If OWS Is So Incoherent, Why Is Eric Cantor Talking About Income Inequality?

Via Matt Yglesias, Susie Madrak's great point:

If #OWS Has No Coherent Message, How Come Eric Cantor Is Suddenly Talking About 'Income Disparity'?

I don't want to refight the "Make Him Do It Wars." But this was sort of the point. Yglesias writes:

Obviously at some point in the process of political change it matters which policies get adopted. But control of the agenda space matters too. For a long time, we were talking about “the deficit.” The deficit is a real thing, and it would be nice to address it. There are some good progressive ways to address it. But dragging the conversation in that direction was a victory for the conservative movement. Dragging the conversation onto the terrain of inequality is a major win for the 99 Percenters.

This has always been true. And it is true for Obama as well. Since his jobs speech and his jobs bill, and with the emergence of the Occupy Movement, it's obvious the conversation has changed. This could have happened before. But no spilt milk. Let's look forward.

One last key point - while we can have differing opinions on the degree Obama has been complicit in the goings on, pro and/or con, it seems clear to me that not making Obama the focal point of the Occupy Movement (again pro and/or con) has been critical to its success. Pols are pols and do what they do. To me, OWS is not about Obama specifically. It's about all of our institutions. It's about problems bigger than Obama.

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    Wall Street is the focal point (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Coral on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:17:11 PM EST
    And that is the genius of the OWS movement. Now all the pols are trying to look as if they're not quite as close to Wall Street.

    With luck, we could get rid of Geithner as a by-product of this occupation.

    Lack of specific demands really helps frame the larger issue of oligarchy which has gotten greedier and greedier in the past few decades.

    Obama who? (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Edger on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:20:04 PM EST

    I agree (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:29:13 PM EST
    Agree with BTD 100% (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:28:18 PM EST
    The conversation has, somehow, changed in a real way.  I am hoping that the deficit frenzy peaked too early and that income inequality is the topic for the next 12 months.

    I do not think Dems should be associated directly with OWS. It is more powerful if they are not.

    The wish is that OWS gets us talking about the right issues and gives dems the ideological space and freedom to push better law.  

    Nor should OWS (5.00 / 7) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:30:05 PM EST
    be associated with Democrats.

    Note (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:31:24 PM EST
    "78% of the respondents saying Wall Street bears a great deal or a fair amount of blame for the struggling economy. But more people, 87%, said the same about the central government."

    The wish is (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Edger on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:39:07 PM EST
    that OWS gets keeps dragging the same issues people have been talking about for years that the dems, the republicans, and the media have done their damnedest to completely ignore to the forefront, and gives dems and republicans and media the self-awareness to get out of the road before they get run down.

    Come senators, congressmen
    Please heed the call
    Don't stand in the doorway
    Don't block up the hall
    For he that gets hurt
    Will be he who has stalled
    There's a battle outside and it is ragin'
    It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
    For times they are a-changin'


    And I agree 100% with ABG (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Towanda on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 06:43:22 PM EST
    so excuse me while I reel from the shock. :-)

    This movement has started so many paradigm shifts!


    Sooner or later, ABG was bound to express (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Anne on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 07:41:36 PM EST
    something we can all agree with - I have a couple of old watches that reflect the right time twice a day!

    Today's ABG opinion is not the same opinion expressed earlier on in the OWS movement; if memory serves, he was all jacked up about how Dems could capitalize on it.  And earlier today, he was all excited about the DCCC sending out an e-mail in support of the movement - it was going to be good for "us."

    I don't mean to harsh the mellow, but I think we both know that ABG would be over the moon if the Democratic party elite went all in for OWS.

    And you and I are in complete agreement that possibly the worst thing OWS could do would be to allow itself to be co-opted by any political party; OWS is much more powerful pushing from the outside.


    He's still jacked up (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by Edger on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 07:58:37 PM EST
    about how Dems could capitalize on it, I'm sure. He's just trying a quieter back door seducing approach, I think.

    Can't harsh my mellow tonight (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by sj on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 12:26:30 AM EST
    My family is visiting and I just had a fantastic dinner.  

    I disagree with ABG so often that it's nice just to be in accord with a single comment.  I know it won't last, but I'll take it. :)


    OWS has nothing to do with Obama (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by loveed on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:40:08 PM EST
     This is about Americans tired of the way the country is being ran.
      Obama is president after all. The people gave he everything he needed, to make the changes he promise.He's made things worse.
     This is another large group of Americans that want change. The tea party is another. This is the silent majority not being silent anymore.
     The dems are trying to own the OWS, but it won't work. The dems. had their shot,they blew it. Every election since 2004, has changed at least one branch of government. This election in 2012 may produce a third party.
     When America stop looking like America,Americans will rise up.

    Obama and The Street. (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by lentinel on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 05:04:01 PM EST
    ...not making Obama the focal point of the Occupy Movement (again pro and/or con) has been critical to its success.

    I am all for this movement and its goals.

    But what "success" has it had thus far?
    It has mobilized thousands worldwide.
    It has raised 300,000 dollars in a month.
    But what policies has it affected?
    What changes has it brought about?

    I don't believe there is any chance of meaningful reform if Obama is not made a focal point of criticism. He deserves scrutiny. Obama is part and parcel of the problem.

    Who appointed Geithner?
    Who are the members of the Obama cabinet?
    Wall Street people. That's who.

    Good reading:
    Obama's Wall Street Cabinet.

    Of course the entire government is complicit.
    But Obama is the President.
    He should be made to forcefully address the issues being raised, and he should be made an unambiguous focal point.

    If he isn't, this movement will have been for naught imo.

    If pols are indeed just pols, then OWS and the rest of us should attempt to scare the hell out of them imo.

    And I, for one, do not want to involve Obama (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Towanda on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 06:41:07 PM EST
    now.  No way.  He had his chance to find his comfortable shoes last spring to keep his promises.  He still can't seem to even find the f*ucking closet with those comfortable shoes.

    I can guarantee you that if this movement becomes co-opted by Obama or the Dems, there will just have to be another movement started, because lots of Occupiers will leave.

    Now, if that's what you want, what the Dems want, to destroy this movement, just say so.  But again, the anger is too deep to destroy it.  The co-opters can stay, while the core starts again.


    I (none / 0) (#25)
    by lentinel on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 07:38:46 PM EST
    don't want this movement to be co-opted by Obama.
    That's why I would like for the movement to make it plain that Obama is and has been on the wrong side since taking office - as well as before taking office.

    I remember the "March on Washington".
    It was borne of righteous anger.
    People were genuinely angry.
    They were going to storm Washington DC.
    The politicians were scared to death.

    So the politicians made it their movement.
    They decided where the marchers could march.
    And the leaders of the march went along with it.
    It became very controlled.
    People were singing instead of swinging.

    And, although I love MLK, talking about having a dream was just what the movement did not need, imvho.

    I truly don't understand how you could get from my post, which endorsed the exposing of Obama for the Wall Street pigeon that he is, is tantamount to saying I want Obama and the Dems to co-opt this movement.

    I want them to be exposed.

    And, to respond to your response below, I did not wish to belittle what the movement has achieved so far.

    What I meant to counter is the notion that the success of the movement has been due to not naming names,

    Its success has been the exposure of the fact that people are not happy. That they are angry.

    But success will be, to me, a change in the system that has exploited us and will continue to do so if we allow ourselves to begin singing and dreaming again.


    You're seriously asking (none / 0) (#18)
    by Towanda on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 06:37:58 PM EST
    what success has a movement had so far -- after a month?  A month in one city, that is, while others of us only got together for the first time a few days ago in our cities.

    Well, for starters:  Reread BTD's post.

    And then, reread (as I know that you know this) the history of other social movements in this country.  The ones that took decades, even -- as one said of itself -- a century of struggle. . . .


    Your reminder is important, Towanda (none / 0) (#32)
    by christinep on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 10:25:10 PM EST
    Natural movements don't grow, don't expand when too narrowly focused on individual angers & antipathy. The cry for economic justice, as reflected to date in the Occupy movement, is so much stronger than temporal getting-even.

    Certainly I would hope that the Administration would express understanding of the reasons for the being of OWS. And, they are making some public attempts to do so via published interviews today. It is more important for both, tho, that the movement be allowed to develop & come to rightful fruition...not only because it is so much at the heart of economic pain today but because the intermingling too closely with the politicos can only diminish both ultimately.


    Gallup poll: economy is gov't's fault, (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:24:20 PM EST
    not Wall Street's.  LAT

    It's not either/or (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:28:54 PM EST
    It was a Gallup poll from yesterday and it is still stupid today.

    Exactly. The deregulation (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Towanda on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 06:45:00 PM EST
    of Wall Street contributed to the problem.  The deregulation by the government.  They're inextricable -- and that, THAT, is exactly the concern of OWS:  The symbiosis of Wall Street and the government.  See:  Geithner, et al.

    Wall Street (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by cal1942 on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 10:03:20 PM EST
    ownership of government.

    Something is wrong with Gallup lately (none / 0) (#29)
    by christinep on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 10:10:33 PM EST
    ...I agree. Yet, indulging the possibility that American sampling is showing a prediliction that would suggest turning from government, why do you think that could be? Is it turning from the mire shown by the debt-talks standoff? Is is turning from the lack of progress under the present Congress? Is it undifferentiated anger against the powers that be? Is that kind of polling question even valid today (in light of the obvious vacillation in an uncertain electorate?)

    Note (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:31:46 PM EST
    78% of the respondents saying Wall Street bears a great deal or a fair amount of blame for the struggling economy. But more people, 87%, said the same about the central government.

    Yes, the conversation has (none / 0) (#12)
    by KeysDan on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 05:01:34 PM EST
    changed from the deficits to economic inequality with great thanks to OWS.   But, will more than the conversations change?  Certainly, the politicians are  waiting it out with hopes of cold weather changing the  conversation and the subject.  

    Obama and Geithner have dealt with the Wall Street debacle with the goal of  restoring it to where it was, rather than reforming it to where it should be.  And,  there is always more milk to spill.  I worry, given that tin-ears abound,  protests. rather than impacting,  will shield the Super-duper committee on deficits so as to enable it to  continue on its merry path to eviscerate social programs and cut spending  programs necessary to economic recovery.  

    I imagine that (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Edger on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 05:06:22 PM EST
    the committee trying to do that would grow the Occupy movement faster than just about anything else could....

    OWS' Value (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by cal1942 on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 11:04:13 PM EST
    is in changing the conversation.

    Changing three decades of narrative that steadily trended to the right.

    It may take years to see real results.

    My concern is similar to yours.  It took decades for the Populist and Progressive movements to bear full fruit and even then the trigger was a total economic collapse.

    Lacking an economic justice and good government movement of any scope we've had a significant, major economic catastrophe and only now has a movement emerged.  


    Anyone know (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 05:20:21 PM EST
    Anything about this?

    The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies. On Oct. 10 and 11, Arielle Alter Confino, a senior researcher at my polling firm, interviewed nearly 200 protesters in New York's Zuccotti Park. Our findings probably represent the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.

    Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn't represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.

    The vast majority of demonstrators are actually employed, and the proportion of protesters unemployed (15%) is within single digits of the national unemployment rate (9.1%).

    An overwhelming majority of demonstrators supported Barack Obama in 2008. Now 51% disapprove of the president while 44% approve, and only 48% say they will vote to re-elect him in 2012, while at least a quarter won't vote.

    Fewer than one in three (32%) call themselves Democrats, while roughly the same proportion (33%) say they aren't represented by any political party.

    Pretty interesting stats.

    The pollster is a former pollster for Bill Clinton.  Anyone know anything more about him?

    He's a hack (5.00 / 5) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 05:26:50 PM EST
    Mark Penn's partner. He lied about his results and is getting debunked.

    Now let's never mention him again shall we?

    At least for me, citing to Schoen or Rasmussen or Penn is trolling.

    I'm not going to spend time teaching about those guys again.


    I know we're not supposed to talk about this (none / 0) (#17)
    by CST on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 06:20:23 PM EST
    but I can't help it.

    "Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth"

    What does the wall street journal consider a "radical redistribution of wealth"?  Read on:

    "Sixty-five percent say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee all citizens access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement--no matter the cost. By a large margin (77%-22%), they support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but 58% oppose raising taxes for everybody, with only 36% in favor. And by a close margin, protesters are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary (49%) or unnecessary (51%)."

    That's it.  Those are the only issues they mention.  And that is apparently what makes them so outside of the mainstream that Democrats should all STAY AWAY.  This is still the Wall Street Journal.


    Yes, and if every bit of the polling (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by KeysDan on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 06:40:04 PM EST
    was correct, what does it have to do with the price of tea in China.  Well, about the same.   The unifying claim is that they are the 99 per cent, or even if some are the one percent they are  in favor of economic fairness and equality for al Americans.  Just another  attempt to discredit of which more will be on the way.

    And that's after they "randomly"... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Dadler on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 06:39:25 PM EST
    ...chose those 200.  Can you imagine the profiling they did to find the radicals?  Too funny.  Yeah, sure, reasonableness is the new cancer.

    Oh, and my piece for the SF/Bay Guardian Online is up.  For anyone who wants to take a look.

    "When OccupySF Occupied My Car." (LINK)


    Exact;ly 4% of the 200 polled (none / 0) (#31)
    by Towanda on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 10:13:02 PM EST
    -- or, of course, 2 people -- agree with "radical redistribution of wealth."  See this.

    Math error: 4% of 200 is 8, not 2 (none / 0) (#35)
    by cymro on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 11:07:19 PM EST
    It's still a small number, however.

    Thanks; late-night math (none / 0) (#46)
    by Towanda on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 09:33:57 AM EST
    is not my forte. :-)

    Here's why the poll is garbage (none / 0) (#30)
    by Towanda on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 10:11:13 PM EST
    and who the pollster works for now:  Bloomberg, Citibank. . . .

    See this takedown to see why, stunningly, counting on the Wall Street Journal to print trustworthy info on Occupy Wall Street is a futile exercise.


    Mark Penn (none / 0) (#36)
    by cal1942 on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 11:09:06 PM EST
    stinks on ice.

    Bad as Penn is, (none / 0) (#41)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 01:52:09 AM EST
    Schoen is far, far worse.

    Doug Schoen is (none / 0) (#40)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 01:50:51 AM EST
    a spectacular basically right-wing hack.  He says he's a Democrat and has worked for Dems. in the past, but he has for years now been a Fox pet "Democrat" who agrees with virtually all GOP positions and pols and badmouths Democrats and liberalism at every opportunity.

    Think of him as the Clarence Thomas of the left, only not as bright. (heh)


    An attempt to co-opt OWS by the WH (none / 0) (#24)
    by BTAL on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 07:02:14 PM EST
    and/or D party is equivalent to political Russian roulette, with the exception that there is more than one round in the cylinder with the already participation of organized labor and some unsavory groups.

    kill the goose... (none / 0) (#33)
    by diogenes on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 10:40:42 PM EST
    From today's NY Times:
    "New York, the nation's financial hub, is bracing for the fallout. Wall Street, which accounts for 14 percent of the state's tax revenue, is expected to lay off an additional 10,000 employees in the area by 2012, bringing total layoffs since 2008 to 32,000, according to a recent report by the New York State Comptroller. Each of those job losses could translate into nearly two additional positions eliminated in other industries, the comptroller estimated."

    OWS (5.00 / 3) (#37)
    by cal1942 on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 11:11:14 PM EST
    has nothing to do with those layoffs.

    After trashing so many other sectors (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by sj on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 12:36:38 AM EST
    did they really think they would be untouched forever?  All layoffs could translate into nearly two additional positions eliminated in other industries.  

    Why else do you think there are so many objections to the drumbeat calls for austerity?


    More like "kill the red herring" (5.00 / 0) (#45)
    by Yman on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 07:48:54 AM EST
    Did you read the article?  It has nothing to do with OWS.  The declines in bank earnings are due to the bursting bubble and coming to terms with economic reality - like everyone else.

    "..Radical redistribution of wealth" (none / 0) (#42)
    by NYShooter on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 02:11:24 AM EST
    You just have to have a grudging admiration for the right-wing political propaganda machine. They send in an overwhelmingly popular program, the Inheritance Tax, and like Emeril, Bam! out comes the "Death Tax." And, unsurprisingly, the very same people who supported an inheritance tax now hate the Death Tax.

    So now, for the idiot-afflicted, we have the latest bad boy term getting the winger, contortion, distortion treatment, "redistribution of wealth." Excuse me, that's "Radical" redistribution of wealth. When the filthy rich use their vast financial stockpiles to manipulate and corrupt the system so that our National wealth is ripped from the huge middle class (and poor) and distributed to the tiny percentage on top, that's "Capitalism" and "free enterprise" at its best. But, when the poor and middle class have finally had enough, and insist on a fair & equitable system, that, of course, would lead to a "Radical" redistribution of wealth."

    You gotta hand it to them, those guys are good!

    Estate tax has been repealed in a number of (none / 0) (#43)
    by jpe on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 06:55:55 AM EST
    countries; that's because people generally just don't like the idea, not because the GOP infiltrated, say, Canadian politics in the 1970s (IIRC that was when it was eliminated).

    re: popularity: any cites for the proposition that the estate tax was at one time popular?  I looked and couldn't find anything.


    Small point of terminology: it's not (none / 0) (#44)
    by Anne on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 07:08:21 AM EST
    an "Inheritance" tax, it's an Estate tax.  

    An inheritance tax is based on who is getting the assets, and generally only includes assets passing in the context of a probate proceeding (meaning that assets that pass by operation of law, or where the beneficiary is already defined, generally are not subject to the inheritance tax).

    The estate tax is an asset-based tax - one that has gotten exponentially more complicated as a result of the December, 2010 tax legislation.  Think of the gross estate as a snapshot of everything the decedent owned at death - including some things that may not be so obvious.

    As complicated as it's gotten, what really just makes us all feel so warm and fuzzy, is that it expires at the end of 2012, reverting back to levels that will guarantee it will be an election issue, and we'll have another fun pie fight in the Congress.

    Oh, the joy...


    Slamming the OWS... (none / 0) (#47)
    by docb on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 10:23:54 AM EST
    SPAM (none / 0) (#49)
    by Edger on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 10:51:38 AM EST