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September 22, 2009

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Gee, Eric--you're making the law sound *good*!

In other words, the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex.

Well it's a gray and cloudy day here in old New England, but this put a smile on my face.

What russell said.

also note: "The language was written by the GOP and filed as a "motion to recommit" in the House, where it passed 345-75. It carried the Senate by an 83-7 margin."

I guess we'll see who really runs our gov't when a bill that passes by veto-proof margins but would have an overwhelmingly huge negative impact on military contractors (and likely wall street) is suddenly scuttled by equally overwhelming margins.

I'd say a ratio of arresting and jailing 100 Republican campaign contributor/government contractors (let's get some of the contributors who give to chickensh*t Democrats, too) for every one ACORN employee who reacted the wrong way to performance art would probably do............

..........nothing to halt the current spiral into suicidal political chaos.

But it's a start.

The Republican Party is the Balrog. I want to be the Gandalf who goes over the side with them into the pit and I don't care if either one of us is ever heard from again.

Seems like a provision that might mysteriously disappear in the conference committee.

And to add more fun:

Police: ACORN worker in video reported couple

What's that? You say that that dastardly fool caught on video actually was playing along with them? And actually did report this to the police?

Goodness. It's almost as if Congress, manipulated by Republicans looking to take down ACORN and use the manufactured scandal against Democrats, passed a sweeping law that wasn't even necessary based on insufficient information.

But that never happens.

I'll be waiting for the apologies from everyone who spent the last week smugly demonizing this employee and insisting that exactly what it turns out what was the case couldn't possibly be true.

Hang on, has ACORN even been charged with any of those things they list in the bill?

It's almost as if we should have some sort of investigation or trial before taking serious action on the basis of some video put together by political activists to smear their enemies.

KCinDC, that's 9/10 thinking.

I'll be waiting for the apologies from everyone who spent the last week smugly demonizing this employee and insisting that exactly what it turns out what was the case couldn't possibly be true.

I'd settle for getting this guy a job. May not have done the best thing, but he thought he was doing a right thing by playing along.

Why didn't we have a 9/10 March on Washington? Maybe next year.

"Nevertheless, the fact remains that out of thousands of employees, a small handful acted in reprehensible ways."

I think that would be a fair description of the situation... If thousands of ACORN employees had been approached.

If I polled 20 people in a city of 10,000, and 15 of them were Obama supporters, would you agree I could say, "Of ten thousand people, a small handful were Obama supporters."?

For once I have to agree with Brett. From what I've read approximately half of the attempts were successful. Even if they just happened to hit the "right" ACORN offices, one can't claim it was just a small handfull of employees if it was approximately half of the sample.

Not that I agree with the remedy Congress has implemented. I appreciate OBW because we usually don't overstate the cases we discuss. I hope we continue in that tradition in remembrance of Hilzoy.

Funny, when a small handful of Boeing employees broke certain Federal Laws, no one seemed upset with the company getting slammed with millions in fines and even more in lost contracts? Why is ACORN any different?

If one standard is good...

Funny, when a small handful of Boeing employees broke certain Federal Laws, no one seemed upset with the company getting slammed with millions in fines and even more in lost contracts? Why is ACORN any different?

Because different laws are concerned? And responses should be appropriate?

Because nobody approached a random sample of Boeing employees, and got half of them to gladly break said federal laws? I really don't think a rocket scientist, even a mad one, would fail to appreciate the difference between "a handful of employees", and "half of our random sample". Unless your company only has two handfuls of employees, it's a pretty big difference.

For once I have to agree with Brett. From what I've read approximately half of the attempts were successful.

*If* we choose to believe them. Given their apparent agenda, that is a questionable assumption. Caveat: I havent spent a lot of time looking into this.

URRRGGHHHH.

Would folks not even TALK about sampling here? This is a SMALL SAMPLE SIZE here; yes, indeed, it is not bending probability to see half of the sample showing "bad acts" when the percentage in the population is much, much, much smaller. (Granting that they're actually bad).

Hm... I suspect that ACORN would have caught on faster that something was up, if they'd approached even dozens of ACORN offices. And not been caught so flat footed. As an amateur effort, approaching hundreds of offices would have been beyond them. The notion that they approached thousands of offices is absurd.

The sample size was small, so the statistical significance is not high. Maybe 90% of ACORN employees are comfortable with advising somebody on how to run a brothel staffed with underage sex slaves. Maybe it's only 10%. But there's no way to honestly spin this as not indicating a very, very serious problem at ACORN.

Which will not come as a surprise to anybody who hasn't long been in denial about what sort of organization ACORN is.

The sample size was small, so the statistical significance is not high. Maybe 90% of ACORN employees are comfortable with advising somebody on how to run a brothel staffed with underage sex slaves.

Um, Brett...are you current?

But there's no way to honestly spin this as not indicating a very, very serious problem at ACORN.

BTW, sorry, but no.

Hm... I suspect that ACORN would have caught on faster that something was up, if they'd approached even dozens of ACORN offices. And not been caught so flat footed. As an amateur effort, approaching hundreds of offices would have been beyond them. The notion that they approached thousands of offices is absurd.

This is hunches and guesswork in place of facts; it could only be compelling to someone merely ratifying existing beliefs.

What's even worse than the videos is that ACORN has been caught in bed with a Capitalist! 8·o

I suspect that ACORN would have caught on faster that something was up, if they'd approached even dozens of ACORN offices.

If advising on concealing under-age sex slaves is just a normal day's work for ACORN, then why would they have caught on?

I have a practical question:

Suppose a sexy young black woman claiming to be a prostitute, and a flamboyant young black man claiming to be her pimp, asked a respectable, expensive, white tax accountant how to file tax returns SO THEY COULD PAY TAX ON THEIR INCOME.

Would anyone here be shocked if the respectable, expensive, white tax accountant explained to them how to code their occupation SO THAT THEY COULD FILE TAX RETURNS?

The IRS, last I checked, is interested in collecting taxes on earned income from whatever source. It is not responsible for prosecuting any crimes EXCEPT TAX EVASION. A respectable, expensive, white tax accountant would advise the black couple exactly as the ACORN woman in the clip I saw did.

Does anyone here doubt it? Would anyone here be shocked, shocked!, by it?

Whoring and pimping are unsavory occupations, just like rum-running during Prohibition was. The Feds nailed Al Capone for NOT PAYING TAXES. Anyone purporting to dispense tax advice to a self-proclaimed whore-and-pimp pair who claim to WANT TO PAY TAXES would be committing professional malpractice if he advised them differently from the way the ACORN woman did. No?

--TP

Because nobody approached a random sample of Boeing employees, and got half of them to gladly break said federal laws?

No, they volunteered to break the law, all on their own. This is the difference between lawbreaking and entrapment, btw, which I would hope you of all people would appreciate.

Maybe 90% of ACORN employees are comfortable with advising somebody on how to run a brothel staffed with underage sex slaves.

RTFA. HTH.


Which will not come as a surprise to anybody who hasn't long been in denial about what sort of organization ACORN is.

One that helps poor, mostly black, people, which is, I suppose, why you appear to hate it so deeply.

Because nobody approached a random sample of Boeing employees, and got half of them to gladly break said federal laws?

What laws were broken?

Brett, you have a person who was approached by two actors, humored to actors, and then the actors had the police called on them. For the worker's trouble, the worker was fired.

My sampling of right-wing journalists and publicity whores is that they are overwhelmingly full of people who like to ruin the lives of others.

"This is the difference between lawbreaking and entrapment, btw, which I would hope you of all people would appreciate."

Yup, and I would by no means suggest prosecuting any of the people in those videos. OTOH, I wouldn't suggest entrusting them with any job more sensitive than picking up trash along side the road, either.

ACORN has a long history of burdening elections officials by delivering a comparatively large percentage of fraudulent registrations. Year after year, they fail to implement any reforms to fix this situation.

Are they cheating the GOP? No, they're cheating the Democratic party.

They're YOUR crooks, and for some reason you seem content to be rooked by them. I might speculate why this is so, but it clearly IS so.

What crime is acorn guilty of other than offending poor wittle brett's sensibilities?

Brett, you should consider that you'd have an easier time persuading others who don't already agree with you if your challenges were not each of them laid on a foundation of question-begging and a priori assumptions not shared by anyone who does not already drink the kool-aid.

ACORN has a long history of burdening elections officials by delivering a comparatively large percentage of fraudulent registrations. Year after year, they fail to implement any reforms to fix this situation.

Two responses. One, given that much of this is dye to the way that local law is written, blaming ACORN is disingenoues. Two, in the matter of exercising the right to vote, erring on the side of leniency is not a bad strategy to take. Would you rather suppress voter participation just to save money?

ACORN has a long history of burdening elections officials by delivering a comparatively large percentage of fraudulent registrations. Year after year, they fail to implement any reforms to fix this situation.

Wait, ACORN indicates themselves that the registrations are likely fraud. They're not trying to pull one over on elections officials, they are fully complying with election laws as such.

They're YOUR crooks, and for some reason you seem content to be rooked by them. I might speculate why this is so, but it clearly IS so.

No, they're a marginal organization that does some good.

Because nobody approached a random sample of Boeing employees, and got half of them to gladly break said federal laws?

Could you list what laws were broken?

And in the present case, evidence keeps emerging exonerating the employees. The San Bernadino incident was a joke (the woman's husband that she said she killed is alive and well).

The one that supposedly kept quiet about sex slaves actually reported the incident to the police.

There is less and less there there, and yet the outrage-ometer is on 11. Out of 10.

The same meter that doesn't register a blip when government contractors commit murder and rape. No calls for cutting off funds. No calls for special prosecutors (at least, no publicized calls - should say hyperpublicized).

ACORN has a long history of burdening elections officials by delivering a comparatively large percentage of fraudulent registrations.

Large compared to what? When these cases shake out after all the absurd Republican agitprop, the typical number of fake registrations amount to a few dozen nationwide. Is that what is keeping election officials up at night? Do you mean to say that the most awful crime to the Democratic party that you can ascertain is this awful (mythical) burden they are placing on election officials?

Year after year, they fail to implement any reforms to fix this situation.

Incorrect. The nature of trying to maximize the number of legitimate registrations means that there will be fraudulent registrations. Because, election law prohibits any group engaged in this sort of registration activity from throwing away registrations, what ACORN has been doing for years is flagging those fraudulent registrations precisely so that they will not burden election officials. Politically motivated prosecutors have then often used these ACORN-flagged registrations as demonstration of wrongdoing. Its deeply absurd. But here we are.

Shorter Brett: even though they scrupulously follow the law regarding voter registrations, I don't like them.

Really Brett, in the area of voter registration, ACORN is one of the most responsible and straight up groups out there. Compare their following of the law and turning in all registrations gathered, and even going beyond what the law requires and indicating those they think are suspect, to a Republican funded group that was caught destroying registrations that indicated the Democratic Party as the voter-to-be registration.

There is erally only one reason ACORN is being targeted, and that is to reduce registration of Democratic voters. The Republican Party, in its current condition, does not believe in having the whole public being involved in decision making.

Because nobody approached a random sample of Boeing employees, and got half of them to gladly break said federal laws? I really don't think a rocket scientist, even a mad one, would fail to appreciate the difference between "a handful of employees", and "half of our random sample".

I'm curious, Brett: we know this wasn't a significant sample, but do we actually know if it was a random one, at least?

> Maybe 90% of ACORN employees
> are comfortable with
> advising somebody on how to
> run a brothel staffed with
> underage sex slaves. Maybe
> it's only 10%. But there's no
> way to honestly spin this
> as not indicating a very, very
> serious problem at ACORN.

What problem is that?

I read you as suggesting that they are essentially a conspiracy of monsters; functionally the villains of some urban fantasy/occult horror story, analog to Joss Whedon's "Wolfram & Hart" and aiming, on some level, to support and facilitate all that which does harm and corrupts the innocent in our world. That they are there, in short, to provide support services to evil; and have chosen, as the logical cover for this activity, to masquerade as an organization to register poor voters (for in so doing, I assume, they may garner more votes fraudulent and real for their Democratic lackeys.)

I'm not being facetious; I know that can't possibly be what you mean, but that's all I get out of your comment. What am I missing?

> Which will not come as a surprise
> to anybody who hasn't long been
> in denial about what sort of
> organization ACORN is.

This I take to mean that ACORN has used illegitimate means of influence or perhaps simply good fortune to persuade liberals to rally to defend it in its crusade to aid and abet the torture of children and to fill the rolls with fraudulent voters, and blinded by their echo chambers or perhaps even ideological loyalties the liberals are unable to see the truth.

That seems slightly more like something a person would actually mean to assert, but I'm still not sure you do so.

I'm really uncomfortable with the video and pleased that apparently the police were contacted. I'm not sure what the point is, though. It's like, I mean, it's like suggesting that former President Bush is a cannibal. Even if you get some staffer of his to admit to it on video, I'd be all, what? That doesn't seem to have anything to do with what makes him reprehensible to me.

Best wishes,

Jenna

Because nobody approached a random sample of Boeing employees, and got half of them to gladly break said federal laws?

and

Maybe 90% of ACORN employees are comfortable with advising somebody on how to run a brothel

nobody did that with ACORN. they approached a random sampling of customer-facing employees: sales people, client development.

sheesh.

ACORN should transform itself into an organization that arms the poor, arms the homeless, and arms the unregistered voter.

Free, registered guns for all of the above, with unlimited ammo.

An NRA for the Left.

The Republican Party has shown that if you want your way in this dog's dinner of a piece of garbage, suicidal political system, you lie, cheat, steal, and demagogue and you wear your weapons where everyone can see them.

It's like, I mean, it's like suggesting that former President Bush is a cannibal.

Wait, what? George Bush is not a cannibal?

It seems unlikely. I had trouble thinking of a crime that was sufficiently different from both everything he did do and from what ACORN is being accused of. Leave me my simile. ^_^

Yeah, Cheney is the cannibal. Haven't you heard about the hearts of small children?

There's an additional bias that isn't taken into account by just looking at the raw math of it as if this was a idealized simple random sample. If they had done an investigation and not found anything, they wouldn't have announced their results. This was not a statistical survey by unbiased political scientists trying to determine how many of ACORN's employees would react in this way, this was a very obvious attempt to make ACORN look bad. If they had failed, they wouldn't have released their data.

Thus, to look at it statistically, you have to realize that there were likely other people trying to look for ways to make ACORN look bad, but they failed where these people succeeded. So the true sample size is effectively larger. The thing about confidence intervals is that it's possible for the result to be outside the margin of error, it's just somewhat unlikely. But every now and then you'll get a sample which is way off.

The tax advice was about on par with what one might get walking into any one of the national chains in March or April. Most of these people are simply not trained to handle a business tax return, but since they work on commission are loath to turn the job down. What I saw in the clip were generally well meaning people with a poor understanding of tax law getting punked. Tony, yes a licensed tax professional, would have done the return - why not, as you correctly pointed out, the taxpayer has an obligation to report the income. A real tax professional would know that you can't claim illegals as dependents, would help not only with the federal tax return, but also get the pimp straight with state, disability and unemployemnt taxes for his whore employee (a w-2 not a 1099-misc is the correct way to report her income). It's actually possible, given the way dependency works, that the pimp is the whore's dependent for tax purposes if she supplies more than 1/2 his support and he lived in her residence for 12 months. As for the under aged illegal aliens in the pimp's employ - you can't write their direct expenses off because you can't legally employ them - but you sure have to declare the income. It's the law.

ACORN has a long history of burdening elections officials by delivering a comparatively large percentage of fraudulent registrations. Year after year, they fail to implement any reforms to fix this situation.
Are they cheating the GOP? No, they're cheating the Democratic party.
They're YOUR crooks, and for some reason you seem content to be rooked by them. I might speculate why this is so, but it clearly IS so.

Im just struggling to believe that your big concern is that the Democratic Party is being ripped off. Nothing that I have ever read from you indicates that this is a genuine concern.
I also suspect that your fix for the situation isn't some set of improvements they could implement to prevent fraud, it's something more like "stop trying to register poor people."

Carleton,
Concern trolling is something so deep embedded in the DNA of the right, it can't help but popping up.

This was not a statistical survey by unbiased political scientists trying to determine how many of ACORN's employees would react in this way, this was a very obvious attempt to make ACORN look bad. If they had failed, they wouldn't have released their data.

This can't be stated strongly enough IMO - you simply cannot draw any inference whatsoever about the general behaviour of ACORN employees based solely on this "study".

There was no 'control' group: we have no idea what the general level of incidence of this sort of behaviour is in other similar organizations or the public as a whole. Maybe ACORN employees are on the whole more honest about this sort of thing, but with no comparison measure, how will we ever know?

The 'study' was not double-blinded; that is, the actors knew what result they wanted the study to show. A similar trial run by people wanting to demonstrate ACORN employees were honest would have had a different result because the actors would know what results were expected of them.

The sample was not a random sample. A random sample would at least involve getting a list of every suitable ACORN employee and having a machine choose ~20 utterly arbitrarily, rather than choosing people who seemed more likely to show the desired behaviour.

So, Brett, you can't say that 50% is a reliable figure at all in any meaningful way. It just isn't. This sort of trial design is first-year stats where I come from. I highly recommend the book "Bad Science" by Ben Goldacre if you're interested in how the media even mis-reports real scientific studies.

What the Left needs is a better class of prostitute.

The only problems the Republican Party have with the imaginary teenaged El Salvadoran sex slave performance artists receiving advice to avoid taxes are:

1. They are imaginary and Republican politicians and their contributors like to screw the real thing.

2. They are teenagers and thus shouldn't receive more than minimum wage, and certainly not health insurance, for services rendered to Republican politicians and their contributors.

3. They should be back in El Salvador being rounded up and prostituted by right-wing death squads. Alternatively, they should be in the Marianas servicing Dick Armey (great name for a pimp) and Tom Delay (great name for a pimp with plumbing problems) when they aren't doing tax-deductible piece work on their knees for folks in higher tax brackets.

4. They aren't in a high-enough tax bracket to encourage Republican politicians and their contributors to cut their marginal tax rates, thus incentivizing the prostitutes to expand their businesses to military contractors, small-businessmen trade shows, and the elite Values Voters After-Hours Club.

5. They are young girls and thus don't even begin to address the wide range of kinks found in the Republican caucus.

The only problems the Republican Party have with the imaginary teenaged El Salvadoran sex slave performance artists receiving advice to avoid taxes are...

that their taxes are too high in the first place!

Seriously, if word gets out about underage Salvadoran sex slaves, Rush is going to have to refill his Viagra scrip. He and the boys from "24" won't even have to leave the country to party down.

Sweet!

But yeah, ACORN is the big problem, let's talk about them.

Brett

I actually agree with you, that ACORN should be treated like any Corporation that was caught with employees behaving very badly.

Should ACORN be destroyed? No, but such behavior shows either a lack of training, supervision, or god forbid, evidence of a sick organizational culture. Either way, they need a healthy financial/PR slap so they take it seriously that they need to clean up their house.

Okay, how many of the Republicans calling for the death of ACORN for Borat style video being made of them are willing to apply the same standards to, say, other lobbying groups? Or how about industries? Mercenaries we've hired? The Army? The CIA? Should we call for the death of the Republican party because people in it have committed bad acts?

Seriously, the people shocked, SHOCKED, at ACORN's transgressions are full of crap.

What?

No hat tip?

Apologies jadegold.

Should ACORN be destroyed? No, but such behavior shows either a lack of training, supervision, or god forbid, evidence of a sick organizational culture. Either way, they need a healthy financial/PR slap so they take it seriously that they need to clean up their house.

Lack of training and supervision stemming from a deficit in funding and resources, I'd say.

And I would further say that the results came from strategy and policies that are almost certainly quite sound; "playing along with the crazy and call the police afterwards" is not that controversial a policy--what seems to be getting people up is how it's being implemented.

remember how mad Brett was about Voter Outreach of America ?

me neither.

I asked this in the Perlstein thread, but this may be more appropriate. I've only seen one video (don't know which one), but the camera angles and editing make it difficult to tell what the "pimp" is wearing. I've seen stills or pictures with him dressed in that ridiculous blinged out pimp suit with the fur cape or whatever. Is he actually wearing that in all or most of the videos?
Because if somebody dressed like that showed up and started asking those kinds of questions, I'd probably assume it was some sort of Borat/Punk'd prank, and play along in order to get my 5 minutes of fame. If they were wearing street clothes or something more subdued I'd be more inclined to think that the responses of the ACORN employees were genuine, but in the pictures I've seen O'Keefe and Giles' costumes are so over the top that it seems obvious they're playing a role. They're a bad caricature of how white suburbanites think pimps and prostitutes dress. Does anyone who's watched all of the videos know if they were actually costumed like that in all the "stings"?

playing along with the crazy and call the police afterwards

Great idea, too bad only one guy did it (that I've heard about) and it came 2 days later, instead of 2 minutes after they were out the door, or maybe 5 minutes after the employee had an idea that things were hinky (you know, string them along until the cops arrive).

But, that could be a training oversight.

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