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October 01, 2011

Comments

Good to see you, Von.

Nice to see you, von.

Nice to see you and to hear that you are reading. So can we see you in the crowd?

I went to see a student band play a little bit about a month ago, just squeezed in the back of the venue cause I was downtown, and saw the poster and remember that one of the students had mentioned something about it. Fortunately, the person handling the gate was also a student, so I was able to sneak in cause it was about a half hour into it. I lasted about 5 minutes, not because they were bad (I've told this student and others that if they would practice their English as much as they practice with their band, they would be fluent) but because it was pretty clear that my middle aged vibe would have seriously impinged on the atmosphere. So I listened to a bit of one song, and then slipped out.

It wasn't quite as bad as hearing my 7th grade daughter singing Katy Perry's Teenage Dream while she was doing her homework, but a similar vibe.

It's really nice to here from you, von.

I appreciate the current stalwarts, too. Thank you, dear stalwarts!

So to intorduce a topic: Occupy Wall Street. Now that a genuine grassroots populist uprising is underway, the corportate media is, of course, ignoring it. Interesting how the Teahadists, who claim to be the voice of Real Murkins against the elites are conspicuously NOT part of the occupy phenomenon.

And it is, at this point, a phenomenon, spreading by Facebook all over the damn place. For how long Ican't say. I wish we were about to have an Arab sprig of our own but hoping ca be very painfu;. Also I thik that, like Iran, we have to wait for the worst generation to die or get senile dementia before we can free ourselves from their toxic ideology and warped values.

So I have trouble getting engaged with it. I just don't want to invest myself...but I am getting involved ayway. A friend and I are putting together care packages to sent to NYC. And I'm hoping an occupy will start up locally. The outlook in Republican occupied Wisconsin is hopeful. I think Walker will get recalled. And the rebellion i Republican occupied Ohio has sparked effective pushback: the vote supression law there just got blocked by voter petition. So there is hope.

Thanks for dropping by, von. It'd be interesting to hear what's going on with you, should you have the time and inclination (both).

Also: I neglected to welcome Gary back, so: welcome back, Gary!

Good to see all of you to. And welcome back, Gary.

I have been really, really busy, Slarti. Haven't spent much time in the Middle District of Florida of late, though we're taking the kids to Disney World next week for a short trip. My daughter, who's almost three, is excited as all get out to see Cinderella's castle. She the most stereotypically girly girl you'll ever meet -- except when she's not. For example, she wants to be a Princess/Race car driver when she grows up -- at least, when she's not pretending to be a mermaid that eats people. (I am not making that last one up.)

On the introduced topic, perhaps unsurprisingly I view the "occupy Wall Street" effort to be wrongheaded and silly. First, there are, as always, too many messages. It's a cacophony of complaints, some maybe legitimate and some definitely not. Second, the world needs bankers and capital at least as much as it needs breadmakers, workers and professional activists -- indeed, the latter wouldn't exist without the former. Third, I think it makes sense to create incentives that policies into place that will flatten the wealth distribution, which I gather is one of the protester's central demamds. I don't think that a continuing divergance between the upper 1% and the rest will be sustainable. But the solution to that issue lies in Washington, D.C., and state capitals -- not Wall Street.

Something like the Occupy Wall Street protest can have an impact. If, and IMHO only if, they ripple outward into either much larger protests there or to similar protests elsewhere. And it will be pretty obvious within a couple of days whether that is going to happen.

But when they don't catch fire, they rapidly become just an opportunity for a few people to feel like they are "doing something" . . . without actually accomplishing anything. If someone really wants to make an impact, something like this protest may be a starting place. But if it doesn't take off, then it is time to ask "What else could we be trying that might actually be successful in an impact?"

In general, I'm pretty skeptical about these kinds of protests. Perhaps I saw too many of them in Berkeley in the late 1960s. But I think one of my friends back then then pretty much nailed it: "It's intellectual masterbation -- pleasurable, but totally unproductive."

A bunch of people with badly misspelled signs and tri-corner hats making a bunch of asinine demands - none of which actually get implemented - had a massive effect on the political mood of the country.

There are many people who think/vote what they see on the teevee, or are influenced when they hear someone they sort of agree with articulate something.

Maybe these people are just as misguided as the Teahadists. If they're just as effective at pushing the general sentiment to the left - or at least retarget some resentment - then good on them.

Intellectual masturbation? Perhaps; but unemployed, educated New Yorkers have little left to do, it seems, than to participate in onanism of one kind or another. Why not try to do some good?

von:

"Second, the world needs bankers and capital at least as much as it needs breadmakers, workers and professional activists -- indeed, the latter wouldn't exist without the former."

Yikes. Really? There is literally no danger of there not being bankers and capital. No one is calling for this, either. However, reducing their undue, corrupt, and unelected influence in our government doesn't seem too much to ask.

As to your last quip in that quote: ain't no bankers if there ain't no breadmakers, either.

Welcome back Gary and von.

Now for some intellectual masturbation:

On demonstrations: to be effective, a protest demonstration has to inconvenience somebody. It helps if the demonstrators have specific demands (e.g. "Stop the war" or "Pass the bill") but unless the demonstration causes some disruption of the otherwise placid daily routine -- if it does not in some way disturb the peace -- if it only makes the demonstrators feel good without making anyone else feel bad -- then it's unlikely to cause practical changes to the status quo.

On bankers and capital: von is right that the world needs bankers, but it does not necessarily need stinking rich bankers. And the world also needs capital, but it does not necessarily need that capital to be concentrated into the hands of 0.01% of the population. If it takes $100M to capitalize a new productive enterprise, the money can come from one billionaire putting up the whole amount, or it can come from 10,000 normal people putting up $10K each. The capital is the same either way; the enterprise can succeed (or fail) either way. Wealth is good. Concentrated wealth is unnecessary.

--TP

Welcome back Von and Gary.

I agree with the charges made above regarding the inchoate and relatively unfocused nature of the protests and maybe with the charge of intellectual masturbation.

As masturbation goes however, I prefer the intellectual variety over the financial masturbation that has become the main generator of profits in world financial markets.

High frequency trading accounts for something along the lines of 75% of trading volume in equity markets. Raising capital to build businesses and employ people, not so much.

Throw in too the last thirty years of Wall Street demands to leverage businesses with debt to force liquidation and consolidation for so-called efficiency and productivity (I notice the unproductivity of the unemployed and the underemployed are never figured into the stats), and the devastation to benefits and incomes.

The average return of equities in retirement accounts since 1999 is at best a percent or two to the positive, much less than what one would have made in simple money market accounts, even with today's virtually negative rates.

I wish I would have done more masturbating and less investing for all the results. Onanism is Wall Street's activity and the product is oceans of spilled, wasted seed.

This, from Digby, was good for its symbolism.

ttp://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/marie-antoinette-and-masters-of.html

Compare the champagne drinkers here toasting their most recent onanistic orgasm as the expense of those below it with say, the infamous video of the uninsured man prostating himself before the Tea Party filth and having scornful and belittling words and dollar bills thrown at him.

I would like to see a much more militant, sullen, and focused protest. Pent up rage silently demonstrated. I'd like to see unionized cops put down the pepper spray and handcuffs and join in.

I'd like to see some heavily armed NRA members whose mutual funds are still underwater after all these years, despite annual management fees, add their presence too. But I guess only the taxes are theft crowd get to threaten violence and get away with it.

The video above would be better if a grappling hook appeared over the railing from below to permit some ruthless motherf*ckers below access to the champagne.

Tony, I'd modify that to say that, to be effective, a protest has to inconvenience either those who have the power to change whatever the protesters want changed, or at least those who have significant influence over those who have the power. It does no good to merely inconvenience a bunch of folks who can't change whatever has you exercised.

Does it do you any good to disrupt a university, or a bunch of blue collar workers, if the people you want to change something are nowhere around? Only if you can take it to the point where those you are inconveniencing both start to agree with you, and decide to use their leverage as voters.

But convincing someone to agree with you is not optimally done by inconveniencing them. In fact, someone who basically agrees with you on the topic may be pushed away when he is impacted by your demonstration. If all you are trying to do is get some cheap PR, then you don't care who you inconvenience; all you want is to make enough of a mess that you get on the evening news. But once people have heard of your issue, more of that is counterproductive.

So when to comes to Occupy Wall Street, who could possibly change whatever the protesters want changed? (Assuming, for the moment, that they have some concensus on what they want done.) That pretty much comes down to a) Congress, and b) the Boards of Directors of the various firms. Neither of whom is likely to be anywhere near the protest, and therefore is not impacted directly.

Sure, if your protest gets big enough to disrupt business, the Boards may take notice. But by that point a lot more people are going to be losing wages as a result. And they are not going to be amused. If anything, they are going to be pissed at you, and by association start opposing whatever you say you want. To the point of writing their own Congressman to fight you.

First, there are, as always, too many messages. It's a cacophony of complaints, some maybe legitimate and some definitely not.

That's true. These losers need to learn from Dr Martin Luther King, who had a very small number of very simple concrete complaints: he wanted black people to be able to eat at any lunch counter and sit on any bus seat, he wanted to end the Vietnam war, he wanted black people to be allowed to vote, and he wanted the elimination of poverty.

So when to comes to Occupy Wall Street, who could possibly change whatever the protesters want changed?

As I understand it, large financial companies do some lobbying on Capital Hill. For example, they lobby hard against a financial transactions tax (which many of the Occupy Wall St protesters are advocating for). Presumably, if they stopped their lobbying, it would be much much easier to get Congress to pass such a law. So, it seems that Wall St companies can actually do a lot to satisfy the protesters demands. Or we could just pretend that Wall St has simply never lobbied the government in which case the protesters are just being dumb.

And they are not going to be amused. If anything, they are going to be pissed at you, and by association start opposing whatever you say you want. To the point of writing their own Congressman to fight you.

That's so true; there's a very real danger of people sympathizing with Wall St banks. Most people feel an innate love for bankers, and given how brilliantly our large financial institutions have performed (destroying the world economy, making tons of loans to people without bothering to verify income, foreclosing on people who don't even have mortgages with them, etc.), any moment now, the great mass of public affection might turn again to them.

It's a mistake to ever announce a post in advance, I realized quite a while back, which is why I haven't said that I was figuring on next doing a post on Occupy Wall Street developments, manifestations, etc.

So: no promises. But don't be surprised if you see one on Monday or in the next few days.

And don't be surprised if you don't.

If I do, you'll have something to argue against, von. :-)

There are two things going on here: opinion and analysis.

Opining that an idealized protest would be, well, more ideal, is interesting but ultimately not relevant to the current protests. Would awesome protests be awesome? Clearly. Is something better than nothing? I think so.

The analysis that the protests have to inconvenience someone doesn't ring true; again, my analogy is to the Tea Party protests of the last year or so. Who was inconvenienced? No one, really (except those of us forced to read/watch the coverage of it day after day). Did they have an effect? Yes. Did they get their policies enacted? No, but they influenced an election as well as the national political scene; they emboldened the hard right to pursue obstructive policies/maneuvering.

Are these guys as well organized? No, clearly; it's a messy, pluralist, democratic affair. It troubles me a little when I hear them compare themselves to the Arab Spring; however, the point is well-taken. People want fairness and jobs, and less corruption and corporate influence. This is I think true across the political spectrum.

After three weeks people -- read: media -- are starting to notice/cover this event, and note that other, similar gatherings are happening in other major cities.

Will this do anything, in the end? I don't know, obviously; but if discouraged people have another set of voices besides the "keep the gubbmint outta my medicare!" with which to identify it might influence any number of things, from emboldened Democratic leaders to an energized base on the left -- and perhaps but some memes/ideas out in the public/media sphere besides more austerity for the bottom 95%.

if discouraged people have another set of voices besides the "keep the gubbmint outta my medicare!" with which to identify it might influence any number of things, from emboldened Democratic leaders to an energized base on the left -- and perhaps but some memes/ideas out in the public/media sphere besides more austerity for the bottom 95%.

Fingers crossed for that. Tea partiers sat outside of our good Congressman's office for two years complaining about Obamacare, and he was gone in the 2010 elections. If this is a counter-effort that works similarly, but the other way, I'm for it and might even participate in it.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, but since I'll be occupied this evening: some good video of what happened on the Brooklyn Bridge, along with Gothamist's minute-by-minute account.

Many may not be familiar with kettling.

Though I have to say that any New Yorker who thought they could mass block the car lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge and not be arrested is, at best, incredibly naive.

Which isn't to say that the police couldn't have let them march. But expecting them to seems like pure wishful thinking.

The details, though, are all very trivial, however, save to keep attention on the movement, and, I hope, build momentum.

Which is the trend for now.

(On the down side, winter is coming in NYC, and it gets quite cold -- but again, the specifics of specific protests aren't what matter; it's whether this helps build a movement or not, and, by my lights, contributes to progressive political pressure; I hope it will, too.)

Oh, and the reason the Tea Party succeeded so quickly is that, a) CNBC rebroadcast Santelli's rant over and over and over, and then Fox News immediately made themselves the Tea Party Network, and has devoted endless coverage ever since.

It's really really helpful to have a massive tv network being thoroughly partisan and on your side. No, MSNBC does not compare.

It also helps to have organizations funded by billionaires, such as FreedomWorks, Americans For Prosperity, etc.

Gee, where's Evil George Soros when we need him?

... my analogy is to the Tea Party protests of the last year or so. Who was inconvenienced?

How about the congressmen trying to hold town hall meetings? How about the non-teabagger constituents who attended the meetings?

As for trying to limit the inconvenience caused by your demonstration strictly to the power players responsible for the policies you want changed: it would be nice if it were possible. Alas, sometimes all you can do is march on the sidewalks around a building with a heliport on the roof.

One thing demonstrations are meant to accomplish is to ...ahem... demonstrate to people who share your views that they have more allies than they imagined. One risk is always that you will piss off people who only tepidly agree with you, and will turn against you for inconveniencing them. The balance between the goal and the risk often depends on media coverage: if the only people who ever learn of your demonstration are the ones directly inconvenienced by it, chances are that you lose. That's why a certain flamboyance is the sine qua non of an effective demonstration.

Bring on the lovers, liars, and clowns, I say. Even the corporate-owned media can't resist a good show for long.

--TP

Speaking of the Koch Brothers, I say, talking to myself, but, oh, wait, really to y'all, an interesting new note on their business practices and ethics.

My hope is that the demonstartions will change the narrative, move that Overton window and translate into votes. But I am... well, not optimistic but also constitutionally unable to give up a fight once I get started.

Now for some intellectual masturbation

I prefer the term: manual override.

Tony P:

Good point; I wasn't thinking of the town hall occupations so much as the large, astroturfed demonstrations on the national mall, &c. And I certainly agree with your point about "demonstrating" and its merits. I think we agree on this.

And I do understand why the Tea Party succeeded so quickly; the genuine disorganization of this group bespeaks a lack of corporate backing which will, I think, resonate once the narrative spreads. And no: MSNBC certainly does not compare. However, since the Times is finally giving these protests more coverage than the occasional casual derisive shrugs with which it was first treated, other media outlets will follow suit (in order to not be the only outlet without footage &c &c). So there's hope.

Look: I'm not saying this protest is teh bestest thing evAreleven. I'm saying it seems genuine and can potentially do some good. I hope.

N.B. - Slarti: What an obscure reference (or is it not all that obscure?).

to be effective, a protest demonstration has to inconvenience somebody.

This is a very good point.

When you're trying to say something, and nobody appears to be listening, you have to turn up the volume until they do.

If you're ignorable, you'll be ignored.

To the degree that the Occupy Wall St thing has any legs, it's because (a) people are really pissed off, and (b) they aren't getting any relief through the normal channels, i.e., their representative government.

If it was all a bunch of trustafarian anarchist kiddos, it would have been over by now. It's not.

What an obscure reference

Neal Stephenson is probably not the first to call masturbation manual override, but he did it amusingly enough that I'd give him credit for it.

"Opining that an idealized protest would be, well, more ideal, is interesting but ultimately not relevant to the current protests. "

I'm not sure I understand this point. Surely the time to suggest improvements to the protests is while the protests are still ongoing? Waiting until after the fact seems pointless.

When you're trying to say something, and nobody appears to be listening, you have to turn up the volume until they do

In general, the more loud and annoying people are, the less I tend to listen. Possibly that's just me.

That's so true; there's a very real danger of people sympathizing with Wall St banks.

Turb, I think I was unclear. I was thinking more of the people who actually work in the financial sector. Not the senior executives, but the guys who toil in the trenches.

I suspect (having been in that position, albeit not on Wall Street) that they would tend to be very sympathetic to the idea that their senior executives don't deserve the massive difference in salary. (10 times more, maybe even 25 times, OK. But 100 times more? No way.) But make it harder for them to get into and out of their office, and hurl invective at them as they do, and they are likely to be even more unsympathetic to you than they are to their bosses.

Does that happen? I've certainly seen it first-hand before. An audience which generally (if not as passionately) supports a call for change gets so irritated by a bunch of protesters that they even start actively working against a position that they actually incline towards. Just be cause they are so pissed off at the way the protest is being made. it may be irrational, but it's very human.

"In general, the more loud and annoying people are, the less I tend to listen. Possibly that's just me."

I was like that years ago. Wish I could get that back. Probably Slart wished that for me too.

Too bad the corporate money volume turned up by Citizens United would have the same effect. Unfortunately, power has rabbit ears, unlike Slart.

Then again, Osama Bin Laden was kind of soft-spoken for years and no one listened. Rick Santelli, Wayne La Pierre, Glenn Beck, Erick Erickson and any number of Tea Party leaders and followers/talk radio shouters seem to foghorn-leghorn it to the max and have a larger audience share, though history will have to tell us if their words build a bigger body count than 9/11.

I suspect it's comparable already, if not vastly surpassed, (certainly in Iraq) were anyone keeping count.

George Carlin hated when folks would say, "It's the quiet ones you gotta watch."

He would illustrate: Say, you walk into a bar and there's a quiet guy with glasses at a corner table, having a beer, minding his own business, reading a book. At that moment a loud guy crashes through the door, kicks over a chair, and slams a machete down on the bar and roars, "I'll kill the first m*therf*cker who looks at me wrong!"

Who ya gonna watch? Probably the owner of the machete, unless Governor Christie happens to be on FOX shoutfest on the bar TV.

As for the Wall Street protests, I would prefer they get rid of the bongos and the motley, go completely quiet, but militant with disciplined rage, and suitably martial. Perhaps in march formation with no music.

I'd allow a single drum to keep folks in martial step.

I want to be able to hear the cops' dogs snarling. Maybe a tape of Santelli's rant played over and over in the Wall Street canyons 24 hours a day. Maybe Santelli himself could be imported from the Chicago Board of Trade to spill champagne from a balcony (his gestures on CNBC are alarmingly Mussolini-like, even the grandiose crossing of the arms after a rant; I wonder what he'd look like hanging upside down with his pork-bellies slit open) onto the heads of the folks below.

I'm cynical enough that I think the demonstrations will unfortunately peter out after someone exposes how a few hedge-fund traders have infiltrated the street-scene and are entering short-selling orders from their I-Pads and Blackberries as part of a trading and political strategy.

The cops would move in with force just as the Standard and Poor's broke its long-term moving average to the downside.

What a coinkidink!

Property damage takes many forms, and a flash-crash can destroy more property in a few moments than any number of Molotov cocktails.

The suits know how to throw a f*cking demonstration.

Rick Santelli, Wayne La Pierre, Glenn Beck, Erick Erickson and any number of Tea Party leaders and followers/talk radio shouters seem to foghorn-leghorn it to the max and have a larger audience share

I pretty much ignore them, too, just like I ignore the local appliance store commercials with the loud screechy woman. I'm an equal-opportunity disregarder.

In general, the more loud and annoying people are, the less I tend to listen.

The list of constructive things that have been accomplished in this country by people being incredible PITA's is very very long.

The list of constructive things accomplished by people going to great lengths, or any lengths, to avoid bugging people is not so long.

Hey, a bunch of hippie kids chanting "this is what democracy looks like" while playing the bongos makes me roll my eyes as much as the next guy.

But I give them props for showing up. It gave other folks the idea to do the same.

If there wasn't something to it, everyone would have gone home by now.

What, specifically, should congress to do to Wall Street to make everyone happy?

Also, welcome back, Von. Try not to stay away so long. Same to you, GF.

I just read their manifesto. Good luck with that.

What, specifically, should congress to do to Wall Street to make everyone happy?

A good question, and thanks for asking.

Repeal Gramm-Leach-Billey and restore the relevant provisions of Glass-Steagall, and require stronger cash reserves to limit excessive leveraging.

That would do it for me, personally.

McTx:I just read their manifesto. Good luck with that.

You mean this?

the Tea Party was also aided by the fact that it's sortof novel to see right-wing street protests in the US these days.

left-wing street protests? dime a dozen.

I'm an equal-opportunity disregarder.
All noise is not produced by people for causes that are equal.

Being annoyed at mass of people protesting the brand of ketchup at McDonalds is not the same, morally, in my view, as being annoyed at these disruptive folks. What do you think, Slart?

These trouble-makers?

This "reign of terror"?

All political noise is not the same.

If you had been old enough to ignore that noise, and those protestors, do you believe now that it would have been the right thing to do?

What does OWS want?

I don't know and they insist that they don't know. So how can they be effective?

Who knows? But so far they've turned themselves into a topic of discussion. And they've gotten people to start asking "what do they want?". Already we see some folks here and elsewhere suggesting ideas "repeal Gramm-Leach-Bliley" -- that might be a good idea. And if OWS continues to gather steam, we may see a bunch more ideas generated, from a broad spectrum of interests, not just the usual elite, connected interests.

Will the protest coalesce around one or several? Maybe.

Maybe, like Bartleby, it's enough to say, "I'd prefer not to".

"Will this make you stop what you're doing?"

"I'd prefer not to say."

Inscrutable silence seems to be a reliable negotiating tactic, at least in pro sports. In NHL Hockey, young phenom defenseman Drew Doughty just rejoined his LA Kings' teammates after having held out throughout most of training camp and preseason during a prolonged contract negotiation. While the details are still mostly unknown to the public, by all accounts Doughty's side resisted offering any counter-proposals. Instead, they waited and waited while the franchise put forward first one offer, then several, then several more. When Doughty's side saw an offer they liked, then they countered, and the whole thing was wrapped up in a few hours.

I've been skeptical of OWS, but that's starting to fade. If they can hang in, it'll be fascinating to see how this evolves.

Since we're on about Wall Street and the finance sector I just read a blog post called Redistribution of National Income to Wages is Essential.

It's a nice summary of how wage growth was replaced unsustainably with credit, allowing profits to grow despite what should have been slack demand while the housing bubble was inflating. It's Labor Day in Australia (or it was), thus the focus on eroding wages, wage share as a % of GDP, employment opportunities and working conditions.

I couldn't open the UNCTAD Trade and Development Report, 2011 that was referenced, but there were some good quotes from it in the post.

Here's a quote regarding a recent article in the Financial Times:

This is perhaps why Martin Wolf in his recent Financial Times article (September 29, 2011) – Time to think the unthinkable and start printing again – says that:

It is the policy that dare not speak its name: the printing press. The time has come to employ this nuclear option on a grand scale. The alternative is likely to be a lost decade. The waste is more than unnecessary; it is cruel. Sadists seem to revel in that cruelty. Sane people should reject it. It is wrong, intellectually and morally.

Apparently, Martin Wolf has finally realised that the fiscal austerity is actually damaging the world economy and there is an urgent need for a renewed fiscal stimulus. It was obvious that the stimulus packages that were applied in 2008-09 were insufficient and should never have been withdrawn. It takes some people longer to realise that – but better late than never.

Martin Wolf’s about face is being hailed as a breakthrough by some – at last. I just think it is sad that someone with so much influence could have ever argued anything different in the face of overwhelming evidence that is seemingly now being (finally) accepted.

RTR

To be clear, the blockquote had nothing to do with the UNCTAD report. I should have segued from one mention of quotes to another, but I suck, so I didn't.

In fair turnabout, I'd like to ask what Congress should do to everyone else in the country to make Wall Street happy?

After all, Wall Street is paying big money to have things done to us on their behalf and in their interests (and we've gotten it good and hard), while the protestors are practicing their bongo chops, which is not to disparage the latter, but rather to illustrate the uneven odds.

It would seem to me after the debacle of the mortgage meltdown, the job destruction, and the raping of corporate pension plans, to name a few items, that there is virtually nothing that will satiate Wall Street.

They aren't in it for the happiness. They are in it for the money.

Happiness is for the schmucks in the streets.

As Abby Hoffman said about the Beatles in the late 1960s, whom I never criticize: "The difference between me and the Beatles is they want peace and love. I want justice."

By the way, I read Barron's Weekly, published by Dow Jones-now-Murdoch cover to cover. Obviously pro-business and pro-markets and anti-government, but there is plenty of commentary about the utter f*ckeduppedness of the way financial markets are conducted today for nothing but manipulation and, well, financial masturbation.

Ugh--yes, that's exactly what I was referring to.

Not a fan of long-winded manifestos with dozens of bullet points. It reminds me of the People's Judean Front, or whatever, in "Life of Brian", or maybe one that I read in college making a range of demands, from U.S. withdrawal from Cambodia to more vegetarian buffet choices at the dorm cafeteria.

I mean, what negotiator wouldn't accede to eggplant parmesan every other Thursday, but explain that their hands are tied on the bombing of Cambodia.

Rather, I'd rather take some concrete, radical action, short of violence, and then like a fed-up wife when asked by her oblivious husband "what do you want from me?", answer. "If you don't know by now, I'm not going to tell you."

Then up the ante.

They'll figure out what the demands are, or it won't matter any longer.

The game will be over.

me: "Opining that an idealized protest would be, well, more ideal, is interesting but ultimately not relevant to the current protests. "

Scott de B.: "I'm not sure I understand this point. Surely the time to suggest improvements to the protests is while the protests are still ongoing? Waiting until after the fact seems pointless."

Fair enough; but hoping the protesters read ObWi and implement the suggestions herein seems equally pointless. However, that applies to my own commentary as well, of course.

McK: Perhaps. But dismantling Social Security completely is also not going to happen. Putting it on the table and in the discussion (as an analogue to the protestors' multifaceted anti-corporate agenda) puts it in play as a negotiating stance and, perhaps, as a wedge issue.

The general response from the right -- that these are just a bunch of DFHs doing what DFHs do -- is meant (effectively, I might add) to undermine any dissent to the corporatocracy.

(cf. "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini. [Does this fall under the Godwin rule? It probably should...sorry.])

If we've already lost -- and it's pointless to dissent against Our Corporate Masters --
then I don't know what to say. However, until they actually prevent us from voting outright change can be accomplished. Public displays of disenchantment can be effective.

cleek: "left-wing street protests? dime a dozen."

I guess. Maybe for a few hours on a single issue. Weeks-long protests that spur the NYC police to round up hundreds are far less common. There's no G5 meeting in NYC right now.

I guess what I really think is: it's good to see some populist, anti-corporate pushback, and I hope it does some good.

If you had been old enough to ignore that noise, and those protestors, do you believe now that it would have been the right thing to do?

In asking this question, you seem to presume that demonstrations are really the only way for anyone (me, in particular) to become aware of things, and that therefore I would never be move to action if it weren't for demonstrations.

Maybe that was not your point, but it sounds to me as if it was. My point is that I tend to be swayed away from any pre-held positions by logic rather than by emotion, which is one reason why you and hilzoy and Katherine affected my thinking in a way that many thousands of demonstrators would not.

Who knows, you might even persuade me that demonstrations are something I should be swayed by.

The general response from the right -- that these are just a bunch of DFHs doing what DFHs do -- is meant (effectively, I might add) to undermine any dissent to the corporatocracy.

Or, you could have a good message somewhere, but the messenger is so goofy it all gets lost in the delivery. Not to say that arguments aren't dismissed everyday by conclusory labeling of the person making it.

For example: I am a conservative, but I think Sarah Palin is a disaster for many, many reasons, despite the fact that she frequently makes general assertions that I am comfortable with. Previous threads here at ObWi suggest that Naderites are not always well received by traditional progressives (but it's entirely possible I am misunderstanding the doctrinal conversations) even though there is commonality in many regards between Naderites and Progressives.

Obviously pro-business and pro-markets and anti-government, but there is plenty of commentary about the utter f*ckeduppedness of the way financial markets are conducted today for nothing but manipulation and, well, financial masturbation.

This is exactly the point. Exactly. It isn't as if the only options are: (1) spanking Wall Street = communism or (2) 'Kill all the Bankers'. You could, in theory, rationalize the regulatory regime, probably doing as Russell suggested above and also making disclosures transparent and attaching criminal sanctions on a strict liability basis for material mis-statements on public reporting.

Speaking of corporatism and Mussolini, this is a fascinating post and comments by a clown called Repair Man Jack at Redrum.

Fascinating in its conflating of just about everything (just enough truth to be dangerous) into the view that Obama, the Master, is not only running Wall Street and Wall Street is running the government, but he is simultaneously running the protests as well.

It's crazy enough that even I like it. I mean, Cleek, how can you deny the far-reaching effectiveness of our Leader? ;)

The guy even speaks of Malcolm X in a favorable light. That's enough to make me want to run through meadows of switchgrass holding hands with Erick Erickson, throw down a blanket, and feed him watercress sandwiches by hand.

Not that I want anything to do with Repair Man Jack. But if his post is a fair reflection of rage against Wall Street and bankers by the far Right in this country, then Wall Street has a hell of lot more to worry about than leftist flower children with manifestos.

I'd like to see the Tea Party, a Potemkin organization all its own, join the protestors in New York. There's not much that separates them regarding their views on financial manipulation and corruption, save perhaps the whiff of anti-Semitism (pronounced "Soros") I sometimes detect when talking to the anti-bankers on the Right.

Then there is this statement within the post which of course would mean that I would have to get the jump and break all the small bones in Repair Man Jack's face before he could shoot me with his concealed firearm:

"A bunch of exceedingly wealthy Americans have raised an army. George Soros, The Ruckus Society, The Tides Foundation, and The Ford Foundation have poured their filthy lucre into the arming of deracinated, barbaric thugs. They have marched off to war and occupied Wall Street?"

I love the word "arming" here, not to mention "barbaric thugs". If only the folks in New York WERE armed with some really nasty hardware, like the Tea Party thugs were, and those were just the ones openly carrying in Arizona. Then we'd have a g&ddamed demonstration and misuse of government force that even Grover Norquist would find bracing.

I'm curious, just for the sake of discussion, why does a high-ranking cop in New York spray unarmed women in the eyes with pepper spray while a cop in Arizona politely discusses with an idiot the inadvisability of showing up at a political forum with firepower strapped on.

Why not pepper spray the armed [email protected], too?

Is it two different kinds of cowardice or is it rather a lesson to those women that they need to carry for the remaining days and weeks of the demonstration to neutralize police (read: government) power?

Does Wayne LaPierre find a favorable place for these women in his violent, fascist ravings, or is Randy Weaver the only f#ck he sucks.

Fascinating post -- amd here it is:

http://www.redstate.com/repair_man_jack/2011/10/03/the-potemkin-obama-revolution-on-wall-street/

MckT, and Russell: Good luck with getting those manifestos, brief as they are, through the House of Representatives.

I'm all for rationalizing regulation, but I'm not going to negotiate with people who believe all regulation is irrational.

Dow down another 146 so far today, as the champagne drinkers inside the buildings continue to destroy more property than the Jamba Juice drinkers in the streets.

Where are the arrests?

Fascinating in its conflating of just about everything (just enough truth to be dangerous) into the view that Obama, the Master, is not only running Wall Street and Wall Street is running the government, but he is simultaneously running the protests as well.

He is large; he contains multitudes.

I suggested rhetorically that Tea Partiers join the Wall Street protesters.

They won't, because they are fundamentalist animals of completely different and far more dangerous animus, like the Israeli settlers, who are now attacking fellow Israelis, as well as Palestinians.

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/10/all-of-these-women-fuck-arabs.html

Sometimes there are people who can't be reasoned with and "showtime" is the only solution.

O.K. a new suggestion: The Wall Street protestors should be joined by the coming movement to protest voter suppression laws that target largely Democratic constituents.

Take my job, take my health care insurance, take my house, but take my franchise away and baby, you'd better drop the champagne and gun up.

Good luck with getting those manifestos, brief as they are, through the House of Representatives

I have no illusions about our elected representatives.

If I had to guess, I'd say these protests will dissipate and be largely ineffectual because the Democratic Party and the Left (they are different entities) don't have the wit and the chops and the media firepower to turn THIS GUY into the next Joe the Plumber:

http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/10/occupy-wall-street-protester-lectures-fox-news-reporter-video.php?ref=fpb

And this guy is probably even a plumber to boot, unlike Joe the sh*thead.

In asking this question, you seem to presume that demonstrations are really the only way for anyone (me, in particular) to become aware of things, and that therefore I would never be move to action if it weren't for demonstrations.
No, no such presumption.

But my examples become difficult to analogize if extended further, as most analogies do.

It's probably not helpful to ask you if you'd been a grown man at the time of the three events I gave if they'd would have made any difference in your awareness of the issues at stake, because I don't know that you'd know, but if you have any answer, I'd certainly be interested. If not, fair enough.

My point is that I tend to be swayed away from any pre-held positions by logic rather than by emotion, which is one reason why you and hilzoy and Katherine affected my thinking in a way that many thousands of demonstrators would not.
As am I. But I think this is a category error. There are a variety of types of demonstrations of varying degrees of effectiveness for various purposes.

But one major type is simply to Build Public Attention To Focus On A Problem.

These problems almost always include an emotional component, as well as a logical component, because that's how we humans function.

When the Selma to Montgomery march happened, it was with the purpose of gaining mass attention.

You can watch -- please do -- 4 minutes on what happened.

When these scenes hit American tv, they had a huge emotional impact, causing many people to re-examine the logic of segregation, the fight against it, and their indifference to it.

Did that invalidate the protest, and the goal of seeking greater public attention?

Would you have advised the marchers not to have marched?

What strategy as regards protests would you have advised civil rights protestors/workers to have taken in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s?

What would have been "logical" and successful in making a change?

When these scenes hit American tv, they had a huge emotional impact, causing many people to re-examine the logic of segregation, the fight against it, and their indifference to it.

Yes, but our relationship with the media and the TV is quite different today. This is not to say that those protests were wrong, or that these protests are. But how the media and our relationship has evolved, along with the ways these events are policed, has had the effect of reducing the effectiveness of such gatherings. The Selma to Montgomery March was three separate attempts, over the course of 1 month. The factor of how long one might think that the Wall St. protests have to last is a measure of how much things have changed.

There has been a really fascinating series of threads on a closed email list here about protest and dissatisfaction among the population here in Japan in relation to Fukushima. After a back and forth about how the Japanese are much less likely to protest and others pointing out their have been protests but were largely unreported, someone asked why a protest march is the sine qua non of measuring dissatisfaction. It seems to me that way people protest is going to have to 'evolve', like the technology for a military campaign or something, in order to make an impact. I have no idea how that would happen, but when people argue about some of the points about this protest, that may be the point that they are making.

Speaking of disenfranchising voters, do these guys really want to wrestle the franchise away from folks who know how to use a grenade launcher and the other fine weaponry of democracy?:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/03/1022414/-Colorado-secretary-of-state-bars-overseas-soldiers-from-voting

This is Colorado, home of Andrew Olmsted. Not to mention my home, which gives me an idea.

In other news Herman Cain is catching flack from HIS right flank (there's always another flank farther to the right; they never run out of right flanks) for criticizing the name of Rick Perry's family hunting lodge.

On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Cain had pizza by the slice delivered to the joint all those years because business is the bottom line, not a social experiment, like Milton Friedman, a social experiment in his own time, droned on about.

Pepperoni to go at Niggerhead.

Perry explained yesterday that he had the name changed to Towelhead to keep up with the right-wing prejudice of the moment.

It's a generational thing, don't ya know?

One last thought for the day: Malcolm X with flash mob capability.

Think of it.

O.K., I.m done, like Rodney Dangerfield finshed a sit down with Johnny Carson years ago by rattling off a bunch of one liners and then throwing one leg across Ed McMahon's lap and saying "bring on the next guy".

On the guy who gave the kickass interview with Fox (Jesse LaGreca), if DailyKos is a fair representative of the Left, he is getting a lot of play there (but then, he is a well respected DK commenter).

And that was an excellent interview, managing to both hit some key points and tweak the Fox interviewer. Drew Grant of the New York Observer deserves some serious credit for managing to get a copy of that video from a source at Fox.

Drew Grant of the New York Observer deserves some serious credit for managing to get a copy of that video from a source at Fox.

I have this feeling that folks who work at Fox, in the lower ranks, actually have some subversive folks sprinkled in there. I remember when Stewart was on O'Reilly, and some of his comments tweaking various conservative points got some laughs there. Perhaps it was just Stewart's entourage laughing, but I wonder.

Oh, yeah, one final thing.

Dow closed down 246 today as Wall Streeters rioted uncontrollably, turning over and setting fire to pensions and 401Ks, breaking all the windows in Goldman Sachs headquarters, from the inside, and setting fire to Korean small business balance sheets in the neighborhood and finally torching their own homes.

Like Watts, all those years ago.

What kind of people would destroy their own property?

Cops nowhere to be seen, I guess, because, the area is too f*cking dangerous (roving bands of sociopathic quants everywhere) and apparently not worth saving.

Countme-in, you know, it's not their own property; it's OPM (other people's money).

It makes a big difference.

Gotcha, ral.

In a rare piece of self-inflicted justice, late night scam pitchman Jack Lapre (tiny classified ads, the greatest vitamin ever discovered, etc) committed suicide in his jail cell, while under dozens of federal indictments for various types of fraud.

Guess the heavy hand of government destroyed another job creator.

Guess the heavy hand of government destroyed another job creator....and in other news, Hank Williams, Jr., continued in the long tradition of Howard Cosell and got himself removed from Monday Night Football.

He kinda reminded me of a pudgy Hitler with Ray-Bans after a few days frolicking in the woods with Georing at Carinhall.

Did that invalidate the protest, and the goal of seeking greater public attention?

Would you have advised the marchers not to have marched?

What strategy as regards protests would you have advised civil rights protestors/workers to have taken in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s?

What would have been "logical" and successful in making a change?

Meaning no disrespect to your questions, Gary, but I am not proffering advice to protestors. I am not proffering advice in the process of effecting change. I am simply noting that I, personally am not particularly affected by much more trivially important demonstrations than the one you linked to (which I have seen before, but watched again per request). It's certainly possible that people who are swayed by groups like the various Occupy ____ organizations may be inspired to write something that I'd lend a stronger ear to.

I do think that protest groups that make specific points such as what russell said here might get more of a listen from me.

Youdda thunk a successful businessman would come up with a specific plan to create jobs:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_10/the_create_jobs_for_usa_initia032596.php

Well, piecework makers of bracelets might get some additional work.

On the whole, I'll take Occupy Wall Street's manifesto over this.

In other news, NPR, I believe, is going to have a guy on who believes it is not the job of business to create jobs. Nor is it the government's. Haven't heard him yet.

Welp, may we ask then who holds the pin on the head of which congregate the invisible hands of innumerable job creation fairies.

Zeus? Maya? Glenda, the good Witch?

In other news, I have an odd slant about how the entire economic culture is standing in the way of creating jobs, and it must be changed, or destroyed.

Example: My sister is a manager for a firm that other companies hire to counsel the job searches of executives they lay off en masse. In other words, they try to help people find jobs.

Until the last four years.

She's great at writing resumes. Since I'm looking for a job (in between traveling across the country three times this year to help care for our ailing mother), she's given me numerous examples of resumes her clients have concocted, plus now her own, about which more below.

In nearly all of the resumes of these now laid-off executives, there are numerous bullet points exalting their contribution, not to creating jobs in their firms, but rather their efficacy in reducing headcount (apparently companies keep the headless bodies somewhere; perhaps they sell them to research hospitals) and overhead. It's not a plus any longer to manage a large number of people. In fact, the fewer you manage and the more you send into the street, the better off you are.

T'is the secret to profit, natch. So you see the inexorable and immovable force Occupy Wall Street is pushing against.

Now, my sister's executive job search company was just bought out by their rival after five years of being owned by a leveraged buyout firm and stripped of assets and employees. You know the rest, duplication, a job search firm laying off the job search experts, but the job search firm does not hire another job search firm for their employees -- the job searchers themselves are on their own.

Their new job title is "Lucky Ducky".

I'd laugh, but I'm afraid the grenade I just pulled the pin on might go off.

At any rate, I read my sister's resume and HER biggest achievements, fully bullet pointed, are not finding people jobs, but reducing headcounts and avoiding hiring anyone new. (These decapitations, do they have to replace the office carpets what with all the blood, or do they (like the Mafia reducing headcounts) take them out into the parking garage for the messy procedure?)

I told my sister she should use the job title "Ruthless Motherf*cker" instead of whatever anodyne words they use, and she laughed ruefully and said, "don't think I don't feel like one, but I'd have lost my job a long time ago if I didn't toe the line."

Now, luckily, my sister's head, for the time being, is one of the few management heads not set to roll, and as an aside, their are horror stories coming back as the redundant are summoned by their now senior counterparts and, not just fired, but treated like low undeserving "sh*t", which is what all of our fellow Americans are, in the professional sense.

So, the Occupy Wall Street folks can march all they want, but the champagne drinkers above are doing their best to increase the jobless, mortgageless, insuranceless ranks below.

Because all of the former's incentives make them into ruthless f*ck vermin.

My idea for a countervailing disincentive is a machete, but go ahead, finish that champagne. I can wait a few more minutes, say, three.

The entire management structure of corporate America (and now governments are adopting the same "practices") is geared toward increasing unemployment and jobless and the numbers of insured.

I don't know who to blame, so I guess when the violence comes, and it will, we'll just have to kill everyone.

We'll try reeducation camps first, so don't panic yet.

The entire management structure of corporate America (and now governments are adopting the same "practices") is geared toward increasing unemployment and jobless and the numbers of insured.

I think I would say rather that they are focused on increasing efficiency and reducing expenses. The ends you cite are results of the way they try to do that. Now there are lots of ways that that could be done. Cutting staff (do NOT try for an image there!) is just the quickest and easiest one to do. Especially for an executive who is a little vague about what his company/division actually does, and therefore what else they could do.

Now personally, I think it is short-sighted not to keep the same staff levels and make the existing staff more efficient at what they do. If demand for what they currently do has fallen, use a little creativity and put them to work on something for which there is demand. There may not be demand in your existing markets, but someone, somewhere in the world, still wants to buy the kinds of things (if not the specific products or services) that you sell.

The fact that so many companies are taking the cut-staff-and-expenses route, rather than the develop-new-markets route, says something. What I think it says is that there is a lot of serious failure of imagination in upper management. Combined with an unwillingness to invest effort (and money) in something which will pay off big . . . but not for a while. Short-termism is the enemy of real growth.

Government, admittedly, is another story. Both because of the question of whether governments should be doing yet more stuff, and because government union rules may preclude making people more productive or moving them to new positions. But one problem at a time.

wj: Short-termism is the enemy of real growth.

Indeed.

I have observed a secondary ill effect of the trend toward cost cutting, especially via outsourcing: some companies (particularly in high tech) keep a lot of their intellectual property in employees' heads, and are light on documentation and formal process. When a down turn occurs and senior employees leave (voluntarily or not) it causes considerable damage to the corporate knowledge base. This can have a big effect on the long-term viability of the enterprise.

Of course, formal process and documentation can only mitigate this, not completely cure it. To my mind, the better approach is to aim to keep valuable employees. As usual, nobody cares what I think.

"I would say rather that they are focused on increasing inefficiency and reducing expenses."

Well, sure. You are mostly correct and your point about the lack of imagination among corporate managements is spot-on.

I'm feeling better already.

When I make my protest sign, I'm going to write "Please stop becoming more efficient and stop cutting expenses. Work smart; don't manage stupidly". Other than Slart's, a reasonable man, I don't expect that to turn too many heads.

Why, the champagne drinkers on the balcony will do a spit-take, rush back to their desks and inform management that, by God, we've being doing it wrong all along.

I remember when someone came up with the neutron bomb which left buildings standing but annihilated the folks within. At first I was outraged, but then someone else explained that the bomb preserved property and infrastructure and the humans inside were but collateral damage.

I can't tell you how quickly my outrage dissipated.

I expect someday to have a Christian doctor, because there won't be any other kind left, tell me that my disease is terminal but not to look at it so much as the end of my life, but the beginning of eternity.

I'll positively skip, whistling, to the next doctor for a second opinion and if he says there's nothing wrong with me, I expect to be crestfallen.

My sister, previously mentioned and a very kind and effective person, apparently is expert at firing executives en masse (the corporations outsource that work to her), by which I mean, she is so good at making the employee feel that they are not being fired, but instead eating ice cream while having sex with 75 vestal virgins, that THEY thank her.

Then they go home, having internalized the new Luntzian-speak, and tell their families that it's time to stop thinking of not having health insurance as a loss that is dangerous to one's health, but rather as an opportunity to take the personal responsibility of tracking the size of their very own tumors.

They are now honorary doctors with the heart to work pro bono.

My job, like ral's, which is to say is to not be listened too, is to perform a reverse Luntzian language stunt on society, and instead of getting people to accept behavior and results that go against their own interests, but to throw it the other way, and tell like it f*cking is and its even worse than that.

Of course your somewhat sarcastic suggestion that executies would suddenly have an epiphany is not going to happen. HOWEVER, I think there is a real opportunity for a bunch of management consultants to make this the next big management fad. (After all, they have to make something the next fad. Right?)

And tha goes double in the IT industry -- not just IT companies, mind, but all the other businesses (finance not least among them) which critically depend on computer systems. Systems which, as ral notes, are mostly either undocumented or badly documented.

MckT mentioned Sarah Death Palin, to her detriment, above and I ran across this via Sullivan:

http://robertpaulwolff.blogspot.com/2011/09/mcginniss-on-palin.html

I'm thinking that having her serve as President would be the best and quickest way to collapse the entire system and bring chaos to the deserving.

Much more effective than marching in the streets. Though there would be a brief interregnum, of course, as the DOW goes to 12 and the champagne drinkers suffer the ignominy of doing the Trump walk, dragging their luggage on wheels into the street through clots of demonstrators to hail a cab.

Maybe they'll join the party and then the real fun will begin. Thirsty people make good, pissed-off revolutionaries.

I hope Palin runs as the Republican candidate.

I'll vote for her in the general election over President Obama.

I'll also volunteer to produce the Presidential Reality Show that will occur in the White House, as the Palin family disses everyone, including each other, nightly on network TV, the expensive art and trinkets rotated throughout the White House begin to disappear, and someone leaves a busted refrigerator, door open, out on the White House lawn rather than use the public trash disposal services.

She could introduce Rick Perry as the new Secretary of Education, tasked with closing the joint down and touting his bonafides in the education area as being that he had sh*tty grades and didn't apply himself with both hands, like those commie elites.

Michelle Bachmann could be the new ambassador to China and in her first press conference stretch her eyes from either side and go all smarty-pants chinky-eyed while announcing that the U.S. Embassy in Peking will be closed and no more flied lice will be served in the State Department canteen.

Herman Cain will be appointed Chief Economic Advisor and improve upon his 9-9-9 plan by reducing the numbers to 6-6-6, which he will say he saw tattooed on a gas station attendant's scalp while the guy leaned over and recovered a slice of pizza from underneath the heat lamp in the scratched-up plastic box on the counter.

Mitt Romney will be named Chief Spokesman to handle the White House Press Corps and charged with repeating the phrase "I didn't say that" to every question. When FOX News asks if he indeed just said "I didn't say that", he will respond that "I didn't say that".

Funny (oops I just dropped that grenade) account of Starbucks' Howard Schultz's fleshing out his job creation plan, in which laptop users get the cops called on them if they aren't buying enough product.

What makes me think some of these laptop users are unemployed job seekers?

This passage was good:

"Well-dressed guy, sitting by the window at a clean table. Two police came in. The conversation went something like this:

Guy: "They told me to buy a cup of coffee or leave. That's pressure. I'm in Starbucks all the time. This isn't a Mom & Pop store."
Police: "It's a business and you have to buy something."
Guy: "Is this any way to run a business? I'm leaving, but I want your badge numbers."

He also said he'd get it publicized—I doubt he will— but since I was sitting so close, I thought I'd add it to the Starbucks crackdown list.

Meanwhile a homeless woman was barking at the napkin dispensers."

My sister, previously mentioned and a very kind and effective person, apparently is expert at firing executives en masse (the corporations outsource that work to her), by which I mean, she is so good at making the employee feel that they are not being fired, but instead eating ice cream while having sex with 75 vestal virgins, that THEY thank her.

Ever seen Up In The Air (George Clooney)?

Hey there Von, and everybody!

Sorry about my prolonged silence, but life has been eating into my blog-related time.

I mostly do drive-bys on twitter, and chuck in the occasional post on Democracy Arsenal (and here).

Speaking of that pesky "life" thing, my wife gave birth to our daughter Elin Jae Nah on September 12.

Everyone is healthy, happy and crying a lot.

Sleeping?...not so much.

Congrats, Eric!

Mazel tov, Eric!

Thanks!

I think this pic of my daughter should be viewable by all (all that care about these things, of course)

http://twicsy.com/i/u9hCP

Rob:

Yes, we've reference that movie a few times.

Congrats Eric, she's very cute! We had our second 5 weeks ago, and, still no sleep in sight, I'm sorry to say.

Yeah, I liken this period to a bout of malaria: delirium, ill health, sweating, etc.

And Congrats to you as well!

Hi Eric! Long time no see, read, whatever. Cute kid. Of course, all kids are cute. It's the law. Congrats to Ugh too.

I just don't understand why you'd let a new kid, another kid, your wife, your job, and all your other commitments get in the way of your blogging here, Eric. Look how consistent I've been!

;-)

(I'm coming up from a down-spell, myself.)

A daughter! Wonderful! Huzzah!

When do your kids open Twitter accounts? :-)

Gary, twitter accounts require the ability to type. So those have to wait a bit.

But Facebook pages...! (What an opportunity for parents to embarass their children before the kids even have their eyes open!)

Two words, wj: voice recognition. :-)

As for FB: especially when folks get the Timeline, which will be Very Very Soon.

Hi, Eric, and congrats to you and Ugh.

I'm well past that stage of life but I have fond (though somewhat vague) memories. We joke that we were being trained to resist interrogation (sleep deprivation).

Speaking of voice recognition, I'm amused that Apple has stressed their craaazy futuristic voice recognition in the new iPhone so you can give it commands by voice!

Just like Android phones have done for at least a year and a half.

That voice. Where have I heard that voice?

Interesting and depressing commentary about who is behind Occupy Wall Street.

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/10/another-occupation-without-an-exit-strategy-ctd.html

Also, congrats to Eric and Ugh. Belated congrats to ral.

I loved being a Dad to my son. Then and now.

"In about 365 other episodes. But I don't know who it is either."

Count-me-in, don't expect reliable information from Andrew Sullivan about the left. If I can get to a post on the OccupyWallStreet (and so many other places) movement in the next few days, I'll explain why his piece is idiotic.

But in short, some Adbusters people were briefly involved for a few days early on, more or less. BFD. It's irrelevant dirty hippie bashing from Sullivan.

The Sullivan piece on OWS is idiotic on its face: it argues that AdBusters protests are garbage because they involve inactivity, therefore a high visibility protest that involves occupying a public space, marches, civil disobedience, spawning satellite protests, etc is garbage because it is an AdBusters protest.

Even ignoring the stupidity of arguing that protests that involve inactivity are garbage (don't strikes involve the inactivity of not working?) and even ignoring the wrongness of calling OWS an AdBusters protest, there is still the massive idiocy of saying that something is useless because the people who run it have run other protests in ways that they aren't running this one. Assume for the moment that this really is an AdBusters designed protest, clearly the group has learned from the error of their ways and has worked out a better way of doing what they do, given that they are doing something completely different from what they have previously done. So if your only complaint against them is that their protests don't work (and they publish a glossy magazine), then your complaint doesn't hold much water against a protest that is being handled completely differently.

Actually, I do think there is possibly a brilliant AdBusters/culture jamming aspect to the OWS protests: let's create the idea that there is a thing going on and see what happens when people take up the idea of the thing, we don't need to set a specific agenda and a set of demands for our movement, we don't even need to make it our movement, we just need to say that there is a protest against the fact that things are wrong and get out of the way when people show up to protest that things have gone wrong with the country.

I have no idea if that is an accurate description of the role of AdBusters people in the OWS, but that (in short) there were AdBusters people involved for a few days at the very beginning (and that they were involved in doing the pre-occupation poster design, which was very open-ended and non-specific) does fit with my culture jamming description above.

That's nothing, on the way to work yesterday I was surprised to be told that it was the stealthy hand of Barrack Hussein Obama, working through his cat's paw Van Jones, who was behind it all.

Tricksy!

If Occupy Wall St is nothing more than dilletante trustafarian bongo-playing horsecrap, it will blow over soon enough. Certainly by the first hard frost. Who likes to be cold? Certainly not the anarchist kiddos.

If there's more to it, then it will continue, in one form or another.

Place your bets.

And not for nothing, but there's more to the hippie thing than meets the eye. There's more going on in the world than shows up in the editorial pages.

Congrats Eric, you have a beautiful family. Cool to see so many old timers back in the house!

Thanks, Gary.

Kids, I throw them up there and I'm happy to watch how far out of the park you guys can hit them.

View it as batting practice.

My bottom-line on Occupy is that it's got legs despite my or anyone elses' quibbles -- there are reports here and there that the suits are getting worried -- but that the methods could be sharpened and the street theater could have much more of an edge.

For example, what about this: 50,000 demonstrators gathered facing the front of Goldman Sachs New York office (they, along with other investment banks, falsified Greece's financial situation in Greece's application for admission to the Eurozone, among their myriad sins) in martial formation, in business suits, utterly silent (no bullhorns, no chanting, no carnival, no talk), for 24 hours, there when the employees arrive in the morning and there in exactly the same formation when they leave in the evening, with one sign (it doesn't matter what it says -- my choice would be "Bring us the head of Alfredo Garcia" -- it could say "All 50,000 of us are reporting for work at Goldman Sachs" for all I care.

Whatever, it's got to be vivid, strangely and eerily threatening, communicating pent-up rage and unmovable energy perhaps ready to move unpredicatably at a sign (make the folks in the media and in the buildings and at FBI start wondering what the sign will be).

It's got to be done (and this is where I like AdBusters) in very clipped flash mob style, the street empty one moment, then phalanxes of people hitting their marks, at a sign transmitted faster than a futures trade, like the Achaeans disembarking from the black ships and appearing massed in the morning mist on the Scamander (sp) plains of Troy.

The Achaeans had a little problem with focus, too, what with Achilles' rage and Agamemnon's dithering, and the Gods zooming all about tending to their petty issues and jealousies.

Maybe the sign should say "Send Hector out".

I'd rather have the powers that be wondering what the demonstrators want because there are NO demands, but geez these are [email protected] serious-looking people, rather than have power wondering what the demonstrators want because the cameras are distracted by a guy with a lemur on his shoulder eating a snowcone while riding a unicycle.

Kids, I throw them up there and I'm happy to watch how far out of the park you guys can hit them.

Pretty mean for the kids, but I understand the sentiment...

Thanks all!

Good to be back in if just to say hello and see that people are still involved, having conversations and fighting the good fight (except for McTex...I kid, I kid ;).

We joke that we were being trained to resist interrogation (sleep deprivation).

I actually riffed on that theme the other day on twitter, joking that (as per Cheney's logic on waterboarding), sleep deprivation can't be considered torture because we voluntarily raise children.

I want the guy holding the one sign to be something like this guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thzUR_mq6OY

A raccoon in a suit.

I want him holding the sceptre of mayhem in one hand and the grain stalk of peace in the other.

Avoid going all Shiva on Wall Street with the eight hands snaking all over the place - then they don't know which hand to watch.

Two stark choices. That's all you get.

O.K. I'll allow a third hand on my raccoon Shiva/Achilles holding a fungo bat and launching little kids into the East River.

But I guess we'd be in Kali/Ruth territory at that point.

Let me work on that.

...the cameras are distracted by a guy with a lemur on his shoulder eating a snowcone while riding a unicycle.

I was on TV?!

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