Last week, a mob of screeching protesters invaded the Bear Stearns headquarters in Manhattan demanding more aid for homeowners. As you know, I oppose federal bailouts of every make and model — and that includes both the Bear Stearns deal and the bipartisan stimulus-palooza in Washington. But the bank-bashers who held their demonstration in New York City against Bear Stearns and JPMorgan are totally unhinged. And out of control.
Here is the face of the entitlement culture gone mad: “We will go to their neighborhood, we will educate their children on what their parents do. They should be ashamed,” said Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) founder Bruce Marks in a nasty warning issued to employees of both banks.
This is not an idle threat. Bruce Marks is no harmless lone nut. He has a proven record of showing up at children’s schools and bullying them because of their parents’ employment. All in the name of “social justice,” of course, and securing loans for every last bad risk on the face of the planet. He’s so proud of his behavior, he calls himself a “bank terrorist.”
Has he earned scorn and condemnation? Of course not. As a reward for his tactics, the Boston Globe named him “Bostonian of the Year” in 2007. The paper praised his “sensible innovation.” They fawned over his “curious blend of in-your-face activism, customer-focused service, Machiavellian angling, and social-justice passion.” And, as the Globe reported in its cover feature on Marks, there is no line of decency this housing shakedown artist won’t cross. Welcome to the subprime politics of personal destruction:
Marks and his yellow-T-shirted followers have swarmed shareholders’ meetings with enough force to shut them down. They have picketed outside the schools attended by the children of bank CEOs, pressing the youngsters in signs and chants to answer for the actions of their daddies. And they even once distributed scandal sheets to every house in one CEO’s neighborhood, detailing the affair he was allegedly having with a subordinate. In time, that CEO, like most of the others that NACA targeted, sat down with Marks and signed a deal.
To those who found his tactics an outrageous invasion of bank executives’ personal lives, Marks refused to acknowledge any line between home and work. ‘What you do is who you are,’ he says. ‘It’s all personal.’ ”
My leftist opponents have labeled me a “stalker” for publicizing the contact information of anti-war activists who ran military recruiters off their college campus — and for researching, documenting, and challenging the assets of a two-property, three-car-owning Democratic poster family held up as unassailable arguments for massive government health-insurance expansions. Meanwhile, housing entitlement bully Bruce Marks gets citizen-of-the-year accolades while rolling in housing-hustle dough.
You see, it’s all about the money for Marks’ group, which browbeats banks and lenders into billion-dollar deals to allow its left-wing activists to arrange mortgages for their high-risk constituents. NACA — with dozens of offices across the country — has a no-down-payment, no-closing-costs, low-interest-rate policy for low-income minority borrowers — and takes a hefty fee for each transaction.
NACA loan applicants are then required to attend workshops glorifying the group’s protest thuggery. Those whose loans are approved must then pledge to assist the group in five “actions” (like the one at Bear Stearns’ headquarters) per year. When they’re not clamoring for more homeowner funds and federal Community Reinvestment Act money, they’re bombarding the feds with regulatory complaints to halt any planned bank mergers or expansions.
Those radical actions have yielded a windfall as fearful corporations fork over money to preempt Marks’ extortionist mau-mau-ing. In 2003, Citigroup coughed up $3 billion in mortgage loans to NACA through 2013. Bank of America, which first partnered with (or rather, succumbed to) NACA in 1995, handed over $6 billion through 2015.
Let me repeat the threat he issued at the Bear Stearns protest last week: “We will go to their neighborhood, we will educate their children on what their parents do. They should be ashamed.” If any prominent liberals have criticized Marks’ tactics, I haven’t heard them. Have you?
Lesson learned: Screaming “racist” pays.
COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.