Wednesday, January 27, 2010


People on the right side of the political spectrum are outraged that
James O'Keefe, their crusader, their "investigational journalist" has
been arrested. After all, this is the daring young man who exposed
ACORN for what they were and confirmed what Glenn Beck has been saying
the group for so long; and we all know how reliable and trustworthy
Glenn is.

For those of you who weren't familiar with ACORN before the name
passed through Beck's foam-tinged lips, let me clue you in to their
nefarious deeds and evil agenda:

1. They investigate allegations of predatory lending. As if that
wasn't bad enough they also petition local governments to enact strict
laws against such lending. In 2002 they leveraged a class action
lawsuit that set up a $72 million foreclosure program for people who
were at risk of losing their homes. (For those of you who do not
remember, in 2002 we were just climbing out of a recession in which a
number of people, including me, had lost their jobs.)

2. Fundraising for Katrina was a big thing for ACORN seeing as how
they originated from Louisiana before becoming a national organization
with a presence in Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Peru. To date they
have gutted and rebuilt nearly 2000 home in New Orleans with the help
of volunteers. They even helped bus displaced NO resident into the
city so that they could vote in the city's primary and general

3. They are involved in education reform and are involved in the
creation of charter schools. They work with nefarious socialist
organizations like teachers' unions in the unseemly task of securing
funding for schools and teachers. According to one source the ACORN
model for education "emphasizes small classes, parent involvement,
qualified teachers and 'community-oriented curricula'." If that's not,
at its core un-American, I don't know what is.

4. They are gun control advocates. In Jersey City, NJ they intervened
on the city's behalf when a lawsuit challenged an ordinance that
limited an individual's handgun purchases to one gun a month.

5. Voter registration is, of course, thanks to Fox News and the rabid
right-wing punditry what they are most well known for. For thirty
years ACORN has conducted large-scale voter registration drives,
focusing mostly on poor and minority citizens. In 2008, they
registered over one million voters in a number of different states. To
hear the likes of Hannity, Beck, etc., 3 million of those
registrations were fraudulent. ACORN made the mistake of instilling a
quota system for their employees working in voter registration drives.
People cut corners. People are human. You cannot tell me that you've
never worked with someone who took sloppy shortcuts and did
second-rate work. There are bad apples in every bunch. In spite of
these bad apples ACORN had an error rate of 7% when it came to voter
registration, some of which is legitimate human error. The fradulent
registrars were fired, fined and senteced for their misdeeds. This
doesn't change the fact that they helped hundreds of thousands of
Americans take place in the democratic process, which I was always
taught was not just a right, but a responsibility. In addition to
helping people register to vote they try to ensure that roadblocks are
not placed in the way of voters and have taken legal action on behalf
of Americans in Ohio and ensure that provisions put in place by the
National Voter Registration Act of 1993 were acted upon. The problem I
kept pointing out about voter REGISTRATION fraud and the difference
between that and voter fraud is that when you register Daffy Duck to
vote, no one names Daffy Duck is going to be showing up at the polls
and demanding to vote. That does not derail the democratic process.
Voter fraud, where you try to vote multiple times, under different
names is another matter all together.

So, I have a real problem with the idea of ACORN as some kind of
bogeyman, hellbent of destroying the very fabric of our democracy. It
doesn't add up. And if people actually took the time to find out what
they did instead of letting someone else do their thinking for them
they'd know better and stop disparaging these honorable people and the
altruistic work that they do that enhances the democrat process.

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