If you listen to the narrative coming from the right, you would think the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters were social deviants. Sean Hannity said on his show last week, “What have we seen here, violence, rape, arson, destruction of property, sex in public, masturbation in public, naked people, drugs, drug paraphernalia, anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, anti-capitalism.” I am sure that this stuff happened in the dozens of cities around the country where protests were held, but these are isolated incidents. The front page of the USA Today, last week, said the protests around the country were “largely peaceful legal marches.”
If you want to know what the protests are about, ask one of the protesters. Jesse LaGreca, an unofficial spokesman for the movement, said last week, “What we are doing is engaging in civil disobedience in non-violent manner throughout the country.” LaGreca says the bigger issues are things like “crimes that took place on Wall Street” and “corporations bribing our politicians with campaign funding.” No big Wall Street bankers have been jailed for causing the biggest financial meltdown in history (in 2008), and I think everyone can agree both parties are bought and paid for. What the Republicans are trying to do to the OWS protesters is the same thing the Democrats are still trying to do to the Tea Party–make OWS look crazy and unworthy of respect. Nothing could be further from the truth. OWS is all about the First Amendment at its core. People have the Constitutional right to petition government for redress of grievances. Anyone who supports the Constitution should support the rights of the Tea Party and OWS protesters. The Tea Party and OWS did the exact same thing, and I think the Republicans are making a big mistake for bringing out the attack dogs. When you think of it, the Tea Party and OWS are really only separated by a few degrees.
Yes, I know the Communist Party, Nazi Party and the unions are latching on to OWS, but their issues are not what OWS is about. Republicans should realize this is turning into one of the best issues the Democrats could have ever dreamed up. Democrats are pouncing on OWS and hijacking it for their own political gain. Suddenly, OWS has a clear message. Left-wing activist Van Jones summed it up on MSNBC, last week, when he said, “. . .this is not a movement that hates rich people just for being rich. If it were that kind of movement we`d call it Occupy Silicon Valley. No. It`s not about hating the economic winners. It`s about hating the economic cheaters. We`re tired of the cheaters. We`re tired of people rigging the game so that they can get ahead and the rest of us can`t get anywhere.”(Click here to see and read the entire interview.) Wall Street did cheat and bribe politicians of both parties to weaken the laws that protected the public. Meanwhile, the regulators continue to turn a blind eye to the rip-offs that are still going on. MF Global and more than $600 million in lost “segregated funds” of clients is just the latest debauchery.
There are some other false narratives going on about the financial meltdown of 2008. They are basically that “Wall Street is a victim” and “the government forced banks to loan money to poor people who couldn’t pay it back.” Of course, these narratives are patently false, and in a recent Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post earlier this month, money manager Barry Ritholtz eloquently makes this case. He said, “Indeed, the arguments these folks make fail to withstand even casual scrutiny. But that has not stopped people who should know better from repeating them. The Big Lie made a surprise appearance Tuesday when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, responding to a question about Occupy Wall Street, stunned observers by exonerating Wall Street: “It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp.” (Click here to read the complete Ritholtz article–it’s great!!)
Of course, some of the real factors that caused the meltdown were reckless lending, extreme leverage, almost zero regulation and outright fraud on multiple levels. Not a single Wall Street elite banker has been prosecuted for crime. (1,000 financial elites were successfully prosecuted in the wake of the S&L crisis. The 2008 meltdown is at least 50 times bigger.)
The OWS movement is only going to grow stronger as the economy weakens. Please disregard the other false narrative that the economy is in “recovery.” The latest report from Shadowstats.com says just the opposite. Economist John Williams said, “With no relief in sight for the structural income and credit problems facing consumers, there is no near-term prospect for broad economic recovery in the United States. An ongoing economic downturn has severely negative implications for the projected U.S. federal budget deficit, for projected U.S. Treasury funding needs and for banking-system stress tests and systemic stability. It also promises a volatile political environment coming into the 2012 election. . .” (Click here to go to the Shadowstats.com home page.)
I have long said both parties share equally in creating the financial mess in America. But it looks like only the Democrats are going to exploit OWS, much the same as the Republicans did with the Tea Party. The Democrats know the economy is tanking and that it cannot be fixed by election time. I think their campaign pitch is going to go something like “How do you want the economy fixed?–The Republican way (1%) or the Democrat way? (99%)” False narratives are not going to exonerate Wall Street cheaters. They are not going to revive the economy, and they will not derail Occupy Wall Street. The Democrats tried to minimize the Tea Party during the last election and lost the House. It looks like the Republicans are making the exact same mistake with OWS. If you are not convinced the OWS protest is for real, watch the slickly produced music video below. The movement has its own song, and that should scare the false narrative out of the Party of Lincoln.
Greg is the producer and creator of USAWatchdog.com. The site’s slogan is “analyzing the news to give you a clear picture of what’s really going on.” The site will keep an eye on the government, your financial interests and cut through the media spin. USAWatchdog.com is neither Democrat nor Republican, Liberal or Conservative. Before creating and producing the site, Greg spent nearly 9 years as a network and investigative correspondent. He worked for ABC News and Good Morning America for nearly 6 years. Most recently, Greg worked for CNN for shows such as Paula Zahn Now, American Morning and various CNN business shows.