Second-Order Countermobilization

Gerard Magliocca

Gerard N. Magliocca is the Samuel R. Rosen Professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Professor Magliocca is the author of three books and over twenty articles on constitutional law and intellectual property. He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford, his law degree from Yale, and joined the faculty after two years as an attorney at Covington and Burling and one year as a law clerk for Judge Guido Calabresi on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Professor Magliocca has received the Best New Professor Award and the Black Cane (Most Outstanding Professor) from the student body, and in 2008 held the Fulbright-Dow Distinguished Research Chair of the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, The Netherlands. He was elected to the American Law Institute (ALI) in 2013.

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11 Responses

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    One difference from the Clausewitz situation may be that the notion of “side” is not so clear here. The OSW protestors aren’t favoring Obama’s policies, despite the Democrats’ attempts to co-opt the protest for their own advantage. If OSW develops a broader base of support, then that will put pressure on the Administration, too. In that case, then as in the Vietnam Era this could be more like a four-person game evolving into three-person (GOP, Dems, protesters, the electorate … with the latter two groups diffusing into each other and merging).

    BTW “Wechselwirkung” (interaction) already is a concept in constitutional jurisprudence, though in quite a different sense, and perhaps no longer so currently.

  2. Shag from Brookline says:

    I took the bait on A. J.’s link and felt like Mark Twain on one of his trips to Germany listening to a German political speaker. My two years of high school German at Boston English High School (Class of 1947) was of very little help as the best I could recall was the drinking song we learned “Mein Hoot Er Habt Drei Eckern” (or something like that). (I used to sing the song to my kids together with the usual children’s lullabies, and then I would translate.)

    In physics, every action results in an equal but opposite reaction. (I had also learned that at EHS.) But politics goes beyond physics, as the opposite reaction may not be equal. Consider the Tea Party movement that reacted so quickly after the election of Obama, America’s first African-American President. Even assuming that the Tea Party was spontaneous, what became clear very quickly was that many if not most of the Tea Party members had been strong supporters of Bush/Cheney until the surfacing of the Great Recession in 2008 and the start of Bush/Cheney’s Treasury efforts to address the economic plight. So from day one of Obama’s Administration, the Tea Party took the offensive against him. The neo-con Republicans in effect co-opted the Tea Party. So even before the Obama Administration had a chance to govern, the mantra started that Obama had to be limited to one term. (I won’t focus on the make-up of the Tea Party members; just Google away.)

    OWS surfaced a very short time ago, much longer than it took the Tea Party to oppose Obama. And as noted, OWS is not a product of the Democrats. I doubt that the Democrats will be able to co-opt OWS as the GOP has been co-opted by the Tea Party.

    Gerard’s reference to ” … a large political mobilization in 2008 behind President Obama” is quite different from the Tea Party and OWS movements, since Bush/Cheney in its second and final term had burnt down America in the course of its 8 years. Consider the GOP reaction, including in particular its secret weapon Sarah Palin, sheer desperation. Even assuming the Tea Party movement at its inception was populist, it soon became the home for neo-cons who had been supportive of Bush/Cheney until its crash. So their target became Obama from just about day one.

    All reactions are not equal in politics. (It is the discomforts of the age factor that keep octogenarians like myself from joining OWS members in the field. We rely upon our youth in times of war. Why not now?)

  3. Brett Bellmore says:

    I think the OWS movement isn’t going to mean much of anything, except a well timed distraction, until organizers cease finding the need to pay people to join the protests, and can pull together more than a few hundred people at a time.

    Right now the movement is largely, though not entirely, astroturf. And benefiting powerfully from the positive side of media bias, with the cameras carefully avoiding the antisemites and open communists, the flip side of the way media cameras spurn the normal people to find the loons at right wing events. Even as the cameras generate the illusion of a mass movement, by avoiding shots which might put the size of the protests in context. The whole movement put together would be dwarfed by your average weekend gun show, or just about any other real event.

    This is not to say that the potential isn’t there for it to become a real mass movement. But I don’t believe that potential will ever be realized, because it can’t become such a movement without the organizers losing control of the mobs, who are being carefully managed to NOT follow the money back to the White house. They’ll spike it before they let it grow out of their control, because in the end it’s just a PR op.

  4. Shag from Brookline says:

    This by Brett on OWS displays his mindset:

    “The whole movement put together would be dwarfed by your average weekend gun show, or just about any other real event.”

    Perhaps Brett has in mind trumping the First Amendment with the Second Amendment, a real event in his mind.

    Also note his use of “astroturf’ – “media bias” – “avoiding the antisemites” – the media “cameras spurn the normal people to find the loons at right wing events” – “being carefully managed to NOT follow the money back to the White house” – “in the end it’s just a PR op”.

    Brett seems to provide all of the Fox/GOP talking points. It’s a media conspiracy! Brett might consider reporting from the field but that would require him to leave his gated community.

  5. Brett Bellmore says:

    No, I’m just comparing them to a popular type of gathering I’m familiar with. Perhaps I would have said that the whole movement seems smaller than some the of local high school football game audiences, but I’m not much into sports.

    As for the loony nature of the OWS movement, we have polling on the subject. Yes, they’re way out there, really way out there, and it takes a serious level of selective coverage to make them look even vaguely mainstream.

    My take on the movement is that Obama has arranged for those mobs with pitchforks he was talking about a few years ago to appear. Nothing the least bit spontaneous here. But he’d better be careful, the people he’s egging on here are genuinely dangerous, and he may lose control of them.

  6. Brett Bellmore says:

    Oh, and yes, antisemites.

  7. Shag from Brookline says:

    Brett accuses without cites:

    “My take on the movement is that Obama has arranged for those mobs with pitchforks he was talking about a few years ago to appear. Nothing the least bit spontaneous here. But he’d better be careful, the people he’s egging on here are genuinely dangerous, and he may lose control of them.”

    But that’s par for Brett’s “coarse.” It must be a conspiracy.

    While Brett is ” … not much into sports ” he apparently doesn’t get out of his gated community for much of anything. It was Brett who mentioned “your average weekend gun show” that he now seems to disavow as one he is familiar with. As to what’s “loony,” of course the Tea Party easily takes the honors with its longer existence.

  8. Brett Bellmore says:

    Wow, you can’t even tell the difference betweens somebody avowing familiarity with something, and disavowing it.

    Here, a cite for Obama and threats about mobs with pitchforks. His “Nice bank, be a pity if a mob came by and burned it down” gangster threat was lame at the time he made it, and the mobs turned out to be lame when he produced them, too.

  9. Shag from Brookline says:

    Brett disavowed the comparison he made; based upon Brett’s shooting from the lip on the Second Amendment in the past, I was well aware of his familiarity with and admiration for gun shows.

    As to Brett’s cite, it is to an article by Eamon Javers published April 3, 2009. The meeting dealt with, inter alia, high bank salaries and bonuses paid to employees, in conjunction with the bailouts started by Bush/Cheney’s Treasury in late 2008. Brett provides a quote: “Nice bank, be a pity if a mob came by and burned it down.” But the quote doesn’t appear in the text of the article, which does include: “My Administration,'” the president said, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” Keep in mind this is an April 3, 2009 report and the mood at that time. And then Brett offers that the president’s “gangster threat was lame at the time he made it, and the mobs turned out to be lame when he produced them, too.”

    So Brett’s position is that Obama sired the OWS movement some 30 months after the meeting discussed in the April 3, 2009 article. His extension from pitchforks to arson provides heat but not light to his accusations against Obama of producing the mobs. I’m not aware of any pitchforks or arson. What is clear is that Brett has provided no proof of his accusations, again, par for Brett’s “coarse.”

  10. Brett Bellmore says:

    Shag:

    I didn’t disavow anything. I compared the size of the OWS movement to a gun show, because I’m familiar with gun shows. When you (Predictably, I suppose, you get wacky if guns are mentioned.) objected, I mentioned that I might have compared the size of the movement to something else, but did not disavow the comparison.

    The 2nd amendment didn’t enter into it; Sometimes a gun show is just a gun show.

    Obama did indeed threaten the bankers with mobs with pitchforks. Of course he phrased it as a warning, not a threat, as any mobster or Chicago politician (But I repeat myself…) would typically do. Everyone understood it was a threat, and that he’d be the one to produce the mobs.

    Sure, his mobs did not appear instantly. They appeared when he needed them. But they’re still his mobs, in large part. As can be demonstrated by, as I said, the way they’re being managed to not follow the money from Wall Street to Obama. Wonder how long they can keep that up? These aren’t actors, after all, they’re real left wing extremists.

    I gave you the poll, no comments? OWS protesters are wildly unrepresentative of the public at large, being instead the “usual suspects” you’d expect the left wing of the Democratic party to produce any time they need a crowd of warm bodies. Dangerous loons, ready to riot at the drop of a hat, it just hasn’t suited their managers to have riots yet. Well, not any big riots, there was that attack on the National Space Museum.

    And, yes, the MSM are being very selective in their coverage of OWS, to conceal both the comparatively tiny nature of the protests, and the extremist rhetoric on display at them. The inverse of the ‘journalistic’ behavior I’ve seen first hand at right wing rallies, where the press would ignore all the cleanly dressed, sane looking people, to interview the unshaven guy in cammo with the gleam in his eye, and set up the camera angles carefully to avoid accidentally getting a woman carrying her baby in the picture. It’s comical, in a dark way, the way the media will go to such lengths to avoid getting any blacks or women with babies in the picture when photographing right-wing events.

    Granted, you come from the other end of the political spectrum, when you’ve been at rallies you’ve probably experienced at least moderately favorable ‘journalism’, not a no holds barred effort to paint you as a tiny band of lunatic asylum escapees. So perhaps you’re not familiar with that phenomenon.

    Bottom line: No, I don’t think it’s a real movement, it’s being carefully stage managed, with the help of the media. But it’s got the potential to become a real movement, if it escapes the handlers’ control. The Democratic party should be very worried about that, they’re playing with fire here, or at least arsonists. It’s not going to help them if their pet mob starts overturning cars and burning buildings, as the poll indicates many of them long to do.

  11. Shag from Brookline says:

    Brett claims:

    “Everyone understood it was a threat, and that he’d be the one to produce the mobs.”

    Since the meeting reported on in the April 3, 2009 article was private and, according to the report, attended by only a few , Brett’s reference to “everyone” presumably is limited to those in attendance. Have any of the bankers present stood up and said this a threat and that Obama would be the one to produce the mobs?

    Brett follows this with:

    “Sure, his mobs did not appear instantly. They appeared when he needed them. But they’re still his mobs, in large part. As can be demonstrated by, as I said, the way they’re being managed to not follow the money from Wall Street to Obama. Wonder how long they can keep that up? These aren’t actors, after all, they’re real left wing extremists.”

    Again, Brett flails and fails to provide proof. And what does Brett mean by not following the “money from Wall Street to Obama”? If OWS protesters are “real left wing extremists,” then the Tea Party members are real neo-con GOP-ers who can’t stand having an African-American as president.

    As to the “attack on the National Space Museum,” Brett conveniently omits the role of a right wing media instigator with that incident.

    Brett ignores responding to his quote on arson attributable to Obama as being from the April 3, 2009, article, until the end where he seems concerned that the Democratic party should be concerned with OWS protesters, “that, they’re playing with fire here, or at least arsonists. It’s not going to help them if their pet mob starts overturning cars and burning buildings, as the poll indicates many of them long to do.” This is wishful thinking on Brett’s part. But Brett won’t “man-up” on his arson quote attributed to Obama, apparently feeling secure in his gated community.

    It’s all a conspiracy for Brett and Fox News! as demonstrated by this:

    “It’s comical, in a dark way, the way the media will go to such lengths to avoid getting any blacks or women with babies in the picture when photographing right-wing events.”

    Look at the polls on Tea Party membership for an explanation.

    By the way, I did not object to Brett’s size comparison to a gun show but pointed out the mindset of Brett that we all know. Brett’s response to this at the time was:

    “No, I’m just comparing them to a popular type of gathering I’m familiar with. Perhaps I would have said that the whole movement seems smaller than some the of local high school football game audiences, but I’m not much into sports.”

    Brett voluntarily pulled back, in effect disavowing the comparison with a gun show. As a Second Amendment absolutist, Brett has been suffering in the aftermath of Heller and MacDonald v. Chicago that limitations on Second Amendment rights continue in line with Scalia’s dicta in Heller. Perhaps Scalia understood that in an absolutist Second Amendment world, guns could enter Supreme Court sessions, resulting in the dicta “OOPS!” So the mindset of Brett was demonstrated well by his initial size comparison of OWS protesters with a gun show.