How ACORN crippled the economy

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Barack can run from ACORN, but he cannot hide

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Senator from ACORN: Barack Obama

Election '08: Barack Obama wasn't just the second-largest recipient of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac political contributions. He was also the senator from ACORN, the activist leader for risky "affirmative action" loans.

Despite efforts to blame the rescue bill's failure on the GOP, it should be remembered that 95 Democrats — some 40% of the Democratic Caucus — withheld support. Obama himself also deserves blame — not only for the bill's failure, but also for the crisis it was designed to solve.

As the New York Times reports, "Aides to Mr. Obama said he had not directly reached out to try to sway any House Democrats who opposed the measure." Is the reason the fact that the slush fund for ACORN in the original bill, siphoning off 20% of any future profits for such activist groups, was trimmed from the tree?

Obama, who once represented ACORN in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois, was hired by the group to train its community organizers and staff in the methods and tactics of the late Saul Alinsky. ACORN would stage in-your-face protests in bank lobbies, drive-through lanes and even at bank managers' homes to get them to issue risky loans in the inner city or face charges of racism.

In the early 1990s, reports Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Policy Center, Obama was personally recruited by Chicago's ACORN to run training sessions in "direct action." That's the euphemism for the techniques used under the cover of the federal Community Reinvestment Act to intimidate financial institutions into giving what have been called "Ninja" loans — no income, no job, no assets — to people who couldn't afford them.

CRA was designed to increase minority homeownership. Whenever a bank wanted to grow or expand, ACORN would file complaints that it was not sufficiently sensitive to the needs of minorities in providing home loans. Agitators would then be unleashed.

Chicago's ACORN used Alinsky's tactics against institutions such as Bell Federal Savings and Loan and Avondale Federal Savings. In September 1992, the Chicago Tribune described the group's agenda as "affirmative action lending."

Obama also helped ACORN get funding. When he served on the board of the Woods Fund for Chicago with Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers, the Woods Fund frequently gave ACORN grants to fund its activist agenda.

In 1995, Kurtz reports, Obama chaired the committee that increased funding of ACORN and other community organizers. The committee report boasted that the fund's "non-ideological" image "enabled the Trustees to make grants to organizations that use confrontational tactics against the business and governmental 'establishments' without undue risk of being accused of partisanship."

The CRA empowered regulators to punish banks that failed to "meet the credit needs" of "low-income, minority and distressed neighborhoods." It gave groups such as ACORN a license and a means to intimidate banks, claiming they were "redlining" poor and minority neighborhoods. ACORN employed its tactics in 1991 by taking over the House Banking Committee room for two days to protest efforts to scale back the CRA.

As a former White House staff economist writes in the American Thinker, Obama represented ACORN in a 1994 suit against redlining. ACORN was also a driving force behind a 1995 regulatory revision pushed through by the Clinton administration that greatly expanded the CRA and helped spawn the current financial crisis.

Obama was the attorney representing ACORN in this effort. Last November, he told the group, "I've been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career." Indeed he has. Obama was and is fully aware of what ACORN was doing with the money and expertise he provided. The voters should be aware on Nov. 4 of the roles of both in creating the current crisis.


Michigan ACORN big rips Bush, McCain

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Reporter cites Barack's ties to union-backed fraud group ACORN

As elections and foreclosures grab top headlines, a community organizer group is gaining more visibility for its voter registration drives and association with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Dave Lagstein, Michigan head organizer of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), spoke at an anti-George W. Bush bus tour event Sept. 23 in the Royal Oak Farmers Market parking lot.

He accused Bush of not doing enough to prevent the nation’s economic crisis despite the president’s signing of a housing rescue bill in July. Lagstein called it a “Band-Aid.” “Even somebody as out of touch as Bush felt the need to do something,” he said.

Founded in 1970, ACORN says its activism helps low- to middle-income families on issues like foreclosures, health care, immigration and living wages. It also does voter registration drives, but some of those voter drives have drawn the attention of government officials.

Erroneous voters
Ruth Johnson, the current county clerk/register of deeds and a Republican, said the local clerks had a meeting Sept. 24 and learned that about two-thirds of the voter registrations coming into Oakland County this election cycle are invalid, mostly because they’re duplicates.

In Pontiac alone, about 4,500 registrations were duplicates or had something else wrong with them, she said. One person’s name in Oakland County was registered 12 different times with different signatures, she added.

Joe Rozell, Oakland County’s director of elections, chimed in and said that these irregularities are primarily coming from ACORN.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Kelly Chesney told C & G Newspapers that potential evidence has been turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. But she was confident about the integrity of the electoral system and said workers are putting in overtime to prepare for this election.

“They’re crosschecking (applications) against the statewide qualified voter file, and they’re working at processing those right now,” she said.

This is not the first time that ACORN’s voter registration drives have drawn this kind of attention. For instance, five ACORN workers who were indicted in 2007 for submitting false registration applications in Washington state were later convicted.

According to news reports, a flurry of suspicion has arisen over ACORN’s vote registration drives over the last couple of months in other states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina.

Sheila Smith, who is on a leave of absence from being ACORN’s Michigan political director, said in a Sept. 23 statement that the group has registered more than 220,000 new voters in Michigan.

Smith currently is running as a Democrat for Oakland County clerk/register of deeds this November against incumbent Johnson.

According to Smith, ACORN voter registration workers get part-time, hourly wages and receive training about voter registration requirements.

“As with any massive effort, there is the potential for errors,” she said. “The number of fraudulent registrations has not been confirmed; however, I take these allegations very seriously.”

Lagstein stressed that his group has been in constant communication with election officials. “The main thing is that we’re doing over a million cards nationally,” he said. “There’s not going to be perfection.”

Partisan politics?
The campaign for Republican presidential nominee John McCain is engaging in a campaign to attack ACORN, Lagstein said. “That is really a sign that the voter registration has had an impact and has become a political issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, ACORN has had some ties to Obama. In February, its political action committee endorsed him. ACORN is also a partner organization of Project Vote, a group that Obama helped direct while in Illinois in 1992, according to the Chicago Reader. As a lawyer, Obama also filed suit on ACORN’s behalf in a case about the “motor voter law” in 1995, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Obama Michigan spokesman Brent Colburn said ACORN’s registration drives are independent from the candidate’s campaign, and any efforts to connect the two entities are a smokescreen.

Although the campaign wants the maximum number of people legally registered by Oct. 6, it hopes that the secretaries of state appropriately deal with any irregularities that arise. “We want those situations fixed,” he said.

While Republicans make accusations against ACORN, the other side has denounced an alleged GOP plan to suppress the votes of Michigan residents with foreclosed homes.

According to The Michigan Messenger, a liberal news Web site, Macomb GOP Party Chairman James Carabelli told a reporter that he “will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses.”

Carabelli declined to reply by press time.

Michigan GOP spokesman Bill Nowling refused to comment but referred to a statement in which Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis called The Michigan Messenger’s report a “complete fabrication.”

“There has never been a plan to use foreclosure lists to challenge voters,” Anuzis said. “There is no such plan, and there never will be such a plan. Period.”

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have since filed suit over the alleged tactic, and Obama spokesman Colburn is taking the initial report at face value.

“We can only base what we do off of statements that are made,” he said. “At the end of the day, we feel this is too important of an issue to not pursue it and make sure it absolutely does not happen.”

Chesney said she has only heard press accounts of the matter.

“We don’t have any evidence that a group is going to use these foreclosure lists,” she said. “I don’t really want to speculate on that part for the purposes of voter registration.”

Still, Lagstein said he would like to see the Secretary of State issue a directive that foreclosure lists can’t be used while legislators move to close a “legal loophole.”

“The main thing is there should be a legal, legislative (and) communications strategy to stop this practice,” he said.


Dems try to shift attention from ACORN

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Roots of crisis lead to collectivist seed: ACORN

In the wake of the U.S. House-rejected $700 billion economic recovery plan on Monday, local party leaders are pointing the finger at each other for the nation's current financial woes, while one academic says everyone is to blame.

Allan Filip, chairman of the Livingston County Republican Party, accused Democrats largely during the administration of former President Bill Clinton of opening up loans to people with poor credit.

"The regulation really came from the Democrats that were requiring mortgage companies to give loans to individuals who probably couldn't afford them," Filip said.

Filip also criticized Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's ties to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which is embroiled in an inquiry over fraudulent voter registration. The Illinois senator reportedly worked with and funded some activities of ACORN, which pushed for relaxing mortgage requirements.

A stipulation in the defeated bailout package would have provided some funding to ACORN.

But Judy Daubenmier, chairwoman of the Livingston County Democratic Party, said the blame should be placed on Republicans.

"The reason we're in this situation is because in 2004, the Bush administration allowed these financial institutions to go on voluntary regulation," Daubenmier said.

Daubenmier added Republicans want to blame poor people for causing the current economic climate, when, in fact, she said the finger-pointing should be aimed at speculators who wanted to flip homes for quick sales; thus, they gobbled up additional mortgages.

Republicans in 2004 and Democrats during the Clinton era are both to blame for the current financial meltdown, according to Sadhana Alangar, chairwoman of the finance and economics department at Cleary University in Genoa Township.

"All of those would be responsible," Alangar said. "I think one thing that nobody is talking about is personal accountability — people who went there and borrowed money when they could not afford it."

However, Alangar said playing the blame game isn't useful, especially in light of how Democrats and Republicans have controlled Congress at different points during the past four years. She did note an investigation does need to be conducted into how the economy landed in its current situation.

"I am confident, I am optimistic that we will get around this," Alangar said. "If any country can get over this, it should be the United States. I think people just need to stay calm and cool."


Union terrorists bomb L.A. Times

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Today marks 99th anniversary celebration of 100 acts of destructive union violence against non-union targets

On the morning of Oct. 1, 1910, shortly after 1 a.m., a series of explosions rocked the Los Angeles Times building. An entire six-floor wing of the stone structure was thrown free of its foundation. Then all at once the building's south wall, the Broadway Street side, cascaded to the ground.

There were six blasts in all. About 100 people had been at work, and now they were all trapped in flames, smoke and debris. Escape was a battle. Twenty-one people died.

What caused the explosion? Was it a gas leak? An anarchist bomb? An attack by union members who opposed the adamantly closed-shop policies of the paper's owner, Harrison Gray Otis? Or was it an insurance scam, a scheme to benefit from the $100,000 policy the paper had recently taken on the structure?

William J. Burns, a celebrated private detective and former Secret Service agent -- a dapper man with a fondness for three-piece suits and bowler hats and a thick, bristly mustache -- was hired by Los Angeles Mayor George Alexander to solve the case. Donning a variety of disguises, working covertly, the investigation by this "American Sherlock Holmes" relentlessly followed a trail that led across turn-of-the-century America, from San Francisco boatyards, to an anarchist colony outside Seattle, to a hunters' camp in the snow-covered woods of Wisconsin, to a Chicago fortune teller and, finally, to the downtown streets of Indianapolis.

In the course of his dogged investigation, the detective came to realize that he had uncovered a large, previously unimaginable, conspiracy: The bombing of The Times, it seems, had been one of more than 100 bombings at nonunion sites throughout the country organized by the same group of people. "The war with dynamite," he decided, "was a war of anarchy against the established form of government of this country."

In the end, Burns got his men. He apprehended the three principals he was certain were directly responsible for The Times bombing -- including J.J. McNamara, an official of an Indianapolis-based ironworkers union, and his younger brother.

After the arrests were announced, Samuel Gompers, the president of the nationwide American Federation of Labor, quickly declared that "Burns had lied" and that the case against the McNamaras and the ironworkers union was "a frame-up." Gompers persuaded Clarence Darrow, the already legendary populist attorney, to defend the McNamara brothers.

In the tense, high-stakes months before the trial, a tenacious, deeply personal battle between Burns and Darrow was fought in the shadows. They were two committed individuals, each confident of the inherent rightness of his cause, each convinced that at stake was nothing less than the nation's security and constitutional integrity. They also were both deeply flawed men -- egotists, temperamental and morally pragmatic. They routinely manipulated the levers of justice and cranked up the roar of public opinion with little regard for either the law or the truth.

Burns had no qualms about imprisoning suspects in secret locations until a confession was coerced. He covertly took the suspects by train across the Midwest to Los Angeles to avoid, as he put it, "habeas corpus proceedings and all sorts of trouble." He intercepted the mail of people connected, however tangentially, to the case. He hid Dictaphones in the conference room of the opposing lawyers and in the prisoners' cells in the L.A. County jail, and he received thick transcripts of his adversaries' conversations and strategy sessions. And he disclosed to eager reporters nasty stories about the suspects' freewheeling romances -- inventing many of these salacious tales in the process.

Darrow, for his part, gleefully fed the press unfounded accusations and encouraged fallacious reports dismissing the evidence against the unions as fabricated. More disturbing, Darrow, who had already earned a reputation as a champion of justice, succumbed to the pressures of the case -- and, with breathtaking pragmatism, undermined and disregarded the law.

Acting on his behalf, his associates offered inducements to witnesses to change their stories; they dangled the carrots of cash or new jobs and, when that failed, they shook a stick that warned of impending bodily harm. Darrow himself passed $500 to one of Burns' most trusted lieutenants in the belief -- which proved incorrect -- that he had recruited a spy in the enemy's camp. And when these machinations failed, Darrow allegedly approved a plot to bribe two jurors. One of the indignant jurors, however, informed the authorities, and when the money was exchanged on a downtown street corner, the police swooped in.

The trial of the McNamaras ended with guilty pleas; Burns' evidence against them, even Darrow was at last forced to concede, was overwhelming.

But then Darrow was indicted for bribing a juror. The People vs. Clarence Darrow went on for three incriminating months in a courtroom across the hall from where the McNamaras had been on trial. In the end, it was Darrow's summation that saved his reputation. "It was a hard fight," he told the jurors, and then shared an impassioned account of his crusading life. Tears were racing down his face as he finished, and the jury wept unashamedly along with him. He was acquitted.

There was a second bribery trial, but Darrow won this one too. He returned to Chicago filled with a deep shame about many of his actions. He went on to fight for John Scopes' right to teach evolution in Tennessee, and he crusaded against the death penalty in the 1924 Leopold and Loeb murder case.

As for Burns, in time he turned to politics. He was appointed the first director of the Bureau of Investigation, the agency that would become known as the FBI. But he was blindsided by the Teapot Dome scandal and soon resigned. He appointed his young assistant to take his place. J. Edgar Hoover served as director for nearly the next half a century.

- Howard Blum, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a former New York Times reporter, is the author of "American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century."


Friends of Barack caused federal crisis

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Editorial cites union-backed voter fraud group ACORN

Who's to blame for the current meltdown of the financial sector, caused by the dependence of so many corporate balance sheets on defaulting home mortgages?

Since for the past eight years the White House has been occupied by a Republican -- and one with low approval ratings, at that -- many may be inclined to agree with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the fault lies with "failed Republican do-nothing policies."

In fact, the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 was enacted by a Democratic Congress and signed by Democrat Jimmy Carter, and it was under Democrat Bill Clinton in 1995 that the real regulatory pressure began to build on America's banks to meet regulatory quotas for loan-making to unqualified buyers in low-income communities -- well-meaning social policy enforced by requiring bankers to take the very billion-dollar risks that have now come home to roost.

There were plenty of warnings that too much of this bad debt was piling up -- especially at mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2000, when Rep. Richard Baker proposed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform, powerful Democrat Barney Frank dismissed it as unnecessary. The New York Times reports that a Bush administration proposal in 2003 to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac found Rep. Frank insisting, "I do not believe that we're facing any kind of crisis."

Warned in April 2004 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could collapse, Rep. Barney Frank replied, "I think Wall Street will get over it."

Over in the Senate, the biggest recipients of financial largess from employees and political action committees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over their careers have been not President Bush and Sen. John McCain, but Democratic Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd ($165,000) -- whio also worked to quash reform -- and Barack Obama ($125,000), followed by John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.

Who are the friends of the fat-cat bankers?

(Note last week's original bailout plan included tens of billions of dollars for nonprofit "affordable housing advocacy" outfits, including Sen. Obama's longtime patron, Acorn.)

Yet at the same time Sen. Obama was pocketing money from these institutions -- and retaining their former chiefs as his advisiors -- some Republicans, including Sen. McCain, were fighting to reform them.

"One of the major government privileges granted to GSEs is a line of credit with the United States Treasury," Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas warned the House Financial Services Committee in September 2003. "According to some estimates, the line of credit may be worth over $2 billion. This explicit promise by the Treasury to bail out GSEs in times of economic difficulty ... distorts the allocation of capital."

Sen. McCain was another leading advocate of reform of the "Government-Sponsored Enterprises" (GSEs) -- years ago.

"For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ..." Sen. McCain said on the Senate floor on May 25, 2006. "The GSEs need to be reformed without delay."

That was three years ago. But the well-paid Democrats refused to listen, back when there was still time. And so the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005 -- co-sponsored by Sen. McCain -- went nowhere.

Nevada Rep. Jon Porter has plenty of justification for his call to probe these circircumstances -- including a search for possible criminal wrongdoing.

Yes, many of Sen. McCain's fellow Republicans -- and many on Wall Street looking to turn a quick buck -- share the blame. They've controlled either the White House or Congress or both for much of the past 14 years. Even faced with Democratic foot-dragging, why didn't Republicans act to repeal the mandates that encouraged and even required these risky loans?

For that matter, even today -- with near unanimity that the nation faces a "crisis" -- why hasn't Congress done the equivalent of plugging the leaks before starting to bail the boat? Why haven't they repealed the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, along with all the ancillary banking regulations piled on under President Clinton in the late 1990s, which not only allowed but actually required banks to demonstrate to government regulators that they'd extended credit to a "sufficient" number of potentially risky borrowers, even if that meant allowing those borrowers to use their welfare and unemployment checks to qualify for a loan?


Ken Blackwell rips ACORN

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Union-backed fraud group gets a rare rebuke

Related: "Congress puts lipstick on ACORN pig"
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ACORN'S role: Thankfully stripped ... or not?

Say what you will but the scuttled federal package to rescue the economy could have been far worse. After all, the "crap sandwich" -- how House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, described the measure -- could have been loaded with acorns.

Acorns? Oh, allow us to translate -- ACORN, as in the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Early in the negotiations, there appeared to be language in the $700 billion "rescue" package that could have funneled an estimated $100 million to ACORN and other groups through an "affordable housing trust fund."

That's a code phrase for one of the big precipitators of the subprime mortgage house of cards that collapsed and shook to the footer the American economy -- giving mortgages to people without financial wherewithal.

We find it outrageous that congressional Democrats would leave the door open to such a troubling group. It's embroiled in an internal embezzlement scandal that hid a fraud with an accounting trick and even kept the fraudster on the payroll for a time.

Then there's ACORN's legendary voter-fraud operations, one of the largest efforts to pad the voting rolls in modern history.

Whether the rejected rescue bill would have been a "crap sandwich" or not, we might never know. But at least taxpayers wouldn't have had to hear the crunch of ACORN as they chewed.


Good gov't group launches StopAcorn.org

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A rotten union-backed enterprise: ACORN

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”-Matthew 7:3

For ACORN, it’s all about the sawdust.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has come under fire for a plethora of scandals lately. The most prominent of these scandals surround s the issue of rampant voter fraud, a practice that ought to be particularly troubling considering the virulent, pro-Obama partisan nature of the group.

Most recently, ACORN has been implicated in voter fraud schemes in over a dozen states, having submitted thousands of fraudulent voter registration cards in places like Missouri, Washington and Ohio. The organization apparently had no qualms about registering dead people, re-registering already registered voters, or fabricating drivers’ license numbers.

The latest attack on ACORN, however, comes not from Republicans, Talk Radio or state Governments, but rather from a fellow labor and community activist group fed up with the internal practices of ACORN. It also has nothing to do with these nefarious cases of voter fraud.

For social justice advocate Gregory Hall’s “Truth to Power” organization (TTP), ACORN is an organization mired in hypocrisy which fails to treat its employees by its own principles. One of TTP’s stated goals is to seek drastic reform within ACORN itself.

Citing the 54-80 hour work week, poor working conditions and low starting salaries around $25,000 as evidence, TTP believes top ACORN management embodies a “do as I say, not as I do” policy with regard to the way it treats its own organizers. As Hall stated:

“A lot of people know ACORN fights for living wages and fairness at home and on the job. But most people out there don’t know that a few really powerful top ACORN managers force ACORN organizers to work extremely long hours for too little pay. These guys attack companies like Wal-Mart, but management acts exactly like Wal-Mart.”

According to Hall, social justice groups like ACORN don’t even provide social justice to their own workers. They’re apparently too preoccupied with taking the speck from their neighbors’ eyes without removing the plank of injustice from there own.

All of this simply reiterates what ALG New Bureau has reported on time and time again. ACORN is a rotten low-life organization rife with loathsome and illegal practices.

Considering the high stakes and extremely competitive nature of this year’s presidential election, any group seeking to illegally meddle in the election and manipulate the outcome ought to be met with resounding outrage. The fact that ACORN is both corrupt in both actions and internals simply enforce the aforementioned point.

This ACORN is rotten on the outside and at its core.

It is time for Barack Obama to defiantly reject and condemn ACORN. His extensive ties to ACORN, despite their lack of media coverage, are genuinely troubling and entirely shameful.

Much like his ties to Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, and Tony Rezko, however, this appears to be yet another relationship Obama plans to keep.


ACORN backers turn defensive, testy

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Indefensible: Partisan, union-backed voter fraud

ACORN is an organization that unites and coordinates the efforts of multiple community-organizing efforts around the country, focusing originally on housing-availability and inequity issues, and expanding into healthcare rights, civil rights, voter registration and electoral and state-representation reform. The acronym stands for the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now. It was founded in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1970, in response to the need to deal with a number of civil rights issues in the city.

FOX News has taken up the mission of pseudo-conservative talk radio showmen, who have sought to paint the group as a dangerous, “radical” or “fringe” group, working to somehow undermine the American political system. The reasons for this are not clear, as the group has no history of radicalism or of anything other than non-violent organization, protest and lobbying action. Some conservatives resent the organization’s efforts in the 1980s to focus national attention on the need for low-income housing by directly protesting the policies of Pres. Ronald Reagan.

Prominent members of the Republican party —Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one—, the Wall St. Journal editorial page, and prominent conservative bloggers have sparked anger and opposition to the group and to the financial rescue package with the false claim that the bill included a “slush fund” for ACORN. There is no such provision.

The legislation would direct certain funds to states and cities in an effort to help relieve economic stresses on communities; those local governments may choose to direct funding to causes —like low-income housing, micro-credit and low-wage tax relief— that ACORN often supports, but there is no ACORN earmark and no reason to assume they would receive any funds. Federal oversight standards are laid out, and state and local governments would choose how to address housing issues in their jurisdiction.

Ties between the group and the Democratic party have grown over time, as Democratic politicians and affiliated groups have worked with ACORN to try to reach some of its stated policy goals. In this way, it can be seen by pro-Republican analysts or strategists as a Democratic PAC, which it is not. The group has worked to help elect Democratic candidates and has sent delegates to the Democratic National Convention in the past, but has set as its standard for endorsing individual candidates a 75%-support threshold among its membership.

Among ACORN’s signature civil rights issues is not only housing, but lending borrowing rights. According to Wikipedia:

ACORN has fought against lending practices that it sees as predatory by targeting the national companies that practice them, working for stronger state laws against predatory practices, organizing against local financial scams, and steering individuals toward loan counseling.[3] Following a three-year campaign Household International (now owned by HSBC Holdings and renamed HSBC Finance Corporation), one of the largest subprime lenders in the country, and ACORN announced on November 25, 2003 a proposed settlement of a 2002 national class-action lawsuit brought by ACORN. The settlement created a $72 million Foreclosure Avoidance Program to provide relief to Household borrowers who are at risk of losing their homes.[3] The settlement came on the heels of an earlier $484 million settlement between Household, Attorneys General, and bank regulators from all 50 US states.[4]

Other key rights issues on which the group focuses its efforts include establishing in every region of the country real “living wages” —meaning that minimum wage should not be insufficient to cover the actual cost of living for an employee and his or her family—, education policy and reform —notably added funding for underprivileged communities, availability of books and learning materials for poor students, and action against for-profit takeovers of public education systems—, and gun control —siding with cities that seek to limit the number of firearms on the streets—, each of which are issues that many conservative Republicans feel work against their ideological positions.

The group also played a role in bringing relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina, in areas where public assistance was lacking or entirely absent. Again, Wikipedia reports that:

ACORN’s Home Cleanout Demonstration Program has gutted and rebuilt over 1,850 homes with the help of volunteers. The ACORN Katrina Survivors Association formed in the aftermath of the storm is the first nationwide organization for Katrina survivors and has been working for equitable treatment for victims. Displaced citizens were bused into the city for the New Orleans primary and general elections. ACORN Housing Services have helped more than 2,000 homeowners affected by the storm and is an official planner working with the city on reconstruction.

There have been several instances in which Republican politicians and state governments have made allegations of volunteers for the group being involved in issuing “false” or “fraudulent” voter registration forms. In no case has any investigation found the group to have planned or been involved in such efforts. In several cases, the “false” registrations amounted to forms not fully completed by voters, and which while perhaps inadequate under state law to secure the voter full registration, were not in fact fraudulent at all.

ACORN and other election observers have accused the federal government of using its prosecutorial powers to create a phony “voter fraud” issue, under which it can effectively target groups that help to register and organize voters considered demographically less likely to vote for the Republican party. All such allegations have been denied, but the Justice Department now faces an independent prosecutor’s investigation of the attorney general’s predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, and his deputies, for allegedly firing US attorneys who refused to engage in politically-driven prosecutions.

While four ACORN employees —each of them fired by the group— were indicted for allegedly submitting false voter registrations in Ohio in 2004, it is not clear there was any criminal wrongdoing, and the organization itself has denounced any such action and taken action to prevent it and to bring it to light wherever it may occur.

The Republican administration of the state of Ohio has also been investigated for vote-blocking efforts that may violate federal law and for alleged misuse of electronic voting equipment, and the head of Premier/Diebold election systems, which manufactured many of the electronic balloting machines used in the state, faces investigation for ongoing, systemic flaws in the software and hardware he sold to numerous states, which has repeatedly malfunctioned in such a way as to skew vote totals. He infamously said in 2004 he would do anything in his power to help Bush win Ohio.

In at least one case:

In 2007, five Washington state ACORN workers were sentenced to jail time.[25] ACORN agreed to pay King County $25 000 for its investigative costs and acknowledged that the national organization could be subject to criminal prosecution if fraud occurs again. According to King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, the misconduct was done “as an easy way to get paid [by ACORN], not as an attempt to influence the outcome of elections.”

Those “fraudulent” voter registrations would not influence the outcome of an election, because incomplete or false registrations do not permit anyone to cast votes. An individual must appear and demonstrate —usually by signature or photo ID— that he or she is legitimately registered. Also, in the Washington case, it appears ACORN itself was defrauded by staff falsely claiming to have completed work they did not do (registering actual voters).

Perhaps it is this attack/counter-attack that stokes the fires of animosity among some of FOX News’ more pro-Republican commentators, but it must be part of the record of reporting and commentary for this election that ACORN is not a radical group, and is not working to undermine American government or to rig American elections. No evidence of any kind exists to support such claims.


Out-of-state union cash pollutes Colorado

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But pro-union Denver Post puts a happy face on forced-labor unionists' extortion

Amid discussions with businesses on a potential agreement to quell a looming ballot battle, the union coalition Protect Colorado's Future has raised another $3.3 million to promote two measures and defeat three others.

The group received $1 million from the National Education Association and $500,000 from the Teamsters union during the latest reporting period, according to secretary of state filings. As of Wednesday, Protect Colorado's Future has raised $6.7 million and has about $1.7 million on hand.

The coalition is promoting Amendment 53, which seeks to hold executives criminally liable for corporate wrongdoings, and Amendment 55, which would limit a business' ability to fire workers except for "just cause," such as incompetence or substandard performance.

The coalition is fighting, among others, Amendment 47, the right-to-work measure that seeks to prohibit forced union dues.

The group pushing Amendment 47 raised $418,000 during the latest period, including $287,000 from a nonprofit called Coloradans for Economic Growth and $100,000 from the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association. The group, called A Better Colorado, has garnered nearly $1.2 million and has about $493,000 on hand.

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce's political issue committee, Coloradans for Responsible Reform, raised $708,000, taking its total to $2.9 million.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave $250,000 and the Anschutz Corp. contributed $100,000.

The committee is fighting the two measures pushed by Protect Colorado's Future and two others that are being led by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union. Those measures seek to mandate businesses with 20 or more workers to provide health insurance and require businesses with 10 or more workers to provide a safe and healthy workplace and allow injured employees to seek unlimited damages beyond the workers' compensation system.

UFCW Local 7's issue committee, Coloradans for Middle Class Relief, didn't report any new funds during the latest period and has raised $4.7 million to fight Amendment 47 and promote its two measures.

UFCW Local 7 has a another issue committee called Committee for Fair Wages Benefits that raised $24,000. That group's mission is to fight Amendment 47 and "protect union members."

UFCW Local 7 and Protect Colorado's Futures are in discussions with Colorado Concern, an alliance of businesses and top executives, on a deal that would remove the four union-backed measures from the Nov. ballot.

In return, businesses would help finance the campaign against Amendment 47 and two other measures unions oppose.

The deadline to pull measures from the ballot is Thursday.


NPR: Unions call out the dogs for Barack

Hyper-partisan organized labor mounts massive assault against the GOP using forcibly-extracted dues

The nation’s most powerful labor unions are ratcheting up their efforts to elect Barack Obama with massive voter outreach campaigns. The AFL-CIO labor federation announced a new assault on John McCain today, saying it will blanket battleground states with mail, phone calls and personal visits to sway swing voters in the Democratic direction.

A mailer (below) hammering McCain on his health care plan is going out to union voters in Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida. The slogan on the back of the mailer says, “John McCain Isn’t For Us.”

Another million flyers will be distributed at workplaces. Volunteers aim to make more than 150,000 phone calls and visit homes throughout the Midwest.

Separately, the Service Employees International Union reported spending $500,000 on Sunday to canvass voters in support of Obama. Both SEIU and the AFL-CIO have said this year’s efforts will be their largest voter mobilization campaigns ever.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports today on union payments in recent years to political firms and nonprofits with personal connections to the union’s leadership. We tracked SEIU’s current web of political influence and money here.

- Will Evans, Center for Investigative Reporting. The Secret Money blog is a joint project of the Center for Investigative Reporting and National Public Radio.


Andy Stern casts a spell on Barack

More SEIU stories: hereAndy Stern stories: here

Old-time socialist: Barack wrongfully backs Stern corruption

Bill Fletcher is all about the wringing of hands over the corruption scandal of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and is afraid that it will get in the way of the upcoming presidential campaign. Fletcher, a long time union activist, pseudo "Africanist," anti-American, and anti-Jew agitator, who is also a self described "socialist,", and Barack Obama volunteer, was interviewed recently on the website of the extremist organization Democracy Now.

Little of what he had to say is of much surprise or interest nor is there any truth to it. It is filled with your run-of-the-mill psychotic hate for business and the U.S.A. like the content of all of his interviews. But, his lament about the troubled SEIU is interesting... maybe even heartening for those who wish to see the union curtailed.

Talking about the late split between the AFL-CIO, Fletcher likened that instance to some of the troubles the SEIU is having with the Washington Office's attack on its California Local, the United Healtcare Workers-West (UHW-W).
In SEIU, as you mentioned, what we're witnessing is, in the West Coast there have been allegations of very serious corruption among locals that have been allied very strongly with SEIU President Andy Stern, and in the middle of this, this absurd attack on one of the largest SEIU locals by the SEIU President Andy Stern — and this is United Healthcare Workers-West — an attack that comes at absolutely the worst time, in an attempt to trustee the local, that is, to take it over by the international.
Fletcher says how earlier in the year, many in the labor movement had thought the UHW workers were being "paranoid" with their worry that Andy Stern of the SEIU was out to get them. Fletcher remembers saying to members of the UHW that, "No, no, no. You're paranoid. This is ridiculous!" But, now that Stern has pretty much proven that he is, indeed, out to get them, everyone is shocked and surprised as well as saddened.

On one hand, Fletcher is worried that this whole thing will detract from the unions being effective in helping out Barack Obama's campaign for the White House and, on the other — and as is his boringly prosaic penchant — he thinks it ultimately comes down to race.

I know. Race, you ask? It makes your head spin, right?

First his thoughts on the SEIU's internal fight:
... if SEIU goes forward with this ridiculous idea of a trusteeship of United Healthcare Workers-West, they are going to have to dedicate many staff to dealing with this situation, because the members of that local are very, very clear: they're not accepting a trusteeship. So what that means is that people that could otherwise be around the country working on various campaigns are going to be tied up in trying to impose this trusteeship. This is going to be absolutely horrible.
Let's hope that this internal fight really does distract the power mad, thug in the SEIU's Washington office, Andy Stern, from exerting his baleful influence on the elections. Stern is definitely proving that he'll allow NO other voice but his own to be heard in his little fiefdom. His sort of dictatorial attitude is not needed in politics.

But, more absurdly, Fletcher sees the racist boogyman behind the SEIU's internal fight. See, it isn't mere power that is driving the SEIU fight, it's "racism." Why, it MUST be thinks Fletch. After all, if these union members weren't all racists, why they'd put aside their petty differences to elect Barack Obama to the White House. That they are allowing their little power grabs to distract them, well it's all because they are racists, Fletcher posits.

Just look at the mental sickness that is Fletcher...
But the other problem that goes a little bit beyond this, Juan, is that within the union movement there is this question of race that is starting — a few months ago, started to be raised by some leaders, including, and very notably, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka, but also by other leaders who have encountered resistance among a segment of the white membership to the idea of backing Obama for the presidency. And we can see it around the country, that there is this squeamishness in some sectors about pushing the envelope in terms of supporting the Obama candidacy. Actually, more than anything else, this concerns me. The SEIU situation in California is horrible, and I think it's absurd that there would be any thought of a trusteeship, but this issue of race, which for years union leaders have refused to talk about, beyond this idea of diversity — you taste my food, I'll taste yours — we haven't confronted this issue of race.

And so, now what do we have? People saying, "Well, you know, I'm not sure whether I really want to support him," when the basic question is simple: are you better off now than you were eight years ago? And if you are not, then you had better be supporting Senator Obama. Yet, this is — there's some squeamishness, as I noted. And so, I think this, over the next several weeks, this will be the critical question. And I'm hoping that unions on both sides of the split will be forthright in tackling this question. Let's not play any games. The race card, the race issue, is central in this race. There's no question about it.
Have you ever seen a more convoluted, absurd conspiracy theory in your life? In a nation where blacks head the largest corporations, are the most famous entertainers, politicians, teachers and artists... this guy thinks we are all racists? Have we not come an inch past 1950? For that matter is this still a climate just like that of the Antebellum South!?

Remember an important point here. Fletcher isn't talking about we Republicans. He's talking about his own, Democratic Party, union members. It is they he is claiming are the racists.

I dearly, dearly hope that this agitator, this socialist hate spreader, does succeed in spreading his bile in amongst unions. It can only serve to really help put them at each other's throats in vitriolic self-hate. They are beginning to feed on each other folks. Let's hope they keep it up!

- Warner Todd Huston


SEIU accused of hindering anti-capitalists

More SEIU stories: here

Report on Anti-Capitalist Bloc @ RNC

During the first week of September 2008, Republican Party delegates gathered in St. Paul, Minnesota for the Republican National Convention (RNC) - the media spectacle and corporate sleaze-fest that completes their nominating process. An army of armor-clad riot police, National Guard, and private security with their humvees, rubber bullets, and tear gas protected them.

FBI-assisted sheriff's raids at more than a half-dozen activist homes and organizing centers in Minneapolis-St. Paul sought to hinder opposition. But thousands of protesters still took to the streets to emphatically reject the Republicans' vicious policies of war, discrimination, and attacks on the working-class and poor.

Among the more important mobilizing efforts against the RNC was the Anti-Capitalist Bloc, an initiative of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) union - Twin Cities General Membership Branch. The Anti-Capitalist Bloc was conceived as an organizing front for the week of the RNC that would unite those anti-capitalist activists with an orientation toward organizing. The Anti-Capitalist Bloc issued a "Call" and adopted a set of "Solidarity Principles" that made clear our opposition to not only the Republican party but the whole system of capitalism. Ten other groups signed on including three other I.W.W branches. Approximately 1800 full-color posters with the Anti-Capitalist Bloc message were distributed over the course of the week.

But as Wobblies, we know that words are not enough, and so a series of events, actions, and contingents were organized by the Anti-Capitalist Bloc.

Saturday August 30th

Police Raids and preemptive arrests:
In the days leading up to the RNC, police, sheriff and federal officers conducted raids on several activist's homes and organizing centers. The main target were members and supporters of the the anarchist umbrella group the "RNC Welcoming Committee". The Welcoming Committee promoted and provided logistical support for a strategy of shutting down the RNC through direct action blockades around the convention. Eight core meembers of the group were charged with felonies and accused of "terrorism" by the authorities. The activist Convergence Center rented by the Welcoming Committee was raided by the police, who detained, photographed and ID'd the dozens present. The media largely went along with the police story, presenting tires in garages, grey water sceptic systems, and kerosene as dangerous weapons.

One raid in St. Paul hit the home of a large group of activists including one of the main Anti-Capitalist Bloc organizers. Police with assault rifles raided and detained several activists present, searched the house and copied computer hard drives. The police eventually backed off, releasing everyone without charge, after a large number of media, legal observers and activists arrived on the scene.

Benefit Concert:
A benefit concert organized by the Anti-Capitalist Bloc at the Bedlam theater featuring the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, the Brass Messengers, and Mic Crenshaw brought folks together in the wake of the police house raids and raised needed funds for the defense of protesters and the I.W.W.'s active and public campaign at Starbucks.
Sunday August 31st

I.W.W. Starbucks Ra1ly:
The next day, the day before the RNC officially opened, approximately 75 supporters of the I.W.W.'s local Starbucks campaign rallied. One of the worker-organizes who had been fired for union activity had just won re-instatement. Rank & file activists from AFSCME, CWA, MAPE, SEIU, and Wobblies from across the country spoke, chanted and waved picket signs. Labor Professor, author, and activist Peter Rachleff spoke. A heavy police presence monitored the rally.

At the close of the rally, an invitation was extended to those assembled to accompany the I.W.W. barista back to his first day of work at the Mall of America Starbucks. In an orderly fashion, so as not to provoke police, folks left the picket signs, bought tickets and boarded the Light-Rail Train from Minneapolis to the Mall of America. Aboard the train, wobblies and their supporters, spirts high, belted out "Solidarity Forever" and other songs, and engaged the other riders who wondered about the police presence.

The Mall of America is located in Bloomington, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. At the first LRT stop in Bloomington, a contingent of riot-police stopped the train and engaged the I.W.W. about our intentions at the Mall. When it was made clear to Bloomington PD that we were merely accompanying our Fellow Worker back to his job and that we did not intend to picket, protest, riot, or engage in any of the other disruptions being bandied about the media, they allowed us to continue.

At the Mall of America, it was a different story. As the train pulled in to the Mall station, dozens of fully-equipped riot police were visible. When the doors opened, an armored cop stood in front of each door preventing anyone from leaving the train. Attempts to negotiate were fruitless. No one, either with the I.W.W or passengers completely separate were allowed to leave. Police at first refused, then finally relented to, our demand that a woman and her child be allowed to exit as the woman was having a diabetes emergency.

Mall officials were calling the shots and the police were enforcing them. Eventually, the doors simply shut and the train pulled out of the station back toward Minneapolis to the chants of "Bullshit!Bullshit!" from the unionists and the other passengers alike.

Although we did not enter the Mall in force as planned, we were able to mobilize a good group of people in support of the I.W.W. Starbucks campaign. The action highlighted the crucial role workplace organizing must play in anti-capitalist strategy - something that would not have otherwise happened during the RNC protests.

The reaction of the police at the Mall reinforced our perspective: The police answer to property, not "public safety"; the bosses fear workers organizing as much as they do protests and blockades on the streets.

"Labor Day" Monday September 1st

Anti-Capitalist Bloc:
The first day of the Convention, Monday September 1st, Labor Day (and so a legal holiday in the U.S.) was always going to be the biggest day of protest against the RNC. Both the major permitted march (March on the RNC and Stop the War) and the anarchist-inspired blockade strategy were scheduled for Labor Day.

The Anti-Capitalist Bloc contingent in the permitted march was conceived as a visible organized contingent promoting the politics of working-class direct action anti-capitalism to the mass of anti-war, labor, immigrant rights, and other demonstrators. In this it was quite successful.

Over 300 people eventually joined in with the Bloc over the course of the march. The Bloc was led by Red & Black "DIRECT ACTION AGAINST CAPITALISM" banners in front, on the right by the new Twin Cities I.W.W. banner proclaiming "SOLIDARITY" in 5 languages (English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali and Finish - Ojibwe or Dakota will be added soon), and flanked on the left by Solidarity & Defense's tri-lingual (English, Spanish, Arabic) banner against the raids on immigrants. A "NO WAR BUT THE CLASS WAR" banner took up the rear. This "wall of banners" system kept the Bloc cohesive and visible, and gave participants a sense of security. A 5-person "tactical-team" from the local committee was in place to make emergency tactical decisions should that have been neccesary.

The Bloc was loud and feisty. "Capitalism? NO! Patriarchy? NO! Racism? NO! Revolution... Yeeeaah!" "No War, But Class War!" "No Justice, No Peace! Police off the Streets!" "Ah!An-ti!Anticapitalista!" were some of the chants that caught attention. At different intervals during the march the Anti-Capitalist Bloc would come to a halt to give short speeches and allow space to seperate in front of us, a countdown would ensue and then the Bloc would charge forward to the cries of "Revolution!" The Bloc recieved compliments from many observers of differing political stripes. One union staffer offered this gem: "The IWW...you guys are like the black bloc of the labor movement."

The full-color poster/statement of the Anti-Capitalist Bloc was distributed to 1000-1200 people at the March on the RNC. The professional look of the poster helped the Bloc stick out and was incentive to onlookers and demonstrators to hang on to it. This helped on a day when they were being inundated with literature from the full spectrum of the Left. Many of the participants asked for extra-copies to bring home, or share with friends - a sign that the Anti-Capitalist Bloc will retain some memory within the movement. The poster was worth the high cost and should be seen as part of any succesfull future major mobilization.

The Bloc consistenly announced its intention to be a space where all anti-capitalists could be present including people with kids, elders, and people with differing abilities. It was not significantly different in composition from previous efforts however - majority young white guys with a bit of a Black Bloc look. This was by no means exclusively the case - lots of women participated and a few people of color. Only a couple young children and a few older people marched with the Bloc. The Bloc made a serious effort to vocally oppose all oppression, but clearly our movement still has a lot to overcome before it will look like the whole working-class, especially its most exploited and oppressed sections. Interestingly, a clear majority of those that marched with us were not members of the I.W.W. or any of the other endorsing groups.

The Anti-Capitalist Bloc organizers stressed on multiple occasions that the purpose of this Bloc was not to engage in physical confrontations with the huge numbers of heavily armored police and Guard, but to help expand the base and popularity of anti-capitalist ideas and methods. At the same time it was stressed that we were not opposed to or in competition with those attempting to blockade the Convention. The logic of the Anti-Capitalist Bloc was embraced by all the participants - even among those that had clearly come ready to rumble.

As the march finished up back at the state Capitol, the Anti-Capitalist Bloc came to an official end. A meeting was convened for those who wished to attempt to go back into downtown St. Paul and unite with the the blockades. A large percentage of those on the Bloc plus some others headed back down. One estimate put the returning group at 200.

The returning march group soon met a sizable police force who eventually began shooting tear gas, rubber bullets, bean bags, and concussion grenades at the crowd. Police eventually gave up trying to detain the whole group, picking off a few for arrest while most escaped, ending one of the largest stand-offs of the day.

Across the Mississippi River within view of the clouds of tear gas and confrontation, SEIU was holding a huge "Take Back Labor Day" concert with Billy Bragg, Mos Def, Steve Earle, Atmosphere, and others. Concerned that the concert crowd (nearly equal to the size of the whole anti-war march) may be tempted to join the fray, police blockaded the main bridge into downtown St. Paul. Hopefully some of the performers and concert goers wondered why SEIU had decided to schedule their concert to conflict with the march, and even more shamefully, become the only union listed as one of the corporate sponsors of the Republican National Convention its self.

Tuesday September 2nd
Poor People's March:
The next day, Tuesday September 2nd the Anti-Capitalist Bloc had called for another contingent in the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign March for Our Lives. This march was much smaller than the previous day's - approximately 800 at the start, but included a more significant percentage of working poor and people of color. The Anti-Capitalist Bloc gathered 50 around the I.W.W. banner - including wobblies from several states, Solidarity & Defense from Michigan, a couple NEFACers (and Jeff Monson the anarchist UFC mixed martial arts fighter!).

Riot police again had a heavy presence and made several provocative forays into the rally to nab individuals ID'd in actions the day before, or in one case to grab a flag pole deemed larger than city regulations allowed. Several undercover/plainclothes police were quite obvious in the crowd as well.

The Poor People's march weaved it's way through downtown St. Paul. The Anti-Capitalist Bloc marched and sang (at one point the Manu Chao lyrics "We are the workers/and we are marching/bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao!") Another 300-500 posters were distributed by membeers of the Bloc. The march continued up to the state Capitol lawn, where the "Ripple Effect" concert (featuring Dead Prez, Anti-Flag, Michael Franti, and others) was winding down. The police were refusing to allow Rage Against The Machine to perform as the concert permit had expired. Members of Rage Against The Machine encouraged the hundreds of young people there to join the march. They mostly did, and the march easily tripled in size.

The march permit held by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign did not prevent police from again opening up with their full barrage when demonstrators ended up back outside the Xcel Energy Center where the RNC speeches were happening

Truckers Fuel Protest:
The Anti-Capitalist Bloc did not end up participating in the independent truckers fuel protest that we had endorsed and promoted (other than one SDS/IWW member from North Dakota who was a key organizer of the truckers action). There had been both logistical and political problems. None of the IWW OTR truckers were able to make it - originally we had thought a few were coming - and the main Truck Driver organizers had been insistent that all vehicles in their convoy prominently fly the American flag. In the abscence of actual revolutionary unionist truckers present for the action, we did not feel we had the capacity to challenge the American flag "rule" for the convoy.

The convoy ended up being much smaller than hoped for and, like the other actions of the week, heavily policed.

Wednesday September 3rd
Anti-Capitalist Bloc meeting:
The next day two dozen participants in the Anti-Capitalist Bloc gathered at a meeting hosted by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter at Macalester College. Besides SDS and the I.W.W., members of Solidarity & Defense, NEFAC, Class Action and WSA were also present. Discussion ranged from "big picture" analysis of the current situation to an evaluation of the RNC action that week to more general info-sharing on the respective groups' activities and plans. While obviously incomplete, the meeting was an important opportunity for folks who'd been running around together for several days to take a moment to introduce each other and exchange ideas and experiences.

Rage Against the Machine:
While their efforts to take the stage at one of the free outdoor concerts of the week were consistently snubbed by the police, Rage Against the Machine did play a scheduled show Wednesday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis (at $60.00 a ticket!). When the crowd of 10,000 emptied the arena at the end of the show, police in riot gear were there to meet them. Many of the Rage fans chanted defiant lyrics at the police and hundreds occupied the street around the Target Center, many of them sitting down to get arrested civil-disobedience style.

Whatever one thinks of Rage Against The Machine's sound or their place in the music industry, there is no doubt that they are treated as dangerous by the police. Their political message and attitude has struck a nerve with a sizable fan-base who seem willing to follow Rage's lead out into the streets. Tom Morello, the ground-breaking guitarist for Rage, explicitly promotes the I.W.W. with his solo side project, the "Nightwatchman".

Thursday September 4th
No Peace for the Warmakers:
On the final day of the RNC, while John McCain prepared to give his acceptence speech, the final official action opposing the convention also took place. Organized by the local Anti-War Committee (one of the main groups behind the Monday anti-war march also) the demonstration was boldly titled "No Peace for the Warmakers". Some 800 protestors left the State Capitol grounds in an unpermitted march toward the Xcel. Individuals from the Anti-Capitalist Bloc were present but were not organized into any contingent this time. Riot police blocked every path toward the Convention and succeeded in sealing in the march several times long stretches of time. Despite the march's theme, the march organizers were not preopared for direct action confrontations with the police, but did encourage a massive sit-in to block one bridge (already blocked by police). The stand-off ended when police moved to make mass arrests, and one final time attacked with pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Some Conclusions
The Anti-Capitalist Bloc @ the RNC was a succesful intervention by a small revolutionary workers organization and our allies in the week of protest and activity in our Cities. The hard work achieved results. The Anti-Capitalist Bloc was able to articulate a popular revolutionary militancy through a number of different types of events that involved hundreds and communicated to thousands more.

At a time when the State was seeking to take advantage of some of the weaknesses of the RNC Welcoming Committee's strategy and base, the Anti-Capitalist Bloc conveyed in a non-sectarian way another approach for radicals.

While the number of people from endorsing groups that came from out of town was small, those that came contributed significantly to the collective success. In this way it was an important continuation of the new spirit of collaboration among the groups and militants of the "Red & Black" revolutionary anti-authoritarian movement.

We welcome comments, clarifications, questions, and criticisms.

Solidarity Forever!


MO to agitate Michigan unionists for Barack

More SEIU stories: hereMore UAW stories: here

Tickets available at SEIU, UAW union halls

While her husband attends rallies in Grand Rapids and East Lansing on Thursday, Michelle Obama will attend events in Saginaw and Clinton Township. Sen. Barack Obama's events will be held at 9:30 a.m. at Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids and 2:30 p.m. at Adams Field on Michigan State University's campus in East Lansing.

Meanwhile, Michelle Obama will talk to voters in Saginaw about the Oct. 6 voter registration deadline at a 12:55 p.m. rally at Heritage High School, 3465 North Center in Saginaw. Tickets are required at the event and are available today at SEIU Local 517, 1420 S. Michigan Ave., Saginaw or UAW Local 699 Hall, 1911 Bagley, Saginaw.

The second event will be a 4:30 p.m. discussion on the economy at Chippewa Valley High School, 18300 19 Mile Road in Clinton Township. Tickets are required and are available today at the Obama campaign office, 36487 Gratiot in Clinton Township.


Teamsters smacked down by NLRB

More Teamsters stories: hereMore worker-choice stories: here

Hoffa's militant union wrongly stripped non-member of seniority

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled in favor of a nonunion worker represented by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, finding that Interstate Bakeries Corp. and local Teamsters union officials violated the law when they stripped a nonmember worker of his seniority during a merger.

In November of 2005, company and union officials agreed to consolidate two corporate divisions. One division was staffed by a single nonunion sales representative who had put in more time with the company than any of his counterparts at the other division. Company officials tried to ensure that he retained his seniority during the merger, but Teamsters officials stood fast, insisting on discriminating against him because of his nonunion status.

In the sales business, seniority has serious implications for workers. The longer you've been with the company, the better your chances are of securing more desirable sales routes and vacation time. In this case, union officials wanted to unilaterally strip a nonunion sales representative of his earned seniority, placing him at the bottom of the totem pole. It was effectively retaliation for his nonunion status.

Fortunately, the NLRB agreed with Right to Work Foundation attorneys and found that union officials broke the law when they discriminated against the nonunion sales representative by favoring unionized employees during the merger. Here's the crux of the decision (emphasis mine):
The only difference between Rammage [the nonunion worker] and those Dolly Madison employees who were dovetailed [given favorable seniority status during the merger] was the fact that Rammage had not previously been represented by the Union. The Union admits that it treated Rammage differently and unfavorably because he was not previously represented. In addition, the comments of Respondent Employer's managers Roberts and Simmons to Rammage, that he lost his seniority because "he was not in the Union," demonstrate that he was singled out becasue he had not previously been represented by a labor organization.

Teamsters expand strike to CA, NV

More strike stories: hereMore Teamsters stories: here

Militant union offers a preview of Barackonomics

Teamsters will begin picketing Oak Harbor Freight Lines' trucks in California and Nevada this week to support striking employees in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Oak Harbor employees in the Northwest walked off the job Sept. 22 in response to hostile efforts by company representatives to bully and intimidate workers, which are unfair labor practices in violation of federal law.

"Oak Harbor's customers in California and Nevada will likely experience service disruptions as we begin following the company's trucks with ambulatory pickets," said Al Hobart, International Vice President and President of Joint Council 28.

Oak Harbor Freight Lines, one of the largest trucking companies on the West Coast, provide time sensitive delivery services to some of the largest companies in the country including The Gap, Safeway, JC Penney, Sylvania, Graybar Electric, HD Waterworks, Honda, McKesson, Cardinal Health, Tec Equipment, Siemens, Georgia Pacific, Owens & Minor, GM & Chrysler Parts, Urban Outfitters and Maytag.

"Teamsters up and down the West Coast are standing strong with our brothers and sisters in the Northwest," said Tyson Johnson, International Vice President and Freight Division Director. "Oak Harbor's customers would be wise to seek out alternative carriers while our members are on strike."

The National Labor Relations Board is investigating several labor law violations committed by the company including coercing and threatening employees, as well as making unlawful changes to working conditions.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

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