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Front Page » Authors » Bio for John Atlas » Archives for John Atlas

By John Atlas on February 3, 2011

John F. Kennedy famously said: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

With you I am watching the people of Egypt and other Arab nations try to step out from under the boot of tyranny. I hope it’s not too late for Obama to seek out and support the civic activists throughout the Middle East who want justice, and to live in a free society.

While many in the Islamic world, including those in the streets, are dangerous anti-American and anti-Israel religious fanatics, to the surprise of most Americans I bet, many others are concerned about getting things like good jobs and their children an education.

Many involved in the demonstrations are poor, factory workers and jobless. But also on the front lines are professors, members of soccer clubs, workers in human rights groups, and in places like the Al-Nakheel Association for Women and Children. They are journalists, lawyers, religious moderates, secular leftists, union organizers, bloggers, filmmakers and artists, some of whom, from their space in the civil society, have fought the despots, without much help from the United States, and usually paid dearly.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Atlas on January 19, 2011

After the horrible Tucson shooting, John McCain and even Roger Ailes, the Fox News president, joined President Obama's call for a more civil discourse. Ailes told his anchors and reporters to “tone it down.” McCain agreed with the President’s call for “… every American who participates in our political debates… to aspire to a more generous appreciation of one another and a more modest one of ourselves.”

But if the recent history of ACORN is a guide to the future, Obama’s attempt to jolt the nation into civility, something we desperately need, will fail. And unless Obama fights to protect his base from the upcoming attacks by the Right, he will undermine our chance for a resurgent movement based on respect, equality and democracy.

Imagine how Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News commentators from Sarah Palin to Glen Beck would have responded to the Tucson violence if we discovered the gunman had some connection to ACORN, the group demonized by conservatives as a dangerous, even criminal organization.

Would they have pushed their current talking points about the assassin being a lone wolf, a paranoid schizophrenic completely unaffected by the political rhetoric of the left?

Read more of this post here ...

By John Atlas on December 12, 2010

Are you demoralized by November’s election and Obama’s retreat on the Bush tax cuts? One group of activists is fighting back against the Glenn Becks, Andrew Breitbarts and the rest of the Fox News propaganda machine. Last week a new watchdog group, www.IndictBreitbart.org, launched a campaign to encourage Baltimore’s new State’s Attorney to prosecute right wing activists Andrew Breitbart, James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles for violating a Maryland law, which prohibits surreptitious recordings and disclosure of those recordings.

If the group is successful, it will be a step toward stopping the conservative media’s modus operandi of using lies, half truths, and video deception to attack everyone from George Sores to ACORN to unions, to civic organizations and their innocent members. It might also help discourage the mainstream media from repeating their false accusations, as they did in the case of ACORN and the New Jersey Teacher's Union.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Atlas on October 26, 2010

A raging debate has ensued around whether NPR correctly fired Juan Williams because his remarks were inconsistent with editorial. Some say Williams undermined his credibility as a news analyst. Others accuse NPR of bungling its response and stifling free speech. What’s been missing in the debate over his firing is this.

Immediately after National Public Radio fired Williams because of his remarks about Muslims, Fox Cable’s Bill O’Reilly said, “This is like the ACORN deal — no more money to NPR. NPR has now devolved into a totalitarian outfit functioning as an arm of the far left.”

The Republican leadership and the right wing echo chamber followed O’Reilly’s call for the federal defunding of National Public Radio. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., announced plans to introduce legislation to strip federal funds from NPR because it fired Williams. According to DeMint, NPR received $4 billion in federal money since 2001 and will get $430 million in the 2011. Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor and nearly every Republican running for office this year promised to seek an end to taxpayer subsidies for NPR and public television.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Atlas on September 30, 2010

James O’Keefe, the conservative activist known for manipulating the mainstream media by making undercover videos that helped destroy the progressive community group ACORN, plotted to humiliate CNN and its investigative journalist Abby Boudreau.

He planned to record a meeting using hidden cameras aboard a floating "palace of pleasure" where he would seduce Boudreau and make sexually suggestive comments, according to CNN.

O’Keefe, a convicted federal criminal, tried to lure Boudreau onto a boat filled with sexually explicit props and then record the sessions. CNN documents and interviews yesterday suggest that O'Keefe had secretly, and illegally, taped phone calls he had with Boudreau.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Atlas on August 30, 2010

A week after Katrina hit New Orleans, Federal Government officials and private relief organizations were still discussing how to send aid to the area. ACORN, which had been organizing low-income and working class residents in the city since the 1978, had already moved into action.

Banks were giving their middle-class, mostly white customers ninety days or more to make their payments, but borrowers who had subprime, high-interest loans (like many black homeowners in the Lower Ninth Ward) were given only one month. Three weeks after the storm devastated the city, ACORN released a report, "How the sub prime mortgage industry is sandbagging Katrina-affected homeowners," to expose the industry's double standard. After the media publicized the report, ACORN—along with labor unions and consumer groups—demanded meetings with the banks and sub prime lenders and successfully negotiated plans to prevent foreclosures for dozens of homeowners.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Atlas on July 19, 2010

Last week a group called New York Communities for Change (NYCC) joined with New York City Comptroller John Liu and seven of New York's largest unions to demand that Wall Street's biggest banks reform their loan modification policies so families facing foreclosure will not lose their homes. If other groups follow our country we might make a big dent in the foreclosure crisis.

NYCC and its sister organization, Mutual Housing Association of New York, have been working with foreclosure victims [http://www.nycommunities.org/foreclosure} neighborhoods like St. Albans in Queens, or Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn not far from Wall Street, where homeowners have been forced to make impossible choices: keep up their skyrocketing mortgage payments or provide their families with food and clothing .
Members of the group are angry at banks, who have been painfully slow to offer loan modifications, or simply refuse to lift a finger to help vulnerable families and neighborhoods to avoid foreclosure. Some banks often screw homeowners by sending numerous requests for already-submitted documents, and then foreclose on the hapless homeowner because the banks falsely claim that they never got those same documents!

The federal government’s attempt to solve the foreclosure crisis has failed.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Atlas on June 15, 2010

On Monday, June 14, a preliminary probe by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) of ACORN has found no evidence the association or related organizations mishandled the $40 million in federal money they received in recent years.

A review of grants by nine federal agencies found no problems with ACORN's grants. In my new book, Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America's Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group, I document how ACORN, the largest most successful national anti poverty organization in America, was forced to close its door.

The GAO, an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, is often called the "congressional watchdog." It investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Atlas on May 27, 2010

What's the difference between James O'Keefe, who made national headlines with his ACORN undercover video, and ACORN? O'Keefe is a criminal and ACORN is not. Yesterday O'Keefe pleaded guilty to charges of entering federal property under false pretenses when he attempted to embarrass Senator Mary Landrieu because of her support for the health care legislation. O'Keefe, along with three co-defendants, said their goal was to show that the Senator's office phones were working, yet people opposed to health care reform could not get through to register their opinions. He was sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $1,500 fine.

Despite numerous official investigations and innuendos by the extremists, like Republicans Rep. Darrell Issa (CA), the Ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, ACORN has never been convicted of a crime. Issa released a report in 2009 falsely accusing ACORN of hiding "behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy ... to manipulate the American electorate."

Read more of this post here ...

By John Atlas on March 25, 2010

(Co-authored with Peter Dreier)

The New York Times hit ACORN with a one-two punch last weekend, making sure that the community organizing group -- flattened by attacks from the right and withdrawal of funding from liberal foundations -- stays knocked out. Both articles -- Ian Urbana's Saturday story, "Acorn on Brink of Bankruptcy, Officials Say" and public editor Clark Hoyt's Sunday column, "The Acorn Sting Revisited" -- reflect the paper's obsession with being so even-handed that the truth gets lost.

Both pieces reported conservative allegations against ACORN as if they were true, without seeking to verify them. Yet since 2008 the paper has consistently ignored ACORN's community organizing successes while focusing on its enemies' accusations, belying its reputation as a "liberal" newspaper

This reflects the Times' more general failure to cover grassroots organizing, except when groups engage in protest or otherwise disrupt business-as-usual.

Read more of this post here ...

More blog posts by John Atlas:

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This is an archive for John Atlas. To learn more about this author, you can also read a Biography for John Atlas here.

Just a few of most current posts by John Atlas are excerpted in the center of this page.

However, we do have links, below, to all of the entries ever published by this author.

To browse archived entries by John Atlas, just scroll down this same sidebar column. You'll see the links for all of this author's blog entries, grouped by month and year.

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