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Loaves & Stalin & Fishes & Network

In my last post to this blog, “Charlie’s Angels They Ain’t,” I pointed to another in a series of examples1 of Loaves & Fishes’ unprincipled money-raising efforts ‒ specifically, the faked-urgency ruse. It is not surprising, though, that Loaves’ practices aren’t atypical of what often goes on at other charities.

A recent e-newsletter from GuideStar [one of the many charity trackers that pretend to be on the donors’ side], includes a link to an interview with a “veteran fundraising expert,” Jerold Panas. Panas, we are told, has, in his career, helped raise over $11 billion for various organizations.

In one question, Panas is asked “To be successful in asking [potential donors for money], what factors have to be present?”

He responds [emphases, mine]:

As I discuss in my book, Asking, three pieces are important. The first is that the organization and the project must be relevant. The donor has to feel this is something that's significant.
Next, what you're raising money for has to have emotional appeal. I like it best when the hair on the back on the neck stands up! I want it to be exciting and have snap, crackle, and pop.
But most important, there has to be a sense of urgency. The donor must feel this can't be postponed. The project has to move forward and the decision to give must be made as soon as possible. Time is working against us. Lives are being lost. Kids aren't being served.
Note that for Panas ‒ like Loaves ‒ something urgent doesn’t motivate the effort to appeal for people’s money, it is the desire to get money that creates the context.  And Panas advises for context  that organizations always [it’s “most important”] manufacture a faked sense of urgency with their appeals (unless, I suppose, there is handy a highly rare instance of a valid absence of funds for a true calamity).

What goes on at Loaves & Fishes is very similar to how TV station UBS2 in the movie Network became a shameless organization.

At the beginning of Network, UBS has a mostly responsible, principled news division.  But since the network is losing in the rating wars to other TV networks, and its news production division is very expensivce, new ownership pushes for tawdry content to snag a higher viewership and improve earnings.

As with UBS in Network, Loaves became a low-standards operation – or, in L&F's case, possibly, has always been unethical in its practices.

Here, a bit from early on in the Network screenplay.  Tawdry-content-advocate Diana Christensen lobbies high-minded journalist Max Schmaucher to jump into the skanky slime without holding back:

Diana Christensen: I watched your 6 o'clock news today; it's straight tabloid. You had a minute and a half of that lady riding a bike naked in Central Park; on the other hand, you had less than a minute of hard national and international news. It was all sex, scandal, brutal crime, sports, children with incurable diseases, and lost puppies. So, I don't think I'll listen to any protestations of high standards of journalism when you're right down on the streets soliciting audiences like the rest of us. Look, all I'm saying is if you're going to hustle, at least do it right.

Basically, network news – in this 1976 movie that accurately predicted things as they are now -- has to "hustle right" by getting mean spirited. It shows how everything became a race to the bottom. Sliminess pays off. So when you are competing for audience share – or, really, money; everything converts to money – to function best for shareholders seeking ever-higher stock prices – you have to move in the direction of hyped filth.

While Loaves & Fishes makes claims for being high-minded – in associating itself with Dorothy Day and tying itself to the Catholic Church when that momentarily serves to its benefit – it is really, fully splashing around in the oozing mud as an organization.

Not-recent photo of Friendship Park at Loaves & Fishes
A further matter that ties Loaves & Fishes to full-on immorality is its association with The League of Revolutionaries for a NewAmerica.  Cathleen Williams [unofficially but conspicuously with SHOC] often writes for one of LRNA’s publications, "People’s Tribune."  The other LRNA publication is “Rally!, Comrades”  Paula Lomazzi [SHOC] and Tracie Rice [SafeGround] have also written for People's Tribune, though their work is consistently not  politically hyped. Loaves & Fishes held a so-called “Homeless Power Forum" in its Delany Center several years ago bringing major radicals there to speak before a mostly-homeless group. It was during a period when SHOC held meetings to indoctrinate homeless people to Communist politics. A central stated political desire at the meetings was to put an end to capitalism and private ownership in America; cease technological advancement; and to guarantee jobs for everybody.

This picture was taken from Joan Burke's Facebook page by me today, 7/6/13. Burke tags it as a weekly Safe Ground meeting.  It's not: I'm there sitting crosslegged in jeans with my fingers laced around a knee in the lefthand corner. My brown boot is half in the sun.  It was a SHOC leadership meeting. Costa Mantas is filming. Homeless people, for no reason, were told they were leaders and then lectured on Communist theory by Cat Williams. [though the word Communism wasn't used]
The League of Revolutionaries for a New America’s former name is the Communist League, founded by Nelson Peery.  Peery is still active in his eighties, writing books and playing a part at directing the activities of LRNA.  A short video on Perry's life, shows Perry IS a nice man. But Peery, also, is surely the most vile American Communist you can imagine, continuing (at least until rather recently) to justify Stalin’s wholesale slaughter of Ukrainians and Belarusians and others as a necessary sacrifice to further the Communist Revolution.  “The end justifies the means,” is the Machiavellian concept that is being embraced here.  According to Russia’s records, about 61 million people in the USSR were summarily slaughtered by direction of Stalin.  That is the equivalent of just short of one-fifth the current  population of the United States.

Call me silly, but I think it should get people’s attention when Loaves & Fishes [and its associated, spin-off charities SHOC, SafeGround – both at the L&F compound – and others, which have weird Left-of-Neptune political moorings] align themselves with some people who stand next to perhaps THE greatest work of evil that ever came to our planet. Hitler was a piker at Evil, compared to Stalin.  [At the defunct website American Red Groups, LRNA is cited as being Stalinist and — of communist and communist-leaning groups — one of the ones most opposed to Democracy.]

Here is Peery’s justification of Stalin’s slaughter of the innocent people:  “Nelson Peery on Stalin and Revolution.”

A key statement from the text:
Let us look at "Stalin's crimes" in this light. There was no physical "liquidation" of the kulaks3 or other reactionary classes. They were eliminated as classes by the liquidation of their economic bases. Soviet power crushed the resistance to industrialization. Millions died in the 25 defensive wars fought between 1917 and 1940. A large number went to labor camps and many died there.

Stalin understood that counterrevolution was possible. His monumental place in history is precisely because he relentlessly, almost daily, worked to crush every spontaneous impulse or plan for counterrevolution.


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FOOTNOTES

1 Other ‘Sacramento Homeless blog” posts about Loaves & Fishes skanky money-raising  programs:

2 Network acted fully seriously but is at one level a sly comedy.  Note that the network name UBS can understood as “You Bullshit.”

3 It is my understanding that "kulak" in Russian literally means "fist" -- as in tightfisted. Kulaks were small-business people who were, many of them, cruel.  Actually a great many kulaks were physically eliminated, usually after having first been sadistically tortured.  Other kulaks who escaped being apprehended starved to death among the 2.5 million in the Ukraine who saw their farm produce apprehended.  Ukraine, by the way, was part of the Soviet Union at the time.

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