Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Congress

Well, I’m in South Carolina for a few days doing what might be considered by some to be actual work. And while the living is easy, the Internet connection is spotty. So my posts will be pithy.

As I roamed the digital media world early this a.m. I read two stories, both about groups that are trying to influence public opinion and decision-makers. One involves the demonstrations on Wall Street and elsewhere. The other involves the influx of lobbyists to the halls of Congress.

First, Frank Rich, opining in New York, “The Class War Has Begun“:

What’s as intriguing as Occupy Wall Street itself is that once again our Establishment, left, right, and center, did not see the wave coming or understand what it meant as it broke. Maybe it’s just human nature and the power of denial, or maybe it’s a stubborn strain of all-­American optimism, but at each aftershock since the fall of Lehman Brothers, those at the top have preferred not to see what they didn’t want to see. And so for the first three weeks, the protests were alternately ignored, patronized, dismissed, and insulted by politicians and the mainstream news media as a neo-Woodstock for wannabe collegiate rebels without a cause—and not just in Fox-land. CNN’s new prime-time hopeful, Erin Burnett, ridiculed the protesters as bongo-playing know-nothings; a dispatch in The New Republic called them “an unfocused rabble of ragtag discontents.” Those who did express sympathy for Occupy Wall Street tended to pat it on the head before going on to fault it for being leaderless, disorganized, and inchoate in its agenda.

Despite such dismissals, the movement, abetted by made-for-YouTube confrontations with police, started to connect with the mass public much as the Bonus Army did with a newsreel audience. The week after a Wall Street Journal editorial claimed that “no one seems to care very much” about the “collection of ne’er-do-wells” congregating in Zuccotti Park, the paper released its own poll, in collaboration with NBC News, finding that 37 percent of Americans supported the protesters, 25 percent had no opinion, and just 18 percent opposed them. The approval numbers for Occupy Wall Street published in Time and Reuters were even higher—hitting 54 percent in Time. Apparently some of those dopey kids, staggering under student loans and bereft of job prospects, have lots of parents and friends of all ages who understand exactly what they’re talking about.

The second article comes from Politico, “Supercommittee Lobbying: 200 companies, 12 members“:

In just six weeks, nearly 200 companies and special interests have reported that they’re lobbying the 12-member supercommittee.

It’s a stunning ratio of lobbyists to lawmakers but makes sense when you consider the high stakes faced by interests ranging from the health care industry to Native American tribes. The groups fear the supercommittee will find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction before Thanksgiving by cutting their funding or raising their taxes.

Lobbyists have blitzed Washington, blanketing Capitol Hill with phone calls to lawmakers’ offices, launching multiplatform advertising campaigns and working to activate grass-roots bases.

The scale of the effort, tabulated by POLITICO in a review of recent federal filings, suggests that companies are taking the committee seriously and hoping to blunt whatever comes their way, even as hopes fade on Capitol Hill for a major deal.

“There isn’t much of an upside here in terms of what we’re doing. … It’s not like they are looking at ways to improve anything,” said Rick Pollack, a lobbyist for the American Hospital Association. “They are just looking at ways to chop.”

Why does something tell me that of the two “occupations” the one under way Inside the Beltway will do the most damage?

OK. I’m off for my early a.m. run. And since I’m staying on an isolated plantation in the low country, my toes are crossed that I don’t get paced by an alligator.

Just sayin’.

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