Retiring One Halloween Election Boogie Man: ACORN!

cover-boogeymanNew Orleans   With the election here, the voter registration period is pretty much over in most states, except for those favored few who have same day registration, so it’s safe to finally talk about it a bit more and make some notes about some of the things that make 2014’s midterms different from elections over the last half-dozen years.

One difference that has been huge is that the Republican Party’s voter suppression effort has been so successful in some many states that even the fire breathers at Fox News and what’s left of the Tea People and other far right zealots seem to have finally slacked off on their efforts to make ACORN the boogieman for this election.  Google Alerts on ACORN have finally calmed down to a low murmur, rather than the high pitched roar of recent years. Of course James O’Keefe, the video-scammer is still trying to get a free lunch from ACORN and announced that he had set up an election PAC this season, but it was quickly buried in a universal yawn that escaped from the now perpetual sneer which now seems to be the universal response from the American public to his perpetual shenanigans.

This season the big ACORN news from the Google team was the splash made by Ottawa ACORN on their candidates’ forum!  By the way did any of you even realize the Toronto mayor’s election happened and the Ford family finally lost?

Of course it’s not completely over.  Some old reliable sources still take their best shot, but it is more often now on local races.  The New York Post wanted to make sure their readers knew that the “re-branded ACORN” New York Communities for Change was active in setting up a campaign committee in conjunction with New York State unions to impact the election of friendly legislators to implement their programs.  An ACORN-fixated blogger took a stab at trying to link another rebranded ACORN affiliate in Missouri to the Ferguson controversies, but never got traction there either.

Part of this trend is something less than good news.  The progressive forces are now seen more aggressively in local and state campaigns and less on the national arena perhaps where ACORN was a factor, particularly with its massive voter registration efforts. Races like the campaign in Richmond, California where city councils and mayors are trying to forge new public policies and take on corporations, like Chevron, are increasingly important.  Interviewing Tom Butt, a 19-year city councilman and now candidate for Mayor on Wade’s World  on KABF, recently, it was easy to feel the excitement.  Seeing the role of the Working Families Party aligning itself with Mayor de Blasio and a number of progressives and labor unions to remake the state legislature is vital and exciting.  There are a number of state minimum wage campaigns which could play important roles in turnout though no one seems to be watching this as closely as they might.

There’s still a huge gap with the absence of ACORN in the United States, but seeing the action on some of these political struggles and the inability of the right to continue to scare organizers and others by simply calling up the ACORN boogieman this Halloween, gives all of us more hope for the future

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Please enjoy the Song of the Month from Musicians United to Protect Bristol Bay, Si Kahn’s Mount Polley

Si Kahn’s Mount Polley – On August 4, 2014, the containment dam at Mount Polley Mine, British Columbia breached sending 2.64 billion gallons of wastewater and 1.36 billion gallons of solid tailings with a smorgasbord of toxins into local waterways. The facility that failed was designed by the same firm that is working on Pebble’ Mine’s tailings dam. The Mount Polley environmental catastrophe serves as a direct warning to us.

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How Can We Afford a Lame Duck Treasury Secretary?

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

New Orleans   Yes, I understand the politics and for reasons that are easy to guess but terrible to live through, President Obama at this late date can’t push his disastrous failure of a Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to the curb despite the fact that he is owned from head to toe by Wall Street, wears a bank ankle bracelet that keeps him from moving away from their wishes, and has been codependent in extending the housing crisis and thwarting any meaningful effort at modifications in home valuation or foreclosures.  For Obama to finally concede the disaster of Geithner his advisers would argue would be to show weakness, so we have to suffer through and Obama may lose this election and hopes for a second term with Geithner hanging around his neck.   Add to this horror that Geithner has already conceded he will be gone if there is a second term, so he’s a lame duck when we need a stud duck at Treasury.

Now we even have a building consensus shared by both the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times that Geithner must go.  They come to the conclusion perhaps for different reasons but nonetheless with the same result.  The LIBOR scandal has brought them together and should rally all of us.  LIBOR, as most know now, is the London Inter Bank Offer Rate, which was supposed to be a benchmark standard for interest rates in trillions of transactions because it was really a plaything for both big bank trading desks and executive suites at Barclays and other huge banks who wanted to conceal their weaknesses from the world and their investors.

Geithner as head of the New York Federal Reserve knew there was monkey business before Obama became President when he was still one of the small, but significant, wrenches in the Bush Administration toolbox.  He sent a letter to the equivalent of the British federal reserve making some suggestions for things they might do if they felt like it and when they got around to it.  Clearly all of them thought that this chicanery was small potatoes give the level of criminal conspiracies they were watching threaten the entire global economic system with subprimes and credit defaults.   It wasn’t and everyone (see above!) admits that now.  Obama under a different calculation could cashier Geithner for what he did as a Bush boy and fib about his contribution to the current disasters while sending him away for the earlier crimes in sort of a Penn State/NCAA maneuver.

But he won’t, because we’ve learned that’s just not how he rolls.

At the least we should start seeing a new “star” at Treasury who becomes the de facto secretary and heralds the kinds of changes we should be able to expect if there is a second Obama Administration.  Even his advisors should be on the right page with me on this.  There needs to be some fancy footwork that sends the signals that change in some different directions is on the way.

You remember that whole “Hope” thing?  We need some of that now!

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Judge Stops Florida Voter Suppression and Anti-Registration Law

Springfield   This late in the game with an election looming in the critical, battleground state of Florida a lot of the damage is already done since the clock has already moved to the 11th hour in terms of registering new voters.  Nonetheless, a federal judge in Florida finally will bring some justice to the matter by demanding a halt to several of the more draconian efforts by the state and its Republican majorities to suppress votes.

Some of Judge Robert Hinkle’s order bordered on the sarcastic according to the Times:

Judge Hinkle, however, banned a significant rule that forced third-party voter registration groups to turn in completed forms within 48 hours or risk fines, calling the measure too vague.

“If the goal is to discourage voter registration drives and thus also to make it harder for new voters to register, this may work,” the judge wrote.

“Otherwise there is little reason for such a requirement.”

The ruling also opposed a provision of the law that opens up volunteers to possible felony charges if they registered ineligible voters, even if unknowingly.

Both of those requirements are likely to be found unconstitutional, Judge Hinkle wrote.

Yes, your honor, the Republican law-fakers might have said, were they honest about, that is exactly our intention:  we want the access to voting to be us and our buddies, not the poor working stiffs and low income families for goodness sakes!

The Judge was clear in another way as well:

“Allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter registration drives — thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote — promotes democracy,” wrote Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Federal District Court in the order granting a temporary injunction.

What can we say, but, we told you so!

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