Lessons from Nuts

crush-acorn1By: Grainne Rhuad

What happens when the “Right” turns out to be right about something?  Recently, television personalities like Glen Beck took credit for breaking stories on ongoing ACORN scandals.  At first it seemed easy to brush it off as another attack on public funded, grant supported programs that help the underprivileged.  These are exactly the kinds of programs the Obama administration is in favor of and trying to set up more of.  They are also similar to programs he has worked for in the past.  Community action agency work being one of the stand-outs in his resume.  Because of this freethinkers everywhere have gotten used to heaving a sigh and going to look for an argument against these pundits so they can continue to spread the gospel of rationality.

However in this instance it turned out the stories were correct and in fact probably there were a lot more skeletons in the closet to be found.

Here’s an overview:

ACORN is a community action agency.  That means it writes grants to provide services deemed necessary in the communities where it is housed.  ACORN having had some good intentions and good grant writers over the years has received quite a lot of federal funding for things like first time homebuyers counseling; tax preparation help; bankruptcy counseling.  Depending on where you live and what state/local grants they received they may have also had programs for housing the homeless; legal advice on things like divorces, restraining orders, child custody cases; Back to work help.

What has occurred of late is a horrible strike to all legitimate Social Service Agencies.  During several investigations both official and “unofficial” as in run by James O’Keefe, (who is semi-well known for his undercover sting of abortion clinics) and posted on YouTube ,  the scum has floated to the top.  And it’s not pretty scum either.

ACORN employees have been videotaped giving advice on how to report illegal prostitution money on your tax report thereby using the federal government to launder your prostitution money.   They recommended using the tax code for artistic performance.  What is so incredibly concerning is they did not do this at one agency in one city but at several different locations in several different states, stand out ones being Maryland, New York, Nevada, California and Massachusetts.  These centers also offered advice on how to help import underaged women from variously named South American countries for the express purpose of putting them to work as prostitutes.  They gave advice on how to deal with immigration and how to make their work look legal.

It doesn’t stop there; ACORN has been ripping off their own agency and shielding the management from finger pointing.  This includes; plundering employee benefits and violating fiduciary responsibilities; refusing to report Dale Rathke’s (brother of ACORN’s founder) embezzlement of $948,607.50 as an excess benefit transaction; Investment fraud; False IRS filing; hiding illegal financial transactions; The list goes on but you can see it for yourself at the congressional report (1)

Because of all this there has been a push to press charges against ACORN federally for Racketeering.  This movement has largely been spearheaded by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). It has also received a great deal of impressive media back up from right wing agenda based pundits.

Why is this a hot issue?  Besides the obvious,  as you may remember ACORN was accused during the 2008 presidential election of falsely registering people to vote largely in Democrat Barack Obama’s favor.  While this was pooh-poohed as bad apples following the Bush/Cheney chad scandal in Florida, it is beginning to look like there were a lot of dead people voting and folks that voted under names that weren’t theirs.

The Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)  dismissed the requests to look into the Prostitution/racketeering allegations.  In his response to requests he stated additional investigations would “Distract lawmakers from addressing more important matters, including healthcare and economic recovery.”   The majority leader also criticized Vitter for “politicizing” the unfolding probe and questioned his larger motives.

“As the U.S. attorney firings and DOJ hiring scandals remind us, we should be very careful about any activities that could be viewed as politicizing investigations and law enforcement decisions,” (The Hill-Tony Romm 9/23/09)

In a surreal feeling twist, Vitter fired back with reference to one of the favorite fiction writers of subversives everywhere pointing to George Orwell.

“It is almost Orwellian for the majority leader and these Senate Democrats to go on and on about how these investigations may be politically driven,” Vitter said, noting that 27 other Republicans signed his letter to Reid. “Anyone who has been following the committee work of these folks since 2007 would see that politically driven committee hearings and investigations are exactly their cup of tea.

“Interestingly, now, because of ACORN’s well-known close relationship with the Democratic Party, the majority leader believes the status quo for the last two and a half years could be harmful to our country,” Vitter added.

Now for my question, what exactly happens when the “Right” as in Right wing nut jobs turn out to be right?

I sat reading as the ongoing reports unfolded stumbling over my own built up prejudice.  I will admit, one of my first thoughts was “Great, now that they have a real story, they are going to do ever more damage to important things like Health Care.”   I don’t think that’s too far off base, it’s going to be easy and almost not even an argument to the average Joe to point at ACORN and ask if this is what federally funded health care agencies are going to be like.  Never mind that at the first wind of this the IRS pulled its tax program from ACORN and President Obama called for a complete investigation.

I worry that the mishandling of real newsworthy news such as this leaves people feeling like Pundits are telling the truth, especially if they “broke” the story which is what Glen Beck is claiming, never mind he doesn’t do any investigative journalism, that’s what his staff is for.  Never mind that his staff did nothing more then find and run a YouTube video that. James O’Keefe conducted and posted.  My thoughts run to people trusting everything these people say, putting bible-like status on their words.  These guys are raising a religion, and doesn’t the bible itself warn of “false prophets” and those who would give just enough truth to keep you on the path to hell?

Another question that quickly followed my first one though was: Is it okay for the “Right” to be right sometimes?

Regarding this question I had to personally concede it was okay.  What’s truth is truth.  Maybe the best way to deal with something like this is to say something along the lines of “You were right about that.” And move along to another issue.  This is a skill long employed by great arguers everywhere.  It’s good to concede when you are wrong and move an opponent to an issue that maybe they know less about.  Asking them to use their “obvious” skill to uncover the truth about something else often has the effect of one of two things. 1. Confusing them to the point that they shut up.  2.  Encouraging them to move in the direction of finding out more truth.

The latter is really the important goal; Getting them to want to know more, real truth.  Wouldn’t it be a good thing if all a sudden they became addicted to being right in fact and not just in their minds?  If handled right, these pundits could be the driving force for change.

And if change really happened in a true and positive way, I would even let Glen Beck take credit for it.  After all, he would finally be right in his head and for real.

(1)For More on ACORN investigation see the congressional report HERE

12 Comments on “Lessons from Nuts”

  1. Ah come on. I’ve conceded that the lefties can be right once in a while. And that’s hard to do, since they like to defend EVERYTHING.

    Like you said, what’s Right is Right. Er, I mean what’s right is accurate.

    Good job, Grainne.

  2. I think why this story doesn’t seem to have “feet” is that the program ( much enabled by the Bush Administration ), like so much of government isn’t regulated as it should be, after all the Justice Department has like 30 lawyers to investigate “mortgage fraud” …

    Beck, never has had an original thought, and his chief point about this story is that it was all “run” by Barack Obama himself … that Barack Obama is behind and directing the fraud and other “socialist” agendas of ACORN. Since that is in line with his statements that the President is a racist who hates white people and is doing everything he can to change America into a minority loving welfare state, the story got lost in it’s ridiculous and fanatical storyteller, and any sane person stopped considering it.

    However the Justice Department is investigating and I hope will take the proper action on how this all got out of hand. No program that automatically receives money is safe from those who will abuse it … if the “right” is correct about this, then I am glad they pursued the story long enough for action to be taken.

    However, consider the thousands of doctors who have over-billed Medicare … bank official who approved loans they knew would never be repaid, the defense contractors who bill home improvements to their accounts … the politicians accepting trips and golf vacations under the guise of congressional work …. the abuse of VA personal who used government credit cards to get laid and massages and new boots, while in Dallas to see that veterans are excluded from benefits, ……… and the entire system is suspect ……………… I don’t think the abuses of ACORN even compare to much that is done on the “public’s dime”, but those who have corrupted it should be prosecuted and the government support removed if it can’t be corrected.

    BTW, how many doctors are in jail, VA employees, defense and support contractors, members of Haillburton (and their trillions of dollars of no bid contracts ), Blackwater ????? This is a small story and just maybe, if it hadn’t been used by the right as a direct attack on the President, could have been a good call by the right, as it is, they are about as “constructive” as a zit on a lepers ass ….

  3. another point, Goldman Sacks will pay EACH of their employees $ 700,000 this year. Beck’s reporting on ACORN was slanted that black people were behind the fraud, that black people couldn’t be trusted with administering public money, how does that line up with what Goldman Sacks is doing, and all of those companies that got 700 billions dollars to bail them out ????

  4. Since i’m a little bit ambi-dexterous, switching sides once in awhile doesn’t cause me a great deal of stress. I can’t say that i’m surprised. Party driven politics, whether right or left, have one thing in common; exploitation. The big question is how to do it. The answer is, through cultivating favoritism. Before baby sitting turned into “child care”; taxable, deductible, kept under control by promoting responsible tests; it was the avenue for housewives to make a little extra money by watching a neighbor’s kids or a teenagers income. Of course, child care didn’t improve any more than than the facilitators designed for the task, but it now carries the cheery label of occupation and the necessary use of credentials. A child care facility has strict guidelines; the appropriately sized home, back yard, play equipment. Like all businesses, you must have money to make money.

    How does child care compare with ACORN? Prostitution has been the great thorn in the side of revenue gathering as it’s illegal. All this money rifling through underground fingers and it can’t be touched except through periodic police raids and secret buy-off. What better way to get a handle on it except through secret entities that teach ways to channel prostitution through legal income avenues. Child care as we know it today was the creation of a liberal agenda that persuaded the public by selling the idea of advanced social skills and an early learning foundation. Within this framework, child care has become an enormous profit making industry with a nice, fat tax bracket Internal Revenue can feed on. Selling legalized prostitution; even responsible prostitution with laws requiring regular medical check-ups, thus bringing down the risk of communicable diseases; to the public, has never met with very many fans and supporters. But the IRS, which is really very bi-partisan, only wants the money. If it can’t find it by working with right-wing conspirators, the most practical means is the liberal agenda.

    It seems every program designed to assist the poor inevitably falls into dismal corruption, regardless of party. This is because exploitation is the manifest destiny of the successful. We all exploit in one way or another; we exploit our skills, we exploit our resources, but when we begin to exploit those less fortunate than ourselves, we’ve lost the cause of bringing humanity back into socialized politics.

    Very good coverage, Grainne; stimulating and thought provoking. I hope the housing situation finds resolution instead of deteriorating into a hopeless scandal. There are many good families, strong men and women who are currently facing the choice of wandering aimlessly through the streets hoping to find work before all their assets are completely gone or doing something illegal in order to survive.

  5. Truth is truth, no matter the source – I’d posit that whether it was the Left, the Right, or Morton Downey Jr., the truth is the truth.

    (The guys from “South Park” did a piece where one of the kids applied to ACORN for a housing subsidy – he was running a ‘kissing business’, where his ‘girls’ charged $5.00 to kiss boys behind the school.

    Of course, he was turned down for promoting prostitution.

    Gotta love the guys who created “South Park”)…..

  6. Truth is truth, no matter the source – I’d posit that whether it was the Left, the Right, or Morton Downey Jr., the truth is the truth.

    (The guys from “South Park” did a piece where one of the kids applied to ACORN for a housing subsidy – he was running a ‘kissing business’, where his ‘girls’ charged $5.00 to kiss boys behind the school.

    Of course, he was turned down for promoting prostitution.

    Gotta love the guys who created “South Park”)…..
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  7. I got a chance to watch that episode last night, gotta love the serindipity of it coming out the same day! Anyway the worker turned Butters down at the office but the boss had been “kissing” his bitches so Butters got two homeloans and tax help. It was a most excellent episode as always, and yes…gotta love ’em.

  8. Nice piece. There are skeletens in every closet. I have to agree that the scaryest part of this is that the occational rightness of the Right reinforces the Fundis beliefs in the wrongness pumped out by the Pundits. And yes, this happens on both sides. One might think that the American public would get better at identifying when an issue is being politisized over the years. But I’m afraid that the American Public is getting lazier and looks for the issues to be convienently packaged for them.

  9. Rich, good point, Beck’s reporting was racial in its slant and targetted Black Acorn employees. In fact it could be said that James O’Keefe’s “undercover” work is racially slanted. He only went to agencies in metropolitain areas where mostly blacks families resided. He could have gone over to the sattelite office in a heavily populated Puerto Rican area, but he didn’t. Also hid prior undercover work was to call Planned Parenthood and offer money to fund “only black abortions” because “He didn’t want any more black babies in the world) which Planned Parenthood was only to happy to recieve.(Let me be clear, O’Keefe said that as an investigative tactic and has not commented on his own feelings)

    Unfourtuantely most of the Acorn agencies under investigation are in areas that have a higher population of African Americans. Excepting Nevada which pulled its illegal fundraising from the prostitution game there.

    I don’t however think it unreasonable that so many people at the DOJ are working on this because it is turning into a huge case. And yes, it does go back many years. Funny, it’s starting to look a little like the Bush administration paid for their party’s demise. Ironic.

  10. Karla while I agree that politics is a bi-partisan cluster fuck…meaning any side gets in the game if they can, I do want to make it clear at this point it does not seem like the IRS was in cahoots. The IRS claims they had no idea that the tax couselors were giving laundering information and there is a lot of evidence that points to employees from tax counselors all the way up to the founder’s family members recieving money for their “help”. Indeed Acorn itself did not report to the IRS a great deal of income. There is no telling if the IRS may be implicated in the future but at this point it does not look like they knew what was going on.

    Part of me feels like corruption occurs because social workers and public service workers make so little money for the amount of work and the type of work they do. Now this does not excuse anything, they should have entered that field to help knowing it’s not a big money maker, but greed occurs at all levels of our society. And when you have people living in fish bowls, knowing what others have and never getting to touch it in charge of helping other people that sometimes make more than them, there is going to be this problem.

    It is for this reason I most favor small grass roots efforts. It takes a lot less money and middle men for me to deliver a pot of soup to my neighborhood than it does to have my neighbors going to a soup kitchen and it provides a sense of community and responsibility.

  11. And people wonder why I don’t trust organizations that claim to have “the greater good” at heart…

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