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Big Investigations from Little ACORNs Grow
December 8, 2009 7:43 AM   Subscribe

ACORN Report Finds No Illegal Conduct : Scott Harshbarger, the former Attorney General of Massachusetts, now of the law firm Proskauer Rose, has recently released an investigative report about accusations that the community organizing group ACORN were caught trying to facilitate prostitution in a sting operation by Young Republicans Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe. The report concludes, "While some of the advice and counsel given by ACORN employees and volunteers was clearly inappropriate and unprofessional, we did not find a pattern of intentional, illegal conduct by ACORN staff." In addition, the report uncovers that Giles and O'Keefe's videos were heavily edited, up to and including substitute voiceovers.
posted by jonp72 (156 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
insertion of a substitute voiceover [...] which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding.

You don't say?
posted by uncleozzy at 7:52 AM on December 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Can we expect the entire staff of Fox News to resign, like Dan Rather did?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:52 AM on December 8, 2009 [69 favorites]


In addition, the report uncovers that Giles and O'Keefe's videos were heavily edited, up to and including substitute voiceovers.

Well, imagine that.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:53 AM on December 8, 2009


When I first heard that one of the ACORN employees was claiming that she was treating it like a joke and/or thought it was some sort of candid camera situation I thought that unlikely. Then my friend informed me that the guy was dressed like a 70s style cane carrying feathered hat over the top conservative idea of a pimp and the whole thing became far less preposterous.
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:55 AM on December 8, 2009 [31 favorites]


I'm shocked, shocked I say, that an upstanding Young Republican would use deceitful editing techniques to--oh who am I kidding.
posted by Caduceus at 7:56 AM on December 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Surely this?
posted by DU at 7:57 AM on December 8, 2009


we did not find a pattern of intentional, illegal conduct by ACORN staff.

Well, good news there - Hopefully ACORN can go back to doing their work in peace.


the report uncovers that Giles and O'Keefe's videos were heavily edited, up to and including substitute voiceovers

I sincerely hope these people face real prison time for fraud (wouldn't mind seeing Murdoch pay out a few $B in fines, either). Bad enough when the likes of Michael Moore baits politicians and CEOs for entertainment, but these two single-handed (four-handedly?) brought down an organization doing a hell of a lot of good for communities all across the country. I only hope ACORN can recover now that we knoe the truth.
posted by pla at 7:57 AM on December 8, 2009 [12 favorites]


Sadly even Jon Stewart bought into the smear.
posted by octothorpe at 8:02 AM on December 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Bad enough when the likes of Michael Moore baits politicians and CEOs for entertainment, but these two single-handed (four-handedly?) brought down an organization doing a hell of a lot of good for communities all across the country.

Nothing like false equivalence to inject a little fair-n-balanctivity into a comment!
posted by DU at 8:02 AM on December 8, 2009 [19 favorites]


So, think Glenn Beck will apologize?
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:04 AM on December 8, 2009


I only hope ACORN can recover now that we knoe the truth.

I don't expect that. I fully expect FOX News to call bullshit on the report and the Glenn Beck's of the world will claim that the Massachusetts AG is in on the grand conspiracy*. I'm sure it's somewhere on his chalkboard.

*Conspiracy may or may not be to register non-Republicans to vote. YMMV
posted by IvoShandor at 8:05 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but who are you going to believe? An independent commission or Glenn Beck and two College Republicans?
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:07 AM on December 8, 2009 [12 favorites]


I think it was the filmmakers themselves that, in an interview, repeated their strategy: "Never apologize. Attack, attack, attack."

And that is how the new Republican media machine operates. Fox just tosses out "scandalous" headlines, and hopes that the occassional one gains traction with their audience. It doesn't matter if it's a real scandal, all that matters is the tabloid-fueled outrage and page views.

These are not people after the facts. These are people after an emotional reaction.
posted by Theta States at 8:09 AM on December 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


Sadly even Jon Stewart bought into the smear.

Let's hope he'll give at least equal publicity to the debunking. I'm going to send this link to the Daily Show email bucket, and if a bunch of other people do it too...

thedailyshow@comedycentral.com

Also will be sending the link to various Daily Show writers on Facebook because I don't mind being an asshole like that, but I am not enough of an asshole to post their names or links to their Facebook pages here.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:10 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd be surprised if Fox News or any of the politicians who ejaculated all over themselves to condemn ACORN as an affront to every American Value of Goodness and Decency(tm) even mention or acknowledge this report as existing. Anyone who bought into the whole situation doesn't care anymore. The reaction will be, "I remember something about them supporting prostitution and trying to get hookers to vote Democrat... oh, so I guess that's legal in MA? Well, they let homos get married, so whatever." This won't even register as a rebuttal to the earlier story.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:12 AM on December 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


I was going to write something witty, but you know what?

It's fairly disgusting and depressing. Disgusting that [right wing] politics has come to this. Depressing that a whole new generation of young, dumb, eager beaver political activists buy into this crap. Depressing that the right wing noise machine knows full well that the damage is done, the story's moved on, nobody gives a shit.

For the kind of vegetable who genuinely believes Fox News is fair and balanced the dye was set as soon as ACORN started helping, ahem, disenfranchised voters take away democracy by getting them out to vote.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:12 AM on December 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wow, I've written and deleted about a half dozen jokey comments, but I'm too irritated. Clearly what we can take away from this is that like an oak grows from an acorn, unethical Republicans grow from douchbag Young Republicans.
posted by quin at 8:15 AM on December 8, 2009 [12 favorites]


>Bad enough when the likes of Michael Moore baits politicians and CEOs for entertainment, but these two single-handed (four-handedly?) brought down an organization doing a hell of a lot of good for communities all across the country.

Nothing like false equivalence to inject a little fair-n-balanctivity into a comment!


Was it really "equivalence?" I think it was pretty clear by the "bad enough...but these" language that they were being put on two separate (albeit both bad) levels. Maybe more like "false ballpark" than "false equivalence?"
posted by aswego at 8:16 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


ACORN bit the heads off all my gingerbread men.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:17 AM on December 8, 2009


The right is going to dismiss this, sadly, by first pointing out ACORN commissioned the investigation. Expect tons of "OJ looking for the real killers" jokes by lunchtime. Or just ignoring it.

That said, can't wait for the same camp of "LOLDanRather" hypocrites to squeal how the ACORN videos are "fake but accurate."

Not like this is a surprise or anything, but the biggest losers are once again the news media. They seriously went to press/air with a video, edited and aired by the same partisan source? Like I mentioned in the earlier thread about these two YAF douchebags, everything- everything- they did was contrary to the true definition of "journalism."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:17 AM on December 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Defund the gutless alleged Democrats in the Senate who were overwhelmingly taken in by these two Young John Birchers with a copy of iMovie by voting their sorry asses out into the cold.
posted by enn at 8:17 AM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm amazed at how many non-Republicans actually believed that the ACORN people would fall for a "pimp" dressed like Huggy Bear. Are people really that sheltered?
posted by dirigibleman at 8:21 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


XQUZYPHYR: "The right is going to dismiss this, sadly, by first pointing out ACORN commissioned the investigation. Expect tons of "OJ looking for the real killers" jokes by lunchtime. Or just ignoring it."

American Spectator - 6:08 AM

The newly released "independent" review of the ACORN undercover prostitution video saga is a breathtakingly audacious work of fiction.

There is hardly a word of truth to be found anywhere in the document's 47 pages. The report unveiled yesterday by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger is an all-you-can-eat buffet of lies and distortions that faults ACORN only for poor management practices.

posted by Joe Beese at 8:22 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, false ballpark. Or pseudo-moderate. Or something. Is there a name for the technique of bringing up an unrelated left-wing thing just so you don't look biased when you denounce a right-wing thing?

the dye was set

Well this is an interesting metaphor mutation.
posted by DU at 8:23 AM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


The right is going to dismiss this, sadly, by first pointing out ACORN commissioned the investigation. Expect tons of "OJ looking for the real killers" jokes by lunchtime. Or just ignoring it.

They seem to be ignoring it because they're too busy freaking out that someone threw a tomato at Palin.
posted by octothorpe at 8:25 AM on December 8, 2009


Outlying rage.
posted by four panels at 8:26 AM on December 8, 2009


It is big news that someone did throw a tomato at Palin. In their minds, John McCain is not fit to lead (either too old or too moderate), Obama was not born in America, ACORN stole the election, and only the Republican party can represent REAL AMERICA.

Thus, throwing a tomato at President Palin is treason. It's punishable by death.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:28 AM on December 8, 2009


This will have absolutely no effect. Glenn Beck and his ilk will either ignore it and drop the issue entirely or ignore it and keep pounding away at it.
posted by brundlefly at 8:29 AM on December 8, 2009


mccarty.tim: "It is big news that someone did throw a tomato at Palin."

She's appearing at my local Costco tomorrow.

And they sell tomatoes there...
posted by Joe Beese at 8:31 AM on December 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


That said, I can't wait for Sarah to say how throwing a tomato at her for her political views is a VERY MEAN THING to do to YOUNG TRIG.

Doesn't he know Trig is her blessed little angel? What is this country coming to when liberals are attacking a kid with Downs?
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:31 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


>
I'm going to field 4Chan on this one.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:33 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Joke stolen from Fark:

Hey guys, I just asked ACORN, "If you love registering black people to vote so much, why don't you marry it?" And ACORN rolled its eyes and said, "OK, fine. I'll marry 'registering black people to vote.'"

Ha! ACORN wants to marry an abstract concept! What a bunch of goobers!
posted by dirigibleman at 8:34 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's the problem... the rubes that watched this on Faux News will NEVER see this report, so ... my brother-in-law and all his mouth-breathing ilk will keep repeating that ACORN was a front for child prostitution.

Seems like Beck/Hannity/Malkin are always two weeks ahead of the truth. And that is why they are winning.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 8:35 AM on December 8, 2009


Mighty aches from little ACORNs grow.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:39 AM on December 8, 2009


Joe Beese, she's appearing at a Costco? What the hell?! Is that a "blah blah blah the real America" kind of thing?
posted by brundlefly at 8:40 AM on December 8, 2009


Joe Beese, she's appearing at a Costco? What the hell?! Is that a "blah blah blah the real America" kind of thing?
posted by brundlefly


She schedules all her appearances for easy access to 10 gallon jugs of Thousand Island dressing. Don't ask why, if you love America.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the report itself was paid for by ACORN, whether or not it's true, that's obviously enough for the right to dismiss it. Even if the DOJ investigated them they would just claim the Obama administration was trying to help their friends.
posted by delmoi at 8:48 AM on December 8, 2009


That said, I can't wait for Sarah to say how throwing a tomato at her for her political views is a VERY MEAN THING to do to YOUNG TRIG.

Maybe she could've used him as a shield.
posted by hangashore at 8:51 AM on December 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the report itself was paid for by ACORN
posted by delmoi


I expect to see at least one right wing group to just skip right to the "This report was funded by child prostitution and big Democrat government" angle.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:52 AM on December 8, 2009


Republicans will say or believe anything if it is in their best interest. How many times does someone you know need to lie to you until you stop believing a word they say? Now think to yourself how many times have you caught Republicans lying. At this point I consider anyone who gives creedence to a word out of a Republican's mouth to be complicit in their game.
posted by any major dude at 8:52 AM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


brundlefly: "Joe Beese, she's appearing at a Costco? What the hell?! Is that a "blah blah blah the real America" kind of thing?"

Yea, she showed up at a Sam's Club when she was here. Real Americans don't go to book stores.
posted by octothorpe at 8:53 AM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Independent commission?! That sounds suspiciously liberal.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:53 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


hmmm- I heard that Costco gives a whole buncha money to Democrats. S'pose it's a TRAP???
posted by drhydro at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2009


Well, good news there - Hopefully ACORN can go back to doing their work in peace.

Too late for that. ACORN has become another in the pantheon of right wing boogeymen, the demon of stolen elections.

Wander the internet now and you'll find all sorts of people, none of whom have the barest shred of what ACORN actually does, and have surely never seen a single member or office, who take it on faith that every electoral defeat is the result of ACORN's shenanigans. Because surely they are the majority, surely their views are right. So it's only by manipulation and trickery that they are kept down. And ACORN is now the face of that trickery. Most recent examples, Doug Hoffman's loss in NY 23.
posted by Naberius at 8:55 AM on December 8, 2009


I'm sorry I should rephrase "if it is in their best interest" to "believe it is in their best interest" because their myopic view of the way things should be has historically and invariably come back to bite them on their collective asses.
posted by any major dude at 8:55 AM on December 8, 2009


DU : Yes, false ballpark. Or pseudo-moderate. Or something. Is there a name for the technique of bringing up an unrelated left-wing thing just so you don't look biased when you denounce a right-wing thing?

Sigh. See all those trees, DU? Think "forest".

I find it annoying when people do things like that for the purpose of entertainment. It doesn't matter if we talk about Moore or Jackass or pretty much all of Fox News itself. I chose a single well-known example. In this particular paragraph, I deliberately chose one liberal, one neutral, and one conservative example in an effort to deny you (probably in vain) a single point on which to attack me.

I find it far worse when people do that and present it as fact. Bush's service record or Balloon-Boy or Obama's Kenyan birth certificate or what-have-you. Those, I believe warrant some form of prosecution. In this paragraph, I concede "Balloon-Boy" as a weak "neutral" example, but can't really think of any good neutral examples of "faking evidence to take someone down" off the top of my head, my apologies for that.

Can we move on (no similarity to the political organization Move On intended) now, please?

posted by pla at 8:56 AM on December 8, 2009


Can we expect the entire staff of Fox News to resign, like Dan Rather did?

Even if they do, there's a whole bunch of bright eyed young Republicans who would jump at the chance for airtime.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:00 AM on December 8, 2009


…someone threw a tomato at Palin.

Well that was a remarkably poor idea. I understand the frustration that woman's ignorance and arrogance causes in rational people, but the bottom line is that behaving like a Tea Party thug only gives those moonbats greater excuse to engage in a bit of the ol' ultra-violence.

It occurs to me that if people who want health care reform, Wall Street reform, and the like were to simply take a week off work, to go picket silently outside whatever local political forum is near them — city hall, state leg, whatever — it'd be one hell of a lot more effective than chucking fruit at a dipshit from Alaska.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:02 AM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I find it annoying when people do things like that for the purpose of entertainment.

I find it far worse when people do that and present it as fact.

My point is that there is no "that" to which both of these sentences refer. Unless you are alleging fraud on Moore's part?
posted by DU at 9:02 AM on December 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Don't want to sound like I'm defending Fox News because even from the little I've seen of it, Fox News is clearly just a propaganda factory. I don't have cable so I don't get Fox news at home and I learned about the original video on CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS and my local news stations when it originally came out.

If anyone is at fault here for not checking facts its the entire journalism profession which has long since sold out integrity for sensationalism and ratings.

Seriously, if I hear anymore shit about Tiger Woods I'm going to break something.
posted by Nyarlathotep at 9:05 AM on December 8, 2009


Sadly even Jon Stewart bought into the smear.

At least he did call out this nasty bit of hypocrisy.
posted by homunculus at 9:06 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let's not make this another thread all about pla's specious claims.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:06 AM on December 8, 2009 [18 favorites]


I'm so tired of the idea that somehow winning elections, having independent commissions, listening informed opinions of experts without monetary ties to the issues, etc., is the key to accomplishing one's political goals. The republicans obviously don't have any of this, and they seem to be doing a pretty effective job of running the government right now. I'm not sure what else there is to do, except throw a botanical fruit, culinary vegetable, at some idiotic republican.
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:08 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


My point is that there is no "that" to which both of these sentences refer. Unless you are alleging fraud on Moore's part?
posted by DU


Judging from his including Jackass in his subsequent example, the only similarity I can see is that pla has a problem with people who use cameras.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:09 AM on December 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Let's please not engage in another round of pointless point by point martyred arguing with pla.
posted by Babblesort at 9:12 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Seriously, if I hear anymore shit about Tiger Woods I'm going to break something"

Did you know there have been More Women Fingered as Tiger Mistresses?
posted by MuffinMan at 9:13 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


they seem to be doing a pretty effective job of running the government right now.

I wish I could dispute this. The right has no sense of shame and no sense of decency - they're unrepentantly willing to play whatever dirty pool they must to achieve their ends. I'm sick to death of the Democrats trying to be "bipartisan" - I know it wouldn't be helpful in the long run, but I'm getting to the point where I'm desperate to see the left get just as dirty, play just as rough, kick some ass for a change and beat these assholes at their own game. ACORN gets defunded over some fraudulent video footage but Dick Armey's little corporate sponsored astroturfing campaign against Health Care Reform marches on? How the hell does this keep happening? When will the left realize they're the only half of the United States polity playing by any kind of rules?
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:16 AM on December 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


Out-of-season tomatoes are too expensive to waste throwing at Palin, even from Costco.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:18 AM on December 8, 2009


"More Women Fingered as Tiger Mistresses?"

Heh.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:19 AM on December 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


It occurs to me that if people who want health care reform, Wall Street reform, and the like were to simply take a week off work, to go picket silently outside whatever local political forum is near them — city hall, state leg, whatever — it'd be one hell of a lot more effective than chucking fruit at a dipshit from Alaska.

Really? Have you watched any news in the past decade or so? That would get absolutely zero airtime and exposure.

Not like this is a surprise or anything, but the biggest losers are once again the news media. They seriously went to press/air with a video, edited and aired by the same partisan source? Like I mentioned in the earlier thread about these two YAF douchebags, everything- everything- they did was contrary to the true definition of "journalism."

Quoted for truth.
posted by Big_B at 9:19 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obviously, if you wanna throw something at a dangerous, irresponsible dunce of a right-wing politician, there's already a classic option.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:21 AM on December 8, 2009


It occurs to me that if people who want health care reform, Wall Street reform, and the like were to simply take a week off work, to go picket silently outside whatever local political forum is near them — city hall, state leg, whatever — it'd be one hell of a lot more effective than chucking fruit at a dipshit from Alaska.

Just get 20 people to show up and then tell the news it was 2 million. Easier, and the press will be too busy counting how many Tiger mistresses have been fingered to argue with you.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:21 AM on December 8, 2009


Keep in mind that Scott Harshbarger prosecuted the Fells Acres case. So he also apparently believes in ritual satanic abuse of the most absurd flavor. ACORN may not be culpable of any wrongdoing, but if Harshbarger told me the sky was blue, I'd double check.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:21 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm so tired of the idea that somehow winning elections, having independent commissions, listening informed opinions of experts without monetary ties to the issues, etc., is the key to accomplishing one's political goals. The republicans obviously don't have any of this, and they seem to be doing a pretty effective job of running the government right now.

So you're saying we should let the republicans take congress, the whitehouse, and a 60 seat majority in the senate, and then bitch and moan until they do what we want?

Somehow that doesn't seem like a very realistic plan.

--

Look, Obviously a cotre of obstinate conservative democrats are causing problems with healthcare reform. We need to get rid of the filibuster, probably. But that's not the same as "republicans running the government." Republicans aren't accomplishing "for" their constituents at all. At most they are keeping democrats from getting all of they want, but really the blame lies on recalcitrant democrats.
posted by delmoi at 9:22 AM on December 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


My point is that there is no "that" to which both of these sentences refer. Unless you are alleging fraud on Moore's part?

Are you joking?
posted by roll truck roll at 9:23 AM on December 8, 2009


Obviously, if you wanna throw something at a dangerous, irresponsible dunce of a right-wing politician, there's already a classic option.

You're not going to injure anyone with a tomato.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 AM on December 8, 2009


Well, good news there - Hopefully ACORN can go back to doing their work in peace.
....but these two single-handed (four-handedly?) brought down an organization


While you may hope, you already know the answer - its a dead critter.

Disgusting that [right wing] politics has come to this.

1) Politics is a dirty nasty business.
1a) Things like Karl Rove's dirty tricks didn't punish him or his real or alledged conduct.
2) Wallowing with a pig gets you dirty.
3) The only vote you have is your money.

So start voting with your money. The internet can be a great tool so the people can make their displeasure known via economic methods.

Lists exist of what firms donate how much to whom. Use 'em.

A list was created of advertisers on Sinclair during the swift boaters. Contacting those retailers as I remember changed the broadcast policy on the SBVFT broadcast.

Make the tool distributed. Portable on your iPhone/GooglePhone or even via SMS query (SMS not as distributed).

Business already cater to groups with fish logos, rainbows, slogans like 'now there is a woman in the industry', publishing in black or hispanic phone directories, or membership in things like scientology. So what, they gonna complain?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:31 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Note to self: If there is anything a Republican does that you don't really want to talk about, merely mentioning the name Michael Moore will turn it into a discussion of Michael Moore.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:32 AM on December 8, 2009 [18 favorites]


Can we expect the entire staff of Fox News to resign, like Dan Rather did?

Fuck FOX News, when can we expect Metafilter's conservatives who called this journalism to do the honorable thing and close their accounts?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:33 AM on December 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


I fully expect FOX News to call bullshit on the report and the Glenn Beck's of the world will claim that the Massachusetts AG is in on the grand conspiracy

Very first thing I thought of. It's pretty clear at this point that when guys like Beck don't like what the facts indicate, they just throw mud at the facts.

I can see it now..."Oh, sure they were cleared of wrongdoing...By the former attorney general of a pinko commie state, who just so happened to go to work for the same law firm that did the investigation. Now THERE'S a coincidence, huh?"
posted by rollbiz at 9:36 AM on December 8, 2009


Look, Obviously a cotre of obstinate conservative democrats are causing problems with healthcare reform. We need to get rid of the filibuster, probably. But that's not the same as "republicans running the government." Republicans aren't accomplishing "for" their constituents at all. At most they are keeping democrats from getting all of they want, but really the blame lies on recalcitrant democrats.

Republicans have never accomplished "for" their constituents, unless by constituents you mean "the corporations that pay for their campaigns" and not "the people who vote for them."
posted by Caduceus at 9:40 AM on December 8, 2009


On second thought, a tomato-ing wouldn't adequately convey my sentiments.

It would have to be the flying phallus.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


This sort of thing is outrageous, but it's not new. These guys are just following in the footsteps of Nixon and Liddy who cut their political teeth ratfucking in student elections.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:42 AM on December 8, 2009


Tomatoes? Flying phalluses?

Clearly the right thing to throw at a rightist political figure is a pair of shoes. Or a pie.
posted by notyou at 9:53 AM on December 8, 2009


So start voting with your money.

This is always presented as being a way that The Little Guy can Make His Views Matter To Corporate Powers. But if voting is done via money, don't people with money have the most votes?

Rather than boycotting donors we don't like, how about we bar corporate money from the political process period? Make politicians work for humans.
posted by DU at 9:55 AM on December 8, 2009 [12 favorites]


Even if the DOJ investigated them they would just claim the Obama administration was trying to help their friends.

And why would such not be a possibility? History has such as happening and history has many of those who did such not be subject to judicial punishement.

And yet, the Grand Jury system exists to investigate such matters.

If the lack of investigation into this or that upsets you or others - point out that Grand Juries are willing to indite a ham sandwich. Then hand 'em honey baked pork between 2 buns.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:55 AM on December 8, 2009


how about we bar corporate money

If you don't give corporations your money - then how would they have your money to beat you over the head via the laws they get enacted?

While its hard to have cellular functioning without food, the human body can have cellular functioning without the products tied to the MPAA and RIAA as an example.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:59 AM on December 8, 2009


DU : My point is that there is no "that" to which both of these sentences refer.

"That" refers to setting people up for a fall by using false pretenses or presenting outright bogus evidence and challenging them to refute it.


Unless you are alleging fraud on Moore's part?

"Alleging"??? Heh, well, I suppose you could say that - If you would also "allege" that the Watergate tapes have a missing 18.5 minutes. Roll truck roll beat me to posting a pretty good link, if you want some support of the claim (wouldn't want this just another thread of my "specious claims", EatTheWeak).
posted by pla at 10:00 AM on December 8, 2009


hmmm- I heard that Costco gives a whole buncha money to Democrats. S'pose it's a TRAP???

I wonder if Whole Foods is selling her book ...
posted by krinklyfig at 10:05 AM on December 8, 2009


(wouldn't want this just another thread of my "specious claims", EatTheWeak).

STOP MAKING THREADS ABOUT YOU.
posted by rollbiz at 10:06 AM on December 8, 2009 [12 favorites]


Astro Zombie: Note to self: If there is anything a Republican does that you don't really want to talk about, merely mentioning the name Michael Moore will turn it into a discussion of Michael Moore.

See also: Weak Man Argument.
posted by hangashore at 10:08 AM on December 8, 2009


Let me see if I understand how this ACORN thing has worked.

They register voters. They tend to register poor people, who tend to vote Democrat, so that had to be stopped. The Republican narrative is that ACORN was deliberately registering non-existent people to defraud the election, which contributed to Obama's win. The reality is that several employees were defrauding ACORN by turning in false registrations, which ACORN caught; they then fired the employees and alerted the appropriate authorities.

Additionally, ACORN helps poor people get houses. When the housing bubble burst, the narrative was that it happened because organizations like ACORN was putting people into houses who were likely to default on their loans. The reality was that ACORN investigates predatory lending and their programs of affordable housing is almost completely unrelated to the housing crisis.

Finally, two young people decided to grab a camera and spend two months trying to get ACORN employees to do something embarrassing. They seemingly managed to catch a small handful of employees giving questionable tax advice. Now it comes out that the videos themselves were potentially subject to considerable manipulation and the organization has been cleared, with the caveat that their lax management and poor employee training needs to be addressed.

So what we wind up with is an organization that is working for something that we unambiguously consider a social good -- participation in democracy and social mobility -- that has been targeted primarily because they are simply easy targets for scapegoating, and because targeting them in this way makes it easy it easy to encourage paranoid conspiracy theories in which the poor and Obama are in cahoots to steal elections and ruin housing costs, and the worst that can actually be said about ACORN is that they could do a better job of management and employee training, which can be said about 90 percent of the business in this country.

I have not wanted to say it before, but this horseshit has convinced me that a large number of Republicans may actually hate America. At least, they hate the best parts of America -- the parts that work to better the lives of other Americans and give them the opportunity to participate in America's democratic system.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:10 AM on December 8, 2009 [133 favorites]


Dear god, do you all need hugs.
posted by msali at 10:12 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, false ballpark. Or pseudo-moderate. Or something. Is there a name for the technique of bringing up an unrelated left-wing thing just so you don't look biased when you denounce a right-wing thing?

Yes, it's called the "Full Bill Clinton." Ask Lani.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:16 AM on December 8, 2009


Oh, and also too being a rootin tootin right wing pseudo-journalist douchebag is a lot like being a community activist, except you actually get paid and you can lie all you want, you betcha.

This is so much about white racism. That's all it is. That's all Palin is about. It's all the right is about anymore.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:19 AM on December 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wait... so a law firm releases a report clearing its client of wrongdoing... and this is supposed to actually mean something?
posted by gyc at 10:20 AM on December 8, 2009


Rather than boycotting donors we don't like, how about we bar corporate money from the political process period? Make politicians work for humans.

How about taking action like a boycott (the stick to beat 'em with) while holding out the carrot that you might start buying (because you now have a new habit of not buying from them) if they were not playing in politics?

And they'd better get on the change and soon because if you adopt the new habit of non-consumption of their product you may not ever go back.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:24 AM on December 8, 2009


I have not wanted to say it before, but this horseshit has convinced me that a large number of Republicans may actually hate America. At least, they hate the best parts of America -- the parts that work to better the lives of other Americans and give them the opportunity to participate in America's democratic system.

What prevented you from saying it before? It's the party that represents the rich. They only care about bettering lives and opportunity to the extent that it prevents revolution.
posted by DU at 10:27 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just so I understand what happened here, a couple of goofballs secretly recorded ACORN employees giving them inappropriate and unprofessional advice. Jon Stewart commented on how inappropriate and unprofessional the advice was. And then an internal investigation determined that the employees gave inappropriate and unprofessional advice.

In your face, somebody?
posted by designbot at 10:28 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]




…someone threw a tomato at Palin.

Well that was a remarkably poor idea.


Right?

I told a friend who works at the mall to shit in her purse. MUCH BETTER.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:30 AM on December 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


designbot- the argument against ACORN is not that they gave some 'inappropriate and unprofessional advice'. The argument against ACORN is that they are a large and corrupt organization, funded by the government(read: BIG government), participating in large-scale voter (read: democrat) fraud, and ultimately stealing the election.

If the FOX party line were limited to mere 'inappropriate and unprofessional advice' then we would be talking about a human resources and training issue, not illegally cutting off funding from an organization that helps a lot of people (read: black and poor people).
posted by Think_Long at 10:48 AM on December 8, 2009


designbot- the argument against ACORN is not that they gave some 'inappropriate and unprofessional advice'. The argument against ACORN is that they are a large and corrupt organization, funded by the government(read: BIG government), participating in large-scale voter (read: democrat) fraud, and ultimately stealing the election.

For values of argument that are equivalent to lie.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:50 AM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


How about taking action like a boycott....while holding out the carrot that you might start buying...

Because this has to be re-done for every issue. You have to stage a near-revolution to get the rich to pay attention and throw you a bone. And then again for the next issue.

If instead we level the political playing field by disbarring corporate money (and huge donations from just plain rich humans), we've solved a big chunk of many problems in a single move. (Which is why the red herring of "free speech" is always brought up in corporate defense.)
posted by DU at 10:51 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


And they'd better get on the change and soon because if you adopt the new habit of non-consumption of their product you may not ever go back.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:24 PM on December 8


Are you serious? Read this thread again, and notice how many people disagree completely with Fox News, and yet can't seem to stop watching it.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:52 AM on December 8, 2009


Pastabagel,

Uh, that implies anyone is watching. Occasional facepalms from youtube clips don't count.
posted by effugas at 11:11 AM on December 8, 2009


She's (Sarah Palin) appearing at my local Costco tomorrow

Republicans shop at Sam's Club. Democrats shop at Costco.

Surely, she knows this.
posted by flarbuse at 11:17 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


DU: "Which is why the red herring of "free speech" is always brought up in corporate defense."

I took a class in persuasion and ethics where this came up. I wound up bickering with someone about how money really isn't speech, and out of frustration I wound up flicking singles at him while telling him to shake his ass. "I just want to have a conversation with you! Oh shit, there's a five! Am I talking at you louder since that's five times as much?"

We did not stay in touch after the class.
posted by boo_radley at 11:17 AM on December 8, 2009 [18 favorites]


Sigh. OK, I'll bite.

This report was commissioned and funded by ACORN. Fine, that's an ad-hominem point, but if a report denying global warming is commissioned by EXXON, or a report claiming the safety of a drug is funded by Merck, are we so quick to take those documents as gospel truth? Really, no credibility issues there at all?

Also, fwiw, to the voiceover claims, a quick readthrough of the ACORN incident transcripts (upon which Harshbarger's report also relied) doesn't show anything substantially different from what the original Youtube videos depicted. The report includes a section at the very end summarizing the results of Harshbarger's own interviews with the ACORN staff involved, and the most they can offer in their defense is that (1) only the O'Keefe (the guy) said his girlfriend was a prostitute; she claimed to be an exotic dancer, and they regarded her as the client, so they took her word for it, and (2) they never actually filed the fraudulent tax returns, only advised that they be filed.

I'm not qualified to judge the merits of the legality/illegality claims, but I really don't see how this reveals that the original scandal was based on some Republican fraud, or whatever. If anything, it affirms the original point that ACORN is at minimum an extremely ill-run organization with serious training and governance problems. How this equates to GRR LYING RIGHTWING LIARS DIE DITTOHEAD SCUM is beyond me.
posted by yersinia at 11:43 AM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


yersinia: " How this equates to GRR LYING RIGHTWING LIARS DIE DITTOHEAD SCUM is beyond me."

Forest, trees. My dad, rightwing nut that he is, claims ACORN is a "Black terrorist organization".
posted by notsnot at 11:48 AM on December 8, 2009


If instead we level the political playing field by disbarring corporate money (and huge donations from just plain rich humans), we've solved a big chunk of many problems in a single move. (Which is why the red herring of "free speech" is always brought up in corporate defense.)

The major problem with getting rid of corporate money in political campaigns is corporate personhood, a concept that is patently ridiculous. It is fucking stupid that our legal system has enshrined the idea that corporations deserve all the rights of individual persons, because it's impossible to hold them to all the accompanying responsibilities of personhood. If I (for example) dumped 2000 pounds of poison into a local water supply, I'd go to jail, but corporations regularly do thousands of times that, and write the fines they have to pay (if they are forced to pay any at all) off as business expenses because they're still cheaper than disposing of their waste products responsibly, and they're never held responsible in any meaningful way for the damage they do to people with these poisons. This is madness, and the fact that our society and legal system by-and-large endorses this is doubly mad. The situation is the same for nearly for any illegal action a corporation can perform.

Corporate personhood protects the actual people that make up corporations from the consequences they would suffer if they performed actions outside the purview of corporate policy. The legal existence of the idea of corporate personhood causes continual and endless damage to our country and our world that simply outweigh the economic benefits to society. The only way we're going to have true political reform, destroy the Oligarchical System described so accurately by Avenger in this comment, and restore our political system to a true representative republic is to eliminate the concept of corporate personhood and make the consequences of a corporation taking an action that would land a person in jail the revocation of that corporation's charter and the dissolution of the corporation (and then the subsequent criminal prosecution of all the employees of the corporation who had a hand in the criminal act).

Unfortunately, corporate personhood is too well entrenched as a legal concept and too much part of the root of our entire society's operation and culture, and the people invested in continuing the system have too much entrenched money and power (more than the feudal nobility ever had) to ever effectively achieve this. Short of total societal breakdown or revolution, which would probably be far more destructive than the continuation of the system, I don't think there's a way to make this change. In fact, I'm pretty sure if someone was able to work the political machinery enough to get into the position to make this change and then enact it, it would cause either total societal breakdown or revolution, and in that case the end result would again probably end up being far worse than the current system.

I'd like to think I'm wrong, of course, but I doubt it. As negative and cynical as it seems, the most likely way to envision our future is to picture the boot of corporate personhood stamping on a human face forever.
posted by Caduceus at 11:50 AM on December 8, 2009 [15 favorites]


If anything, it affirms the original point that ACORN is at minimum an extremely ill-run organization with serious training and governance problems

That wasn't FOX News' and Breibart's original point, at all. I think it's pretty obvious that their "point" was much more insidious and based on tapping into a fairly blatant undercurrent of racism in their audience.

And anyone who favorited or posted comments suggesting FOX and Breibart were doing "journalism" now or before who are commenting in this thread should be ashamed of themselves. Shame on you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:54 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Republicans shop at Sam's Club. Democrats shop at Costco.

Costco does have some admirable labour policies.

But I'm an NDPer, so I just don't shop because I have no money.
posted by jb at 11:55 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


the red herring of "free speech" is always brought up in corporate defense

Fortunately, the Bill of Rights anticipated this line of assault on freedoms, and thus also incorporated "freedom of the press" in the First Amendment - i.e., even if you're still allowed to stand on a soapbox and yell at people, that freedom of speech isn't complete freedom of expression unless you are also allowed the economic freedoms to own or rent the use of expensive capital (such as printing presses in their day, or TV and the internet in ours) to make your voice heard louder than you can shout.

If instead we level the political playing field by disbarring corporate money (and huge donations from just plain rich humans), we've solved a big chunk of many problems in a single move.

No - if we ban people from donating money to buy political advertisements (i.e., the sort of political donation that decides elections), then we've just created a new chunk of problems.

Those corporations and rich humans can afford to directly buy their own advertisements without making a donation to someone else. It's us poor slobs who have to pool our money together to get a few seconds of airtime.

So what's the second stage of the solution? Do we just ban political ads altogether? By whose definition of "political ad"? Even if we come up with a loophole-free definition, do you think that the electorate will finally have an epiphany and will replace the information derived from those advertisements with independent critical thinking and objective review of unbiased facts? Or are you simply hoping that your side's news and commentary will prove to be more popular than the faux news of the other side?

Power abhors a vacuum.
posted by roystgnr at 11:57 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


How this equates to GRR LYING RIGHTWING LIARS DIE DITTOHEAD SCUM is beyond me

Some sample repsonses to this report:

After the CRA went into effect, Saul Alinsky-inspired groups such as ACORN used the law to get into the shakedown business.

Seems to me that since EVERY ACORN office assisted the undercover journalists in setting up a brothel loaded with underage illegals, the employees were all trained the same way.

ACORN is a subversive, corrupt, criminal enterprise that should be dissolved, not reformed.

There's also this piece by Michelle Malkin, which almost exclusively uses innuendo to create the sense of a creepy shadow organization that Obama is behind.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:00 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


We need to get rid of the filibuster, probably.

No, we need to get more liberals elected to office, local, state and national office. Do that, and Lieberman, Nelson and the Republican party are screaming idiots in the corner over there.

That 50 state project that supposedly got the Democrats back in power? Now that they're in power it should be kicked up a notch. If there's anything that should be learn from 2,000 and letting Bush be in office when 9/11 happened is that this isn't a game or circus. This shit is real and the many of the current members of the Republican party shouldn't be allowed near power.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:03 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Corporate personhood protects the actual people that make up corporations from the consequences they would suffer if they performed actions outside the purview of corporate policy.

Corporate personhood (or more specifically, limited liability) protects the investors who make up corporations from losing more than their investment. If your IRA includes a bunch of $100 shares of PoisonCo, and they cause $200 per share of damages to someone, the resulting punishments are still allowed to bankrupt or dissolve PoisonCo, still allowed to treat PoisonCo's responsible directors and employees as criminals, still allowed to make your investment worthless - they're just not allowed to go after the rest of your retirement fund.

If you're wondering why there aren't as many bankrupted criminal corporations or imprisoned executives as it seems like there should be, the answer you're looking for isn't "corporate personhood", it's just plain "corruption" and "double standards". If you put a rootkit on a Sony computer, expect huge fines and/or prison. If they put one on yours, expect a coupon for a free song download. What does it matter that a judge isn't allowed to fine Sony investors, when clearly no court would ever consider anything close to such a punishment?
posted by roystgnr at 12:11 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yersinia, don't waste your typing time. These guys are falling all over themselves to embrace ACORN while advocating violence toward Palin. But they will never see it.
posted by genefinder at 12:11 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


These guys are falling all over themselves to embrace ACORN while advocating violence toward Palin.

I might suggest that if you see MetaFilter as an undifferentiate mass where any statement made by one member can be attributed to every other member as being representative of a collective opinion, you may be in the wrong place.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:18 PM on December 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


genefinder: "Yersinia, don't waste your typing time. These guys are falling all over themselves to embrace ACORN while advocating violence toward Palin. But they will never see it."

Yersinda, ignore this. I don't advocate violence towards Palin at all. Don't let other people get you to withdraw and stop talking. Deal with people who don't treat you well appropriately (metatalk) and keep going.
posted by boo_radley at 12:19 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


These guys are falling all over themselves to embrace ACORN while advocating violence toward Palin.

Shame on you for this rhetoric.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:19 PM on December 8, 2009


So what we wind up with is an organization that is working for something that we unambiguously consider a social good -- participation in democracy and social mobility

My impression while we (Mefites in general) regard this as an unambiguous social good, lots of Americans precisely don't see universal participation in democracy as a good thing. But saying so out loud is isn't politically correct... seeing as how democracy is one of the defining principles of America.
posted by Loudmax at 12:20 PM on December 8, 2009


[comment removed - if you have a specific structural problem with the site or one specific member, those go to email or metatalk, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:25 PM on December 8, 2009


"When you're pushed... tomatoing is as easy as breathing"
</gravely voice>
posted by Humanzee at 12:30 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


'm not qualified to judge the merits of the legality/illegality claims, but I really don't see how this reveals that the original scandal was based on some Republican fraud, or whatever. If anything, it affirms the original point that ACORN is at minimum an extremely ill-run organization with serious training and governance problems.

How do you get that from one tape? I don't see where it suggests anything like that.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:35 PM on December 8, 2009


So what's the second stage of the solution? Do we just ban political ads altogether? By whose definition of "political ad"?

This isn't hard. We've managed to do this already concerning certain types of political ads.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:36 PM on December 8, 2009


genefinder : These guys are falling all over themselves to embrace ACORN while advocating violence toward Palin.

I would hardly call throwing a tomato "violence". It may well count as legal assault, but seriously, violence? It simply expresses a due level of contempt for her - "We think so little of what you have to say that we'd rather waste our time and food than give you a passive audience to spread your poison".

Now, in an ideal world, everyone would just ignore her, and she'd vanish back into the obscurity from which she came; In this world, we have far too many people who fail to see that her very traits that appeal to them make her completely unsuited to running the country. The church bake sale, great; International politics, not so great.
posted by pla at 12:39 PM on December 8, 2009


Re: Corporate Personhood.

First of all, corporate personhood does not give "corporations deserve all the rights of individual persons[.]" For example: corporations don't vote (in the punching a ballot sense, ignoring the money/ads stuff). They can't marry, etc etc. Unfortunately I don't know the American situation at all, so I'm gonna go from the Canadian one a bit.

In our Constitution there's 3 classes of 'people' that are mentioned.
1. "Every citizen" (for example, has the right to vote, mobility)
2. "Everyone" (freedom of religion/expression/etc, life/liberty/security of the person
3. "Every individual" (equality rights aka anti-discrimination)
Also you've got "any person", but that's the same as "everyone".
Realistically, I think only the "everyone" group would apply to corporations.

Now. Corporate Liability. That's easy - there are regulations, there's no requirement of a guilty mind (think anti-dumping laws, doesn't matter why you did). Hits the pocketbook of the corporation, and there can be punitive fines specifically to get around the 'cost of doing business argument'. They don't always work, but that's just because sorting out the exact money that won't take down the business (and thus hurt the shareholders and worse the employees) but will be more than a write-off is tricky.

But what about corporate criminal liability, which is being talked about by Caduceus?

First of all, it's not a given that it should exist - corporate criminal liability actually means that corporations are even more like real people. But let's assume we do it. How do you prove a guilty mind? There's 4 theories, and they're sort of a historical progression:

1. Identification: you pick a person in the corporation (president, CEO). The mind of the corporation is the mind of that person. This is problematic because what if they don't do hands-on directing, and leave it to the sub-manager to commit the crime? This is roughly England (I think)

2. Vicarious Liability: this is the traditional way of doing it in common law (torts). The corporation is liable for the acts of the employees. This is roughly where the States are (I think). However, in a criminal case, you shouldn't really be able to hold the corporation liable for all acts of its employees, that's not really a guilty mind per se.

3. Aggregation: What happens when there's a series of faults, none by themselves criminal, but in the end it is? Analogous to the movie Cube, if you've seen it. This theory allows you to find the corporation liable when the collective decision is criminal. That's where Canada is.

4. Corporate Fault: This says that the fundamental assumption, that corporations don't have unique minds, is wrong. There is a corporate culture, distinct from the personality of its individuals (separate or joint) that is guilty. Use things like mission statements, etc to determine it. Australia does this, roughly.

Anyways, the bigger point is: how do you have a corporation that isn't a person (to some degree)? Without it, you're saying that any corporation has to be (I guess) an unlimited-liability partnership? I don't really understand that.

You can easily argue for campaign finance reform without saying that corporate personhood causes problems.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:39 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


We've managed to do this already concerning certain types of political ads.

Would you elaborate? The first examples that come to my mind don't seem to be very loophole-free. For instance, instead of seeing now-illegally-unattributed ads for Senator Smith that are discreetly paid for by PoisonCo, we see ads for that are loudly declared to be "Paid for by The Committee To Reelect Senator Smith", which committee is discreetly funded by PoisonCo.
posted by roystgnr at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2009


I don't WANT to be exposed to the Full Bill Cliinton.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:02 PM on December 8, 2009


Awesome! So can we get the ACORN related section of the Defund ACORN Act striped while keeping the rest? Please!!!
posted by jeffburdges at 1:07 PM on December 8, 2009


Are you serious? Read this thread again, and notice how many people disagree completely with Fox News, and yet can't seem to stop watching it.

What? Do you seriously think anyone here watches it? You don't need to actually watch it to know some of what on it, you see clips online and on the daily show.

(1) only the O'Keefe (the guy) said his girlfriend was a prostitute; she claimed to be an exotic dancer, and they regarded her as the client, so they took her word for it, and

Well, that's a pretty big diffrence. Compare the two
"I'm a prostitute"
"Well don't say prostitute, say 'performing artist, since that's what you are"
vs.
"She's a prostitute,"
"No, I'm not a prostitute, I'm an exotic dancer"
"Well don't say prostitute, say 'performing artist, since that's what you are"
If anything, it affirms the original point that ACORN is at minimum an extremely ill-run organization with serious training and governance problems.

Also keep in mind they tried this several times, and many times they were turned away and in some cases called the police.

---
We need to get rid of the filibuster, probably.
No, we need to get more liberals elected to office, local, state and national office. Do that, and Lieberman, Nelson and the Republican party are screaming idiots in the corner over there.
That's ridiculous. There's no guarantee that we'll even have more then 60 democratic senate votes after '12. The problem with requiring a supermajority vote is that one group can screw up the government, and then their opponents get blamed for their obstruction. Republicans seem to be able to stick together better then the democrats and that means they can execute that strategy, while the democrats can't.

Expanding the number of democrats even more means lowering standards, and electing even more conservative senators like Max Baccus, etc. There's no guarantee that 'hard core' liberals can win in those states. Although it's likely that once they do get in, they'll be able to stay whatever they do. Look at Harkin and Grassley from Iowa. One of the most liberal, and a more centrist but still annoying republican elected by the exact same people.

But it should be very obvious that the "elect more democrats" idea just isn't going to work.

---
instead of seeing now-illegally-unattributed ads for Senator Smith that are discreetly paid for by PoisonCo, we see ads for that are loudly declared to be "Paid for by The Committee To Reelect Senator Smith", which committee is discreetly funded by PoisonCo.
They're not allowed to mention specific candidates, in general. Otherwise it counts as a campaign contribution.
posted by delmoi at 1:12 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, Republicans are all about integrity and accountability, right? Does this mean we get a Refund ACORN Act?
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:51 PM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


The criticisms of Michael Moore in the wikipedia article linked to above seem pretty weak at best. Surely one of his innumerable and powerful enemies would have come up with something better - or sued him - if he really did have any errors of substance in his work?

Apologies for derailing the thread; the behaviour of the two young republicans is predictably dishonest and disgusting...
posted by lucien_reeve at 2:15 PM on December 8, 2009


If instead we level the political playing field by disbarring corporate money (and huge donations from just plain rich humans)

It would be difficult to lower the limit on corporate contributions to political campaigns below their current limit of $0.

Individual limits are available from the FEC. The per-candidate limits are low -- $4800 per election cycle. The party contribution limits are higher, ~$30K/year, but contributions to the party have spending restrictions. There's also an overall limit; no one person can give more than ~$46K to all candidates together or more than ~$70K to all PACs and parties in a given biennium.

For instance, instead of seeing now-illegally-unattributed ads for Senator Smith that are discreetly paid for by PoisonCo, we see ads for that are loudly declared to be "Paid for by The Committee To Reelect Senator Smith", which committee is discreetly funded by PoisonCo.

PoisonCo is already legally forbidden from funding such a committee. The most they could do would be to create a PAC, but even then they can only fund the organization itself. Any money that left PoisonPAC to go to the Committee To Reelect Senator Smith would, by law, have to come entirely from individual donations to PoisonPAC solicited for the purpose of passing them on to election campaigns.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:18 PM on December 8, 2009


ACORN has just been the latest scapegoat and boogeyman to whip up Republican froth. They had to do something after they got plastered so bad in '08. So they kicked up the noise and smear machine to 11. Beck's been doing his part (and linking his pockets while he was at it).

It seems to be working. Voter enthusiasm among GOP is high, while they've managed to help undermine enthusiasm among Dems. There may be a 20-30% enthusiasm gap by the time elections roll around in 2010 and that will probably have an effect in the midterms.

Score one for the right wing strategists. Score a loss for the left. The game goes on.
posted by darkstar at 2:26 PM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


*lining his pockets
posted by darkstar at 2:27 PM on December 8, 2009


darkstar: "enthusiasm gap"

what
posted by boo_radley at 2:33 PM on December 8, 2009


I meant to refer to the recent polls that show that 80+% of Republicans are self-reporting that they will definitely vote in 2010, whereas something like 60% of Democrats are saying the same.

Of course, take that for what it's worth, given that it's a self-reporting poll on attitudes a year away from the elections. But if does seem to indicate some degree of qualitative gap in voter enthusiasm between the parties.
posted by darkstar at 2:55 PM on December 8, 2009


Here's the poll I was recalling.
posted by darkstar at 2:57 PM on December 8, 2009


Of course, I expect these numbers to change dramatically if some kind of substantive health care reform passes. A lot of folks on the left are just getting burned out by the fight, now. Right now, I can't bear to read any more analysis or inside baseball on what the latest Senate wranglings are over that damn bill.
posted by darkstar at 2:59 PM on December 8, 2009


What? Do you seriously think anyone here watches it? You don't need to actually watch it to know some of what on it, you see clips online and on the daily show.

That's actually worse. If you are watching it, then you are at least forming your own opinion of it. What you're saying is that people are forming an opinion of a news outlet based entirely on out-of-context clips and based on the presentation of out-of-context clips by a comedian on a comedy network who disagrees with their political ideology.

In other words, you're saying people are drawing a completely uninformed conclusion about the credibility of Fox News that is based almost entirely on the untested assumption that the Daily Show is highly credible.
posted by Pastabagel at 3:03 PM on December 8, 2009


lucien_reeve : The criticisms of Michael Moore in the wikipedia article linked to above seem pretty weak at best. Surely one of his innumerable and powerful enemies would have come up with something better - or sued him - if he really did have any errors of substance in his work?

Argumentum ad consequentiam does not validate.


Apologies for derailing the thread

Why? Your claim appears fairly on-topic, you merely made a classic logical fallacy in trying to support it.


the behaviour of the two young republicans is predictably dishonest and disgusting...

Please refrain from name-calling if you chose to respond with something more substantial.
posted by pla at 3:12 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


the untested assumption that the Daily Show is highly credible

That's a strong (if unspoken) assertion, and one not supported by Annenberg's research into the political knowledge of its viewers and their response to satire.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:23 PM on December 8, 2009


Of course, take that for what it's worth, given that it's a self-reporting poll on attitudes a year away from the elections. But if does seem to indicate some degree of qualitative gap in voter enthusiasm between the parties.

Seems to be a common theme in midterm elections. Before 2002 and 1998, you'd have to go back to 1934 for an election in which the president's party increased its seat count in the House o' Reps (House results for presidential-election years look to more weakly correlate to an increase in support for the winning Presidential candidate's party, while Senate results are all over the map - smaller sample sizes, I guess). In presidential years you go vote for someone; in midterms you vote against them (again, with 1998 and 2002 making a liar of me). Even with an improving economy and a health care plan (such as it is) in place, and with a GOP getting nuttier by the nanosecond, I'd be shocked if the Dems don't lose seats in both chambers.
posted by hangashore at 3:34 PM on December 8, 2009


Well this makes me happy. I like being right.
posted by lunit at 4:07 PM on December 8, 2009


Eh, this strikes me as one of those political Rorschach stories. If you're left leaning you see it as a vindication of Acorn in the face of racist thugs determined to bring down an organization whose sole mission is to help the poor., If you're right leaning you see it as an expose of a criminal enterprise that's infiltrated the highest levels of American politics.
posted by electroboy at 4:11 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm amazed at how many non-Republicans actually believed that the ACORN people would fall for a "pimp" dressed like Huggy Bear. Are people really that sheltered?

Yes they are: Terrorist Fist Jab.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:12 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


In other words, you're saying people are drawing a completely uninformed conclusion about the credibility of Fox News that is based almost entirely on the untested assumption that the Daily Show is highly credible.

Does this make Fox News credible as a result?
posted by krinklyfig at 4:42 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eh, this strikes me as one of those political Rorschach stories. If you're left leaning you see it as a vindication of Acorn in the face of racist thugs determined to bring down an organization whose sole mission is to help the poor., If you're right leaning you see it as an expose of a criminal enterprise that's infiltrated the highest levels of American politics.

Yes, well, who is right, then?
posted by krinklyfig at 4:46 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yay Scott Harshbarger !! I have a Harshbarger story and I'm tellin' it here. Harshbarger taught the ethics portion of my civil litigation clinic at Boston U. School o' Law while he was Massachusetts' Attorney General. Very cool of him, in retrospect. He inspired me (more like cajoled, really) to sign up as a summer intern for the AG's office. So I did. My supervisor/assistant AG, "Donna", was (is!) a terrific lawyer who became one of most bestest....I digress. We were working on an appellate brief. I went from 9-5 research dawg (more like 10-5, really) to go-to girl on the brief. All the interns were supposed to go to these weekly orientations for presentations on the various AG departments and other intern-y thingies. I made it to none of them; by then I was working until 3am some nights with Donna.

So toward the end of the internship, I went to a buffet intern-appreciation thing mid-day (free food!) and chowed. I was looking for a napkin (grumble grumble finger food) when I turned around and there was Harshbarger. He said "Jezebella! Where have you been hiding?" He had been taling with the intern coordinator, who told him I was working on "that mobile home park appeal". Harshbarger said something disparaging about the appeal (the litigation had gone on for years) and turned in full to greet me.

Overcome with exhaustion generally and overcome in particular with appreciation that my efforts were being recognized by him and realizing that my hands were too gross to offer for a shake, I threw myself bodily on Harshbarger with a hug. He patted me on the back uncomfortably and smiled. We later took a group picture (Harshbarger and the interns). I felt like I had a special relationship with Harshbarger, as an intern.

I regard that moment as my Monica Lewinsky moment.

Yay Scott Harshbarger!
posted by Jezebella at 5:01 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Neither, really. "No Illegal Conduct" isn't a vindication of ACORN, because there was never really any question whether what they did was illegal. They're still sloppy, waste a lot of money and are generally less effective than they could be if they focused their efforts and had better oversight.

By the same token, there's no evidence that either the video or the voter registration issue is anything but some morally unencumbered low-level employees that wanted to take shortcuts, so no grand conspiracy either.

But it was never about uncovering a grand conspiracy; some up and coming party hacks wanted to make a name for themselves and score some cheap political points for a party that's thrashing around wildly trying to find something to attack the administration with.
posted by electroboy at 5:22 PM on December 8, 2009


I'm shocked, shocked I say, that an upstanding Young Republican would use deceitful editing techniques to--report commissioned by ACORN clears ACORN --oh who am I kidding. "Community activist" has been synonymous with "shakedown artist" for decades thanks primarily to Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH money machine so I wouldn't expect ACORN to be garnering too much sympathy from the public at large.
posted by MikeMc at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2009


"Community activist" has been synonymous with "shakedown artist" for decades thanks primarily to Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH money machine so I wouldn't expect ACORN to be garnering too much sympathy from the public at large.

See? All preconceived notions are validated! Everyone wins!

Except poor people.
posted by electroboy at 5:39 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Neither, really. "No Illegal Conduct" isn't a vindication of ACORN, because there was never really any question whether what they did was illegal.

I don't agree. And you say, "what they did." Who is they? How long did they have to fish for this one before someone bit? It's hard for me to see that video and not see it all as a joke. It's like people in Halloween costumes. The people who set them up were acting in bad faith. They were not trying to investigate ACORN at all. They were trying to get a "gotcha" moment to get them a boost up into the important circles of conservative politics. This whole thing is a giant distraction, and it is explicitly because ACORN is a force for poor people and is considered a threat because poor people in urban areas tend to vote Democrat. This is a variation on the attack on Obama being a community organizer, as if that really meant "socialist." Nobody cared about ACORN until the noise machine turned it into a thing to distract people with. It's bullshit, through and through.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:11 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Community activist" has been synonymous with "shakedown artist" for decades thanks primarily to Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH money machine

No, it's thanks to the modern incarnation of the Southern Strategy.

No shit.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:14 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't agree. And you say, "what they did." Who is they? How long did they have to fish for this one before someone bit? It's hard for me to see that video and not see it all as a joke. It's like people in Halloween costumes. The people who set them up were acting in bad faith.

Another winner!
posted by electroboy at 9:50 PM on December 8, 2009


Regarding corporate personhood, Justice Sotomayor has signaled some willingness to engage the issue in the re-argument of Citizens United:

And so my question to you is, once we say [state and federal legislatures] can't [limit corporate involvement in the electoral process], except on the basis of a compelling government interest narrowly tailored, are we cutting off or would we be cutting off that future democratic process?

Because what you are suggesting is that the courts who created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons, and there could be an argument made that that was the Court's error to start with, not Austin or McConnell, but the fact that the Court imbued a creature of State law with human characteristics.

That's it. But it's more noise than the Court has made for decades on the issue.
posted by Monsters at 10:06 PM on December 8, 2009


That 50 state project that supposedly got the Democrats back in power? Now that they're in power it should be kicked up a notch.

Yeah, they're still missing 7 states.
posted by albrecht at 6:48 AM on December 9, 2009


Another winner!

Not sure what you mean by that.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:20 AM on December 9, 2009


My impression while we (Mefites in general) regard this as an unambiguous social good, lots of Americans precisely don't see universal participation in democracy as a good thing.

Agreed. My father, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative creeping ever closer to the Limbaugh/Beck axis every day, said frequently when I was growing up and willing to listen to his cant that it's probably better that some people don't vote because they are too ignorant or uneducated. He clearly advocated "democracy" by an elite class. Funny how his kind now revile the elite reflexively. All elites are equal, but some are more equal than others.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:57 PM on December 9, 2009


House Ban on ACORN Grants is Ruled Unconstitutional.

Which is really funny, actually, because just this past Thursday my organization got a letter from the EPA that said the following:

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently issued new rules regarding a prohibition of funding to any ACORN associated organizations utilizing EPA funds. Due to the fact that the [program] is funded with EPA funds, we are contacting you to determine your continued eligibility in the [program.] In order to confirm your continued eligibility, can you please confirm the following statement:

"We represent to DEM that our organization is not an ACORN affiliate, subsidiary or allied organization."

Upon receipt of your response/confirmation, we will continue activities on your [project.]
posted by lunit at 7:38 AM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


lots of Americans precisely don't see universal participation in democracy as a good thing

There is nothing remotely approaching universal participation in democracy in the US, or Canada. Not. Even. Close.

AFAIK, only Australia has true universal participation.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:29 AM on December 12, 2009


From the NYT article lunit linked:
The federal government must continue to provide grant money to the national community organizing group Acorn, a federal court ruled Friday, saying that the House violated the Constitution when it passed a resolution barring the group from receiving federal dollars.

A judge at the United States District Court in Brooklyn issued a preliminary injunction that nullifies the resolution and requires the government to honor existing contracts with the group and review its applications for new grants unless the Obama administration appeals the decision.

The court ruled that the resolution amounted to a “bill of attainder,” a legislative determination of guilt without trial, because it specifically punishes one group.

...In the opinion, Judge Nina Gershon wrote of Acorn, “They have been singled out by Congress for punishment that directly and immediately affects their ability to continue to obtain federal funding, in the absence of any judicial, or even administrative, process adjudicating guilt.”

Damn skippy. Suck it, ACORN-haters.
posted by darkstar at 10:13 AM on December 12, 2009


There is nothing remotely approaching universal participation in democracy in the US, or Canada. Not. Even. Close.

At a federal level this is more or less true, but at a local level the New England style town meeting is a much closer approximation. Particpation isn't mandatory [as it is in Australia which comes with its own set of downsides] but it's much more clear that your direct involvement is the chance you have to make a difference that you care about and so many more people make the effort.
posted by jessamyn at 10:34 AM on December 12, 2009


I'm very happy that bill against ACORN was struck down, because I think ACORN does great work.

But I'm also chuffed that the whole issue has brought "bills of attainder" back into contemporary discourse. Last time they were a major issue was the 16th century, when Henry VIII used them whenever he lost his temper, and had you executed for wearing bad pants or something.
posted by jb at 8:38 PM on December 12, 2009


Agreed, jb. We live in a wonderfully modern time when Bills of Attainder, Habeas Corpus and prisoner torture are actually subject to debate.

Something has happened to seriously degrade our society's sense of justice, recently.
posted by darkstar at 8:50 AM on December 13, 2009


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