Wednesday, September 30, 2009



Come out for the concert – discount for groups of 8 or more!

(10% off on groups of 8-15; 15% off for 16 or more!)


Thank you for spreading the word and coming out for this great show and awards ceremony celebrating PEACE and benefiting KPFK RADIO 90.7 FM LOS ANGELES, 98.7 FM SANTA BARBARA!



KPFK Pacifica Radio 90.7FM Los Angeles

September 30, 2009




KPFK Flier

SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 - IMAGINE PEACE! Pacifica Radio KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles celebrates it's 50 years of broadcasting with Peace Awards and a Concert imagining the world that is possible through the peace actions of today.

ZIGGY MARLEY, four time Grammy-winning reggae musician and leader of the band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, will headline a benefit performance for Pacifica Radio KPFK 90.7FM Los Angeles on Friday, October 9, 2009 at 7:00pm at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. The evening marks the culmination of various 50th anniversary year celebrations for KPFK, a non-commercial, listener-sponsored radio station broadcasting since 1959.

The concert will also feature Latin Jazz legend and master conguero PONCHO SANCHEZ; the transcending jazz vocalist from São Paulo, Brazil, LUCIANA SOUZA; Acoustic Bassist of the Year CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE; and the INTERCULTURAL L.A. SAMBA KIDS. There will be a special video greeting from artist YOKO ONO on the occasion of John Lennon's Birthday, to be presented by KPFK's Jon Wiener. The show will be emceed by RICHARD MONTOYA of Culture Clash.

KPFK is proud to honor those who are working for peace, through community activism, education, art and culture and social justice. To be honored are spoken word artist and American Indian Activist JOHN TRUDELL, who will be introduced by long-time friend and rock musician JACKSON BROWNE; vocalist KB SOLOMON who performs the Paul Robeson story in his one-man show "Speak of Me As I Am"; BLASE BONPANE of the Office of the Americas and KPFK Radio Host; the organization helping the homeless and indigent, HUNGER ACTION L.A.; Executive Director RAUL AÑORVE and IDEPSCA (Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California); and the ARLINGTON WEST BEACH PROJECT VOLUNTEERS with members from the VETERANS FOR PEACE LOS ANGELES. DOLORES HUERTA will be honored and represented by her daughter, MARIA ELENA CHÁVEZ. There will also be appearances by actor JOSH BROLIN and actor and comedian ROSEANNE BARR.

Tickets for the benefit show in support of KPFK are on sale now at $35, $60 and $150 per person. For $500 per person there will be a pre-show VIP Reception with the awardees and artists, which includes preferred seating, beverages and food, and entry into all the raffles, including the John Lennon Guitar donated by Gibson Guitars. For reservations, please call (323) 461-3673 or visit or To reserve your pre-show VIP ticket, please call the FORD Box Office at (323) 461-3673.



Jennifer Kiser / / (818) 985-2711 x 204

Patricia Leao / / (818) 567-0641




Krugman: Cassandras of Climate, Obama's Olympic Error

Cassandras of Climate

NY Times Op-Ed: September 28, 2009

Every once in a while I feel despair over the fate of the planet. If you've
been following climate science, you know what I mean: the sense that we're
hurtling toward catastrophe but nobody wants to hear about it or do anything
to avert it.

And here's the thing: I'm not engaging in hyperbole. These days, dire
warnings aren't the delusional raving of cranks. They're what come out of
the most widely respected climate models, devised by the leading
researchers. The prognosis for the planet has gotten much, much worse in
just the last few years.

What's driving this new pessimism? Partly it's the fact that some predicted
changes, like a decline in Arctic Sea ice, are happening much faster than
expected. Partly it's growing evidence that feedback loops amplifying the
effects of man-made greenhouse gas emissions are stronger than previously
realized. For example, it has long been understood that global warming will
cause the tundra to thaw, releasing carbon dioxide, which will cause even
more warming, but new research shows far more carbon dioxide locked in the
permafrost than previously thought, which means a much bigger feedback

The result of all this is that climate scientists have, en masse, become
Cassandras - gifted with the ability to prophesy future disasters, but
cursed with the inability to get anyone to believe them.

And we're not just talking about disasters in the distant future, either.
The really big rise in global temperature probably won't take place until
the second half of this century, but there will be plenty of damage long
before then.

For example, one 2007 paper in the journal Science is titled "Model
Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern
North America" - yes, "imminent" - and reports "a broad consensus among
climate models" that a permanent drought, bringing Dust Bowl-type
conditions, "will become the new climatology of the American Southwest
within a time frame of years to decades."

So if you live in, say, Los Angeles, and liked those pictures of red skies
and choking dust in Sydney, Australia, last week, no need to travel. They'll
be coming your way in the not-too-distant future.

Now, at this point I have to make the obligatory disclaimer that no
individual weather event can be attributed to global warming. The point,
however, is that climate change will make events like that Australian dust
storm much more common.

In a rational world, then, the looming climate disaster would be our
dominant political and policy concern. But it manifestly isn't. Why not?

Part of the answer is that it's hard to keep peoples' attention focused.
Weather fluctuates - New Yorkers may recall the heat wave that pushed the
thermometer above 90 in April - and even at a global level, this is enough
to cause substantial year-to-year wobbles in average temperature. As a
result, any year with record heat is normally followed by a number of cooler
years: According to Britain's Met Office, 1998 was the hottest year so far,
although NASA - which arguably has better data - says it was 2005. And it's
all too easy to reach the false conclusion that the danger is past.

But the larger reason we're ignoring climate change is that Al Gore was
right: This truth is just too inconvenient. Responding to climate change
with the vigor that the threat deserves would not, contrary to legend, be
devastating for the economy as a whole. But it would shuffle the economic
deck, hurting some powerful vested interests even as it created new economic
opportunities. And the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in
place right now; the industries of the future don't.

Nor is it just a matter of vested interests. It's also a matter of vested
ideas. For three decades the dominant political ideology in America has
extolled private enterprise and denigrated government, but climate change is
a problem that can only be addressed through government action. And rather
than concede the limits of their philosophy, many on the right have chosen
to deny that the problem exists.

So here we are, with the greatest challenge facing mankind on the back
burner, at best, as a policy issue. I'm not, by the way, saying that the
Obama administration was wrong to push health care first. It was necessary
to show voters a tangible achievement before next November. But climate
change legislation had better be next.

And as I pointed out in my last column, we can afford to do this. Even as
climate modelers have been reaching consensus on the view that the threat is
worse than we realized, economic modelers have been reaching consensus on
the view that the costs of emission control are lower than many feared.

So the time for action is now. O.K., strictly speaking it's long past. But
better late than never.


From: Dave Zirin

Obama's Olympic Error UPDATED

By Dave Zirin
Huffington Post: September 28, 2009

President Barack Obama is now en route to Copenhagen in an effort to sell
Chicago as the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics. In the process, he may be
selling Chicago down the river. Obama is joined arm-in-arm with his wife
Michelle on one side and Mayor Richard Daley's Chicago political machine on
the other. Michelle Obama says, "My father was disabled, and I think what
it would have meant for him to see someone in his shoes compete. Kids need
to see that and that needs to be celebrated just as much, if not more." This
seems more like an argument to support the Paralympics (a tremendous event)
but that's beside the point. Michelle Obama should perhaps realize that if
the Olympics had come to Chicago when she was a young girl on Chicago's
working class south side, her home may have been torn down to make way for
an Olympic facility.

No word on how being out of house and home would have helped her disabled

Mayor Daley, rocking a 35 percent approval rating, says that the Games would
be "a huge boost to our economy, raising it to a new level. The Games will
help us recover sooner from the recession that still grips our nation and
enable us to better compete in the global economy."

There is only one problem with this argument: the history of the Olympic
Games almost without exception brands it as a lie. As Sports Illustrated's
Michael Fish - an Olympic supporter - has written, "You stage a two-week
athletic carnival and, if things go well, pray the local municipality isn't
sent into financial ruin."

In fact, the very idea that Chicago could be an appropriate setting for the
Olympics might have been hatched by Jon Stewart for a four-year supply of
comedic fodder. To greater or lesser degrees, the Olympics bring
gentrification, graft and police violence wherever they nest. Even without
the Olympic Games, Chicago has been ground zero in the past decade for the
destruction of public housing, political corruption raised to an art form,
and police violence. Bringing the Olympics to this town would be like
sending a gift basket filled with bottles of Jim Beam to the Betty Ford
Clinic: over-consumption followed by disaster.

It's also difficult for Chicago residents to see how this will help their
pocketbooks, given that Daley pledged to the International Olympic Committee
that any cost overruns would be covered by taxpayers.

This is why a staggering 84 percent of the city opposes bringing the Games
to Chicago if it costs residents a solitary dime. Even if the games were to
go off without a hitch - which would happen only if the setting was lovely
Shangri-La - not even half the residents would support hosting the Games.

The Obamas, former Chicago residents, should be standing with their city.
Instead, we have the sight of Barack, Michelle, and Oprah trying to
outmuscle Pele and Brazil for a place at the Olympic trough. The question is
why. Maybe Obama wants the Olympic fairy dust enjoyed by Ronald Reagan at
the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles or Bill Clinton at the 1996 games in
Atlanta. Or perhaps he is returning favor to the developers and other sundry
connected people in the Windy City who will make out like bandits once the
smoke has cleared. But his intentions are clear: he wants the glitz,
glamour, and prestige of the games and he wants it for the Daley machine.
What the people of Chicago want doesn't seem to compute.

But we shouldn't be surprised at this point that Obama is tin-eared to the
concerns of Chicago residents. As Paul Krugman wrote Sept. 20 on the banker
bonuses, "the administration has suffered more than it seems to realize from
the perception that it's giving taxpayers' hard-earned money away to Wall
Street." Shoveling taxpayers' money into the Olympic maw is no better,
especially in these tough times.

No Games Chicago organizer Alison McKenna said to me, "I oppose the Olympics
coming to Chicago because instead of putting money toward what people really
need, money will be funneled to real estate developers who will be tearing
down Washington Park and other important community resources. I oppose the
Olympics coming to Chicago because the nonprofit child-welfare agency that I
work for had to sustain budget cuts and layoffs, while Chicago has spent
$48.2 million on the 2016 Olympic bid, as of July 2009."

There is an urgency to building resistance to these kinds of priorities.
Right now, the right wing is shamelessly adopting populist rhetoric and the
power of protest to sell an agenda of racism and fear wrapped in taxpayer
protection. The big public voice against Obama's trip to Copenhagen has been
the repellent RNC chief Michael Steele who believes, and this is hilarious,
that "At a time of war and recession" Obama needs to stay home. It shouldn't
be a scoundrel like Steele who represents a party of privatization and
occupation who delivers that message. Now is the time to build a pole of
attraction on the left for people furious at corporate greed amidst a
recession. This needs to happen, and not just for the Windy City. It's about
building a vibrant protest movement that believes in social justice not the
rank divisiveness of the right. Obama likes to say that change comes from
"outside Washington." It's time to take him at his word.

[Dave Zirin is the author of "A People's History of Sports in the United
States" (The New Press) Receive his column every week by emailing Contact him at .]
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pepe Escobar: Honduras: the Obama administration's hour of truth

From: Sid Shniad


The president is in the trunk

For Obama, the ambiguous US stance on Honduras is a dagger pointing to his
heart. It leaves his lofty promise of a new relationship between the US and
Latin America in tatters. Worse still, it unveils how helpless he is facing
his - in theory - subordinates at the Pentagon and the State Department, no
to mention vast reactionary forces across the US for whom multilateralism
means a surrender to "socialism" and to America's enemies.

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times: September 21, 2009

An historical irony has placed little Honduras at the eye of the volcano in
both the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the Group of 20
(G-20) meeting in Pittsburgh this week - even though United States corporate
media would rather focus on Libyan Muammar Gaddafi and the tribulations of
his traveling tent. [1]

As much as the 2008 financial crisis exposed the economic fallacy of
US-propelled neo-liberalism, the June 28 oligarch-directed military coup in
Honduras has exposed the fallacy of the Barack Obama administration's pledge
to uphold democratic values around the world. Stolen elections in
Afghanistan? We don't like it, but ... Military coup in Honduras? We don't
like it, but ...

What passes for official US policy at the G-20 consists of telling big
exporting powers such as China, Germany and Japan to engage in an orgy of
consumption (as the US used to) while vaguely promising the US will finally
boost savings. Fat chance.

As for Honduras, this is now the Obama administration's hour of truth: will
it finally come clean and follow world opinion - also expressed by the UN,
the European Union and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) - in
condemning and isolating the coup plotters?

The stick, or deafening silence

Deposed, rightful Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has been to Washington no
less than six times since the coup. Not once was he allowed to meet Obama.
Then, this past Monday morning, Zelaya showed up at the Brazilian Embassy in
Tegucigalpa, Honduras' capital, after a spectacular run that started in
Nicaragua, involved a flight to El Salvador on a plane offered by Venezuela,
and a 15-hour odyssey across the border to Honduras on foot and by car,
evading myriad checkpoints manned by local intelligence - which is,
crucially, funded, trained and maintained by the Pentagon. Zelaya was
smuggled into the Brazilian Embassy in the trunk of car.

Zelaya may have had help from Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, under the
umbrella of the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA). But now the
strategic game-changer has been to shift the attention towards Brazil - and
that means under the UNASUR.

Whether Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva knew it before hand or
only at the last minute (as the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
insists) is irrelevant. It was not the US that called for an emergency
meeting of the UN Security Council this week; it was Brazil.

Lula forcefully demanded the restoration of democracy in Honduras in his
speech at the UN General Assembly - with strong applause from the plenary.
Obama's speech came right after Lula's. Not a word on Honduras. Obama spoke
of a "new era of engagement" or at best an "inter-connected world" - while
Lula spoke about the emergence of a real multilateral world; its subtext
means the hyperpower does not have the monopoly anymore, be it on the word,
the stick, or deafening silence.

Obama even stressed the US "can't fix it alone" - as if the war in
Afghanistan and confrontation with Iran were global, and not only US,
obsessions. (By the way: Lula met Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad
face-to-face for over an hour on the sidelines of the UN assembly. He later
said that as much as Brazil had the right to develop its own peaceful
nuclear program, so did Iran).

By Obama's own admission, the US can't fix Honduras alone, but at least it
could have emitted the right signals, delegitimizing the coup politically,
militarily, economically and diplomatically from the beginning.

So far, the US-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) has engaged
in a pantomime negotiated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias which calls
for Zelaya's return as president, coup plotters integrated into the
government, and amnesty for everybody, including installed coup President
Roberto Micheletti.

This is ludicrous. It's as if in the (failed) George W Bush
administration-supported 2002 coup against Chavez in Venezuela, the plotters
would have been allowed to stay as his ministers.

Only the minimal Honduran oligarchy and the media they control support the
coup. They have no social base. A communique by the National Front Against
the Coup stresses that some businessmen and military who initially supported
the plotters are now leaving the country. The coup plotters - emboldened by
force, as if this was Latin America in the 1970s all over again - reverted
to, what else, mass repression, a state of siege and tear-gassing everyone
in sight.

What the majority of the people in Honduras want is their rightful president
back in power and a constituent assembly, for which they are campaigning all
around the country. Zelaya's own counter-coup has been to risk his life and
install a government in exile - but not in exile, inside his own country -
the ultimate nightmare of any dictatorship. For the coup plotters, there are
only two endgames: unleash state terrorism or get out of Dodge and beg for
asylum in Panama.

The Pentagon power play

Washington's glaring ambiguity is easily attributed to the ongoing, fierce
internal war in the US. The true US supporters of the coup in Honduras are
US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and the State Department. But even Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton has been forced to back down. On Monday, she
finally was forced to admit "the remainder of President Zelaya's term [is]
to be respected".

Crucially, Obama has to know how the ambiguous US stance on Honduras is a
dagger pointing to his heart. It leaves his lofty promise of a new
relationship between the US and Latin America in tatters. Worse still, it
unveils how helpless he is facing his - in theory - subordinates at the
Pentagon and the State Department, no to mention vast reactionary forces
across the US for whom multilateralism means a surrender to "socialism" and
to America's enemies.

As American political activist, author and lecturer Noam Chomsky has pointed
out, Central America is still traumatized by the "Reaganesque terror" of the
1980s. In a wider context in Latin America, the US used to exert control
either by hardcore violence, direct or indirect, or by applying an economic
stranglehold. This belongs to the past - as much as coup lovers in the
Pentagon may regret it.

Coups, anyway, are far from gone. The Bush administration tried (and failed)
in Venezuela in 2002; now Washington engages in subversion/propaganda via an
extensive media network and National Endowment for Democracy-style support
for the disgruntled local oligarchies. In Haiti, both France and the US got
rid of the government and sent the president to South Africa. Honduras is a
more complex case. The International Monetary Fund has just approved an
enormous loan to Honduras - which will cover for the lack of direct US

Most of all, the US role in Honduras is a Pentagon-playing-the-New Great
Game matter. The coup is intimately linked to ongoing remilitarization of
Latin America - from the reactivation of the dormant Fourth Fleet to the
installation of seven new military bases in Colombia. (See US's 'arc of
instability' just gets bigger, September 3, Asia Times Online.)

In pure Pentagonese, Honduras under Zelaya fell under the good old Cold War
domino theory. The government had to go because it was linked to ALBA, which
means Nicaragua and, above all, Venezuela. Chavez is playing a high stakes
New Great Game - he just bought US$2 billion in weapons from Russia at a
time when Moscow wants access to the Orinoco oil wealth, and he is also
doing energy megadeals with China. The Pentagonese response is an array of
bases in Colombia to monitor him. Now Zelaya's move to the Brazilian Embassy
in Tegucigalpa introduces an even juicier element.

Last December, Brazil struck a strategic military partnership with France -
involving a multibillion-dollar purchase of submarines, helicopters and jet
fighters - with full technology transfer included. Lula is privileging the
French over Boeing - and obviously the US industrial-military complex is not
amused. Brazil projects power independently from the US and France in South
America. This is all about multilateralism in action - of the kind
reactionary forces in the US simply abhor.

Brazil is a key G-20 member at the Pittsburgh summit - the largest economy
in Latin America, swinging its way towards great power status, and still a
key ally and trading partner of the US. Brazil may not solve the crisis in
Honduras. But Lula - whom Obama immensely respects - may convince him it's
time to finally come clean, and side with the people of Honduras.

This might do wonders for Obama's global credibility - especially now that
he has seemingly backed down on his demand for a freeze on Israeli
settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem. (See Netanyahu and Obama:
Who's fooling who?, Asia Times Online, September 24)

Were Obama not to make his move, the impression would remain that if he
can't even control his own reactionary/militarist backyard in Washington,
not to mention Latin America, how will he face up to Russia and China on the
global stage?

1. Known for pitching a large Bedouin tent on his trips abroad, Gaddafi this
time pitched it on famous US entrepreneur Donald Trump's 86 hectare (213
acre) estate in Bedford, a town about 50 kilometers north of New York, after
New York police turned down his request to erect it in Central Park.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is
Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a
snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does
Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

Younge: A Method to Their Madness, re 'Bush's Third Term,'

Hi. A note before Younge's remarkable essay.

On Sunday I sent you a slate of candidates for KPFK's Local
Station Board. I've been asked for names of endorsers and those
who chose the slate. Here are names you should recognize, most
of whom (including me) actively chose the slate after considering
all candidates and interviewing many. Please donate to the fund drive.

Committee to Strengthen KPFK slate endorsers include:

Blase & Theresa Bonpane*, Office of the Americas,
Don Bustany,
Tom Camerlla,
Vernicia Green,
Jordan Davis*, President , Coalition of California Black School Board
Lila Garrett,
Jan Goodman*, Paul Robeson Com. Cntr.,
Ian Masters,
Terrence McNally,
Barbara Osborne,
Shawn Casey O'Brien,
Ed Pearl,
Ricco Ross,
Mansoor Sabbagh*, Global Voices for Justice,
Henry Slucki
Carol Spooner,
Roy (of Hollywood) Tuckman,
Cristina Vazquez, Reg. VP. Workers UniteD (formerly UNITE/ILGWU,
Donna Warren*, Families to End 3 Strikes,
Noel Wiggins , President, Black America Political Association of California,
Roy Ulrich,
Jon Weiner,
Suzi Weissman,
Marcy Winograd,
Prof. Lamont Yeakey*, Robeson Center.

*Org. Affiliations for Identification only


A Method to Their Madness

By Gary Younge
The Nation: September 9, 2009 (In the September 28, 2009 edition)

Spare a thought, and maybe even a dime, for Kenneth Gladney. In August he
and other members of the right-wing St. Louis Tea Party arrived at a
town-hall meeting organized by Missouri Democrat Russ Carnahan to lobby
against universal healthcare. In the spirit of this fraught summer, a fight
broke out, ending in six arrests.

Who threw the first punch depends on whom you ask. But who got the worst of
it was fairly clear. Gladney was taken to the emergency room with injuries
to his knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face and ended up in a wheelchair.
His troubles were just beginning. Recently laid off, this particular
anti-health reform protester, it turned out, had no health insurance. Last
heard, he was still accepting donations for his medical expenses.

It's not difficult to ridicule the American right. Its peculiar blend of
paranoia, mania, fantasy and misanthropy has been given full rein these past
few months. Those who demanded in July to see Obama's birth certificate
(which does exist) ended August invoking the British healthcare system's
"death panels" (which do not). That most of their claims were verifiably
false was of little consequence--to them at least. At one point they
insisted that if scientist Stephen Hawking were British and subject to the
National Health Service, he would be dead, even though Hawking is British,
alive and grateful to the NHS for his care.

So progressives could be forgiven for branding the right as stupid and
crazy. But they would also be wrong. For if this is madness, there is great
method in it. It is well organized and well funded. It has proven effective
in mobilizing support, creating "controversy" where little exists and
disrupting and disorienting whatever national conversation there is. If it
is stupid, then what does it say about us, since time and again it manages
to outmaneuver the left? Annoying, bizarre, incoherent, divisive,
intolerant, small-minded, misinformed, ill informed and disinformed,
certainly. But stupid and crazy--anything but. It takes considerable skill
to convince people that something that is clearly good for them--like
universal healthcare--is not. If the right is crazy, it is crazy like a Fox
News presenter. Reducing a political strategy or belief to a psychological
disorder to dismiss and ridicule its proponents may be comforting. But it
also abandons any hope of defeating it or stymieing its influence beyond

There are three important points to acknowledge about people like Gladney.
First, they are not new. The cold war in general and McCarthyism in
particular was built on lies, misinformation, obsession and guilt by the
most tenuous of associations. After Eisenhower defeated Taft at the 1952 GOP
convention, a woman emerged insisting, "This means eight more years of
socialism." In the late 1940s, a chairman of a federal loyalty review board
conceded, "Of course, the fact that a person believes in racial equality
doesn't prove that he's a communist. But it certainly makes you look twice,
doesn't it? You can't get away from the fact that racial equality is part of
the communist line." Today the Internet distributes these slurs faster, and
cable TV gives them more outlets. But there has always been a sizable
section of society that seeks to fashion a bespoke reality out of whole
cloth. These are the people who believe that civil rights was really about
miscegenation, abortion rights is about promiscuity and gay rights is about
pedophilia. There are more of them than we'd like to think. And they are not
going away.

Second, you can't argue with them. A good two and a half weeks after failed
rescue efforts during Hurricane Katrina left bodies floating in the streets
and people abandoned on roofs, 35 percent of the country believed that
George W. Bush had done a good or excellent job responding to the crisis.
That is roughly the proportion of the country with whom there is no real
means of engagement. These are the birthers, Swiftboaters, climate change
skeptics, Obamaphobes and Palin-tologists--the base. They live in a
politically parallel world where everyone they know believes the same as
they do. They don't like established facts, so they come armed with their
own. The left has such people too, but they are marginal. With no news
channels to promote them or Congressmen prepared to advocate for them, their
views rarely reach the mainstream.

Third, we can beat them. These people gain the kind of purchase that shifts
them from an irritant to an obstacle only when there is a vacuum of
leadership and the absence of good alternatives. It is only under these
conditions that they are able to cast unreasonable doubt in the reasonable
minds of those who seek clarification, encouragement or a stake in any
substantive change. This is precisely what has happened with the healthcare
debate over the past few months.

Less than a third of the country believes Obama has clearly explained his
plans for healthcare reform. Two-thirds of independents and more than a
third of Democrats believe he hasn't. According to a CNN poll, only one in
five believes he or she will be better off after healthcare reform has
passed, and 40 percent say they are confused by the proposals. Who can blame

A decisive portion of the country is desperate to be convinced. They know
that what they have now is terrible but have yet to be convinced that what
might come is better. How could it be otherwise when the very person who
launched the reform process--the president--keeps hedging on its most
essential element: the public option? The only thing that is controversial
about universal healthcare is that America does not have it. The idea that a
Democratic president with substantial Democratic majorities in both houses
of Congress might fail to pass healthcare reform, well, that's enough to
make anyone crazy.

About Gary Younge

Gary Younge, the Alfred Knobler Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute,
is the New York correspondent for the Guardian and the author of No Place
Like Home: A Black Briton's Journey Through the Deep South (Mississippi) and
Stranger in a Strange Land: Travels in the Disunited States (New Press). He
is also a contributor to The Notion. more...


From: "Suzanne de Kuyper" <>

Almost all of Bush's signing laws are still in force. The plan to stay in
Iraq and Afghanistan another fifty years is fully operational. The plan to
control Iran as completely as possible for more than fifty years is on the
table. US and now EU foreign policies are that of AIPAC and Israel.

The Nethelands and the Belgium Queens were both threatened as if by
madmen at the exact time Brussels was perparing to demand the
Israeli/ Netherlands Agreement signed days before the Gaza attack
be shelved until the Palestinians had a state and peace.

Spy planes control the skies over Dutch cities paranoid of unrest by
immigrants, as the country has thirty thousand reluctant troops in NATO
war planning and fighting. More troops are being demanded. Presidents
do not have much power in the best of times, with the Military/Industrial/
Media/Internet Complex, Obama has no chance. He never did, that is why
they let him win.

He is the anomoly Roosevelt was, without the clout, the connections to power
from birth.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Ironies, Z Report from the G20

From: Portside

Quote of the Day
September 20, 2009

'Five months ago in Prague, Barack Obama used one of
his first foreign policy speeches to call for a world
free of nuclear weapons. Ever since then the White
House has been engaged in a race to turn that
declaration into real-world policy. The first obstacle
is the Pentagon.

'According to officials with knowledge of the inter-
agency bargaining, the US defence department produced a
draft nuclear posture review that did not just fall
short of Obama's vision. In some ways it appeared to be
moving in the opposite direction.'

Julian Borger
Guardian (UK)
September 20, 2009


Quote of the Day
September 25, 2009

'So, have you enjoyed the debate over health care
reform? Have you been impressed by the civility of the
discussion and the intellectual honesty of reform

'If so, you'll love the next big debate: the fight over
climate change.'

Columnist Paul Krugman
New York Times
September 25, 2009


Quote of the Day
September 25, 2009

'Most Americans, looking at a globe, would be hard
pressed to find Afghanistan. Americans on the whole
know very little about the land or its people - and
care even less. They know we're at war over there,
wherever it is, but if you were to ask what a Pashtun
is or mention the name Abdullah Abdullah you would most
likely get a blank stare.

'Americans' minds are on other things, like trying to
figure out why, if the Great Recession is over, as Ben
Bernanke seems to believe, the employment landscape
still looks like a toxic waste dump.'

Columnist Bob Herbert
'Fed Up With War'
New York Times
September 26, 2009



Street Report from the G20

By Bill Quigley
Bill Quigley's ZSpace: Sept. 26, 2009

The G20 in Pittsburgh showed us how pitifully fearful our leaders have

What no terrorist could do to us, our own leaders did.

Out of fear of the possibility of a terrorist attack, authorities militarize
our towns, scare our people away, stop daily life and quash our
constitutional rights.

For days, downtown Pittsburgh, home to the G20, was a turned into a
militarized people-free ghost town. Sirens screamed day and night.
Helicopters crisscrossed the skies. Gunboats sat in the rivers. The skies
were defended by Air Force jets. Streets were barricaded by huge cement
blocks and fencing. Bridges were closed with National Guard across the
entrances. Public transportation was stopped downtown. Amtrak train service
was suspended for days.

In many areas, there were armed police every 100 feet. Businesses closed.
Schools closed. Tens of thousands were unable to work.

Four thousand police were on duty plus 2500 National Guard plus Coast Guard
and Air Force and dozens of other security agencies. A thousand volunteers
from other police forces were sworn in to help out.

Police were dressed in battle gear, bulky black ninja turtle outfits -
helmets with clear visors, strapped on body armor, shin guards, big boots,
batons, and long guns.

In addition to helicopters, the police had hundreds of cars and motorcycles
, armored vehicles, monster trucks, small electric go-karts. There were even
passenger vans screaming through town so stuffed with heavily armed ninja
turtles that the side and rear doors remained open.

No terrorists showed up at the G20.

Since no terrorists showed up, those in charge of the heavily armed security
forces chose to deploy their forces around those who were protesting.

Not everyone is delighted that 20 countries control 80% of the world's
resources. Several thousand of them chose to express their displeasure by

Unfortunately, the officials in charge thought that it was more important to
create a militarized people-free zone around the G20 people than to allow
freedom of speech, freedom of assembly or the freedom to protest.

It took a lawsuit by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU to
get any major protest permitted anywhere near downtown Pittsburgh. Even
then, the police "forgot" what was permitted and turned people away from
areas of town. Hundreds of police also harassed a bus of people who were
giving away free food - repeatedly detaining the bus and searching it and
its passengers without warrants.

Then a group of young people decided that they did not need a permit to
express their human and constitutional rights to freedom. They announced
they were going to hold their own gathering at a city park and go down the
deserted city streets to protest the G20. Maybe 200 of these young people
were self-described anarchists, dressed in black, many with bandanas across
their faces. The police warned everyone these people were very scary. My cab
driver said the anarchist spokesperson looked like Harry Potter in a black
hoodie. The anarchists were joined in the park by hundreds of other
activists of all ages, ultimately one thousand strong, all insisting on
exercising their right to protest.

This drove the authorities crazy.

Battle dressed ninja turtles showed up at the park and formed a line across
one entrance. Helicopters buzzed overhead. Armored vehicles gathered.

The crowd surged out of the park and up a side street yelling, chanting,
drumming, and holding signs. As they exited the park, everyone passed an ice
cream truck that was playing "It's a small world after all." Indeed.

Any remaining doubts about the militarization of the police were dispelled
shortly after the crowd left the park. A few blocks away the police
unveiled their latest high tech anti-protestor toy. It was mounted on the
back of a huge black truck. The Pittsburgh-Gazette described it as Long
Range Acoustic Device designed to break up crowds with piercing noise.
Similar devices have been used in Fallujah, Mosul and Basra Iraq. The police
backed the truck up, told people not to go any further down the street and
then blasted them with piercing noise.

The crowd then moved to other streets. Now they were being tracked by
helicopters. The police repeatedly tried to block them from re-grouping
ultimately firing tear gas into the crowd injuring hundreds including people
in the residential neighborhood where the police decided to confront the
marchers. I was treated to some of the tear gas myself and I found the
Pittsburgh brand to be spiced with a hint of kelbasa. Fortunately I was
handed some paper towels soaked in apple cider vinegar which helped fight
the tears and cough a bit. Who would have thought?

After the large group broke and ran from the tear gas, smaller groups went
into commercial neighborhoods and broke glass at a bank and a couple of
other businesses. The police chased and the glass breakers ran. And the
police chased and the people ran. For a few hours.

By day the police were menacing, but at night they lost their cool. Around a
park by the University of Pittsburgh the ninja turtles pushed and shoved and
beat and arrested not just protestors but people passing by. One young woman
reported she and her friend watched Grey's Anatomy and were on their way
back to their dorm when they were cornered by police. One was bruised by
police baton and her friend was arrested. Police shot tear gas, pepper
spray, smoke canisters, and rubber bullets. They pushed with big plastic
shields and struck with batons.

The biggest march was Friday. Thousands of people from Pittsburgh and other
places protested the G20. Since the court had ruled on this march, the
police did not confront the marchers. Ninja turtled police showed up in
formation sometimes and the helicopters hovered but no confrontations

Again Friday night, riot clad police fought with students outside of the
University of Pittsburgh. To what end was just as unclear as the night

Ultimately about 200 were arrested, mostly in clashes with the police around
the University.

The G20 leaders left by helicopter and limousine.

Pittsburgh now belongs again to the people of Pittsburgh. The cement
barricades were removed, the fences were taken down, the bridges and roads
were opened. The gunboats packed up and left. The police packed away their
ninja turtle outfits and tear gas and rubber bullets. They don't look like
military commandos anymore. No more gunboats on the river. No more sirens
all the time. No more armored vehicles and ear splitting machines used in
Iraq. On Monday the businesses will open and kids will have to go back to
school. Civil society has returned.

It is now probably even safe to exercise constitutional rights in Pittsburgh
once again.

The USA really showed those terrorists didn't we?

Bill is a human rights lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

From: Z Net - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives


US-Mideast: A Week of Dimming Peace Prospects

Matters for meditation, today. Gut Yontuf. -Ed

US-Mideast: A Week of Dimming Peace Prospects

by: Helena Cobban
Inter Press Service: 25 September 2009

Washington - Eight months after Barack Obama launched his presidency by
promising a speedy push for Palestinian-Israeli peace, that effort has
stalled badly. And there are now growing fears that the top levels of
Obama's peace team are torn by internal disagreements that may undermine the
whole peace effort.

Some of these problems were on view during two high-level appearances
Obama made in New York this week.

On Tuesday, speaking to the media after the three-way meeting he held
with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Obama notably avoided saying
anything about the failure of the high-profile campaign he and his chief
peace envoy, George Mitchell, have pursued to "persuade" the Israeli
government to stop building settlement housing in the occupied West Bank.

Obama instead announced a new project: the resumption of the
long-suspended negotiations between the parties over the terms of their
final peace.

Most observers - in Palestine, Israel, and the U.S. - interpreted
Tuesday's events as marking two distinct victories for Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama had in effect been forced to abandon his campaign for a settlement
freeze. And Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the interim Palestinian
Authority (PA), was forced to meet with Netanyahu despite previously vowing
he would not negotiate with him until the freeze was in place.

For some pro-peace Americans, one bright spot in Tuesday's encounter was
that Obama spelled out to the media that peace is a key interest not just
for the parties directly involved, but also for the United States.

In his big speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, Obama
pledged his public commitment to the pursuit - though tellingly, not the
speedy attainment - of a "just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine,
and the Arab world."

He also said, "We continue to emphasise that America does not accept the
legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."

However, numerous commentators in both the Arab world and in Israel's
much-diminished "peace camp" noted that since Obama has never moved beyond
words in his push to freeze settlement construction, there seemed little
reason to hope he would do so in his pursuit of the broader peace
settlement, either.

Meanwhile, there have been worrying signs of discord among the team
consisting of Obama and top peace-team members. One well-connected Arab
observer told IPS that he judged that Obama's shift in focus from the
settlement freeze to the final-status issue signaled the president's
frustration with the approach that Mitchell has used until now.

This observer said he judged Mitchell had paid too much attention to
pushing for the settlement freeze, which was only ever seen as an interim
step. It was described by Mitchell and others as part of a package - along
with some sweeteners from Arab states -that would help build initial
confidence between the parties.

But both Netanyahu and the most powerful Arab states balked at providing
what Mitchell asked for. Meanwhile, many valuable months have been wasted -
months during which settlement building has continued with little pause.

The Arab observer said his understanding of Mitchell's approach, as
demonstrated in his successful mediation in Northern Ireland in the 1990s,
was that it involved having negotiators from the warring parties participate
in lengthy face-to-face encounters during which their fears and distrust
could slowly be melted away.

Another Washington analyst has observed that that approach may have been
helpful in Northern Ireland, or South Africa, where the aim was to help
warring parties find a way to live together over the long term within a
single state.

"But in the case of Israel and Palestine, we're talking about a
divorce," she said. "All these two need to talk about is the terms of that
divorce, and how to do it in a way that works."

Additional evidence of high-level discord in the White House came in an
interview Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, gave to television host
Charlie Rose Wednesday night.

Just the day before, Obama had spelled out that peace is "in the
interests of the United States". But Emanuel told Rose a couple of times
that the U.S. "can't want peace more than [the parties] want it".

That was a formula frequently used during the Clinton and Bush II
administrations to signify that, if a difference should emerge between
Washington and Israel over the peace diplomacy, then Washington would back

Regarding the next steps in the U.S.-led diplomacy, Obama said Tuesday
that he had asked Netanyahu and Abbas to send their negotiators to
Washington "next week", and he had asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
to report to him on the status of these negotiations in mid-October.

Maan News reported from Israeli-occupied Bethlehem today that Abbas's
top negotiator, Saeb Erakat, would be participating in the talks, due to
start Oct. 1.

In Washington Friday, veteran Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi
warned that Obama's failure to win the settlement freeze and the extreme
reluctance he showed toward holding Israel in any way accountable for its
defiance had weakened not only Obama's standing among Palestinians and other
Arabs, but also that of Mahmoud Abbas.

"The whole process Obama has gone through until now has lost Abu Mazen a
lot of credibility with the Palestinian people," she said, using the name
Palestinians use for Abbas.

"For Palestinians it's very important that our leadership not constantly
be the one to give in," she said.

Ashrawi, who was a member of the Palestinian delegation at the 1991
Madrid peace talks, said she thought Obama's speech to General Assembly
Wednesday seemed to "salvage" his policy somewhat. "So, he said the right
thing there," she said. "But now we need to see if he can make the right

She judged that the latest developments in the diplomacy had weakened
Abbas significantly among all sectors of the Palestinian people - including
with the grassroots in his own party, Fatah.

For their part, the leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas
issued a statement Thursday that urged Abbbas and Fatah to "stop deceiving
and misleading the Palestinian people by attaching more hopes on the
'useless' negotiations with the Israelis." The Hamas statement also strongly
criticised Obama's "obvious" bias toward the Israelis.

Fatah and Hamas will be sending high-level emissaries to Cairo on Sunday
to take part in yet another in the long series of reconciliation they have
held over recent months.

There are few signs yet that the upcoming round of talks will succeed
where so many others have failed.

With those two big Palestinian movements still at loggerheads, the Obama
administration apparently split and anyway unwilling to confront Israel on
key issues, and Israel's peace movement now a mere shadow of its former
vibrant self, the prospects for rapid success in the diplomacy look very


Helena Cobban is a veteran Middle East analyst and author. She blogs at

Sunday, September 27, 2009

B 4 U Vote - A Cogent Update of Pacifica and KPFK Board Endorsements

Hi.  I hope you read his whether or not you're a current subscriber.
The Pacfica network is by far the greatest potential voice of news and
opinion controlled by its listeners; not directly or indirectly by media
conglomerates, govenment or a major party.  This includes NPR.
McNally offers an honest, perceptive analysis and a road to achieving
the above.  What I send you, daily, is but a scent of what could and
should be available to an infinitely wider slice of Americans.  If you've
been alienated, pay attention over the next year.  If this encourages
you to reexamine, please do so - not only by listening, but by donating
to the current fund drive, without which money these changes will not
be possible.  818-985-5735, KPFK, 90.7 fm. I'll answer calls on Wed.
The slate endorsed by 'The Committee' is diverse where it counts, but
unifiedly promising competence, diligence, financial transparency and
respect for us, the listeners.   Please vote for them.  -Ed
Terrence McNally
310-476-4999 / C: 310-486-3691 

Free Forum w Terry McNally / 90.7fm /
Byline: / a world that just might work

You're receiving this email because of your relationship with Terrence McNally. Please confirm your continued interest in receiving email from us.
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If you are not a member of KPFK,
please excuse and ignore this message.

If you are a member of KPFK
(if you've contributed in the last year)
you can vote in the Local Station Board election.

KPFK is currently electing its
24 member Local Station Board(LSB)
...and your ballot has arrived in the mail*

Ballots must be returned by October 14th.

The Committee to Strengthen KPFK,
of which I am the current director,
endorses the following candidates:
Kim Kaufman                          Sequoia Mercier
Richard Vega                           Luis Cabrales
Chipasha Luchembe                Ken Aaron
Edgar Toledo                           Chris Condon        
Margie Murray                         Bree Walker
Ahjamu Makalani                     Dutch Merrick
John Wenger                           Fred Klunder
The KPFK election uses a fairly complex process
- explained in your ballot -- in which you choose
which candidate
will be your 1st choice, then
your 2nd, and so on. 

Here's why we need all 14: Nine seats will be occupied right after the election.  Due to term limits, two more seats will be occupied in May of 2010 by the alternates who come in 10th and 11th. After that, as time goes by, people will leave the board for any number of reasons. When they leave, alternates move up and become board members. I believe 5 alternates currently serve on the board. We want all 14 of these candidates to
be  seated on the LSB.
Committee endorses the following staff candidates:
John Cromshow, Dan Fritz, Ali Lexa, Steve Pride.

To learn more about the election, candidates, platform, endorsements -- go to

Forward this message to other KPFK Members.

The Committee's success in the last election shifted the balance of power on both the KPFK LSB and Pacifica National Board in positive directions. Previous General Manger Eva Georgia resigned and was replaced by Sean Heitkemper, an experienced, professional, and radio-savvy GM. (Sadly -- for us -- Sean recently left to take advantage of an attractive opportunity outside of radio.) Eva's Program Director Armando Gudino is no longer at the station. Capable Senior Producer Alan Minsky is now interim PD. Grace Aaron, a member of our slate in the last LSB election, is now interim ED of Pacifica.

Among the accomplishments of our slate and its allies across the network since the last election:

· replaced management at WBAI in New York and WPFW in DC.  

· WBAI's on-air fundraising is up 46% in net per day in the last two fund drives.

· replaced previous General Counsel with someone more transparent and accountable, who strives to settle cases before they go to trial.

· developed a new Whistle Blower policy for staff.

· opened up the board election process, allowing freer use of email to do proper voter outreach.

· began a process of rethinking and revamping programming across the network.  

· engaged Chuck D. to produce a show to attract new listeners.

Things are still tight financially, and in a recession
fund raising is tough.
KPFK has a few clear tasks:

· elect qualified, responsible, and skilled
non-profit board members to the LSB
· hire a permanent General Manager and a permanent
Program Director who are qualified, skilled, and accountable
· improve programming to build listenership and funding
· take advantage of new technologies

The station's progress could
be reversed by this election.

60% of KPFK's Local Station
Board will be elected in
the upcoming vote.

Vote this slate to build on the best
of what we've accomplished so far.

If you are a KPFK member
and have not received your ballot or
if you have questions about the election process,
contact Michael Sanchez
KPFK Local Station Board Election Supervisor 
 818-985-2711 x 605 /

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

ACORN: History, Myths and Value

*** Note: The Watts Towers Drum and Jazz Festivals take place today,
Saturday (drum) and tomorrow (Jazz). both 10am to 6pm. Free! Take
the kids, tour the amazing towers. 1727-107th St., LA, 90002. I just
got the flier. -Ed

ACORN: The Most Cost-Effective Investment the Government (and Foundations)
Have Ever Made

By David Morris,
AlterNet: September 23, 2009.

The real purpose of the right's attacks on ACORN is to destroy a remarkably
successful 50-year-old grassroots model for defending the poor and workers.
To understand the current attacks on ACORN, and the organization itself, we
need to go back more than 60 years, to the 1930s and the New Deal, when for
the first time, the federal government accepted responsibility for directly
helping the non-working poor.

These programs were expanded in the 1940s, but in the 1950s, a backlash
erupted against the poor, driven by several factors.

The postwar prosperity dramatically reduced the number of poor families, and
an increasing number of black women were added to the welfare rolls,
injecting race into the debate.

Meanwhile, a Republican White House mostly left welfare matters to the

The myth of welfare recipients as lazy, immoral chiselers began to
circulate. States adopted punitive laws to reduce welfare rolls. Special
units of welfare departments conducted "midnight raids" to see if the
recipients were involved in a relationship with a man, something that would
result in a cut-off of benefits. The average grant declined.

In desperation, low-income mothers in dozens of big cities organized for
survival. They came together to collectively negotiate not only with welfare
offices for benefits, but with utilities to eliminate deposits required from
low-income households and with the post office to install locks on mailboxes
in apartment houses to prevent the theft of welfare checks.

Several veterans of the civil rights movement worked to bring local
welfare-rights organizations together into a national organization.

In June 1966, a coordinated national day of action brought tens of thousands
of people into the streets in 16 major cities. Two months later,
representatives of 75 local welfare-rights organizations convened in Chicago
to create the National Welfare Rights Organization.

Led by George Wiley, a Ph.D. chemist and leader of the Congress of Racial
Equality, NWRO was an unusual organization. It was a federation of local
groups that coordinated local and national actions. Black women comprised a
majority of its leadership.

NWRO's successes led to rapid growth. By 1969, it boasted over 500 chapters
with 22,500 dues-paying families.

In the late 1960s, a growing number of people looked to create a broad-based
anti-poverty movement, an idea embraced by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
in his Poor People's Campaign, in which NWRO played an important role.

In 1972, when Wiley left NWRO, he told the New York Times, "The
welfare-rights movement created a political and economic crisis around the
issue of welfare which could have led to reform or repression. What we are
witnessing is repression, and we need a broad, organized movement to counter

Wiley wanted to use the NWRO model to build a coalition of the working poor,
unemployed, seniors and the lower middle class around issues such as
national health insurance, consumer rights, housing and tax reform.

After a tragic accident took Wiley's life in 1973, the Association of
Community Organizations for Reform Now, created by two former NWRO
organizers Wiley had sent to Little Rock, Ark., in 1970, became the primary
vehicle for implementing his vision.

Led by Wade Rathke, ACORN had affiliates in 20 cities by 1980. Today, it has
about 400,000 low- and moderate-income members in more than 100 cities in 40

ACORN is one of the few grassroots neighborhood organizations capable of
wielding power on a national scale.

It is unique in the combination of strategies it uses: organizing, direct
action, lawsuits, lobbying and the provision of direct services.

That ACORN is a federation of self-governing locals with a national board
comprised largely of poor people seems to both amaze and gall the right.

Early this year, the conservative blog, Provocateur said about ACORN's board
members, "They rose through the ranks of ACORN, often starting as foot
soldiers fighting for causes near and dear to them. Since ACORN is often
associated with causes for poor, most of the board are themselves poor. As
such, they are often rather unsophisticated, and thus will be overwhelmed by
the sophisticated nature of the organization itself."

ACORN has been a target of the right virtually since its founding. During
the l980s and early 1990s, President George H.W. Bush's Department of Labor
convened a grand jury to investigate ACORN's relationship to the progressive
labor union SEIU.

The investigation was dropped after Bill Clinton took office. The President
George W. Bush's Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was forced to quit in
part because he fired several U.S. attorneys who refused to go after ACORN's
voter-registration efforts when they found no evidence of alleged voter

ACORN's bottom-up and coordinated structure has enabled it to confront
national corporations in a way few other organizations can.

When Reagan and the first President Bush's regulators failed to enforce the
Community Reinvestment Act, ACORN and other groups conducted their own

They identified banks with patterns of discriminatory lending, exposed these
practices to the media and then demanded regulators do their jobs. The
combination of publicity and confrontations led many lenders to agree to
make loans to borrowers who could afford them.

Later, ACORN helped to get the Treasury Department to reverse its
10-year-old ruling that federal rules pre-empted 35 state laws curbing
prepayment penalties that were costing borrowers more than $2 billion a

ACORN's provision of services has also enabled it to see national problems
before they become national problems. Its mortgage counseling for
lower-income households led it to sound the alarm about an industry that was
manipulating families into taking out risky loans.

ACORN called adjustable-rate mortgages with teaser rates ticking time bombs.
It beseeched Congress to not deregulate an increasingly irresponsible
banking industry.

Conservatives call ACORN's confrontation tactics "shakedowns" or
"extortions," for they often result in large corporations shelling out

I call it justice.

ACORN doesn't have the power to fine corporations or put their executives in
jail for misdeeds. It only has the power to ask those who have done harm to
pay to reduce that harm and prevent future injury.

In its 1993 campaign against insurance redlining, ACORN targeted Allstate
and held actions in offices in l4 cities.

Allstate signed an agreement creating a $10 million program to offer
below-market mortgages to low-income buyers.

In 2000, ACORN began a national campaign to combat the predatory lending
practices of Household Finance Corp., one of nation's largest subprime
lenders. ACORN used lawsuits as well as direct action, resulting in a $150
million class-action settlement that included $72 million for a
foreclosure-avoidance program.

As ACORN grew, it often created tensions with existing organizations in its
new cities. It got a reputation for not playing well with others. But few
questioned its effectiveness.

Sometimes the scope of ACORN's activities is breathtaking.

In 2008, John Atlas and Peter Dreier, who have followed ACORN closely for
many years, listed some local news stories about ACORN in the previous few

The New York Times wrote about ACORN's successful campaign to save 5,881
rental units of working-class housing in Brooklyn.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal and Orlando Sentinel reported on ACORN's local
voter registration drive.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recounted an ACORN demonstration at a local
bank, with members blowing whistles and chanting "Criminal offenders,
predatory lenders."

The Dallas Morning News reported on ACORN's campaign to expand health
insurance in Texas, while dozens of papers highlighted ACORN's key role in a
new national coalition of unions, consumer and religious groups to fight for
universal health care.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune described ACORN's ongoing work to rebuild
homes in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood battered by Hurricane Katrina.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed
a bill pushed by ACORN that will help desperate California homeowners avoid

Conservatives themselves reluctantly recognize ACORN's importance. In a 2006
Wall Street Journal column, Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute
complained, "When Chicago's City Council this summer required big-box stores
to pay new employees at least $10 an hour, supporters of the legislation
held an impromptu celebration in the council galleries.

"The hoopla was reminiscent of another scene five years earlier in New York,
when opponents of Mayor Rudy Giuliani's effort to privatize failing public
schools embraced in the streets after parents rejected the idea.

"What linked these celebrations was the left-wing Association for Community
Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) which led the campaign for the
legislation and against privatization."

Since the tax advice of a few ACORN employees is at the heart of the current
controversy, it might be helpful to understand how and why ACORN became
involved in tax assistance.

In late 2003, ACORN launched a four-city program that offered assistance to
families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the nation's largest
income-support program. It did so in part because the IRS estimated that
some 5 million qualified families failed to claim the credit.

ACORN tax preparers were trained and credentialed in coordination with the
IRS. ACORN members went door to door to inform people about free tax
services and the EITC.

In a formal evaluation of the program, Fred Brooks, Robert Fisher and Daniel
Russell found that it was ranked near or at the top of all free tax services
in those cities. Canvassed respondents in New Orleans, for example, were
five times more likely to choose free tax preparation compared to
income-equivalent comparison group, saving them $200-$300 each.

ACORN's tax assistance resulted in almost $4 million in tax refunds to
low-income families. The next year, ACORN expanded its EITC assistance to 51
cities and generated $19 million in total refunds.

In typical ACORN fashion, its tax-advice service led to direct action. ACORN
discovered that poor people who file for the EITC often take out short-term,
very-high-interest loans, called Refund Anticipation Loans to receive their
money a few days or weeks sooner.

In 2003, more than 50 percent of tax preparers' customers who received an
RAL also received the EITC. By some estimates, the almost 200 percent annual
interest customers paid on their RALs, plus the associated administrative
fees reduced the EITC refunds lower-income households received by more than
$500 million.

In the 1990s, when RALs exploded, state attorneys general went after
companies like H&R Block for unfair and deceptive practices.

By 2000, according to the New York Times, Block had been sued no fewer than
22 times.

But lawsuits didn't stop tax preparers, or even slow them down, because RALs
were extremely profitable. In 1999, H&R block made a profit of over 50
percent on its sale of RALs. In 2004, Jackson Hewitt, the second-largest
tax-preparation chain in the country, said that RALs accounted for 29
percent of the company's revenues.

In January 2004, ACORN mounted coordinated actions against H&R Block in 43
cities, accusing it of stealing from low-income communities. Within a month,
H& R Block and ACORN reached an agreement: H&R Block agreed to give ACORN
money to expand its EITC outreach and eliminate its RAL application fee
nationwide. It also agreed to hire and train ACORN members to be tax

ACORN has reportedly received about $53 million since 1994 from the federal
government, about $3.5 million a year. If so, it must be the most
cost-effective investment the federal government has ever made, assuming the
investment was made to help the poor.

In 2005, ACORN did an analysis of how much money its activities had
generated for low- and moderate-income households in the 10-year period from
1995 to 2004.

One should, of course, approach the findings of an internal report
cautiously. But its methodology is transparent and sound. It counts, for
example, only those campaigns in which it played the lead role.

The conclusion? Over 10 years, ACORN's direct services and local and state
campaigns generated monetary benefits for lower-income households totaling
some $15 billion, or $1.5 billion a year. This includes the impact of
enacting living-wage or minimum-wage or predatory-lending ordinances or

The recent video of an ACORN employee giving tax advice to a make-believe
prostitute and her "pimp" to engage in a make-believe crime is certainly

But we should compare the swift punitive reaction by Congress and the media
to that video with their reactions to real-world tax advice given by huge
accounting firms to the richest of us that resulted in real-world millions
of foreclosures and millions more plunging into poverty.

We don't have the tape of executives at the giant accounting firm KPMG
dreaming up a new intangible asset that would save its client WorldCom
millions in state taxes.

The new asset was called "foresight of top management." Shortly thereafter,
the foresight of WorldCom's top management resulted in a 25-year prison
sentence for WorldCom's CEO and five years for its CFO.

On the anniversary of the September 2008 financial meltdown, a plaintive CNN
headline asks, "Will any Wall Streeters go to jail for this? . Why vengeance
over the financial crisis is so elusive."

Or consider the reaction by Congress and the media to cases where the
misdeeds of profit-making businesses actually kill people.

There have been four documented fatalities of soldiers from electrocution
while showering in Iraqi barracks whose electrical wiring was installed by

Until 2007, KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton. Unlike in the case of
ACORN, after the allegations became public, the federal government didn't
rush to cancel KBR contracts.

Instead, the Republicans stayed mum, and the Pentagon paid KBR huge bonuses.
In early 2009, the Pentagon awarded KBR a $35 million contract for more
electrical work even while the company was under a criminal investigation
for two electrocution deaths, according to Pratap Chatterjee, former
executive director of CorpWatch and the author of Halliburton's Army.

If the misdeeds of individuals at ACORN are the problem, ACORN's swift
action in bringing on an independent board to conduct an internal audit is
the answer, not cutting off funds or pillorying the organization.

But improving internal controls isn't the right wing's end game. Destroying
a remarkably successful 50-year-old grassroots model for defending the poor
and workers is.

An improved management structure may well be necessary.

But the desperate situation facing tens of millions of households in the
country, and the reticence of Congress and the White House to act firmly on
their behalf, makes this a time when foundations, for example, should
expand, not contract, their financial support to ACORN.

And perhaps Congress and the federal government could pull a Halliburton and
double ACORN's contracts after its missteps became known.