I haven’t been covering Occupy [Place Name Here] because other people have been doing such a bang-up job of it, and because, objectively, it simply isn’t important. But the latest development is too tasty not to mention.
A few weeks ago, when it turns out there was $500,000 just sitting in a bank to support OWS, the “leaderless movement” suddenly found out that they had leaders, who appeared without all that pesky “democracy” and “consensus” they kept talking about:
On Sunday, October 23, a meeting was held at 60 Wall Street. Six leaders discussed what to do with the half-million dollars that had been donated to their organization, since, in their estimation, the organization was incapable of making sound financial decisions. The proposed solution was not to spend the money educating their co-workers or stimulating more active participation by improving the organization’s structures and tactics. Instead, those present discussed how they could commandeer the $500,000 for their new, more exclusive organization. No, this was not the meeting of any traditional influence on Wall Street. These were six of the leaders of Occupy Wall Street (OWS).
Occupy Wall Street’s Structure Working Group (WG) has created a new organization called the Spokes Council. “Teach-ins” were held to workshop and promote the Spokes Council…
According to Marisa Holmes, one of the most outspoken and influential leaders of OWS, the NYC-GA started receiving donations from around the world when OWS began on September 17. Because the NYC-GA was not an official organization, and therefore could not legally receive thousands of dollars in donations, the nonprofit Alliance for Global Justice helped OWS create Friends of Liberty Plaza, which receives tax-free donations for OWS. Since then, Friends of Liberty Plaza has received over $500,000. Until October 28, anybody who wanted to receive more than $100 from Friends of Liberty Plaza had to go through the often arduous modified consensus process (90% majority) of the NYC-GA—which, despite its well-documented inefficiencies, granted $25,740 to the Media WG for live-stream equipment on October 12, and $1,400 to the Food and Medical WGs for herbal tonics on October 18.
At the teach-in, Ms. Holmes maintained that while the NYC-GA is the “de facto” mechanism for distributing funds, it has no right to do so, even though she acknowledged that most donors were likely under the impression that the NYC-GA was the only organization with access to these funds. Two other leaders of the teach-in, Daniel and Adash, concurred with Holmes.
Ms. Holmes also stated at the teach-in that five people in the Finance WG have access to the $500,000 raised by Friends of Liberty Plaza. When Suresh Fernando, the man taking notes, asked who these people are, the leaders of the Structure WG nervously laughed and said that it was hard to keep track of the “constantly fluctuating” heads of the Finance WG. Mr. Fernando made at least four increasingly explicit requests for the names. Each request was turned down by the giggling, equivocating leaders.
The leaders of the Structure WG eventually regained control of the teach-in. They said that they too were unhappy with the Finance WG’s monopoly over OWS’s funds, which is why they wanted to create the Spokes Council. What upset them more, however, was the inefficient and fickle General Assembly. A major point of the discussion was whether the Spokes Council and the NYC-GA should have access to the funds, or just the Spokes Council….
When my turn came to speak, I brought up the plans of “the leaders of the allegedly leaderless movement” to commandeer the half-million dollars sent to the General Assembly for their new, exclusive, undemocratic, representational organization. Before I could finish, the facilitators and other members of the OWS inner circle started shouting over me. Amidst the confusion, the human mic stopped projecting what I, or anybody was saying. Because silence was what they were after, the leaders won.
Eventually one of the facilitators regained control of the crowd and explained that I was speaking “opinions, not facts,” which is why I would not be allowed to continue. He also asserted untruthfully that I had gone over my allotted minute. Notably, the facilitators and members of the OWS inner circle regularly ignore time restrictions.
This reaction shouldn’t surprise anyone. It is reasonable to expect any undemocratic organization to be co-opted eventually by a vocal minority or charismatic individual. On Friday, October 29, the proposal to create the Spokes Council was put to the NYC-GA for a fifth time, and finally received a 90% majority. The facilitators assisted the process by denying two vocal critics of the Spokes Council their allotted time to speak against it.
So who is party of the shadowy “Finance Working Group”? Well, one of them is “Pete Dutro, 34, a tattoo artist and former software project manager who dropped out of an NYU finance degree program to join the occupation.”
It must be a real hardship for Dutro to give up his education to handle all that money while sleeping in a park. Or it would be, if he weren’t using that money to stay in a $700 a night hotel.
Fritz Tucker, the Occupy participant quoted so extensively above, said of the funding takeover that “I felt like I was watching a local production of Animal Farm.” Having already deployed that metaphor, one wonder what he would have left to say about Mr. Dutro’s swanky hotel. If you put that in a novel, your editor would make you take it out because the symbolism was too heavy-handed.
From the very first Occupy Wall Street has struck me as a movement ginned-up by Obama’s left-wing allies, using a mixture of the usual circus who attend any left-wing rally plus some paid stooges and naive joiners, designed to distract attention from Obama scandals like Fast and Furious and Solyandra, and created out of a sense of “Tea Party Envy” on the left. But while Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street tentatively agree on one big economic problem (namely, crony capitalism), their approaches to solving it are radically different. The Tea Party wants to get rid of the cronyism, but the Occupy Wall Street crowd wants to keep the cronyism, but get rid of the capitalism.
In some ways you have to admire the efficiency of the operation. After all it took more than 200 years of the Republic before people like Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry were able to pervert democratic institutions the system enough to reap the full benefits of crony capitalism, but Pete Dutro has managed to go from misplaced idealism to outright looting in under two months!
Despite the risible “99%” posturing, Occupy Wall Street is being run by, and for, the Democratic Party and their left-wing fellow travelers: ACORN, unions, the MSM. (Has any Occupy [Place Name Here] protester ever called for smaller government and less spending?) Which is why its ironic that the only people it’s actually inconveniencing are those who live and work in the hearts of very large metropolitan areas, i.e. largely the same Obama-voting urban liberal elite who already seemed to believe in the risible class war tripe peddled by the Occupy Wall Street crowd. All it’s doing now is eating up municipal budgets and alienating independent potential Obama voters.
A few more random Occupy Wall Street tidbits:
Here’s a handy chart for which crimes have been committed at which occupy sites.
Dark Knight creator Frank Miller weighs in in a nice juicy that has the panties of various leftist comics fans in a knot. “’Occupy’ is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.” However, I wonder if it’s he jabs at Occupy that has really steamed them as much as his jab at that most sacred of victim groups, radical Islam. Given Wiscon’s disinviting of Elizabeth Moon over the very mildest of criticisms of Islam, I’m guessing the latter.
Being creatures of the left, the Occupy [Place Name Here] crowd have never complained about Obama’s extensive ties with Goldman Sachs.
Here’s a hedge fund manager offering up talking points for Occupy Wall Street. However, since he’s discussing the various government distortions of the market that lead to the current situation (he even mentions Solyndra!), I feel confident in predicting that none of the current Occupy crowd will take him up on it.
Mark Steyn’s essay on Occupy.