redraw the protests along familiar battle lines.

The Rush Limbaughs of the world are very comfortable with a narrative that has Noam Chomsky, MoveOn and Barack Obama on one side, and the Tea Party and Republican leaders on the other. The rest of the traditional media won't mind that narrative either, if it can get enough "facts" to back it up. They know how to do that story and most of our political media is based upon that Crossfire paradigm of left-vs-right commentary shows and NFL Today-style team-vs-team campaign reporting.

What nobody is comfortable with is a movement in which virtually the entire spectrum of middle class and poor Americans is on the same page, railing against incestuous political and financial corruption on Wall Street and in Washington. The reality is that Occupy Wall Street and the millions of middle Americans who make up the Tea Party are natural allies and should be on the same page about most of the key issues, and that's a story our media won't want to or know how to handle.

Take, for instance, the matter of the Too-Big-To-Fail banks, which people like me and Barry Ritholz have focused on as something that could be a key issue for OWS. These gigantic institutions have put millions of ordinary people out of their homes thanks to a massive fraud scheme for which they were not punished, owing to their enormous influence with government and their capture of the regulators.

This is an issue for the traditional "left" because it's a classic instance of overweening corporate power - but it's an issue for the traditional "right" because these same institutions are also the biggest welfare bums of all time, de facto wards of the state who sucked trillions of dollars of public treasure from the pockets of patriotic taxpayers from coast to coast.

Both traditional constituencies want these companies off the public teat and back swimming on their own in the cruel seas of the free market, where they will inevitably be drowned in their corruption and greed, if they don't reform immediately. This is a major implicit complaint of the OWS protests and it should absolutely strike a nerve with Tea Partiers, many of whom were talking about some of the same things when they burst onto the scene a few years ago.

The banks know this. They know they have no "natural" constituency among voters, which is why they spend such fantastic amounts of energy courting the mainstream press and such huge sums lobbying politicians on both sides of the aisle.

The only way the Goldmans and Citis and Bank of Americas can survive is if they can suck up popular political support indirectly, either by latching onto such vague right-populist concepts as "limited government" and "free-market capitalism" (ironic, because none of them would survive ten minutes without the federal government's bailouts and other protections) or, alternatively, by presenting themselves as society's bulwark against communism, lefty extremism, Noam Chomsky, etc.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying one thing: beware of provocateurs on both sides of the aisle. This movement is going to attract many Breitbarts, of both the left and right variety. They're going to try to identify fake leaders, draw phony battle lines, and then herd everybody back into the same left-right cage matches of old. Whenever that happens, we just have to remember not to fall for the trap. When someone says this or that person speaks for OWS, don't believe it. This thing is bigger than one or two or a few people, and it isn't part of the same old story. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+53 # abeitling 2011-10-17 18:34
Well said.
+20 # Jeff C 2011-10-17 19:31
Given the fact that the Tea Party, itself, was obviously, quickly and easily co-opted by the same corruptive corporate interests that engineered our present crisis, I’m not at all convinced by the argument that OWS and the Tea Party are “natural allies.” Potentially opening up OWS up to co-option by the Tea Party - at least as it currently exists - might very well spell disaster for the movement and for so many of us who are so very hopeful about its long-term potential in terms of affecting desperately needed and progressive change. I’m certain that Wall Street, Fox News, etc. would love that prospect, too. Perhaps I’m genuinely misreading something here, but it appears to me that the writer prefers that the movement somehow distance or disassociate itself from endorsement or support by independent political thinkers and citizens like Noam Chomsky, yet lock arms with a Tea Party movement that, frankly, has supported a clearly right wing agenda and - at times - exhibited a blatantly fascist character.
+1 # chick 2011-10-18 23:14
Jeff C I absolutly agree with you.
Well said. I thought I liked Mike Taibbi but now I am not so sure.
-10 # twriters 2011-10-19 11:57
Chomsky an independent?

Chomsky is the distilled essence of the far-left, a man who has made a very comfortable living for decades mocking and ridiculing the system that supports him.

He and other celebrities are the supporters of OWS, and they have already co-opted it. It's done.
+39 # PGreen 2011-10-17 20:31
I tend to be suspicious of the argument that OWS should develop a set of specific demands, though I agree that friendly discussions about this issue are a good idea. The unspoken implications of what you're saying are that OWS is more about the Top versus the Bottom then the Right versus the Left. This is, of course, the very thing that the Establishment fears the most: the unity of the "natural allies" as you put it, the disenfranchised . I expect to see attacks by the Establishment to head off this potential alliance. Groups such as the Progressive Policy Institute are already trying to split off the protestors who proclaim "anti-capitalis t claptrap" (as Will Marshall, president of PPI puts it). Since the movement began with these radicals (and this is really a disguised attack on the activist nature of the movement itself), this essentially destroys it, allowing groups such as PPI to go back to calling for minor revisions while protecting the status quo. Meanwhile the economic inequality continues to grow.
+66 # davegowdey 2011-10-17 22:16
I disagree. This isn't bigger than left and right, it is pure left. It is standing up for the many against the few. That is not and has never been a right wing position -and it is certainly not the position of the Tea Party. It is foolish to think that populist anger can reconcile two so fundamentally opposed views of the world. It can not. Nor should it be expected to. Poltiical change does not come from the middle. This current mess has come about because of the ascendency of the right wing for the last 30 years, and the takeover of the Democratic party by the right wing DLC. There has not been a muscular, functional political left in this country since Bobby Kennedy was assasinated. I hope that OWS is the beginning of this. If it isn't, if it is manipulated into impotence by some desire to find middle ground with the far right that gave us this problem in the first place -then I want nothing to do with it. If it isn't left, it isn't anything.
+15 # NanFan 2011-10-18 02:44
TOTALLY right, Dave!! OWS is "pure left," that is, we, the people fighting for our civil rights, fighting against injustices created BY the far-right -- let me just say it, Republicans -- that propagandize, lie, cheat, and steal to keep "we, the people" drowning in THEIR mire.

That there is no apparent leader is wonderful; it is pure democracy; group consensus on what to do to revolutionize the U.S., and it is catching on like wildfire across the world stage.

Democracy in countries does not happen as a result of invasions and wars to force it on the people; it happens this way, the OWS, "we, the people," and yes, "purely liberal" non-violent resistance to unjust laws.

Rampant Capitalism = Corruption = Republican

Pure Democracy = Freedom = Liberal Action

-11 # Martintfre 2011-10-18 12:00
//Pure Democracy = Freedom = Liberal Action
// == two wolves and a sheep voting on lunch.
+4 # futhark 2011-10-18 05:30
I disagree. Successful revolutions happen when coalitions of people find common interests for which to work. The original Tea Party was made up of Ron Paul followers who were fed up with perpetual wars financed by increasing debt, the violation of the Bill of Rights by the PATRIOT ACT, and the exporting of American jobs. That was before Sarah Palin got invited to their convention.

We are not talking left-wing vs. right-wing here, but honoring and preserving our heritage of revolution.

If the left can't find something in common with people who want their constitutional rights restored, who want the American military brought home, and who want American jobs preserved, I think there may be little hope of real change in the long run.

So let's just get on with squabbling about our differences and let the plutocrats keep ripping us off.
-2 # RLF 2011-10-18 07:55
Tea Party and the far left (me) both are tired of paying taxes and getting nothing for it. Each of their reasoning for why it is happening and who is responsible and what should be done differ but they are both reacting to the same stimulus.
+9 # doomed to repeat history 2011-10-18 13:40
Are you serious? Ron Paul followers are libertarian nutballs; contrarian utopians who think the unfettered free market will magically balance all interests equitably - a position which falls apart under scrutiny. R. Paul is a religious/ capitalist fundamentalist - just because he's also against spending money on war and the DEA (laudable positions) we cannot countenance his other laughably simplistic ideas.

The problem with your libertarians is that they also dont want a central bank or any financial regulation that takes the hard landing and outsized risk out of the financial system - again, lets make the system more equitable, not more like a wild west casino!
What you're describing - a place where social liberals get together with free market fundamentalists is the neo-liberal regime of Clinton and Rubin - where the financial crisis actually began!!!!

Please, get your history straight before you get in bed with these people.
I adore Matt Taibbi's work but I dont think this piece holds together well, it isnt about up/down to the exclusion of left/right - its about what progressie really means - working toward an inclusie, egalitarian society - where freedom and the common good are balanced by a framework of laws. Plutocrats are disempowered and the lunatics are no longer in charge.
+1 # racetoinfinity 2011-10-18 14:28
Well said. x2!!
+2 # Capn Canard 2011-10-18 10:03
davegowdey, well, I would argue that it is far more like old school Anarchism or an Anarcho-sociali sm. Though I don't see much in the way of any manifesto, which makes me see it as far more Anarchistic than pure left Socialism. The problem is that Authority is enabled by Corporate power(and Corporate power is based on MONEY) and that makes Authority the enemy of all people. The only way this "Left" will work is to neuter the power of money and wealth. I believe that is possible, but we have a huge set of widely accepted presumptions to make impotent. In America, the old assumptions of Left and Right need some serious re-examination and the MSM will be of NO HELP. It is time to take the debate back to the people... here's hoping it isn't as difficult as it might be.
-1 # chick 2011-10-18 23:17
Your right Dave it isn't right at all. It is totally left and it is everything.
+3 # andreyo 2011-10-19 10:31
Sorry. But you're quite wrong here.
First, you show an inability to distinguish between the "far right" and a great mass of the population that is,
in their thinking, presently conservative. You then show an inability to distinguish between the original, libertarian "Tea Party", (anti-bailout,
anti-war) and the Republican Tea Party Express which hijacked it. It's true... OWS is largely "leftist"; but we'll get nowhere if we stay comfortable in this category. We need to open a dialogue with the "libertarian" conservative element -not to support "Ron Paul," but to connect with his youthful (more-open/radi cal) sympathizers and the larger constituency with whom we have much in common. I understand your point about knowing our identity, (where we come from); and yes, it's maddening that we always take such flack and have to be the ones to be inclusive of others; but unless we take concrete steps to heal the PHONY (Dem/Rep) divide in this country, we won't get very far. The masses will stay watching in their tenements.
+2 # andreyo 2011-10-19 10:33
Just to finish the point,

"left" intransigence is largely how Hitler came to power in the midst of a vast, social-democrat ic majority).

I'm quite surprised and pleased that Matt has the openness of mind to see this.

We on "the left" still have a lot of growing to do; and a critical sign of wise leadership is one which does not presume to represent the whole people; but rather, speaks to where people are actually at.

+19 # peterjnickitas 2011-10-17 22:29
No one single-handedly is wise enough to frame the discussion on OWS. Not even Taibbi.

Infinite growth and fractional reserve banking with private fiat money is the paradigm of death. Change the way money works, or nothing changes.

Mother Nature bats last.

Humans scheme. G-d laughs.
+9 # jimyoung 2011-10-17 23:31
It is among the best I've seen from him, though, and I do think there is common ground with people who grabbed onto the Tea Party to try to get Washington to pay attention.

I'd just ask them to look beyond the mere politicians to the lobbyists and sponsors that financed the massive main stream media (and back door bloggers, et al, that seem more like wrestling promoters)that get the voters they want to the poles while keeping as many of the ones they don't want out. They seem the most effective, if not ethical, in getting the politicians they want in, and keeping a reliable stream of them coming through the massive effort ahead of the redistricting opportunities from the last census.

I'd ask the Tea Party members to really take a look at where their interests do align with many of OWS "individuals."
+5 # Capn Canard 2011-10-18 06:56
jimyoung, it is all a problem of money. Before 1980 it cost very little to run a campaign. Now we are stuck with campaigns that cost in excess of several hundred million dollars!!! Before Reagan and all elections cost next to nothing in comparison, it was all dependent on popularity of candidates etc. The liberalization of campaign regulation is what has allowed the financially strong interests to rule our system with massive campaign financing and lobbying.
+11 # Nominae 2011-10-18 01:09
Very well said. This movement is world wide. It cannot be condensed into bumper sticker slogans or five second TV sound bytes. This is one collective, global, vocal "NO"! "NO" to the trashing of everything needed to sustain life. And so the change begins. "NO" alone is a *more* than valid "Statement".

The people involved with this movement are in the throes of inventing and defining a totally new way for human beings to interact on this planet at all levels. Social, political and economic.

For the youth, their future has been looted. They know that. Their backs are up against the wall on a planet whose very resources are quickly being raped and robbed to the degree that soon no one will be able to maintain and sustain any viable "system". This is not "Left-Right, Up-Down" etc. It is something *so* new that those pressed to "hammer it out" still have no idea what it will eventually become.

Bloviating is can be gratifying, but it is nothing more than mental masturbation when the subject under discussion is unknown to all those involved in so discussing.

Let's just support these people - those trying to "hammer it out" - contribute what we can, and then "hide and watch" !

The ethos of the time period itself will draw from them the very solutions that the *rest* of us will soon be "demanding".
+6 # Capn Canard 2011-10-18 06:37
peterjnickitas, I agree, though this story by Matt Taibbi is as close as it gets. The paradigm of infinite growth is a real problem, always looming over our heads like the Sword of Damocles, and it effectively did fall(though the poor-middle did save the wealthy's ass) and we will have continued failures(the return of ol' boom bust economy of the early 20th C.) without very strong regulation like of the period from 1940 to 1980, id est FDR's New Deal policies/regula tion.

I believe we need to explore options that both the Left and Right completely ignore. As a start here is some quick reading:

There are other ideas very similar to this one, but so far this "Thinking about Revolution" by John Spritzler and Dave Stratman, is the most completed. I believe we need to kick this ball around before it is dismissed out of hand. I can't help but anticipate that staying on the path were on will only lead to more disaster on top of disaster, an exponentially growing mass of corruption and failure.
+24 # jon 2011-10-17 22:36
Legislators propose and/or enact laws - that is their job/duty.

It is the OWS job to beat on the Legislators until they enact the laws that "We the People" need.

That is the way Democracy works.
-7 # Martintfre 2011-10-18 11:56
//That is the way Democracy works.//

Two wolves and a sheep voting on lunch.
+7 # Ma Tsu 2011-10-17 22:39
We of the National Optimists Party persuasion see “Left” and “Right” for what they are - archaic holdovers from the French Revolution and, like much else, concepts we can comfortably leave behind, in the same way we intend to forego bi-partisanship in favor of non-partisanship.
This past Congress could not agree on what to do about the bald eagle. Such paroxsisms of putative paralysis will not be indulged in any Congress with which our administration must deal.
Now, democracy is supposed to be a noisy business, but in our time sound a fury must signify substantive change. The tempest we now hear brewing is not confined to a teapot or a street or streets, but comes from the very heart of Mother Nature herself. And she cares not whether you are a self-defined leftist liberal or rightist conservative.
+1 # Capn Canard 2011-10-18 07:34
Ma Tsu, okay I'll bite... but is there more structure or more of a schematic/plan of how things will be effectively changed? Please, I am curious. This National Optimists party is a bit similar to "Thinking About Revolution".
+3 # Ma Tsu 2011-10-18 12:11
The changes of the 20th century eclipsed those of all preceding centuries combined. The changes coming in the 21st century will make those of the 20th pale in comparison.
We champion the coming Second Industrial Revolution, manufacturing based at cellular, molecular and atomic levels, a transportation infrastructure based on magnetic levitation, a decentralized power generation system wherein every structure (indeed every item) is its own power plant.
We propose scaled environmental restoration projects as the basis for our international and domestic relations policies and we favor life-long education and health care for all.
The question "How are you going to pay for all this?" is usually answered rhetorically with the question "What happens if we don't pay for this?" but in this case and as it is germane to the topic under which this discussion falls, one untapped source of money (w prefer credit) is right on hand on Wall Street - the Forex markets - 1 to 1.6 quadrillion dollars annually - the exclusive domain of banks and which they trade among themselves at high volume for small per transaction profit or loss. Another possible source of revenue in the transition phase from the economics of scarcity (the law of supply and demand) to the economics of abundance could be to impose a holding tax on cash or cash equivalents, though taxation is a Luddite notion
-1 # Capn Canard 2011-10-19 13:25
Ma Tsu, DECENTRALIZED POWER/ENERGY GENERATION!!! Yes, absolutely. Of course the hurdle to clear is the decentralized nature of power as this would effect the monetary system, which of course is to say that possession of "money" in large part defines who has actual power. I suggest a system that is local control (anarchy!) in that local communities are in control by the direct consent of the governed, and not some de facto pledge or allegiance to an absentee LORD (president, governor or prime minister). In a monetary system this will be very difficult to impossible, thus I believe that concept of money needs to seriously re-examined and ideally eliminated.
+1 # 666 2011-10-19 05:36
Ma Tsu sees the crux: for there to be a real democratic revolution - we must get rid of political parties; they are the straightjacket of plutocratic control. As Aristotle recognized, election always favors the rich. You want a house of REPRESENTATIVES ? then select them like juries. They won't get anything done you say? Well what exactly gets done now inside the beltway? The only thing I see is the 99% getting DONE by both parties over and over and over. NO DEMS, NO GOP, NO TEA-baggers
+2 # Capn Canard 2011-10-19 13:29
666, Yes, anarch-socialis m, aka Libertarian Socialism.
+13 # BLBreck 2011-10-17 22:40
Nicely said, Mr. Tabbi! From what I can see OWS is working very hard to make sure these things don't happen. I am a member of MoveOn, and our chapter organizer has been participating in the general assembly of the local OWS since it started; being VERY careful not to push the MoveOn agenda on them. Nat'l MoveOn may be a different story... our group often struggles with the dictates from above and so we often, oops, forget about those directives! Go OWS!
+14 # Toribeth 2011-10-17 22:55
Not having heard the focus of the OWS, it remains to be seen what they want. To write that the Tbaggers are allies is wrong. Tbaggers show themselves to lean toward violence by carrying guns and trying to provoke confrontations. Only weeks ago they harrassed a small group of Move On people from a public park in Oregon. This behavior is missing in the OWS movement.
+16 # maddave 2011-10-17 23:02
Of course OWS, subsidiaries & supporters are coming under intense attack by the Koch Brothers' crowd, most specifically the Tea Baggers. It's partly because the participants are getting more attention, encouragement and support every day - both in the USA & abroad. That must have their rapt attention, but has their collective skivvies hopelessly wadded is that fact that BOTH Romney and that gimlet-eyed little thrip from Florida, Eric Cantor, were shown espousing OWS demands on on TV tonight - a first for each of them!

It's still too soon to tell for sure , but we just may have a major victory on our hands, so hang in there everybody! We can do it. OOH-RAH!
+3 # X Dane 2011-10-19 20:58
maddave, the creep, Eric Cantor, is a Viginian. and I fervently hope a REAL democrat will unseat him next year. I say REAL, because democrats worked so hard to get more democrats into congress that a lot of dogs were let in, Blue dogs. We need them like a few more holes in our heads.
+21 # jimyoung 2011-10-17 23:14
Perhaps Breitbart, et al, can't imagine a world where people don't play games, try to distort at every opportunity, and aren't "sponsored" by special interests, with identities hidden through SuperPac affiliates.

What I saw at the OWS event in Riverside was individuals speaking on their personal stories with suggestions, questions, and a search for a way to get real answers to real problems involving people who did follow all the rules (while the financial services didn't follow either all the "rules," simple ethical norms, or truly sustainable trajectories). They were determined to stay positive and find the ponies.

I was told OWS won't accept donations from George Soros. Will the others refuse donations from the Koch brothers and other large donors? If not perfect, the OWS individuals seem to set an example I wish the others would follow on ethics and simple civility in looking for solutions that keep the middle class too big to fail.
+2 # Capn Canard 2011-10-18 07:49
jimyoung, nice... but I prefer to think that perhaps Breitbart is just too stupid and self centered to see reality. I always come back to the idea that wealth is represented by money and that is the problem. It is a cancerous growth, a carcinogen that leads to corruption, war, death, decay etc etc. It is a cruel game, a human fly-trap that the Poor can easily escape, but apparently it is highly improbable to impossible for those the Wealthy to escape, those who worship money. I just like to break it down to one question for everyone: What side are you on?
+1 # jimyoung 2011-10-19 12:14
I'm in the middle since I know many old style business people who deliver useful products and services at a fair price. They are often innovative and generate better ways of doing things, improving everyone's live instead of taking control of everything they can and maximizing personal gain. Too many of them are far from destitute, actually able to comfortably sit out the current debt crisis, but they are not able to do the great things they did when the banks want 100% equity for loans they used to get for 20%. When they were providing fairly priced goods and services, they and millions of others were keeping the velocity of money high enough so that reasonable taxes (a little slice of much more volume/velocity ) generated trillions more in both revenue and true value of our currency. To me the debt is unrealistically high, with more and more impediments to getting the real producers (not just the money and recklessly valued debt instruments holders) active enough to get a healthy velocity of money again. Ethical and competent financial service providers can be very useful but they are like fire. In Washington's words, ", a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."

We can't let debt stop the velocity of money (backed by the true wealth you recognize) that we need to work our way out of it.
+11 # Susan W 2011-10-17 23:16
The similarity between the OWS movement and the Tea Party is the sense of disenfranchisem ent. Neither one feels the establishment is working in their best interest, because it's not, and they are both very justifiably angry. The difference is the message. The TP made it simple with their "I want my America back" slogan which was very easy for the media to adopt without either party really even knowing what it meant.
Now they want something that simplistic from the OWS group and it isn't going to happen because it's not that simple. I truly believe if the TP would talk to OWS they really would find common ground. Both are fed up, frustrated, pissed off and want change. Rather than being co-opted by the TP they could absorb them and together a real force could build that none of the major parties would be able to stop. As a previous poster said, it is a matter of top and bottom--not left and right. The TP is easily led so to pull them in the correct direction would be a winner for all involved.
0 # Capn Canard 2011-10-18 08:25
Susan W, very well said... I am with you. I believe that the LEFT and the RIGHT may very well be toast. Those simplistic sound bite ideologies are from an archaic linear age, perhaps it is a time that we leave them behind. I believe that we may now more appropriately be described as the beginning of a non-linear/geom etric paradigm... so to speak. Or perhaps it is better to think of it in simple terms like "Quantitative" vs. "Qualitative". Where the QUANTITATIVE is descending and the QUALITATIVE is ascending. (Quantitative as in how much, how many, or keeping score/accountin g etc. And Qualitative as in how good, how beneficial, or just improvement. Questions must be asked!!) I believe that Qualitative could very well be our current reality...

The basic philosophical questions rise up and shake off the dust. Or just some wishful thinking...

I rant, you decide.
-7 # Martintfre 2011-10-18 11:54
//The TP is easily led //
as long as the ideas you are leading with respect the inherent rights of individuals and not the phony rights of a gang.
+3 # maddave 2011-10-17 23:54
RE: Demands
What we (OWS) lack are (1) clear objectives and (2) popular central leadership . . . to this add continued good discipline. The movement is, indeed, vulnerable to being co-opted by articulate propagandists brandishing apparently-cred ible, plausible-sound ing easy solutions/objec tives. (The word "easy" will be your first clue: "easy" solutions no longer exist.)

As the movement grows in strength would-be leaders will crawl out of the woodwork, and they will try to subvert your good work for their own personal pelf and power. Let us not forget that both Hitler and Mussolini became Heads of States through the manipulation of popular uprisings and (supposedly) democratic elections.

This is a sincere, history-based estimate of what could easily happen here and now! We must look to those who have proved trustworthy - eg; Rachel Maddow, Matt Taibbi, Bill Maher, George Soros. . . (it's a long list many are unjustly omitted) - and tay abreast of the news on several trusted alternative news sources . . . this is where the real discipline will prove to be invaluable.
0 # Capn Canard 2011-10-18 09:21
maddave, I am not certain that it is something easily co-opted. It seems there would be LOUD objections, though the Main-Stream-Med ia is a major fuster-cluck against Occupy Wall Street. It may be as simple as "which side are you on, boys" like the old Union song.
+1 # Martintfre 2011-10-18 11:51
Reject anyone who preaches initiation of force against another.

The only destruction one can morally act on is their own.
+1 # jimyoung 2011-10-19 23:05
I'm with you on rejecting force (other than moral), but I talked to several OWS participants that played by the rules and didn't take the too easy credit. At least three that I asked for more details on what might be considered "destruction" of their life saving and falsely rated/funded pension funds have lost between $200,000 and $300,000 along with job prospects greatly reduced. Ask a few of them and see if you don't find 30% and even up to 60% reductions in their family "revenue." If nothing else, the "destruction" of the middle class drastically slows the velocity of money. That hurts everyone, even the wealthy who have to live in a poorer, less productive, country. The very wealthy I respect really do create more opportunities for everyone. Steve Jobs did that, not getting his wealth by creating shortages and subverting politicians to create exponentially greater advantage for himself while holding back everyone else.

Be thankful the OWS people want to be positive and moral, and know better than to try to wreak "destruction" on those they could blame for their own relative (and individual) destruction repeated millions of times over on individuals that were part of a healthy middle class.

So far, this nonsense could have cost me $300,000 but I don't consider that was ever real wealth.
+7 # giraffe 2011-10-17 23:58
The son and daughter of Martin Luther King Junior summed up the "focus" of the OWS - through the eyes of MLK, Jr. - as they saw it.

President Obama subtly summed up the inequities (etc) of the right - but I'm sure his thoughts were not simple enough for any GOP/TP to understand. And that is why Mr. Pizza Cain is leading the GOP - simple statements (that sound like good - but in reality are just B.S.)

There are more Republicans registered today than Dems

Our duty is to get the minorities, old, etc (who don't have IDs, etc.) registered and with mail-in ballots. We need their vote for the most important election to date: 2012. If we don't get these people (DEMS) registered and to the polls = WE WILL HAVE THE SAME AS 2010!

Never, ever, ever vote Republican OR 3rd party (which does no good)

I hope all the OWS will vote DEM although they are not DEMS and in fact many are as angry at Dems as they are at Repugent-icans.

If YOU go to a OWS - talk to everybody who will listen that they have a better chance with a DEM.

We need a Dem in W.H. for another reason: To replace a Supreme (Scalia/Thomas/ maybe Aliota should go ... there are rumors to remove S/T - not sure about Aliota)

VOTE 2012 - MOST important election ever.
-7 # Martintfre 2011-10-18 11:49
//I hope all the OWS will vote DEM //

Why? Because corporate bankers need more money from the tax payers then they already got (Obama as senator and as president voted for all TARP programs).

Why? Because 3 new wars is not enough (Libya, Yeaman and some where else in Africa)?

The only way to teach the dems anything about lying to us about getting out of wars is to not blindly support them and they give you no choices.

The only way to teach Republican NeoCons that their time is up is to have them lose in their own primaries -- register republican for the primaries and vote for the only non non-NeoCon there --
Ron Paul - He voted against the wars that Hillary voted for.

He voted against the patriot act that Obama re-upped.
0 # X Dane 2011-10-19 21:07
Giraffe, how on earth could we replace Thomas/ Scalia??????? I thought they were in for life??
By the way we should certainly have a change: Supremes serve no longer than 15 years
+5 # R U Kidding Me? 2011-10-18 03:29
Why are they being pressured to have a message? The non-message is the message. The right can spin this any way they want, if not 99%, it sure and hell is a majority of America and the world it seems that are on the same side. So why not let the right wing bitch, moan, break into private e-mails or whatever dirty tactics they choose? These people have and are everything the right isn't; they have purpose, resiliency, integrity and as long as they perservere, the right will capitulate. Look at Eric Cantor's tone already. Ronald Reagan brought the conservatives out of the proverbial closet and hopefully OWS will put them back in...silence them for all eternity. If only!!!
+4 # racetoinfinity 2011-10-18 03:33
The Tea Party, if it ever was a populist movement, was an anti-federalist one, and was quickly co-opted by the Koch Brothers and other corporate plutocrats. They are not natural allies with OWS!
+6 # mwd870 2011-10-18 04:42
Andrew Breitbart is a joke, but also dangerous because he lies with impunity.

It seems inevitable OWS will attract supporters from both parties. However, it sounds like they have successfly resisted efforts to co-op their movement. I believe Dylan Ratigan's Get Money Out campaign naturally aligns with the OWS and is also non-partisan. I am a progressive and support both movements.

If OWS were to support Get Money Out, this would be a great way to force politicians to change the way Wall Street operates.

I hope both are long-lived.
+5 # stonecutter 2011-10-18 04:54
davegowdey above eloquently distilled this struggle more clearly than even Matt Taibbi. Matt misses the boat on possible "synergy" between the Tea Party and OWS. The potential for agreement and shared purpose falls along the spectrum that ends in Jews allied with Nazis at the same protests against Muslims; It Will Never Happen. Think Kenobi vs. Sidious.

It's one thing to intellectually muse about the ideological common ground that "should" exist between tea baggers and the growing legion of mostly young, educated, progressive OWS activists. It's wishful thinking, however magical, about hope for an organic, non-partisan groundswell of ordinary hurting Americans against the Corporatocracy.

However, in the real world most of us are scrambling around in (the 1% are cruising around by air, sea or limo), the amorphous Tea Party reeks of right-wing hyper-nationali sm, social repression, ignorance, paranoia and thinly veiled racism: anti-public education, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-safety net, anti-immigrant, pro-white Christian fundamentalism, anti-all other religions, pro-gun, pro-military, pro-war, pro-Eric Cantor and Herman Cain (this week), anti-Everything Obama. If they have anything in common with OWS activists (and yours truly), it's breathing, eating, and going to the toilet...that's about it.

Finding common ground with this crew? Uh, Uh.
+1 # jimyoung 2011-10-18 08:41
Sometimes there are no better friends than former enemies, Adams and Jefferson, for example.
+3 # RILEY 2011-10-18 06:07
NOone tells it like Matt does, I have renewed my RS subscription just so I can have clear-headed evaluation of the news, with great sidebar ("these assholes..."}. I love MT!!!!!!
+5 # fredboy 2011-10-18 08:06
OWS was a natural and essential outgrowth fueled by a stark reality: those who care about America have not had an advocate or champion in the White House for more than 10 years. We hoped Obama would be our FDR, but instead we got a Chamberlain. While we protest and call for reform, we doubt that either party or the vast sea of frightened, passive Americans are listening.
+2 # Hardy 2011-10-18 08:25
Matt, remind everyone that nearly all of our federal elected and appointed (Supreme court) officials are part of the 1%.
+1 # Carolyn 2011-10-18 08:52
I thought it was about seeing that we, the 99% actually exists,that we are spread from sea to sea, that we're here -- as Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass"
+1 # usedtobesupermom 2011-10-18 09:06
That's why we have to keep saying we will not be co-opted over and over until it's engraved in our brain. The problems are way to many & way to big to have just a single demand.

I posted an idea on Amped Status that would simplify it using the Constitution/ Declaration Of Independence. & an outline form to break it down without diluting it or allowing the theft of the movement by the Right or Left.

These would be Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Many of the wrongs can be put under one of these headings. example:

Life: Liberty: Pursuit of Happiness:

1) 1) 1)
2) 2) 2)

Some of the issues can fit into more than one column. The situation we have is so huge & the whole system is corrupt & broken.

BOTH Republicans & Democrats are responsible because they sold us out for W.S. & corporate money, they could not have done it without the help of the "other" Party.

I've been saying for many years everything is RELEVANT. They are just different pieces of one puzzle. War, immigration (both legal & illegal), dumbing down of education, deregulation, mergers, etc. There are MANY more pieces to the puzzle that belong here.

This is just an idea.
+4 # davegowdey 2011-10-18 09:46
One of the curious things about American politics since Reagan has been the Republican's ability to manipulate working class Americans into voting against their own interests. The Republicans have lied to them, manipulated them with issues like abortion and second amendment rights, and stoked their fears so that they would ignore the fact that their lot in life was getting much worse. As their anger has grown, the Republicans have misdirected it against a variety of scapegoats -from muslims to illegal immigrants and most importantly toward the federal government. This is at the heart of the matter. Ultimately, the federal government is the only entity in the political spectrum capable of standing up to the big corporations, breaking them up, and regulating them. The problem is that for the last 40 years it has been increasingly coopted so that it now primarily represents the 1%. What we need from OWS is the muscular push that will take back our government from the 1%. What the tea partiers and libertarians want is to destroy the Federal Government and its power to regulate the banks and wall street. There is no middle ground between these positions.
-6 # Martintfre 2011-10-18 09:54
There is no Left - Right.

There is Freedom and Tyranny.
-6 # Martintfre 2011-10-18 10:05
//This is an issue for the traditional "left" because it's a classic instance of overweening corporate power - but it's an issue for the traditional "right" because these same institutions are also the biggest welfare bums of all time, //

The corporations have zero power to make the government bail them out and turn them into welfare queen's at tax payer expense.

The politicians who make and act upon those decision are solely responsible and they are violating their oath of office when they redistribute our wealth to their low friends in high places.
+6 # Texas Aggie 2011-10-18 17:48
The corporations have zero power to make the government bail them out and turn them into welfare queen's at tax payer expense.

Say what?! You haven't been paying attention?
+2 # moby doug 2011-10-18 10:59
Of course Breitbart is trying to smear the OWS. He knows the Teabaggers are a joke, utterly co-opted by billionaires like the Kochs and Murdoch. They're a tool of the corporate right, just as he is. He's desperately trying to paint the OWS as co-opted because that's the way he sees the world: he's completely corrupt so everything and everyone else must be, too. But his slanders will never stick because the OWS arose out of an authentic loathing of the greatest theft in history, which is still being perpetrated by Big Capital and its minions, soldout politicians and the the corporate media. OWS has run over,around, and through the corrupt spin channels Breitbart slimily inhabits. He's irrelevant.
+3 # reiverpacific 2011-10-18 11:00
A timely article and as an old 60's & 70's activist, leader, organizer AND marshal at demos, I affirm that agents provocateurs have been part of the armory of the right especially but also of a few sole malcontents from before my time -the Wobblies and Socialist party of the 30's had them too (Andrew Carnegie was a perpetrator of this tactic).
The 1927 controversial hanging of Sacco and Vanzetti was a brutal example of false witnesses -US political history is fraught with such travesties.
And note that at the end of it's more popular period, the American Communist Party had been reduced to 10,000 nationwide, 1,500 OF WHICH WERE FBI INFORMANTS.
The nub is that, try and resist the temptation to react TO ANY ATTEMPTS TO PROVOKE YOU AT ANY ACTIVIST GATHERING. A truly non-violent activist group won't, although, in the spirit of full disclosure, I was a bit of a rugby playin' scrapper in my hot youth but a few spells in jail after being clubbed and kicked by cops who "Suddenly" were on the scene as if summoned (which they were) showed me the wisdom of circling the wagons and clustering around a targeted individual, showing solidarity and numbers to quell the authoritarian forces.
OWS seem to have realized this, having wisely resisted party affiliations from the start. After all Libertarians and most independents seek freedom too.
-2 # Martintfre 2011-10-18 11:41
good point reiverpacific
repudiate any one who advocates the initiation of force against another.
+5 # tuandon 2011-10-18 11:11
Considering that the Right largely OWNS the media, cries of "liberal media" are just more hypocrisy from that side of the fence. They are the past masters of manipulation, lying and "puppetry," but they manage to yammer and whine constantly about the "liberal" media. Were it possible, I would say we should just ignore them. Unfortunately, they are so loud and dishonest that we must combat them. And we must learn to do it on their terms, regardless of how much they complain.
-9 # Martintfre 2011-10-18 11:41
//Considering that the Right largely OWNS the media, // that statement is a steaming heap of dung.
+3 # Texas Aggie 2011-10-18 17:44
Just read a study that showed that the MSM has reported favorably on ALL the republican candidates much more than on President Obama (10% of mentions of Obama were positive). Even Gingrich had better press than Obama.

Also, the people who own the media - GE, Disney, Murdoch, Viacom, Comcast - most assuredly are right wing. Your statement is at variance with the facts, as you well know. In otherwords, it is a falsehood, a fabrication, a lie.
+2 # Bill Clements 2011-10-18 14:11
Again and again Breitbart continues to expose himself and so many more like him working on behalf of the GOP for the sleazy, debased individuals that they are. This is the GOP at it's best: devoid of new ideas, yet hellbent on winning at all costs (because it's only about power and greed), they deploy bootlicking scum like Breitbart to do whatever it takes to gain an advantage.

Clearly the OWS movement is an extremely threatening phenomenon, one they HAVE to find a way to turn around. Hence, the strategy of divide and conquer, i.e., as Taibbi says, turn the movement into a "liberal" uprising that they can use to galvanize their base.

But obviously, this movement isn't only made up of liberals! The corruption and greed endemic to the Too-Big-To-Fail Banks, for example, is an issue for BOTH liberals and conservatives (Tea Partiers especially)...o r should be.
+2 # jimyoung 2011-10-19 12:21
Far more important that the middle class be kept Too-Big-To-Fail .
+1 # Paul Scott 2011-10-18 15:14
Matt, thinks for the words of wisdom. Those of us, who have been doing our homework, over the years, know your points are dead on. This OWS movement must be stopped, or wealth’s years of stacking the deck may be in jeopardy. Wealth would rather use up their chips of eager beavers that they have been able to corrupt, to crush this thing; hell, wealth knows there is always a plentiful crop of eager beavers in the pond.


+1 # gdp1 2011-10-18 15:17
....OWS is theoretically 46 million strong (under the poverty line), and, actually, more than that. The carried- interest crowd is alert to what this will come to mean as they begin to realize how MANY disenfranchised there are in america. History will, I think, come to the judgement that...had we the people KNOWN that trillions would have been borrowed on behalf of the people to prop up the financial system...that we could have paid off EVERY single first mortgage for that amount of money...and, that would have meant untold billions in 'disposable income during the stress of would've been saved,demand would've been up,and you would own your house outright with those same trillions....
+1 # Texas Aggie 2011-10-18 17:36
Just a comment on the leadership bit, I saw a notice that the PTB are sending their minions through the OWS asking who the leaders are. One woman said, "I am."

"Who are you?"


As for specific demands, the TP doesn't have specific demands which doesn't bother the MSM, but a general demand that the OWS has is that our country be taken from the corporate elites and given back to the working people. That is something that the TP can relate to.
0 # angelfish 2011-10-18 19:46
You're so right Matt! Vigilance is needed to prevent the Usurpers from perverting the Movement. I think their chances are slim, however because, the people UNITED will NEVER be defeated! We are on a roll and we SHALL overcome someday SOON!
0 # Vardoz 2011-10-18 19:55
we are looking a lot like Russia
+2 # RosaZ 2011-10-18 21:31
after what has happened in the last several years, i can well understand why people are so fed up and cynical about any "bipartisan" efforts.

At the same time, the oldest law in politics is, "divide and conquer". So, how do we respond creatively to that?

For me, it's not about "allying with the Tea Party" (as an organized group) -- nor about any tepid "middle ground". INSTEAD, it's about remembering that we are all human beings, that we can all learn from one another, and that people who have been misinformed (that includes any of us) can start to grow, reconsider, and see things differently when exposed to new information in a respectful and non-threatening environment... something that Occupy has been excelling at, to date.
-1 # twriters 2011-10-19 11:50
No - it is not bigger than left vs right.

This is a left-wing movement that will inevitably end up as a wing of the Democrats.

There is no place for moderates or centrists and certainly no place for conservatives.

Wealthy left-wing celebrities like Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky and Susan Sarandon and Bill Maher and Al Sharpton have already identified themselves with OWS and Obama is planning on using it for re-election.

There is no question this 'revolution' is on the left. it didn't have to be that way, but it is too late now to change that.
0 # jimyoung 2011-10-19 23:22
Old Republican moderates like me don't agree that it's a left wing movement. (I did become fiercely independent, though, when they wanted me to fight dirtier than Democrats back in 96). Believe it or not, celebrities you mentioned don't try to do my speaking for me. I wouldn't allow them to since I think they usually are only presenting half the argument (one I insist on being able to hear, though). I was struck by the OWS call to be positive (at the event I attended) and moral (as George Lakoff adds at
+3 # barryg 2011-10-19 16:06
I think many of you are misreading Matt. The original T-Partiers thought of themselves as the 99% against the 1% and got Koched. Matt is warning against that here. OWS is anti label or non label. Its about a radical change in the system starting with the greed that engenders it.
0 # 2011-10-19 17:03
You rock Matt! We have been slapping back the "here's what WE want" hands here in Birmingham - mainly from people popping up in our midst.

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