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

03/02/2010 (8:43 am)

Brooklyn DA Will Not Prosecute ACORN Office

alg_acornA Brooklyn, NY District Attorney’s office announced that it will not prosecute the ACORN office caught on tape advising reporters posing as a pimp and prostitute how to set up their business. The DA declared that no criminal activity was found, and will file no charges.

Jammie Wearing Fool raises the rather obvious question of a possible political motivation for the New York DA. He has no evidence about the investigation itself, but a source from within the DA’s office clumsily tried to hand the left a money quote in the NY Daily News account, and Ron Chusid at Liberal Values slavishly echoed it:

While the video by James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles seemed to show three ACORN workers advising a prostitute how to hide ill-gotten gains, the unedited version was not as clear, according to a law enforcement source.

“They edited the tape to meet their agenda,” said the source.

Huh? I recall watching an unedited video of at least one of their ACORN visits showing the entire conversation, and the full, unedited audio of each office visit has been posted on the Internet for months. Of course they edited the tape for the newsreels; news reports always cut out the fat and leave the meat. What did they expect, that they would cut out the “can in the backyard” part and leave them shaking hands and saying “hello?”

While Jammie seems to be correct about the DA office’s biases, just from a legal standpoint I’m not surprised that there was nothing actionable. The act caught on tape was a worker advising a couple that they should hide their profits from prostitution in a can buried in their back yard. I’m not sure that discussing an illegal venture is a crime, and “can in the back yard” is hardly a RICO-investigation-worthy money laundering scheme.

Still, we should not let the left pretend that this clears ACORN. It does not. The issue on the O’Keefe tapes was never that actionable crimes were being committed, it was that ACORN as an organization was routinely and deliberately engaged in undermining virtuous society. The shock of the tapes was that the workers on those tapes showed no surprise at all when confronted with a young couple clearly engaging in community- and life-destroying behaviors. They did not say “What you’re attempting is illegal, and we cannot help you” (except for one fellow in the New Orleans office, good on ‘im.) They did not call the police and describe the couple to them. They did not object to the immorality of it, or try to persuade the couple not to do what they were planning. They did not even blink. They simply engaged in business as usual — as though helping a pimp establish a house of prostitution using under-age illegals was just part of the daily routine.

Andrew Breitbart correctly called this “The Abu Graib of the Great Society.” The PimpGate affair ripped back the cover of “social justice” advocacy and displayed it for the corrupt moral inversion that it truly is. While it pinpoints ACORN, it highlights the moral bankruptcy of the culture built by Democratic party policies in the inner city, and implicates the Democratic party as a willing participant in the moral degeneration that ACORN represents. It is of a single piece with the destruction of Detroit, and the corruption and rot at the heart of New Orleans that we all saw after Katrina. Anybody who regards what we saw on the O’Keefe tapes as morally acceptable, even in the absence of a criminal indictment, is part of the rot.

Still, Democrats who were stung badly by their clear association with such a seamy organization will use “no indictments” as vindication, in the same manner — and displaying the same moral obtuseness — as they did with “lying about a blow job.” Brace yourselves, and be prepared with the correct answer. This changes nothing.

09/24/2009 (9:45 am)

What's Wrong With This Picture?

The video to the left is from the recent sting operation by independent reporters regarding the Baltimore office of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. We all know the story by now; the reporters pose as pimp and prostitute, the workers give them advice how to game the tax laws. (You can read about how the project came about here.)

Yesterday, ACORN filed suit in Circuit Court for Baltimore City against Andrew Breitbart, the owner of the Big Government blog on which the films were presented, and against Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe, the two reporters who posed in the video. They seek punitive and compensatory damages for their ruined reputations, and they seek an injunction to stop the circulation of the videos. Good luck with the latter — they’re on YouTube and they’ve gone viral.

The two employees who were captured on video have been fired by ACORN. The organization has frozen hiring until an investigation is complete. Congress has cut off federal funding for the organization. ACORN claims damage was done to its reputation, and claims also that the two employees, Thompson and WIlliams, suffered “extreme emotional distress” as a result of the video. Also, the lawsuit claims that O’Keefe and Giles violated Maryland law by taping audio without the consent of the people being taped.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Put yourself in the place of a legitimate citizen organization. You’ve been visited by a hostile team of reporters who are aiming at ruining your reputation. They’ve discovered a pair of rogues working in one of your offices, and broadcast the video of these two clowns violating your organization’s clear intent and helping criminals establish businesses that hide their crimes and steal from the taxpayers. Your reputation has suffered, your donors are running for the hills, and you want compensation.

Why the hell are you concerned about the “extreme emotional distress” of the two human sewers that the reporters discovered? These two are the reason the reporters were able to ruin your reputation! You should be suing them! Sure, it makes sense also to sue the reporters to get compensation for the damage, but you should be suing these employees for every penny they earn for the rest of their lives, for bringing their garbage into your legitimate place of business and making your organization look like a criminal enterprise. You should be spreading memos throughout the organization with pictures and descriptions of those two, saying “If you do what these two did, expect to be fired, jailed, folded, spindled, mutilated, and have teams of flesh-eating lawyers gobbling the income from your estate for the rest of eternity.”

CNN’s story on the matter cites a relevant falsehood (without identifying it as a falsehood.) It says:

ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — said O’Keefe and Giles also attempted to capture similar videos at ACORN offices in other cities but failed.

What they do not say is that O’Keefe and Giles claim exactly the opposite — that they visited exactly five ACORN offices, and obtained exactly five videos of employees helping them break the law. They had no trouble finding ACORN employees to help them, because that’s what ACORN does: it helps people break the law.

So why is ACORN listing the pain and suffering of these employees in the lawsuit? Simply because the lawsuit is not aimed at producing justice. They know other employees are engaged in precisely the same activity. They hire them to do that. If they went after the employees like a sane organization would, they would lose all their employees overnight. So they can’t do that.

The purpose of the lawsuit, frankly, is to discourage honest people from attacking ACORN, so they can continue to operate without scrutiny. They want people to think twice before blowing the whistle on their criminal enterprise. And the purpose for listing the pain and suffering of criminals in the complaint is to throw more mud on the wall to see what sticks. If they manage to get a judge to award them compensation for the suffering of these two, all that much more pain for the reporters who dared to cross them. It can’t hurt their lawsuit, so they do it.

The lawsuit is not about justice, not even a little. The whole picture does not look like a legitimate organization seeking redress of real grievances. It looks like a criminal enterprise engaging in warfare.

ACORN has the right in the United States to sue in court to seek compensation for damages. That’s the legal side, and the rights of individuals, regardless of how vicious or immoral they might be, must be protected equally, or none of us are safe. Courtesy of one of my commenters, allow me to quote a conversation from the 1966 film A Man for All Seasons, between Sir Thomas More and his son-in-law to be, William Roper:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

Having said that, I want to be clear: I believe that what these reporters did was morally right. I believe that ACORN is a deeply corrupt organization, from top to bottom. I believe that ACORN’s employees were doing precisely what they were hired to do, and that they were fired solely for appearance’s sake. I do not believe any other conclusion is possible.

And I believe this lawsuit is an evil act.

The phrase that comes to my mind is from the prophet Isaiah, where he condemns the Israelites for fasting with wrong motives: he says they pray and fast in order to “strike with a wicked fist.” (Isaiah 58:4, New American Standard Version) That’s what ACORN is doing here. They got caught doing what they do. They are using the laws of the land to punish the righteous for exposing them, to make sure nobody else ever exposes them again without thinking twice. They want to perform their evil deeds in the dark, as evil people always do. So they use the laws to punish the righteous.

wrybob1This is not, by far, the only sort of misuse of the system we call “Justice.” Research has established that one of the greatest contributors to the costs of medical care is what we call “defensive medicine,” medicine that serves no purpose other than to protect the doctor, and more to the point, the insurer, against lawsuits. This has become necessary because people use the courts, not to get justice, but to get rich. They sue if the doctor makes an error (which is common enough, since doctors are human,) or if nature deals them a bad hand and they can blame the doctor somehow. They reason, “The doctor has lots, and I have only a little, so why shouldn’t I get some of it?” The sort of thinking that says “I should only ask for what is just” has vanished from our culture. So has the sort of thinking that says “I should offer what is just,” because lawsuits have driven that sort of thing underground. One does not admit error, because that puts you at risk in the lawsuit. We have become corrupt, and our corruption has broken the system of justice.

I’ve begun a series of articles reviewing theological thinking about politics in the American colonies before the American Revolution. It’s a bit boring, but the reason I’m doing it is so I can wrap my mind around what it might take to build, from the ground up, a society that honors God’s laws, that rewards righteousness and discards wickedness as though it were garbage. The current American system does not do that; it rewards wickedness, and protects it.

The system actually protects righteous people if the people are, on the whole, righteous. The reason the system protects wickedness is that the land is full of wicked people. We have become corrupt, and have earned our demise. We need to resurrect righteous thinking; we need to mark the money-grubbing that abuses the system as the evil that it is, and we need to resist that sort of thinking when it arises within ourselves. We need to call corruption by its name, and we need to root it out from among us, “…each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

The cure begins in the mirror; each of us bears the responsibility to become righteous, and the responsibility to learn to think, speak, and act like righteous men and women. The only version of this that will bear legitimate fruit is the version that relies on God, Himself, to build righteousness in us. No counterfeit will produce anything worthwhile. The mere fact that one calls oneself “Christian” (or any other denomination) does not produce what’s needed. It’s just as easy for a Christian to get greedy or foolish as it is anybody else. What we’re after is not religious words, but godly behavior; not church attendance, but decency.

There can be no other foundation for a righteous nation; the laws that defend liberty, defend wickedness where wickedness is common. The only solution is to make wickedness uncommon.

John Adams’ name has risen in esteem recently, as historians rediscover the mark he left on the fledgling nation, so I’ll end this by recalling his warning issued to militiamen of Massachusetts in 1798:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.

We are no longer a moral and religious people, so ACORN is free to strike with wicked fists against the righteous who expose their criminality. This does not have to be, but the cure begins right there where you sit.

09/21/2009 (7:54 pm)

And Since We're Talking About Public Funding For Partisan Activism…

090921-yosi2…Andrew Breitbart’s next bombshell is going to fit right in. Patterico, Q and O, and Power LIne — just to name a few — are all picking up Breitbart’s hints that a major scandal will break tomorrow, involving the Obama administration using the National Endowment for the Arts to encourage artists to produce art arguing for Obama administration policies that are currently being debated. Meanwhile, Breitbart’s Big Hollywood site offers its own “Pregame Report,” supplying the background against which their story is expected to appear (if you’re going to read only one story, this is the one to read.)

The basic story is already about a month old: early in August, the National Endowment for the Arts invited a number of public artists, producers, promoters, movers, shakers, and apparently at least one public relations firm with astroturfing experience, to participate in a conference call to discuss how they could all cooperate with the President’s initiatives. One of the participants on the call, a Los Angeles filmmaker and consultant named Patrick Courrielche, felt the conference call was unusual and improper — the NEA’s charter is to facilitate the development of new and under-funded artists, not to engage in propaganda for the sitting government — so he wrote about it on Breitbart’s Hollywood expose’ blog, Big Hollywood. This led to a completely unbelievable denial from Yosi Sargent, the Director of the Office of Communications for the NEA, that he had sent out the invitations to the conference call — invitations under his credential and with his signature. Yosi has since vanished from the post, without explanation. Just a few days ago, George F. Will launched an essay denouncing the practice, and decrying the Obama administration’s turning artists into lobbyists; and today, we’re seeing a flurry of reports setting the stage for a new expose`.

Courrielche explained the call:

On Thursday August 6th, I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts to attend a conference call scheduled for Monday August 10th hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve. The call would include “a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change.”

Backed by the full weight of President Barack Obama’s call to service and the institutional weight of the NEA, the conference call was billed as an opportunity for those in the art community to inspire service in four key categories, and at the top of the list were “health care” and “energy and environment.” The service was to be attached to the President’s United We Serve campaign, a nationwide federal initiative to make service a way of life for all Americans.

We were encouraged to bring the same sense of enthusiasm to these “focus areas” as we had brought to Obama’s presidential campaign, and we were encouraged to create art and art initiatives that brought awareness to these issues. Throughout the conversation, we were reminded of our ability as artists and art professionals to “shape the lives” of those around us. The now famous Obama “Hope” poster, created by artist Shepard Fairey and promoted by many of those on the phone call, and will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” song and music video were presented as shining examples of our group’s clear role in the election.

Civic engagement — to partisan politics, at the behest of the President. A Presidential call to “positive change” — meaning a strictly partisan agenda. National service — to the man in the White House, and to his policies. Not service to the nation; not service to Liberty, nor to Democracy, nor to Mom, Apple Pie, and The Girl He Left Behind. “I pledge to serve Obama.” Something in us tells us that this is just wrong.

I’m just having a heck of a time grasping exactly what that is. What is the difference, I ask myself, between Obama calling for “an attitude of service” in this fashion, and, say, Ronald Reagan taking his cause to the airwaves to win the support of the people? Why do I find the latter profoundly American and satisfying, and the former, foreign and chilling?

When I said, two days ago, that ACORN’s core mission is a fraud, what I meant was that ACORN pretends to be non-partisan and non-profit so that it can use tax dollars to pursue a partisan agenda. This is against the law for a good reason. American politics has always attempted to create a firm barrier between governing and campaigning, with the understanding that allowing government to use public funds to engage in partisan campaigns is a form of tyranny — it forces taxpayers to spend their money for campaigns to which they have not agreed. Governors may put into practice whatever policies they can persuade the legislature to support and the courts to approve, and do it with public funds, but campaigning is to be done on the candidate’s own dime.

It has always concerned us, furthermore, that a government with the power to engage in propaganda could manipulate the public in such a way as to retain power and take away liberty. Free artists, advertisers, and writers are always welcome to participate in the public arena, of course, but we draw the line at government involvement. Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Department Secretaries, National Security Advisors — these are all expected to use their public platforms and their newsworthiness to advocate their particular policies in public, but they are most emphatically not encouraged to buy advertising to make that case, using public funds. There are laws against these things.

Both Yosi Sargent and Patrick Courrielche raised the image of government using art, TV, movies, images, media to shape the public mind. Courrielche correctly invoked Noam Chomsky’s term, “manufacturing consent.” We have a government based on the consent of the governed, and we value the free, public processes by which citizens are encouraged to find facts and make up their own minds. We deplore the trends that encourage citizens to make those crucial decisions on the basis of 10-second sound bites. What are we to say of a government-run, taxpayer-funded effort to manufacture consent for its policies? How can a people remain free when the government has the power to manufacture the basis for its own legitimacy?

For this reason, the fact that Armstrong Williams was paid by the Bush administration to talk up No Child Left Behind was troubling. Far too few conservatives raised objections to this — I plead guilty myself, here, I did not write about it but I recall making excuses — but if it was not frankly illegal, it was certainly a breach of an important barrier in the American psyche. We knew it was unacceptable. Fortunately, Williams also knew it was, and vowed never to do it again.

rockvote82The complicity of the American news business with the Obama administration is a little bit different, but even more problematic. While advocacy for or against a particular policy or set of policies is expected, the people in question are expected to maintain a certain distance; they are not to become part of the political machine of the government. If they want to advocate in favor of a government policy with which they happen to agree, fine; that’s protected. But to take instructions from the government regarding what to report, or how, or when?

This is why President Bill Clinton’s use of media shills to front his policies was so disturbing. Cokie Roberts and Brian Williams are supposed to be independent of the government, that’s what makes them valuable. If they abandon both profit motive and professional commitments to Truth and Objectivity, and become instead servants of the government, or worse, servants of the man leading the government, the press can serve no useful purpose in a free society; it becomes merely a tool of tyranny. And of course, that is why the wholesale commitment of entire news organizations to the service of the Obama administration has been so frightening. The networks doing this deserve far worse than the mere obscurity they will obtain.

I do not believe I have ever heard, before the Obama administration, effort devoted to a partisan cause referred to as “public service,” except in the general sense that citizenship calls for active participation. For the administration to call “service” that which serves their partisan campaign, but to call “mob rule,” or “naziism,” or “hysteria,” or “hate,” that which opposes it, is to move a step closer to outlawing their opposition. It’s bad enough, but still acceptable within our system, when partisans of either side brand their opponents “evil,” and their own causes “good;” but Obama’s nomenclature makes it official. And it is this official branding of the opposition as “evil” that makes Obama’s exercise a rebuttal of democratic society. By doing so, Obama says “I do not choose to participate in the American system; I choose to end that system.”

Immediately I can hear partisans of the left demanding that I denounce the Bush administration for calling its critics irresponsible, in order to be fair. I will not. It is possible to debate and disagree with a policy without doing so in a manner that empowers the enemies of our armed forces engaged in battle. Some Democrats did this, and deserved no criticism, but many others crossed a bright, red line (not to mention violating the law) by publishing classified material and then broadcasting it around the world in such a way as to empower the men who were killing American soldiers. Worse than that, some Democrats deliberately engaged in activity to undercut the policy of duly elected officials, and to ruin the reputations of those elected officials in a clear attempt to foil their policies; this is one tiny step short of a coup d’etat. These are activities that go beyond what is permissible even in a free society. This is not legitimate advocacy.

Nor is the Obama NEA initiative legitimate advocacy. It is the death of a free society if it is permitted.

Patrick Corrielche ended his article with this excerpt from the conference call, along with his reaction:

And if you think that my fear regarding the arts becoming a tool of the state is still unfounded, I leave you with a few statements made by the NEA to the art community participants on the conference call. “This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?…bare (sic) with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely… “

Is the hair on your arms standing up yet?

09/19/2009 (7:04 pm)

ACORN in a Nutshell (Updated)

1obacornlog003Puns aside, I was shocked and a little amazed when a commenter on a recent thread insisted that the only criminal behavior exhibited by ACORN has been from a handful of employees going overboard in collecting voter registrations. It appears that the mainstream press has succeeded in misleading at least one seemingly intelligent Democrat into ignoring a veritable flood of damning evidence. It’s not the first time.

I’ve said for years, and believe it to be profoundly true, that the proper definition of “Democrat” is “an American voter who still believes that what he reads in major newspapers and hears on television news programs is accurate.” Once a person has learned that the press is systematically lying to them in order to make them support their agenda, which is written for them by the Democratic party, they tend to find alternative sources for the truth — after which, it’s pretty difficult to remain a good Democrat.

So, for all you Democrats out there, and for Republicans and Libertarians who have not been keeping up with the evidence, here are a handful of pithy links that will apprise you of the fuller picture of the organization calling itself the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Notice that it is an association: there are actually more than 300 separate organizations in the network, all carefully organized in such a way as to defeat any efforts to penetrate the maze and understand how they interact. It’s actually a deliberately structured shell game that enables a group of people who describe themselves in their own internal documents as “central and indispensable to the Progressive enterprise of gaining and using political power” to present themselves to the IRS and the Federal Election Commission as a non-profit enterprise engaged in non-partisan efforts to register voters and obtain housing loans.

ACORN, in short, is a criminal enterprise.

Here 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.

ACORN was in fact begun as a spin-off from the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). The NWRO was created deliberately to overload the welfare system in an attempt to bring capitalism to its knees and instigate a revolution; that was the stated intent of the founders. ACORN’s conduct in voter registration makes an astonishing parallel; they don’t seem to be attempting to stuff the ballot box, but they do seem to be attempting to overload the system in such a way as to make it unworkable. The recent sting operation reported by Big Government blog reveals that they also do what they can to game the system for the benefit of illegals of various sorts. And, the core operation of the organization is itself a huge fraud: by creating a false front of voter registration and home loan counseling organizations, they obtain federal funds and tax exemption, which they then put to partisan, political purposes in a systematic fashion.

ACORN/Obama fusion image borrowed from Michelle Malkin. Ms. Malkin gives Photoshop credit to Leo Alberti, so I will, too.

UPDATE: I knew when I posted this that there would be lots of links that added bits of information, and I determined in advance that I was content with the sketchy details I’d provided. However, one reader added a link to the Cloward-Piven strategy put into play by the National Welfare Rights Organization, which was the organization from which ACORN spun off. This, I think, is crucial information regarding the organization, so I’m going to add the link here.

Read about the Cloward-Piven strategy at Smart Girl Politics (and your monitor will look like a gift for a baby shower, but that’s what you get for visiting a site called “Smart Girl Politics.” 🙂 )

I’m also adding the link to my own article that explains President Obama’s connection to ACORN, for anyone that has not read it.

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
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.


05/19/2009 (10:28 am)

News Flash: Times Spikes Story to Save Obama Campaign…

…and dog bites man.

I can’t imagine anybody on the right expressing the least bit of surprise over the story that came up again over the weekend, confirming that the New York Times deliberately spiked a story detailing possibly illegal connections between the Obama campaign and ACORN. It seems that an informant to the Times testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee that the Obama campaign printed a list of maxed-out donors and sent it to ACORN so they could ply them for donations for voter registration drives; it seems that the Times reporter knew about the lists but was told by her editors not to publish the story, allegedly remarking that “it was a game-changer.” After 30 years of watching newspapers routinely ply leftist talking points as though they were news and acting in all ways as the propaganda wing of the Democratic party, hearing that the Times would pocket a story that might harm their beloved Obama’s candidacy is about as exciting as a bowl of corn flakes.

I can imagine Democrats expressing nothing but disdain that anybody could possibly question the veracity of the Corporate-America-owned New York Times (I even think some of them might use a sentence like that one, which contains an obvious contradiction). That’s because they’re so used to pretending that the news is either neutral or slanted to the right that they can no longer detect their own dissembling. That the news is completely friendly to the Democrats (apart from Fox) is no longer seriously debatable.

The story is actually oldish, reaching print in Philadelphia back at the end of March. Gateway Pundit reported on it back then, along with some other blogs. This weekend, Clark Hoyt, the Times’ Public Editor wrote in a weekend editorial that upon investigation, the story had actually been killed because none of their leads had panned out. John Hinderaker at Power Line takes this editorial apart, correctly noting that the facts in the editorial grant all the accusations and do nothing to refute them. In short, says Hinderaker, the Times is guilty of what Hoyt himself calls “about the most damning allegation that can be made against a news organization.” The American Spectator piles on with shrewd analysis of Times reporter Stephanie Strom’s series of articles about ACORN based on this same informant’s testimony (the testimony that suddenly “didn’t pan out” when it promised to embarrass the Obama campaign,) and Gateway Pundit follows up its own reporting on the matter.

The take from the 2008 presidential campaign has been that calling the national press corps “the propaganda wing of the Democratic National Committee” is not hyperbole, but operative fact. Welcome to the Democrats’ Brave New World.

11/04/2008 (1:03 pm)

Fraudulent Registrations Turn Into Fraudulent Votes

From John Fund at The Politico:

ACORN’s second line of defense has been that fraudulent registrations can’t turn into fraudulent votes, as if the felony of polluting voter lists was somehow not all that serious. But that defense goes only a short distance. “How would you know if people using fake names had cast votes in states without strict ID laws?” says GOP Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who this year won a major Supreme Court case upholding his state’s photo identification law. “It’s almost impossible to detect and once the fraudulent voter leaves the precinct or casts an absentee ballot, that vote is thrown in with other secret ballots there’s no way to trace it.”

Anita MonCrief, an ACORN whistle-blower who worked for both it and its Project Vote registration affiliate from 2005 until early this year, agrees. “It’s ludicrous to say that fake registrations can’t become fraudulent votes,” she told me. “I assure you that if you can get them on the rolls you can get them to vote, especially using absentee ballots.” MonCrief, a 29-year old University of Alabama graduate who wanted to become part of the civil rights movement, worked as a strategic consultant for ACORN as well as a development associate with Project Vote and sat in on meetings with the national staffs of both groups. She has given me documents that back up many of her statements, including one that indicates that the goal of ACORN’s New Mexico affiliate was that only 40 percent of its submitted registrations had to be valid.

10/28/2008 (11:42 am)

Radical Obama: Summary Judgment

This will probably be the end of my analysis columns about the election, since the election is now upon us. However, the most-read posts I’ve written to date (here and here,) raise the possibility that Obama was a modern communist rather than a Democrat, and I feel the need to post my conclusion about the matter. It’s not likely that this will have any impact on the election at this point; the matter I’m discussing really exists in the public mind only in the discussion of Joe the Plumber, who unintentionally revealed Obama’s core desire to redistribute the nation’s wealth. But I want to finish the job.

Thanks to the work of Stanley Kurtz from the National Review and a handful of others, we’re finally getting a clearer picture of the Barack Obama who wants to redistribute wealth. The big picture seems to be that Obama really is some sort of neo-Marxist, and that for about 20 years he’s been cooperating in a tight-knit Hyde Park collaborative including Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, and Rashid Khalidi, aimed at inserting their radical, anti-American point of view into American government and culture. The amount of effort he’s put into the attempt to hide this, the efforts to silence or discredit anyone who attempted to research it, and the embarrassingly transparent lies he’s told and continues to tell about these connections, merely emphasize how important he feels it is that we not look into it. He knows perfectly well who he is, and he knows that what he’s telling the American people about himself is a bold-faced lie.

Andy McCarthy spells out what we know about the Obama – Ayers – Khalidi connection. The links in his article provide the necessary support, but I want to draw attention specifically to this Hugh Hewitt interview of Stanley Kurtz, the dogged reporter who’s done the Herculean labor of researching all these details. Kurtz details actual collaborations between Obama and Ayers, links Khalidi to Ayers, and even provides some detail about ACORN’s role in creating the current economic mess. McCarthy also links to Kurtz’s work tying Obama to ACORN (and describing some of ACORN’s “public interest” efforts that will chill your blood a bit,) and his work tying ACORN to the subprime lending crisis. Given the fact that ACORN grew out of the National Welfare Rights Organization, and that the NWRO deliberately attempted to destroy capitalism by overloading welfare rolls, it’s not impossible to imagine that the subprime crisis was a deliberate attempt to take down the economy and gain power for an authoritarian government that would enforce Marxian economic policies. It’s by no means proved at this point, but it’s hard to see how they could have accomplished it better if they had planned it, and the tactic is consistent with the historical intent of the organization, so…

Kurtz is very cautious in saying “This is what we’re sure is true” about Obama working with Ayers on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, but in fact, it’s likely that they’d already been collaborators for almost a decade by that time. Ayers coordinated Mayor Richard Daley’s School Reform Project back in the late 1980s, and Obama headed the Development Community Project, one of the organizations being coordinated, at the same time. They had to know each other back then by virtue of that project association. Also, Sidley Austin, the law firm that employed Obama when he graduated from Harvard, employed both Bernadine Dohrn and Michelle Robinson, who later become Michelle Obama, during that same period. There are other connections as well, through partners at Sidley Austin and through Mayor Daley’s office; you can piece them together from the time line at Conservative Politics Today, among other sources that have plumbed these waters.

The specific connection to Ayers has never been the basis of my claim that Obama was a radical. It was not the presence of a single, specific radical in Obama’s circle of friends that led me to that supposition. Rather, it’s the fact that I haven’t found any major influence in Obama’s life that did not come from among the radical left. His mother, his grandparents, his father, his step-father, the mentor of his teen years, his college buddies, his early employers, his sponsors, his professional collaborators… all from the hard left, no exceptions. Try to find one that was a mainstream Democrat, let alone a Republican of any stripe. There are none, not until he engaged himself in Chicago machine politics, and then his only associations with them were aimed at maintaining and gaining power. And even then, his close associates were radicals, not Democrats.

What the Ayers – Khalidi connections do is give us a referent for what Obama genuinely believes. One naturally acquires the worldview of the people among whom one grows to maturity. It’s possible to break out of that worldview and acquire a different one — I did it, after all, my family of origin is Jewish and mainstream left — but it does not happen without a crisis of conscience of some sort. Obama has written, not one, but two personal memoirs; that he could have had such a crisis of conscience and not mention it in either memoir is simply not believable. He did have epiphanies, and he documents some of them; but none of them suggest any reason to think he’s thrown over the radicalism of his upbringing and environment. Ergo, we have to assume that he holds to the anti-capitalist radicalism of his upbringing, and that his beliefs are not far from those with whom he collaborates — like Ayers, who pukes at the thought of capitalist America. Let’s not forget that Obama has publicly supported all the major goals articulated in Ayers’ publicly-promoted educational reforms. Let’s not forget that Obama has been lying and launching slime attacks to make sure no attention is paid to Ayers.

Obama’s public pronouncements are transparently intended to garner as many votes as possible. It’s not uncommon for a politician to shade his views to appeal to the largest possible segment of the population during an election; it is unusual for one to change so many of his positions so transparently as Obama has done over the last year or two. Since we can’t take his public stances as anything but press fodder, and since Obama will not tell us much of what he genuinely believes, we have to look to his associations. He’s been collaborating with Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi for 20 years, and trying to hide the trail; we can take it for granted that his own views match theirs pretty closely. Forget whether Ayers cares whether he bombed the Pentagon or not; that’s not the point. Pay attention to the America-hating, black-separatist-supporting, authoritarian radical that Ayers is today. Pay attention to the extreme, pro-Palestinian, America-hating radical that Khalidi is today. You’re looking at Barack Obama.

10/16/2008 (1:00 pm)

Registration Fraud and the Decline of the West

The story about ACORN is getting at least 1/2 of the attention it deserves in the press, which is truly remarkable this election season. There’s clearly a pattern of fraud that assaults the confidence of the public in the voting process and raises the likelihood of widespread fraud by Democrats. Barack Obama’s ties to the organization run very deep indeed, and not only did he funnel $800,000 of precious campaign funds to the organization, he clearly attempted to hide the fact that he was doing it, and hide it in a manner that was fraudulent. This fact by itself gives the lie to claims that ACORN’s activities have no impact on the election, to Obama’s claim that he has no meaningful connection to the organization, and to Obama’s implication of innocence. Clearly Obama thinks ACORN is pivotal to his campaign, and knows that his connection to their activism makes both them and him look bad.

The part of the story that’s missing, though, is the part that explains why they’re doing it. No, it’s not just that Democrats historically cheat, though that’s actually true. So do Republicans, though not usually at the same level or in the same numbers. It’s funny, in a way, that there’s a certain level of corruption that’s going to appear in any democratic system, but that’s not really a symptom of a corrupted system, just of original sin. Anything run by humans will be tainted at some point by corruption; that’s just who we are. It is vital that we not excuse it, and that we prosecute it diligently and patiently, lest it get hold of the system and destroy it, but its presence does not mean the whole system is going to hell.

What we’re seeing this year, however, is something worse. What we’re seeing is the outworking of the belief by a large fraction of the electorate that the system cannot protect their rights, and that they must take the system down in order to protect their safety. We’re seeing it from lunatics; their fears are illusions, and their rights are actually secure. However, because they’re lunatics, they cannot be convinced that they’re safe. No evidence will penetrate their fears. They’re taking their fears and using them to justify a pattern of destruction that is demolishing the system that protects us all.

Progressives in America genuinely believe, in the core of their souls, that the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections were stolen. There’s no evidence of either, of course. Democrats actually took their claims of fraud in Florida into federal court in 2000, and after hearing their presentation of the facts demonstrating this alleged fraud, Judge Sanders Sauls of the Leon County Circuit Court in Florida did not even require the Republican party to offer a defense; there were simply no facts in evidence suggesting any fraud at all. There were other, more relevant parts of the decision (which eventually made it to the US Supreme Court,) but that part was clear, and court-tested: there was no evidence of fraud.

This is doubly true for the 2004 election, in which Progressives claim that the introduction into the state of Ohio of electronic voting machines manufactured by Diebold precipitated a state-wide conspiracy in which Republicans defrauded the electorate and stole the election. Never mind that their sole reason for claiming the machines were the source of fraud is that the President of Diebold registered Republican, and that exit polls didn’t match voting results. Never mind that it’s several orders of magnitude simpler to rig exit poll results than it is to rig voting machines throughout an entire state. Never mind that there is not a single, plausible claim of a machine actually being tampered with. Never mind that none of the Diebold machines were even used in the state of Ohio that year. They are absolutely certain Republicans stole the election by rigging Diebold voting machines, and cannot be dissuaded from it. They also complain of long lines and broken machines at polling places, an artifact of a new system and unexpectedly large turnout among black voters; they delusionally blame Republicans for the difficulties in heavily Democratic areas, and interpret Republican attempts to see fair voting laws enforced as attempts to intimidate voters. They lost, and they blame illusory frauds.

This year, apparently, they decided they would steal Ohio back. The only difference is, their frauds are real, not imaginary.

It starts with Jennifer Brunner, who ran for Secretary of State back in 2006 apparently with the goal of affecting the outcome of the 2008 election for the Democrats. Her first actions in office were attempts to bully Republicans out of county election mechanisms, and replace them with Democrats. Then she tried to raise an alarm about the state’s voting machines, in a report that even participants criticized as relying on “over-hyped leaps of logic.” Then she unlawfully attempted to disqualify Republican absentee ballots for failing to check a box that was simply advisory. Then she unlawfully changed the rules for voter registration to allow individuals to vote on the same day they register, a move that’s clearly an opportunity for fraud. Then Ohio Democrats prevented Republican poll watchers from entering the polling area. Now she’s doing her best to prevent local voter registration boards from weeding out hundreds of thousands of improper voter registrations gathered by leftist activists, many of them illegal. (Freedom’s Right has a pretty complete run-down of Brunner’s activities.) Plus, we’re discovering broad-based Progressive activism to register out-of-state voters in Ohio.

It’s clear from their own web sites that they feel this sort of activism is necessary to counteract fraud and intimidation by Republicans — fraud and intimidation that simply do not exist. Here are a couple of lines from the web site of Vote Today Ohio, the Progressive’s organized drive to take advantage of Brunner’s illegal suspension of Ohio’s voter registration laws:

Why is this important? Because early voters will avoid long lines, broken machines, and GOP intimidation that disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Ohioans in 2004. Every early voter reduces the strain on polling places on Election Day, and that means more Obama votes get counted.

We’re looking for volunteers to help us lock down Obama votes before they can be lost to long lines, broken machines and GOP tampering on Election Day.

There it is; they’re going to take advantage of an illegal window of opportunity to prevent imaginary illegalities by Republicans. Bad people imagine wrong has been done to them, a typical reaction of an infant having its will frustrated; they respond by doing a similar but very real wrong against the people they think wronged them. Vengeance is bad even when it’s based on real wrongs; it’s an order of magnitude worse when it’s prompted by delusions. It leads to the demolition of society.

Voter fraud = the decline of the West? Getting a little depressive, aren’t we?

No, I don’t think so. It’s not that a single, stolen election is going to end Western civilization. It’s that the reason we’re seeing so much fraud this year epitomizes the overall decline of the culture, and illustrates how we’re going to go the way of all civilizations. This is some of the same line of thinking that produced The Screeching Inversion back in February, only this goes farther. It illustrates why moonbattery is not just funny, not just dangerous, but ultimately fatal to a civilization.

The process goes like this, in the broadest terms:

  • Incorrect ideas about human behavior take root in the culture.
  • Parents believe these ideas and stop teaching their children the core virtues of the culture.
  • The children grow up unrestrained and incapable of questioning themselves or of allowing themselves to be crossed.
  • The emotionally and morally stunted adults don’t get what they want, and blame others for it.
  • They decide to get what they want by any means necessary, and to take revenge on those who wronged them.
  • Systems of maintaining order break down, tyrants rise to restore order, and civilization crumbles.

There are lots of other factors, involving declining patterns of education, corruption in government and business, health considerations, laziness, world politics, etc., but those are the core steps we’re seeing in practice just now. In this manner, the failure to teach consistent morals leads ultimately to the collapse of civilization and the loss of liberty, prosperity, and culture. It takes hundreds of years for the process to work completely, but we seem to be near the end of a 400-year trajectory that will leave the West in ruin and poverty.

If the Progressives manage to steal Ohio and the election, their Favorite Son as President seems likely to suspend fundamental liberties and attempt to ensure an ongoing, unassailable Progressive majority. If this occurs, and with the recent moves by Western governments to nationalize the banking system, we can expect reactions from libertarians among us that will either lead to secession or civil war. I personally favor secession, since I don’t believe the US Constitution is suitable to managing two, competing moral systems in a single political system; it was written assuming that all sides in the body politic at least share a common moral system, which was the case when it was written but is no longer. I would like to see Red American and Blue America separate into two nations, however difficult that may be to accomplish.

06/16/2008 (5:45 pm)

Radical Obama: the Middle Years

Back in February, I posted a collection of observations about Barack Obama’s upbringing that established a radical influence at every major stage of his early life, right up through his early work as a community organizer with the Gamaliel Foundation. However, my observation at the time was that the radical connections went silent about that point.

A handful of articles that appeared over the last few weeks helped me fill in the gap between his earlier organizing activity and his current position as Senator from Illinois, and I’m presenting them here for your consideration.

The first was a discussion by Stanley Kurtz at the National Review that explained Obama’s early association with ACORN, the radical voter organizing group. Obama has been associated with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — ACORN — since the early 1990s, teaches their leadership training seminar every year on the subject of power, and began his legislative career in the Illinois State House by introducing measures that coincide with ACORN’s core issues, which are a high, state minimum wage (which they call “living wage”), expansion of the welfare rolls, and banking oversight to ensure favorable loans for poor neighborhoods. For this reason, it’s not surprising that Obama staffed his first campaign primarily from ACORN volunteers. Kurtz goes so far as to identify Obama in his early State House career as the “Senator from ACORN.”

A representative of ACORN, Toni Foulks, explains how the relationship got started in her article in the progressive journal, Social Policy:

…ACORN noticed him when he was organizing on the far south side of the city with the Developing Communities Project. He was a very good organizer. When he returned from law school, we asked him to help us with a lawsuit to challenge the state of Illinois’ refusal to abide by the National Voting Rights Act, also known as motor voter… Obama took the case, known as ACORN vs. Edgar (the name of the Republican governor at the time) and we won. Obama then went on to run a voter registration project with Project VOTE in 1992 that made it possible for Carol Moseley Braun to win the Senate that year. Project VOTE delivered 50,000 newly registered voters in that campaign (ACORN delivered about 5000 of them).

Since then, we have invited Obama to our leadership training sessions to run the session on power every year, and, as a result, many of our newly developing leaders got to know him before he ever ran for office. Thus, it was natural for many of us to be active volunteers in his first campaign for State Senate and then his failed bid for U.S. Congress in 1996. By the time he ran for U.S. Senate, we were old friends.

ACORN goes to great lengths to mask how radical an organization they are, because they receive federal funds for their “non-partisan” voter registration function. However, their own literature marks them as neo-Marxists, attempting to institute progressive social policies by any means necessary, including demonstrations and threats. They had their start in the 1960s as the National Welfare Rights Organization, a hard-left attempt to destroy capitalism and usher in socialism by increasing the size of the welfare rolls to unmanageable proportions. The organization succeeded in expanding welfare dramatically, but the result was only the enslavement of a larger number of people to the government dole and the destruction of the work ethic in large stretches of the black community. Having failed to produce revolution, the organization reformulated itself in its current form and set out to produce radical change by working inside the system, applying a systematic approach to their aims. Sol Stern, in a landmark article in the quarterly publication City Journal in 2003, explains ACORN’s roots and strategy at length. Says Stern:

ACORN’s bedrock assumption remains the ultra-Left’s familiar anti-capitalist redistributionism. “We are the majority, forged from all the minorities,” reads the group’s “People’s Platform,” whose prose Orwell would have derided as pure commissar-speak. “We will continue our fight . . . until we have shared the wealth, until we have won our freedom . . . . We have nothing to show for the work of our hand, the tax of our labor”—claptrap that not only falsifies the relative comfort of the poor in America but that also is a classic example of chutzpah, given ACORN’s origins in a movement that undermined the work ethic of the poor. But never mind—ACORN claims that it “stands virtually alone in its dedication to organizing the poor and powerless.” It organizes them to push for ever more government control of the economy…

…and, of course, nothing in ACORN’s strategy even acknowledges, let alone addresses, the matters of individual responsibility that are the almost universal cause of poverty in America, such things as teenage pregnancy and crime. They focus instead on corporate irresponsibility, as they’re certain that all poverty is the result of oppression by capitalists.

Michelle Malkin has noted the number of times ACORN has been identified with voter fraud schemes, and how they manage to get their intensely partisan efforts funded as “non-partisan” voter drives. This is the organization Barack Obama defended in court, helped train, worked among, and called on to staff his first campaign.

A second article was an essay at Right Wing Nuthouse regarding Obama’s connection to the New Party, a Marxist coalition founded in 1992 to elect hard-left candidates by selecting candidates already on the ballot (usually Democrats) and running them as their own, third-party candidate. They would then add together the ballots from both parties — a tactic called “fusion” and legal in several states until around 1997. The New Party, which identified itself as an attempt to drag the Democratic party as far to the left as possible (a reaction to what they considered the too-centrist policies of President Clinton), had a committee approve a potential candidate’s platform and required candidates to sign a contract to maintain their association with the New Party. Obama apparently sought out the New Party as a tactic to obtain his State House seat in 1996, had his agenda approved by their committee, and signed their contract. Erick at Red State explained the New Party, its tactics, and its association with Obama at great length, after Publius, also at Red State, connected Obama to the New Party in an earlier post.

Erick and Kurtz go to great lengths to observe that these associations do not prove that Obama is, himself, a radical. I disagree with them wholeheartedly. Given the fact of his His radical upbringing, radical campus politics, and radical community organizing, his association with ACORN, the New Party, and other elements of the New Left clearly mark him as a radical with politics that satisfy those groups. These are as far left as organizations get in the United States, and Obama has his roots among them. His associations with the Reverend Wright. Father Phleger, and Trinity United Church of Christ, with radicals Ayers, Dohrn, and Khalidi, his wife’s association with radical points of view about race and American exceptionalism, and the near-universal favor all international radical organizations show toward Obama, make sense in the light of his unbroken connection with radicals from the moment he was born until he was nominated for the Senate.

Barack Obama is a hard leftist. I’m convinced. An Obama candidacy and presidency will be limited by what he can accomplish politically, and that means he will not be able to establish full socialism. However, I’m fairly well convinced that that’s what he’d establish if he did not have those limits. The American public should know that they’re being asked to elect the American equivalent of Hugo Chavez to occupy the White House.