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Hucksterism and Self-Dealing at the Sierra Club: Environmentalists rake in big bucks from Global Warming activism and the War on Coal

Hucksterism and Self-Dealing at the Sierra Club
Environmentalists rake in big bucks from Global Warming activism and the War on Coal [pdf here]

By David W. Schnare

Summary: The Sierra Club and its sister foundation have abandoned their traditional charitable mission of conserving America’s wilderness lands in order to chase dollars that can be had for themselves and their leaders and donors by engaging in business activities—including promoting some businesses at the expense of other businesses. They have left not only their mission but the law governing nonprofits far behind.

When a group like the Sierra Club morphs from a mainstream conservation group into a radical “green” organization, you would expect it to take extreme positions on the issues with which it deals. But you might be surprised by the extent to which the tax-exempt Sierra Club, its affiliated foundation (also tax-exempt), and its board members gain financially from the War on Coal and other causes the Club supports.

The Sierra Club generates about a million dollars a year in taxable unrelated business income on which there is no evidence that it is paying taxes or intends to. Further, as a nonprofit organization, it may not compete with commercial businesses, yet there is clear evidence it does. The Club operates a store selling all manner of goods. Worse, the Club has become the marketing arm for two private companies selling solar panels. Each of these activities is suspect. None of these activities represents the core purposes of the Sierra Club. Both types of activities—direct sales in competition with for-profit businesses, and acting as the marketing arm for private companies—constitute participation in commercial business.

Both the Sierra Club and its affiliated Sierra Club Foundation, have received tax-exempt status Read all »

Harvard students: How stupid are they? (and the case of the Louisiana literacy test)

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

One of the great deceptions in American politics is that students at Ivy League schools such as Harvard know more about the great issues of the day than, say, students at a typical state university. In fact, a study conducted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute suggests that students at “elite” schools such as Harvard and Yale are less knowledgeable about economics, politics, and American history than students at other schools—and, incredibly, that seniors at Harvard and Yale and some other prestigious colleges and universities know less than freshmen at the same schools.

[Information on the ISI study is available at http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/2007/summary_summary.html. When I was editor of the magazine Tea Party Review magazine, I published an article about the study. It’s no longer available online, but I’m posting it below.]

Schools like Harvard and Yale are designed not to promote knowledge but to perpetuate an aristocracy. That is a task they perform well. Members of prominent political families, children of the rich, and other highly privileged kids attend such schools alongside a certain number of students who are genuinely gifted in physical sciences, the arts, and other fields (but not especially in fields directly related to public policy). The truly gifted children give cover to the privileged blockheads. Read all »

Labor Watch: Count the Votes at Gerawan

Count the Votes at Gerawan!
Farmworkers and the new civil rights struggle—the decertification of bad unions 

[PDF here]

By Matt Patterson

Summary: It’s a basic civil right: the ability of union members to get rid of a union if it no longer serves its members effectively. Today, that right is being denied to a group of farmworkers in California by officials who refuse to count the votes the workers cast in a decertification election. That denial of rights shows just how little respect the United Farm Workers, founded by Cesar Chavez, gives to its members.

On August 26, 2014, more than 1,000 angry farmworkers stormed a state labor board office in Visalia, California. For more than three hours, the mostly Latino, mostly immigrant crowd chanted for justice, carrying signs and wearing brightly colored shirts that advertised their cause.

Protests are nothing new in labor relations, of course. But these workers were not union members agitating for higher wages or better conditions. These workers, employed by the Fresno-based Gerawan Farming, Inc., were angrily denouncing California labor authorities for forcing them into a union, the United Farm Workers (UFW). They were protesting collusion between labor bosses and government bureaucrats to impose collective bargaining contracts on them against their will.

They were voicing their rejection of the union. They already had high wages and excellent working conditions, they said. They didn’t need the union, and wanted to dissociate themselves from the union. [Click HERE for the rest of the article]

They. Hate. You.

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and policy.]

Jonathan Gruber is not a bug. He’s a feature.

The people who run Washington are so-called Progressives—that is, they think that you are a bunch of rubes, ignorant hicks who need smart people like them to tell you how to live your life.

Needless to say, they’re a bunch of idiots. They’re “economists” who believe in Keynes and Obamacare, and “scientists” who believe in Global Warming theory.  They’re “Constitutional scholars” who oppose the very idea of Constitutional law, because Constitutional law protects people like you from bullies like them. They’re “public health experts” who believe in banning trans fats and jumbo sodas and e-cigs and non-bureaucrat-approved restaurant menus instead of protecting public health (that is, protecting the public from infectious diseases, like EV-D68 or, for that matter, the Ebola virus about which the President lied: Read all »

The Injustice Department: Eric Holder’s collaboration with the drug amnesty movement

The Injustice Department:  Eric Holder’s collaboration with the drug amnesty movement

By Barbara Joanna Lucas, Organization Trends, November 2014 (PDF to come)

Summary: The Justice Department under now-retiring Attorney General Eric Holder has been, as Holder brags, aggressively “activist.” It routinely collaborates with left-wing activist groups on multiple fronts: fighting voter ID laws, preventing enforcement of immigration laws, and covering up scandals like “Fast and Furious” and the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. One top priority for its George Soros-funded allies: working to grant amnesty to tens of thousands of drug offenders. That fits nicely with the simultaneous push to regain voting rights for felons.

In September, staffers at the Department of Justice (DoJ) gathered at the White House to hear Eric Holder say farewell after serving as President Barack Obama’s attorney general for six years.

“We have held accountable those who would harm the American people, either through violent means or the misuse of economic or political power,” Holder said with Obama standing by his side. “I have loved the Department of Justice ever since I was a young boy. I watched Robert Kennedy prove during the civil rights movement how the department can and must always be a force for that which is right.” (Holder is expected to remain in the post until a successor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.)

All of this would be news to those who have followed Holder’s tenure at the DoJ. He has been instrumental in covering up voter fraud, stirring up racial antagonism, brushing aside scandals such as Benghazi and the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits. He has been largely successful in keeping President Obama out of legal trouble, mainly by stonewalling and dissembling.

Nowadays Justice Department spokesmen aren’t known for their honesty. They openly collaborate with the George Soros-funded slander shop Media Matters for America (MMfA). Investigative journalist Matthew Boyle of Breitbart News discovered that Holder’s communications staff collaborated with MMfA in what Boyle described as “an attempt to quell news stories about scandals plaguing Holder and America’s top law enforcement agency.” DoJ and MMfA pooled their resources to undermine journalists covering DoJ scandals, as Boyle discovered when he obtained internal government emails by means of a Freedom of Information Act request.

Holder’s Justice Department bullies and intimidates journalists. Last year Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) accused the DoJ of going after reporters because their coverage was critical of the Obama administration. “We have seen a consistent pattern in this administration, and the pattern is a willingness to use the machinery of government to target those they perceive as their political enemies,” Cruz said. “That was true with the IRS, and it’s true with the Department of Justice, in targeting reporters, targeting Fox News, going after reporters that would dare be critical of this administration.”

Read all »

The right to vote any way you want, while we watch

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

“Today the practice of casting secret ballots is so commonplace that most voters would not consider that any other method might be used.” – Wikipedia

Well, not anymore, if the Progressives have their way.

In three states (Washington, Oregon, and Colorado), the secret ballot has been abolished, and it’s barely surviving in a number of other states.

Washington, Oregon, and Colorado have a system of universal mail-out voting. Every voter gets a ballot in the mail—at least, that’s what’s supposed to happen—and every voter returns his or her ballot by mail. There is absolutely no protection if your employer, an official of your union, your preacher, someone from the department of welfare, or a member of your family demands that you vote in front of him or her or that you sign and mail the ballot after it’s been marked “for” you. Or, for that matter, if vote harvesters show up at your door to “help” you vote. Read all »

Steve and Amber Mostyn: Two trial lawyers take from the little guy to give to the Left, deep in the heart of Texas

Steve and Amber Mostyn

Two trial lawyers take from the little guy to give to the Left, deep in the heart of Texas

By Jonathan M. Hanen, Foundation Watch, November 2014 (PDF to come)

Summary: A Texas power couple composed of two trial lawyers is pouring millions into politics to stop tort reform and turn Texas—and the rest of America—blue. The two give far less to their charitable foundation. In their most notorious case, they took almost half of the winnings in a huge lawsuit they filed on behalf of the “little guy.” As the losing insurance company began paying the fat legal fees, little guys all over Texas saw their premiums rise. Charity, in this case, begins and ends at home.

Steve “Hurricane” Mostyn grew up in the East Texas town of Whitehouse, was the first in his family to earn a college degree, and then was graduated from South Texas College of Law in 1996. Mostyn established his eponymously named law firm in 1999 and “found success by representing people who wanted to sue their insurance companies, such as those who had mold or foundation problems in their houses or who were denied coverage by their health carriers,” according to Jason Embry of the Austin American-Statesman.

Mostyn reportedly met his wife, the former Amber Anderson, while volunteering with her at the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, where he previously served as president.

When Hurricane Rita swept through Texas in 2005, Mostyn and his law firm aggressively snapped up the cases of homeowners who believed their insurance companies had underpaid them for damages. Mostyn quickly became the premier hurricane lawyer in the Lone Star State, filing 1,200 Rita claims. His strategy was to flood the zone, filing such a torrent of cases that insurance companies would be overwhelmed and decide to settle instead of litigate.

Mostyn followed up on his victories when Hurricane Ike struck Texas on Sept. 13, 2008. At its most powerful, Ike was classified as a Category 4 hurricane while over the ocean. Ike was the costliest hurricane ever to strike Texas. The Insurance Council of Texas reported that “insured losses as a result of the storm totaled $12 billion—$10 billion caused by wind damage and $2 billion caused by flooding.” Ike hit Galveston with 110 mile an hour winds, sending “a 20 foot wall of water over the Bolivar Peninsula and created a rising tide that flooded most of Galveston and many nearby communities along Galveston Bay” (ClaimsJournal.com, Sept. 9, 2013).

Ike gave Mostyn a chance to repeat his shock-and-awe approach to litigation that worked so well with Rita. Mostyn’s law firm proposed a $189 million settlement with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA)—the insurer of last resort in vulnerable coastal areas—in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 2,400 Galveston County homeowners. When the $189 million settlement was accepted, he earned the moniker “Hurricane Mostyn.” His law firm took a rather astounding $86 million in fees for its efforts.

Read all »

Is ACORN behind violent unrest in Ferguson?

Senior Editor Matthew Vadum’s article in American Thinker last week has caused quite a stir. Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin read the entire article on-air. Here is a YouTube video with the audio from that broadcast:

Here is the article itself from  American Thinker:

 

Is ACORN behind violent unrest in Ferguson?

By Matthew Vadum
ACORN’s old Missouri chapter is playing at least a supporting role in the violent unrest and crime wave that has plagued Ferguson and St. Louis, Missouri since the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown.
With all the pathologies on parade right now in and around Ferguson, really, how could the loyalists of ACORN, which once claimed a membership of 400,000, have stayed away from the opportunity to lynch a white police officer for doing his job?  The recruiting and fundraising opportunities for the cop-hating progressive movement are virtually unlimited.
What’s going on in Ferguson is mobocracy at its ugliest.
Activists are blackmailing the grand jury that is now hearing evidence against police officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown in August reportedly in self-defense.  If the grand jurors refuse to indict Wilson, radical activists are promising even more mayhem.
The message is unmistakable: indict the cop, and there will be peace.  Don’t, and Ferguson will burn.
One of the groups deeply involved in causing chaos in Ferguson is Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit.
MORE is the rebranded Missouri branch of the former Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which filed for bankruptcy in late 2010.  That ACORN state chapter reconstituted itself in December 2009 as MORE under orders from ACORN’s national headquarters.  President Obama used to work for ACORN, and he represented it in court as a lawyer.
MORE has been active in the protests and in efforts to free jailed demonstrators so they can continue vandalizing businesses, intimidating perceived adversaries, setting fires, throwing projectiles and urine at cops, and engaging in the left’s usual modes of so-called nonviolent protest.  MORE believes that protesters should be given a blank check to inflict whatever harm they wish on the community in pursuit of social justice.

MORE is also a recipient of taxpayer funding – and to no one’s surprise, it is not a good steward of those dollars.  MORE received $21,000 for its “foreclosure prevention” efforts but “did not fully comply” with the rules, according to the St. Louis city comptroller’s “fiscal monitoring review” released a few days before Brown was shot.

MORE is one of the now defunct ACORN network’s most active renamed state chapters.  In 2010, MORE activists did their best to cause a near-riot at a Chase bank office in a St. Louis suburb.  Activists screamed, “Predatory lender, criminal offender!” and demanded that banks not foreclose on defaulted mortgages.  MORE also was trying to shake down Chase, whose philanthropic arm contributed millions of dollars to ACORN, for some more money.
MORE’s executive director is longtime ACORN organizer Jeff Ordower.  Ordower, an outspoken vote fraud apologist, previously ran Missouri ACORN and oversaw ACORN’s Midwest operations.  He was also an SEIU organizer in Texas.
In his online biography, Ordower boasts that he was “one of a group of founders of the Chicago based organization Gender Just, which merged queer, class and racial justice.”  The bio states that he “is welcoming co-conspirators in attempts to scale up numbers of radical organizers who can financially support themselves in the work.”
Under Ordower’s leadership, MORE is a magnet for the community organizers, lowlifes, and lawbreakers now waging war in the streets nightly against beleaguered Ferguson police and businesses.
Following longstanding ACORN practice, MORE has been throwing out the welcome mat for criminals.  On its Facebook page the group offers fugitives an opportunity to stay one step ahead of the authorities.  It recently hosted an event that allowed possible absconders to verify if warrants were pending for their arrest.  The Facebook post asks  would-be attendees:
“Don’t know if you have any outstanding bench warrants?  Join MORE and ArchCity Defenders for a free warrant search.  This is an opportunity to find out if you have any warrants without having to worry about being arrested in the process.”
Criminals are, of course, natural community organizers.
Community organizing guru Saul Alinsky openly admitted his ties to the Al Capone gang in 1930s Chicago.  Alinsky befriended hit man “Big Ed” Stash and Frank Nitti, who took over the gang after Capone went to prison in 1931.
In Alinsky’s own words, Nitti “took me under his wing” as he explored the inner workings of the criminal underground.  “I called him Professor and I became his student,” Alinsky said.
Attacking the structure of society is what criminals and community organizers do.  As Alinsky wrote in Rules for Radicals, a community organizer must foment unrest and anarchy.
The organizer’s first job is “community disorganization” by manufacturing crises in order to inflame the community.  The organizer must “create the issues or problems.”  He must “rub raw the resentments of the people of the community” and “fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression.”
The organizer must “agitate to the point of conflict” because without friction and controversy, “people are not concerned enough to act.”  Having harangued the community out of its feelings of complacency, the organizer then directs its rage at specific targets and scapegoats, providing “a channel into which the people can angrily pour their frustrations.”
Officer Darren Wilson makes a perfect target for the highly active remnants of the ACORN activist empire.

Read all »

Illegal Voters Tipping Election Scales?

Capital Research Center’s Matthew Vadum has an article on non-citizen voting in today’s FrontPage magazine:

 

Illegal Voters Tipping Election Scales?

By Matthew Vadum

Voting by illegal aliens and other non-citizens is so prevalent throughout the nation that it gave us Obamacare, according to a disturbing new study.

And if illegal voting by non-citizens, who tend to support Democratic Party candidates and who heavily supported President Obama, could tip the scales in the 2008 congressional elections, it can do so again in congressional elections next week and in the presidential contest in 2016. In 2008 one report estimated that as many as 2.7 million non-citizens were registered to vote nationwide.

The academic report, to be published in the December issue of Electoral Studies, continues the ongoing demolition of the Left’s narrative that voter fraud is a figment of paranoid Republicans’ imagination. Democrats cling religiously to their mantra that voter fraud doesn’t exist or is of little consequence because they have difficulty competing electorally without vote fraud. Fraud helps Democrats eke out victories in close races, which helps to explain their vehement opposition to commonsense electoral integrity measures like purging dead people from voter rolls or requiring photo ID for voting.

The findings of Jesse Richman and David Earnest, two political science professors at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., confirm that voter fraud is commonplace and widespread, something that honest, as opposed to engaged or left-wing, scholars have known for years.

Read all »

Tragedy, as politics: Exploiting Ferguson

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and policy.]

African-Americans have long been the victims of oppression by politicians and bureaucrats. That’s been true from the 17th Century when slavery, a practice older than civilization, began to be associated with the concept we now call “race,” through the era of Jim Crow and one-party Democratic Party rule in much of the country (a time that included FDR’s racist National Recovery Administration), to the present time (when, for example, in Washington, DC, African-Americans are eight times more likely than others to be arrested for marijuana offenses, and are disproportionately the victims of horrific public schools and of laws that restrict small-business opportunities).

Often, law enforcement officials have been part of that oppression. During Jim Crow, African-Americans were often framed for crimes, then rented out as laborers, a practice that was, in effect, a partial restoration of slavery. During the Civil Rights Movement, police often looked the other way when violence was visited upon civil rights workers and on everyday African-Americans, and sometimes police were active participants in these crimes.

I grew up around police officers, studied law enforcement beside them in college, and worked as a police reporter. I have the greatest respect for these men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day. But I understand why many African-Americans are deeply distrustful of the police.

If, in fact, an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, had shot and killed an unarmed young man, Michael Brown, in the back, or while Brown was trying to surrender with his hands up, and if that officer did not have full justification for his actions, I would support punishing the officer to the fullest extent of the law.

The problem is that that version of the story, it appears, is not Read all »