* HOW REPUBLICANS ARE BEING TAUGHT TO TALK ABOUT OCCUPY WALL STREET
By Chris Moody, The Ticket
The Republican Governor’s Association met this week in Florida to give GOP state executives a chance to rejuvenate, strategize and team-build. But during a plenary session on Wednesday, one question kept coming up: How can Republicans do a better job of talking about Occupy Wall Street?
“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and one of the nation’s foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”
Luntz offered tips on how Republicans could discuss the grievances of the Occupiers, and help the governors better handle all these new questions from constituents about “income inequality” and “paying your fair share.”
1. Don’t say ‘capitalism.’
“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz said. “The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”
2. Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, tell them that the government ‘takes from the rich.’
“If you talk about raising taxes on the rich,” the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But “if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no. Taxing, the public will say yes.”
3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’
“They cannot win if the fight is on hardworking taxpayers. We can say we defend the ‘middle class’ and the public will say, I’m not sure about that. But defending ‘hardworking taxpayers’ and Republicans have the advantage.”
4. Don’t talk about ‘jobs.’ Talk about ‘careers.’
“Everyone in this room talks about ‘jobs,'” Luntz said. “Watch this.”
He then asked everyone to raise their hand if they want a “job.” Few hands went up. Then he asked who wants a “career.” Almost every hand was raised.
“So why are we talking about jobs?”
5. Don’t say ‘government spending.’ Call it ‘waste.’
“It’s not about ‘government spending.’ It’s about ‘waste.’ That’s what makes people angry.”
6. Don’t ever say you’re willing to ‘compromise.’
“If you talk about ‘compromise,’ they’ll say you’re selling out. Your side doesn’t want you to ‘compromise.’ What you use in that to replace it with is ‘cooperation.’ It means the same thing. But cooperation means you stick to your principles but still get the job done. Compromise says that you’re selling out those principles.”
7. The three most important words you can say to an Occupier: ‘I get it.’
“First off, here are three words for you all: ‘I get it.’ . . . ‘I get that you’re. I get that you’ve seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system.”
Then, he instructed, offer Republican solutions to the problem.
8. Out: ‘Entrepreneur.’ In: ‘Job creator.’
Use the phrases “small business owners” and “job creators” instead of “entrepreneurs” and “innovators.”
9. Don’t ever ask anyone you want them to ‘sacrifice.’
“There isn’t an America today in November of 2011 who doesn’t think they’ve already sacrificed. If you tell them you want them to ‘sacrifice,’ they’re going to be be pretty angry at you. You talk about how ‘we’re all in this together.’ We either succeed together or we fail together.”
10. Always blame Washington.
Tell them, “You shouldn’t be occupying Wall Street, you should be occupying Washington. You should occupy the White House because it’s the policies over the past few years that have created this problem.”
Don’t say ‘bonus!’
Luntz advised that if they give their employees an income boost during the holiday season, they should never refer to it as a “bonus.”
“If you give out a bonus at a time of financial hardship, you’re going to make people angry. It’s ‘pay for performance.'”
* 6 SHOCKING REVELATIONS ABOUT WALL STREETS ”SECRET GOVERNMENT”
By Les Leopold, AlterNet
We now have concrete evidence that Wall Street and Washington are running a secret government far removed from the democratic process. Through a freedom of information request by Bloomberg News, the public now has access to over 29,000 pages of Fed documents and 21,000 additional Fed transactions that were deliberately hidden, and for good reason. (See here and here.)
These documents show how top government officials willfully concealed from Congress and the public the true extent of the 2008-’09 bailouts that enriched the few and enhanced the interests of giant Wall Streets firms. Here’s what we now know:
- The secret Wall Street bailouts totaled $7.77 trillion, 10 times more than the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) passed by Congress in 2008.
- Knowledge of the secret bailout funds was not shared with Congress even while it was drafting and debating legislation to break up the big banks.
- The secret funding, provided at below-market rates, gave Wall Street banks an additional $13 billion in profits. (That’s enough money to hire more than 325,000 entry level teachers.)
- The secret loans financed bank mergers so that the largest banks could grow even larger. The money also allowed banks to step up their lobbying efforts.
- While Henry Paulson (Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury) was informing Congress and the public that only minor reforms were needed to protect Fannie and Freddie from collapse, he met secretly with leading Wall Street hedge fund managers — among them his former colleagues at Goldman Sachs — to alert them that he was about to nationalize the giant mortgage companies – a move that would eradicate nearly all the stock value of the companies. This information was enormously valuable because it allowed these hedge funds to short Fannie and Freddie and thereby make a fortune.
- While Timothy Geithner was head of the NY Federal Reserve, he argued against legislative efforts by Senator Ted Kaufman, D-Delaware, to limit the size of banks because the issue was “too complex for Congress and that people who know the markets should handle these decisions,” Kaufman recalls. Meanwhile, Geithner was fully aware of the enormous secret loans while Senator Kaufman was kept in the dark. Barney Frank, who was authoring key bank reform legislation was also not informed of the secret loans. No one in Congress was told.
So what does this all mean? […}
* WALL STREET IS ALREADY OCCUPIED
By Jesse Eisnger, Propublica
Last week, I had a conversation with a man who runs his own trading firm. In the process of fuming about competition from Goldman Sachs, he said with resignation and exasperation: “The fact that they were bailed out and can borrow for free — It’s pretty sickening.”
Though the sentiment is commonplace these days, I later found myself thinking about his outrage. Here was someone who is in the thick of the business, trading every day, and he is being sickened by the inequities and corruption on Wall Street and utterly persuaded that nothing had changed in the years since the financial crisis of 2008.
Then I realized something odd: I have conversations like this as a matter of routine. I can’t go a week without speaking to a hedge fund manager or analyst or even a banker who registers somewhere on the Wall Street Derangement Scale.
That should be a great relief: Some of them are just like us! Just because you are deranged doesn’t mean you are irrational, after all. Wall Street is already occupied — from within.
The insiders have a critique similar to that of the outsiders. The financial industry has strayed far from being an intermediary between companies that want to raise capital so they can sell people things they want. Instead, it is a machine to enrich itself, fleecing customers and exacerbating inequality. When it goes off the rails, it impoverishes the rest of us. When the crises come, as they inevitably do, banks hold the economy hostage, warning that they will shoot us in the head if we don’t bail them out.
And I won’t pretend this is a widespread view in finance — or even a large minority. You don’t hear this from the executives running the big Wall Street firms; you don’t hear it from the average trader or investment banker. From them, we get self-pity. For every one of the secret Occupy Wall Street sympathizers, there are probably 15 others like Kenneth G. Langone, who, like downtrodden people before him, is trying toreclaim and embrace a pejorative, “fat cat.” […]
* CONGRESS ENDORSING MILITARY DETENTION, A NEW AUMF
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
A bill co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin and GOP Sen. John McCain — included in the pending defense authorization bill — is predictably on its way to passage. It is triggering substantial alarm in many circles, including from the ACLU – and rightly so. But there are also many misconceptions about it that have been circulating that should be clarified, including a possible White House veto. Here are the bill’s three most important provisions:
(1) mandates that all accused Terrorists be indefinitely imprisoned by the military rather than in the civilian court system; it also unquestionably permits (but does not mandate) that even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil accused of Terrorism be held by the military rather than charged in the civilian court system (Sec. 1032);
(2) renews the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) with more expansive language: to allow force (and military detention) against not only those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and countries which harbored them, but also anyone who “substantially supports” Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces” (Sec. 1031); and,
(3) imposes new restrictions on the U.S. Government’s ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo (Secs. 1033-35).
There are several very revealing aspects to all of this. First, the 9/11 attack happened more than a decade ago; Osama bin Laden is dead; the U.S. Government claims it has killed virtually all of Al Qaeda’s leadership and the group is “operationally ineffective” in the Afghan-Pakistan region; and many commentators insisted that these developments would mean that the War on Terror would finally begin to recede. And yet here we have the Congress, on a fully bipartisan basis, acting not only to re-affirm the war but to expand it even further: by formally declaring that the entire world (including the U.S.) is a battlefield and the war will essentially go on forever. […]
* ASSASSINATING THE RULE OF LAW
By Leonard C. Goodman, In These Times
Of all the promises made by candidate Barack Obama, it was his promise to end the lawlessness of the Bush years by closing Guantanamo, ending torture and restoring the United States’ reputation for justice that got me out in the streets and knocking on doors. And it is President Obama’s failure to keep these promises that makes it impossible for me to support him again.
President Bush’s foreign policy was roundly criticized by most of the world and by candidate Obama. Following 9/11, Bush’s foreign policy was simple: If my administration decides that you are a terrorist or a terrorist supporter, we reserve the right to invade and occupy your country, kill you or send you halfway around the world to a prison camp.
To implement this policy, administration lawyers wrote memos making it all legal for their masters. First, Bush’s lawyers declared that the one-sentence “Authorization for Use of Military Force” enacted by a frightened Congress one week after September 11, 2001, authorized undeclared wars and the mass incarceration of terror suspects.
But Bush’s team wanted still more power–they wanted legal authority to torture suspects. So Bush’s lawyers wrote memos stating that torture under the president’s command would not violate federal law (which proscribes “torture”), or the U.N. Convention Against Torture, as long as the torturer lacks the intent to cause “prolonged mental harm” or “death or organ failure.” One of these memos, authored by Office of Legal Councel attorney Jay Bybee, included a convenient section called “Interpretation to Avoid Constitutional Problems.” […]
* CAMPS ARE CLEARED, BUT ’99 PERCENT’ STILL OCCUPIES THE LEXICON
By Brian Stelter, NYTimes
Most of the biggest Occupy Wall Street camps are gone. But their slogan still stands.
Whatever the long-term effects of the Occupy movement, protesters have succeeded in implanting “We are the 99 percent,” referring to the vast majority of Americans (and its implied opposite, “You are the one percent” referring to the tiny proportion of Americans with a vastly disproportionate share of wealth), into the cultural and political lexicon.
First chanted and blogged about in mid-September in New York, the slogan become a national shorthand for the income disparity. Easily grasped in its simplicity and Twitter-friendly in its brevity, the slogan has practically dared listeners to pick a side.
“We are getting nothing,” read the Tumblr blog “We Are the 99 Percent” that helped popularize the percentages, “while the other one percent is getting everything.”
Within weeks of the first encampment in Zuccotti Park in New York, politicians seized on the phrase. Democrats in Congress began to invoke the “99 percent” to press for passage of President Obama’s jobs act — but also to pursue action on mine safety, Internet access rules and voter identification laws, among others. Republicans pushed back, accusing protesters and their supporters of class warfare; Newt Gingrich this week called the “concept of the 99 and the one” both divisive and “un-American.”
Perhaps most important for the movement, there was a sevenfold increase in Google searches for the term “99 percent” between September and October and a spike in news stories about income inequality throughout the fall, heaping attention on the issues raised by activists.
“The ‘99 percent,’ and the ‘one percent,’ too, are part of our vocabulary now,” said Judith Stein, a professor of history at the City University of New York.
Soon there were income calculators (“What Percent Are You?” asked The Wall Street Journal), music playlists (an album of Woody Guthrie covers, promoted as a “soundtrack for the 99 percent”) and cheap lawn signs. And, inevitably, there were ads: a storefront near Union Square peddles “Gifts for the 99 percent.” A trailer for a Showtime television series about management consultants, “House of Lies,” describes the lead characters as “the one percent sticking it to the one percent.” A Craigslist ad for a three-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn has the come-on “Live Like the One Percent!” (in this case, in Boerum Hill).
These days, the language of the Occupy movement is being reappropriated in new ways seemingly every day. CBS ran a radio spot last that invited viewers to “occupy your couch.” On Thanksgiving, people joked online about occupying the dinner table. Now, on Facebook, holiday revelers are inviting friends to “one percent parties.”
Slogans have emerged from American protest movements, successful and otherwise, throughout history. The American Revolution furnished the world with “Give me liberty or give me death” and the still-popular “No taxation without representation.” The equal rights movement in the 1960s used the phrase “59 cents” to point out the income disparities between women and men. The civil rights movement embraced the song “We Shall Overcome” as a slogan. During the Vietnam War, protesters called on politicians to “Bring ’em Home” and “Stop the Draft.” More recently, supporters of Mr. Obama shouted “Yes, we can.”
The idea behind the 99 percent catchphrase has its roots in a decade’s worth of reporting about the income gap between the richest Americans and the rest, and more directly in May in a Vanity Fair column by the liberal economist Joseph E. Stiglitz titled “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%.” The slogan that resulted in September identified both a target, the “one percent,” and a theoretical constituency, everyone else.
Rhetorically, “it was really clever,” said David S. Meyer, a University of California, Irvine, professor who studies social movements. “Deciding whom to blame is a key task of all politics,” he wrote in his blog about the phrase.
“It’s something that kind of puts your opponents on the defensive,” he said in an interview. […]
* OCCUPY’S NEW GRAMMAR OF POLITICAL DISOBEDIENCE
By Bernard Harcourt, Guardian UK
The forcible police evictions of Occupy protesters in New York, Chicago, Oakland, Montreal, Toronto, Berlin and elsewhere raise critical questions about political speech – questions that accentuate many of the troubles we’ve been having with our public discourse surrounding this new leaderless resistance movement. The forcible evictions, naturally, raise a genuine first amendment free speech problem: denying the Occupy movement any public space to “occupy” and arresting them to boot, without making any reasonable accommodation for expressive political speech, deliberately creates a considerable chilling effect on what amounts to significant public expression of dissent. This is doubly problematic when the public spaces in question – such as Grant Park in Chicago – are used for other political events, such as President Obama’s election night rally in 2008.
It is indeed ironic to think that the president-elect was making his political victory speech under a tent in Grant Park “after hours” on the very fairgrounds where his chief of staff and later mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, would direct the Chicago Police Department to arrest Occupy protesters – that is, to actually arrest 175 protesters in handcuffs on quasi-criminal charges, to book, fingerprint and detain them overnight in police holding cells, and then aggressively prosecute the cases in criminal courts, rather than merely to issue citations. (This was equally within the mayor’s prerogative under the park ordinance at issue.) Some D/democratic speech clearly receives more first amendment protection in Chicago than others.
But the evictions also raise deeper grammatical issues about the way in which we discuss the Occupy movement – even within our limited forums of free speech. I’ve argued in the New York Times that the idea of a leaderless occupation movement represents a new paradigm of political resistance – what we might call “political disobedience” – that demands a new vocabulary. I’d like to suggest here that it also calls for an entirely new grammar. […]