Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kelly's take two on OWS

If you were sick yesterday of hearing one more thing about OWS/OP, unfortunately Jack Kelly's choice of for his column today won't make you any happier. But OWS provides Jack Kelly with so many things to show contempt for: the President, Democrats, colleges/universities, the protestors themselves, and besides, I have been writing every week about Jack.

Kelly starts and ends with a poll taken of OWS protestors by "Democrat" Douglas Schoen who works for Fox News and published the results in the Wall Street Journal. He starts by telling us that OWS protestors demand ""free college education" and the forgiving of all student loans (and all other debt)". Kelly goes on to say recent college graduates have a higher rate of unemployment than the national rate of unemployment, and then blames the graduates for studying "gender studies". What is funny is that Gail Collins had a similar but more detailed complaint about higher education. Nobody thinks that the exponential increase in college tuition is a good thing, although Kelly decides to blame both the schools and the students. He points out that Wall Street had nothing to do with the increase in college tuition (duh), but then we all know not everything that is wrong in this country is centered in or because of Wall Street (just a lot of things).

Kelly spends a couple of paragraphs talking about his contempt for the comparison of OWS and the Tea Party. Of course Kelly sees the Tea Party as law abiding and OWS as law breakers rightfully being arrested by the hundreds, and not using toilets or cleaning up after themselves. Of course, I am unaware of any extended stay in tents by the Tea Party (perhaps they aren't that motivated).

Kelly skips from there to an attack on Obama, as the person he blames for giving the bankers bailouts. Kelly admits that the bailout was "proposed" by the second Bush, but "most Republicans in the House opposed it while most Democrats supported it". In other words, House Republicans wanted the financial sector to crash, and for there to be another great depression. Jack Kelly is here to tell us who the true patriots are (and I am surprised that Kelly belatedly throws George Bush under the bus).

Then Kelly gets to something that I would have to agree with, that the Obama administration has an unfortunately close relationship to Wall Street banks. This situation was detailed in Charles Ferguson's Inside Job, how first the Bush administration and then the Obama administration staffed the treasury department and Presidential economic advisers with individuals who came from the ranks of executives or sat on boards of the largest financial institutions. Even the best known economists in academia often sit on boards of financial institutions. Kelly also makes the charge that Dodd-Frank actually protects Wall Street banks at the expense of other, smaller banks. I wouldn't say that Dodd-Frank was totally friendly to Wall Street banks, but I do believe there was pressure from banks directly on both Republicans and Democrats and also filtering through the Administration itself during the crafting of and the debate on the bill. Still, it is interesting to me that Kelly slavishly follows the doctrine of his Tea Party masters. He slams the economic knowledge of the OWS protestors (who are composed of long time political agitators and political neophytes in unknown proportions), yet he has no word for what would happen if, as he apparently wishes, Dodd-Frank nationalized the Wall Street banks instead of "protecting" them.

Certainly I (absolutely) think the Obama administration should not be exempt from criticism. In fact, there are plenty of critics of the President, including an entire TV network seemingly devoted to that (Fox News), and the rest of the media generally repeats all the criticisms of the right. Which is unfortunate, because the narrative of the right generally includes this idea of reversing the deficit and lowering the debt. I would agree that in the long run, our country should be borrowing a much smaller amount of money each year, which by the way says nothing about how taxes should be structured. But now concentrating on the deficit/debt is telling the unemployed that we are going to do nothing for them, and in fact may make their lives even worse. Conservatives have shown no sign that they want to do anything but transfer even more money away from the poor towards the rich.

All of which is to say that honest criticism is one thing, but distorting information is quite something else. Remember the Schoen poll I mentioned at the start of this post? A journal Capital New York was given the raw numbers from the Schoen poll, and found that conclusions reached by Schoen (and repeated by Kelly) were simply not borne out by the actual poll numbers. For example, Kelly repeats Schoen's claim that the OWS protestors believe in "radical redistribution of wealth", although in fact only 4% believe that. Yes, 98% do belive in civil disobedience (duh, that's what they are doing now) and 31% could support violence in some undefined future. But, as I understand it, all the Occupy movements around the country have been scrupulous in policing their own protestors to prevent any violence, at least on the part of the protestors. Kelly's demonizing of the protestors is simply not very credible. But the PG doesn't rein him in.

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