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Obama And ACORN – ‘It’s A Power Thing’

One of the more disturbing aspects of Mr. Obama’s campaign is that he sees his work with the notorious group ACORN as the zenith of his work as a “community organizer.”

From the Obama campaign, via YouTube:

Barack Obama and the History of Project Vote

And a look back once again to some pertinent excerpts from a 13 year old article from the Chicago Reader:

What Makes Obama Run?

Lawyer, teacher, philanthropist, and author Barack Obama doesn’t need another career. But he’s entering politics to get back to his true passion–community organization.

By Hank De Zutter
December 8, 1995

In 1992 Obama took time off to direct Project Vote, the most successful grass-roots voter-registration campaign in recent city history. Credited with helping elect Carol Moseley-Braun to the U.S. Senate, the registration drive, aimed primarily at African-Americans, added an estimated 125,000 voters to the voter rolls–even more than were registered during Harold Washington’s mayoral campaigns. “It’s a power thing,” said the brochures and radio commercials.

Obama’s work on the south side has won him the friendship and respect of many activists. One of them, Johnnie Owens, left the citywide advocacy group Friends of the Parks to join Obama at the Developing Communities Project. He later replaced Obama as its executive director.

“What I liked about Barack immediately is that he brought a certain level of sophistication and intelligence to community work,” Owens says. “He had a reasonable, focused approach that I hadn’t seen much of. A lot of organizers you meet these days are these self-anointed leaders with this strange, way-out approach and unrealistic, eccentric way of pursuing things from the very beginning. Not Barack. He’s not about calling attention to himself. He’s concerned with the work. It’s as if it’s his mission in life, his calling, to work for social justice.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m one of the most cynical people you want to see, always looking for somebody’s angle or personal interest,” Owens added. “I’ve lived in Chicago all my life. I’ve known some of the most ruthless and biggest bullshitters out there, but I see nothing but integrity in this guy.”

Jean Rudd, executive director of the Woods Fund, is another person on guard against self-appointed, self-promoting community leaders. She admires not only Obama’s intelligence but his honesty. “He is one of the most articulate people I have ever met, but he doesn’t use his gift with language to promote himself. He uses it to clarify the difficult job before him and before all of us. He’s not a promoter; from the very beginning, he always makes it clear what his difficulties are. His honesty is refreshing.”

Woods was the first foundation to underwrite Obama’s work with DCP. Now that he’s on the Woods board, Rudd says, “He is among the most hard-nosed board members in wanting to see results. He wants to see our grants make change happen–not just pay salaries.”

Another strong supporter of Obama’s work–as an organizer, as a lawyer, and now as a candidate–is Madeline Talbott, lead organizer of the feisty ACORN community organization, a group that’s a thorn in the side of most elected officials. “I can’t repeat what most ACORN members think and say about politicians. But Barack has proven himself among our members. He is committed to organizing, to building a democracy. Above all else, he is a good listener, and we accept and respect him as a kindred spirit, a fellow organizer.”

Obama continues his organizing work largely through classes for future leaders identified by ACORN and the Centers for New Horizons on the south side. Conducting a session in a New Horizons classroom, Obama, tall and thin, looks very much like an Ivy League graduate student. Dressed casually prep, his tie loosened and his top shirt button unfastened, he leads eight black women from the Grand Boulevard community through a discussion of “what folks should know” about who in Chicago has power and why they have it. It’s one of his favorite topics, and the class bubbles with suggestions about how “they” got to be high and mighty.

“Slow down now. You’re going too fast now,” says Obama. “I want to break this down. We talk ‘they, they, they’ but don’t take the time to break it down. We don’t analyze. Our thinking is sloppy. And to the degree that it is, we’re not going to be able to have the impact we could have. We can’t afford to go out there blind, hollering and acting the fool, and get to the table and don’t know who it is we’re talking to–or what we’re going to ask them–whether it’s someone with real power or just a third-string flak catcher.” …

Interestingly, The Nation puts it this way:

Obama kept his ties to DCP and worked out of its office when he ran a drive that registered 150,000 new voters in 1992 and became the springboard for his own grassroots campaign for Illinois State Senate.

How selfless of him.

By the way, note how the Chicago Reader article pretends that ACORN is somehow a separate entity from “Project Vote.” It is not.

From Discover The Networks:

PROJECT VOTE

Front group for the radical cult ACORN

Spearheads the Voting Rights Movement

Played a decisive role in pushing the 1993 Motor-Voter Bill through Congress

Project Vote is the voter-mobilization arm of ACORN. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose professed purpose is to carry out “non-partisan” voter registration drives; to counsel voters on their rights; and to litigate on behalf of voting rights — focusing on the rights of the poor and the “disenfranchised.”

Project Vote’s major program areas include the following:

Voter Participation Program: “[Since its inception], Project Vote has helped more than 4 million Americans in low-income and minority neighborhoods register to vote, including 1.1 million in 2003-04. In the same period, Project Vote reached more than 2.3 million low-income and minority voters to educate them about the importance of voting. Our methodology is based on face-to-face contact between voters and trusted community messengers, generally a representative of a local community organization.”

Election Administration Program: “[This program] encompasses every aspect of election implementation, from voter registration application design to voting booth placement to vote counting and everything in between. Working in neighborhoods nationwide, Project Vote documents voting problems and works closely with elections officials, secretaries of state, and state legislators to enact proactive, pragmatic solutions. A central component of our work is the inclusion of low-income and minority voters through the involvement of our community partners.”

NVRA Implementation Project: “[This] partnership between Project Vote, ACORN and Demos aims to improve voter registration services at public assistance agencies. Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires states to offer voter registration to public assistance clients upon application, recertification or renewal, and change of addresses. The Project … offers technical assistance.”  The National Voting Rights Institute and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have recently become co-administrators of this initiative.

The stated purpose of Project Vote is to work within the system, using conventional voter mobilization drives and litigation to secure the rights of minority and low-income voters under the U.S. Constitution. However, the organization’s actions indicate that its true agenda is to overwhelm, paralyze, and discredit the voting system through fraud, protests, propaganda and vexatious litigation. In this respect, Project Vote is following the so-called “crisis strategy” or Cloward-Piven Strategy pioneered during the Sixties by Columbia University political scientists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven.

As a follow-up to their effort to collapse the welfare system in the 1960s, in 1983 Cloward and Piven founded the Human Service Employee Registration, Voting and Education campaign Fund (Human SERVE Fund). Its objective, they said, was to increase voter turnout among the poor. But unlike Project Vote, Human SERVE did not rely on conventional door-to-door canvassing, or even on the more effective method of registering people in food stamp and unemployment lines which Project Vote had pioneered. Rather, Human SERVE lobbied government officials directly to enact laws and regulations directing public employees to offer to register citizens applying for services at government agencies. This effort realized its grandest ambition on May 20, 1993, when President Clinton signed the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 — commonly called the “Motor-Voter Act.” It ordered every state to provide resources enabling people to register to vote at state agencies, at the same time they applied for drivers’ licenses, welfare, Medicaid and disability benefits. In June 2000, Cloward and Piven dissolved Human SERVE, leaving to ACORN and Project Vote the task of making the Motor Voter “crisis strategy” work at the polls. It did, in fact, fuel an explosion of fraudulent voters.

In 1996, Project Vote became involved in Teamstergate — a criminal conspiracy to embezzle funds from the Teamster treasury, launder them through outside organizations, and then siphon them back into the re-election war chest of Teamsters President Ron Carey in 1996. According to trial testimony, the operation was approved by high-level White House and Democratic Party officials.

A persistent pattern of lawlessness has followed ACORN/Project Vote activists over the years. For example, one Project Vote contractor — a single mother of three — forged 400 voter registration cards in 1998. “Some of the addresses listed on these applications were traced to vacant lots, boarded-up buildings, abandoned buildings, and nonexistent house numbers,” notes a report by the Employment Policies Institute. Former Miami-Dade field director for ACORN’s 2004 voter mobilization Mac Stuart has testified that fraud is standard procedure for ACORN/Project Vote canvassers — behavior that is not only tolerated but encouraged by supervisors. “[T]he voter registration project has been operating illegally since it started,” Stuart told investigators.

In the 2004 election cycle, ACORN and Project Vote canvassers fanned out by the thousands across battleground states, turning up repeatedly in press reports and on police blotters in connection with fraudulent petitioning and voter registration. Canvassers were caught or accused of filing registrations in duplicate, filing them for deceased or imaginary people or, in some cases, destroying large numbers of Republican registrations.

And here is a brief refresher on ACORN in general, again from Discover The Networks:

ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS FOR REFORM NOW (ACORN)

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is a grassroots political organization that grew out of George Wiley‘s National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), whose members in the late 1960s and early 70s invaded welfare offices across the U.S. — often violently — bullying social workers and loudly demanding every penny to which the law “entitled” them. In the late 1960s, ACORN co-founder Wade Rathke was a NWRO organizer and a protegé of Wiley. Rathke also organized draft resistance for the militant group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) during the same period.

In 1970 Rathke — along with the aforementioned Wiley (best known for his effective use of the so-called “Cloward-Piven strategy,” which called for swamping the welfare rolls with new applicants and thereby creating an economic crisis) and Gary Delgado (a lead organizer for Wiley’s NWRO) — formed a new entity called Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). The group’s name was later changed to Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, but the acronym ACORN remained. Instead of focusing only on welfare recipients, ACORN’s mandate included all issues touching low-income and working-class people.

Rathke and his ACORN co-founders enlisted civil rights workers and trained them in a program (at Syracuse University) patterned after Saul Alinsky‘s activist tactics.

Today ACORN claims 175,000 dues-paying member families, and more than 850 chapters in 70 U.S. cities in 38 states. (The organization is also active in Canada and Mexico). It owns two radio stations, a housing corporation, and a law office, and maintains affiliate relationships with a host of trade-union locals. ACORN also runs schools where children are trained in class consciousness; a network of “boot camps” for training street activists; and operations that extort contributions from banks and other businesses under threat of racial violence and trumped-up civil rights charges…

How many of the “organizers” now committing voter fraud for ACORN today were schooled at the knee of Mr. Obama?

(There is much more about ACORN and their history of voting fraud at the DTN link and in the FrontPage articles listed there.)

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, September 16th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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