Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Occupy Fatigue?

Since the Recovering Bureaucrat's observations last week about the Mainstream Media obsessions with the "Occupy Wall Street" gang and all the little local "occupy" spin-offs, the story has gone strangely quiet.  Where have all the flowers gone?  Have the Occupiers disappeared?  Have they taken over the government?   Are they now the DNC? 

Even CNN has turned the political story into a wistful retro-Woodstock Boomer nostalgia fest: "Occupy Wall Street Beta Tests a New Way of Living."

There is, thankfully, a bit of Paul Krugman bombast about the Occupiers bringing about the leftwing Rapture or something. Krugman told MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow about his visit last Thursday to Zucotti Park.  He claimed that Occupy Wall Street had successfully changed public discourse to the topics of job creation and economic growth. "The conversation has changed a lot just in the last month or so...just six weeks ago it was all deficits, deficits, deficits, which is the wrong subject." He said this shift in discourse could be attributed to President Obama's jobs bill but also to Occupy Wall Street. ". . . it's really amazing," Krugman said.

Sure is--so amazing that coverage of this visit and commentary is nowhere to be found in the New York Times, where the good professor (and "former Enron advisor," as the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto regularly reminds us) is a prominent columnist

It must not be news fit to print.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy America

While the Recovering Bureaucrat was vacationing in another hemisphere, the “Occupy Wall Street” activity started.  In the days since mid-September, similar gatherings have occurred in cities across the country; in fact just yesterday in Sacramento anti-establishment activist Cindy Sheehan was arrested along with 18 others “for unlawful assembly in [César Chávez] park and failing to follow police orders to disburse,” according to a report in the Sacramento Bee.

To this day, it is difficult to discern the aims of the Occupiers.  They seem to be protesting big, bad corporations or something—blaming “Wall Street” for our current economic crisis.  Finger-pointing is an age-old, honorable element of American politics, so there is nothing new here.  And in every decade of the RB’s life, some major issue has called masses of people into the streets, from the nuclear disarmament movement of the 1950s to the anti-Iraq War protests during George W. Bush’s administration last decade.  So nothing new here either.

Their slogan, “We are the 99%,” is a typical content-free exhortation to an emotional response, which in this case is amplified by the decades of the cultural prominence of first television and now the Internet, media that primarily stimulate an emotional rather than an intellectual reaction.  Again, nothing new here.

Equally as normative has been the Mainstream Media response.  Leading the charge is the ever-predictable Paul Krugman, who writes,
There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear, but we may, at long last, be seeing the rise of a popular movement that, unlike the Tea Party, is angry at the right people . . . With unions and a growing number of Democrats now expressing at least qualified support for the protesters, Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.
CNN has similarly sought to promote the protests into some kind of left-wing Tea Party (“‘Occupy’ movement goes global as a symbol of shared economic frustration” is today’s breathless headline).  Every major newspaper has editorialized on the events; unfortunately, given the absence of major demands from the Occupiers, they have had to comment on their own projections.