Political Discourse in America

Mindlessly chanting “USA, USA, USA!” the audience at CPAC shouts down a handful of “Occupy” protesters that were attempting to disrupt a speech by former political celebrity Sarah Palin with inane chants of their own.

Evidently, the CPAC attendees “won” the contest.

Update: Another example of lofty debate from the CPAC event… In this instance, conservative provocateur Andrew Brietbart repeatedly commands a noisy group of “Occupy” protesters to “behave” themselves, then goes on to call them “filthy freaks and animals” before angrily demanding they stop raping and murdering people.

Branson: OCW “A Good Start”

Eccentric billionaire Sir Richard Branson somewhat surprisingly expressed his support for the OCW movement the other day, admitting they had “very valid reasons” to be protesting.

“It’s now up to the business community to ensure that we show the way so that they can go, the Occupy Wall Street can feel that they’ve done their job and go home, and they’ve made a difference, and I think they will have made a difference, hopefully,” Branson said.

Well, isn’t that special?

Perhaps I’m just an inveterate cynic (or curmudgeon, as some would have it), but as superficially pleasing as Sir Richard’s remarks may seem, it’s difficult not to immediately correlate them with those articulated recently by evil spinmeister Frank Luntz when coaching Republican politicians on how best to undermine the “scary” OCW movement with his cleverly disingenuous talking points:

’I get it.’ First off, here are three words for you all: ‘I get it.’… ‘I get that you’re angry. I get that you’ve seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system.’

Maybe Branson’s own “I get it” sentiments are genuine, but they could also be a distinction without a difference in terms of the net effect of attempting to blunt the legitimate outrage at the current state of affairs with fake empathy and a nebulous vow to “show the way” in hopes the miscreant rabble will scuttle away, safely deluded in the laughable notion they’ve actually “made a difference”…

Black Friday

According to the AP: “A record number of shoppers could head to stores across the country to take advantage of deals during the kickoff to the holiday shopping weekend.”

Interesting to think that 10,000 rabid consumers lined up outside Macy’s in the dead of night eager to save a few bucks on discounted material crap is about the same number of people that were marching in the streets of New York on OCW’s “Day of Action” protesting corporate greed and malfeasance. Go figure.

The whole notion of “holiday shopping” sickens me. This year, I’m thinking of buying a goat for some family in Africa.


Panelists on the BBC comedy quiz show Have I Got News For You trade jibes about the OCW movement in London.

Great line by Ian Hislop responding to the silly right-wing trope that protesters patronizing Starbucks are hypocrites: “You don’t have to want to return to a barter system and the Stone Age to complain about the way the financial crisis affected large numbers of people in the world.”

A Park Divided

Last night’s TDS featured correspondent Sam Bee reporting on the class division that supposedly had been growing between different factions in the OCW encampment before it was dismantled. “As it dragged on, the movement had been in danger of becoming the very thing it was fighting against,” she opined.

In the segment (billed as an attempt “to build a bridge between workers and protesters in America’s rage-based economy”), Bee navigates her way from the uptown OCW end of Zuccotti Park to the downtown or “ghetto” OCW at the opposite end. One side held iPad-toting hipsters with bike-powered espresso machines and a library while the other was home to “the downwardly mobile, with their drum circles.”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Student Protests

Thousands of students marched through London yesterday to protest cuts to public education spending by the Conservative-led Coalition government and a significant increase in tuition fees.

Here’s one of the organizers, Ben Beech, a 21-year-old architecture student, holding forth on the issue in an interview by RT… It’s quite an amazing rhetorical performance (begins about 2 minutes into the clip).

Meanwhile, students at UC Berkeley voicing similar grievances were brutally set upon by baton wielding police goons in riot gear.

Signs of things to come, perhaps?