Friday, May 30, 2008

Squirrel Alert

Just when Senator Barack Obama thought he had finally buried the Reverend Wright's rantings, now comes word that even more problematic friends from Obama's past have been dug up: ACORN. As Riehl World View explains,

There's a lot of buzz being generated about Obama, ACORN and Obama's first political party - The New Party. How did the Oba-messiah get this far without anyone reporting he was a member of a fringe Leftist political party?

Relying on Sol Stern’s 2003 City Journal article, “ACORN’s Nutty Regime for Cities”, Stanley Kurz of National Review Online provides a good synopsis of ACORN's history:

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.”

Kurtz also details Obama's close association with ACORN's activities in Chicago and concludes:

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.

So why hasn't Senator Hillary Clinton said anything to criticize Obama's ties to ACORN? To answer that question requires understanding a little history of the group. ACORN -- which stands for Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now -- began in Little Rock in the early 1970s with the original name of "Arkansas Community Organization for Reform Now", as a puff piece explains. With the word Arkansas in the group's name, need we say more? Of course, the Clintons were involved.

At ACORN's 2006 National Convention, Senator Clinton confessed:

You know, I am one of those who remembers the beginnings of ACORN in Arkansas all of those years ago. The headquarters for ACORN was near the Governor’s mansion. And I started a group called Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and we worked on a lot of important issues . . .

Unlike Clinton, McCain won't have that inconvenient piece of the past deterring his asking tough questions of Obama regarding his left-wing nuttery.

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