My ACORN story

I know it has become as unfashionable for progressives to bash ACORN as it has been fashionable for anti-progressives to use the group for target practice.  But has anyone heard from the middle?  From a semi-conservative progressive who is impressed by neither side of the ACORN argument — nor with ACORN itself?

I am one such person.  If you’ve been reading this blog you know that I used to work in the healthcare industry, and that I had an ACORN story that I would tell eventually.  Now is the time.

It all started when the SEIU decided that a group of  hospitals in our region, all run by the same “non-profit” corporation and none unionized, were the bad guy because, well, they weren’t unionized.  Never mind that the majority of the healthcare professionals in those hospitals wanted nothing to do with a union, and a large number of them had joined that hospital system to get away from unions.  (Yes, I know.  I asked a lot of them.)

I’ll throw in an aside: I now work for a non-healthcare-related, nonunionized company where they treat us extraordinarily well.  The SEIU is trying to push their way into our company even though we don’t want them.  I cringe at the thought of this, because I know what will happen eventually.

When the SEIU finds that it is not wanted by the very people it is supposed to “help,” it gets pissy.  It does this by inventing stories, usually making charges about racism, gender inequality, and more recently, “anti-immigrant” (meaning anti-illegal immigrant) against their target’s management.  Since most newspapers and other media outlets are unionized, they are sympathetic to the SEIU’s lies and actually make an issue of them to the public, no matter how ridiculous the lies may be. 

Sometimes this works.  Often it does not.

Here’s a story about one time when it did not work.  This was the time the SEIU teamed up with ACORN to bring this hospital system to its knees. 

For months prior to this event, the SEIU had been planting horror stories about this hospital system in the media, claiming that its employees were mistreated, the hospitals were understaffed, and that its care was about as good as the care one would get in a tent in a third-world country.  (Never mind that at least one of the hospitals in the system was in the top 10 in the country.)  Moreover, the SEIU claimed that this hospital system underserved or did not serve poor areas of the region, never mind that supposedly rich people seemed to be thrilled with the care they were receiving in the third-world tents, and also the fact that very few people remain “rich” after dealing with the U.S.’s healthcare system.

This is where they teamed up with ACORN.  What ACORN did, probably with a fat contribution from the SEIU, was hire busses.  They gathered illegal immigrants, all of a certain “race” (how’s that for reverse racism?) and put them on the busses.  At least one of these poor suckers was promised a free kidney transplant; the rest were promised free healthcare for their sniffles.  Then they headed for one of of the system’s emergency rooms.  (They did this more than once; what I’m talking about here was the time they caused the biggest mess by doing so.)

Mind you there were over 100 people on those busses, and they all flooded the emergency room at once.  Most emergency rooms are not equipped to handle such an influx.  Neither was this one. 

So what happened was that as this started, either the SEIU or ACORN, I forget which, called the media to witness the “mistreatment” of these poor immigrants at the hands of this wealthy and selfish hospital system.  Mind you I am not totally on the side of the hospital system, either — but in this case, they had the facts on their side.  ACORN and the SEIU did not.

Of course chaos ensued.  Local people with real health problems were turned away as the emergency room was forced to close its doors.  And when the doors were reopened hours later, some very sad stories emerged.  I’ll share two of them.

The illegal who was told he’d be given a free kidney transplant was confused and hurt when he was presented with this fact: that particular hospital did not perform kidney transplants.  At all.  Ever.  As I remember, someone in ACORN tried to make it seem as if they were merely denying a kidney transplant to an illegal alien because he was of a certain race, or he was poor, or he was illegal, or whatever.  But they were tripped up by the facts, or rather, one fact: that hospital did not perform organ transplants.  Period.

This story did, in fact, make it into the media with a brief, side-of-the-mouth mention of the fact that the facility in question did not perform kidney transplants.  I have another story that did not.

There was a regular patient of the hospital who had been sent to the ER by his doctor because the patient had expressed serious suicidal thoughts.  The patient was to stay there, closely watched, until he could be examined by a psychiatrist and treated.

During the ACORN/SEIU melee, this patient slipped out the door.

Now you know why I have a problem with ACORN, and why I was not surprised when they were exposed in a sting operation, however dubious it may have been. 

However, I do not believe that they single-handedly caused the worldwide financial meltdown, and my lack of support for them does not indicate support for the current Republican witchhunt.  Anyone reading this blog regularly knows me better than that.

Still, I believe the world wouldn’t miss ACORN if it suddenly disappeared.  Definitely I wouldn’t.

P.S., yes, ACORN qualifies for the Stupid of the Day award.  No, they will not be getting it because they’d be hogging it every day for years.

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Free to be indoctrinated (by the right)

I dropped in at an elderly relative’s house just long enough to hear about 5 minutes of the Michael Medved show today.  It was enough.

Apparently Medved is all for no separation between church and state.  He gets riled if the Constitution is followed and the two are separated.  Then, he claims, not HIS Constitutional rights, but the rights of KIDS IN COLLEGE (YIKES those poor CHILDREN) are being violated.

I don’t even give this the Stupid of the Day award.  I give this the What the Fuck award.  If you want your college-age kids indoctrinated, there are plenty of church-related colleges to send them to.  If you just want them educated, you send them to non-church-related colleges.  That’s called “freedom of religion.”

I refuse to post the name of the organization he promotes that “works to protect our freedom” by, apparently, keeping any mention of Barack Obama out of our schools, and also by promoting use of the Bible as a textbook in say, science classes.

Or how about having church interfere with your medical affairs?  Women have that dubious privilege already.  Medved thinks we need more of that kind of freedom of intervention — but apparently, only if the Right is doing the intervening and you have to pay a hefty insurance premium to access medical care at all — that is, if you can get insurance.

Freedom of thought is not what Medved wants.  Apparently what he wants is what his show seems to support (judging by the 5 minutes I heard, plus a brief visit to his website): freedom from thought.

Oh, so he’s just another right-wing flapping jaw, you say?  Why is this blogger getting so bent out of shape?  Well, let me tell you: it’s because activities like Medved’s are irresponsible and they are not without harm.

There is a growing movement in this country that is demanding that right-wing broadcasters be subjected to the same sort of FCC scrutiny that, I can tell you from personal experience, we used to get at a small radio station I once worked at.  This was way back in the 1970’s, a bit before the radio airwaves were completely taken over by corporations.  Back in those last days of independence, all FM-radio rock stations were suspected of promoting drugs and lawlessness.  Mostly drugs.  This was at the tail end of the hippie culture, after all.

Honestly we never could have gotten away with any kind of anti-government rhetoric at all, not that we tried.   Hell, we would get threatening phone calls from the FCC if we so much as missed a time check. 

These right-wing broadcasters, on the other hand, are making far more serious violations against their govenment and fellow citizens every day lately.  At the very least, they sputter nonsense like Medved’s, and the nonsense goes unapologized for, unquestioned, and uncorrected.  At the worst, they promote violence.

Okay, FCC, why the silence?  That’s what this movement is asking, especially since one of the major ringleaders of right-wing media in the U.S. is actually from Australia.

Don’t think you’ve heard the last of this, kiddos, because I’ve only just begun.  And if you still doubt what I’m saying, see this.

Paul Krugman and Depression Economics

Not much of a post here, just a link to an interview done by Rachel Maddow

It starts out talking about Palin.  Of course someone held their camera-phone up during her speech in China.  And I’m glad they did, because it puts to rest any rumors that she did a good job (I am, in fact, thoroughly irritated that this bitch called herself a representative of “Main Street,” and that’s not even the major problem with what she said). 

She seems completely out to lunch until she comes to the subject of bank deregulation.  Then, she might be making sense by some stretch of the imagination — especially if you are a banker and she’s saying what you want to hear.

But in this interview you hear the other side of the story, the one that makes sense even after you strip away the gosh-gee-golly-wow and the god-awful “folksy” intonations. (which aren’t exactly Krugman’s forte, anyway; I’m talking about what happens when you strip Palin’s ideas on the subject of economics of her squeaky-cutsey act and beehive hairdo). 

Krugman’s view is not pretty or reassuring; it is depressing– especially if you are a banker or big-time investor.  But it is the truth.  And that is just one of many things Sarah Palin knows very little about.

Bill Moyers on Dick Armey

It seems like every day I wake up and find out about yet another right-wing operative who opposes healthcare while receiving it himself, often at taxpayers’ expense.  See this Bill Moyers commentary.

On the positive side, I didn’t want to be asked to believe that Glenn Beck and Fox News were solely responsible for even the mere 70,000 or so blinkered idiots who all somehow managed to find Washington D.C. at the same time a few weeks back.  I’m glad to know my hunch was right, even if yet another right-wing poltergeist sprung up out of the sewer as the revelation was made.

Right-wingers will hit this blog, as they often do, while searching for a comforting dismissal of Bill Moyers’ latest “rant;” here’s hoping they will be sorely disappointed.  They deserve nothing better.  They are now our enemies, forcing the wedge of their loudly shouted, wildly irrational fears between the rest of the nation and any hope for progress.  

Most left-wingers (save a few left wingnuts) and moderates, on the other hand, are busy blogging about their own disbelief at the madness we are witnessing — too busy, it seems, to stand together and fight in any visible fashion. 

It is starting to look as if the “Billionaires for Wealthcare” are the only ones getting the message out the way it needs to get out: with humor, but also with urgency — and a bullhorn or two.  (Edit: some other folks are now picking up on the “Billionaires'” tactics; see this video.)  It seems like it is now up to them and also up to a few sane, measured media figures like Moyers and Maddow, as well as a few more openly passionate ones like Olbermann and even the pretend-anchor Jon Stewart, to try to get the message across that improving access to healthcare won’t kill anyone.

Outing the rabble-rousers and out-shouting the shouters, using their own rhetoric to ridicule them, is almost too easy.  But it’s all we can do.  Let’s just hope it’s enough.

Frank Schaeffer: a Must-Read

This is the prologue of Frank Schaeffer’s upcoming new book, Patience With God.  If you read nothing else today, you must read this.  It contains little-known truths that must be known, to save us all.  And that is no exaggeration.

Prologue

And here is Schaeffer’s interview with Rachel Maddow, during which he lays it on the line about how dangerous the evangelicals have become: Maddow.

So?

A well-meaning wingnut sent me this e-mail today:

URGENT WARNING!!  MUSLIM PRAYER MEETING ON THE WHITE HOUSE GROUNDS – CHECK THE LAST LINE OF THE VIDEO.  (My note: that’s not strictly a video, asshole, that’s a web page that includes a video with some god-awful yodeling on it.)

With all the taking of God out of our schools, courts, sports events,etc…… Why are they allowed this privilege?   (My note: there goes that damn Constitution again…)

Washington , D.C. –  On September 25th there will be a national prayer gathering of Muslims on the west front of the U.S. Capitol Building.  They are expecting at least 50,000 to attend from mosques all across America . They will gather to pray  from 4:00 AM until 7:00 PM. The gathering will take place by the site where U.S. Presidents have been inaugurated since 1981.   (My note: Yep.  So?)
          
  The organizers say that it was Obama’s inauguration speech in January and his speech broadcast from Egypt in June that gave them  the idea for this prayer gathering on Capitol Hill.
  (My reply: Oh, so that’s why it’s all Obama’s fault?  Really?)

They have  a website set up for this event. If you never  look at another website look at this one, especially the final  words:
www.islamoncapitolhill.com

My reply: So?  Read on if you want to know about something that should really scare you.

Have you heard of Dominionism?  That’s a far bigger, much more almost mainstream threat to this country than Islam, simply because it is, like Sarah Palin (who is one of its members), socially acceptable in certain mainstream quarters. It claims to be Christian-based, after all.

Further, do you know anything about the National Day of Prayer?  (Also see this.)  Yes, Obama banned it, possibly because it was becoming a mostly political event — the Evangelical National Convention, if you will.  

Put all this together, and it seems Washington D.C. is awash in prayer just about every day– and it’s usually from those who would, as I just said, transform the U.S. into a “Christian” theocracy.   Gosh, that’s comforting.  Not.

 (As an aside, it has recently become apparent that your hero Bush liked the evangelicals, or “Domininists,” as much as he liked Sarah Palin.  Look it up while I snicker.) 
  
As for this Muslim thing, chances are that they won’t even be able to gather as many of their own together as the numbers of Beck’s dummies who turned out in Washington last Saturday, protesting not-even-they-knew-what.  That’s the point: just about any group barring those Nazi’s that the wingnuts don’t know whether to love or hate can gather in Washington D.C. if they get the proper permits
 
P.S.: Yes, I read the site.  Looks like this is just another oppressed minority group parading their oppression as publicly as possible, and probably enjoying it as well.  In its way, it is as American as apple pie.  Just look at the Christian Right, who imagine themselves to be an oppressed minority when in fact they are merely a very large and stupid minority who actually aren’t oppressed enough.

Well yes. He IS a jackass.

I guess Obama got caught calling a…what is this guy, a singer?  Whatever.  He called the guy a jackass because the guy nabbed some girl’s MTV award, or whatever the hell it was, right on the stage in front of everyone and started fussing about…something.

As you can tell, I’m out of touch with the current music industry, and am likely to remain so for the rest of my life.  It just doesn’t interest me; hasn’t since the Grammys turned into a fashion show, which was much longer ago than you’d probably guess.  Music awards never reward anything other than sales, after all, so you may as well look good — or at least, acceptably strange — while accepting your salesmanship prize.

Which is to say that I’m disappointed that Obama chose to address this matter at all.  It’s beneath him.  He should leave all that starry stuff to the Republicans, who are deeply concerned about such things.

The only reason I’m commenting on this is that it makes for an interesting dilemma for the right wingnuts: Obama, the Nazi-communist-fascist-Kenyan-Moslem, called another black man a “jackass.”

If he called a white country singer a “jackass,” oooooooohhhhh boy he could resign right now — even if that white country singer had, say, disrupted the Grand Ole Opry with a machine gun just to display his right to bear arms.  But it wasn’t that.  It was a black guy who sings pop. 

I can’t wait to see their angle on this one.  I mean, they can’t agree with him, can they?  Can’t exactly call for him to be censured, either.  But they can’t act like they don’t care, because — after all — celebrities are a very real and vital part of their existence, like unicorns.

Maybe this confused silence thus far is a good thing.  But I doubt it.