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TAR. FEATHERS. PITCHFORKS. New Files Highlight Brennan’s Role Promoting Clinton’s Russia Collusion Narrative.

Related: ‘Russia hoax’ was lie created by Hillary Clinton and one of the dirtiest political tricks ever.

It was a seditious conspiracy to overturn a democratic election. People should be jailed, if not outright executed, which I don’t believe the law permits.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

Shot: As this NewsBusters post from 2011 highlights, MSNBC went on a jihad against Sarah Palin in January of 2011, attempting to magically connect the dots between her clip art and the Tucson massacre:

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell continued her crusade against Sarah Palin today, reiterating the fallacious contention that the former Alaska governor is at least partly responsible for the shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona that left six dead and a congresswoman critically injured.

On her eponymous afternoon program, Mitchell criticized Palin’s “campaign tactics” in an interview with former Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who was targeted in the 2010 election by SarahPAC, Palin’s political action committee, as a vulnerable incumbent.

“Ann Kirkpatrick was also targeted by Palin’s campaign and lost her reelection bid after also experiencing a number of threats while she was in office,” reported Mitchell, who attempted conflate political opposition to Kirkpatrick with personal threats made by extremists. “Let’s talk, first of all, about what it felt like going through that campaign and what were the specific threats? Was anything ever verified? How did you deal with it?”

Chaser: MSNBC Contributor: ‘I Want Pitchforks And Torches’ Outside Trump Fundraiser’s Home.

Apparently, the recent boycotts of Ross’ businesses didn’t go far enough for [contributor and legal blog editor Elie Mystal]. He said:

People of color are already targets under this administration. I have no problem on shining the light back on the donors who fund this kind of racialized hate. I mean I go further. I want pitchforks and torches outside this man’s house in the Hamptons. I’ve been to the Hamptons, it’s very nice. There’s no reason why it has to be. There’s no reason he should be able to have a nice little party. There’s no reason why people shouldn’t be able to be outside of his house and making their voices peacefully understood.

“Totally. There have been peaceful protests outside Mitch McConnell’s house.” replied Hayes.

Yeah, totally Chris. During the peaceful protest outside of McConnell’s home, a protester is heard saying she wished McConnell had “broken his little, raggedy, wrinkled-ass neck” and that someone should “just stab the motherf—er in the heart.”

Hayes continued:

Your point is how does civil society deal with what we’re seeing, right? How does civil society deal with the most powerful person in the world, like, painting a target on someone’s back and inveighing against the Congresspeople and (inaudible). The peaceful means by which civil society responds is through more free speech and also more protected activity and pressure.

This is surreal. They appear to have no idea of how crazy they sound. In civil society, Chris, people don’t say “someone should stab the mother—ker in the heart.” They don’t show up to protest a private political fundraiser with pitchforks and torches. It’s the symbolism Chris. Even if the protestors refrain from physical violence and damaging Ross’ property, it sounds like hate speech to me.

Protesting a person in front of his home is also straight out of Saul Alinsky’s playbook; yet another of his tactics  condoned by the left — right up until it’s used against another leftist.

HEATHER MAC DONALD: Joe Biden and the deranged policing of personal space: Have the grounds for feminist complaint ever been lower?

Well, Woke Joe has been endorsing the new, lowered standards for guilt when they applied to other men.

Related: The bonkers assault on Joe Biden. “Weird Joe, who’s been showing keen affection to members of the fairer sex since before he became a big Democratic macher, has done the unforgivable in this humorless age. He’s shown genuine human warmth of the male variety to females in the scary era of #MeToo. And he’s demonstrated that the vast suspicion, bordering on hatred, of men — even dudes on the political left — is a force so powerful, he has only one choice: Pack in your presidential hopes, Joe, and repent. The feminists of America are coming for you with torches and pitchforks.”

But no more bonkers than he’s been, and he was happy to carry a pitchfork himself until now.

WAIT, ARE PITCHFORKS ON THE TABLE? WON’T THEY BE A LITTLE CONSPICUOUS IN NYC?  Covington Catholic Update.

OFF WITH HER SHOW! My Daily Caller column bumped up from this morning, about the irrational demands that people be fired for talking smack:

The demand that people lose their jobs because of something they said (as opposed to something they did) perpetuates a chilling effect that will only drive genuine bigots underground. Even worse, it is punishing people for what Orwell called “wrong-think.” […] it won’t change what or how the “bad” people think: it will only force them to be more circumspect and selective about where such views may be aired. I for one, would rather see such views held up for public scrutiny and debate rather than whispered in the dark back rooms of an obscure beer hall.

FUN FACT: The comments to original morning posting are enlightening. They are the exact same comments I’ve been getting from proggie SJW’s: “She deserves it”…”fight fire with fire”…”speech has consequences”…”the [other side] has rigged the game and we can’t take the high moral ground.” The only difference is the IP posters call me a Hillarybot, and the snowflakes call me a Nazi Trumpster.

PINHEADS WITH PITCHFORKS: YOU’RE A VENGEFUL COWARD IF YOU WANT ROSEANNE BARR OR SAMANTHA BEE FIRED — My latest column at The Daily Caller looks at the bipartisan disease of censorship and mob mentality.

“Fire him!” scream the keyboard warriors. “Boycott her sponsors and threaten them!” demand the social justice warriors on both sides of the aisle. What’s missing here is a sense of proportion, a rational relationship between the speaker, their comments, and their role in society. And it’s happening on all sides of the political and social spectrum.

** Nod to Pat Buchanan on the headline.

YOU CAN HAVE MY KIDS’ LEMONADE STAND WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM OUR COLD, DEAD FINGERS:  Steve Hayward is ready to bring out the pitchforks.

CORNEL WEST: Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama: Our hope and change candidate fell short time and time again. Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility.

Our “post-integrity” and “post-truth” world is suffocated by entertaining brands and money-making activities that have little or nothing to do with truth, integrity or the long-term survival of the planet. We are witnessing the postmodern version of the full-scale gangsterization of the world.

The reign of Obama did not produce the nightmare of Donald Trump – but it did contribute to it. And those Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility.

A few of us begged and pleaded with Obama to break with the Wall Street priorities and bail out Main Street. But he followed the advice of his “smart” neoliberal advisers to bail out Wall Street. In March 2009, Obama met with Wall Street leaders. He proclaimed: I stand between you and the pitchforks. I am on your side and I will protect you, he promised them. And not one Wall Street criminal executive went to jail.

Well, to be fair, they gave him a lot of money.

But hey, Obama’s willing to stand up for the downtrodden: White House defends Meryl Streep’s anti-Trump speech. So take that, Cornel.

PEASANTS AND PITCHFORKS: A Wake-Up Call For Western Elites.

It is easy to get caught in the tidal wave of pessimism that has gripped the West’s chattering classes and op-ed writers. The list of real problems confronting Europe and the United States is long, and getting longer still: slow growth, exploding jihadi terrorism, uncontrolled immigration, the hollowing out of NATO, and the weakening of the European Union. Region by region, the global security equation looks equally menacing, with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) on fire amidst a Sunni-Shi‘a civil war, the fragmentation of Syria, Iraq, and Libya, and fighters flocking to the Islamic State intent on brushing aside the remnants of the Sykes-Picot system. The risk of armed conflict is growing in Asia and Europe, with China and Russia pressing their advantage, while Americans, weary of losses in what is now a 15-year War on Terror, look in vain for a viable strategy. Within the West itself events are approaching an inflection point; the liberal, globalist notions of the past two decades have suddenly (if only in hindsight not unexpectedly) run into a rapidly rising wall of popular resistance.

The forces that are reshaping the erstwhile globalist consensus are not, as critics would have it, simply “populism,” “racism,” or “lower class obscurantism,” but a 21st-century popular rebellion across the democratic West, which—warts and all—is readying itself to imprint the will of the modern demos onto what not so long ago many considered to be a progressively de-nationalized, postmodern consumer society. Steeped in resurgent nationalism, this public wave has crashed into the breach between the notional reality, which maintains that on balance Europe and America are still doing fine, and the perceived reality of high unemployment, high immigration rates, and segmented communities. It is amidst this sense of fragmentation and decline that latter-day peasants on both sides of the ocean are rising up, pitchforks in hand, against an increasingly denationalized aristocracy.

You can, by the way, purchase pitchforks from Amazon.com. With next-day delivery!

WANT TO UNDERSTAND BREXIT? LOOK AT THE ISRAELI LEFT:

Brexit? That one I got absolutely right, and for a very simple reason: I was raised by the quivering, arrogant, and hopelessly delusional tribe of the Israeli left.

If you think my assessment uncharitable, mosey over to the promised land and have a chat with anyone who still votes Meretz, though you may have to hurry as there are fewer and fewer of them with each electoral cycle. Catch one on a good day, though, and you will probably hear the following account of all that plagues the state of the Jews: Israelis, goes the leftist ur-narrative, used to be reasonable and genial people. They used to believe in peace, which is why they signed the Oslo accords and welcomed back Yasser Arafat and strove toward a permanent two-state solution of peace and reconciliation. Then, like a devil out of Bulgakov, Netanyahu, a Middle East Mephistopheles, appeared on the scene, and, with his dark tricks, poisoned hearts and minds, turning Israelis from a gaggle of glowing Labor-voters to a rabble of benighted boobs, always reaching for their pitchforks and always thirsty for blood. If only reason would prevail, cries the Israeli left, peace will soon return. And if it does not, disaster is almost certain.

Omitted from this story, of course, are a few inconvenient facts, including most mentions of unrequited Israeli concessions and almost all talk of escalating Palestinian incitement and violence. But bring none of this up with the left, please: Only fools and racists still talk about things like terrorism or religion or national pride.

Translate these attitudes into the Queen’s English, and you’ll hear an all-too-familiar story. Labour, for long the occupants of 10 Downing, downplayed legitimate concerns shared by growing swaths of the population as being somehow inappropriate, as if only bigots watched the news and concluded that lax immigration policies deserved, at the very least, close scrutiny. Some members of the party have come to see this strategy as misguided: Jack Straw, Labour’s former Home Secretary, for example, recently admitted that setting no restrictions on migration in 2004 was “a spectacular mistake” as well as a “well-intentioned policy we messed up.”

Though to be fair, creating a permanent underclass does wonders for building the roster of leftwing voters, on both sides of the Atlantic.

KYLE SMITH: There’s one thing dividing New Yorkers: Bill de Blasio.

Here’s the Bill de Blasio arithmetic for New York City: 2-1+1=2. The story of New York is “A Tale of Two Cities,” he said in his 2013 mayoral campaign.

No, make that one, he said in his many “One City” speeches in which he promised to unite us. Scratch that, he says now that he’s preparing next year’s re-election campaign: It’s still two cities.

In other words, de Blasio’s grand re-election campaign theme is: It’s Us Against Them. Call in some pitchforks and fire up the torches. The mob forms to the left. The reason for the new strategy is obvious, but I’ll come back to that.

An innuendo-laden piece of nudge-nudge appeared in The New York Times this week under the headline, “De Blasio Shifts Away from His Re-Election Message of ‘One City.’ ” The “One City” motif has been used on banners hoisted behind de Blasio at public events, in policy platforms and frequently in the mayor’s speeches.

Saying something doesn’t make it true, however. The Times reporter wrote, “The notion that Mr. de Blasio has brought about a unified city . . . appears to have all but vanished as an argument for his re-election in 2017.”

Pursued by such a broad range of investigators that things are starting to look like a reenactment of the climactic chase scene in “The Blues Brothers,” the mayor is said to feel “sapped” of the “ability to court new voters . . . especially skeptical whites who have mostly shunned the mayor’s agenda.”

He’s a debacle.

REMEMBER, SOCIAL-JUSTICE WARRIORS ARE THE ANGRY PEASANTS WITH PITCHFORKS, MASQUERADING AS THE VOICES OF MORALITY AND REASON: Elizabeth Nolan Brown: How Maryland ‘Neomasculinity’ Blogger Roosh V Became an International ‘Pro-Rape’ Villain; A case study of collective catharsis through call-out culture and moral panic as meme.

The bottom line, though, is that “not a single woman has been hurt by me,” says Roosh. “I’ve never been accused of rape, I’ve never been charged. No follower of mine has read something of [mine], and then gone on to rape, because I know if they did hurt a woman it’d be all over the news.”

The whole thing calls to mind two more male writers: Matt Taibbi, probably best known for his work at Rolling Stone, and Mark Ames, who now writes for outlets such as Pando. The pair worked together at an English-language newspaper in Russia in the late ’90s and subsequently published a book about the experience called The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia. Within this book, there are scenes of the mostly-male Exile editors sexually harassing their administrative staff—going so far as to tell secretaries they must sleep with them to keep their jobs—and Ames threatening to kill his pregnant Russian girlfriend if she doesn’t get an abortion. The men never claimed it was satire or nonfiction. In explaining, Ames was prone to saying things like “Russian women, especially on the first date, expect you to rape them.”

Despite this, Taibbi and Ames have continued to flourish as leftist writers, and as far as I know no feminist groups or Canadian mayors have tried to prevent either from visiting the country. Perhaps they’re just lucky to have come of age in a different Internet era. Perhaps it helps that their politics and progressive credentials are otherwise right. . . .

As much as we might hate to admit it, Roosh is a journalist. His main site, Return of Kings—one of the hubs of what’s sometimes called the “Manosphere”—and its forums get two million visits per month. As neither Roosh nor any writers or readers of Return of Kings were under suspicion of criminal behavior, it is at the very least bizarre that law-enforcement officials would feel the need to comment and keep an eye on their gathers. And it’s probably the kind of thing we should condemn, those of us interested in freedom of speech, press, movement, and association.

People will object that these groups were “pro-rape” meetups. But outside media misinformation, there was nothing about the proposed happy hours to suggest they had anything to do with rape.

Well, if he were — seriously, not satirically — writing “pro-rape” manifestos in the name of Islam, his right would be zealously protected by the same people who subjected him to a high-tech lynching.

And, meanwhile, Bill Clinton, who has actually been accused of rape, is out campaigning for Hillary.

WEIRD SIDENOTE TO MY EARLIER PITCHFORKS POST: When you search for pitchforks on Amazon, the search results come back “excluding Adult items.” No, I don’t know what that leaves out, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to.

JOSH BLACKMAN SPANKS RICHARD POSNER: Posner: The 14th Amendment is “Old, Cryptic, or Vague.” But What About Article III? “At bottom, Posner candidly rejects any fidelity to the text of the Constitution. That invariably includes, of course, the parchment barrier that allows him to append the honorific ‘Judge’ to his name. Yes, Richard Posner’s powers derive not from his boundless intellect, but from the bounds of Article III.”

This has implications that go far beyond the judiciary. The only reason for not tarring and feathering any government official for effrontery when they tell us what to do is that their power to do so is somehow legitimate. But that legitimacy comes from the exercise of constitutional power. If the Constitution doesn’t mean anything, well, then, maybe it’s time to go long on pitchforks. Because without the Constitution the angry mob is just as legitimate as the perfumed princes of the state.

WELL, GIVEN THAT THE ACTUAL VICTIM WAS AN INNOCENT FRAT SMEARED AND ASSAULTED BY TERESA SULLIVAN’S BROWNSHIRTS, OKAY: Dem Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: Let’s not blame the victim in this bogus UVA/Rolling Stone rape story.

But, of course, what Sen. Gillibrand really means is don’t blame me, for making political hay out of this now obviously made-up story. “Gillibrand et al. not wanting to deny Jackie her ‘victim’ status is also a function of them wanting to cover their own asses for having uncritically accepted the Rolling Stone UVA rape story. If Jackie’s a sympathetic figure even now, well, then the torches-and-pitchforks crowd really shouldn’t bear any blame for having viciously attacked Rolling Stone’s skeptics as rape enablers who might as well have been in the room at Phi Kappa Psi while Jackie was being assaulted. They reacted harshly only because they care so much about making sure that skepticism didn’t discourage genuine rape victims from coming forward. Gillibrand describing Jackie as a victim is a vestige of that attitude. Skepticism towards any accusation, for whatever reason, must be resisted to the bitter end and even beyond the bitter end, when the whole world knows what Jackie really did, and why.”

IF THIS IS LITERALLY TRUE, IT WOULD LITERALLY BE THE DUTY OF EVERY AMERICAN TO LITERALLY KILL PRESIDENT LINDSEY GRAHAM AND LITERALLY DISPLAY HIS HEAD ON A PIKE IN FRONT OF THE WHITE HOUSE AS A WARNING TO OTHERS: Lindsey Graham: As president, I will unleash the full might of the U.S. military upon Congress. “Maybe he was just joking. He couldn’t possibly be serious, right? But Lindsey Graham has a habit of reaching for the absurd when it comes to imposing martial law on private citizens. That’s not an appealing trait in a presidential candidate.”

UPDATE: From the comments: “Can you buy pikes through the Instapundit Amazon portal?” Well, this should do.

Also available: Pitchforks.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: The New Reckoning.

For bewildered and increasingly quietist Americans, the center holds mostly in family, religion, a few friends, the avoidance of the cinema and nightly news, the rote of navigating to work and coming home, trying to stay off the dole and taking responsibility for one’s own disasters — as the world grows ever more chaotic in our midst.

All sorts of escapism from the madness is now epidemic. Home-schooling. Gun ownership. A second home in the mountains. A trunk of freeze-dried food. Kids living in the basement. A generator. Some gold coins. A move to Wyoming. An avoidance of the old big cities. A tough choice between death and going to the nearby emergency room (at least your relatives are safe as you pass away at home). A careful and narrow selection of channels on cable TV. A safe room or escape plan. And on and on.

There is a strange new and dangerous sentiment brooding below the spoken surface that whatever is going on in the world and in America today cannot go on much longer — although as the sages say, there is a lot of rot in the West to enjoy for some time yet.

The postmodern world of our new aristocracy and the premodern world of those they both avoid and romanticize won’t hold. The old caricatured middle shrinks and turns inward. Even if the doomsday mood is a mere construct of the new instantaneous media, it is a dangerous mood nonetheless.

We all know what follows from this — either the chaos grows and civilization wanes and tribalism follows, or the iron hand of the radical authoritarian Left or Right correction is just as scary, or a few good people in democratic fashion convince the mob to let them stop the madness and rebuild civilization.

I hope for option three. I fear option one is more likely at home. And I assume that option two will be, as it always is, the choice abroad.

I’m an option three man myself, even if it takes some pitchforks to do the convincing.

NEXT TIME, THEY SHOULD CARRY PITCHFORKS: ‘Unprecedented’ rally is largest in France’s history, officials say. “French media estimate up to 3 million are taking part, more than the numbers who took to Paris streets when the Allies liberated the city from the Nazis in World War II.”

UPDATE: Obama’s ‘embarrassing’ absence at unity march gets lampooned [photoshop].

But Clint Eastwood found him. Honestly, everyone who made fun of that empty-chair routine should apologize. It perfectly foreshadowed Obama’s second term.

KEVIN DRUM EXPRESSES DISAPPOINTMENT that he couldn’t turn out ravening mobs to enforce leftism. Silly Kevin. Obama only threatened the investment bankers with pitchforks to get them to give him money. That’s why you failed, Kevin. Because you chose a corrupt leader. But had you chosen an incorruptible one, it would have been worse. Especially for you.

BARRY’S MINIONS BRING THE PITCHFORKS: “My administration,” the president threatened bank CEOs in April of 2009, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Flash-forward to today: “Obama Unleashes the Left,” Daniel Henninger writes at the Wall Street Journal.

As the late  Kenneth Minogue warned in 2010, “We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.”

Their anger will only increase between now and November.

Related:  The left’s Privilege Police versus freshman student Tal Fortgang.

TECH OVERLORDS SUDDENLY CAST AS BAD GUYS: Anti-tech protesters target Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose.

Protesters stood with signs and handed out flyers outside of a Google Ventures partner and entrepreneur’s home in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood Sunday, calling him a “parasite” and a “leech.”

Flyers passed out at the protest said that Kevin Rose, 37, who founded Digg and several other web companies before joining Google Ventures, accelerates the growth of tech wealth in the city by investing in startups.

“Accelerates the growth of tech wealth in the city by investing in startups.” Quelle horreur! Two points: (1) Hero to villain and the election only a year ago; and (2) When Tea Party groups show up at lefties’ homes with pitchforks, I don’t want the national press to suddenly decide that this is something new, unprecedented, and horrible. Though, of course, that’s what they’ll do.

Okay, one more point: Anything successful, lefties will ultimately try to drag down. Because, at core, their politics are based on envy, resentment, and a wholly-earned sense of inferiority. Meanwhile, perhaps I’ll send some remedial reading to Mr. Rose. It may resonate differently now.

THE PITCHFORKS AREN’T A TOOL. THE PITCHFORKS ARE AN END IN THEMSELVES. Gay Marriage Supporter Abhors Mozilla’s Decision to Fire Eich.

This is no more than political correctness gone berserk. It is totalitarianism flying under the banner of marriage equality. How reactionary, how fascistic, and, yes, how darkly comic is that.

And to give you an idea how dangerous this is, for those who don’t already know, the names of those who donated to Proposition 8 were leaked by the IRS in 2012 to the same-sex marriage supporting Human Rights Campaign who then posted those returns, for a time, on their website. Human rights, but apparently not for Brendan Eich.

The weird part of all this is that gay marriage is virtually a fait accompli in our culture. Leading politicians in both parties either back it or say that it should be decided by the states. But the Robespierres go on.

Related: Andrew Sullivan Worries LGBT Movement Becoming Like Religious Right. Has become.

JOSH MARSHALL WONDERS WHY RICH PEOPLE FEEL PERSECUTED. Josh has a lot of psychological interpretations, but perhaps we should revisit something that Ed Driscoll guestblogged here a while back:

But hey, what could go wrong with such a speech? Other than America’s class warrior-in-chief might use soothing, diplomatic language that suggests getting opponents’ faces and punching back twice as hard? Or these earlier examples of the president’s pro-business rhetoric:

Here’s Barack Obama on the campaign trail, in February of 2008:

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

There’s this quote from an attorney who deposed Chrysler’s president in May of 2009:

“It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers… It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force.”

“My administration,” the president told bank CEOs in April of 2009, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Obama as quoted by the New York Times in March of 2009 on AIG bonuses:

“I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry. I’m angry,” Mr. Obama said, his voice reaching a peak seven days after learning of the bonuses given to employees of the American International Group. “What I want to do, though, is channel our anger in a constructive way.”

Obama during the BP oil spill:

“I was down there a month ago, before most of these talkin’ heads were even paying attention to the gulf. A month ago…I was meeting with fishermen down there, standin’ in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. and I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminare, we talk to these folks because they potentially…have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

Obama in April of 2010, in the middle of a speech on Wall Street “reform” blurted out, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

In June of 2008, Jim Geraghty spotted this telling passage in a book by David Mendell titled Obama: From Promise to Power:

“[Obama] always talked about the New Rochelle train, the trains that took commuters to and from New York City, and he didn’t want to be on one of those trains every day,” said Jerry Kellman, the community organizer who enticed Obama to Chicago from his Manhattan office job. “The image of a life, not a dynamic life, of going through the motions… that was scary to him.”


That’s
the pro-business president you want giving a “healing speech about class and inequality,” and urging “an end to attacks on the rich.”

Today at the Washington Post, former GWB speechwriter Michael Gerson notes that “The brand of the Obama reelection campaign, so far, is ruthlessness:”

Obama’s agenda, strategy and rhetoric are now solidly blue — perhaps for sound political reasons. But Obama’s talent for inspiration was the single most interesting thing about him as a politician. Without that aspiration, what is left of his appeal? This is the reason his Ohio speech seemed so boring, particularly in comparison to his speeches four years ago. There was little that couldn’t be said by any liberal politician, at any time. Obama has lost more than a campaign talking point; he has lost one of the main reasons for his rise.

What principle or purpose unites Obama’s initial campaign with his current reelection effort? There is little obvious continuity — apart from one, unchanging commitment. The cause that has outlasted hope and change is Obama himself.

There have always been two parts of Obama’s political persona, both of which were essential to his rapid advancement. There is the Hyde Park Obama, lecturing on constitutional law, quoting Reinhold Niebuhr and transcending old political divisions. There is also the South Side Obama, who rose in Chicago politics by doing what it takes.

This is not unusual. All politicians believe that their tenacity and competitiveness are servants to their idealism. But as the Hyde Park Obama fades, the South Side Obama becomes less appealing.

All of the atmospheric elements of politics — unity, bipartisanship and common purpose — are significantly worse than four years ago. This is not all Obama’s fault. But he is choosing — in a campaign so nasty, so early — to make it worse. At some point, ruthlessness just leaves ruins.

To paraphrase Peter Arnett, Obama apparently believes it’s necessary to destroy the country in order to save it.

So, you know, that kinda stuff might have something to do with it. Then, of course, there’s the IRS targeting, the Standard & Poor’s retaliation, and the like. You know, the basic political thuggishness for which Chicago politicians are known, and which Obama — despite the flavor of his 2008 campaign, now largely forgotten — now embodies. “When the President says something, it becomes policy.”

Anyway, that might explain things, for those having trouble grasping what’s going on. What’s interesting, though, is that a lot of lefties act genuinely puzzled that anyone could respond to this kind of behavior by feeling threatened or upset. But when a Republican Administration talks about keeping a boot on the neck of its enemies, perhaps they’ll understand. They’ve certainly gone crazy over far less.

But the real irony, of course, is that the very rich have been disproportionately supporters of Obama and other left-wing causes — I’m talking to you, Google folks — and if every billionaire in the country was hanged tomorrow, the toll would lean heavily toward Obama donors. So I guess Lenin got it wrong: The capitalists don’t sell the rope they’re hanged with. They donate it. Seems like a bad deal to me, but what do I know? I’m not a billionaire. But perhaps the people who are suffer from false consciousness. And maybe that’s breaking down now, which would explain why the lefties are so upset. . . .

UPDATE: Related thoughts here: “It starts at the top. The President of the United States has used his bully pulpit to openly criticize and try and create class division. He has used the emotions of envy, jealousy, and fear to get the movement started. . . . The income divide in the US is more a result of Federal Reserve and government policy than any technological change.”

GANGSTER GOVERNMENT: S&P Gets the Pitchfork Treatment: The Obama administration retaliates with a fraud suit . . . or is it a fraudulent suit?

A dour President Obama was in no mood to hear about Wall Street’s troubles. “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks,” he warned a room full of the nation’s banking titans.

They’d been summoned to the White House woodshed over what Dear Leader had decided was excessive compensation for industry execs. The president had been on the job for less than three months, but his community-organizer roots were already showing: the fraudulent narrative — in this instance, “income inequality” — helped along by whatever arm-twisting the occasion required. The narrative camouflages execution of the statist game-plan: (1) government creates problem, (2) government locates scapegoat, and (3) government exploits scapegoat to juxtapose itself as savior — rationalizing more regulation and more power.

The pitchfork imagery leapt to mind this week because Timothy Geithner, Obama’s tax-challenged former Treasury secretary, was back in the news — specifically, the extortion news. Turbo Tim had been in the room back in 2009, absorbing the boss’s lesson in Alinsky-style government-corporate relations. Now we learn, at least according to Standard & Poor’s top honcho, that Geithner made the Obama method his own.

In an affidavit filed in a California federal court, S&P chairman Harold McGraw III alleges that on August 8, 2011 — i.e., when the Obama reelection campaign was gearing up — Geithner tracked him down by phone. The then-secretary was irate because, three days earlier, S&P had downgraded the credit rating of the United States to a notch below triple-A for the first time in history. McGraw had been forewarned by a Geithner associate that the secretary “was very angry at S&P.” When the two men finally spoke, Geithner ripped McGraw for having “done an enormous disservice to yourselves and to your country.” He further warned that S&P’s insolence — er, I mean, S&P’s decision — would “be looked at very carefully” and would prompt “a response from the government.”

You know, a lot of us out here in America have pitchforks of our own.

THEY SHOULD ALL BE CARRYING PITCHFORKS: ‘Looks Like Weimar Germany’: The Viral Photo Out of Connecticut That’s Giving Some Gun Owners Chills.

CATHY REISENWITZ ON THE REALITY OF “DARK MONEY:”

The left’s preferred narrative is simple, easy-to-understand and has a ring of truth. It goes like this: Regulation helps consumers but hurts business’ profitability. Individuals give money to big-government organizations to promote regulation. Corporations donate to small-government organizations like Americans for Prosperity, the American Enterprise Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute to fight regulation.

But the fact that corporations also fund big-government organizations raises questions about this narrative. If regulation hurts corporations, why are they funding think tanks which promote it?

The truth is that most regulation is written by and for incumbent businesses to erect barriers to entry and to buy advantages over their competitors. That’s why corporations fund groups like the Center for American Progress.

Earlier this year, Center for American Progress donor Citibank hired lobbyists to literally write 70 out of 85 lines of a bill regulating derivatives trading which passed the House. If this regulation was meant to hurt Citibank’s profitability while defending their customers it’s unlikely to have done so.

There are three main reasons corporations like Citibank write their own legislation. First, lawmakers feel pressure from constituents to regulate industries about which their staffs know nothing; corporate lobbyists and lawyers provide much-needed information. Second, it’s much easier and faster for a company to understand and comply with a regulation it wrote. Third, and most important, companies write regulation that is easier and cheaper to comply for them than for their competitors.

And outfits like the Podesta-linked Center for American Progress are there to help. All in service of the .0001 percent. To the pitchforks!

THE HILL: Tech Execs To Confront Obama Over Spying.

The meeting will include Apple CEO Tim Cook, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.

Several Silicon Valley giants including Google, Facebook and Yahoo are lobbying Congress to restrict the NSA’s powers and make the agency more transparent. They warn that the surveillance is undermining trust in their services and hurting both their bottom lines and the U.S. economy.

A White House official said that in addition to discussing “the economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures,” the president will also discuss progress in HealthCare.gov, the troubled ObamaCare website. He will talk with the tech CEOs about how government can improve its technology services, the official said.

To coin a phrase, they’re the only people standing between him and the people with pitchforks. Maybe people should send some to the White House.

POLL: Americans want the government to stop banning everything they like. Pitchforks.

DAMAGED BRAND: Anger with the federal government is now the highest since at least 1997, Pew says. “The Pew Research Center, which conducted the survey, says this is the highest level of anger they have reported, or at least since they started asking the question in 1997.” Pitchforks are warranted.

UPDATE: Surprise! Obamacare health insurance exchange websites don’t work; HealthCare.gov a total mess.

OBAMA’S NOT-SO-HOT DATE WITH WALL STREET:

[N]egotiations over the implementation of the new Dodd-Frank financial regulations had made large Wall Street institutions, chiefly banks, wary of open war with the White House. “Most of them are scared stiff of the president,” a top Romney bundler on Wall Street told me recently. “Including the ones on our side.”

But by the beginning of the year, it had also become obvious to many on Wall Street that Obama’s campaign was going to take a populist turn. Some bankers believed that the administration’s strategy was to talk tough in public and play damage control in private, and they were sick of playing along.

One day in late October, Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, slipped into the Regency Hotel in New York and walked up to a second-floor meeting room reserved by his aides. More than 20 of Obama’s top donors and fund-raisers, many of them from the financial industry, sat in leather chairs around a granite conference table.
Messina told them he had a problem: New York City and its suburbs, Obama’s top source of money in 2008, were behind quota. He needed their help bringing the financial community back on board.

For the next hour, the donors relayed to Messina what their friends had been saying. They felt unfairly demonized for being wealthy. They felt scapegoated for the recession. It was a few weeks into the Occupy Wall Street movement, with mass protests against the 1 percent springing up all around the country, and they blamed the president and his party for the public’s nasty mood. The administration, some suggested, had created a hostile environment for job creators.

Messina politely pushed back. It’s not the president’s fault that Americans are still upset with Wall Street, he told them, and given the public’s mood, the administration’s rhetoric had been notably restrained.

One of the guests raised his hand; he knew how to solve the problem. The president had won plaudits for his speech on race during the last campaign, the guest noted. It was a soaring address that acknowledged white resentment and urged national unity. What if Obama gave a similarly healing speech about class and inequality? What if he urged an end to attacks on the rich?

As Orrin Judd writes, that’s from the New York Times, not the Onion. (Though admittedly sometimes it’s hard to tell the two apart.)

But hey, what could go wrong with such a speech? Other than America’s class warrior-in-chief might use soothing, diplomatic language that suggests getting opponents’ faces and punching back twice as hard? Or these earlier examples of the president’s pro-business rhetoric:

Here’s Barack Obama on the campaign trail, in February of 2008:

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

There’s this quote from an attorney who deposed Chrysler’s president in May of 2009:

“It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers… It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force.”

“My administration,” the president told bank CEOs in April of 2009, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Obama as quoted by the New York Times in March of 2009 on AIG bonuses:

“I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry. I’m angry,” Mr. Obama said, his voice reaching a peak seven days after learning of the bonuses given to employees of the American International Group. “What I want to do, though, is channel our anger in a constructive way.”

Obama during the BP oil spill:

“I was down there a month ago, before most of these talkin’ heads were even paying attention to the gulf. A month ago…I was meeting with fishermen down there, standin’ in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. and I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminare, we talk to these folks because they potentially…have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

Obama in April of 2010, in the middle of a speech on Wall Street “reform” blurted out, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

In June of 2008, Jim Geraghty spotted this telling passage in a book by David Mendell titled Obama: From Promise to Power:

“[Obama] always talked about the New Rochelle train, the trains that took commuters to and from New York City, and he didn’t want to be on one of those trains every day,” said Jerry Kellman, the community organizer who enticed Obama to Chicago from his Manhattan office job. “The image of a life, not a dynamic life, of going through the motions… that was scary to him.”


That’s
the pro-business president you want giving a “healing speech about class and inequality,” and urging “an end to attacks on the rich.”

Today at the Washington Post, former GWB speechwriter Michael Gerson notes that “The brand of the Obama reelection campaign, so far, is ruthlessness:”

Obama’s agenda, strategy and rhetoric are now solidly blue — perhaps for sound political reasons. But Obama’s talent for inspiration was the single most interesting thing about him as a politician. Without that aspiration, what is left of his appeal? This is the reason his Ohio speech seemed so boring, particularly in comparison to his speeches four years ago. There was little that couldn’t be said by any liberal politician, at any time. Obama has lost more than a campaign talking point; he has lost one of the main reasons for his rise.

What principle or purpose unites Obama’s initial campaign with his current reelection effort? There is little obvious continuity — apart from one, unchanging commitment. The cause that has outlasted hope and change is Obama himself.

There have always been two parts of Obama’s political persona, both of which were essential to his rapid advancement. There is the Hyde Park Obama, lecturing on constitutional law, quoting Reinhold Niebuhr and transcending old political divisions. There is also the South Side Obama, who rose in Chicago politics by doing what it takes.

This is not unusual. All politicians believe that their tenacity and competitiveness are servants to their idealism. But as the Hyde Park Obama fades, the South Side Obama becomes less appealing.

All of the atmospheric elements of politics — unity, bipartisanship and common purpose — are significantly worse than four years ago. This is not all Obama’s fault. But he is choosing — in a campaign so nasty, so early — to make it worse. At some point, ruthlessness just leaves ruins.

To paraphrase Peter Arnett, Obama apparently believes it’s necessary to destroy the country in order to save it.

RELATED: Charles Krauthammer on the “Divider-in-Chief.”

NO, NO, YOU’RE ONLY SUPPOSED TO BRING THE PITCHFORKS TO OPPONENTS OF THE REGIME! Protesters Occupy GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s Connecticut Front Lawn. “Occupy Wall Street protesters took a field trip from Zuccotti Park on Saturday morning, all the way to the wealthy suburban enclave of New Canaan, Conn., where they took their anger at income and tax disparity to GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s front lawn.”

I have to admit that In the land of the free, they tax me but not G.E.! is sorta catchy. No word on what President Goldman Sachs thought about this, but I note that the group involved, Working Families, is an offshoot of the ACORN group that was disbanded after a teen-prostitute scandal.

Plus, this pic from reader Steve Judkins shows the wave of anger that’s spreading across America.

UPDATE: “Glenn Beck Gets Results.” Heh.

ANOTHER UPDATE: “We Are The 5 Percent.” (Background here for those who don’t get it. Yeah, it’s kinda arcane . . . )

THE PROBLEM WITH THE #OCCUPY MOVEMENT — NO EXIT STRATEGY: “You come, you conquer, and then time passes, protesters get dirty and ugly, internal divisions crack them up, the nearby residents get disgusted, the local businesses get mad, and then what? There’s isn’t going to be a revolution. It’s not Egypt. In the end, they’ll have to break up and go home. Or hope the cops come in and bust them up so they can end with a bang.”

Well, that’s one problem. The other is that the value of the sword of Damocles is that it hangs, not that it falls. Obama told Wall Street that he was the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks. That scared them into line for a while. But now Wall Street’s sick of him, and doesn’t care. They’re not playing ball like they used to.

So he unleashed the pitchforks and what we got was the #occupy movement, a pathetic, and totally non-scary, embarrassment for the Democrats. Republicans are now hoping they’ll stay in place until November of 2012.

You just can’t get good goons these days.

Meanwhile, Andy Kessler reports from San Francisco.

Maybe this is all really about disappointment. I spoke to a young woman who had clearly bathed more recently than most. I asked her why she was at OccupySF. She told me she’d done all the right things. Studied hard. Graduated college. (She was an art major.) And now she can’t get a job. It didn’t matter. It’s all messed up. She was lied to.

Of course she was. She’s a member of the Trophy Generation. Win or lose, you get a trophy. We embraced mediocrity to an entire generation of kids during good times who are now finding themselves mediocre in bad times. There still is that American dream: Go to college, get a job, buy a Prius. But like it or not, studying art or humanities or gender studies won’t get you there. Marissa Mayer at Google complains she can’t find enough computer-science majors. Civil engineers are getting hired sight unseen.

Educating the whole child was bad advice. So was follow your passion. California spends months teaching ninth-graders how to build a waste-treatment plant with only a day or two on natural selection. I think Occupy Wall Streeters are as much disappointed with the route they all took as they are with “fat cat” bankers.

Plus, how to really occupy Wall Street — with, you know, actual skills and value added and stuff:

I must have rolled my eyes because Aaron introduced me to the guy. He had long hair, a scruffy beard and was holding an iPhone in one hand and a 5-hour ENERGY drink in the other. All entrepreneurs are trained for the elevator pitch, the 30-second description of what they do in case they are ever on a short elevator ride with a venture capitalist.

“I’ve taken the best of social networking and high-frequency trading and built a system that beats those Wall Street thieves at their own game. Users input their portfolio, it could be stocks or bonds or even derivatives and then we log each trade and anonymously share the spreads so everyone is on an even keel. First it’s just about information, but then we can start matching trades away from Wall Street. Its over for those guys, the status quo is toast.”

Apparently there’s more than one way to Occupy Wall Street.

Indeed.

BARRY RUBIN: The Left’s Very Anti-PC Strategy: Hate, Fear, Stereotype, and Treat Diversity as Evil.

When one talks to supporters of President Barack Obama, one quickly learns that his actual policies and their relative success or failure are of no importance for many of them. Some have defected, many more are worried (even if they won’t admit it publicly) but might overcome their doubts and vote for him again.

The significant factor shaping their views is one of self-image. . . . To support Obama makes them smart, sophisticated, anti-racist, modern, members of an intellectual and social elite standing against the yahoos with the pitchforks out in the provinces. From the defenders of the downtrodden, the left has transformed itself into the well-financed aristocracy sneering at the peasantry.

That’s why the theme of portraying the opposition as greedy, rich, fat-cat, corporate chieftains and simultaneously hillbilly, gun-toting, religious fanatic racists who think Obama is a Muslim-born in Kenya and want to reinstitute slavery is so incredibly effective in shoring up its base of support.

Even the simplest points of fact — that the Tea Party is a group of people opposed to big government, high taxes, tight regulation, and large deficits — barely appear amidst the propaganda aimed at discrediting any opposition as illegitimate.

If you can persuade people that anyone is insane if they want to cut economically unproductive government spending and not raise taxes at a time of massive depression and growing deficits, then you have a pretty good propaganda machine.

I don’t think it will be good enough, this time.

MARK STEYN: Selective Shaming: If Only Government Were As Accountable As British Tabloids.

We’re not talking about hacking a schoolgirl’s cellphone here. Real people are dead. Yet nobody’s going to close down any wing of the vast spendaholic DEATFBI hydra-headed security-state turf-war. And while Eric Holder, the buccaneering attorney general at the center of this wilderness of mirrors, doesn’t yet have as many Distinguished Public Servant of the Year awards as Beverly Hall, judging from his cheerfully upfront obstruction of the congressional investigation, he’s not planning on going anywhere soon.

So, at the News of the World, every single employee is clearing out his desk. But, at the Atlantic Public Schools, at the DEATFBI, life goes on. A curious contrast. The striking feature of Big Government, from Athens to Sacramento, is its imperviousness to any kind of accountability — legal, fiscal, electoral, popular. A media mogul, a bank chairman, an oil executive, a corporate-jet depreciation-claimant are easily demonizable: As President Obama cautioned CEOs a couple of years back, “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

More fool us. Our pitchforks are misdirected.

Indeed.

COURT UPHOLDS RIGHT TO BEAR PITCHFORKS. This is likely to become more relevant in the foreseeable future. . . .

FACING THE PENSION MESS: “Most of the nation’s 107 million private-sector workers are forced to accept 401(k) plans and other defined-contribution pensions — in which the employer makes a fixed contribution to the employee’s retirement account, rather than guaranteeing a fixed payout. By contrast, nearly all of the more than 22 million federal, state and local public employees enjoy defined-benefit pensions — with payouts fixed at some percentage of the individual’s pay for the last year or two they worked (often including overtime and payments for unused sick or vacation days).”

Nearly all is an exaggeration, I think. Or maybe I should feel worse about my own defined-contribution plan. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Michael Hankamer writes:

You should be grateful your employer set you up with a defined contribution plan. I retired (early, at 55); my employer’s defined benefit plan pays me roughly $16K/yr. No COLA. My “high 5” at the time was about $95K. That’s, er, 16% of annual earnings after 20 years. My employer was a large defense contractor.

My wife, when she retires in 2011, will receive roughly $13K for 20 years of teaching in VA and TX. That’s about 17% of her “high three” and roughly half what it would be had she stayed in either VA or TX for her entire career (be sure to read the fine print in your defined benefit plan).

Think that’s bad?

Social Security, if you think about it, is also a defined benefit retirement plan, with the “benefit” only loosely tied to the “employee’s” earning record. And it’s even worse. I’m fully retired now, and I get very near the SS maximum of $2349/month. If my FICA withholdings had been treated like a defined contribution plan, when I retired last month I could have purchased an annuity on the open market paying $3300/month.

If you want details, you can find them here.

I think he’s wrong about federal employees, too, except for military.

MORE: Another reader emails:

All federal employees, since 1987, are covered under FERS. There’s 3 parts to FERS, social security, TPS (our version of a 401k), and the basic benefit. The basic benefit is what Meister at the NY Post must mean by a defined benefit pension. See page 5 of this PDF. Here is a calculator for the payout of the basic benefit. If I reach the top of my payband (GS14) and retire when I’m 65 in 2041, it says I’ll get $41K a year from the basic benefit. I’m not sure what that’ll be worth in 2041, but it doesn’t sound bad now.

If you decide to share this, please leave out my name. I don’t want my back against the wall when the tax-payer revolt begins.

Hey, an Insta-Mention might help. As a great man once said, I’m all that’s standing between you and the pitchforks. . . .

CLAIRE MCCASKILL should be careful about invoking pitchforks.

PAPER MONEY: “As they prepare for holiday reading in Tuscany, City bankers are buying up rare copies of an obscure book on the mechanics of Weimar inflation published in 1974. . . . As a signed-up member of the deflation camp, I think the Bank and the Fed are right to keep their nerve and delay the withdrawal of stimulus — though that case is easier to make in the US where core inflation has dropped to the lowest since the mid 1960s. But fact that O Parsson’s book is suddenly in demand in elite banking circles is itself a sign of the sort of behavioral change that can become self-fulfilling.”

(Sort of) related: Deflation Defies Expectations—and Solutions. “The old bogeyman of deflation has re-emerged as a worry for the U.S. economy. Here’s something else to fret about: After studying more than a decade of deflation in Japan, economists have slowly realized they have no idea how it works.”

UPDATE: A hedge-fund reader emails:

Inflation helps the government hide its spending, while easing the burden on politically influential debtors and those who’ve lent against property. Deflation helps savers, salary earners and those on fixed incomes.

This is all VERY well understood.

What “Ivy League” governing elites don’t know, is how to finesse the politics of debasing the currency without inciting the pitchforks-and-torches crowd, whose latest manifestation has been the Tea Party movement.

Well, good.

NINA EASTON: What I saw at the SEIU thug protest at that banker’s home. “Has Captain Civility or his flack-in-chief been asked about this yet by any reporter, incidentally? Not that they’re obligated to answer for every sin committed by every crank on their side of the aisle; that privilege is reserved for Republicans. But after all the demagoguery about teabaggers gone wild coupled with all the finger-wagging at conservatives about disagreeing without being disagreeable, you’d think he might have thoughts on his closest union crony sending a rampaging horde to intimidate a banker at his home. But then, this is the guy who once told a group of financial CEOs, ‘My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.’” The precedent has been set. Don’t think people haven’t noticed. It’ll be pitchforks all around before this is over . . . .

STENY HOYER IS SUDDENLY WORRIED ABOUT PEOPLE WITH PITCHFORKS.

He was notably silent when it was President Obama making pitchfork threats, and when his political ally ACORN was busing mobs to executives’ homes. Man up, Steny. Or just, you know, shut up. You’re a hypocrite when it comes to thuggery, and you and your colleagues aren’t credible playing the victim.

KILL THE BILL: Thousands rally against ObamaCare in St. Paul. Some brought pitchforks.

MOE LANE NOTES THE PRECEDENT: Pitchforks, torches now acceptable for political demonstrations. “Feel free to pass that around the next time somebody has the vapors about a Tea Party protest…” Yes, as I noted yesterday it seems an unwise precedent for them to establish.

UPDATE: Reader Gregory Taggart writes: “Hey, where were all the African Americans at that protest? I didn’t see any; therefore, the left is racist. (For that matter, where were all the people who could act or read their lines?)”

Not just an all-white mob with torches and pitchforks, but worse: a no-talent all-white mob with torches and pitchforks! Well, remember, they’re union workers so they’ve always been opposed to paying them according to their, uh, performance . . . .

CARRYING PITCHFORKS AND TORCHES FOR OBAMACARE IN CONNECTICUT. I’m not sure this is a wise precedent for them to set just now . . . .

MASSACHUSETTS IS THE MOB. And that’s not making folks at the NYT happy. They were hoping for a different batch of people with pitchforks, than they wound up with, apparently.

UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer: “You would think lefties could discern a proletarian vanguard when they see one.”

BERNANKE’S NOMINATION in trouble. “I’d now say it’s quite likely that his nomination will not make it through the Senate. They need someone to strike at to take voters minds off the health care bill and the debacle in Massachusetts. I think Ben Bernanke just got nominated to lean into the strike zone and take one for the team.”

It’s getting crowded under that bus. Meanwhile, I wonder if rumors of Bernanke’s trouble have been helping to drive the markets down. Probably not as much as the bad news on housing and unemployment, and the idiotic bank-bashing from the White House.

UPDATE: A hedge-fund reader emails: “Bernanke’s re-nomination issues have totally freaked out the markets, largely accounting for today’s selloff. A Senate shoot-down would be without precedent, and given all the other hand grenades lobbed toward the Street this week, this issue was clearly ‘the last straw.’ These clowns are playing with fire. Their cluelessness is frightening the pinstripe boys who thought they’d bought off area code 202.” They’re not honest politicians. They don’t stay bought.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Stephen Clark writes: “Apropos of your hedge fund trader’s comment: Would those advocating for a government takeover of 401K’s really mind a chaotic market?” Yes, they would, though they may not realize that yet. When the folks with pitchforks show up, though, they will . . . .

MORE: Regarding a 401k takeover, a reader emails:

In addition to being many folks’ core retirement nest egg, the various 401k-type accounts are an enormous source of income for Wall Street.

They’re a very reliable, stable source of fee income. Any Washington effort to force-convert them into ordinary govt IOUs would find the pinstripe boys personally financing the tar and pitchfork crowd.

It’s really shaping up to be a perfect storm, isn’t it?

YOUR TAX DOLLARS USED AGAINST YOU. “This Friday, taxpayer funded researchers will brief politicians in Congress on how to improve their approval ratings by avoiding face-to-face townhall meetings with voters.”

Don Surber comments: “After reading this, I am sure many people will lay down their pitchforks and torches — and pick up their tar and feathers.” That’s starting to sound like a theme . . . .

MORE VIDEO: Doggin’ Doggett.

UPDATE: Doggett calls protesters a “mob.” Remember when Obama told the bankers that he was the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks? Well, Lloyd, he can’t help you here . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Wendy Cook emails:

I think that “mob” quote is a preview of how these protests are going to be characterized, maybe by the media and certainly by politicians like Doggett. I live in Dallas and the Doggett video led yesterday’s 6pm local ABC affiliate news. The title of the story was something like “Hollerin’ About Healthcare” and Doggett made his allegations about Libertarian and Republican involvement on-camera. No camera time for anyone else to refute that claim. And no real explanation of the protestors’ positions — just a lots of “hollerin’!”

It stood out to me because a few hours earlier I heard a Rush Limbaugh caller claim that these townhall protests are actually coordinated by insurance companies who plant people and script their questions. This must be the two new lines of defense for people like Doggett — these are “mobs” and/or insurance company stooges. So depressing. And somewhat reminiscent of the Clinton-Carville “nuts and sluts” and right-wing conspiracy talk whenever there was a sex scandal.

And just for contrast:

When ACORN protested several Dallas banks back in May, the local paper hardly characterized them as “hollerin’.” And no one from the banks accused ACORN of being part of a larger, orchestrated effort. (Well, no one from the banks evidently was asked for a comment.)

Yes, absurdly orchestrated events on the left are treated as flowerings of genuine grassroots sentiment, even when media outnumber the protesters.

MORE: Alinsky in August?

MORE ON TODAY’S PITTSBURGH TEA PARTY PROTEST:

Several thousand people jammed into Allegheny Landing on the North Shore Saturday afternoon for an event dubbed as a “Tea Party” to protest what they believe is excessive government spending to bail out faltering corporations and the economic stimulus package.

Meanwhile, another “A New Way Forward” flop in St. Louis. “The crowd?… 13, maybe 14 people. It was a bust.” Meanwhile, compare the photos. Here’s the St. Louis Tea Party protest from February, which drew 1,200-1,500 people.

teapartystlouis

And here’s today’s “A New Way Forward” bank protest in St. Louis:

anwfstlouis

Hey, no mocking these people, who did show up. And protest, remember, is patriotic. But it does seem that the energy is on the anti-big-government side these days, doesn’t it? Note that this is how Obama’s pro-stimulus “house parties” worked out, too: “Few supporters are answering President Barack Obama’s call for nationwide house-party gatherings this weekend to build grass-roots support for his economic stimulus plan.”

Is Obama’s popularity a paper tiger? It certainly seems that he no longer inspires grassroots energy the way he did as a candidate. He can summon people with pitchforks — but the question is . . . will they come?

More contrast. Plus, much more on Tea Party protests in Pittsburgh and elsewhere, plus various ANWF events, in this post.

UPDATE: From the ANWF site: “Looking for protestors . . . “

ANOTHER UPDATE: Dan Riehl on Jane Hamsher: “If serious people on the Left weren’t concerned over the Tea Party movement, their new media apparatchiks wouldn’t be trying to dismiss, or marginalize it by falsely claiming it’s being sponsored by Fox News, or some dangerous Right Wing fringe. If there’s any culprit in a media sense here, it’s the mainstream media for failing to report a serious and growing grassroots American movement that is truly ground up and not beholden to one Party or some few special interest groups. . . . The Left can’t quite figure out the script for the Tea Party movement because there isn’t one beyond what is being written as it grows. But it is being written. And at this rate, a good number of politicians from both parties are going to have to start reading from it eventually because enough American voters are going to demand it.”

Plus, “pretend fear/outrage.” Hey, wait, I thought dissent was the highest form of patriotism! What happened to all that talk?

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More on the Pittsburgh protest here:

“Hello, Boston!” Robert Baehr shouted from the podium before a crowd of about 1,500 gathered in the noon sunshine yesterday at Allegheny Landing, on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. . . .”This is not an anti-Obama rally, this is an anti-government rally,” he told his audience, many of whom had tea bags dangling from their baseball caps and purses.

Still, there were plenty of signs displaying antipathy to President Barack Obama.

“Feminist Nation Against Obama Nation Tax and Spend,” read one poster carried by Jeamour Matthews, 49, of North Braddock. The president’s economic policies “will take us into bankruptcy,” Ms. Matthews said, adding that she actually blames both Republicans and Democrats for the country’s financial woes.

“They’re both different wings on the same vulture,” she said.

Ouch. Plus, another Tea Party protest in Williamsburg, Virginia:

The posters said it all.

“I am not your ATM.” “No More Bailouts.” “Fair Tax Not Slave Tax.”

And that’s just what the protesters meant.

About 300 people attended the Colonial Area Tea Party at the College of William and Mary on Saturday to rally against taxation and government spending. . . . “We are protesting what we believe is irresponsible and awful …,” rally organizer Michael Young told the crowd. “If Democrats claim to love the poor, why are they taxing the poor?”

Williamsburg resident Bob Warren said government officials need to follow the Constitution to get things back on track.

“This is the silent majority taking to the streets,” he said. “If the politicians don’t understand the significance of the silent majority protest, they are going to find themselves on the streets working like the rest of us.”

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, who spoke during the rally, said his office received thousands of tea bag tags.

Stay tuned. And here’s a blog report from Pasadena, where hundreds showed up.

PITCHFORKS: Thailand Evacuates Leaders from Asian Summit After Protests.

WATCH OUT FOR THE PITCHFORKS: Obama’s got it wrong. It’s the bankers who will pull his and the Democratic Party’s chestnuts out of the fire.

THOUGHTS ON Obama, pitchforks, and political threats.

MURTHA UPDATE: Ex-Pittsburgher in middle of earmark scandal.

Described as bright, blunt and ambitious, Mr. Magliocchetti left a post as a staff member for the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee more than 20 years ago and set up shop as PMA Group, which became the premier lobbyist for defense firms seeking billions in federal dollars. Last year alone, PMA’s clients paid the firm $13.5 million to help them secure hundreds of millions in federal contracts.

“He was a guy who knew how to put the pieces together,” says one congressman, a close friend who spoke only on condition of anonymity, worried at the consequences of being tied publicly to a man now at the center of the newest lobbying scandal. Those pieces fell apart with frightening speed amid a federal investigation that ended Mr. Magliocchetti’s career and turned a harsh light on the long-standing practice of steering federal dollars to pet projects, a practice known as earmarks.

Now, with prosecutors investigating Mr. Magliocchetti’s political giving, as well as about his connections to various members of Congress, the controversy over earmarks has gathered renewed momentum with Mr. Magliocchetti, a Pittsburgh native, as its focus.

“It seems to me in our system, even Magliocchetti is innocent until he’s proven guilty,” said Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Johnstown.

Yeah, it’s not like he works for AIG or anything. But who will stand between him and the people with pitchforks? Murtha? I’d say that the “even Magliocchetti” language suggests not so much — despite this: “Mr. Murtha, chairman of the powerful defense appropriations subcommittee, has worked closely with Mr. Magliocchetti and others from PMA.”

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED if you were out, you know, having a life this weekend:

Threats of pitchforked mob violence. (More on that here and here).

Does cable-news hype promote mass shootings?

Tea Party protests in Long Island and Santa Barbara.

Politicizing the Justice Department? More on that subject here.

Worries about shutting down the Internet.

An Ann Althouse love story.

And the continuing relevance of Atlas Shrugged.

MORE ON PITCHFORKS, FROM MOE LANE:

So, I guess this leads to the next question, Mr. President. You say that there are pitchforks out there, and maybe there are. But are you really standing between them and the bankers?

Or are you trying to get the bankers to stand between them and you?

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Me And My Pitchfork.

HMM: “My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

The pitchforks that he’s been assiduously stirring up. But this pitchfork business works all sorts of ways . . .

UPDATE: “Either way, they’re getting forked.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh.

pelosireidpitchfork

READER FRED SIESEL sends a report from today’s NYC Tea Party protest:

Just got back from the NY Tea Party. You will, I’m sure, be getting more detailed reports, with photos, but this is an “early” report. I arrived at the City Hall park forty minutes before the scheduled time and began to wonder if I made a mistake on the details. I spent a little time and money in J&R Music and went across the street to the park about 20 minutes of two. There were a disheartening 30-40 people there. But, the number quickly began to increase. My guess as to the size of the crowd was circa 300. Many carried placards. The theme most common to most of them was “No to Socialism”. I jotted some of the, to me, “memorable” signs:

No to American Socialism
Socialism Kills
Pork the Other (Red) Meat
Liberty is All the Stimulus We Need
United States of France
Trickle Up Poverty, and
Foreclose the White House

There were also two signs, one quoting Margaret Thatcher and the other amending a Ronald Reagan line during the 1980 campaign.

The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

A recession is when your neighbor loses his job.
A depression is when you lose your job.
Recovery begins when Jimmy (Obama) Carter lose his job.

There was also a noteworthy t-shirt with the following:

To: The New York Times
Why are terrorists innocent until proven guilty
But, NYC Cops guilty until proven innocent?

The back of the t-shirt had the same question, except for the substitution of U.S. Marines for NYC Cops. The fellow wearing it said he was a former Marine.

There were reporters there from the two 24-hour local NYC stations: WCBS and WINS.

Many people got up to say their piece. Common theme: Liberty/freedom vs. Socialism/Marxism.

Still going strong when I left after an hour.

Looking forward the the pictures you post and to find out how by how much my crowd estimate differed.

I’ll post some later tonight; they’ve started to come in.

UPDATE: Here’s one, courtesy of reader Robert McManus:

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Abbie Meyer writes:

I drove in from Summit New Jersey for the New York City Tea Party today. There were about 150 people which is pretty good considering we were so deep in enemy territory. The crowd was polite but angry at the usual cast of Democrat characters. Lot’s of good signs. Obama…Commander and Thief ” was my favorite.

There is some real potential for this movement if organized around a central theme. 15 or so speakers of varying quality, invited and impromptu, with various conservative gripes. There was no discernible NYC media there except perhaps Univision. We are supposed to send tea-bags to our elected Representatives.

I think this movement will build as conservatives get more upset and more organized. They will be joined by moderates with pitchforks by the fall. Hopefully it won’t be too late to stop the madness by then. The next one will be better and bigger I’m sure.

Quite likely. Plus, another picture from reader Shelley Hartman, who estimates the crowd at 400.

MORE: Reader John Helferich writes:

Attendance 400, measured by head count.

Press: NY Post, NYU Student Newspaper, WINS Radio (shown below)

Crowd was enthused and full of “normal” people. Only a few cranks. No counter protests, just one kid tried to sing out a few lines of the “Marseillaise” while walking thru.

And here’s a report at the Berman Post.

IN NEW JERSEY, A TAX REVOLT: No pitchforks, but angry protesters storm Hoboken City Hall. “Holding posters and megaphones, an angry mass of about 250 Hoboken residents assembled outside Hoboken City Hall tonight, taunting Mayor Dave Roberts and the City Council and angrily shouting against the recent 47 percent property tax increase.” I think we’ll be seeing more of these.

MORE PITCHFORKS.

A PALACE REVOLUTION AT THE GUARDIAN?

I don’t know about those rumors, but some peasants with pitchforks have been seen roaming the hallways.

MATTHEW YGLESIAS is defending the press from charges of engaging in behavior that some of its members have admitted (rooting for American defeat), while accusing me of something I didn’t do (inciting vandalism against the NYT).

Yglesias omits any mention of journalistic admissions (some collected or linked here) of delight at problems in Iraq, or even hope for a U.S. defeat. On the other hand, he accuses me of a “campaign to incite the defacement of New York Times distribution boxes.” However, if you read the post in question, you’ll see a crucial phrase undercutting Yglesias’ thesis: “Don’t do that!” (To his credit, Yglesias links the post, but he never explains how this could constitute incitement. However, though accusing me of advocating “mob violence,” he fails to note this post, in which I talk about how press irresponsibility may undermine press freedom in the context of changed First Amendment law, not peasants with pitchforks.)

Though Yglesias has gotten shriller since joining the Kuttner empire, this is unworthy of him, and I’m disappointed. However, his touchiness on this subject makes me think that perhaps the press realizes that its behavior is harming its reputation. And it is. Instead of blaming the messenger, perhaps a bit of soul-searching would be in order.

UPDATE: Matt is charged with violating Godwin’s law here and here. And reader John Mattaboni calls on me to note this straw man:

Yglesias: “The argument here – that everything is fine except the media coverage – is absurd on its face.”

It’s absurd on its face because no one is asserting that but him.

Good point. In fact, I’ve made the contrary observation before. For a more nuanced (it doesn’t compare me, Michael Barone, and Morton Kondracke to Hitler!), if still somewhat defensive, response to the press criticism, read this post by Jay Rosen.

SPEAKING OF CNN — they’re now calling John Muhammad “John Williams,” in an apparent policy of only calling people by adopted Muslim names when they’re not terrorists. (They don’t call Muhammad Ali “Cassius Clay,” now do they?)

This seems to be part of an overall move to “de-Islamicize” the sniper case. For the authorities, there are two obvious motivations for this. First, if it’s “not terrorism,” then the fact that it happened isn’t a failure of “anti-terrorism.” Second, to the extent that people buy this it makes the anti-American Islamic movement look weaker. For the PC forces of the media, it probably appears necessary to ensure that mobs of peasants with torches and pitchforks won’t set out for the nearest mosque. (Though in fact such distortions make such violence more, not less, likely in my opinion, by breeding distrust of the authorities.)

Anyway, here’s the actual bin Laden fatwa, which clearly encompasses individual acts of terror against America. So the notion that an Islamic terrorist has to be a card-carrying member of Al Qaeda to be a genuine terrorist is absurd under its own terms. Excerpt:

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies–civilians and military–is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, “and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,” and “fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God.” . . .

We — with God’s help — call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.

(Emphasis added.) Now this doesn’t tell us the specific motivations of John Muhammad, but it does make clear that claims that people who act without a direct connection to Al Qaeda, or people who also rob liquor stories, can’t be Ladenite terrorists are just, well, wrong.

(Fatwa link via Neal Boortz). NOTE: Reader Haggai Elitzur has sent this 1998 analysis of the Fatwa by Bernard Lewis from Foreign Affairs. Lewis’s translation differs slightly; Elitzur says it’s better, but I’m not in a position to judge. Don’t miss this point in which Lewis notes that that even if most Muslims disagree with this kind of reasoning (and they do) only a few need believe it to create problems. STILL MORE: Aziz Poonawalla emails that it’s not a real fatwa, but a call to hirabah (senseless or stupid war), and sends this link to a discussion on alt.muslim on the subject.

UPDATE: And as people have tried to minimize the Al Qaeda connection to the Bali blast, too, it’s worth remembering that bin Laden threatened Australia last year based on its role in the independence of East Timor.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reid Stott emails this link to the arrest warrant, which uses the name “John Williams.” He adds: ” agree with what you’re saying re: playing down the adopted Muslim name, but it isn’t CNN that’s doing it.” Well, it isn’t just CNN. As I said, the government has an interest in playing down this connection, too.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Jay Caruso responds.

STILL MORE: Then there’s this from The Smoking Gun:

A jovial, laughing John Allen Muhammad can be heard on an official audio recording of the alleged sniper’s appearance last year in Pierce County District Court to formally change his name. In April 2001, Muhammad made a brief appearance before Judge Molly Davis to request that his name be formally changed from John Allen Williams for “religion purposes” (he had converted to Islam years earlier). When Davis granted the name change after only a few perfunctory questions, Muhammad joked, “I feel cheated,” since he was not called on to present witnesses or paperwork or approach the bench. “These are fairly routine,” Davis said.

(Emphasis added). There’s streaming audio of the hearing there, and lots of other links. Reader Allan Gornow, who sends the link, remarks: “Perhaps Ted Turner will provide some decent computers to his news operation so they can access significant information about serious stories.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Herbert says I’ve gone off the deep end on this issue. Well, I was thinking about why this bugs me so much while I was shopping, Lileks-like, at Target. What this reminds me of is the Administration’s absurd claim last year that no one could possibly have foreseen the 9/11 attacks. It may have been true that the failure to prevent the attacks was entirely non-culpable — but the claim that they were utterly unforeseeable was so absurd that it was an insult.

Likewise, it may well turn out that — despite rather a lot of suggestive evidence — the sniper attacks by a guy named Muhammad who said he supported the 9/11 attackers and who seems to have had a lot of money and airplane tickets for a homeless guy will turn out to be pure, garden-variety nuttiness. But that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people seem to be bending over backward to be sure it looks that way, and that’s why I’m harping on the issue.

LAST UPDATE: Natalie Solent explains what I mean.