Who Thought of the Words “Occupy Wall Street”?

I know (and respect) that the Occupy Wall Street movement is leaderless, but I’m still curious who thought of the words Occupy Wall Street. You know that was one person, not a group. Maybe someday we will know. Kudos to whoever it was, because the phrase has become iconic, having now been parodied in a thousand different ways. It really does have a magical power, in a way that Seize Wall Street or March on Wall Street or Main Street vs. Wall Street never could.

Do you know? How do we find out? If Facebook could get Betty White on SNL, surely the hivemind of the internet can identify the person we have to thank for this contribution to the language.

I Hope He Can Find a Way to Answer This One.

The most depressing thing about S&P’s downgrading the credit rating of the United States is this: the absolute certainty that the Republican candidate for president in 2012, whoever he or she is, will be saying these words…

“Can you vote to re-elect the man who presided over the first credit rating downgrade in our nation’s history?”

The unfairness of that charge won’t do anything to mitigate its devastating effectiveness.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that someone at Standard & Poor’s is inserting himself into the political process and doesn’t want Obama to have another term.

Hot Coffee Makes Blood Boil.

If you’re not feeling your quota of rage just yet, watch the HBO documentary Hot Coffee. It starts with the famous “ridiculous” McDonald’s case, revealing that it was not ridiculous after all, and then goes on to show how corporations and the AMA, cleverly leveraging the popular perception of that case to convince Americans that we are too litigious, worked successfully with our state legislatures to get us to relinquish our rights to collect appropriate remedies through our judiciary system — the one branch of government that was open to us — when we’ve been harmed.

It doesn’t sound like fun, but the film is so riveting, I couldn’t stop watching. There’s a website for the film which contains links to organizations that are fighting this, which I’m going to give some money to. So the film not only showed me something new, it spurred me into action. The model of successful muckraking.

Republican Asses.

Here’s the only that surprises me about the budget impasse.

I fully accept that most Republicans in the House of Representatives are from districts where most of the people are stupid; these constituents don’t understand the scale of the financial catastrophe that will result from failure to reach an agreement to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, and, being relatively poor, don’t have much to lose if it happens, and so their congresspeople pander to them.

But a certain number of House Republicans — not a majority, but a not-negligible portion — come from suburban districts where most of the people have some education and a modicum of intelligence. And, more to the point, these constituents have money, and therefore stand to lose a lot of it when the market in every type of security collapses as a consequence of the U.S. defaulting on its debt. These Republican constituents, you would think, would be contacting their congresspeople and saying, “Look, you a-holes, do what it takes to come to some kind of agreement in time to prevent my portfolio from going down the toilet.” There ought to be enough Republicans from that kind of district to make a difference.

I still have faint optimism that the intelligent, monied, self-interested people in Republican congressional districts will exert this kind of pressure on their representatives, but I have to confess some head-scratching that it hasn’t happened yet.

It’s Good to Be Stupid.

I have no idea what the case against Casey Anthony was based on, so I can’t be angry today.

Ignorance. I recommend it.


When Hitler died, some immediately fretted that the USSR would fill half the power vacuum in Germany. And they weren’t wrong. But it didn’t change the fact that his death was a glorious day for the civilized world. As is this.

Let Them Eat 40-Day Dry-Aged Burger, Caramelized Ramps, Hostettler Bergblumenkaese Cheese, Seared Foie Gras, and Black Truffles.

From 312 Dining Diva comes this news about a menu item at David Burke’s Primehouse in Chicago:

…Guests can order the $225 (YES, you read that correctly!) sandwich that comes loaded with its famed 40-day dry aged burger. It’s topped with caramelized ramps pickled in-house, Vidalia onion, Hostettler Bergblumenkaese cheese, seared foie gras and shaved black truffles.

All that goodness is encased in foie gras brioche made in house (in which fresh, foie gras butter is incorporated into freshly baked brioche). You’ll also get lobster tater tots accompanied by a rich, creamy caviar Hollandaise for dipping.

Can the revolution be far off?

Now I Get Charlie Sheen.

It just dawned on me. If Charlie Sheen turned to drugs to deal with reality, it makes all the sense in the world. So would you, if you had any part in making Two and a Half Men happen every week.

The Truth about NPR.

Just as I exposed the health care debate to the sunshine of obvious common sense—which resulted in passage of the law, because all the members of Congress and the President read my blog—let me do the same for the NPR federal funding crisis.

Let’s start with a fact. NPR is liberal—if liberal means “having an ounce of compassion for your fellow man.” This distinction ought not be something NPR is ashamed of. NPR carries news stories that examine in depth the impact of events on the less powerful—stories that by and large are not explored elsewhere on the radio.

It’s ridiculous for us liberals to pretend that NPR isn’t liberal. It makes us look as if we’ve got something to hide when we pretend this, and it makes us look foolish.

The point isn’t that NPR is liberal. It is that in many parts of the country, especially the more rural parts, the local NPR station is the only local liberal voice on the airwaves. All else is Limbaugh and Beck.

If the Republicans in the House succeed in defunding NPR, the local NPR stations in New York, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston and Seattle will be fine. Those places have enough people in them to come up with the scratch to keep their local stations going.

But the local NPR stations in places like Kansas and Nebraska, where not so many people live, won’t be fine.

And that’s exactly the point.

The Republicans in Congress come from places like Kansas and Nebraska. They’d be happy to see the lone opposition voice in their legislative districts silenced. That’s what this is all about. It’s not about killing NPR. It’s about killing rural NPR stations, congressional district by congressional district.

Clarence Page, to his credit, gets to the crux of the matter in his Chicago Tribune op-ed piece today. To his discredit, it takes him 400 words to get to the crux, and even then he phrases it coyly (“Of course, maybe those same lawmakers would just as soon see fewer alternatives to conservative radio talk shows”), but you can’t have everything.

The Oscars This Year: Desecrating the Temple.

What the Oscars broadcast this year didn’t seem to realize is this: The movies are our national religion. We want to worship those who make them, and those who are in them, as gods. We want to regard the Oscars as a yearly sacrament and bow our heads before it. Yes, we also want those moments of fun when everything goes wrong, and we want the  moments when, to our shocked disbelief, a host’s brilliant snark makes us go “Oh no, you din’t!,” but we want them in the context of a show that knows how seriously, deep down, we take the movies. The movies, the good ones and the bad ones, and the glamor attendant to the movies, are the house wherein our culture’s soul resides.

This year—and it wasn’t just the fault of hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway, gosh-gee-willikers-out-of-place and lacking in decorum as they were—the Oscars seemed to treat the movies as “just the thing we actors and other folks do for a living,” not the national religion the movies are. The whole thing had the feel of a televised trade show. It was as if everyone involved believed that we, the audience, want the movies demystified for us, made real, made ordinary, minimized, stripped bare, made “relatable,” brought down to our level, exposed as operated by a man behind the curtain. No, it’s the opposite. We want the mystery; we want to believe in the Wizard. Stars are called stars for a reason–because they reside in the heavens. Having thrown back the curtain this year, the Oscars may or may not be able to close it again and make us believe. Perhaps the root disease is that Hollywood no longer believes in itself. Banksy was banned from the Oscars this year, but the Oscars spray-painted graffiti all over itself without him.