Category Archives: ACORN

Vast Right-Wing Cesspool

If you haven’t read The Trials Of Nadia Naffe, then stop what you’re doing and go read it, now. It’s a long, in-depth piece that outlines in agonizing detail the collusion between the Republican Party, Fox News, conservative Sugar Daddies, and James O’Keefe’s smear operations.

Here’s a sample:

The idea for the next Project Veritas mission originated with John Fund, a Fox News contributor and author of the 2008 book Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy. In January 2010, Fund emailed the Republican National Lawyers Association and other hard-right affiliates about an incriminating tip he received about the Massachusetts Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — Greater Boston’s brotherhood of janitors, health-care workers, and other mostly low wage earners. Fund’s “normally reliable” source, he wrote in an email that has since been made public, claimed the SEIU planned to help Democrats steal the special Senate election between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley. According to Fund, the union would accomplish this by chartering buses in the liberal and minority-rich neighborhoods of Roxbury, Mattapan, Roslindale, and Jamaica Plain. “If you’re black or brown,” he wrote, “they’ll rope you in and take you to the polls. Registration can be worked out.”

Shuttling voters to polls is perfectly legal, of course — but pretty soon emails were flying between members of O’Keefe’s associates, rife with speculation that the SEIU would try more nefarious ploys, like paying for votes and helping people to vote twice.

Such hypothetical shenanigans sounded like surefire fodder to Steve Friess, son of investment billionaire and Rick Santorum bankroller Foster Friess. The elder Friess is perhaps most famous for telling MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell that, back in his day, “gals” “used Bayer Aspirin for contraception.” To plug conservative causes, Freiss has a whole foundation that’s run by his son Steve, who relished the prospect of causing “image problems for SEIU.” With their support in place, O’Keefe jumped on board, and he brought Naffe along with him. Not only did she have her star turn in the Waters series to recommend her, but she also matched the request from Freiss for “black/Latina conservatives [who] could be wired for video, and get picked up on one of these busses.” Less than a week later, Naffe flew into Logan airport. Her first task was to snoop on an election-eve rally for Coakley at a Dorchester union hall.

John Fund? Foster Friess? Foster Friess’ son? It’s always the same characters in right-wing land, isn’t it? (By the way, that attempted SEIU sting was a big bust. The suspected fraud never existed and Brown won the election.)

Also, I don’t understand why Nadia Naffe never questioned the fact that these Project Veritas “stings” almost exclusively targeted minorities, the poor, and those serving them. Maxine Waters? Shirley Sherrod? ACORN?

I mean, I understand the Planned Parenthoood sting: conservatives hate abortion, and PP is identified with abortion, that makes sense. But ACORN? From the article:

His big score came in the fall of 2009 — O’Keefe’s decisive blow against ACORN, which at the time was among the nation’s leading advocates for poor and disadvantaged people. ACORN had also been historically integral in getting out the minority vote; after the rise of Obama, this made them the object of widespread conservative consternation.

That’s it? ACORN got out the minority vote? That what put them on O’Keefe’s hit list? Umm … isn’t that a little … racist? That strikes me as an idea rooted in a campaign office or party headquarters, not some young activist trying to make his name with a “gotcha” video attacking a notable liberal figurehead. Who had even heard of ACORN before this?

I’ve always been suspicious about why ACORN was even targeted in the first place. Who sent O’Keefe their way, anyway? Aren’t right-wingers always saying that non-profit groups like, well, ACORN should deal with the poor and disadvantaged? Not nasty old big gummint?

By the way, I meant to put this in my Good News Friday post, but last week it was announced that James O’Keefe will pay $100,000 to one of his ACORN victims, Juan Carlos Vera. O’Keefe’s accomplice, Hannah Giles, already paid Vera $50,000 last year.

I’m sure Foster Friess or PayPal cofounder/Facebook investor Peter Thiel, who gave $30,000 to make the ACORN videos in the first place, won’t mind chipping in. Because a community organization helping poor and disadvantaged people is just the most awful threat to democracy ever.

/sarcasm

Anyway, go read the article. It’s an eye-opener.

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Filed under ACORN, conservative bloggers, James O'Keefe, right-wing hate

>Media FAIL

>Turns out “Climategate” was a manufactured controversy and the media regrets the error:

But not only did British investigators clear the East Anglia scientist at the center of it all, Phil Jones, of scientific impropriety and dishonesty in April, an investigation at Penn State cleared PSU climatologist Michael Mann of “falsifying or suppressing data, intending to delete or conceal e-mails and information, and misusing privileged or confidential information” in February. In perhaps the biggest backpedaling, The Sunday Times of London, which led the media pack in charging that IPCC reports were full of egregious (and probably intentional) errors, retracted its central claim—namely, that the IPCC statement that up to 40 percent of the Amazonian rainforest could be vulnerable to climate change was “unsubstantiated.” The Times also admitted that it had totally twisted the remarks of one forest expert to make it sound as if he agreed that the IPCC had screwed up, when he said no such thing.

Of course, we’ll still hear about “Climategate” in Bill Kristol columns and Fox News reports for years and years to come. Because the point was to discredit scientists, not get at any truth or fact. That’s the point of these smears, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, it turns out that ACORN has also been cleared:

A preliminary report from the General Accounting Office has cleared ACORN of allegations that it misused millions of federal dollars over a four-year span.

According to the report, nine federal agencies gave the community group more than $40 million in eight housing-related grants from 2005 to 2009. There were no problems with seven of the eight grants, and ACORN supplied correct documentation for the eighth after it was notified the paperwork was missing. The GAO said it found no evidence of fraud or misuse of federal dollars.

ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said the report “does nothing more than add to the growing list of government entities who have vindicated us,” according to The Hill. ACORN has vigorously disputed charges that surfaced after a video sting by conservative activists showed low-level ACORN staffers giving tax advice regarding a prostitution ring. The group also faced charges from conservative media of voter fraud after the 2008 election.

[…]

A December 2009 report commissioned by the House Judiciary Committee found ACORN violated no federal regulations. That study, conducted by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, also found that ACORN correctly used all federal dollars it received and did not improperly register any voters during the 2008 presidential election. An investigation by the California attorney general reached the same conclusion. An independent investigator hired by ACORN also cleared the organization of wrongdoing.

ACORN is now suing to get its federal funding restored. Really, they should sue Andrew Breitbart and his minions for slander. (Incidentally, back in May, the New York Times issued a correction for its erroneous reporting on the James O’Keefe/ACORN affair.)

Again, it doesn’t matter: ACORN will forever be synonymous with something unsavory in peoples’ minds, and none of our gutless Democrats have the spine to go to bat for a bunch of community organizers who helped a bunch of poor people with their legal troubles. I mean, who gives a shit, right?

So with two right-wing smears down the toilet (and let’s not forget the whole “Saddam had WMDs” thing), all we can hope is that our establishment media has learned a lesson here. It’s looking doubtful. Recent events indicate the “liberal” media runs for the fainting couches when the right wing tells them to. (More here.)

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Filed under ACORN, climate change, media

>Canaries & Coal Mines

>I don’t know if anyone noticed this but yesterday ACORN dissolved, starved of the federal funds it used for things like helping low income people access loans to buy homes and start businesses, register them to vote, get the poor access to housing, and other stuff that we simply cannot have. We live in a country where the free hand of the market always seems to bypass the poor, save to slap their hands when they get uppity and think they deserve a place at the table too. How dare they.

But here’s the lesson for liberals: don’t for a minute think the anti-ACORN campaign launched by the right won’t be repeated with other perceived “lefty” organizations. Indeed, it already has.

Two years ago a movement began to defund Planned Parenthood, even though no public funds go toward abortion services. They go toward prenatal care, pap smears, STD testing, birth control and even fertility treatment. You know, gynecological and obstetric care, like what you’d get at any OB/GYN.

If you are “pro life” you should be lining up on the streets to get a Planned Parenthood clinic in your neighborhoods because they are the only access to healthcare a lot of women have, and that healthcare enables women to have healthy babies. But you can’t see the forest for the trees, can you? You’ve drunk so much Kool-Aid that you hear “Planned Parenthood” and instead of thinking, “oh, pre-natal care,” or “oh, a pap smear,” you immediately think “abortion.”

You are very silly, horrid people.

And liberals are silly too, for sitting on their hands while the anti-choice crowd organizes their plan, recruits candidates, circulates petitions (I won’t link to it but it makes the outrageous claim that “one in every two black children is aborted”), and gets on top of the message war with bogus “gotcha” videos.

Are we asleep? Look past the obvious misogyny in this news story which garnered most of the outrage today; instead, see if you can spot the money quote:

RICHMOND – Western Prince William Del. Bob Marshall, R-13th, says disabled children are God’s punishment to women who have aborted their first pregnancy.

He made that statement last Thursday at a press conference to oppose state funding for Planned Parenthood.

Yes, that’s right, Virginia wants a law just like the one Tennessee passed, which blocks state funding for Planned Parenthood.

Why? No public funds go toward abortion services.

Look people, this isn’t a culture war issue. It’s a healthcare issue. While the right is vigorously fighting any change to a crappy healthcare system which leaves 40 million people uninsured, they are also vigorously working to cut off public funds to the one organization that provides affordable healthcare to some of those people. Those vaginal-Americans who need a variety of services, including birth control, and including a lot of other stuff that any wealthy, upper class woman in a Virginia suburb can get at her local doctor’s office. This makes no sense.

Perhaps they think this is a swell idea:

A bill passed by the Utah House and Senate this week and waiting for the governor’s signature, will make it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage, and make induced abortion a crime in some instances.

[…]

The basis for the law was a recent case in which a 17-year-old girl, who was seven months pregnant, paid a man $150 to beat her in an attempt to cause a miscarriage. Although the girl gave birth to a baby later given up for adoption, she was initially charged with attempted murder. However the charges were dropped because, at the time, under Utah state law a woman could not be prosecuted for attempting to arrange an abortion, lawful or unlawful.

Wow, you’ve got to be some kind of callous bastard completely lacking in empathy to hear that story and think the biggest problem that needs to be addressed is that arranging your own miscarriage isn’t illegal.

Clearly men need to be able to get pregnant and be faced with the consequences of that pregnancy. Men need to know what it feels like to be faced with raising a child when you are poor, single, or a teenager; men should suffer the tremendous emotional pain of surrendering your child to adoption (the dirty little secret we’re not supposed to talk about). Men need to walk a mile (or a month) in this girl’s shoes.

Or else they need to quit crafting policy that treats desperate women in desperate situations like criminals.

But neither of these things are going to happen. Men aren’t going to start having babies and they aren’t going to get out of politics. So women, and the liberal men who love us, need to wake up. We need to stop ignoring these attacks from the right as some kind of crackpot fringe wacked-out group that won’t ever amount to anything.

In case you haven’t noticed, the conservative fringe is now the Republican mainstream. So wake up, people. It’s time to get active. Time to pay attention and get organized and act like this shit matters. Because it does.

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Filed under abortion, ACORN, Planned Parenthood

Let’s Talk About ACORN Some More

Please, let’s:

The FBI, alleging a plot to wiretap Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in downtown New Orleans, arrested four people Monday, including James O’Keefe, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group’s credibility.

FBI Special Agent Steven Rayes alleges that O’Keefe aided and abetted two others, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, who dressed up as employees of a telephone company and attempted to interfere with the office’s telephone system.

A fourth person, Stan Dai, was accused of aiding and abetting Basel and Flanagan. All four were charged with entering fedral property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

Absofucking hilarious. Did these conservaclowns actually think they could wiretap a Senator’s office and not get busted?

Can’t wait to hear more.

[UPDATE]: There’s more! Already! Just read at MSNBC that Robert Flanagan is the son of William J. Flanagan, the acting U.S. attorney for western Louisiana.

[UPDATE 2]: Memory Hole: 31 House Republicans Supported resolution honoring alleged felon James O’Keefe…

[UPDATE 3]: Some folks are smelling a ratfucker

(Via Wonkette.)

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Filed under ACORN, conservatives, FBI

When Poor People Vote, Democrats Win

“Filmmaker” James O’Keefe, the guy who ambushed ACORN, has been asked why he went after the community organizing group.

He told the New York Times:

James O’Keefe, one of the two filmmakers, said he went after ACORN because it registers minorities likely to vote against Republicans.

Karl Rove must be so proud.

Here’s the entire O’Keefe quote from the Washington Post:

O’Keefe described himself as a progressive radical, not a conservative, he said he targeted ACORN for the same reasons that the political right does: its massive voter registration drives that turn out poor African Americans and Latinos against Republicans.

A “progressive radical, not a conservative”? Really? Umm, bullshit. In college he was the editor of Rutgers University’s conservative magazine and went after Planned Parenthood with the same “gotcha” tactics. Sorry, MSM: the guy is a Republican Party activist, not a “journalist.” He’s certainly not a “progressive radical.” It would be nice if someone in our glorious media were to notice who and what O’Keefe is, instead of disguise his coup as some sort of journalistic endeavor.

But hey, who’s into labels, anyway?

Meanwhile, as the MSM covers this story they might want to remember the many cases of Republican voter registration criminality. From the memory hole:

SACRAMENTO — Dozens of newly minted Republican voters say they were duped into joining the party by a GOP contractor with a trail of fraud complaints stretching across the country.

Voters contacted by The Times said they were tricked into switching parties while signing what they believed were petitions for tougher penalties against child molesters. Some said they were told that they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Others had no idea their registration was being changed.

“I am not a Republican,” insisted Karen Ashcraft, 47, a pet-clinic manager and former Democrat from Ventura who said she was duped by a signature gatherer into joining the GOP. “I certainly . . . won’t sign anything in front of a grocery store ever again.”

Yes, that would be the handiwork of Republican Marc Jacoby, who ultimately pled guilty to voter registration fraud. He got probation.

Closer to home we had Nathan Sproul’s Liberty Consultants, kicked out of Wal-Mart parking lots in Middle Tennessee:

Sproul’s Tempe, Ariz.-based Sproul & Associates was paid about $7.9 million by the RNC for consulting and voter registration drives in the 2004 election cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Former Sproul canvassers came forward in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Oregon to say they were told to register only Republicans and to walk away from people who said they intended to vote for Democrat John Kerry. Some said completed Democratic registration forms were thrown out or ripped up.

That didn’t stop the McCain-Palin camp from hiring them in 2008:

That Sproul would come under the employment umbrella of the McCain campaign — the Republican National Committee has also separately paid Lincoln Strategy at least $37,000 for voter registration efforts this cycle — is not terribly surprising. Sproul, who has donated nearly $30,000 to McCain’s campaign, has been in the good graces of GOP officials for the past decade despite charges of ethical and potentially legal wrongdoing.

But let’s talk about ACORN some more!

Then we have this fraudulent exercise from 2002:

When voting began Nov. 5, McGee’s plan worked like a charm. For two crucial hours, an Idaho telecommunications firm tied up Democratic and union phone lines, bringing their get-out-the-vote plans to a halt. The effort helped John E. Sununu (R) win his Senate seat by 51 to 47 percent, a 19,151-vote margin.

The Republican operatives behind that scam were convicted.

These are actual cases of fraud and voter suppression. Real laws were broken. And yet, Lincoln Strategy Group continues to operate while ACORN’s isolated misdeeds have been non-stop news fodder for days. Remind me, who rules their world?

We know why ACORN was taken down: O’Keefe bluntly admitted what liberals have been alleging for years. When poor people vote, Democrats win. And lord knows, we can’t have that.

(h/t Attaturk).

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Filed under ACORN, Republican National Committee, voter fraud

>He’s Mad As Hell And He’s Not Taking It

>John McCain really lowered himself into the gutter by calling those phony Acorn allegations (which I railed against here) the “worst voter fraud perpetrated on the American public in 200 years” or some such.

Yes, registering Mickey Mouse to vote so someone can collect $2 is so much worse than denying an entire race of people the right to vote simply because of the color of their skin. And then orchestrating a violent intimidation campaign against those who tried to register Southern blacks to vote.

Anyway, the truth is now starting to sink in that these are all phony allegations started by the GOP in an attempt to throw as much mud as possible in the final weeks of the election. And I’m happy to see the Obama campaign isn’t going to take it:

Obama lawyer calls for investigation over ACORN charges

(CNN) – Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer called Monday for a government investigation into whether the White House is working with John McCain’s campaign to raise allegations of voter fraud, telling reporters attorney general Michael Mukasey needed to step in to ensure investigators are “not misused for partisan purposes.”

A special prosecutor is investigating similar charges against the Justice Department over the controversial dismissals of several U.S. attorneys, including David Yglesias, who said he was fired for resisting pressure to prosecute ACORN, the embattled community group at the center of a sustained Republican campaign alleging voter fraud among supporters of Barack Obama.

I hope the Obama campaign broadcasts this loud and clear. There is nothing wrong with registering poor and minority citizens to vote. There have been plenty of problems with Republican-focused voter registration drives, too.

For example, this one:

Ontario police arrest man in voter fraud case

SACRAMENTO — The owner of a firm that the California Republican Party hired to register tens of thousands of voters this year was arrested in Ontario over the weekend on suspicion of voter registration fraud.

State and local investigators allege that Mark Jacoby fraudulently registered himself to vote at a childhood California address where he no longer lives so he would appear to meet the legal requirement that all signature gatherers be eligible to vote in California. His firm, Young Political Majors, or YPM, collects petition signatures and registers voters in California and other states.

Anyone know how many ACORN folks have been arrested?

Zero.

Pretty funny that the one guy arrested for voter registration fraud worked for the Republican Party!

Oh lookie, here’s another one from across the aisle:

Investigation into Trashed Voter Registrations

(Oct. 13) — Federal, state, and local officials are gathering information about allegations of voter registration fraud that were first raised Channel 8 Eyewitness News.

An employee of a private voter registration firm alleges that his bosses trashed registration forms filled out by Democratic voters because they only wanted to sign up Republican voters.

The allegations have set off a political firestorm stretching from Las Vegas to Washington D.C., and beyond. 

As with everything else in this election year, it’s now become a political football being tossed between the two parties, with charges and countercharges, but at its core, there still remains the matter of registration forms that were ripped up and tossed in the trash.

A similar thing happened right here in Nashville during the last presidential election.

This kind of voter registration fraud is a lot worse than what has happened to Acorn. Because while Mickey Mouse isn’t going to show up to vote on election day, the people whose registrations ended up in the trash were expecting to vote. And if their forms were never turned in, they would be unable to do so.

Since John McCain has chosen to get down in the gutter with his Rove acolyte and participate in the mud-slinging, I fully expect he will be forced to eat his words when this and every other smear is revealed for what it so obviously is: a partisan political attack.

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Filed under ACORN, Barack Obama, John McCain, Republican Party, voter fraud

>Not Just Acorns In The Nuthouse

>[UPDATE]: via Atrios:

Did someone mention nuts?

An ACORN community organizer received a death threat and the liberal activist group’s Boston and Seattle offices were vandalized Thursday, reflecting mounting tensions over its role in registering 1.3 million mostly poor and minority Americans to vote next month.

It’s time to call McCain-Palin on the hate speech they’re spreading at their rallies and with their bogus robo-calls. Seriously, the nuts are getting out of control. Someone is going to get hurt, all because John McCain really wants to win an election.

Shameless.

————————–

There’s been a lot dishonest about this election season, but the McCain campaign’s attacks on Acorn have been pretty egregious. It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that the idea is to plant seeds of illegitimacy over Barack Obama’s campaign, in case the count is close on election day, or Obama pulls out a win. And what better way to do that than by attacking a group that registers poor and minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic?

It’s dishonest because it preys on stereotypes about Chicago Democrats (“where the dead always vote”) and the public’s ignorance about voter registration fraud versus vote fraud. It’s hypocritical because it attacks an organization McCain supported two years ago. And it’s clearly designed to prevent Acorn and similar groups from doing what they were created to do, which is to register low income and minority voters.

In other words, it’s just another Republican Party voter suppression tactic.

As the New York Times editorialized today:

Based on the information that has come to light so far, the charges appear to be wildly overblown — and intended to hobble Acorn’s efforts.

The group concedes that some of its hired canvassers have turned in tainted forms, although they say the ones with phony names constitute no more than 1 percent of the total turned in. The group also says it reviews all of the registration forms that come in. Before delivering the forms to elections offices, its supervisors flag any that appear to have problems.

According to Acorn, most of the forms that are now causing controversy are ones that it flagged and that unsympathetic election officials then publicized.

No one could have anticipated that! Because what the McCain campaign isn’t telling you is that in many states, those registering voters are not allowed to determine the legitimacy of a voter’s name. Someone might have legally changed their name to Mickey Mouse–hey, it’s possible. Did you know there’s a guy in Nashville who attends every Metro Council meeting whose legal name is Elvis Presley Jr.? It’s true; I’ve met him. I don’t know if he’s a Democrat or a Republican but I do know it would be illegal for me to register him to vote and then toss his registration in the trash because I decided Elvis Presley Jr. couldn’t possibly be his real name.

So Acorn separated out some questionable registration forms for election officials to review, and GOP operatives smeared the Obama campaign with it, when the organization was only doing what it was supposed to do.

Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves.

Furthermore, the fraud was perpetrated on Acorn. They paid a canvasser to register legitimate voters, and instead got handed garbage.

And then there’s this:

But for all of the McCain campaign’s manufactured fury about vote theft (and similar claims from the Republican Party over the years) there is virtually no evidence — anywhere in the country, going back many elections — of people showing up at the polls and voting when they are not entitled to.

In other words, Mickey Mouse and Snow White did not actually show up to vote.

Voter suppression is a tried-and-true Republican tactic. Every election the Republican Party tries to deny voters their right to cast a ballot. The Supreme Court just struck down the Ohio GOP’s latest attempt today.

Four years ago I witnessed some of the most outrageous attempts at voter suppression right here in Davidson County. Voting precincts in urban neighborhoods with only two working voting machines. Poll workers demanding voters declare their party affiliation, even though this was the general election, not a primary. Voters told to go home for wearing campaign buttons (they should have been asked to remove the gear instead).

As the New York Times noted today:

The real threats to the fabric of democracy are the unreasonable barriers that stand in the way of eligible voters casting ballots.

I couldn’t agree more.

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Filed under ACORN

>McCain Was For ACORN Before He Was Against It

>In fact, he was so “for” it, he was the headliner at an ACORN event two years ago, where this photo was taken:

States ACORN’s Bertha Lewis:

“It has deeply saddened us to see Senator McCain abandon his historic support for ACORN and our efforts to support the goals of low-income Americans.”

“We are sure that the extremists he is trying to get into a froth will be even more excited to learn that John McCain stood shoulder to shoulder with ACORN, at an ACORN co-sponsored event, to promote immigration reform,” she said.

(h/t, AmericaBlog.)

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Filed under ACORN, John McCain