Wednesday, October 26, 2011


As you probably know, Elizabeth Warren has linked herself to Occupy Wall Street:

Warren was asked by the Daily Beast for a comment on the protests. She said: "I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do. I support what they do."

I'm heartened by this, but is it a smart political move? Your answer to that is probably based on your perception of current attitudes -- either you think that the public generally agrees with OWS (or at least isn't in opposition) or, if you're right-wing, you think that Reg'lar Amurricans hate those smelly hippie drum-circle deadbeats. At this point I'm in the former camp. (In the new New York Times/CBS poll, 46 percent of respondents said that the views OWS "reflected the sentiment of most Americans," according to the Times.)

But if OWS gets traction -- if it doesn't disappear by spring, a victim of police crackdowns, cold winter weather, and so much focus on logistics that the actual message never really gets out -- the right, I think, will be hell-bent on demonizing it by any means necessary. The GOP and the right-wing noise machine are gearing up to do it what was done to ACORN and to Park51.

I don't know if this effort will be a success. But if so, there's risk in embracing the movement -- maybe a risk well worth running, but a risk nonetheless.

A couple of days ago the New York Post argued -- as many on the right nodded in agreement -- that deployment of police resources to OWS was causing an uptick in crime in New York City. As I noted, those were cherry-picked numbers -- in major categories, crime has been down in New York over the period of the OWS occupation.

But now the meme has spread to Massachusetts -- and gosh, you don't suppose Scott Brown's campaign, or the national GOP, had anything to do with spoon-feeding this story to a local TV news outlet, do you?

Store's First Break-Ins In 23 Years Coincide With Arrival Of Occupy Boston

Linda Capillo doesn't know why, after 23 years, her small convenience store on Congress Street is being targeted by thieves.

"After they came through the door, I put bars on it," said Capillo. "Then, they start coming through the window."

In 23 years, she had never had a break-in at Congress Card & Tobacco on 230 Congress Street. But in the past month, there have been four. Each time, the thieves took nothing but cigarettes, scratch tickets and/or cash...

Capillo isn't pointing any fingers, but the breaks have coincided with the arrival of the Occupy Boston movement....

OK -- wait for it:

...with the notable exception being first break-in on Sept. 29, the day before the protests began.

Oh. So this crime spree doesn't fully coincide with the Boston occupation -- unless you're arguing that occupiers broke in on September 29 as part of their pre-occupation preparations. ("Hey, before we sit in, let's attract some suspicion from the cops by committing a petty crime!" "Sounds like a plan!")

The story, admittedly, didn't run on a Fox affiliate (though Fox Nation has eagerly picked it up), but it does get a lot of time on the broadcast:

You know what? When I was younger, I lived in a couple of places that were subject to multiple break-ins, so I know from experience that this happens. (There were no mass political occupations anywhere nearby.) The way I see it is, if you're a petty crook, you decide on a target, you figure out how to break in, and you don't clear the place out, you're probably very likely to go back. You've already done the work of scoping out the vulnerabilities. You know the cops don't take crimes like this all that seriously -- they're not going to do a stakeout for a little break-in. And it's probably fun, if you're a knucklehead, to go after the same vic more than once.

But the right thinks this is a promising narrative -- and, as we know from ACORN and Park51, if the right decides to crank up the noise machine to 11, the facts don't really matter. I don't know if that can happen with the Occupy movement, but it's something to be prepared for -- siding with the Occupy folks is going to be politically toxic if the right scores a big win in the message war. We have to prevent such a win -- but we also have to be ready for it.


UPDATE: As I was saying:

EXCLUSIVE: ACORN Playing Behind Scenes Role in 'Occupy' Movement

The former New York office for ACORN, the disbanded community activist group, is playing a key role in the self-proclaimed “leaderless” Occupy Wall Street movement, organizing “guerrilla” protest events and hiring door-to-door canvassers to collect money under the banner of various causes while spending it on protest-related activities, sources tell

The former director of New York ACORN, Jon Kest, and his top aides are now busy working at protest events for New York Communities for Change (NYCC). That organization was created in late 2009 when some ACORN offices disbanded and reorganized under new names after undercover video exposes prompted Congress to cut off federal funds....

I don't know how much of an "exclusive" this is -- Kest wrote "Why We're Joining #OccupyWallStreet" for the Huffington Post nearly a month ago, and the blog of World Net Daily's Aaron Klein went all McCarthyite on the Kest-OWS connection a few days later. A current headline at Klein's blog is "Islamic Connection to Wall Street Protest: Firm Tied to Movement Spearheaded Campaign to End Gaza Blockade."

The wingers are going to try to work these angles until OWS goes away or the McCarthyism bears fruit.