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September 17, 2009

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I was having a face to face real live conversation with a liberal friend of mine last night, who hadn't heard about the tapes. (interesting that neither he nor I had caught any news program with a report).

When I explained the high level to him his reaction was "I don't believe it happened, the tapes were doctored, it just isn't true."

As we talked and I got to the part about the 13 teenage sex slaves he looked at me and said "did any of them not call the police at that point?"

I said, well in the transcript I read in full there was no call to the police.

At that point he expressed outrage that anyone could have listened to that story and not acted at least in defense of those girls.

I have to admit, out of all of this discussion, the lack of outrage at that one point is the most mystifying to me.

All of the rest is political defense and attack, both ways. ACORN has lots of good people, the conservatives did a great job of creating a gotcha, good or bad for them depending on which side you're on, etc....

My friend reacted exactly as I would have expected anyone to react, doubtful of the motives and integrity of the tapers, indignant, in fact angry, that the prospect of sex slavery of minors could be overlooked.

I'm quite sure ACORN has lots of good people. Just as they file lots of valid registrations.

The problem, all along, has been that ACORN also has lots of bad people, just as it files lots of bad registrations.

And, persistently, the good people in ACORN don't demonstrate much real interest in doing anything effective about the bad people. Why, you might even suspect the outfit is run by the bad people, and the good people are just around for show.

So Brett, would it be fair to say that you think that this incident proves ACORN is iredeemble ("run by bad people") and that it should therefore have its charter revoked and the "bad people" prosecuted? Is that right? If not, what specific actions do you think should be taken?

Marty, the same question applies to you. I'm really struggling to turn your outrage into a policy that can be applied in other cases....

And, persistently, the good people in ACORN don't demonstrate much real interest in doing anything effective about the bad people. Why, you might even suspect the outfit is run by the bad people, and the good people are just around for show.

oddly, this is how i feel about the GOP

"Marty, the same question applies to you. I'm really struggling to turn your outrage into a policy that can be applied in other cases...."

I am struggling that not one person has said, in this whole thread, anywhere, even when I bring it up:

All else aside Marty it is an utrage that those people didn't do anything to stop the potential of 13 girls being imported into sex slavery.

I couldn't care less if you are "struggling" to understand how to create a "policy" to address that basic human failure to protect some the most vulnerable of all people imaginable.

And, cleek, don't ever question my caring for the disadvantaged again after that response.

Sorry cleek, I meant Turb.

All else aside Marty it is an utrage that those people didn't do anything to stop the potential of 13 girls being imported into sex slavery.

Hey, I think everyone who hears talk about sex slavery should report it to the authorities. I also think genocide is wrong. And so is eating puppies. Do I have to explain these basic facts every time I comment here or will this cover me for the rest of the year?

Now, I don't like to use the word outrage because it doesn't mean a damn thing: you get outraged...so what? Your outrage doesn't do a damn thing for any victim. It just gives you an emotional rush without helping people. I'm not interested in playing that game. Sorry.

I couldn't care less if you are "struggling" to understand how to create a "policy" to address that basic human failure to protect some the most vulnerable of all people imaginable.

Marty, let me ask you again: what should be done with ACORN based on these tapes? Should ACORN's charter be revoked? Its officers charged with crimes? Its contacts severed? What?

"Marty, let me ask you again: what should be done with ACORN based on these tapes? Should ACORN's charter be revoked? Its officers charged with crimes? Its contacts severed? What?"

I again, couldn't really care less what happens to ACORN as a result of this. If there is a reason to believe that these are widespread abuses then maybe they get revoked. This single incident doesn't warrant much about the organization as a whole to me.

Better training? They are talking it is being done. Better screening? Hard in a non-profit.

But I still find your dismissal pretty flip.

Marty, I don't understand why I should care about this then. You think that there is absolutely nothing of public interest in this case: you don't think ACORN should fined or disbanded or penalized in any way. You seem to think that these sorts of problems are extraordinarily difficult to prevent in non-profits. And you admit that absolutely no one was harmed. So why should I be outraged? Why should I care about this at all?

I think the ACORN workers should have called the cops when the 13 teenaged sex slaves were mentioned.

Apparently, the cops WERE called in another instance and the conservative performance artists fled the premises.

Why? Is it possible they really have 13 sex slaves chained to a wall somewhere and they were afraid they would get caught?

Why, for God's sake, are the police forces in these cities not conducting a building-by-building search for these performance artist sex slaves?

You'd think the IRS would want a piece of this, too, considering the performance artists sex slaves have not paid their performance artist taxes.

Don't pimps withhold taxes from their sex slaves pay checks?

When I was a pimp, I gave each whore a W2 form, but being a commie liberal as well, I provided health insurance to my girls as well so that Republican Congressmen johns wouldn't catch the cooties and give them to their otherwise innocent wives and girlfriends, hopefully not simultaneously.

Why did the conservative performance artists not call the cops when the female ACORN performance artist worker admitted to murdering her ex-husband, apparently a living, breathing dead performance artist guy in Barstow, California, which sounds like a Johnny Carson joke, but maybe he wasn't kidding either?

How could the pimp and the whore learn about a murder and not bring the authorities in? Wouldn't this make both the pimp and his hag performance accessories to a performance capital crime?

What did thay have to hide? Do they approve of murder?

The remaining ACORN offices need to hire performance artists cops to be called when conservative performance artist pimps show up and to administer performance artist strip searches, shackling and frog marching.

What are the rules for filing false police reports?

Something else. If someone claimed to me that they were harboring 13 underaged sex slaves (sex slaves should of age and obscene and not heard, according to performance artist Groucho Marx) and I went to the trouble of calling the authorities and then found out it was performance art designed to bring down the President of the United States, then I stop being a performance artist and we enter reality show territory.

Here's a tip: the 13 teenaged sex slaves are harbored in the basement of the White House for President Obama's pleasure. They are white girls.

Follow-up on that Inspector Clouseau, if you any sense decency.


And, persistently, the good people in ACORN don't demonstrate much real interest in doing anything effective about the bad people.

Except it's the good people at ACORN who turn the bad registrations -- and, by implication, the bad people -- into the proper elections authorities in the first place. Which I'm sure you know.

Why, you might even suspect the outfit is run by the bad people, and the good people are just around for show.

If by "you" you mean, well you, rather than me, or anyone else.

Actually, since there were not 13 teenage sex slaves involved at all, I fail to see you point. And, in fact, the did get tossed out, but O'Keefe kept it up until it didn't. O'Keefe consistently fails to find any criminal behavior going on. How many times did O'Keefe find something that resulted in an arrest, much less any effective prosecution?

Here's a tip: the 13 teenaged sex slaves are harbored in the basement of the White House for President Obama's pleasure. They are white girls.
It would be stupid of me to call the police, since they aren't there.

This actually reminds me of the time that they tried to pull a "sting" on Al Sharpton, filming someone trying to sell him cocaine. He kept nodding as the drug-dealer went on with his spiel, and then the guy left, and that was that. It was supposed to be a huge indictment of Sharpton because... I don't know-- he didn't leap up and beat the guy.

The right is told, daily, to find something to be angry about. They will continue to persist in doing so and move on to the next thing. 99% of the time it will be completely irrelevant. When that becomes clear, they will move on to the next thing and scream about it. Had the ACORN thing not occurred, they'd be screaming about something else--- in fact they are: the made up eruption about the czars... coming soon to an angry republican uncle thanksgiving rant near you!

Why, you might even suspect the outfit is run by the bad people, and the good people are just around for show.

As someone pointed out, this applies to the GOP, and it also applied to Blackwater and other organizations, none of which, Brett, you have ever become upset about. It's almost as though your sense of moral indignation is specifically limited to whatever you think it best focused on bashing the dems over. I would suggest you keep your cultural resentments against hippies and liberals to yourself and not channel those personal problems and resentments into political policy arguments. I'd almost think you're actually being dishonest or not arguing in good faith at all, merely finding some reason to mindlessly hate liberals to excuse your failure to ever take issue with Republicans.

Apologies, John, I misinterpreted what your comment was saying, but I think I still made my point. You were trying to be sarcastic, but the problem is that it is difficult to separate someone parodying a Republican statement from an actual one.

Which brings me to another point about the "learned helplessness"-- when you hear a Republican angry about something, 99% of the time it's over nothing. Brett is angry about ACORN. What does that say to me? There's no problem with ACORN. Brett might get indignant about the Czars. What does that say to me? There's no problem about the Czas, Brett has just been told to be worked into a froth because it is good for him to get his hippie-hate-on.

Every, every, every eruption is not based in something factual but only as an effort to keep a certain group of people riled into a froth to give them continued excuses to oppose the Democrats. It's completely invented outrage. Meanwhile, Iraq policies result in torture and murder, and they don't care. Why? Because they weren't told to.

Actually I've decided that I liked my initial response to the ACORN tapes better than my later response. My initial response was the same as with Borat, I don't like that style (the setup sting to embarass) and I don't think it necessarily leads to honest reactions especially after editing.

After seeing the worst case in which he gives positive advice about how to go about documenting prostitution income and hide contacts I changed my mind somewhat because it really seems (still) as if he didn't care about the really illegal side of it and it doesn't seem like he was just playing along.

This colored my viewing of the other ones, but I think in isolation, at least some of the appear to be the employee playing along.

Which returns me to my original stance, which is that I hate this whole ACORN video, Borat, Michael Moore style. I don't think it reveals nearly as much as it obscures. It doesn't tend to add to useful discussion and is mostly useful as preaching to the choir.

Sorry if you were annoyed by the twisted little path my mind took.

--Sebastian

This just in:

The 13 sex slaves in the White House have been promoted to 13 sex czarinas, which puts them in a higher tax bracket.

They've just been dispatched to give Schmoe Lame a gang hug. I'd check his place to see what's up, too, just to make sure there are no under-the-table tips being exchanged, for IRS purposes, natch.

"It would be stupid of me to call the police, since they aren't there."

They are there if I say so. That the cops are not called and that the cops will not show up to investigate is an outrage.

And if they do show up, can they check and see if Obama has a tail? Because he's hiding something, and if it's not the notorious 13 then it must be something.

***** That's O.K., JustMe, as Sebastian might point out, I've just been Limbaughed.

O'Keefe and Limbaugh are amateur performance artists.

Wait till they get a load of me.

Is it performance art if you dress up like a nuclear weapon and go boom in a crowd of Republican performance victims?

I've always thought the cool thing about performance art would be the moment when the audience figures out it's not a performance.

Posted by: John Thullen | September 18, 2009 at 02:30 PM

Somehow John, as much as I often enjoy your writing, I don't find this subject matter humorous. I find the deft refusal to acknowledge the reality of this depressing. As I found the the reality depressing. No sparring, No Mas.

Herc, any more like that and I'll have to ban you.

On the false equation that lack of outrage @ ACORN == support for the sexual slavery of children:

There would be *more* such outrage from the left, Marty, if it was in any way credible AT ALL.

Say you're a banker (just for instance, let's say you're a white guy), and there you are minding your now business in your office, when your next appointment shows up: a black man, dressed like PeeWee Herman and starts talking about getting your help in a business he wants to set up. The pitch seems weird from the beginning, the individual is outlandish, and you're taking all this with more than a grain of salt.

Still with me?

The longer the conversation goes, the weirder it gets, until this character is talking about ammonium-nitrate fertilizer, meth labs, & semis full of undocumented workers from Guatemala.

Is your first inclination to throw him out? Call the police? String him along in an effort to learn what the bleedin' hell is going on? Maybe your first impulse is to suppress your laughter while waiting to see what gets dragged in next - wouldn't be at all unusual. Doubtless, you will have never encountered such a presentation in any office you've ever been in.

What do you do, Marty? If this guy is actually trying to involve you - a stranger - in real crimes, you must act, but so far you have nothing to act ON: just an outlandish yarn that makes no real sense, especially given the costume. You play along, for a while, decide this guy is not a credible threat or danger, and go back to your business.

Next day, you discover that you're fired for entertaining this odd duck in the first place, and for not immediately reporting him to the DEA, INS, DHS, and a few other places. Not only that, but the owner of the other bank in town is claiming that your bank should be dissolved to prevent it continuing as 'the corrupt organisation it so obviously is'.

Look again at the photo of James O'Keefe. NO-ONE - really, Marty, NO-ONE would look at Mister O'Keefe and believe for a second that he was a pimp - it would be impossible, I'm telling you, for these ACORN folks to have believed a word he said.

IF you think the ACORN workers should have thrown them out and called the police, well, they did, most places; however, *not* doing so is not agreement, not acceptance, not collusion, and not a depraved indifference to human life & suffering.

Unless you believe that YOU are smart enough to know when you are being played - but THEY are *not* smart enough....

That said, I give you my personal assurances as the father of a daughter who has just launched herself into life on her own, I take the victimization of children EXTREMELY seriously. If could see any real danger to any real children (even from El Salvador) lurking in this comic opera of buffoonery and self-congratulation, you would hear me thundering. That you do NOT hear it doesn't mean I don't care.

this whole ACORN video, Borat, Michael Moore style

Sebastian, I sincerely applaud your ability to rethink your position...or at least I did until you got to this point.

Borat and the Acorn pranksters involve people impersonating someone else, and attempting to dupe their interlocutors on that basis. Michael Moore does not do this in his films. His style may be too in-your-face for your tastes, but I've never seen him present himself as anyone other than Michael Moore, filmmaker.

Including him on your little list is a cheap shot.

If, as Marty is claiming, these performance artists were engaged in behavior that would cause a Reasonable Person to call the police, and that the ACORN employees who did not call the police are derelict in their moral duty, then can we not also conclude that the performance artists were guilty of trying to incite (by a "reasonable" standard) frivolous 911 calls? How do we all feel about that?

That aside, I can't watch the videos yet (I'm at work beating sex slaves) but the main charge against these employees seems to be that they were insufficiently credulous. They failed to treat a staged "crime" as a real one. Marty, are you arguing that the performance artists were so convincing that we must condemn the ACORN employees for their cruel indifference?

In some jurisdictions, it's a crime to videotape people without their knowledge and consent. I don't have time right now to do my own legal research on the issue, but Media Matters has a relevant article.

I swear that I read John Thullen's post, but I forgot or elided over the part where he said what I just said (about false police reports). Sorry!

Marty, have you called the police about Julian's sex slaves yet, or is sexual slavery no big deal to you?

I think the important takeaway lesson here is that the more seriously you take right-wing tantrums and engage them on their own terms, the more you provide an incentive for right-wingers to throw more useless tantrums. Liberals work on the incorrect instinct that the more you engage right-wingers on their tantrums, the more common ground you will find.

This is, basically, the reason ACORN is vulnerable: it is an organization that spends time working in poor communities and registering voters rather than focusing on making the lives of right-wingers miserable. Their time gets split between two things: fulfilling their mission and defending themselves from Republican attacks. Republicans only spend time attacking ACORN, so it's pretty obvious who has the upper hand on that one.

Similarly with the federal appointees: their time is split between doing their jobs and defending their existence from a heretofore unknown eruption invented almost wholly out of thin air. Engaging the argument and attempting to reason with the objector in the hopes of finding common ground and perhaps getting greater agreement and cooperation with the other side is a losing game. It only causes the "learned helplessness" referred to. The rational reaction from the dog is to destroy the shock mechanism or bite scientist until he stops shocking the dog.

I think we need to hear a philosophy professor's opinion on all this.

So, to recap: there wasn't actually any public issue worth discussing in this ACORN expose. The real problem is that Seb and Marty had to have their little two minute hate, and when they noticed that other people didn't need to or wish to participate in the two minute hate, they became outraged. Am I missing anything?

Turbulence is that a response to my 2:21?

Turbulence is that a response to my 2:21?

Yes. That and your unwillingness to specify what we should do with ACORN because of these tapes.

Ok. Just checking. Because I don't see why, considering my 2:21, you would ask me that. I obviously don't think anything about "what we should do with ACORN because of the tapes" in light of that, right?

Their M.O.? Freak out randomly

127 posts on this thread.

By my count, 72 are about whether as many as five folks working for ACORN tried to give a clownish git dressed up like Huggy Bear's pale brother advice on how to get funding for a brothel.

You know, ACORN, those nefarious hippy ballot-stuffers.

It kind of reminds me of the RNC phone jamming in the NH Senate race in 2002. Did they ever get Mehlman under oath on that one? Everyone's always trying to mess with the elections, aren't they.

But it's kind of tu quoque of me to bring that up, isn't it?

Except it's not, because ACORN has nothing to do with the Democratic party, Democratic policy, or Democratic governance.

They're just another shiny object to chase.

That these spasms make no sense is a feature, not a bug.

QED.

Seb,

You brought up the ACORN issue. Your original comments suggested that you thought that they were important somehow. I couldn't understand why you thought it was a relevant public issue, so I asked questions. You declined to answer. Then you claimed that on reviewing the tapes, you didn't think they were a big deal. Now, if you don't think the tapes are a big deal, then I certainly don't expect you to think we should do anything with ACORN.

I hope that clears up my position, but I sense that I'm being less than 100% clear here. It has been a long week.

I think Marty knows that we are both equally relieved that there are NO underaged sex slaves and NO murdered ex-husband.

O'Keefe, on the other hand, is the one who finds all of this extremely humorous.

He's the guy who just handed the country a baggie full of Borat's excrement.

The difference is that Borat went one tacky joke too far and O'Keefe and his columnist (can't remember his lousy name) benefactor want to bring down the Presidency of Barack Obama and cause the "Abu Ghraib of the Great Society", as the columnist put it in today's newspaper.

I think ACORN needs to change its mission, as Justme alluded to, to making the lives of the right-wing hate-noise machine miserable.

A nationwide and constant breakout of performance art, which won't be recognized as such, because it's going to look so effing convincing.

.
ACORN's crime deserves the DEATH penalty!!!

They are guilty of registering poor people & minorities to VOTE.

If that were to go unpunished, eventually THOSE people would control Congress, and they might be able to slightly diminish the flow of their own money into the hands of corporatista's and Red State white trash.

OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!
.

"You brought up the ACORN issue. Your original comments suggested that you thought that they were important somehow."

Actually I didn't bring it up. But I did go on and on about it. ;)

As the U.S. becomes a one party state, corruption such as Acorn's will become very commonplace. With very high taxes and a very heavy regulatory burden, organization corruption will be very profitable. Given the anti-law enforcement stance of many on the left, corruption and no enforcement will become commonplace. See DC, California, Baltimore for examples.

"Brett is angry about ACORN. What does that say to me? There's no problem with ACORN."

Ok, first of all, Brett isn't particularly angry about ACORN. Last time I actually got mad about anything in politics was when I discovered Harry Browne was a con-man who'd spent my campaign donations living high off the hog, instead of campaigning. ACORN doesn't have enough to do with me personally for me to get mad.

Second, my hypothetical anger at ACORN says to you that there's nothing wrong with ACORN? Why? Is the purpose of ACORN to make Brett angry, rather than, say, get potential Democratic voters registered? Because it's the Democratic party ACORN is cheating, not me.

I mean, sure, the Republicans need to make sure that ACORN doesn't get to run the Census, or something like that, but they should be glad so much Democratic party wealth gets handed off to crooks. It might otherwise be spent effectively.

The sad thing about the comment stating a concern that the US is becoming a one party state with ACORN as Exhibit A is that I really cannot tell whether it is serious or snark.

As the U.S. becomes a one party state, corruption such as Acorn's will become very commonplace.

Courtesy of those notorious hippies, the >Cato Institute, the federal $$$ provided to ACORN over the last few years has ranged from $1.8 to $3.2M per year.

They've gotten about $43M in federal money since 1994.

The federal subsidy for growing corn in the state of Minnesota in 1995 was $976 million dollars.

Federal subsidies to fossil energy producers are worth many, many billions. With a "b".

Federal subsidies for the new Yankee Stadium in the form of tax exemptions on bonds will cost federal taxpayers about $200 million dollars.

But yeah, corruption such as ACORN's is going to bring the republic down.

As the U.S. becomes a one party state, corruption such as Acorn's will become very commonplace.

Seems to me that this "corruption" is a hallmark of an organization with LITTLE money and little power. Having worked with non-profits that tend to be run on shoestrings, this behavior isn't surprising. They don't have the time or resources for better training or cross-checking. It's like blaming poor people for their malnutrition and shabby clothing.

Oh yeah, I forgot.

$189 million bucks to ArmorGroup to guard the US embassy in Kabul, traffic in sex slaves, and drink vodka off of each other's naked behinds.

But yeah, ACORN is what we really need to worry about.

But ACORN's public activities are just a cover. In reality they are the Kaderschmiede of Obama's SS*/Gestapo and the Obama Youth**.

*that would make it the OSS, the precursor of that leftist hotbed, the CIA ;-)
**OY Gevalt!

russell, Minnesota is in sixth place as of 2007 for corn subsidies.

Iowa: $400M
Illinois: $324M
Nebraska: $233M
Minnesota: $187M

That's over a billion on corn subsidies just in the top four states for corn subsidies. Then there's wheat, cotton and rice subsidies, but we won't dwell on their evilness just now.

Corn subsidies have declined much since 2000, but they're still fairly large.

Sugar subsidies pale in comparison, but price protection on sugar acts as an effective tax to the tune of about $2B annually.

I'd of course like to see the buttvodka-guzzling guards get fired and their companies publicly shamed. You can blame Republicans for hiring them in the first place, but you can't blame them for keeping them on, now.

fired at might be the more proper solution ;-)

You can blame Republicans for hiring them in the first place, but you can't blame them for keeping them on, now.

There was no partisan sniping intended in my citation of the ArmorGroup thing.

The only point I wanted to make with that, and also with the corn subsidy thing, was that in the big picture the $$$ ACORN gets is pretty small potatoes, and that they're not really at the top of the list of poster children for government corruption.

In short, the attention they receive seems, to me, completely out of scale with their actual importance, or with the actual threat they present, to anyone.

It'd be like the national home builders association complaining about federal subsidies to Habitat for Humanity. Yeah, it probably makes a mosquito-sized dent in their world, and it wouldn't shock me to discover that somebody in a Habitat regional office somewhere who made off with some sheetrock to remodel their own personal bathroom, but there must be bigger fish to fry out there somewhere.

The 10:39 post under my name was not written by me, BTW.

There was no partisan sniping intended in my citation of the ArmorGroup thing

Sorry, didn't mean to present that as a slapdown on you, russell. It wasn't meant that way.

Sure, there are lots of other things that Republicans could be focusing on right now that are more important, but the potential for political leverage in those things is just not as great.

This is pretty much what our national political discourse is all about: whatever gives you the most feelgood and leverage.

no worries slarti

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