The SEIU also held California hostage when it was trying to reduce its payouts by bringing in their good buddy, Obama, to tell Ah-nold that he would get NO federal money if he touched the SEIU wages. Must be nice to have friends in high places, right? We are talking a union with only a little over 2 million members. That is some level of influence for so few people relatively speaking (the US has over 307 million people).
There is an even seedier side to SEIU, too. Who can forget this scene when a Tea Party member was assaulted by SEIU members:
That is but the tip of the iceberg. Here is another example of SEIU violence which, ironically, is directed toward people it wants as members:
If you go to YouTube, and do a search on "SEIU violence," you will get more hits than most people have time to watch.
But as Erik Erickson pointed out at , what SEIU did over the weekend is taking their brand of intimidation to a whole new low. As he noted, had there not been a reporter (Nina Easton) living next door to the target house, chances are good we would not have known about their little weekend in Maryland.
And what they did is disturbing on oh-so-many levels, as this eye witness account from Ms. Easton highlights:
(Photo by Nina Easton)
Every journalist loves a peaceful protest-whether it makes news, shakes up a political season, or holds out the possibility of altering history. Then there are the ones that show up on your curb--literally.
Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that -- in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action -- makes his family fair game.
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.
So these are the depths to which the SEIU, an incredibly powerful (thanks, Obama) union with very close ties to Barack Obama, has sunk. They went to someone's HOUSE to protest, terrorizing - yes, terrorizing - a young teenager:
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."
When is a protest not a protest?
Now this event would accurately be called a "protest" if it were taking place at, say, a bank or the U.S. Capitol. But when hundreds of loud and angry strangers are descending on your family, your children, and your home, a more apt description of this assemblage would be "mob." Intimidation was the whole point of this exercise, and it worked-even on the police. A trio of officers who belatedly answered our calls confessed a fear that arrests might "incite" these trespassers.
Yes, "mob" is the perfect word for what the SEIU members did:
What's interesting is that SEIU, the nation's second largest union, craves respectability. Just-retired president Andy Stern is an Obama friend and regular White House visitor. He sits on the President's Fiscal Responsibility Commission. He hobnobs with those greedy Wall Street CEOs -- executives much higher-ranking than my neighbor Baer -- at Davos. His union spent $70 million getting Democrats elected in 2008.
In the business community, though, SEIU has a reputation for strong-arm tactics against management, prompting some companies to file suit.
Now those strong-arm tactics, stirred by supposedly free-floating (as opposed to organized) populist rage, have come to the neighborhood curb. Last year it was AIG executives -- with protestors met by security guard outside. Now it's any executive -- and they're on the front stoop. After Baer's house, the 14 buses left to descend on the nearby residence of Peter Scher, a government relations executive at JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500).
Targeting homes and families seems to put SEIU in the ranks of (now jailed) radical animal-rights activists and the Kansas anti-gay fundamentalists harassing the grieving parents of a dead 20-year-old soldier at his funeral (the Supreme Court has agreed to weigh in on the latter). But that's not a conversation that SEIU officials want to have.
When I asked Stephen Lerner, SEIU's point-person on Wall Street reform, about these tactics, he accused me of getting "emotional." Lerner was more comfortable sticking to his talking points: "Millions of people are losing their homes, and they have gone to the banks, which are turning a deaf ear."
Okay, fine, then why not continue SEIU protests at bank offices and shareholder meetings-as the union has been doing for more than a year? Lerner insists, "People in powerful corporations seem to think they can insulate themselves from the damage they are doing."
Isn't that just typical? Rather than actually addressing Ms. Easton's concerns, she is dismissed as being "emotional." So, let's add "sexist" to the increasingly long list of things SEIU is, sadly too many of which are negative. But to Lerner's accusations:
Bank of America officials dispute Lerner's assertion about the "damage they are doing," citing the success of workout programs to help distressed homeowners, praise received from community groups, the bank's support of financial reform legislation, and the little-noticed fact that Bank of America exited the subprime lending business in 2001.
SEIU has said it wants to organize bank tellers and call centers -- and its critics point out that a great way to worsen employee morale, thereby making workers more susceptible to union calls, is to batter a bank's image through protest. (SEIU officials say their anti-Wall Street campaign has nothing to do with their organizing efforts.) Complicating this picture is the fact that BofA is the union's lender of choice -- and SEIU, suffering financially, owes the bank nearly $4 million in interest and fees. Bank of America declined comment on the loans.
Banks: The new punching bag
But SEIU's intentions, and BofA's lender record, are ripe subjects to debate in Congress, on air, at shareholder hearings. Not in Greg Baer's front yard.
Why the media wasn't invited
Sunday's onslaught wasn't designed for mainstream media consumption. There were no reporters from organizations like the Washington Post, no local camera crews who might have aired criticism of this private-home invasion. With the media covering the conservative Tea Party protesters, the behavior of individual activists has drawn withering scrutiny.
Instead, a friendly Huffington Post blogger showed up, narrowcasting coverage to the union's leftist base. The rest of the message these protesters brought was personal-aimed at frightening Baer and his family, not influencing a broader public.
Of course, HuffPost readers responding to the coverage assumed that Baer was an evil former Bush official. He's not. A lifelong Democrat, Baer worked for the Clinton Treasury Department, and his wife, Shirley Sagawa, author of the book The American Way to Change and a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, is a prominent national service advocate.
In the 1990s, the Baers' former bosses, Bill and Hillary Clinton, denounced the "politics of personal destruction." Today politicians and their voters of all stripes grieve the ugly bitterness that permeates our policy debates. Now, with populist rage providing a useful cover, it appears we've crossed into a new era: The politics of personal intimidation.
To say this "politics of personal intimidation" is unacceptable is a gross understatement. But it seems to be the MO of far too many Obama supporters (e.g., New Black Panthers in Philly, intimidation and machinations of caucuses in Texas, and on it goes). Where does it stop with these people?
Going to someone's house, in 14 buses, no less, on a weekend, with no permit to protest, and a DC police escort to this home in Maryland, terrorizing a 14 year old boy, takes this to a whole new level, or new depth, however you want to spell it. I spell it, "D-E-S-P-I-C-A-B-L-E."
UPDATE: Now the DC Metro Police claim they contacted Montgomery County Police, and broke away at the border. The Chief said one police officer accidentally crossed over. A Montgomery Police Captain claimed since the SEIU dispersed peacefully from the front STOOP of the house, there were no arrests. Thanks to ~~JustMe~~ for the link to the video of the SEIU members. I will keep an eye out for the video of the two police officers making their claims regarding the Metro PD, and the Montgomery PD. Currently, there is a major contradiction between what Captain Paul Stark is saying, and the statement issued by Cpl Daniel Friz who said there was NO courtesy call that a protest was heading toward Montgomery County, and that the DC police were ON SITE in MD. Someone ain't telling the truth here. Wonder why??
FINALLY, here are the two police officers giving their side. Bear in mind that AFTER this interview, the underling in Montgomery County contends there were NO phone calls from Metro DC police: