Saturday, October 18, 2008

What is ACORN and Why do Republicans Hate it?

Now that John McCain's attack ads on Barack Obama's character and "associations" have mostly been exposed as signs of impotence in an increasingly desperate campaign, the McCain/Palin has implemented a new strategy. No, it doesn't have to do with presenting a broad platform to address the growing economic concerns of the middle class. Nor is it a bold new program seeking to stabilize our financial markets. It's not even a new strategy to contain Iran or to track down al Qaeda in Pakistan. To the contrary, it has little to do with anything that will occur after the first week of November. John McCain's staff has decided to to attack the Obama campaign with accusations of "cheating", and they mean to cast doubt on the results of the coming election.

The recent GOP disinformation blitz has to do with ACORN- which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. ACORN was founded in Arkansas in 1970 by Wade Rathke and Gary Delgado. Its broad mission has always been to advocate for low- and moderate-income families by working on neighborhood safety, health care, and other social issues. Its activities have included programs to address better housing and wages for the poor, more community development investment from banks and governments, and better public schools. ACORN has generally been aligned with the Democrats, due to their focus on helping segments of society that are less advantaged.

The current "controversy" revolving around ACORN is its voter registration drive. Since 2004, they have been the target of investigations in a small number of the many locations in which they have been active. These challenges to its existence have been overwhelmingly initiated by conservative politicians, free market advocacy groups, and the rightwing media. The latest charges accuse ACORN of systematically engaging in and encouraging the practice of submitting fraudulent voter registration forms. Yet the organization has been quick to point out that they have consistently demonstrated full cooperation and public support for the investigations of rogue employees, and has fired them when found guilty of voter fraud.

Duriong this election cycle the McCain/Palin campaign has attempted to make its case against ACORN by "revealing" that its employees turn in forms that are later discovered to be ineligible. What they (and their "Conservative" operatives in the mediasphere) fail to mention is that workers involved in most voter registration drives are mandated by state law to turn in every form they collect, without alteration. It is left solely to the discrimination of state election boards to determine the eligibility of these prospective voters. Defenders of ACORN have rightfully pointed out that the only reason fraudulent forms have been brought to public attention is because its employees are in the practice of flagging those that are suspect.

But none of this matters in the brutal political climate that the GOP has fostered. Regardless of the reality of the situation, the Republicans are determined to follow up on Sarah Palin's Convention speech slurs against community organizers. The Mccain/Palin ticket is no longer trying to claim that the profession has no "real responsibilities". They are attempting to place Obama in a supposed conspiracy plot. They have accused their opponent of being a community organizer for ACORN in the early 90's. This is patently false. In his capacity as an attorney, Barack once represented ACORN in a successful lawsuit alongside the U.S. Department of Justice against the state of Illinois to force state compliance with a federal voting access law.

Meanwhile, it turns out that John McCain was "associated" with ACORN as recently as 2006, when he appeared at a rally to address immigration reform. I guess in his mind it's OK as long as his own "maverick" political ends are being achieved.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Deekaman said...

Exp;ain why the most recent investigations (Nevada and Indiana) have been at the rewquest of Democrats. Further, while you may (and I mean May) have explained away Sen. Obaba's relationship to ACORN (I'm not sufficiently convinced, but there are so many more concerns I have about his policies ACORN is small potatoes), you haven't explained the relationship between ACORN and fraudulant voter registration.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Deekaman,

To be honest with you, the last couple of days have been a bit of whiteout for me as far as news is concerned (family visits and all). I'm not sure what you are referring to in Nevada and Indiana.

As far as I an aware the relationship between ACORN and fraudulent registrations has to do with the way their employees were getting paid (by total number of registrations). Some desperate workers were apparently taking some pretty nasty shortcuts to get their numbers up.

I worked for years in market research and I saw the same thing happening constantly. However, in the PR field no one's checking over the surveys very closely. With fraudulent registrations there are at least two layers to screen out fraud. There are ACORN supervisors (like I noted in my post) that flag suspicious forms, and there are the local election boards that make all the final decisions.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Deekaman said...

Market research is one thing, voter registration another. WQhen Constitutional freedoms are at stake, the organization can't be asleep at the wheel. As I have said other places, ACORN is at least guilty of facilitating fraud by no paying attention to what their employees are doing. At worst, they are orchestrating vote fraud.

My point here? In the words of no few Democrats, "What did they know and when did they know it?"

1:29 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I completely agree that the integrity of elections need to be upheld. I insisted on that during the 2000 election, when Sandra Day O'Connor cast the deciding vote in that election.

you wrote...

"ACORN is at least guilty of facilitating fraud by no paying attention to what their employees are doing. At worst, they are orchestrating vote fraud."

Well... if they were trying to commit voter fraud, it was a stupid idea for them to flag all those suspicious ones before sending them off to the election boards.

The thing is that they WERE paying attention to what their employees were doing. Otherwise they wouldn't have flagged the forms.

If you meant that every employee should be shadowed by a supervisor at all times, you have to realize that's impossible.

1:58 AM  
Blogger Deekaman said...

This isn't about the 2000 elections, but since you bring it up, your selective memory may recall that the Florida vote was completed according to law, Democrats had an organized effort to make people in Florida think their vote had not been counted (no evidence ever showed and all recounts showed Bush winning Florida by even more), GORE challenged the election in a Democrat laden state court (where the judges are elected, not appointed and therefore politicians, not judges) and lost anyway.

Voter registrations, to my understanding were not flagged in Wisconsin, Indiana and Nevada. They were uncovered by election officials.

Last, why would the Democrat-led "Government Accountability Office" (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) in Wisconsin tell elections officials that they may not enforce the Help America Vote Act? It's Federal Law. Last I knew, Federal law always trumped state.

6:31 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

The US Supreme Courts stopped the recounts, in which Gore was leading.
But it's true that the 2000 elections don't bear directly on this one, except as far as determining whether individuals who now complain of voter fraud were concerned with it in Florida eight years ago.

I don't know whether your allegations regarding Nevada and Indiana are true, and I suspect you have no firsthand knowledge of that either. Anyway, it has nothing to do with the Obama campaign. This is just another shoddy smear tactic aimed at eroding his lead in the polls.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Deekaman said...

So...why are you voting for Obama? Not being snarky here, but I haven't seen anything that indicates he has a plan that make this country stronger in any way. Can you tell me what it is, specifically that draws you?

For the record, Mc Cain was about at the bottom of my list of Republican candidates. I'm holding my nose over this one.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Deekaman,

Well... if you search through the last 45 or so daily posts of this blog, you will find a lot of my reasons expressed in detail. I'm not sure whether my fears of a McCain/Palin administration outweigh the positive aspects I see in an Obama presidency (see specifically my posts about ex-CIA agent Robert Baer). But since I've exhaustively detailed the reasons why I believe McCain/Palin would be DISASTROUS for the US... I'll repost a list of some of the stances Obama has that I like (this is by no means near to being exhaustive,a s I compiled it in five minutes in response to another blogger):

1. A true commitment to working toward energy independence that includes tax credits to companies developing solar and wind technology.

2. An approach to foreign policy that includes diplomacy and coalition building, rather than threats and aggressive posturing.

3. His support of reproductive rights.

4. His pledge to end the unfunded mandates of No Child Left Behind.

5. Progressive taxation.

6. A broader extension of the estate tax.

7. His refusal to tax employer-provided health benefits.

8. His willingness to confront and consider alternative perspectives, as evidenced by his diverse pool of advisers.

9. His commitment to drawing down the US military presence in Iraq.

10. His ideas for investment in higher education (i.e. student aid for those who agree to national service).

11. Tax credits for employers that create jobs and provide health care.

12. Commitment to green energy.

13. His support of responsible regulations and oversight in the marketplace.

14. His commitment to close corporate tax loopholes.

15. His pledge to remove off-shore corporate tax shelters.

16. Equal Pay Act for women.

17. Supports civil unions for gay couples.

18. Wants to include sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws.

19. Wants to end tax breaks for corporation that send jobs overseas.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Deekaman said...

I appreciaate you not making me trudge through 45 posts.

I see why you support Obama. His platform is diametrically opposed to everything I believe in.

Physics does not support moving to solar and wind energy and maintaining our economic conditions. What I'm saying here is that, from a physics standpoint, not enough energy can be generated from only solar and wind. Part of the mix? Ok. Not THE answer.


We negotiated with Iraq for 12 years before using force. How long is enough?

If "reproductive rights" means terminating a child at full term, but before slapping it on the backside, I can't go there.

It is an odd dichotomy that it's ok to tax someone at a higher rate because they make more money, but if that renumeration is in the form of health care insurance, it shouldn't be taxed.

People who perform the same job at the same level SHOULD have equivalent (note I did not say equal - this can be a very slippery slope) pay. I don't make what someone performing the same job at a different company does. should I?

I don't see how ending tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas keeps jobs here. Costs are costs. Business makes decisions based on whether or not they can make a profit. From those profits, employees are paid. If they can't afford labor here, they'll go elsewhere.

I have no problem with committed gay relationships and providing those relationships with the same government sponsored benefits I get as a heterosexual married man. Just don't call it marriage.

I work in Environment, Health and Safety in industry. I get the Federal Register every day. We're nearly regulated out of existence. It gets harder and hardder to ddo anything without big brother looking over our shoulder. And nobody will give a stright answer on whether it's right or worng, until it's done and they levy a big fine. We don't need more of that.

Corporations pay or don't pay taxes. Either way, it ends up coming out of your pocket and mine. It's a cost of doing business.

I appreciate you giving your point of view and the oppotunity to express mine. Like I said, I'm not wild about McCain, but I consider it to be a lesser of two evils. Socialist-Lite or Socialist-true believer-style.

We should all be good stewards of what we are given. We should be charitable and caring of all things, especially our neighbor. But never at the point of a gun.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

"I see why you support Obama. His platform is diametrically opposed to everything I believe in."

That sounds funny... like I found out what you were all about and decided to make myself the "anti-you". What's even more funny is that we both probably feel like our positions are obvious and self-evident.

Obviously, we could have a thread of discussion on any one of these points... but just a few thoughts.

I don't think that wind and power are the only parts of the energy independence solution. But they are crucial parts- and I found it unconscionable that the GOP including McCain on 8 separate votes) was standing in the way of the extension of tax credits for companies developing this technology.


"We negotiated with Iraq for 12 years before using force."

We should continue to negotiate until it's no longer possible. Diplomacy should be a given, until we are attacked, and even then avenues of negotiations should be left open to pursue an end to war.


"If "reproductive rights" means terminating a child at full term, but before slapping it on the backside, I can't go there."

If a live birth involves serious risk to a mother's life (as determined by the doctor), it should be terminated.


I don't think health care, medical services, or pharmaceuticals should ever be taxed.


"I don't see how ending tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas keeps jobs here."

At some point, the people that are involved in corporate activities need to decide whether they are Americans or not. If they are, I don't think it's out of order to ask them to chip in by keeping jobs in the United States whenever possible. If it's all about the bottom line at the expense of this nation, then they should enjoy none of the privileges of being American.


Obams is in favor of civil unions, just like you and I.


Regulations should be firm and enforced. They should also be made clear and understandable.


"Corporations pay or don't pay taxes. Either way, it ends up coming out of your pocket and mine. It's a cost of doing business."

That's why I want to put the emphasis on progressive income tax.


I also respect that you are able to simply state your beliefs and ideas, and are willing to discuss issue on their merits. That is becoming rarer in our modern age. Too may people resort to generalizations, presumptions, name-calling, and personal attacks.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to both of you for conducting a rational and civilized discussion, serving to enlighten me (and I would hope others) as to the merits of the positions of the candidates. Very thought-provoking material, giving those of us who are not as knowledgeable some basis for assessing our own positions.
jg

8:19 AM  
Blogger Deekaman said...

I live to serve. ;-)

It seems we have some common ground. That's always nice to see. I'm resigned to at least 4 years of an Obama presidency with veto-proof majority Democrats in both houses. My only solace is that Obama may be a Clinton-type Democrat. Says what he needs to to get elected, then falls into a more centrist position after.

I also think he's going to be up to his you-know-what in foreign policy as our adversaries see him as weak. We'll see.

6:25 PM  

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