Friday, October 24, 2008

The whole ACORN nonsense...

First off, check out this brilliant article about ACORN at the Guradian. Why we have to check out British newspapers for reasoned analysis of American politics is frustrating beyond words... Anyway, this article does the best job of breaking down the disinformation and misinformation about this supposed "scandal" I've seen yet.

And now, for my thoughts.

Why the hell is our mainstream media helping to perpetuate a hoax by the GOP about ACORN?

That's a rhetorical question, of course. The answer is that because it's easy and it gets viewers. So much of "reporting" these days is repeating more or less verbatim what is read in press releases. There's good journalism out there to be sure, but SO much of what makes it to the average newspaper reader -- or worse, TV viewer -- is so devoid of any real substance.

Let's look at the ACORN situation. If you were to believe the GOP (and since the media has been remiss in presenting anything other than the GOP juggernaut of misinformation, many people do), you'd think that the largest instance of fraud perpetrated against the American electoral system was underway. Barrack "Secret Muslim" Hussein Obama, using his army of evil fraudster acolytes is going to steal the election! John McCain even brought up the ACORN "scandal" in the presidential debate. So it must be true, right? McCain even blamed ACORN, a relatively tiny community-oriented advocacy group, for the current economic meltdown. Ludicrous.

The problem is, this is no there there. There isn't even a there for there to be a there, if you follow...

The voter registration fraud -- and there has indeed been fraud -- has largely been committed against ACORN, not by it. Let's break this down. One goal of ACORN is to get out the vote among low-income communities to support the candidates it endorses, such as Barrack Obama. One method they use is to pay workers to obtain completed voter registrations. Some of the workers doing this work found that it was much easier to just fill out a bunch of forms themselves with names like "Donald Duck," or even, for the sake of argument "John Smith" (more on John Smith later). This is a legitimate problem, and perhaps calls into question the effectiveness of ACORN's strategy for gathering registrations, but that's an internal logistical issue, not a moral one.

ACORN is obligated, by federal law, to submit all voter registrations it receives. That means, If you're the guy at ACORN who sends off the Box O'Completed Registrations to the county offices and you see "Donald Duck" listed as a voter, you are committing a federal crime if you say "That can't be right, I'll just toss this one in the trash." They must turn in these registrations. Period. What ACORN has done, however, is flagged such registrations as fraudulent, giving the county workers a heads-up that this or that particular registration might not be valid. Nearly every instance of fraudulent registrations found originating from ACORN registration efforts was detected and flagged by ACORN in this way.

So, what about the case of John Smith, a hypothetical fraudulent voter registration with a real sounding name where fraud may not have been detected. First off, such fake registrations are, again, submitted to ACORN by people trying to make a buck. They're not showing up at the polls as John Smith to influence the election... But what if they were? Unfortunately for the Republican hoax machine, federal law mandates that a person be required to prove their identity when they vote for the first time, either with a photo ID, or with two forms of non-photo identifying material.

In instances where the worker creating fraudulent registrations has been identified, ACORN has complied with and supported their prosecution. Period.

So now on to the Barrack Obama connection to ACORN... ACORN has endorsed Obama for president. Not surprising, as ACORN does tend to support Democratic candidates. Obama's platform is very much in line with the objectives of ACORN, to be sure. During the Democratic primary, Obama's campaign partnered with an ACORN affiliate to help with their get-out-the-vote efforts. Also, during Obama's legal career, he once represented ACORN -- along with the freaking US Department of Justice -- in a case against the state of Illinois... And, that's it! That's all there is. Obama did not found the organization as part of an arcane cabal with Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Snidely Whiplash and Satan. He didn't serve on their board. He didn't use mind control powers to force people to fill out fake voter registrations.

Let's put all of this together: Barrack Obama is not tied to an evil election-stealing organization. Furthermore that organization isn't trying to steal any elections and what fraud there has been was committed against them. Furthermore, even if they were trying to steal the election, they couldn't. Also, ACORN did not cause the financial meltdown.

So, why? Why has this become the cause celeb of manufactured scandals? All of this ACORN noise is not about voter fraud. It's about two things.

The first is poor people. The Republicans are doing everything they can to (1) discourage or disable poor, particularly poor and black, people from voting in this year's election, as they would strongly tend to vote for Obama.

Secondly, in the event of an Obama win (which looks increasingly likely), the Republicans are trying to call into question the legitimacy of the election results. This way, they can always complain that Obama isn't REALLY the president and derogate everything he does with this nonsense hanging over his head.

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