What Would Lincoln Say About Occupy Wall Street?

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Here’s my best guess.


I was the first Republican President.

I created the first federal income tax. It was a graduated tax based on ability to pay that required the wealthiest . . . → Read More: What would Lincoln say about Occupy Wall Street?

Sunday Talks, 11/6/11

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The Herman Cain saga will continue to play out on this Sunday’s television talk shows, with CBS’s “Face the Nation” dedicating much of its show to the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around the Republican presidential . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 11/6/11

Friday Talking Points [188] -- Why Not Occupy The Media?

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Like many Americans, I watched the events unfold in Oakland this week with some trepidation. Occupy Oakland tried two new tactics in protesting, and both were very successful at achieving a key goal — that of getting your message across. Both the general strike and the temporary port shutdown were successful, in this regard. Later in the night, however, a group of jerks came close to ruining all this, by their criminal behavior.

I was not present — I live too far away from Oakland to have taken part. In fact, like most Americans, I watched the news coverage on television. And, finally, the video images which the news media has been waiting for occurred — video of idiots vandalizing anything they felt like, setting bonfires in the streets, and battling with cops.

What was missing from the media coverage (at least the coverage I witnessed) was a spokesman for the Occupy movement denouncing the violence and calling on all their supporters and fellow protesters to do the same.

This is a weakness in the movement. In fact, it is a critical weak point. Not the lack of denunciation per se (I did actually see people interviewed at the Occupy sites who strongly disavowed the violent jerks), but the fact that there is no media contact for the movement.

This needs to change, or the Occupy movement leaves itself open to being defined by anyone who shows up — and gets their image on television by being a jerk. This would be a shame, but it seems to be inherent in the structure of the protests.

To be part of the “99 Percent” all you have to do is show up. The problem with this is, some people are going to show up who do not hew to the utopian rules of behavior. Even if the ratio of jerks to protesters-with-hearts-of-gold is extremely low — let’s just say for the sake of argument one percent versus 99 percent — they can spoil the whole show for everyone. What the protesters need to consider is: why let the one percent of the jerks define your movement in the media, while the wishes of the 99 percent are not heard? Isn’t this kind of the point of the movement in the first place?

Occupy Wall Street (and all its sister Occupy sites) is famously against “leaders.” It’s communitarian. Well, that’s all fine and good, but what this means in a practical sense is that the media — looking for a soundbite — will just show up and randomly interview people. Since conflict makes good television, they will run the clip of the one jerk who says (or does) something monumentally stupid, and the other 99 interviews will wind up on the cutting room floor.

A media spokesperson is not a “leader” — he or she is merely a conduit of information. If the Occupy sites (starting with the Occupy Wall Street site) would only realize this, they would do their cause a lot of good. Do it by consensus. In any group of people, there are some who are much better at articulating things than others. Hours are spent in General Meetings talking, so it shouldn’t be that hard to identify a few who choose their words better than others. Select one of these per week, say, and rotate people through the position of Media Contact Person, to give more than one person a chance at it.

Then issue a press release, or call up all the major networks, and introduce the Media Contact Person concept to them. They will doubtlessly be pleased by this development, because it will mean when they need someone to define (or defend) the movement to the media, they will have one person they can contact, one person who can speak for the movement, and one person they can invite into their studios for a sit-down interview. Continue reading Friday Talking Points [188] — Why Not Occupy The Media?

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Take Five (Black Walnut Toast edition)

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ONE: “If at first you don’t concede, lie, lie again.”

Five days ago, when the world was a simpler, happier, more innocent and decidedly less informed place, I ran across a piece entitled “Confident Cain plans to cut back campaign events” in which the surprise Republican frontrunner was described as brimming with confidence but also wary about excessive media availability and the possibility of more gaffes detracting from his, uh, positions:

Cain… said he plans to “dial back” his campaign and media appearances in order to avoid missteps. Since climbing in the polls, he has had a series of fumbles, forcing him to clarify comments on abortion, immigration and terrorism suspects.

Cain has chalked up the mistakes to a grueling campaign schedule jammed with media interviews…

At least one Cainophile was willing to cut the candidate some slack:

“I like that if he says something, he’s not afraid to turn around and admit he’s wrong,” said Phil Andrews, of Birmingham, who tried without success to reach the candidate and have him sign his Cain t-shirt.

“He’s human and that’s just fine.”

He’s human, all right, Phil, but whether that’s fine or not is very much an open question. Last weekend, stealth right wing site POLITICO, of all organs, broke the story of sexual harassment allegations leveled against Cain back in the late 90s when he was president of the National Restaurant Association. Suddenly, Cain’s ideas (such as they are) are no longer of interest to anyone at all.

The Cain campaign went into immediate damage-exacerbation mode, with Chief of Staff Mark “Smokey” Block emphatically blaming the Perry campaign:

“The actions of the Perry campaign are despicable. Rick Perry and his campaign owe Herman Cain and his family an apology.”

Bret Baier asked Block what kind of evidence he had of this being linked to Perry’s campaign. He said that Curt Anderson, Rick Perry’s advisor, is the source to these lies and believes it’s an “outrage.”

Block might want to have a word with his boss, whose suspicions tended elsewhere in a Monday conversation with the noxious Charles Krauthammer:

… we believe that, yes, there are some people who are Democrats, liberals, who do not want to see me win the nomination.

Cain did, however, leave the door open to other possibilities:

And there could be some people on the right who don’t want to see me because I’m not the, quote/unquote, “establishment candidate.”

Cain’s most immediate problem, though, is not who to blame as long as it’s not himself. It’s that his recollection of the harassment allegations changes nearly as often as Mitt Romney’s policy positions.

Monday on Fox:

When [interviewer] Jenna Lee asked whether there was any sort of settlement, Cain stressed that if there were, he was not aware of it. If the Restaurant Association made a settlement, Cain said, “I wasn’t even aware of it and I hope it wasn’t for much because nothing happened.”

Same day, later, on Fox:

“My general counsel said this started out where she and her lawyer were demanding a huge financial settlement…I don’t remember a number…But then he said because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement.” When van Susteren asked how much money was involved, Cain said, “Maybe three months’ salary.  I don’t remember.  It might have been two months.  I do remember my general counsel saying we didn’t pay all of the money they demanded.”

By Tuesday, the candidate’s story changed again:

… he said in an interview with HLN that it was “in the vicinity of three to six months.”

He was, again, incorrect:

The National Restaurant Association gave $35,000 — a year’s salary — in severance pay to a female staff member in the late 1990s after an encounter with Herman Cain, its chief executive at the time, made her uncomfortable working there, three people with direct knowledge of the payment said on Tuesday.

By Wednesday, even Cain’s memory of his memory seemed faulty:

“… even though I hadn’t had 24 hours to process exactly what I was going to say or I hadn’t had 24 hours to try to recollect some of the details, I wanted to go out in front of it.”

Cain admitted that he wasn’t totally blindsided by the news because his campaign was made aware the story might break 10 days prior… “Could we have started earlier so that I would have been better prepared to be more crisp with responses? Yes, but I still didn’t want to wait because I wanted my supporters to know that I was not about to duck this issue.”

Oh, so it’s just a crispness issue, then? Got it. Just one more thing about this story that makes me think of toast.

TWO:”I know just what you mean, Herman. May I call you Herman?”

If you’ve never checked out The Daily Caller, a website co-founded by former bow-tied-but-now-tieless-asshat Tucker Carlson and former Dick-Cheney-policy-adviser-and-thus-epitome-of-all-that-is-evil-in-this-world Neil Patel, let me spare you the aggro and spare them the hit.

Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a virulent pox on the nation’s body politic in her own proud right, is a regular contributor to The Daily Caller. Just yesterday evening, she sat down with Herman Cain for a little chat. In response to the first question – “Are reporters setting you up to be ‘guilty until proven innocent’?” – Cain responded:

“That is the D.C. culture… guilty until proven innocent.”

After swatting away a question about his recent comments on nuclear-power-since-1964 China seeking nuclear capability, Cain rendered a classic “guilty until proven innocent” judgment on Attorney General Eric Holder over the Operation Fast and Furious affair:

“I have not followed it close enough to say that I want to pile on, but I happen to believe that 30 Congressmen can’t be wrong, in terms of the determination that they have made that suggests that it may be better for him to step down. I trust those 30 Congressmen and the analysis that they have done.”

Oddly, Ginni Thomas’s questions don’t actually appear in TheDC’s video clips, nor is there even an indication that she was in the same room as Herman Cain, but I have no doubt that she personally conducted the interview and deserves every penny of the thousands of dollars she was probably paid for it, and that every bit of that remuneration will be declared by her husband on his mandatory financial disclosure forms, just as he’s always done. Continue reading Take Five (Black Walnut Toast edition)

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