Panem et circenses is Latin for “bread and circuses.” The phrase refers to the political practice of a ruling class providing the means of life and a little recreation to appease discontent amongst what might otherwise be the unruly mass of unwashed plebeians.
We have, for better or worse, advanced a bit over the past two millennia, though I suspect Roger Kimball might think otherwise. We are no longer obliged to trudge down to the Coliseum or Circus Maximus (no, that’s not the rock group) for our fill of blood sport, gore or just plain nonsense. We can witness the spectacle in the comfort of our homes. And with the magical capability to pause the action so as not to miss a sensational second, the need to relieve ourselves, or restock with some crunchy panem and preferred intoxicating fluid, is only a minor distraction.
On occasion, however, pre-planned activities will prove inadequate as diversionary tactic. At such times, when 500 cable channels prove insufficiently obfuscating, new headline grabbers must be invented to keep the restless populace distracted. And thus we have the latest pseudo-grass roots production of “Occupy Wall Street” coming soon to a political theatre near you. Though I care not a bit about such shenanigans, I do feel obligated to have at least some understanding of these “demonstrations” by Obama’s standing civilian security army. You know, the one he talked about during his campaign for President? So, off I am to see the wizards of punditry that I might be enlightened.
From Michelle Fields at the Daily Caller:
A liberal organizer told the Daily Caller on Thursday afternoon that he paid some Hispanics to attend “Occupy DC” protests happening in the nation’s capital.
TheDC attended the protest event, an expansion of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that began in New York City. Some aspects of the protest, it turned out, are more Astroturf than grassroots.
One group of about ten Hispanic protesters marched behind a Caucasian individual from the DC Tenants Advocacy Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting rent control in Washington, D.C.
Asked why they were there, some Hispanic protesters holding up English protest signs could not articulate what their signs said.
Interviewed in Spanish, the protesters told conflicting stories about how their group was organized. Some said it was organized at their church, and that they were there as volunteers. Others, however, referred to the man from the DC Tenants Advocacy Coalition — the only Caucasian in the group — as their “boss.”
TheDC asked that organizer whether he was paying the group to attend the protest, and he conceded that some protesters “aren’t” volunteers.
Now that’s distraction! Even the protesters don’t know what they’re protesting! But who’s behind it? Where’s money coming from?
Well, according to Matthew Vadum at frontpagemag.com:
Evidence suggests that ACORN, the Left’s premiere astro-turfing organization, has been paying people to participate in the Occupy Wall Street protests.
The sleazy, SEIU-funded Working Families Party, a front group for ACORN, placed a want ad on the Craig’s List website dated Sept. 26. The ad indicates that WFP was recruiting activists to carry out “direct action,” leftist argot for a variety of activities aimed at forcing sociopolitical change.
WFP’s ad is titled, “FIGHT TO HOLD WALLSTREET ACCOUNTABLE NOW! MAKE A DIFFERENCE GET PAID!” It states:
The WFP is seeking immediate hires.
You must be an energetic communicator, with a passion for social and economic justice.
Only outgoing, articulate dedicated, determined candidates will be considered for the positions.
For those candidates that qualify WFP offers substantial paid-training provided by senior leadership, on varied issues such as: advocacy, public speaking, mobilizing, fundraising, networking and organizing. We invest in passionate people with excellent communication skills and a full benefits package is offered to those candidates that qualify. In addition, there is opportunity for advancement and travel to our satellite chapters and out of state affiliates.
This is not a policy job! Through direct action you will be shaping NY state politics for the next 20 years.” [emphasis added]
As previously reported, WFP has been involved in organizing the Occupy Wall Street protests since the beginning.
Sounds simple enough. The whole thing is just a progressive setup. Right?
However, GOP guru, high priest and Wall Street Journal pundit, Karl Rove, sees things a bit differently:
Democrats Court the Wall Street Protesters
The strategy risks alienating independents and blue-collar voters
The fact that it lacks a clear program means that Occupy Wall Street is susceptible to being captured by even more extreme elements. It’s no accident its rallies and marches around the country include signs extolling wacky causes and marginal, but highly organized, left-wing groups. Nothing draws ideologues who know what they want as fast as a malleable crowd that doesn’t.
What Democrats eager to latch on to the Occupy Wall Street protests don’t seem to fully grasp is that these events are in part an expression of deep dissatisfaction with Mr. Obama and other D.C. Democrats. Some young Occupy Wall Street participants are angry because their economic future seems so bleak. They want someone to hold responsible for the absence of jobs. Others see Mr. Obama as insufficiently liberal. And some are simply nutty: A third of the protesters polled by New York magazine say the United States is as bad as al Qaeda.
While Mr. Obama and other top Democrats may be momentarily excited by the notion of a long-term relationship, Occupy Wall Street may not want to even go out for a date. The refusal of protestors in Atlanta to allow Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis to address their rally is just one sign this may not be a terribly Democratic-friendly crowd.
Huh? Is this, or isn’t this, an ACORN sponsored protest movement? If it is, then the Dems already own it lock, stock and barrel. And any seemingly anti-Dem statements or activities are naught but misdirection.
If Mr. Rove is to be believed, who really placed the recruitment ad in Craig’s List?
If you’d like to know whom I believe, here’s a hint: It’s not the fellow who, after hanging up his phone, broke into tears upon learning that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was not going to prosecute him for not having outed Secret Agent Valerie Plame to Robert Novak.
But this just begs the question as to why we’re seeing all this distractive activity in the first place. You may want to check the headlines published a bit before the placement date of the recruitment ad. Or maybe, something that was on page ten or so. But whatever the reasons are, they probably have nothing to do with Wall Street.