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[original post 12/12/2010]

The woman known as the “Queen of Labor” is living up to her promise to focus on “building a sustaining progressive infrastructure.”  Anna Burger, former SEIU Secretary-Treasurer, has just joined the board of directors at the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action).

CAP Action is a sister organization to the liberal think tank, Center for American Progress.  While the Center for American Progress focuses on developing new policy ideas and on “critiquing the policy that stems from conservative values,”  CAP Action focuses on how to put those policies into action – by organizing liberal grassroots groups, labor unions and other progressive partners as advocates.

John Podesta, Chairman of the Board of Directors for CAP Action, offered the following statement in the organization’s December 9th press release:

“The Center for American Progress Action Fund is pleased to welcome Anna Burger to our Board of Directors. She has been a longtime friend of the Center for American Progress and CAP Action and we’re very happy that she has agreed to help us advance our mission by serving in this new capacity.

Anna Burger has been fighting hard for progressive ideas and policies for nearly 40 years, including the visionary leadership she has provided for the progressive movement over the past decade. We face numerous opportunities and many challenges over the next two years and look forward to Anna’s help in charting our course. As we continue to push for an economy built on a strong middle class that works for all Americans, Anna’s continued leadership and experience could not come at a more important time.”

In addition to her previous post at SEIU, Burger has held many prominent positions that have played significant roles in advancing the progressive movement, including:



[original post 5/24/2010]

If you haven’t read by now all the headlines on this story, you’ll want to start at the beginning and read the first post, SEIU Storms Private Residence, Terrorizes Teenage Son of Bank of America Exec.  Because as each day passes, new facts are popping up.  The story seemed so outrageous at first.  After all, the thought of over 500 screaming and chanting protesters surrounding a Bank of America lawyer’s private residence while the man’s teenage son, home alone, hid frightened inside a bathroom – it’s just so extreme, even by SEIU’s standards.

I knew something was up when the following day, Fortune magazine editor Nina Easton, a neighbor of the targeted residence, published an account of the incident and was almost immediately attacked by what seemed like practically a coordinated dogpile of writers from several specific sources.

In almost mirror fashion to the Town Hall events last August, when both the Huffington Post and Media Matters seemingly tried to cover up and dismiss the violent acts that SEIU committed against Kenneth Gladney, the same players were again out in full force.  As our Larry O’Connor wrote, both outlets behaved less like journalists and more like arms of the SEIU press office, dismissing SEIU’s bad behavior and attacking an innocent party with fabricated conflicts of interest as a method of distraction and intimidation.

payne-podestaBob Borosage, Erica Payne, and John Podesta


And now we learn this:  Erica Payne, the guest who was invited to appear Friday on Megyn Kelley’s Fox News show and proceeded to blame the Tea Parties for the behavior of SEIU?  She was co-founder of Democracy Alliance, the very organization that spawned and is a donor to Media Matters.  SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger is also the Vice-Chair of its Board.


[original post 5/21/2010]

Alinsky Rule #12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

Nina Easton just became the left’s latest target.  Why?  So that SEIU can hide from the truth about its financial liabilities to Bank of America (more on that after the jump).


Easton, a Washington Editor for Fortune Magazine, wrote a column early morning Wednesday, addressing the outrageous protest organized by SEIU and National People’s Action, where 700 protesters stormed the front lawn of the private residence of Greg Baer, deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America.

As I wrote in my post yesterday, “SEIU Storms Private Residence, Terrorizes Teenage Son of Bank of America Exec,” Easton is actually a neighbor of Baer.  When she was startled by the loud, screaming, bullhorn-rattling protesters, she called Baer’s teenage son to check on him.  Home alone, the frightened teenager had locked himself in the bathroom.  After witnessing the entire incident as it unfolded on her neighbor’s private property, Easton criticized the SEIU and left wing groups in her article for crossing the line this time.

Alinsky’s Rule # 12 states,

“Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)”

In almost coordinated lock-step fashion, the 12th Rule was promptly and firmly applied.  As Larry O’Connor posted on Big Journalism yesterday, a series of several posts soon followed the publication of Nina Easton’s article:

  • Late Wednesday evening, John Vandeventer of SEIU posted “Nina Easton & the Bank Lobbyists: Too Close for Comfort” in response.  Conveniently, Vandeventer distracts readers by recounting the sob stories of foreclosure “victims”, then quickly focuses the attention on Easton and polarizes his target.  He proceeds to play a guilt by association game to tie her husband to Bank of America through Business Roundtable.  You can read my post from yesterday about that here.
  • Then came Arthur Delaney’s piece from the Huffington Post, with the headline: “Nina Easton, Fortune Columnist, Compares Bank Protesters To ‘God Hates Fags’ Group.”  He ends his piece with a link to an open letter to Easton penned by Al Marshall, SEIU Local 1021 shop steward in Oakland, CA.  Marshall begins his letter by mentioning that he flew out to DC for the protest  from CA because “Wall Street caused” his wife to lose her job, and then him and his wife to lose their house.  (I’d like to know how he could possibly afford those plane tickets, in that case).  The whole tenor of the post is undoubtedly less jovial than his prior day’s, when he gleefully bragged about the whole event.
  • And then, the much anticipated and expected Media Matters post: “Attacking SEIU, Nina Easton fails to disclose husband’s ties to Bank of America“.

Of all of the responses, not a single one of the posts actually addresses any of the issues. None will account for the fact that the protesters were on the private property of a private citizen, though Vandeventer tries to rationalize their actions as acceptable because the police supposedly followed the crowd to the location.  Then, he paints the picture that Baer is lurking in the crowd trying to blend in; rather, the man was trying to get to his front door without creating a scene so that he could get to his frightened son inside as quickly as possible.


[original post 5/20/2010]

By now, you’ve probably seen the mob-scene that developed on the front lawn of the private residence of Greg Baer, deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America.  This was planned for some time by the SEIU as part of a larger national event, their Showdown on K Street, which was shared with National People’s Action and thousands of other activists from and other left-wing groups.

Prior to the main event on K Street in Washington DC, SEIU and company made a little pit stop.  According to Fortune magazine Washington editor Nina Easton, 14 busloads of riled up protesters unloaded on Baer’s private property and stormed up to his doorstep, while his teenage son was home alone.  Easton is a neighbor of Baer’s and had called to check on her neighbor’s son when she heard and saw all the commotion outside. Easton writes,

“Waving signs denouncing bank “greed,” hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer’s steps, and onto his front porch. As bullhorns rattled with stories of debtor calls and foreclosed homes, Baer’s teenage son Jack — alone in the house — locked himself in the bathroom. “When are they going to leave?” Jack pleaded when I called to check on him.

Baer, on his way home from a Little League game, parked his car around the corner, called the police, and made a quick calculation to leave his younger son behind while he tried to rescue his increasingly distressed teen. He made his way through a din of barked demands and insults from the activists who proudly “outed” him, and slipped through his front door.

“Excuse me,” Baer told his accusers, “I need to get into the house. I have a child who is alone in there and frightened.”

Imagine what you would have done if your child were inside that house and that mob was on your front lawn as you tried to reach him.


[original post 4/26/2010]

A Look Back at the History of Democracy Alliance, and a Look Ahead at Where We’re Going

“Where were you when George Bush was President?”   You know that question well.  It’s been asked of each of us more times than any of us would care to count.  Do you know how I usually answer it?

I was home, enjoying my life.  I went to work every day and focused on doing the best job that I could do.  When I wasn’t working, I hung out with family and friends.  I went to baseball games, and barbecues, and obscure little hole-in-the-wall joints to hear some of my favorite live music over a couple of Guinnesses.  Yum.

Why?  Because while George Bush was president, we had a media establishment that was challenging our government, not our citizens.


I wasn’t necessarily happy with the direction of the country in those days.  But I could sleep at night, knowing that we had media that pressed George Bush and our Congress on every single issue.  I could know at any given moment what the “death count” was in Iraq because just about every channel splashed a persistent counter in the bottom corner of the television screen.  When bills like the Patriot Act were first introduced in Congress, I never lacked for any detail on the dangers of the legislation.  There was barely a single detail that went uncovered in the daily political grind.  When there was a scandal to research and report, I certainly never had to do that myself.  There were reporters who did all that.

Yep, I’m actually missing the Bush days now.  I had so much more free time.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always done my homework and researched issues on my own anyway.  I recognize that all media is biased to some degree (and has been for quite some time).  But I could always count on the media to challenge the government in the days of George Bush.  I wrote my fair share of letters, I called and complained about the spending, even attended a few protests, but I can’t say that I ever felt there just wasn’t anyone challenging the president in the mainstream media.  Quite the contrary, there was never any lack of DC pushback from the collective press in those days.

But we live in extraordinary times today.  There now exists this giant, open cavity where that healthy pushback against government used to be.  And when the mainstream media stepped away from that opening in 2008, two things happened: