Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

09/16/2009 (9:57 pm)

The Audacity of Hos

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show occasionally marks himself as an equal-opportunity insulter, something valuable and rare in these days of partisan-only news. Today, he’s taking on the ACORN scandal that major news media have simply blacked out. Listen:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Audacity of Hos
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests

The piece that nearly everybody is missing about this incident is that the President used to work for this organization and help train its members. The picture I used with my article about Obama’s middle years with ACORN and the New Party, reproduced at the bottom of this post, shows him teaching the power dynamics of self-interest in the community, a topic he also apparently taught to ACORN volunteers. All web-based content documenting this association was pulled after the McCain campaign and conservative bloggers started drawing attention to it (as was normal for any web-based information shedding light on Obama’s radical past,) but if he really did train volunteers for ACORN, and if the organization really is this lawless, we have every reason to believe that the President regards with contempt the laws of the land he leads. I have seen nothing in his conduct of the tasks of the office of President to make me certain that this is not so.

We may hope that appropriate attention will finally be paid to the criminal enterprise of ACORN, to which a number of conservatives have been attempting to draw attention for several years. It’s hard to imagine a more partisan organization, and it is clear that their intent in nearly every enterprise is to render society unworkable by undermining laws. It is a complete shame that such an organization has been permitted to continue to milk the public treasury by pretending to be non-profit and non-partisan, and a genuine scandal that the President directed $800,000 of his campaign funds to this band of criminals, and then directed literally billions of dollars of public money toward them in the form of contracts, stimulus funding, and education funding.

Michelle Malkin characteristically has the best coverage today of the ACORN scandal, and has the best links concerning their ongoing criminal ventures as well.

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44 Comments »

September 17, 2009 @ 7:07 am #

In a sane society with a non-biased media, his strong ties to Acorn and direction of billions of dollars their way would be enough to raise HUGE questions about his judgment, integrity, and capacity to be President in probably 75% of the American people.

Coupled with his associations with Rev. Wright, Ayers, and numerous other objective hot buttons (if the MSM ever reported and investigated them), his Presidency would be completely undermined and I think there would be no way he could ever be re-elected.

As it is, it will at worst be one more light fall shower beading up and running off the duck’s back, as well as additional proof to the media and left of the omnipresent racism in our society.

September 17, 2009 @ 5:41 pm #

RM,

The correct figure is $53,000,000 in federal money went to ACORN over the last 10 years.

Phil: A criminal enterprise? Really? I used to laugh when conservatives charged ACORN with trying to swing elections by filing false voter registration forms. The idea that there were actual people waiting in the wings, ready to use these false registrations to vote, in numbers large enough to swing actual elections, is simply absurd. But no less than Senator John McCain was warning us last fall that ACORN was a threat to the integrity of our democracy. The obvious explanation, that a few ACORN voter registration employees decided to cut corners and fill our fake forms rather than register actual voters, was not even considered. No, it had to be sinister.

Come on guys. Get a real demon!

Tell me Phil: Tell me the nature of the criminal enterprise ACORN is pursuing? Are you claiming to know that these few employees are typical ACORN employees? How?

By the way, there is evidence that the “pimp” and “prostitute” were being played – particularly by the ACORN employee who admitted killing her Mother. Guess that never happened.

Oh My!

Joe H.

September 18, 2009 @ 6:25 am #

Joe, I think you are spinning.

Do I think ACORN is a criminal organization like the Mafia whose business is – crime?

No. But I do think they are a government funded operation with a specific politcal agenda (not a public service agency) which has operated in the shadows for many years, and one which has enjoyed the protection of the political establishment that has funded them, and the averted eyes of the media.

Are they Keystone Cops types without much of a clue who have simply gotten too comfortable wallowing in the favored political mudpile over the years and become corrupt over time? Or are there leaders pushing the buttons who coldly assess how far they can push the envelope?

I don’t know yet. But to attempt to write off their crimes as picayune as you seem to be doing, and then try to deflect the blame for what they do to the ones who expose them? I don’t see how that flies.

September 18, 2009 @ 6:59 am #

Joe,

If you want the complete list of ACORN offices that have been indicted in criminal activities, you should follow the links under the words “has the best links” in the last sentence of the post, above. Michelle Malkin has been chronicling the activities of the various ACORN offices for several years. More than a dozen have been indicted in clear instances of felonious behavior pertaining to election laws, and it’s pretty clear that there are ongoing instances of laundering of illegal political contributions that have not been indicted yet. It’s also clear that the organization poses as non-partisan for tax and funding purposes while expressly and deliberately pursuing a clear, partisan agenda, which is fraudulent. The “few” appears to be a nationwide pattern, and the goal appears to be facilitating a takeover of the political system by Progressives.

Your claim that somebody thinks there’s a cadre of people waiting to vote illegally using the flood of false registrations is a straw man, and can safely be ignored; the flood of false registrations, itself, is both a felony and the point of the exercise. I think it is relevant that ACORN was spun off from the National Welfare Rights Organization, whose stated mission was to undermine capitalist America by overwhelming the welfare system, wrecking the capitalist economy in an attempt to foster revolution and produce a true socialist state. ACORN’s election strategy appears to be a direct transfer of that same strategy to elections: destroy the system by overwhelming it, which would then somehow facilitate takeover by “Progressives.” And whether you want to admit it or not, Joe, voter registration fraud is a felony, even if not a single illegal vote gets cast. Deal with it.

The striking thing about the recent sting videos is that none of the offices batted an eyelash while offering assistance in violating the law. They all seem completely comfortable at it, and they all seem adept at it. In one of them, which you mentioned, some lady bragged about killing her mother, apparently in jest; somehow, that does not satisfy me that their advice concerning how to set up a house of child prostitution under the radar was innocent. What the sting makes clear is that ACORN is not just about overwhelming election officials, and not just about laundering political contributions, and not just about defrauding the government by pretending non-partisan status while pursuing partisan politics, but about genuinely undermining lawful society in every possible way. It also reinforces what we already knew, that it’s the whole organization, not just the occasional bad seed.

As to the extent of federal support, the stimulus bill offers ACORN access to between $5 billion and $8 billion. Furthermore, I’m not certain why you’re limiting your view to the last 10 years, as ACORN has been active in partisan politics (and, I believe, a recipient of federal funds) since at least the 1980s, and possibly back into the 70s.

Honestly, Joe? Darkhorse represents you frequently as a scrupulously honest man, but your defense of these obvious criminals removes any possibility that I could ever regard you thus. ACORN is a corrupt organization; its core activity is a fraud. The only relevant questions are, how deeply is the REST of the Progressive movement similarly corrupt, and how far into the Democratic party proper does it extend? (And if the eerily similar revelations about Planned Parenthood’s violations of the law is an indication, it may extend pretty far.)

September 18, 2009 @ 10:56 am #

Also note that most of the states now have a Democrat Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is the person in charge of maintaining the integrity of the election process. The Democrats apparently instituted a campaign within their party some years ago to work towards getting their party in position to be responsible for elections in all the states.

Also remember Lenin’s words (I think it was Lenin): “It’s not how many votes there are, it’s who counts the votes that counts.”

Now you might say so what…but to me, those words indicate a clear intent to do whatever needs to be done in order to see that “our guy” wins. And the Dems are in a position to do so – especially if Acorn is helping them out.

The only defense I can offer for Acorn – if in fact their upper echelons are actually honest – is that their job requires them to work with the underclass. If you lie down with dogs, you’re going to get up with fleas.

Actually – I agree with Phil…I think they’re a totally corrupt group with the intention of using the underclass in a class warfare sort of action in order to bring about communism. The upper echelons enrich themselves, and they don’t care what the lower echelons do as long as the money keeps flowing in. IMO.

I’m entirely willing to be proven wrong – but investigation of them by people they hire flat isn’t going to do the job. Heck…with the number of cronies that Obama now has in positions of power – I’m not sure I’d trust anybody in government either.

It’s a fine mess Obama’s gotten us into…

September 18, 2009 @ 12:12 pm #

Phil,

Here’s a completely different take on ACORN’s “criminal activities.”

http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2009/09/18/acorn/

Phil, Darkhorse introduced you as an honest man. But you’re unwillingness to seek out and consider evidence that contradicts your preexisting narrative, and your willingness to call poeple “obvious criminals” when the evidence is so thin, “removes any possibility that I could ever regard you thus.”

Joe H.

September 18, 2009 @ 12:28 pm #

Phil,

Where did you get the information that the Federal Stimulus gives ACORN access to between 5 and 8 billion dollars? What are you talking about?

And no, my critique of the “voter fraud” argument is not a straw man at all. The question we were discussing was whether ACORN (as an organization) was engaged in a scheme to commit voter fraud, as those on the right had accused. The implicit idea of voter fraud is to influence vote totals. My argument pointed out how ridiculous was the charge that ACORN (as an organization) was engaged in a scheme to improperly influence vote totals. It was a ridiculous charge because ACORN would have had to do more than submit false voter registrations – they would have had to find people willing to vote under those false names.

Remember, the accusation was against ACORN as an organization, not against rogue employees. ACORN admits that it sometimes hires rogue (or in these cases, lazy) employees – as do all employers. Your point that voter fraud was a felony misses the point entirely. The question is WHO COMMITTED THE FELONY, ACORN as an organization, or individual employees seeking to cheat ACORN out of extra money?

However, as clear as this explanation is, I’m sure it won’t reach you. You’re bullet-proof.

Joe H

September 18, 2009 @ 4:28 pm #

Phil–

You know you’ve succeeded when the leftist trolls attack you.

September 18, 2009 @ 4:56 pm #

But you’re unwillingness to seek out and consider evidence that contradicts your preexisting narrative…

Joe, you may think whatever you like, and it will not take any skin off my nose. However, I am always willing to consider evidence that contradicts my pre-existing narrative, and I do more than most to seek out such evidence, whatever you think to the contrary.

You have this strange expectation that I am somehow responsible for obtaining all the knowledge that you, personally, possess on any given topic, without any assistance from you. I don’t know where you get such an idea. In any intellectual venue in which I’ve ever participated, it’s the responsibility of anyone making an assertion to provide the support for that assertion, and it’s generally understood that there’s so much reading material available on any subject that nobody can be expected to have it all covered. So perhaps you should stop accusing me of failing to know what you know, and do a better job of providing support for the things you claim.

September 18, 2009 @ 5:10 pm #

The question we were discussing was whether ACORN (as an organization) was engaged in a scheme to commit voter fraud…

No, that was the question YOU raised. Nobody else raised that question. That’s what makes it a Straw Man.

Where did you get the information that the Federal Stimulus gives ACORN access to between 5 and 8 billion dollars? What are you talking about?

The Stimulus Bill set aside about $1 billion for the Community Development Block Grants program, and another $4 billion or so (depending on which version you’re reading) for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. These measures were defended in Congress as making funds available for “groups like ACORN” to restore communities ravaged by foreclosures.

While the bill does not mention ACORN specifically, ACORN does compete for funds from these programs, and it would be consistent with Obama’s way of doing things to set up a channel through which an administrator with discretion can specifically funnel money to his buddies, the way he did in the Annenburg Challenge, or the way he routed $800 grand to them from his campaign fund. It’s his way.

The question is WHO COMMITTED THE FELONY, ACORN as an organization, or individual employees seeking to cheat ACORN out of extra money?

The claim of “rogue employees” is completely refuted by the consistency of the indictments against multiple offices, the consistency of reports received from election officials dealing with them, and the consistency of the response received by the sting actors. If an event crops up in one or two places, it’s rogue employees; if you visit 5 offices and get the same answer 5 times, it’s not rogue employees. If one or two offices step over a line and perform an improper practice, it’s bad apples in a weak system; if 12 offices all commit the same crime, it’s not a weak system, it’s a criminal conspiracy by the organization.

The “rogue employees” defense is being used by those who have their fingers in their ears and are shouting “I CAN’T HEAR YOOOOOOOOO”. It’s intellectually indefensible, on the order of defending the Flat Earth hypothesis.

…it won’t reach you. You’re bullet-proof.

And of course, that’s because I’m not capable of changing my mind. It could not possibly be because the argument you’re raising is hilariously weak. That’s impossible.

September 18, 2009 @ 6:59 pm #

John,

“You know you’ve succeeded when the leftist trolls attack you.”

Who attacked Phil? I merely pointed out that he might be wrong. I called him no names (like “troll”); didn’t impugne his character – in case you failed to notice Phil, my comments about your being anhonest man were an attempt to show you why your calling my honesty into question simply because I didagreed with you was wrongheaded – I don’t presume that you’re dishonest because you disagree with me.

John, calling someone names is not discourse. A right wing fascist like you should know that.

Joe H.

September 18, 2009 @ 7:38 pm #

Phil,

“Your claim that somebody thinks there’s a cadre of people waiting to vote illegally using the flood of false registrations is a straw man, and can safely be ignored; the flood of false registrations, itself, is both a felony and the point of the exercise.”

Why would ACORN make an organizational decision to introduce a “flood of false registrations” if they had no intention of matching these registrations up with fake voters? That makes no sense whatsoever?

Also Phil, you don’t seem to know what a “straw man” is – it is a representation of an argument that is weaker than the actual arguemtn being made by an opponent. “Some say that it is not important for our troops to come home with honor” is a straw man – it describes an opponent’s argument in uncharitable terms – It assigns to them a position that they would not assert – a position that is easy to refute . . . a straw man.

You said “ACORN is a Criminal Enterprise.” I said what crimes did they commit? I also said that the central criminal accusation against them – intention to commit voter fraud – is laughable. Their’s no straw man in any of that.

You accused ACORN of being a “criminal enterprise.” The central crime they have been accused of by right-wingers is voter fraud. How is a demonstration that only a half-dozen ACORN employees (out of many thousands) admitted to filling out approxiamtely 12 fake registrations (out of over one milliion submitted) to increase their pay, irrelevant to whether ACORN as an organization is a criminal enterprise?

And how is this an “incredibly weak argument?” Its not even an argument – I’m merely pointing to facts that undermine what you said. Facts such as:

“A half-dozen ACORN workers were charged with registration fraud or other election-related crimes in the 2004 election. They had completed fewer than two dozen false registrations — out of more than a million new voters registered by ACORN during that cycle.”

Do you dispute these facts? Are they incorrect? Were there more false voter registrations discovered? More people indicted? Please, speak up.

That’s what I mean by bullet-proof. You will not be able to demonstrate the falsity of any of these factual statements. And yet, this will not effect your opinion at all. If you show me a strong pattern of convictions for crimes by ACORN employees and management – convictions proportional to the size of the entire organization – I will change my mind about ACORN being a criminal enterprise.

Also, You have an obligation to confirm whether what you’re saying is true. And checking it against sources that already agree with you is no way to accomplish this.

Joe H.

September 18, 2009 @ 9:03 pm #

By the way, I’ve found a great example of a “straw man” during my Friday afternoon wasting of time:

“This is the same hypocritical horse manure Joe Huster was touting a couple of weeks ago, suggesting that in order for people to be called “free,” they have to be guaranteed a 21st-century-American measure of wealth. No doubt he was thinking of his own level of wealth as a standard, because he, like Greenwald, is probably in the top .5% of wealthiest individuals in the history of the planet, being an attorney and a professor for an online university. Guys like these never consider just how intensely lucky they are to live in a nation where their ideas have been completely absent, where they could become so wealthy without worrying about peasant mobs dragging them to the guillotine.”

For those who are interested, the straw man is fouund here:

“suggesting that in order for people to be called “free,” they have to be guaranteed a 21st-century-American measure of wealth.”

I believe what I said was, “material wherewithal is an aspect of the full concept of freedom.”

Wow! What a misrepresentation to your readers Phil? Aren’t you ashamed to be distorting your opponent’s position so thoroughly? Don’t you want to engage your opponents’ actual arguments – in order to get at the truth? Or are you satisfied with rhetorical victories by way of distortion and name calling?

Moreover, I don’t know if Greenwald is a liberal – I’ve never heard him advocate liberal positions. But I am a liberal. I am in favor of liberal policies – including limited redistribution financed by progressive taxation. This would appear contrary to my direct self interest, what with my being a person in the top whatever percent of income earners. And yet you call me a hypocrite?

What kind of person are you Phil? What kind of demons lurk in that partisan mind of yours? Why do you need to demonize everyone who disagrees with you? Why do you take my statements about “material wherewithal being an aspect of a full concept of freedom” to mean that man is not free until all he is guaranteed a 21st century measure of American wealth.” I said or implied no such thing.

Phile, you’re debating phantoms of your own mind – boogey-men who doesn’t exist. YOu need to snap out of it.

The only explanation I can think of is you’re not interested in genuine engagement – you’re a hardcore policicist. If someone doesn’t see things your way they are dishonest – not wrong, dishonest. Or, at best, useful idiots for whatever you oppose.

Enough already.

Joe H.

September 18, 2009 @ 9:08 pm #

Soryy aboot al thE typus inn thE prevos poost!

Joe

September 19, 2009 @ 12:48 pm #

Holy moly, Joe.

Here’s the text from your original response to my Protestant Argument for Limited Government post (actually, your second comment:

August 28, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

Also,

it makes a very big difference how liberty and freedom are defined. Libertarians define freedom as the absense of outside coercion. Liberals define freedom as the absence of coercion coupled with the material wherewithall to pursue one’s vision of a meaningful life.

A person who must work 14 hours a day, every day, just to survive, is not “free.” They’re not free, even if the government completely leaves them alone.

What am I to take this to mean, if not that the late 20th century/ early 21st century standard of affluence is the standard by which freedom is to be judged? As I pointed out in my comment, for the men who wrote the documents I was referencing in that post, working 16 hours a day, 6 days a week was the norm. If working LESS than that constitutes a state that is less than free, then clearly you must be thinking that freedom requires a much more limited work week — which only became common after WWII.

I did not misrepresent you at all, as far as I’m concerned, except perhaps by saying men need a 21st century level of wealth in order to be free, when in fact, you seem to be demanding a late 20th century standard. I’ll accept the correction of a few decades. Beyond that, I do not believe I have misrepresented you in the smallest fashion.

Tell me where I’m wrong.

The typos are the least of my concerns.

September 19, 2009 @ 1:11 pm #

The problem Joe is that the policy’s you embrace will never affect you personally. You’re in the top, whatever, income. You’re not the one who will have to tighten your belt, it’s always other people.
Oh, by the way Joe, John Cooper did not call you a troll, you just assumed he was talking about you. You must have thought that the shoe fit.

September 19, 2009 @ 2:45 pm #

Phil,

Saying that a person who must work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, is not meaningfully free, even if the government leaves him alone, is an illustration of what it would mean to be formally free but not meaningingfully free. That is all it is – an illustration of a philosophical point.

The level of wealth of an average 21st century American EXPONENTIALLY exceeds what is needed to afford someone meaningful freedom. Merely having to work 10 hours a day, 6 days a week to fulfill one’s basic needs, and generate some discretionary income, would mitigate the illustrative power of the example immensely.

The problem, in my view, is that you found the idea that freedom involves more than mere non-coercion a problem for your pre-existing philosophy. But rather than entertain the idea, or criticise it philosophically, you characterized it as an extreme position and called its proponents “useful idiots” for Marxism.

Granted, this is not the entire story. Before you went polemical, you appealed to the traditional definition of “freedom” to defend your philosophy. But such a defense is completely inadequate. The traditional definition of “freedom” was what the example called into question. The entire point of the example was to criticize the traditional definition of freedom. Realizing that there was something to this critique, you went straight to name calling, ridicule and distortion.

Calling people names is not dialogue, Phil. Considering only distorted applications of an opponent’s philosophical ideas is not openminded exploration. These are features of a reactionary polemicism deployed in defense of a pre-existing philosophy.

If that’s what you want to do and be, fine. But don’t confuse yourself with someone who is looking for the truth.

Joe H.

September 19, 2009 @ 3:16 pm #

Joe’s elaborate complaint that Phil said ‘straw man’ is ironic.

What Phil probably should have charged from the beginning is ‘red herring’, as the question Joe raised was of his own making and a diversion from the real topic. The real topic raised by Phil’s article is that ACORN is a contemptible, lawless, partisan organization milking the public treasury by pretending to be non-profit and non-partisan. And that President Obama has more than disturbing ties to this organization.

But Joe introduces the topic of ACORN voter registration fraud (because evidently that’s the only silver bullet he has in his gun) as if that’s what Phil’s article is talking about.

And then he wants to give lessons on parsing the definition of ‘straw man’.

And now we’re parsing Joe’s formal vs meaningful definitions of freedom. Along with his condescending lecture on name calling and open mindedness.

Not a word from him about identifying ‘red herrings’ though.

Just lots and lots of examples.

September 19, 2009 @ 4:08 pm #

Dullhammer,

I did not avoid Phil’s charge by raising a “red herring.” I addressed the central accusation anchoring the right’s criticism of ACORN – that ACORN was engaged in massive voter fraud. I then demonstrated just how ridiculous that claim was – both in terms of the actual facts and as a matter of logic. What more do you want?

By the way, I find it interesting that no one on this blog has contracdicted the facts I provided regarding ACORN’s alleged involvement in “voter fraud.” Has everyone conceeded that the “voter fraud” allegtations against ACORN are as ridiculous as I’ve argued? If you have, you might want to exercise additional scrutiny regarding the other allegations that have been leveled against ACORN.

What is the evidence that ACORN, as an organization, is a “contemptible, lawless, partisan organization milking the public treasury by pretending to be non-profit and non-partisan?” Is it voter fraud? Is it something else? If ACORN is lawless, where are the indictments? What are the charges? Where is the evidence of systematic lawlessness, pursued as an organizational purpose? Acorn employs many thousands of people – what percentage of them have been charged with crimes?

Or, in what way is ACORN partisan? What do they do that is so partisan? And why should Obama be ashamed to have connections to them?

These are fair questions. These are the kinds of questions that smart partisans ask in order to stay in touch with reality.

Absent any answer to these questions, I have to assume that ACORN is simply a useful demon for partisan cynics. If ACORN was smart, they’d immediately change their name to ANGEL – that would take the wind out of the right’s sails.

Joe H.
Joe H.

September 19, 2009 @ 4:57 pm #

One more thing Phil. I’m not sure I’d concede that people needing to work a “mere” sixteen hours a day, six days a week, just to meet their most basic needs, are “meaningfully free.” But my point is not to draw lines. My point was to illustrate that you’re philosophy of absolute property rights overlooks something important about the concept of freedom. It overlooks something that you should be willing to grapple with.

Libertarian philosophy also overlooks other problems, such as the problem of justifying current holdings based on past acts of acquisition. it also overlooks the fact that, in a capitalist system, differences in material resources, particularly those resulting from heritary bequeeths, distort bargaining power in ways that facilitate exploitation.

These are standard criticisms of libertaianism – criticisms that you would hear in most Introduction to Political Philosophy classes at most colleges and/or Universities. An open minded libertarian thinker would familiarize himself with these criticisms and develop compelling responses. Or, if he was unable to develop compelling responses, alter his libertarian views.

To the contrary, your response is to dismiss your opponents’ views based on who they are, or to present “straw men” characterizations of their views and to then ridicule and/or demonize those who advance them.

Frankly, I don’t know why I bother trying to point this out to you.

Also, it does not matter who RM was calling a “Troll.” Name calling is corrsive to dialogue and inquiry. Those who engage in name calling are not seeking the truth or attempting to foster dialogue. They are trying to win rhetorical victories and cement their current convitions with an unshakable sense of righteousness.

And to this I say “fine.” Just don’t pretend to be truth seekers.

Joe H.

September 19, 2009 @ 5:27 pm #

There’s more than one way to skin a cat…

http://sweetness-light.com/archive/irs-files-548k-tax-lien-against-acorn

September 19, 2009 @ 5:53 pm #

>>I did not avoid Phil’s charge by raising a “red herring.”>>

You most certainly did.

>>”I addressed the central accusation anchoring the right’s criticism of ACORN”>>

No, you did not. You brought up an old issue, . . . even using the past tense in doing so. It’s like you’ve just come up with a defense for ACORN’s voter registration fraud and by golly you’re gonna use it. Trouble is ACORN hasn’t cooperated with you very well. In case you haven’t noticed there are some new problems causing even Democrats to wince. But you don’t seem to want to talk about that.

>>”I find it interesting that no one on this blog has contracdicted the facts I provided regarding ACORN’s alleged involvement in “voter fraud.”>>

I find it irrelevant to the issue in the news today. And in Phil’s blog specifically.

>>What is the evidence that ACORN, as an organization, is a “contemptible, lawless, partisan organization milking the public treasury by pretending to be non-profit and non-partisan?”>>

Now you’re actually back on topic. My work here is done.

Uh oh. Now I notice your next post is off topic again. Oh well. “I don’t know why I bother trying to point this out to you.”

And BTW, it wasn’t RM; it was John Cooper who spoke of trolls. Since we’re concerned about names and truth and all. I thought RM described you quite accurately. Not so with Mr. Cooper.

September 19, 2009 @ 6:00 pm #

Joe wrote:

Why would ACORN make an organizational decision to introduce a “flood of false registrations” if they had no intention of matching these registrations up with fake voters? That makes no sense whatsoever?

It is in no way my burden to answer this, and it is irrelevant. Voter registration fraud is, in and of itself, a felony. The organization engages in it systematically, and has been investigated in 20 states for the same behavior. I have proved my claim.

I did suggest a reason that does make sense in my previous comment — qua the strategy of the NWRO, it cripples the system, aiming at general dissatisfaction leading to revolution. But we don’t need that answer to know that the organization is behaving in a consistent manner nationwide, and that the behavior is felonious.

You accused ACORN of being a “criminal enterprise.” The central crime they have been accused of by right-wingers is voter fraud…“A half-dozen ACORN workers were charged with registration fraud or other election-related crimes in the 2004 election. They had completed fewer than two dozen false registrations — out of more than a million new voters registered by ACORN during that cycle.”

Do you dispute these facts? Are they incorrect? Were there more false voter registrations discovered? More people indicted? Please, speak up.

I’m a little flabbergasted. Elsewhere in this thread, Mr. Huster accuses me of failing to investigate any claims outside my own circle of thought. Here, it’s evident that he’s done exactly that, himself: even though I have now TWICE referred him to a long list of gathered evidence suggesting gross criminal behavior, he continues to pretend that the only facts in evidence are a pithy misrepresentation from an editorial by Joe Conant at Salon.com.

I’ve learned the hard way that getting angry at such flagrant hypocrisy produces nothing. I will simply post the facts myself for other readers, and I will pray for Joe’s eyes, that he may see those things about himself to which he appears to be blind.

Here, Joe, are the opening paragraphs from the Staff Report of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued July 23, 2009, entitled “Is ACORN Intentionally Structured as a Criminal Enterprise?”

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has repeatedly and deliberately engaged in systemic fraud. Both structurally and operationally, ACORN hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American electorate.

Emerging accounts of widespread deceit and corruption raise the need for a criminal investigation of ACORN. By intentionally blurring the legal distinctions between 361 tax-exempt and non-exempt entities, ACORN diverts taxpayer and tax-exempt monies into partisan political activities. Since 1994, more than $53 million in federal funds have been pumped into ACORN, and under the Obama administration, ACORN stands to receive a whopping $8.5 billion in available stimulus funds.

Operationally, ACORN is a shell game played in 120 cities, 43 states and the District of Columbia through a complex structure designed to conceal illegal activities, to use taxpayer and tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract investigators. Structurally, ACORN is a chess game in which senior management is shielded from accountability by multiple layers of volunteers and compensated employees who serve as pawns to take the fall for every bad act.

The report, which is 88 pages long, goes on to document how ACORN has failed in its fiduciary responsibility to contributors and employees, violated IRS regulations, violated its own corporate charter, engaged in activities forbidden to not-for-profit enterprises, and engaged in voter registration fraud, embezzlement, and organizational mismanagement. You can read the report here. If you don’t want to wade through 88 pages, you can read the release from the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee here. By the way, notice, at the end of the quote block, above, that designating a few employees to take the fall for the criminal behavior of the entire organization is actually a strategy.

Here’s a link to an article discussing a plea agreement made by a senior ACORN employee at the national level, in response to an indictment brought in Las Vegas, NV, indicating a nationwide conspiracy by directors of ACORN to engage in widespread voter registration fraud and illegal remuneration of registration workers.

Here’s a link to an article documenting that the instructions for the quota system that produced the “handful” of violations is actually IN ACORN’S INSTRUCTION MANUAL that gets used nationwide. The author of this article is a former ACORN employee, and is not a Republican.

Here’s a link to an article citing previous ACORN involvement in union-related embezzlement and fraud.

Here is a discussion of ACORN’s corporation shakedown process, which I regard as a clear violation of the RICO statute.

Is that enough evidence to dispute the “facts” as you presented them? Or do I need to supply more?

“Bullet-proof,” indeed. Joe, you’ve just benefited from the fact that I seldom allow myself to be goaded into reproducing in a comment thread, for your sole benefit, material that I’ve already posted elsewhere on the blog. I’m pretty careful not to make statements I can’t support, and if I’m supposing based on less-than-convincing evidence, I usually say so.

Your ignorance on the subject of ACORN’s criminal behavior is astonishing and disturbing. Please do not ever again accuse me of failing to research matters outside my own point of view until you have learned to do so, yourself.

September 19, 2009 @ 6:05 pm #

>>find it interesting that no one on this blog has contracdicted the facts I provided regarding ACORN’s alleged involvement in “voter fraud.” Has everyone conceeded that the “voter fraud” allegtations against ACORN are as ridiculous as I’ve argued?>>

Now just exactly how would you prove voter fraud? We have a secret ballot. Once the ballot is in the box, you cannot connect it to a particular voter. So…how do you prove voter fraud?

“Voter fraud” in fact is the term used for “voter registration fraud”, but we’re lazy – we take a short cut. Looks to me like an awful lot of ACORN workers have been indicted and convicted of that as well. You just want to take a pass? Not much point in making laws if you don’t enforce them.

http://www.petetheelder.com/?p=1038

http://www.rottenacorn.com/activityMap.html

http://lovingword.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/the-complete-guide-to-acorn-voter-fraud/

http://www.traditionalvalues.org/modules.php?sid=3433

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/09/15/acorn-commits-fraud-in-michigan/

That’s for starters. Hope I don’t trigger some kind of spam alarm…

September 19, 2009 @ 6:12 pm #

Here’s a discussion on the reason behind the fake voter registrations, plus the reason for ACORN in the first place.

http://smartgirlpolitics.ning.com/profiles/blogs/clowardpiven-strategy-bo

Phil, I submitted a comment that has disappeared – probably due to umpteen links that I put into it. If you can find it, I’d appreciate it. Submitted at about 4:05 or so.

September 19, 2009 @ 6:22 pm #

A straw man is a mispresentation of an opponent’s argument in a manner that is so weak that it is easy to refute. A red herring is an issue that is tangential or irrelevant to the central point of the discussion.

Joe’s assertion was that the main complaint by conservatives against the behavior of ACORN was “Vote fraud”. He then proceeded to dismiss this as silly. Since he is in this case representing his opponent’s argument inaccurately, it’s actually an instance of a straw man fallacy.

September 19, 2009 @ 6:45 pm #

Looks to me like Joe actually managed to commit BOTH the Straw Man and Red Herring infractions on the same play. Should be at least fifteen yards AND loss of down.

September 20, 2009 @ 3:18 am #

Okay, make it first and 25.

I’ll look at this evidence. I am not an ACORN scholar, so maybe you all know things that I’ve yet to hear about. I will say up front that I’m immediately skeptical of a “staff report.” What is that? Is it an official committee finding? Was it adopted by the full committee? Was it ever discussed and voted on? Who wrote it and why?

Still, I’ll read it – looking to see if there are credible fact based allegations that deserve to be investigated. I’ll admit that I think it highly possible that the report will consist of exagterated claims, tortured connections, and conclusory allegations unjustified by the facts. I say this because, to date, the justice department has not brought charges against ACORN. Unless you’re ready to say that the Justice department is in a conspiracy with ACORN, there’s a strong presumption that the information gathered in this report is unreliable or problematic in some other way.

But I’ll read it with as open a mind as I can muster. If its credible, I’ll admit that you all were right. If its not credible, I’ll tell you why.

Also, note that none of you get off the hook for the Voter Fraud issue. It was the central allegation of ACORN’s right wing critics for a very long time, and it was blatantly and ridiculously false. To say that my pointing this out was a red hearing or a straw man because you’re no longer focused on those allegations is disingenious. Did any of you who made such allegations retract them? Did the falsity of thoe allegations give you pause going forward?

And Phil, you seem chronically unable to understand why the voter fraud issue is relevant. We don’t disagree that filing false voter registrations is a felony. We disagree about who committred the felony. You claim it was ACORN. This makes no sense, given the logic of voter fraud – unless someone thinks your “foment revolution” argument is plausible. The far more likely explanation is that ACORN employees did this on their own – particularly since they have admitted this. Why won’t you admit this?

Joe H.

September 20, 2009 @ 9:52 am #

The goal of communism was establishment of a world socialistic system. Their method is infiltration and destruction of a nation from within. They have succeeded in infiltrating the USA, starting with education and the universities which educate our teachers, the journalists, and of course the unions. They have largely succeeded in their efforts. They use our own laws against us. Even the ACLU was founded by a Communist…yet call themselves the “American” “Civil Liberties” Union. They have been greatly instrumental in tearing down our culture.

Our problem is to understand their goals and their methods, and then try to determine how best to counter them and root them out. We need a strong directed and cagey leader…and we seem to be fresh out.

But you, Joe, are either one of them or you’re a “useful idiot” (that being a term used by Lenin(?) to describe those who are blissfully unaware of the danger and nature of the attack, who don’t do the research to connect the dots and who are happy to help those who wish to destroy us work towards our destruction).

>>The midnight visit by the secret police, censorship, fraudulent “elections,” and the control of all possible sources of opposition are all necessary elements in any Marxist revolutionary society – from Lenin to Chavez>>

http://newzeal.blogspot.com/2009/09/warning-to-america-and-whats-left-of.html

September 20, 2009 @ 2:18 pm #

The far more likely explanation is that ACORN employees did this on their own… Why won’t you admit this?

Because the facts say otherwise. And though I’m tired of repeating them, and you haven’t even addressed them, here’s the quick list… again:

Consistent pattern across at least 20 states; instructions in their written manual; testimony implicating national-level ACORN officers in a plea agreement; organization deliberately constructed to direct blame at lowest level; history suggesting the strategy. Explain these, please.

The reasons I’m objecting to you raising “voter fraud” as an issues are: 1) your original claim recognized the difference between voter fraud and voter REGISTRATION fraud, and direct voter fraud was only claimed briefly and is not the primary concern; 2) ACORN is criminal on several other fronts as well, and in fact is structured to engender a fraud. As you said, we don’t disagree that voter REGISTRATION fraud is relevant; I do disagree that it’s the primary concern. It’s the most publicized criminal element, but the primary concern is the fraud of a partisan group obtaining public funds on the deliberate misrepresentation of itself as a non-partisan, not-for-profit enterprise.

Concerning the staff report, are you saying that you cannot accept facts if they’re presented by a source you consider partisan? (And you consider Joe Conant non-partisan???) I’ll gladly admit that the staff report was prepared by the Republicans. Now, please explain to me why that means the facts stated therein are not facts. If you can find evidence published by Democrats that contradict the facts reported in the Republican staff report, I’ll consider it. Like you, I’ll be skeptical; but I won’t dismiss it simply and solely because it was written by Democrats. That’s just not honest.

Besides, the salient fact is fairly obvious on the face of things: ACORN is structured to hide a partisan purpose, and it obtains funds on the basis of being non-partisan. If it’s deliberate, it’s fraud. That’s indisputable. The question, then, is whether it’s deliberate. If I can produce a statement from the founder and CEO identifying ACORN as central and indispensable to the Progressive movement, in particular to the goal of obtaining and keeping political power, will you accept that as proof that the organization’s primary aim is partisan?

September 20, 2009 @ 3:13 pm #

>>”But I’ll read it with as open a mind as I can muster. If its credible, I’ll admit that you all were right. If its not credible, I’ll tell you why.”>>

credible
adjective
able to be believed; convincing : few people found his story credible | a credible witness. See note at believable .
* capable of persuading people that something will happen or be successful : a credible threat.

1 offering reasonable grounds for being believed “a credible account of an accident” “credible witnesses”
2 of sufficient capability to be militarily effective “a credible deterrent” “credible forces”

1. capable of being believed; believable: a credible statement.
2. worthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy: a credible witness.

* * *

Thought this might come in handy for later, so we’re clear what ‘credibility’ is. It is not whether one believes the report or not. It is whether the report is reasonably worthy of respect, or not. Objectively speaking.

September 21, 2009 @ 8:05 am #

Way to talk down to a Philosophy professor about careful thought, dullhammer! My money’s on the table that he will not return the favor.

September 21, 2009 @ 10:01 am #

Darkhorse,

If Joe used his super powers purely for good, we mortals would not have to question the promises and definitions of the claims he’s made. Honestly, there is no way I expect Joe to come back with his “report on the report” with the conclusion that it is ‘credible’. Let alone for him to admit that Phil was right about the things argued previously. It’s just not going to happen.

Instead of writing that, I thought it would be helpful to take away the potential ambiguity of the word ‘credible’. But now, thanks in part to you, I am making my skeptical thoughts even more clear. You must be shocked, shocked at such a revelation.

You may also notice that my post is not addressed to Joe. I’m not talking to him. So I’m not talking down to him either. I am, however, implying that he could possibly employ the word ‘credible’ ambiguously or even deceitfully. Insulting him maybe, indirectly, but not without relevance to the more important matter of sorting out what is true. Unlike you, I do not trust Joe to be above the fray when it comes to blog discussions. You can elevate Joe for his credentials all you want. But you can not demand the same from me. Nor shame me into it. He is going to have to earn his credentials with me all over again every time he posts at this blog.

There’s more I could say on that, but I will stop there.

September 21, 2009 @ 10:49 am #

Dullhammer,

Let me suggest that, if Joe comes up with ANY interpretation other than the fully GOP approved version into his research, there isn’t a chance from your side that it could even get a hearing – right or wrong.

I didn’t “pull rank” for Joe simply to give you a reason to pipe down – it was in the interest solely of civil dialog.

And let me tell you that whether we agree or disagree, you will never have to earn your credentials every time you post. You are made in the image of God and worthy of better respect than that.

September 21, 2009 @ 11:22 am #

It’s almost always worth while defining one’s terms – explaining exactly how you’re using a particular word or term. We all bring different backgrounds to bear, and we don’t all use exactly the same meaning to various words. Often the misapplication of word interpretation is at the heart of a disagreement…

September 21, 2009 @ 11:23 am #

Not to mention, my brother in Christ (as is Joe).

September 21, 2009 @ 3:43 pm #

Darkhorse,

>>”Let me suggest that, if Joe comes up with ANY interpretation other than the fully GOP approved version into his research, there isn’t a chance from your side that it could even get a hearing – right or wrong.”>>

Wrong. All Joe needs to do is determine whether the report is credible or not. He does not need to endorse it or assert it as a final authority on the matter. He doesn’t even need to admit (as he says he’ll do) that the rest of us are right. We could still be wrong from some other angle (in theory at least).

But then, that’s why I posted three definitions of ‘credible’.

If Joe were to offer reasonable (credible) grounds for believing the report is UNtrustworthy I would be impressed (so long as his reasons do not have the prerequisite of a Law degree). I would also hold that impression for a while to hear the other side. That, in my view, constitutes a hearing. The actual verdict is another matter.

More to what I expect is that Joe will critique the report as being without credibility. And he will do so in such a way that I will consider his own report to be less than credible. That’s what I expect. I’m willing to be wrong.

But that’s not really the point, is it. The real point is whether Joe would ever himself report that the Report is credible. Reasonable. Worthy of some trust. If Joe were to say the report is in fact credible, I would myself be utterly shocked.

And just because I have no expectation of Joe to act out of character, it does not follow that my measure of his character shortfall is the GOP’s party line. (Nor does it follow that I am speaking for everyone else here.) My measure will be Joe’s own words. Along with three definitions of ‘credible’.

>>”I didn’t “pull rank” for Joe simply to give you a reason to pipe down – it was in the interest solely of civil dialog.”>>

That is most noble of you. You’re playing the UN, I suppose, with all the impartiality they are so famous for.

>>”And let me tell you that whether we agree or disagree, you will never have to earn your credentials every time you post. You are made in the image of God and worthy of better respect than that.”>>

You have changed the definition of ‘credentials’. And have lost some of my respect in doing so. Not as a human being, mind you. Just as a poster making a bad point. That’s how it works. Words mean things. They are not silly putty, even though they are fun and amazingly flexible. And reputations are earned and lost and earned . . . every day. THAT is what I meant by ‘credentials’ being earned every day. I certainly did not mean that Joe had to prove himself to be a human loved by God every time he posted on PlumbBobBlog. Your closing statement to me is, quite frankly, far more of an insult than a word of respect.

>>”Not to mention, [you are] my brother in Christ (as is Joe).”>>

As with Paul and Barnabas. (Acts 15:36-40) I’ll bet they even got testy.

September 21, 2009 @ 5:43 pm #

Dullhammer,

Let me explain a little bit about what I saw under this post, and maybe you’ll understand why I think you’re misunderstanding me.

Joe apparently wasn’t aware of the additional material Phil had supplied (and frankly, could not be expected to pay close attention each day here, no matter what Phil may have implied earlier – he’s far busier than me). It appeared to Joe that people on the Right had been downplaying any good ACORN had been involved with and inflating a very little bit of evidence against them for some time now.

The first thing Phil did when Joe question these tactics is bring up the additional information – and question Joe’s integrity. Why not explore first whether Joe was unaware of the data, and also let Joe do what he is doing now, explore it, before throwing missiles? That was a sad display. And most incredibly uncharitable.

Now each word I type to you, in encouragement to act charitably toward your brother, lowers me in your eyes and drops the respect.

Very sorry, Dullhammer, but your explanations show more buying into a culture of “being right” than I can handle. I’ll leave you very alone about that now before I disappear in your eyes?

September 21, 2009 @ 10:36 pm #

darkhorse –

You need to reread Joe’s original post in this thread, and tell me if you genuinely believe it was presented in a respectful tone, or if it was dismissive and insulting. You further need to consider whether his presentation of the available evidence was plausible even if limited to available newspaper coverage.

I do not expect Joe to know every detail (except insofar as he demands the same of me — which he has on occasion), but I do expect him to represent the facts in evidence fairly. There have been 70 arrests made of ACORN footmen in 20 different states, all for the same misdeed. That is not “a handful.” That’s a pattern. And so far as I can tell, he went no farther in his research than to quote an editorial by a partisan from salon.com. That’s not sufficient basis to come to another man’s blog and snicker at the rubes.

You seem eager to judge me, and a great deal more eager to avoid judging your friend. That’s understandable — but it’s intellectually insupportable.

September 21, 2009 @ 10:50 pm #

Joe Huster wrote:

One more thing Phil. I’m not sure I’d concede that people needing to work a “mere” sixteen hours a day, six days a week, just to meet their most basic needs, are “meaningfully free.” But my point is not to draw lines. My point was to illustrate that you’re philosophy of absolute property rights overlooks something important about the concept of freedom. It overlooks something that you should be willing to grapple with.

I raised a perfectly sound objection to your attempt to add economic freedom to my Lockean notion of political and religious freedom; it was a reductio aimed at demonstrating how any modern innovation could be added to the concept of freedom in a similar manner. You completely ignored it, and to this moment, you have not even made the slightest attempt to address it. And yet, YOU accuse ME of failing to grapple with issues.

That’s pretty frustrating, let me tell you. But so far, I’ve seen no reason to accept your addition to my original concept of freedom, nor will I until you address the simple fact that any limitation on any human action can be added in similar fashion.

I also noted that the originators of the notion of freedom that I’m studying in the posts you were addressing, worked harder than your example — and yet considered themselves free. Clearly, THEY did not consider your economic criteria compelling; and since I’m attempting to reconstruct THEIR thinking, not construct a modern point of view, why should I? You’re trying to hijack an exercise with irrelevancies to the topic at hand, and I’m simply not going to permit you to do it. You could bring Heisenberg Uncertainty into it, too, or postmodern challenges to truth, but I wouldn’t “grapple” with those either — because they’re simply off topic.

Finally, I think you know better than I do, it was Marx who insisted on an economic component of freedom, and it’s Marxists who still insist on it. Let’s see, are there any sound reasons why a thinking man in the 21st century might immediately react negatively to the introduction of a Marxist idea? I can think of in excess of 100 million DEAD reasons. From where I sit, any idea even remotely resembling Marxism or any claim thereof should be treated in polite company just like attempts to introduce eugenics — since the results of thinking that way proved so horribly deadly in the very recent past.

So get off your high horse, pal. Nobody’s running away from the truth, here, except you.

September 21, 2009 @ 11:46 pm #

Darkhorse, you go from one melodrama to another quicker than I can type.

Yes, by all means leave me alone. I can’t help but think your words of encouragement are even more insulting than my original sin of posting three definitions of ‘credible’.

September 22, 2009 @ 6:31 pm #

Just sitting here listening to my really fast piano music. Very, very happy to still have my sense of humor. : )

September 23, 2009 @ 11:37 am #

Okay, I let the melodrama I am stewing in set for a day, and I have decided to repent. I am encouraged by my friend Paul: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” For some reason, in these political forums, I become someone I never am in person and let the acerbic tone of the medium get the best of me.

Dullhammer, I was offended on behalf of my friend because it FELT to me like you were acting as if he didn’t understand basic philosophical principles, or at least that he wouldn’t deal with them honestly. I know Joe better than that, but there was absolutely no reason in the world I should have tried to put you in the wrong because of my offense. For that, I offer my apologies.

Not sure if I can trust myself to hang around much, in light of my busy schedule starting the new business, and the effect that has on my ability to post in careful and measured manner. I’ll give it a try, but really my greatest reason for being here is to try and encourage people not to assume the worst about others and then pack the assumption with as much evidence as possible.

That’s not all that’s happening here, of course…there is some real and honest concerns that are addressed in well-thought-out terms…but not all.

I’ll try and do better.

September 23, 2009 @ 2:50 pm #

Darkhorse,

Thank you so much for your post. I completely accept your apology. It actually blows me away. It clearly demonstrates your love for Christ is greater than your self interest. And, as we both know, that is not something that all Christians automatically do all the time, myself included.

I am very aware of how the “acerbic tone of the medium” can get the best of us. I also am fearfully aware of how important it is to edit our own posts before hitting the “submit” button. Not for grammar as much as for keeping our passion and purpose in sync. And sometimes we just don’t catch it.

This medium is like an exaggeration of our tongues (no small danger according to James), where every word has to stand alone without facial expressions, without faces, without our larger personalities and without deeper relationships which can be so helpful when engaging in controversial discussion. It’s no wonder there is a tendency to degenerate.

But if your greatest reason for being here is to encourage people to rise above that ‘acerbic tone’, I think you have just taken a significant step in that direction. What you have done cuts through the medium’s limitations and reaches my heart. And honors the name of Christ in the process.

You had a right to address the feelings you had; you just did it in a way that aggravated the situation. I reacted both honestly and defensively. Increasingly defensively. And we spiraled down. What a joy, though, to be able to say there’s a way against all that. And you found it.

Thank you again.

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