Such nonsense reached ridiculous levels when “credit-worthiness” was extended to include welfare and unemployment insurance as income streams during the Clinton administration, which also pressured Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to expand mortgage loans to low and medium income borrowers by relaxing standards. Both developments contributed substantially to the subsequent housing meltdown which continues to this day. Yet relaxed mortgage standards for minorities are still being pushed today by Attorney General Eric Holder and a Department of Justice task force.
In theory ACORN no longer exists due to the well-publicized scandal in which undercover reporters posing as a pimp and a prostitute got ACORN employees to give them advice on how to set up a proposed prostitution business, leading to a cutoff of Congressional funding for the group. Reversing a lower court ruling, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City upheld the cutoff and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Yet on November 3rd, Fox News reported that ACORN, re-invented as New York Communities for Change, has been involved in the OWS movement “as a key organizing force.”
It is worth remembering that the OWS movement began as a “Day of Rage” scheduled for September 17th. Last March 25th, Rathke, who was also a former president of a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in New Orleans and served for eight years as a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board, announced the beginning of “days of rage in ten cities around JP Morgan Chase” which he claimed would be “the beginning of the anti-banking jihad.” The lead organizer of that so-called jihad is Stephen Lerner, an SEIU board member.
SEIU’s political leanings? The union reported spending $85 million on politics in 2008–of which more than $32.5 million in independent expenditures was used to elect Barack Obama. SEIU tactics? In litigation initiated by catering company Sodexo Inc. against the SEIU earlier this year, the discovery phase revealed a work entitled “Contract Campaign Manual” written by former SEIU president John Sweeney, which laid out specific ways unions could muscle companies into doing their bidding.
It is somewhat ironic that Rathke would use the word jihad to describe the OWS uprising. An October 2010 posting at Organizers’ Forum website indicated the chair of that organization was putting together “An International Dialogue in Egypt” from September 25, 2011 to September 30, 2011 “to determine leadership transitions in what has been an autocratic regime, now challenged by the Muslim Brotherhood and succession and democracy issues,” further noting that “we will strive to have a mix of both community and labor organizers/leaders from a variety of community organizations and unions…meet in Cairo.” Wade Rathke founded the Organizers’ Forum in 2000 and is the Chairman of the Board. Drummond Pike sits on the Board of Directors.
Perhaps sensing the implications of the timeline, in which his effort to organize Egyptians preceded the uprising there, Rathke denied any involvement in the movement now known as the Arab Spring.
Currently, Rathke operates out of New Orleans, where he purchased Fair Grinds Coffeehouse for $500,000. And despite being unceremoniously dumped by ACORN, which on June 28th, 2008, voted that Rathke “be terminated from all employment with ACORN and its affiliated organizations or corporations” and “removed from all boards and any leadership roles with ACORN or its affiliated organizations or corporations,” he keeps busy traveling to the 12 countries that are partners in ACORN International. Furthermore, Rathke envisions his coffee shop as a “nexus of activism.”
In the meantime, the OWS movement is entering a new phase, with cops cracking down on protesters in Oakland, Portland and most recently in New York on Tuesday. It remains to be seen whether these anti-capitalist protests will eventually peter out, or enter a dangerous new phase. At his website Rathke reminds us where he’s been–and where he stands:
A million years ago around 1984 or so at ACORN we organized something we called Reagan Ranches, which were similar tent cities, protesting the terrible conditions of that time under the Reagan Administration…My heart goes out to the (OWS) organizers on the ground. This is just plain hard and thankless work.
And, worth it!
The movement is not in the small parks and tent cities of Occupy but in the way people everywhere are consolidating their positions around core concerns, including the 99% pitched against the 1%. If this is only something for this moment of history where it allows an administration to finally belly up and get aggressive, or a movement trailed by a long wake of many changes over time, we need it now, it is helping us all, and it deserves and demands our support.
One can only wonder, if this movement turns more violent than it already has, if Wade Rathke will still be out there “demanding” support for it. If his historical track record is any indication, the answer is unequivocally “yes.”
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