New Orleans There’s an old saying down in this part of the country that “if you roll around with the dogs, you’re going to get fleas.” True that! For many months I’ve bitten my lip as I’ve watched the neo-McCarthy efforts of the right try to sidetrack the early, breathtaking nomination of Craig Becker, a brilliant and experienced labor lawyer, to a position on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Since part of the dirt these dogs were slinging supposedly came from my finger tips hammering out these blogs, it made sense to give this mess a wide berth and hope Becker was not pulled into this pen with these dogs and the fleas kept their distance.
While the Senate was voting on the question of closure for Becker’s nomination before the city snowed under (52-39 falling short of the 60 needed to block more mess), I was inundated by some of the conservative bloggers asking me if Becker was bending the facts in response to a query from Senator McCain about whether or not Becker had ever worked for ACORN. Some Republican Senators are still dancing around this totally discredited storyline.
Craig Becker answered – truthfully! – “no,” he had not worked for ACORN. Ever!
The neo-McCarthyites were not able to use my blog on this, so they pulled something out of a 2006 ACORN Year End /Year Begin book of reports claiming they had “proof” that Becker was “lying” because the reports were from an annual staff meeting attended by many ACORN staff. Despite the plain and simple fact that reports were in the book and clearly identified as from SEIU Local 880 and SEIU Local 100, the dogs wanted to bark about the fact that somehow that made these SEIU locals the same as an ACORN citywide chapter. Poppycock on top of balderdash, as I’ve been quoted before!
The sentence referenced from the SEIU Local 880’s written report threw props out to a number of lawyers including labor lawyer, Art Martin, our old friend from St. Louis, and Craig Becker among others, for the help the local had received during the year in organizing. What’s the big deal? Becker was associate general counsel for SEIU and for years had provided SEIU 880 with advice on its ground breaking organizing of home health care workers. Did that make him an ACORN lawyer somehow, much less a liar? Of course not, except to the dogs trying to spread the fleas. This is how McCarthyism works, because the standard of “proof” is simply guilt by random association. The fact that SEIU Local 880 had had long ties to ACORN, and of course that I was Chief Organizer of SEIU Local 100 as well as having founded and served as Chief Organizer for ACORN for 38 years was all they needed.
One Senator commented that despite seeing Becker as “highly qualified,” that he was still “troubled” by the ACORN “association.” Wow! Exactly what “association” is that, honorable Senator from wherever? Did he ever go to an ACORN meeting? No. Draw a check from ACORN? No. Represent ACORN in court? No. What is the concern really? That he may have seen an ACORN banner somewhere at the same address in Chicago when he was meeting with the staff and board of SEIU 880?
It is no comfort that in most of the articles in the Times and the Wall Street Journal the excuses for going limp around workers’ rights were fears that he would use his position with the NLRB to “sneak” employee free choice and card check into effect through his decisions rather than in the meat grinder of Congress. Becker is good, but no one has explained how he would be able to manage that as only one of five votes! Probably the very fact that they were then “associating” with him would hypnotize them into voting for such a thing under his magical spell?
One of my blogs some weeks ago had also predicted the fact that Senator Blanche Lincoln would go south on labor votes after her health care commitment. She ran from this one with her tail between her legs for sure!
Whoops! Now that I think about it, she’s probably toast now, too. You know she’s the Senator from Arkansas, and Arkansas was where ACORN was founded almost 40 years ago, and all of us lived there at one time or another way back when, and it’s not a big state, so…
We were probably rolling together like dogs and couldn’t keep from scratching at the fleas.