Inside Obama’s Acorn–By their fruits ye shall know them.

Inside Obama’s Acorn
By their fruits ye shall know them.

By Stanley Kurtz

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. If I told you Obama had close ties with MoveOn.org or Code Pink, you’d know what I was talking about. Acorn is at least as radical as these better-known groups, 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, I’d wager, does Barack Obama.

This is a story we’ve 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.

An Anti-Capitalism Agenda
To understand the nature and extent of Acorn’s radicalism, an excellent place to begin is Sol Stern’s 2003 City Journal article, “ACORN’s Nutty Regime for Cities.” (For a shorter but helpful piece, try Steven Malanga’s “Acorn Squash.”)

Sol Stern explains that Acorn is the key modern successor of the radical 1960’s “New Left,” with a “1960’s-bred agenda of anti-capitalism” to match. Acorn, says Stern, grew out of “one of the New Left’s silliest and most destructive groups, the National Welfare Rights Organization.” In the 1960’s, NWRO launched a campaign of sit-ins and disruptions at welfare offices. The goal was to remove eligibility restrictions, and thus effectively flood welfare rolls with so many clients that the system would burst. The theory, explains Stern, was that an impossibly overburdened welfare system would force “a radical reconstruction of America’s unjust capitalist economy.” Instead of a socialist utopia, however, we got the culture of dependency and family breakdown that ate away at America’s inner cities — until welfare reform began to turn the tide.

While Acorn holds to NWRO’s radical economic framework and its confrontational 1960’s-style tactics, the targets and strategy have changed. Acorn prefers to fly under the national radar, organizing locally in liberal urban areas — where, Stern observes, local legislators and reporters are often “slow to grasp how radical Acorn’s positions really are.” Acorn’s new goals are municipal “living wage” laws targeting “big-box” stores like Wal-Mart, rolling back welfare reform, and regulating banks — efforts styled as combating “predatory lending.” Unfortunately, instead of helping workers, Acorn’s living-wage campaigns drive businesses out of the very neighborhoods where jobs are needed most. Acorn’s opposition to welfare reform only threatens to worsen the self-reinforcing cycle of urban poverty and family breakdown. Perhaps most mischievously, says Stern, Acorn uses banking regulations to pressure financial institutions into massive “donations” that it uses to finance supposedly non-partisan voter turn-out drives.

According to Stern, Acorn’s radical agenda sometimes shifts toward “undisguised authoritarian socialism.” Fully aware of its living-wage campaign’s tendency to drive businesses out of cities, Acorn hopes to force companies that want to move to obtain “exit visas.” “How much longer before Acorn calls for exit visas for wealthy or middle-class individuals before they can leave a city?” asks Stern, adding, “This is the road to serfdom indeed.”

In Your Face
Acorn’s tactics are famously “in your face.” Just think of Code Pink’s well-known operations (threatening to occupy congressional offices, interrupting the testimony of General David Petraeus) and you’ll get the idea. Acorn protesters have disrupted Federal Reserve hearings, but mostly deploy their aggressive tactics locally. Chicago is home to one of its strongest chapters, and Acorn has burst into a closed city council meeting there. Acorn protestors in Baltimore disrupted a bankers’ dinner and sent four busloads of profanity-screaming protestors against the mayor’s home, terrifying his wife and kids. Even a Baltimore city council member who generally supports Acorn said their intimidation tactics had crossed the line.

Acorn, however, defiantly touts its confrontational tactics. While Stern himself notes this, the point is driven home sharper still in an Acorn-friendly reply to Stern entitled “Enraging the Right.” Written by academic/activists John Atlas and Peter Dreier, the reply’s avowed intent is to convince Acorn-friendly politicians, journalists, and funders not to desert the organization in the wake of Stern’s powerful critique. The stunning thing about this supposed rebuttal is that it confirms nearly everything Stern says. Do Atlas and Dreier object to Stern’s characterizations of Acorn’s radical plans — even his slippery-slope warnings about Acorn’s designs on basic freedom of movement? Nope. “Stern accurately outlines Acorn’s agenda,” they say.

Do Atlas and Dreier dismiss Stern’s catalogue of Acorn’s disruptive and intentionally intimidating tactics as a set of regrettable exceptions to Acorn’s rule of civility? Not a chance. Atlas and Dreier are at pains to point out that intimidation works. They proudly reel off the increased memberships that follow in the wake of high-profile disruptions, and clearly imply that the same public officials who object most vociferously to intimidation are the ones most likely to cave as a result. What really upsets Atlas and Dreier is that Stern misses the subtle national hand directing Acorn’s various local campaigns. This is radicalism unashamed.

But don’t let the disruptive tactics fool you. Acorn is a savvy and exceedingly effective political player. Stern says that Acorn’s key postNew Left innovation is its determination to take over the system from within, rather than futilely try to overthrow it from without. Stern calls this strategy a political version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Take Atlas and Dreier at their word: Acorn has an openly aggressive and intimidating side, but a sophisticated inside game, as well. Chicago’s Acorn leader, for example, won a seat on the Board of Aldermen as the candidate of a leftist “New Party.”

Obama Meets Acorn
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 Times piece 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. Read carefully, the L. A. Times story leans toward confirming this complaint against Obama, yet the story’s emphasis is to affirm Obama’s important role in the battle. 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). While Sol Stern mentions this story in passing, the details are worth a look: 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.

Surprise Visit
Does that mean Obama himself schooled Acorn volunteers in disruptive “direct action?” Not necessarily. The City Council storming took place in 1997, years after Obama’s early organizing days. And in general, Obama seems to have been part of Acorn’s “inside baseball” strategy. As a national star from his law school days, Obama knew he had a political future, and would surely have been reluctant to violate the law. In his early organizing days, Obama used to tell the residents he organized that they’d be more effective in their protests if they controlled their anger. On the other hand, as he established and deepened his association with Acorn through the years, Obama had to know what the organization was all about. Moreover, in his early days, Obama was not exactly a stranger to the “direct action” side of community organizing.

Consider the second charge against Obama raised by the L.A. Times backgrounder. On the stump today, Obama often says he helped prevent South Side Chicago blacks, Latinos, and whites from turning on each other after losing their jobs, but many of the community organizers interviewed by the L. A. Times say that Obama worked overwhelmingly with blacks.

To rebut this charge, Obama’s organizer friends tell the story of how he helped plan “actions” that included mixed white, black, and Latino groups. For example, following Obama’s plan, one such group paid a “surprise visit” to a meeting between local officials considering a landfill expansion. The protestors surrounded the meeting table while one activist made a statement chiding the officials, after which the protestors filed out. Presto! Obama is immunized from charges of having worked exclusively with blacks — but at the cost of granting us a peek at the not-so-warm-and-fuzzy side of his community organizing. Intimidation tactics are revealed, and Obama’s alliance with radical Acorn activists like Madeleine Talbot begins to make sense.

“Non-Partisan”
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. While most press accounts imply that Obama just happened to be at the sort of public-interest law firm that would take Acorn’s “motor voter” case, 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 that I know of 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.”

Foundation Money

Although it’s been noted in an important story by John Fund, and in a long Obama background piece in the New York Times, 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.” As best as I can tell (and this needs to be checked out more fully), 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 after reading Foulkes’ case study, this non-partisanship is exceedingly difficult to discern. As I understand, 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. I’m not saying Obama crossed a legal line here: Based on Foulkes’ account, Acorn’s get-out-the-vote drive most likely observed the technicalities of “non-partisanship.”

Nevertheless, the possibilities suggested by a combined reading of the New York Times piece and the Foulkes article are disturbing. While keeping within the technicalities of the law, Obama may have been able to direct substantial foundation money to his organized political supporters. I offer no settled conclusion, but the matter certainly warrants further investigation and discussion. Obama is supposed to be the man who transcends partisanship. Has he instead used his post at an allegedly non-partisan foundation to direct money to a supposedly non-partisan group, in pursuit of what are in fact nakedly partisan and personal ends? I have no final answer, but the question needs to be pursued further.

In fact, the broader set of practices by which activist groups pursue intensely partisan ends under the guise of non-partisanship merits further scrutiny. Consider the 2006 report by Jonathan Bechtle, “Voter Turnout or Voter Fraud?” which includes a discussion of the nexus between Project Vote and Acorn, a nexus where Obama himself once resided. According to Bechtle, “It’s clear that groups that claimed to be nonpartisan wanted a partisan outcome,” and reading Foulkes’s case study of Acorn’s role in Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign, one can’t help but agree.

Radical Obama
Important as these questions of funding and partisanship are, the larger point is that 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.

The shame of it is that when the L. A. Times returned to Obama’s stomping grounds, it found the park he’d helped renovate reclaimed by drug dealers and thugs. The community organizer strategy may generate feel-good moments and best-selling books, but I suspect a Wal-Mart as the seed-bed of a larger shopping complex would have done far more to save the neighborhood where Obama worked to organize in the “progressive” fashion. Unfortunately, Obama’s Acorn cronies have blocked that solution.

In any case, if you’re looking for the piece of the puzzle that confirms and explains Obama’s network of radical ties, gather your Acorns this spring. Or next winter, you may just be left watching the “President from Acorn” at his feast.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and an NRO contributing editor.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.


National Review Online – http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDZiMjkwMDczZWI5ODdjOWYxZTIzZGIyNzEyMjE0ODI=

And another pipeline closed off: Jindal halts ACORN funds

And another pipeline closed off: Jindal halts ACORN funds

By Michelle Malkin  •  September 17, 2009 08:51 PM

Good.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal today cut off state funding for the community activist group ACORN.

Jindal has also blocked any state agency for entering into contracts with the organization.

The executive order also cuts off any future state funding of ACORN, on the heels of a series of embarrassing incidents for the organization.

The governor’s action follows a subpoena of documents from the group’s national headquarter office in New Orleans.

According to Jindal’s executive order, “ACORN’s actions make clear that financial involvement with ACORN is contrary to the public policy of the State of Louisiana and the best interests of its citizens.”

Better late than never.

It’s just the start.

House Prohibits Federal Money to Acorn

House Prohibits Federal Money to Acorn

WASHINGTON — The House voted Thursday to deny any federal money to the nationwide community organizing group Acorn, and the Senate reaffirmed its opposition as well after embarrassing videos of a few of the group’s workers became public.

House Republicans added the prohibition on federal money to the Democratic bill on college lending. It was approved by a bipartisan vote of 345 to 75, showing that Democrats also increasingly see a political liability in Acorn, which is short for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

“Acorn has violated serious federal laws, and today the House voted to ensure that taxpayer dollars would no longer be used to fund this corrupt organization,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican.

Since 1994, the group has received an estimated $53 million in federal aid.

Bolstered by conservative news media outlets, Republicans have been on a crusade against the group for months, accusing it of voter-registration fraud and claiming it was being protected by Democrats who benefited from its political activities. Matters escalated when some Acorn workers were videotaped offering advice to conservative activists who were posing as people interested in establishing a prostitution business.

The Census Bureau, citing public criticism, had already severed its ties with the group, saying it would not use Acorn in conducting the 2010 census. The Senate voted Monday to deny the group any housing or transportation money.

Despite that vote, Senator Mike Johanns, Republican of Nebraska, on Thursday offered the same ban to add to a measure covering spending by the Interior Department.

Though Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat in charge of the bill, said there was no money in the measure for Acorn, she said she was willing to accept his proposal without a roll-call vote.

Mr. Johanns, recognizing the political benefits in a vote, insisted on a roll-call tally. “This is such an important issue,” he said, adding that “people all across the country are watching the Senate floor.” His proposal was approved 85 to 11.

Mr. Johanns also said he was preparing a measure that would ban all federal money to Acorn to avoid having to attach the ban to a dozen different spending bills.

In the House, the 75 votes against the prohibition all came from Democrats. One opponent, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, said he considered the prohibition to be unconstitutional. Officials at Acorn have called the videotaped incidents isolated. They have begun their own investigation and said workers at other offices reported the conservative imposters to the police.

Acorn’s chief executive, Bertha Lewis, said in a statement, “We’re disappointed that the House took the rare and politically convenient step of attempting to eliminate federal funding for a single organization, one that has been the target of a multi-year political assault stemming variously from the Bush White House, Fox News and other conservative quarters.”

The statement added that the action would have little impact because most of the group’s income comes from members and other supporters. The House financing ban was included in an education bill that would still have to pass the Senate to become law. The Senate prohibitions are also weeks if not months from becoming law.

Poles, Czechs: US missile defense shift a betrayal

Poles, Czechs: US missile defense shift a betrayal

By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press Writer Vanessa Gera, Associated Press Writer Fri Sep 18, 8:10 am ET

WARSAW, Poland – Poles and Czechs voiced deep concern Friday at President Barack Obama’s decision to scrap a Bush-era missile defense shield planned for their countries.

“Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back,” the Polish tabloid Fakt declared on its front page.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was concerned that Obama’s new strategy leaves Poland in a dangerous “gray zone” between Western Europe and the old Soviet sphere.

Recent events in the region have rattled nerves throughout central and eastern Europe, a region controlled by Moscow during the Cold War, including the war last summer between Russia and Georgia and ongoing efforts by Russia to regain influence in Ukraine. A Russian cutoff of gas to Ukraine last winter left many Europeans without heat.

The Bush administration‘s plan would have been “a major step in preventing various disturbing trends in our region of the world,” Kaczynski said in a guest editorial in the daily Fakt and also carried on his presidential Web site.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he still sees a chance for Poles and Czechs to participate in the redesigned missile defense system. But that did not appear to calm nerves in Warsaw or Prague.

Kaczynski expressed hopes that the U.S. will now offer Poland other forms of “strategic partnership.”

In Prague, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said he made two concrete proposal to U.S. officials on Thursday in hopes of keeping the U.S.-Czech alliance strong: for the U.S. to establish a branch of West Point for NATO members in Central Europe and to “send a Czech scientist on the U.S. space shuttle to the international space station.”

An editorial in Hospodarske Novine, a respected pro-business Czech newspaper, said: “an ally we rely on has betrayed us, and exchanged us for its own, better relations with Russia, of which we are rightly afraid.”

The move has raised fears in the two nations they are being marginalized by Washington even as a resurgent Russia leaves them longing for added American protection.

The Bush administration always said that the planned system — with a radar near Prague and interceptors in northern Poland — was meant as defense against Iran. But Poles and Czechs saw it as protection against Russia, and Moscow too considered a military installation in its backyard to be a threat.

“No Radar. Russia won,” the largest Czech daily, Mlada Fronta Dnes, declared in a front-page headline.

Obama said the old plan was scrapped in part because the U.S. has concluded that Iran is less focused on developing the kind of long-range missiles for which the system was originally developed, making the building of an expensive new shield unnecessary.

The replacement system is to link smaller radar systems with a network of sensors and missiles that could be deployed at sea or on land. Some of the weaponry and sensors are ready now, and the rest would be developed over the next 10 years.

The Pentagon contemplates a system of perhaps 40 missiles by 2015, at two or three sites across Europe.

_____

Associated Press writer Karel Janicek contributed reporting from Prague.

ACORN’s illegal alien home loan racket

Michelle Malkin 

Lead Story

ACORN’s illegal alien home loan racket

By Michelle Malkin  •  September 18, 2009 08:33 AM

My column today blasts ACORN Housing Corporation’s criminal-enabling home loan program for illegal aliens. To paraphrase Jon Stewart: Where the hell is everyone?

AHC is one of the endless non-profit arms of ACORN. Their response to the BigGovernment.com sting videos hasn’t received as much attention as the national ACORN flagship’s. You can read AHC’s CYA reaction here.

***

ACORN’s illegal alien home loan racket
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2009

There’s one thing more shocking than the illegal alien smuggling advice that an ACORN official in San Diego gave undercover journalists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles. It’s the illegal alien criminal racket that ACORN has already been operating with the full knowledge of the U.S. government.

On Wednesday, O’Keefe and Giles published the fifth in a series of BigGovernment.com sting videos. ACORN official Juan Carlos Vera coached the pimp-and-prostitute-posing pair on how best to pull off a border-busting smuggling operation. It would be “better from Tijuana,” he counseled on videotape. Carlos Vera then generously offered the investigative couple his Mexican “contacts” to bring 12 illegal alien girls into the country for prostitution.

GOP California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger now wants an investigation. But neither the Terminator nor any other California public officials raised a peep when the very same San Diego ACORN office publicly announced a partnership with Citibank to secure home loans for illegal aliens. In 2005, Citibank and ACORN Housing Corporation – which has received tens of millions of tax dollars under the Bush administration alone — began recruiting Mexican illegal aliens for a lucrative program offering loans with below-market interest rates, down-payment assistance and no mortgage insurance requirements. Instead of Social Security numbers required of law-abiding citizens, the program allows illegal alien applicants to supply loosely-monitored tax identification numbers issued by the IRS.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that “undocumented residents” comprise a vast market representing a potential sum of “$44 billion in mortgages.” Citibank enlarged its portfolio of subprime and other risky loans. ACORN enlarged its membership rolls. The program now operates in Miami; New York City; Jersey City, N.J.; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Bridgeport, Conn., and at all of ACORN Housing’s 12 California offices. San Diego ACORN officials advised illegal alien recruits that their bank partners would take applicants who had little or no credit, or even “nontraditional records of credit, such as utility payments and documentation of private loan payments.”

The risk the banks bear is the price they pay to keep ACORN protesters and Hispanic lobbyists from the National Council of La Raza screaming about “predatory lending” off their backs. These professional grievance-mongers have turned the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act – which forced lenders to sacrifice underwriting standards for “diversity” – into lucrative “business” opportunities. Or rather, politically correct blackmail. As the Consumer Rights League noted in a 2008 report on the group’s successful shakedowns of financial institutions, “an agreement with Citibank, a significant ACORN donor and partner, showed that some activists become less active when deals are in place.”

In the wake of the sting videos, ACORN officials are making a great show of clamoring for “reform.” ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis blamed the debacles across the country on the “indefensible action of a handful of our employees.” But the corruption is systemic. ACORN has long thrown rank-and-file operatives under the bus to cover for its management’s indefensible conduct. And ACORN’s highly-touted advisory watchdogs include inherently conflicted foxes guarding the henhouse:

ACORN advisory council member Henry Cisneros resigned from his post as Clinton HUD Secretary after lying to FBI agents about payments to a former mistress.

ACORN advisory council member Andy Stern is president of the SEIU, the Big Labor organization plagued by embezzlement scandals and inextricably linked to ACORN’s disgraced founder Wade Rathke. (And see my document drop here on ACORN’s “nurturing” of SEIU Local 100.)

And ACORN advisory council member Eric Eve of Citigroup is a champion of the ACORN/Citibank illegal alien loan program that openly undermines immigration laws and integrity in banking.

The truth is more sordid than any fictional scenarios caught on tape: ACORN is a criminal enterprise.

Obama the Great Divider

Obama the Great Divider

By J. Robert Smith

In one of life’s delicious ironies, the President, who campaigned as the Great Uniter, is worsening the split between the right and left and losing support in the process.  Ordinary Americans, typically apolitical, are choosing sides — and more are choosing the side of freedom every day.  Lovers of liberty should rejoice.

Division gets a bum rap.  Imagine for a minute if Mr. Obama were able to unite Americans behind his radical agenda.  We wouldn’t just have bank bailouts and auto industry takeovers and a pork-laden stimulus, but, in short order, we’d have Cap and Trade and healthcare reform, Obama-style.  We’d have Card Check and a new Fairness Doctrine. 

 

Without a partisan divide, without dissent, without Americans fervent for freedom, the needle on the liberty to tyranny meter would swing more decidedly toward tyranny. 

 

That’s not to say that the President and Congressional Democrats haven’t done damage to a divided America.  Debt and inflation are big problems that will haunt taxpayers for years.  Automakers and financial institutions are going to need to be disentangled from government.   

 

And it’s not to say that the Democratic leadership won’t keep trying to ram through Cap and Trade and healthcare reform.  Both are great threats to our freedom, prosperity and health.  But even here, divisions among Congressional Democrats may work to the nation’s advantage. 

 

The damage done by Mr. Obama can be repaired.  The key is to stop any further damage, which would be tougher to fix.   

 

The good news is that pro-freedom Americans are putting up road blocks, with more coming.  Grinding to a halt the President’s agenda buys valuable time.  The 2010 elections are a little more than a year off.  A new Congress with, one hopes, more Republicans makes gridlock all the more likely.  With Mr. Obama in the White House, a balky Congress is something we should aim for. 

 

Throughout our nation’s history, division has been the rule; unity, the exception.  That goes back to the Revolution.  When it was clear to the Founders and outraged colonists that the British had no interest in redressing their grievances, they elected to divide, to fight for independence.

 

Lucky for us and the world that they chose to do so. 

 

Today, many Americans aren’t acquainted with the fact that colonists weren’t unanimous for independence.  A sizeable minority — Tories — backed the Crown.  They supported British troops and some fought alongside them. 

 

The nation’s early, formative political era was marked by sharp divisions.  Federalists versus Jeffersonians.  Pro-Jackson versus Anti-Jackson factions.  Disputes over slavery were ongoing.  There was a whiskey rebellion and another war with the British.

 

By the mid 1800s, the nation divided into sections and fought a civil war.  That, assuredly, was a tragic division.  620,000 military casualties, north and south, say so.  A ravaged South and a depleted North say so, too. 

 

But as Lincoln stated, the war came, despite efforts at reconciliation.  The good that resulted from the war was the abolition of slavery.  And though it would take another hundred years, and yet more divisions and trials, abolition set African-Americans on the path to gaining their full God-given rights.  

 

In the 20th Century, Americans divided about other wars as well.  World Wars I and II, Vietnam and the Iraq War.  Toward the end, they divided about the Cold War.  

 

And they’ve divided about the New Deal, the Fair Deal, The Great Society and the Reagan Revolution.  They’ve divided culturally, starting in the 1960s, over drugs, sex and rock and roll.  They’ve divided over abortion.

 

As we look back over the long arc of the nation’s history, we see that from divisions came resolutions.  Freedom, more often than not, was advanced.  Our rights better secured.  Our nation, strengthened.   

 

We live in a time of momentous divisions.  Many of us will not live to see the resolutions completely.  Since the early part of the 20th Century, a great conflict has not only been playing out abroad, but at home, between statism and freedom. 

 

At home, the statists – call them progressives, liberals or leftists – have worked diligently to advance government, to centralize authority in a political elite and bureaucracy and to, thereby, abridge the rights of the individual.  They dismiss the original intent that undergirds the Constitution, claiming a right to make interpretations that are frequently aimed at pressing their causes and increasing their power.  Many disdain our values, faith and traditions.

 

Where shall we find common ground with the statists?  Compromise?  Compromise must invariably lead to less, not more, freedom.  And wasn’t that tried by our parents’ and grandparents’ generations?  Aren’t we, in part, struggling against a looming tyranny – albeit a soft tyranny – because of the good will and accommodations of our predecessors? 

 

Note, too, that overseas, in the 20th Century and now, tyrants, established or aspiring, all sought or seek unity.  Unity under their rule in the service of the state.  Inevitably, they use force to achieve that end.  Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Pol Pot and an assortment of lesser dictators all bullied, imprisoned, maimed or killed millions who failed to unite with their will

 

Today, the Castro brothers are still at it.  Hugo Chavez is attempting it in Venezuela.  The mullahs are at it in Iran.  Kim Jong-Il has been at it in North Korea.  So are the Chinese.  Putin isn’t far from reasserting unity in service to the Russian state. 

 

In our nation, we are fortunate that the Founders had great insight into human nature and the wisdom to arrange our government in ways that divided power and authority.   They instituted checks and balances to thwart the tyranny of any faction, or combination of factions, to impose unity on us. 

 

In the last ninety years, the barriers erected by the Founders to protect us from the tyranny of unity have been breached.  But they still stand.  It falls to us to repair and strengthen those barriers.  To reclaim the full measure of freedom which is our birthright and was intended us by the Founders.  And pass on that freedom to our children and theirs.   

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/09/obama_the_great_divider.html at September 18, 2009 – 11:45:48 AM EDT

Obama’s Missile Defense Surrender

Obama’s Missile Defense Surrender
By: Stephen Brown
Friday, September 18, 2009

 


The story behind the sellout.
You’re on your own. That was the upshot of the Obama administration’s announcement this week that it was scrapping  George W. Bush’s plans to build a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. To be sure, the White House stressed its support for a “redesigned” defensive system that would, it claimed, be cheaper and more effective against the threat of Iranian missiles. But Eastern and Central Europeans weren’t fooled. For them, the White House’s move can be summed up in one word: appeasement.

 

Staunch allies of America’s since the end of the Cold War, these former communist nations were clearly disappointed when the Obama administration cancelled the anti-missile shield. The news hit particularly hard in Poland, not least because, in a case of astonishingly poor timing, the administration declared its intentions to cancel the missile shield on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939.  

 

The shelved system’s stated purpose was to safeguard Europe and the eastern coast of the United States from long-range missile attack from rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea. As part of a worldwide American anti-nuclear defense network, Poland was to receive ten anti-missile rockets and the Czech Republic a radar station. The planned system would have integrated both countries into a security network with the United States, a development that has become more important as the fledgling democracies have become more concerned about their security in the face of renewed Russian aggression.

 

Former Solidarity leader and Poland’s first post-communist president, Lech Walensa, did not hide his disappointment at the administration’s decision. “The Americans have always only concerned themselves with their own interests and exploited everyone else,” Walensa bitterly observed, adding that Poles must now re-examine their view of America and think more of their own interests.

 

But while there was gloom in Warsaw, there was jubilation in Moscow. Russia had strongly opposed the installation of the anti-missile system and has now emerged as the big winner. The Kremlin alleged that the missile shield was a threat to its own security. At one point, Russia even provocatively threatened to install short-range missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian territory next to Poland, if the interceptors were installed.

 

Russia believes that such firmness caused the Obama administration’s about-face. Indeed, Russian officials triumphantly hailed their own intransigence yesterday, pointing to “Russia’s uncompromising position on this question” as the reason for the American decision. Thus, one consequence of the Obama administration’s retreat on missile defense is likely to be a hardening of Russia’s foreign-policy line.

 

That is roughly the opposite of the reaction that the Obama administration was seeking. Its decision to scrap the missile defense program in Eastern Europe was motivated at least in part by the belief that such concessions would help “reset” strained diplomatic ties with Russia – especially since the latter had been agitated in its opposition to the missile defense program.

 

Yet Russian fears regarding the Bush plan, as former US secretary of State Condoleeza Rice pointed out, were always exaggerated. “The idea that somehow 10 interceptors and a few radars in Eastern Europe are going to threaten” Russia is “purely ludicrous,” Rice noted in 2007.

 

Russian opposition was also glaringly hypocritical. North Korea, led by an unbalanced leader who starves his own people, exploded a nuclear bomb this May only 300 kilometers from Vladivostok, a city on Russia’s Pacific coast, without informing the Kremlin beforehand. According to one Russian columnist, debris from North Korean missile tests also falls on Russian territory. But these dangers occur without much protest or anger from the Russian government

 

The most hypocritical aspect of the Russian opposition is that the Kremlin is helping Iran build the nuclear reactor that is suspected of producing the enriched uranium for the Iranian nuclear weapons program – the reason that the missile defense shield was conceived in the first place. Besides helping Iran build a nuclear reactor, up until now Russia has vetoed or softened all American-proposed sanctions against Iran in the UN’s Security Council. Russia also stands accused of accepting an order to provide Iran with advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles that can protect its nuclear installations, although it is uncertain whether they have been delivered.

If the administration hoped that appeasing Russia on missile defense would win Russian cooperation against Iran, it badly miscalculated: Russian officials announced yesterday that they would not reconsider their opposition to new and tougher sanctions against Tehran. Russia may rue the day Iran acquires nuclear missiles. But for now, the Kremlin is enjoying the instability Iran’s nuclear program is causing, which inflates the oil prices on which the Russian economy depends.

Perhaps the main reason that Russia does not want a defensive system installed in Eastern Europe is that it still thinks of it as its domain. A missile defense shield stood in the way of Russian plans to intimidate its former satellites with its own nuclear weapons, which the interceptors can also stop. It already has a track record for doing so. The Soviet Union, for instance, installed SS 20 nuclear rockets in Eastern Europe in the early 1980s to intimidate Western Europe. They were removed only after President Reagan installed Pershing missiles as a counter-measure.

 

On the basis of that acutely-remembered history, Poland and the Czech Republic, seeking freedom from such Russian nuclear blackmail, accepted Bush’s interceptor system. Russia’s invasion of Georgia preceded the deal’s signing by a week, giving it an added urgency. Other acts of Russian aggression, like the cyber attack against Estonia and cutting the gas supply to Ukraine also factored into their decision. Now they have been betrayed by their U.S. ally.

 

For its part, the Obama administration says that it has bigger successes in mind. The White House claims that its redesigned program, featuring sea and land-based missile interceptors, will offer “more effective defenses against more near-term ballistic missile threats” from Iran. But many military analysts disagree. They point out that these land and sea-based missile defenses, underfunded by succeeding administrations, are in no way comparable to the now-scrapped missile defense shield. Terminating the European missile defense system could actually be a major step back for international security.

 

As a strategic move and security measure, the administration’s abandonment of the European missile defense program seems to be a dangerous miscalculation. However, it was not entirely unforeseen. Last July, Polish President Lech Kaczynski asked Obama to be firm with Russia about the interceptors. “Concessions on this question would invite disastrous results and undermine the credibility of the United States in Central and Eastern Europe,” he warned.

 

President Obama did not get the message. Worryingly, Russia and Iran may have understood it all too well.


Stephen Brown is a contributing editor at Frontpagemag.com. He has a graduate degree in Russian and Eastern European history. Email him at alsolzh@hotmail.com.

Obama: Legalize illegals to get them health care

Obama: Legalize illegals to get them health care

Stephen Dinan (Contact)

President Obama said this week that his health care plan won’t cover illegal immigrants, but argued that’s all the more reason to legalize them and ensure they eventually do get coverage.

He also staked out a position that anyone in the country legally should be covered – a major break with the 1996 welfare reform bill, which limited most federal public assistance programs only to citizens and longtime immigrants.

“Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don’t simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken,” Mr. Obama said Wednesday evening in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. “That’s why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else.

Mr. Obama added, “If anything, this debate underscores the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and resolving the issue of 12 million undocumented people living and working in this country once and for all.”

Republicans said that amounts to an amnesty, calling it a backdoor effort to make sure current illegal immigrants get health care.

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“It is ironic that the president told the American people that illegal immigrants should not be covered by the health care bill, but now just days later he’s talking about letting them in the back door,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

“If the American people do not want to provide government health care for illegal immigrants, why would they support giving them citizenship, the highest honor America can bestow?” Mr. Smith said.

But immigrant rights groups see the speech as a signal that Mr. Obama is committed to providing health care coverage for anyone in the United States legally, regardless of their citizenship status.

“It’s the first time I’ve certainly heard, publicly, him talking more about legal immigrants,” said Eric Rodriguez, vice president for research and advocacy at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). “I think that was certainly positive progress. We were absolutely concerned about not hearing that.”

On Wednesday, hours before Mr. Obama’s speech, the NCLR had given the administration a public scolding, demanding that Mr. Obama needed to make “a public commitment … to ensure that those who are here legally are covered.”

A White House spokesman did not respond to questions about where the White House would make the cutoff for eligibility, and Mr. Rodriguez said he’s still waiting for an answer from the administration.

“We don’t know where they mean to draw the line,” he said. “Our biggest concern is that most people don’t realize legal immigrants are currently barred from receiving health care benefits for the first five years in the country.”

Under the 1996 welfare overhaul, most federal aid programs are restricted to citizens and legal immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years. Democrats have tried this year to chip away at that rule.

Immigration has dogged Mr. Obama in the health care debate. Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, shouted, “You lie,” when the president, in an address to Congress last week, said his plans wouldn’t cover illegal immigrants.

Lawmakers – who got an earful from constituents back home during August – have insisted on extra checks to make sure illegal immigrants do not have access to taxpayer-funded programs.

Senators have worked on language that would prevent illegal immigrants from buying insurance through a proposed insurance exchange envisioned in the health care reform package.

But the NCLR said that could lead to situations where some members of a family would be covered and others, including children of illegal immigrants, wouldn’t be.

Mr. Obama said legalizing illegal immigrants is a way to take the sting out of the entire issue.

But Republicans said by pushing to legalize illegal immigrants, Mr. Obama is signaling that those here illegally eventually will get access to taxpayer-funded benefits.

Still, the push to pass a legalization bill is beginning to gain steam, even as advocates fret that the White House is moving too slowly.

On Thursday, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat and an outspoken advocate for legalization, agreed to take leadership in writing a new, more generous bill.

“We simply cannot wait any longer for a bill that keeps our families together, protects our workers and allows a pathway to legalization for those who have earned it,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “Saying immigration is a priority for this administration or this Congress is not the same as seeing tangible action, and the longer we wait, the more every single piece of legislation we debate will be obstructed by our failure to pass comprehensive reform