My newest book, FETCH, a story of Rivalry and Ghosts, is going to be released December 2, 2008 by Phoenix Fire Multimedia, a division of the Image, Vehicle & Yeild family of endeavors.
The story follows the disintegration of the life of a talented young corporate worker whose new office-mate is ruining him. Dramatic motif's include Rivalry, Secrecy, Deception, Madness, Heartbreak and The Supernatural.
The action takes place at a car dealership, with all the mischeviousness and moral depravity that the car business lends itself to.
MAYA, my first book, a 50/50 split of poetry and literary non-fiction, will go briefly out of print for a time, so if you had designs on getting it for yourself or as a gift for the holidays, 14 days are left to purchase it directly from the printer. After that they will only be available second hand until the second printing comes out sometime next year.
I have no time for troubles tales told as such Love has its own sinews poisen sickness lust time, distance can we master these? life degrades this place is falling faster memories receed what does this mean to me?
"As long as they vote Democrat, I don't care who all the fake people vote for."
ACORN signed up 1.3-million voters nationwide and about 152,000 in Florida, mostly in Orange, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. ACORN estimates it flagged 2 percent of its Florida registrations as problematic because they were incomplete, duplicates or just plain bogus.
Acorn uses various affiliated groups to agitate for "a living wage," for "affordable housing," for "tax justice" and union and environmental goals, as well as against school choice and welfare reform. It was a major contributor to the subprime meltdown by pushing lenders to make home loans on easy terms, conducting "strikes" against banks so they'd lower credit standards.
Mickey Mouse tried to register to vote in Florida this summer. Orange County elections officials rejected his application, which was stamped with the ACORN logo.
Investigators probing ACORN have learned that an Ohio man registered to vote several times and cast a bogus ballot with a fake address, officials said, as they revealed that nearly 4,000 registration applications supplied by the left-leaning activist group were suspect. The vote of Darnell Nash, one of four people subpoenaed in a Cuyahoga County probe of ACORN's voter-registration activities, was canceled and his case was turned over to local prosecutors and law enforcement, Board of Elections officials said. Nash had registered to vote repeatedly from an address that belonged to a legitimately registered voter.
Teenager Freddie Johnson, another of the Cuyahoga County 4, said he was offered smokes and dollar bills to fill out voter registration cards.
"They'd come up with a sob story why they needed the signature," said Johnson.
ACORN leaders have acknowledged that workers paid by the hour were given quotas to fill.
According to a 2006 report from the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), Acorn has been on the federal take since 1977. For instance, Acorn's American Institute for Social Justice claimed $240,000 in tax money between fiscal years 2002 and 2003. Its American Environmental Justice Project received 100% of its revenue from government grants in the same years. EPI estimates the Acorn Housing Corporation alone received some $16 million in federal dollars from 1997-2007. Only recently, Democrats tried and failed to stuff an "affordable housing" provision into the $700 billion bank rescue package that would have let politicians give even more to Acorn.
The Michigan Secretary of State told the press in September that Acorn had submitted "a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications." Earlier this month, Nevada's Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller requested a raid on Acorn's offices, following complaints of false names and fictional addresses (including the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys). Nevada's Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said he saw rampant fraud in 2,000 to 3,000 applications Acorn submitted weekly. Lake County, Indiana, which has already found more than 2,100 bogus applications among the 5,000 Acorn dumped right before the deadline. "All the signatures looked exactly the same," said Ruthann Hoagland, of the county election board. Bridgeport, Connecticut estimates about 20% of Acorn's registrations were faulty. As of July, the city of Houston had rejected or put on hold about 40% of the 27,000 registration cards submitted by Acorn.
Obama, who got his start as a Chicago "community organizer" at Acorn's side. In 1992 he led voter registration efforts as the director of Project Vote, which included Acorn. This past November, he lauded Acorn's leaders for being "smack dab in the middle" of that effort. Mr. Obama also served as a lawyer for Acorn in 1995, in a case against Illinois to increase access to the polls.
During his tenure on the board of Chicago's Woods Fund, that body funneled more than $200,000 to Acorn. More recently, the Obama campaign paid $832,000 to an Acorn affiliate. The campaign initially told the Federal Election Commission this money was for "staging, sound, lighting." It later admitted the cash was to get out the vote.
The Obama campaign is now distancing itself from Acorn, claiming Obama never organized with it and has nothing to do with illegal voter registration. Yet it's disingenuous to channel cash into an operation with a history of fraud and then claim you're shocked to discover reports of fraud. As with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, Obama was happy to associate with Acorn when it suited his purposes. But now that he's on the brink of the Presidency, he wants to disavow his ties.
"The Micky Mouse Vote is one of my biggest constituencies..."
Remember that feeling...That's how you will be remembered.
Starting the season with the widely regarded best talent in the ACC with a devastating loss to an unranked team was probably not the best idea if Tommy Bowden had designs on remaining the head coach of the Clemson Tigers past this year.
And as it turns out, it wasn't even a good recipe to survive the season.
Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper agreed with the decision, “It’s what he deserved,” Harper said. “Dabo Swinney is a fine man and will do an excellent job.” Harper later expanded on his comments, explaining that Bowden “tried to motivate us, but guys were off the bandwagon. There were things I disagreed with and that my teammates disagreed with. I didn’t appreciate it when he would say some off-the-wall things about me to the media. I guess one thing I can say is he gave me an opportunity to come to Clemson and play.”
Bowden will be paid through the end of the season, then get $3.5 million as a buyout negotiated in the contract extension both sides agreed to last December.
Recent losses to Maryland and Wake Forest raised calls again for Bowden’s ouster despite the contract extension that tied him to the school through 2014.
“I appreciate the opportunity Clemson University gave me and the support of the administration while I was here,” Bowden said in a statement released by the school.
A Bowden could always replace Tommy Tuberville in Auburn, who was brought in to replace a similarly failed Bowden.
"I could always write a tell-all book about the 7 games and 10 months I spent collecting dirt on Auburn and it's employees."
"I think Tony's done a good job of adjusting," Tuberville told ESPN's Chris Low just days ago, "I don't know whether we've done a good job of adjusting to what we've gone to. But he's our offensive coordinator. He's worked as hard as anybody here, and he's as disappointed as anybody here. We've got to find some answers. He knows he's the guy who needs to find those answers, and he's looking hard ... along with the other coaches."
Then the answer was: "It's no time to panic".
Apparently Tommy "The Riverboat Gambler" Tuberville and Auburn University officials reversed course, and are now panicking, releasing a press release at 3:44pm this afternoon that Tony Franklin had been fired.
Franklin quickly cleared out his office and departed in his Hyundai Veranza after reporters refused to help him stuff boxes into his automobile.
"After evaluating where we are at this point of the season offensively, I felt it was in the best interest of the Auburn football program to make this change," Tuberville said in the official press release. "I'm not satisfied with where we are and I am personally going to take a larger role with the offense the remainder of the season. We are going to work harder than ever to make sure we consistently improve as we move forward."
Tony Franklin had been under intense fire following Auburn's poor showing against a surging Vanderbilt team this past Saturday.
Auburn's offense is near or at the bottom in most offensive categories in the SEC and the country. Auburn ranks 104th in total offense (309.2 yards per game), 105th in pass efficiency (104.98), tied for 111th in red zone offense (65 percent) and 112th in third-down conversions (29.7 percent).
Tommy Tuberville has gone through 12 offensive and defensive coordinators in 10 years, and his 4-2 Tigers are next visited by Arkansas.
"It's either him or me?... Him!! Him, damn it, HIM!"
Seth Petruzelli woke up Saturday expecting to fight in a never-to-be-seen untelevised undercard fight with Aaron Rosa. He had only fought 4 times since 2004, having gone 2-2, and although still under contract with UFC for additional fights, had back in September decided to fight in the EliteXC. Petruzelli's most recent accomplishment was the sale of his interest in ATT Orlando, a gym he had been invested in, and the purchase of his first Smoothie King franchise with his girlfriend.
The showdown between Ken "World's Most Dangerous Man" Shamrock and Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson had been hyped by CBS and EliteXC for months as the next step in the unfolding legend of Kimbo. Set to take place just outside Kimbo's hometown of Miami in Sunrise, FL, the expectation surrounding this fight was that Shamrock would be a terrific challenge that Kimbo would easily clobber, possibly annihilate.
Shamrock, once one of the most feared men in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, had not won a fight in over four years.
Seth Petruzelli was considered a has-been as well--He had been a contestant in the second season of The Ultimate Fighter but had lost in the semi-finals to Brad Imes, and had lost his next two UFC fights. He was known to have talent, however, and his 90% knockout percentage was nothing to sneeze at.
Elsewhere Saturday morning, Ken Shamrock was cut above his eye by an accidental head butt in a light training session and was deemed unfit to fight by state officials. EliteXC rushed to replace him, considering first turning to his brother Frank who was not allowed to participate either by state officials or CBS.
Through the power of the Internet, Kimbo Slice went from being an anonymous backyard brawler to being a multi-media superstar almost seemingly overnight. He first appeared in several filmed underground fights made and promoted through his personal association with RK Netmedia, better known as "Reality Kings", the purveyors of a number of popular adult subscription websites, such as MILF Hunter, and Captain Stabbin.
While on the scales for Friday's "EliteXC: Heat" weigh-ins with a pink streak running through his hair and striking a gorilla pose, 28-year-old Seth Petruzelli (then 10-4) was standing on the verge of instant stardom. Critics have long held the belief that Kimbo Slice's popularity is the result of his internet presence, and the need of EliteXC to have a mainstream talent to rival the names of their direct competitor, the UFC.
Kimbo's sole loss had been to a Boston police officer named Sean Gannon, in a fight that Kimbo's camp alledges broke one of the few rules that governed his street brawls. Gannon is quoted as saying, "It's not my fault Kimbo's crew is ignorant of MMA techniques and styles."
Many of MMA's purists have a negative view on EliteXC, believing that it's promotion is largely centered on the "entertainment" aspect of MMA, as opposed to the actual fight product. The upstart EliteXC has had few mainstream talents defect from the UFC, although Tito Ortiz was in attendance Saturday night.
"EliteXC has few name fighters and the conundrum of Slice." Dan Wetzel analyzed pre-fight "He’s the most famous and popular fighter in the world yet he may not be a top 50 heavyweight. He’s fought professionally just three times and it’s unlikely he’d make it out of the first round with anyone in the UFC."
While it is unclear whether EliteXC attempted to first arrange a fight between Kimbo and Aaron Rosa, by 8:30pm it had been agreed that Kimbo would face Petruzelli, and that an undisclosed sum of money would go to Kimbo's purse for the last-minute change in fighter.
The tale of the tape was stacked largely in Kimbo's favor--a heavy weight fighting at 240 pounds and two inchs taller than Petruzelli, most observers thought Petruzelli, fighting at 205, would be an easy meal for Kimbo.
Instead the match lasted mere seconds as Kimbo rushed at Petruzelli, who backed up and attempted two karate-style front kicks. The first was ineffective, and the second halted Kimbo just enough for Petruzelli to glace a punch above Kimbo's eye, stunning him and laying him onto the canvas, at which point Petruzelli attacked with a flurry of punches that the referee quickly ended as Kimbo was obviously not defending himself.
"I kind of have a different style than most stand-up fighters," Petruzelli said in the evening's post-fight press conference. "I'm a stand-up fighter myself, but my traditional karate background kind of throws people's boxing styles off. I knew [Slice's] style was real straight-forward boxing, and I do well against boxers that I train with."
"It definitely hasn't set in yet," Petruzelli said. "It feels like a dream sequence for me. I'm not used to all the attention. I mean I was getting a little bit of attention after 'The Ultimate Fighter,' but this is just 10-fold now."
EliteXC has been counting on Kimbo Slice's fame as their prime investment.
Earlier this year, before Kimbo's fight with James "Colossus" Thompson, ESPN The Magazine surmised that Kimbo and MMA have a lot in common despite the MMA Elitists and Establishment that is very outspokenly against him.
“I got my first black eye,” Kimbo laughed at the post-bout press conference. He later turned to Petruzelli and joked, “You knocked me out in front of my family; that’s fucked up.”
Tito Ortiz named his dog "Kimbo Slice".
It’ll never be the same, not for the fighter and not, perhaps, for the entire EliteXC promotion that just lost its signature star on top of the $58 million it’s burned the past two years.
Afterward, EliteXC execs tried to paint a bright future but admitted they needed a drink. Lower-level employees used gallows humor about finding new jobs.
Following the bout, EliteXC Vice Preident Jared Shaw said, "[Petruzelli] is now the modern-day 'Rocky Balboa...Movies are real. When opportunity knocks, you answer it. And when you open the door, there may just be a pot of gold on the other side. For Seth Petruzelli, he's now a star."
Petruzelli largely downplayed the post-fight praise. "It's humbling...It kind of secures the feelings that I had going through -- it sounds kind of corny -- but through childhood because that's how I felt growing up, that I wanted to be that person. I wanted to rise above the challenges. It was really cool. It meant a lot actually."
"I guess you could say I'm a part-time fighter," Petruzelli said. "[This win] does make me re-evaluate. I think I should concentrate more on fighting.I was fighting every six months. I think I'll be fighting every couple of months now."
“We don’t run Tony Franklin’s spread offense,” Tuberville said. “This is Auburn’s offense. It’s like our defense. We’re going to run what works and what we’re going to match up better with the other team. Everybody has to do that. You can’t put a square peg in a round hole. Why would you do that?”
"It takes 100 percent commitment to run the spread offense because you have to practice it daily plus run it in your offense. We have been doing this for years," Said Coach Hortmann, whose high school team runs the spread offense, "let Franklin run the offense or get yourself another Offensive Coordinator. Let Franklin go elsewhere where the spread is appreciated."
"I live in Alabama and I attended the game between Auburn and Tennessee. I also am a OC for a high school football team that runs the system." Said another coach, "From what I have seen this year from Auburn, this is not the system. It seems to me that Franklin is getting told what to run on offense. Tuberville wants to run the ball to set up the pass and Franklin likes to set up the run with the pass. I never saw any hurry up offense from Auburn at this weeks game. I saw the freeze quite a bit, but they never got into a hurry up mode. Franklin has said that to be sucessful in this offense you must be good at the screens, and get a lot of snaps (maybe like 80) on offense. I dont think I have seen but maybe 4 screens all year and I don't think they are close to getting 80 snaps.At the high school level we have been getting 70 snaps. That is with us slowing down in the 4th so we dont run up the score."
Kodi "Blunt" Burns Career Stats: 20 completions out of 50 attempts for 224 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
"We've got to figure something out," Burns said. "This … man, I don't know. This isn't the Auburn I saw when I was recruited. This isn't the Auburn I saw last year. I don't what's going on."
"This is a tough loss," receiver Rod Smith said. "Everybody's hurt right now. Just to come out and play so well on offense and drive down the field and put up points and then just watch it disappear like that, it's hurting us right now."
"We've got to turn it around," Tuberville said. "We'll go back and we'll look at it and see who's healthy."
"I don't know what we are right now: spread, old Auburn offense," Smith said. "I'm just really confused right now. Everybody's confused. Everybody's hurting and speechless and confused. We just have to go back to work (today) and whatever changes coach Tuberville makes, we just have to go with that."
"Guys are confused because this isn't Auburn — just watching on the sideline and seeing this offense put up 13 points," Burns said. "We're capable of putting up 35 or 40 a game. That's why guys are confused. We're not producing like we should be. A lot of guys are confused. We are a team. We're looking out for each other. Nobody is pointing fingers, but a lot of us are talking about how we've got to figure something out. We can't keep going out like this."
"A lot of guys are upset because we should be putting up more points than this," Burns said. "This is unacceptable. You can't play in the SEC and put up 13 points and expect to win. All we can do is get better. We can't really take a step back from this point. I guess that's the good thing. All we can do is improve."
You're not going to sneak up on people by being a "spread" team. It just doesn't happen anymore. People have seen it, kids have played against it for years, and there's not going to be a scheme advantage. So the learning curve is steep since it involves learning the system and getting the players, like anything else. So the spread is in a tough bind, because it gets sold as a quick fix, but it's not. It's just another offense you can run, and it needs to be well coached and you need players. There's at least fifty major college teams running some a good deal of spread, if not more. How different is it then to be spread?
When asked if the changes would be drastic, Smith said it would "probably will be drastic changes.” We need to get back to old Auburn football,'" said Smith.
ESPN reported that Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville told his team following Saturday's loss to Vanderbilt that changes were coming on offense. How in the name of Toomer's Corner did the Tigers get to this point after being such a successful tailback-oriented, power football team under Tuberville the last few years? The spread is clearly not the answer, at least not the version of the spread the Tigers have tried to run under first-year coordinator Tony Franklin.
Chris Todd Career Stats: 83 completions out of 146 attempts for 885 yards, 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Franklin was not allowed to speak with reporters following the loss to Vanderbilt, nor was defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads.
"How do we continue this downward spiral without making some drastic changes? What are the real problems with this Auburn football team? Can the Auburn men and women continue to trust Coach Tuberville? Is Tuberville only a one hit wonder with the remarkable 2004 team?" Asks The Bleacher Report's Deric Winslett. "There are too many questions to answer. We the fans have zero power to do anything about it. What—start-up a Fire Tuberville.com website? The Auburn players should not be blamed. This season’s failures thus far fall squarely on the coaches. Every coach on the sideline bares responsibility for the loss to Vanderbilt. With some last minute hope to salvage what is left of this terrible first half of the 2008 season, some changes may be on the way and I mean soon."
"These guys are professionals," Tuberville said. "They're all in it together."
Tuberville said Sunday that changes to the offensive staff were "not even talked about."
He said Franklin works harder and is more disappointed than anyone about the offense's poor performance.
"He takes probably more blame than he should," Tuberville said.
Tuberville said adjustments to the Tony Franklin System have not been foisted upon the coordinator: "It's all him. He's the one making the changes."
Johnny Majors: "I wouldn’t put myself in comparison with Phillip Fulmer on anything." for The Bleacher Report
Johnny Majors at one point had three assistants on his staff who went on to become Head Coaches. Fulmer has had none that were not hired first by Majors.
Speaking to the Huntsville (Ala.) Quarterback Club on September 30th, Johnny Majors did his best to not mention Tennessee Head Coach Fat Phillip Fulmer--his successor 16 long years ago--by name, in spite of all the striking simularities between Fulmer's season of failure and that fateful autumn in 1992.
"What’s happening there now I’m not going to get into." Majors told the crowd of over 200. "I wouldn’t put myself in comparison with Phillip Fulmer on anything. I’m above that."
This was somewhat of a departure for Majors, who has, for years, taken his shots at Fat Phil whenever possible.
"I don't pull against those players up there but I don't have any regard for Judas Brutus, who's coaching up there." Majors said in 2005.
The animosity largely stems from 1992, when health problems prevented Johnny Majors from coaching at the start of the season. Fulmer was made acting head coach. The players loved his kinder, gentler approach to coaching, and won the first 4 games, including convincing wins over Georgia & Florida. Majors then returned, and UT lost to South Carolina & Arkansas. That was the end of Johnny Majors, an ending that humiliated and embittered Majors until this very day.
Majors discussed a broad array of topics, including his childhood in Lynchberg, Tennessee, and the National Championship he won at Pittsburgh and being the youngest head coach in the country when he took the Iowa State job in the mid-1960s at the age of 32.
"I am walking over hot coals suspended over a deep pit at the bottom of which are a large number of vipers baring their fangs."
He also stated that Tony Dorsett, his Heisman Trophy running back at Pittsburgh, was the best four-year player he ever coached and that former UT quarterback Tony Robinson was “the most outstanding talent I ever coached at quarterback.”
Majors even talked about losing the 1956 Heisman Trophy to Paul Hornung by the narrowest margin (at that time) in history, a defeat that has been questioned for year for the simple reason that Notre Dame — Hornung's team — finished 2-8 while UT went 10-0. Hornung is the only player to have ever won the Heisman on a losing team.
"Back in 1979, when Notre Dame came to Knoxville," Majors said, "Paul was doing radio and television work for the Irish and he wanted to interview me for a segment. At the end of interview he said he wanted me to say something to all the thousands of people who thought I should have won the Heisman instead of him. “I said, 'No, Paul, I thought Jim Brown (who finished fourth) should have won it.'"
But every now and then Majors brought up his 16 years in Knoxville, where he again resides.
"We moved back 13 months ago,” he said. “Moved back to the same neighborhood. In fact, we moved right across the street from where we lived before."
Fat Phillip Fulmer and the state of Alabama have never gotten along well, going as far back as the mid-1990's when evidence provided by Fulmer resulted in Alabama being placed on sanctions by the NCAA.
Lightening struck twice, and this happened again in 2000.
Fat Phil was on the verge of being fired last year had Tennessee lost to South Carolina.
Alabama is now entering it's first period of sustained success since the devastating sanctions, and Fulmer is evidently in a sharp decline. Fulmer has won 52 games in the six seasons before this one, and enters Saturday's game with Northern Illinois 1-3. Majors won 53 games in his final 6 seasons.
When asked about the simularities of the two seasons and situations, Majors replied, "You mean the season of my ignominious demise? The season when, while I was recovering from my heart surgery, a few people whom I won’t name were operating on my back."
"I'm not going to say what I hear," Majors said. "I'm not going to get into that. I have nothing to offer. I’m not in a supervisory position. But they (Fulmer’s staff) had success early because of the program we left them."
"That was, by far, the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me in my professional life," he said. "It was a complete shock. I was promised a new seven-year contract. I was lied to. Frankly, I think (defensive coordinator) John Chavis has saved his job for 10 years."
The only thing that keeps Fat Phil going in these rough times. No, he is not sharing with ANYONE.
"Now, we've got money for everyone in here, right? We didn't leave anyone out, right?"
Congressional deal-brookers slopped a mess of pork into the $700 billion financial rescue bill passed by the House today - including a tax break for makers of kids' wooden arrows - in a bid to lure reluctant lawmakers into voting for the package
Stuffed into the 451- page bill are more than $1.7 billion worth of targeted tax breaks to be doled out for a sty full of eyebrow-raising purposes over the next decade.
The $700 billion package was sailing into a stiff political wind. Constituent opposition to any sort of rescue has been strong and vocal - and lawmakers have been running scared while shocking extremes in stock trading has wiped out many American's investment portfolios.
"This is how Washington works," said Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington research group. "A big pot of pork is their recipe for final passage."
The special provisions include tax breaks for Manufacturers of kids' wooden arrows ($6 million), Puerto Rican and Virgin Islands rum producers($192 million), Wool research, Auto-racing tracks ($128 million), Corporations operating in American Samoa ($33 million), and perhaps most surprisingly Small- to medium-budget film and television productions ($10 million)
Another measure inserted into the bill appears to be a bald-faced bid aimed at winning the support of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who voted against the original version when it went down in flames in the House on Monday.
That provision - a $223 million package of tax benefits for fishermen and others whose livelihoods suffered as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill - has been the subject of fervent lobbying by Alaska's congressional delegation.
"The most important thing is that we need to bail out our friends on Wall Street and in banking and the insurance business. Normal, every day American's will feel the effect of the rich getting richer again soon enough."
Some of the pork-barrel measures buried in the financial rescue package had been contained in a bill that previously passed the Senate, but died in the House.
The Congressional Budget Office said the package of breaks - including obvious pork and some more defensible tax-relief measures - will add about $112 billion to budget deficits over the next five years because the bill doesn't contain enough offsetting revenue hikes to keep the budget balanced.
The legislative lard annoyed Tom Schatz, president of the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.
"There's always something that goes on at the end where the last dozen members are trying to get something for themselves or for a special interest rather than what might be good for the country," Schatz said.
Some of the other measures added to win approval include a $3.8 billion health-care provision that forces insurance companies to provide coverage for mental-health treatment equivalent to the coverage they provide for physical illness.
Other add-ons will increase individual tax credits and help shield some Americans from the painful alternative minimum tax, and offer breaks for businesses that invest in alternative fuels.
Also, several federal income-tax breaks due to expire will now be extended through 2009.
"We all know that we are in the midst of a financial crisis," House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio, said shortly before casting his vote for government intervention in private capital markets that was unthinkable only a month ago.
"And we know that if we do nothing, this crisis is likely to worsen and to put us into an economic slump like most of us have never seen."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the bill was needed to "Begin to shape the financial stability of our country and the economic security of our people."
Stocks were up on Wall Street, where there was a lot of anticipation of the vote but where investors also were buffeted by a bad report on the job market. The Labor Department said employers slashed 159,000 jobs in September, the largest cut in five years and further evidence of a sinking economy.
Even before the measure cleared Congress, the White House sought to dampen optimism of its immediate impact on the economy. "This legislation is to fix a problem in our financial markets," said spokesman Tony Fratto. "It's not sold as giving a boost to the economy, but rather preventing a crisis in our economy... If it works as we hope it will, credit will be able to begin flowing again."
"It will take time for this bill to have an impact," President George W. Bush said in a speech outside the Oval Office, "it will be done as expeditiously as possible, but it won't be overnight."
"If we don't give $192 million to the Puerto Rican Rum Manufacturers they will surely succomb to the market. We can't let that happen! Capitolism has become the race to save your friends and cronies, not the survival of the fittest all you dumb citizens thought."
According to Chicago authorities, the FBI visited the offices in Joliet, Ill., of Will County executive Larry Walsh, a longtime friend of Obama's, and his chief of staff Matt Ryan.
"Don't Forget, you still owe me that $20."
Walsh, who served in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2005, was endorsed by Obama in his county executive election bid. With the support of some of Obama's U.S. Senate volunteers, he easily defeated incumbent Republican Joseph Mikan.
Will County auditor Steve Weber confirmed that his office had been asked by the FBI to assist in an investigation, but he did not elaborate on the specifics.
In 2006, Obama requested that Will County receive $1.3 million to support its Flood Studies for Unincorporated Will County.
In 2006, Obama requested $800,000 for the Will County Sheriff’s Office Wireless Communications Technology Upgrades.
In 2006, Obama requested $1,953,331 for Will County’s Ridgewood Water and Sewage Project.
In 2005, Obama requested $2 million for the Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, to establish a Center for Academic and Community Learning, which is designed to address the significant educational needs of the less advantaged in the Will County region by providing academic assistance not only for students on campus but also for residents of the surrounding communities.
"I'm just writing some crooked legislation for a special interest. You know, a regular day at the office."
Two FBI agents out of Chicago reportedly spent more than an hour in the Will County offices on Wednesday morning.
According to sources, the Walsh investigation may be tied to lobbying firm Smith Dawson and Andrews, which was hired in 2006 for $10,000 per month to help Will County acquire federal grants.
"See, what we are going to do is push legislation to mandate a certain amount of biofuels being used by government vehicles. Why? Because I am a corn farmer."
The firm, which is registered with the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, assists clients with communications and legislative strategies that better their public policy agendas, according to its Web site. Last month, Walsh announced that Will County was the recipient of a $750,000 federal government grant that would allow law enforcement and prosecutors to fight against domestic violence.
One of the firm's partners, James P. Smith, contributed $2,000 to help Walsh's county executive election bid.
A corn farmer from Joliet, Walsh has supported his friend's presidential bid, and campaigned for him in rural and farming areas of the state.
Larry Walsh and his poker whore.
The two men became very close friends during their tenure in the Illinois Senate and bonded over games of poker. According to a report in Time magazine, Walsh lost to Obama once with what he thought was a winning hand, and then slammed down his cards and said: "Doggone it, Barack, if you were more liberal in your card-playing and more conservative in your politics, you and I would get along much better."
"I'm so excited! My $700 Billion Spending Spree is about to begin!"
After one devastating and spectacular failure, the $700 billion financial industry bailout found a second life Wednesday, speeding toward passage in the Senate and gaining ground in the House where conservative opposition seemed to soften.
Both presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, were making rare appearances to vote their support. That would send the package back to the House, where passage would require a turnaround of 12 votes from Monday's 228-205 defeat.
"See, what we are going to do is take $2400 from each and every human being in the United States, and use that money to give free houses to all the subprime deadbeats who never should have had a house in the first place."
Leaders in both parties, as well as private economic chiefs everywhere, said Congress must quickly approve some version of the measure to start loans flowing and stave off a potential national economic catastrophe. "Inaction is not an option," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said a few hours before the Senate was to vote. "This is not a bailout for Wall Street. It's a bailout for our country."
President Bush said, "It's very important for members to take this bill very seriously."
Congressional leaders targeted the 133 House Republicans who voted against the bill Monday.
"Just because people can't read a contract, or understand the terms 'variable' and 'adjustable', or go to work and pay their bills, doesn't mean we should take away their homes. Foreclosures need to stop! Free houses for everyone!"
Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, said after the Senate passed the Bailout Bill, " The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act will not only provide stability and confidence to our financial markets, but also will help American families who are struggling to make ends meet. The legislation gives the Treasury Secretary the authority to respond quickly and forcibly to the current crisis, while creating strong protections for American taxpayers, helping to preserve the American dream of homeownership, and cracking down on excessive compensation for corporate executives who made bad decisions."
“Many Americans are confused and angry about this crisis – and rightfully so. They are concerned about whether this solution is best for their families and the nation. I want to assure the American people that this legislation was created for the families who are worried about their home values, their retirement savings, and how they are going to afford groceries, medicine, and gas. These bipartisan efforts weren’t about the storm that hit Wall Street – they were about the gathering storm on Main Street. Tonight, the Senate acted decisively and responsibly – not for the benefit of a chosen few, but for all Americans.”
Dodd also announced the enactment of the HOPE for Homeowners program, a voluntary initiative to help distressed borrowers refinance their mortgages. “Each day, more and more American families and communities are forced to cope with the devastating effects of foreclosure. Starting today, many Americans who are struggling to keep their homes will have a new tool at their disposal – HOPE for Homeowners. This program will enable hundreds of thousands of American families who are trapped in bad loans – often the result of predatory lending practices – to convert their mortgages into new, affordable loans. With mortgages they can afford, homeowners will be better equipped to keep their homes and stave off foreclosure."
“HOPE for Homeowners is a major step forward in our efforts to address the root cause of our economic crisis – the foreclosure crisis. I will continue to monitor very closely the effectiveness of this program in preserving homeownership. When Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, we sent a message to Americans that help was on the way. For hundreds of thousands of American families, today’s enactment of HOPE for Homeowners means that help has finally arrived.”
Constituent feedback changing dramatically since Monday's House defeat and the corresponding market plunge, allowing lawmakers' comfort level with the package to increase markedly.
"We Want Our Free Houses!"
Most American's are still unclear exactly what the Bailout will consist of, and who it will help.
Despite the common misperception, those who have seen their retirement accounts, stock portfolios, and other related investments plunge and/or lose their entire value will not be compensated in any sort of direct fashion. There is no forthcoming second round of "Economic Stimulus" checks coming.
What will happen is perhaps thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of subprime borrowers who have defaulted on their homes--which is where the financial crisis originally took root--will get their homes virtually for free, punishing all of the hard-working American's who have borrowed and spent responsibly.
I. Stabilizing the Economy The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) provides up to $700 billion to the Secretary of the Treasury to buy mortgages and other assets that are clogging the balance sheets of financial institutions and making it difficult for working families, small businesses, and other companies to access credit, which is vital to a strong and stable economy. EESA also establishes a program that would allow companies to insure their troubled assets.
II. Homeownership Preservation EESA requires the Treasury to modify troubled loans – many the result of predatory lending practices – wherever possible to help American families keep their homes. It also directs other federal agencies to modify loans that they own or control. Finally, it improves the HOPE for Homeowners program by expanding eligibility and increasing the tools available to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help more families keep their homes.
III. Taxpayer Protection Taxpayers should not be expected to pay for Wall Street’s mistakes. The legislation requires companies that sell some of their bad assets to the government to provide warrants so that taxpayers will benefit from any future growth these companies may experience as a result of participation in this program. The legislation also requires the President to submit legislation that would cover any losses to taxpayers resulting from this program from financial institutions.
IV. No Windfalls for Executives Executives who made bad decisions should not be allowed to dump their bad assets on the government, and then walk away with millions of dollars in bonuses. In order to participate in this program, companies will lose certain tax benefits and, in some cases, must limit executive pay. In addition, the bill limits “golden parachutes” and requires that unearned bonuses be returned.
V. Strong Oversight Rather than giving the Treasury all the funds at once, the legislation gives the Treasury $250 billion immediately, then requires the President to certify that additional funds are needed ($100 billion, then $350 billion subject to Congressional disapproval). The Treasury must report on the use of the funds and the progress in addressing the crisis. EESA also establishes an Oversight Board so that the Treasury cannot act in an arbitrary manner. It also establishes a special inspector general to protect against waste, fraud and abuse.
What if Barack Obama’s most important radical connection has been hiding in plain sight all along?
Obama has had an intimate and long-term association with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn), the largest radical group in America. Acorn is at least as radical as MoveOn.org or Code Pink, arguably more so. Yet because Acorn works locally, in carefully selected urban areas, its national profile is lower. Acorn likes it that way. And so does Barack Obama.
This is a story that has been largely missed. While Obama’s Acorn connection has not gone entirely unreported, its depth, extent, and significance have been poorly understood. Typically, media background pieces note that, on behalf of Acorn, Obama and a team of Chicago attorneys won a 1995 suit forcing the state of Illinois to implement the federal “motor-voter” bill. In fact, Obama’s Acorn connection is far more extensive. In the few stories where Obama’s role as an Acorn “leadership trainer” is noted, or his seats on the boards of foundations that may have supported Acorn are discussed, there is little follow-up. Even these more extensive reports miss many aspects of Obama’s ties to Acorn.
Michelle Malkin characterizes ACORN's social work as using billions in government subsidies "to organize for the purpose of registering dead people to vote, shaking down corporations and using the race card as a bludgeon."
"Looking for my free house!"
Walk through just about any of the nation’s inner cities, and you’re likely to find an office of ACORN, bustling with young people working 12-hour days to “organize the poor” and bring about “social change.” The largest radical group in the country, ACORN has 120,000 dues-paying members, chapters in 700 poor neighborhoods in 50 cities, and 30 years’ experience. It boasts two radio stations, a housing corporation, a law office, and affiliate relationships with a host of trade-union locals. Not only big, it is effective, with some remarkable successes in getting municipalities and state legislatures to enact its radical policy goals into law.
Community organizing among the urban poor has been an honorable American tradition since Jane Addams’s famous Hull House dramatically uplifted the late-nineteenth-century Chicago slums, but ACORN and Addams are on different planets philosophically. Hull House and its many successors emphasized self-empowerment: the poor, they thought, could take control of their lives and communities through education, hard work, and personal responsibility. Not ACORN. It promotes a 1960s-bred agenda of anti-capitalism, central planning, victimology, and government handouts to the poor. As a result, not only does it harm the poor it claims to serve; it is also a serious threat to the urban future.
ARC's 2 Demands: 1. Pay Your Rent 2. Cut Your Grass.
It is no surprise that ACORN preaches a New Left–inspired gospel, since it grew out of one of the New Left’s silliest and most destructive groups, the National Welfare Rights Organization. In the mid-sixties, founder George Wiley forged an army of tens of thousands of single minority mothers, whom he sent out to disrupt welfare offices through sit-ins and demonstrations demanding an end to the “oppressive” eligibility restrictions that kept down the welfare rolls. His aim: to flood the welfare system with so many clients that it would burst, creating a crisis that, he believed, would force a radical restructuring of America’s unjust capitalist economy. The flooding succeeded beyond Wiley’s wildest dreams. From 1965 to 1974, the number of single-parent households on welfare soared from 4.3 million to 10.8 million, despite mostly flush economic times. By the early 1970s, one person was on the welfare rolls in New York City for every two working in the city’s private economy. Yet far from sparking a restructuring of American capitalism, this explosion of the welfare rolls only helped to create a culture of family disintegration and dependency in inner-city neighborhoods, with rampant illegitimacy, crime, school failure, drug abuse, non-work, and poverty among a fast-growing underclass.
Even Wiley came to see that cramming millions more single mothers and their kids onto the welfare rolls would not produce the desired socialist utopia. Seeking new worlds to conquer, he sent one of his young lieutenants, Wade Rathke, to Little Rock, Arkansas, to launch a new community-organizing group: ACORN. The new group was to build a broad constituency of low-income and working-class people to agitate for social change.
The little ACORN that Wiley planted in the Arkansas soil flourished. As Rathke expanded it into a national organization, the “A” in its name—Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now—came to stand for “Association of” instead of “Arkansas.” And as it grew, it retained the core assumptions of the old New Left but radically transformed the New Left’s methods to produce something truly original.
You will be seeing a lot of this soon.
ACORN’s bedrock assumption remains the ultra-Left’s familiar anti-capitalist redistributionism. “We are the majority, forged from all the minorities,” reads the group’s “People’s Platform,” whose prose Orwell would have derided as pure commissar-speak. “We will continue our fight . . . until we have shared the wealth, until we have won our freedom . . . . We have nothing to show for the work of our hand, the tax of our labor”—claptrap that not only falsifies the relative comfort of the poor in America but that also is a classic example of chutzpah, given ACORN’s origins in a movement that undermined the work ethic of the poor. But never mind—ACORN claims that it “stands virtually alone in its dedication to organizing the poor and powerless.” It organizes them to push for ever more government control of the economy, as if it had learned no lessons about the free-market magic that made American cities unexampled engines of job creation for more than a century, proliferating opportunity and catapulting millions out of misery.
But look beyond the stale rhetoric, and you’ll see that what is new in ACORN’s approach is its focus on the local rather than the national or the global. It is an ingenious approach, for the political culture of cities tends to be further to the left than the nation’s, making them less resistant to ACORN’s worldview. City legislators and local reporters are often less sophisticated than their national counterparts and have been slow to grasp how radical ACORN’s positions really are. Local urban business communities tend to be disorganized, their members focused on world or national affairs rather than what they take to be the grubby and trivial details of local politics. As a result, ACORN has managed to get enacted into law in city councils proposals that the U.S. Congress would laugh off the stage. ACORN’s strategy seems to be that if, working from the grass roots up, it can persuade enough localities from coast to coast to adopt its programs, the result will add up, in effect, to a national policy.
"We the People Want Our Free Houses."
ACORN has perfected an in-your-face strategy that works effectively at capturing public attention and winning adherents in cities. ACORN’s revival of its Baltimore chapter is a textbook example of this style. Several years ago, a top ACORN organizer, Mitch Klein, injected a new aggressiveness into the Baltimore chapter. Underlings piled garbage in front of City Hall to protest lack of services in poor neighborhoods, wielded huge inflated rubber sharks to disrupt a bankers’ dinner, and—most controversially—staged a profanity-laced protest in front of Mayor Martin O’Malley’s home. “They unloaded a busload of people shouting pretty ugly things and scared the daylights out of my wife and kids,” an angry O’Malley complained. “I thought it was a pretty cruddy thing to do.” Baltimore city council member Lisa Joi Stancil sympathizes with ACORN’s political agenda but is uncomfortable with the group’s aggressive approach. “There are boundaries,” she told the Baltimore Sun, “and they don’t seem to have a problem crossing them.” But ACORN is unapologetic about its tactics. “We’re up in their face,” an ACORN representative enthused. (Despite—or perhaps because of—the intimidation, ACORN still gets $50,000 a year from the city of Baltimore to provide housing counseling to the poor.)
The notoriety ACORN gained from its belligerence boosted donations and swelled its local membership to today’s 2,200. Now the group aims to use this new clout to change the political calculus in Baltimore: it has successfully fought for a change in the city charter, rejiggering city council districts in ways that ACORN activists believe will make it easier for them to gain more control over the body.
ACORN has followed a similar script in Sacramento. The wide publicity it sparked when it took up the cause of hundreds of working-class tenants threatened with eviction by a Japanese real-estate company that sought to sell their apartment buildings brought donations flooding in, enabling ACORN to expand. Now wielding a $300,000 annual budget, it has become a force in the California state capital, where it recently pushed through legislation that makes it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants, for example.
In cities where ACORN has been entrenched for years, its relentless campaigns have forced local policies to the left. In Chicago, for instance, ACORN took on the administration of Mayor Richard Daley over a law to raise the pay of employees in firms doing business with the city. Although the advocacy group initially failed to win approval for its wage bill, which Daley strongly opposed, ACORN pursued the mayor tenaciously, picketing him as he welcomed delegates to the 1996 Democratic national convention and bursting into a closed city council meeting to garner publicity for itself. After three years, it won the bill it sought. ACORN used that victory as a catalyst in Chicago, which has become one of the organization’s most effective chapters. Last year, it successfully expanded the wage law in the city.
But in cities where the political culture already tilts way to the left, ACORN has scored its biggest victories. The group provides public officials in those places with a ready-made agenda and legislation that city councils can use right out of the box, so to speak. In Los Angeles, for instance, ACORN helped write and pass wage legislation just like the measure it imposed upon Chicago, and it succeeded in watering down welfare reform. In New York, when a term-limits law swept into power a new city council, ACORN was ready with a host of bills—from its trademark wage legislation to an anti-predatory-lending measure—that willing council members rushed into law.
As these examples make clear, there’s one further crucial respect in which ACORN departs from the old New Left’s playbook. Instead of trying to overturn “the system”—to blow it up, as George Wiley wanted to do—ACORN burrows deep within the system, taking over its power and using its institutions for its own purposes. Not only has ACORN worked to influence existing city councils and state legislatures; it has also thrown itself into municipal and state elections, claiming to have registered 500,000 new voters in low-income communities around the country. With the labor-union allies it has cultivated, it has even helped create new parties that have scored real successes. Chicago’s ACORN leader, for instance, won a seat on the Board of Aldermen as candidate of the leftist New Party. Similarly, in Little Rock, several ACORN members, including the group’s state chairman, have won election to the Board of Directors (as the city council is called) as members of the New Party, which shares ACORN’s member list, as well as its mantra of “Think locally, act locally,” the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
"Why should we pay rent? We are organized!"
New York houses the most successful of these parties, the Working Families Party, launched and co-chaired by local ACORN chief Bertha Lewis. The far-left party won 80,000 votes statewide in the last presidential election and 100,000 in the last U.S. Senate race—the strongest showing of any third party except for the Conservative Party. Working Families played a key role, too, in the unsuccessful recent Democratic campaigns of Carl McCall for governor and Mark Green for Gotham mayor, with Bertha Lewis organizing Green’s post-primary victory party. One-third of Gotham’s new city councillors ran with Working Families’ endorsement.
As part of its readiness to work within the system, ACORN makes use of the most establishment of mainstream private institutions as allies—everything from leftist charitable foundations, including the Abell and Tides Foundations, which shower it with grants, to mainstream churches and synagogues. For example, during a successful campaign in Los Angeles for its trademark wage legislation, ACORN helped organize Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), a coalition of city congregations whose spiritual leaders tended to see “social justice” as religion’s central message. CLUE promoted the measure among congregants, sent religious delegations to the city council to push for the law, and cast opponents as Egyptians holding the chosen people in bondage. ACORN’s detailed and effective manual for organizers points out that mobilizing the religious community imparts the odor of sanctity to a left-wing social agenda. “Religious involvement highlighted the moral and theological reasons for a Living Wage,” the manual observes. Oppose the agenda, and you seem like part of an unholy alliance.
There’s nothing mainstream about that agenda, of course. ACORN’s specific policy prescriptions offer a job-killing recipe for urban blight and decline. Take, above all, ACORN’s signature “living-wage” legislation, which fully 80 cities have now adopted. This legislation requires that companies doing business with the city must pay their employees a minimum wage that is higher than the national minimum—often as much as one-third higher. The earlier versions of this law embraced only a handful of workers, while the later have included larger and larger numbers, ending with Santa Fe’s ordinance, passed just weeks ago, that covers all workers within the city and will hike the pay of a quarter of the private workforce. Clearly, unlike the old New Left, ACORN is patient, willing to achieve its goals by a thousand modest increments.
You can understand how living-wage legislation might seem reasonable to local legislators, so many of whom have never worked in the private economy. It puts money into the pockets of hardworking low-wage employees at no cost to the city treasury. To oppose it would make you seem like a fat-cat, top-hatted robber baron who relishes the oppression of starving workers. On the other side of the equation, how many city councilmen would understand the thick pile of studies from liberal as well as conservative economists showing conclusively that big hikes in the minimum wage ultimately kill low-wage jobs, as employers replace now-expensive receptionists with newly cost-effective voice-mail systems, say, or pile more duties onto experienced employees instead of hiring additional low-wage beginners? And how many councilmen would understand that increasing the costs of city contractors today will require them to raise the prices they charge the city tomorrow, requiring eventual tax hikes that will drive employers—and jobs—out of town to cheaper locales, isolating the poor who are left behind?
"We want our Exit Visa Extortion Money!"
ACORN clearly grasps that reality, however. Accordingly, the group wants to make it much harder for firms and middle-class taxpayers to escape the urban central planner’s grasp. ACORN promotes ideas like “sustainable development,” which would limit the growth of suburbs—so businesses and individuals can’t flee just beyond the city limits so easily—and “regional government,” which would force suburbs to share their tax revenues with cities, so that overburdened middle-class taxpayers can’t vote with their feet against the cities’ ever expanding social-democratic mini-welfare states.
At times, ACORN opts for undisguised authoritarian socialism, as when it proposes that “large companies which desire to leave the community” be forced to obtain “an exit visa from the community board signifying that the company has adequately compensated all its employees and the community at large for losses due to relocation.” How much longer before ACORN calls for exit visas for wealthy or middle-class individuals before they can leave a city? This is the road to serfdom indeed, even though it begins with little steps. The proposal gives a glimpse of the vastness of ACORN’s ambition, despite the seeming modesty of its individual programs. Understanding that ambition, seven state legislatures have passed laws to block municipalities from setting their own minimum wages.
Save Your Home --> Pay Your Mortgage!
As the living-wage movement demonstrates, the mere fact that a policy initiative claims to be “progressive” doesn’t mean that it actually helps the poor. ACORN’s current stand on welfare reform is almost as dramatic an illustration of that truth as founder George Wiley’s 1960s welfare-rights movement, which so grievously damaged its supposed beneficiaries. The 1996 welfare reform act, with its emphasis on personal responsibility and work, is one of the great social policy successes of recent decades. By bringing hundreds of thousands of former welfare clients into the mainstream economy, it has given them brighter prospects and new self-respect. With the national welfare rolls down by nearly 50 percent, child poverty has also declined, from 20.8 percent to 16.3 percent—rather than risen, as critics had darkly prophesied—and the anxiety levels of the teen children of working ex-welfare mothers have also diminished. You’d think that anyone dedicated to the genuine welfare of the poor would cheer.
Not ACORN. “There’s an emerging consensus that for those who can work, it should be encouraged,” ACORN’s national executive director Steven Kest conceeds, but work “should come with adequate supports, such as day care and transportation, to get people out of poverty.” He Continues: “We also still believe that, for a lot of people, it’s not right to force them to work. There should be some type of income support for those who still won’t be able to join the work force.” In other words: perpetual dependency.
The biggest “but” of all has been ACORN’s effort to unionize “workfare” workers—welfare recipients who, under the terms of welfare reform, must put in a certain number of hours of work at city agencies in exchange for their benefits. Though it hasn’t gotten everything it wanted, ACORN has successfully agitated for the creation of workfare grievance processes in Los Angeles and New York, and it seeks to expand rights and entitlements on all workfare jobs. All these efforts are subversive of reform: they send exactly the wrong message to welfare recipients, who aren’t really workers bargaining with their employers, after all, but recipients of charity. Encouraging them to resist and resent those who seek to help them, to file grievances against them and to feel victimized by them, undermines workfare’s purpose of teaching discipline and good work habits to people often deficient in such skills, without which it is hard to take advantage of the abundant opportunity that American society offers. There is nothing progressive about such “help.”
But with workfare, as with all aspects of welfare dependency, ACORN has never learned the most important lesson from the failures of 1960s radicalism—that there is a tight connection between irresponsible personal behavior and poverty. One can read hundreds of pages of ACORN pronouncements on the problems of inner-city neighborhoods without finding a word about how single-parent households have helped cause and perpetuate them.
“We are more focused on irresponsible behavior in the corporate sector,” executive director Kest has said. “I don’t think [illegitimacy] comes anywhere close to the irresponsible behavior of people running the largest businesses in this country”—as if the oppressiveness of “crime in the suites,” as Jesse Jackson likes to put it, causes, and thus excuses, self-destructive behavior in the streets.
ACORN’s anti-capitalism leads it to deep distrust of capitalism’s central instruments—the banks and other financial institutions that ACORN would class high among those “irresponsible . . . largest businesses.” ACORN loudly campaigns against “predatory lending,” “redlining,” and other forms of presumed abuse by financial institutions that supposedly hinder the minority poor from getting the capital needed for home buying and business start-ups. As an antidote, ACORN has latched on to a 1977 federal law, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which was aimed at ensuring that banks do not discriminate against poor minority communities. Under its rules, banks must go through a costly process of reporting where and to whom they lend money, to show that they don’t discriminate. There are no official penalties for banks that get less than satisfactory ratings from the regulators on this issue. But when banks need approval for mergers or acquisitions, the CRA gives “community groups” the opportunity to lodge complaints against them, alleging suspect lending practices. If there’s even the appearance of discrimination, the regulators may put the bank’s deal on hold.
But if the CRA is now unnecessary, ACORN has found a use for it beyond wielding it as a propaganda tool to suggest that “redlining” still exists. ACORN has developed a lucrative niche as an “advisor” to banks seeking regulatory approvals. Thus we have J. P. Morgan & Company, the legatee of the man who once symbolized for many all that was supposedly evil about American capitalism, suddenly donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to ACORN. This act of generosity and civic-mindedness came, interestingly, just as Morgan was asking bank regulators for approval of a merger with Chase Manhattan. Not to be outdone, Chase also decided to grant more than $200,000 to ACORN.
The banks that ACORN has shaken down refuse to discuss their contributions to a political organization that, to put it mildly, is hostile to free enterprise. But one prominent consultant to the financial industry, who preferred to remain anonymous, admits: “The banks know they are being held up, but they are not going to fight over this. They look at it as a cost of doing business.” Some of ACORN’s fellow community activists are even blunter. “ACORN knows that corporate America has no starch in their shorts and, therefore, what they try to do is buy peace from groups that agitate against them,” says Robert L. Woodson, president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, a community-action group that stresses moral regeneration and individual responsibility rather than government handouts. “The same corporations that pay ransom to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton pay ransom to ACORN.”
Such opportunism fits an ACORN pattern. The group regularly takes actions that appear blatantly self-interested or hypocritical, as if their pure motives and laudable ends might justify less than elevated means. For example, even while pushing for living-wage legislation in California, ACORN was paying its workers less than the existing minimum wage—and arguing when the state sued it that the minimum-wage law infringed its First Amendment free-speech right, since paying workers more would hinder it in spreading its message. So, too, many of the living-wage laws it pushes exempt unionized companies from the legislation—a powerful tool for union-organizing efforts and a valuable gift to the unions that are ACORN’s biggest allies. A similar gift is ACORN’s effort to unionize workfare recipients and thus swell union membership rolls.
“Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old...I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.”
What has Barack Obama got to do with all this? Plenty. Let’s begin with Obama’s pre-law school days as a community organizer in Chicago. Few people have a clear idea of just what a “community organizer” does. A Los Angeles Timespiece on Obama’s early Chicago days opens with the touching story of his efforts to build a partnership with Chicago’s “Friends of the Parks,” so that parents in a blighted neighborhood could have an inviting spot for their kids to play. This is the image of Obama’s organizing we’re supposed to hold. It’s far from the whole story, however. As the L. A. Times puts it, “Obama’s task was to help far South Side residents press for improvement” in their communities. Part of Obama’s work, it would appear, was to organize demonstrations, much in the mold of radical groups like ACORN.
Although the L. A. Times piece is generally positive, it does press Obama’s organizing tales on certain points. Some claim that Obama’s book, Dreams from My Father, exaggerates his accomplishments in spearheading an asbestos cleanup at a low-income housing project. Obama, these critics say, denies due credit to Hazel Johnson, an activist who claims she was the one who actually discovered the asbestos problem and led the efforts to resolve it.
Speaking up in defense of Obama on the asbestos issue is Madeleine Talbot, who at the time was a leader at Chicago ACORN. Talbot, we learn, was so impressed by Obama’s organizing skills that she invited him to help train her own staff.
And what exactly was Talbot’s work with ACORN? Talbot turns out to have been a key leader of that attempt by ACORN to storm the Chicago City Council (during a living-wage debate). On July 31, 1997, six people were arrested as 200 ACORN protesters tried to storm the Chicago City Council session. According to the Chicago Daily Herald, ACORN demonstrators pushed over the metal detector and table used to screen visitors, backed police against the doors to the council chamber, and blocked late-arriving aldermen and city staff from entering the session.
Reading the Herald article, you might think ACORN’s demonstrators had simply lost patience after being denied entry to the gallery at a packed meeting. Yet the full story points in a different direction. This was not an overreaction by frustrated followers who couldn’t get into a meeting (there were plenty of protestors already in the gallery), but almost certainly a deliberate bit of what radicals call “direct action,” orchestrated by ACORN’s Madeleine Talbot. As Talbot was led away handcuffed, charged with mob action and disorderly conduct, she explicitly justified her actions in storming the meeting. This was the woman who first drew Obama into his alliance with ACORN, and whose staff Obama helped train.
These people definitely want to take stuff away from you and keep it for themselves.
The extent of Obama’s ties to Acorn has not been recognized. We find some important details in an article in the journal Social Policy entitled, “Case Study: Chicago — The Barack Obama Campaign,” by Toni Foulkes, a Chicago ACORN leader and a member of ACORN’s National Association Board. The odd thing about this article is that Foulkes is forced to protect the technically “non-partisan” status of ACORN’s get-out-the-vote campaigns, even as he does everything in his power to give ACORN credit for helping its favorite son win the critical 2004 primary that secured Obama the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate.
Before giving us a tour of ACORN’s pro-Obama but somehow “non-partisan” election activities, Foulks treats us to a brief history of Obama’s ties to ACORN. Foulkes claims that ACORN specifically sought out Obama’s representation in the "motor voter" case, remembering Obama from the days when he worked with Talbot. And while many reports speak of Obama’s post-law school role organizing “Project VOTE” in 1992, Foulkes makes it clear that this project was undertaken in direct partnership with ACORN. Foulkes then stresses Obama’s yearly service as a key figure in ACORN’s leadership-training seminars.
At least a few news reports have briefly mentioned Obama’s role in training ACORN’s leaders, but none have said what Foulkes reports next: that Obama’s long service with ACORN led many members to serve as the volunteer shock troops of Obama’s early political campaigns — his initial 1996 State Senate campaign, and his failed bid for Congress in 2000 (Foulkes confuses the dates of these two campaigns.) With Obama having personally helped train a new cadre of Chicago ACORN leaders, by the time of Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, Obama and ACORN were “old friends,” says Foulkes.
So along with the reservoir of political support that came to Obama through his close ties with Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, and other Chicago black churches, Chicago ACORN appears to have played a major role in Obama’s political advance. Sure enough, a bit of digging into Obama’s years in the Illinois State Senate indicates strong concern with ACORN’s signature issues, as well as meetings with ACORN and the introduction by Obama of ACORN-friendly legislation on the living wage and banking practices. You begin to wonder whether, in his Springfield days, Obama might have best been characterized as “the Senator from ACORN.”
“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America!" --Pastor Jeremiah Wright, who married Barack and his wife Michelle. He baptized Barack’s two daughters and has been Obama’s pastor for more than twenty years.
More attention needs to be paid to possible links between Obama and ACORN during the period of Obama’s service on the boards of two charitable foundations, the Woods Fund and the Joyce Foundation.
According to the New York Times, Obama’s memberships on those foundation boards, “allowed him to help direct tens of millions of dollars in grants” to various liberal organizations, including Chicago ACORN, “whose endorsement Obama sought and won in his State Senate race.” ACORN maintains both political and “non-partisan” arms. Obama not only sought and received the endorsement of ACORN’s political arm in his local campaigns, he recently accepted Acorn’s endorsement for the presidency, in pursuit of which he reminded ACORN officials of his long-standing ties to the group.
Supposedly, ACORN’s political arm is segregated from its “non-partisan” registration and get-out-the-vote efforts, but this non-partisanship is exceedingly difficult to discern. It would be illegal for Obama to sit on a foundation board and direct money to an organization that openly served as his key get-out-the-vote volunteers on Election Day.
Obama’s ties to ACORN — arguably the most politically radical large-scale activist group in the country — are wide, deep, and longstanding. If ACORN is adept at creating a non-partisan, inside-game veneer for what is in fact an intensely radical, leftist, and politically partisan reality, so is Obama himself. This is hardly a coincidence: Obama helped train ACORN’s leaders in how to play this game. For the most part, Obama seems to have favored the political-insider strategy, yet it’s clear that he knew how to play the in-your-face “direct action” game as well. And surely during his many years of close association with ACORN, Obama had to know what the group was all about.
Don't Worry Kid, ACORN will never let you get a school voucher. The Street will always be there for you.