The community-oriented group ACORN became quite the political target during last year's election. Because, you know, they're brown and poor and conservatives viewed them as a leftist cog in the system. But could the right be, well, right?
Just in case there was any doubt as to Glenn Beck's status as a paranoid charismatic who regards himself as a Christ-like figure, last night he predicted his own assassination on television.
Man what a wonderful hopey week for America. Let's see how hopeful Robert Novak is, shall we? The headline is promising: "No mandate for Obama, no lopsided Congress." Hah! It's funny because we thought Obama became the first Democratic president since Carter to win with more than 50% of the vote, winning by a larger margin than any Democrat since LBJ, and the Democrats picked up enough Senate and House seats to keep a very comfortable majority? No, apparently that's all wrong. As Novak says:
Anne Hathaway may be sweetness and all-American good looks on the surface, but what do we really know about her? How would Americans feel if they knew that she palled around with felons? She says Raffaello Follieri was just a guy from the apartment on Fifth Avenue that she shared with him, but they were totally doing it as he pulled off a crazy scam involving the Vatican. When he was convicted of fraud and money laundering, Hathaway severed ties. But she's still connected to a sleazy voter registration syndicate that now stands accused of filing false registrations in New York, Virginia, Ohio, and Florida. That's right—Anne Hathaway's in the pocket of Rock the Vote. This "organization representing the intersection of young people, politics and popular culture" was started in 1992 by some sleazy Hollywood entertainment industry types and they'd been trying to swing elections ever since with nihilistic "grunge music" and godless celebrities. The group lets would- be election defrauders print out unlimited voter registration forms they access from their "Xboxes" and "iPhones." Then Rock the Vote helpfully sends all the forms to the wrong place and no one is registered. Democracy! [Update: Rock the Vote says the New York Board of Elections screwed up! No Times correction yet!] Anne Hathaway got tied up in this modern-day Tammany Hall, of course:
So, how have our friends at the GOP been behaving themselves this week? Oh, it's not good. First, they tricked Democrats in California into becoming Republicans by telling them they were signing petitions for stiffer punishments for child molesters. Then, in DC, Boston, Seattle, and elsewhere, they sent racially charged death threats to ACORN staffers and vandalized their offices. And how were things in Ohio? Watch the most racist Sarah Palin rally so far caught on tape after the jump.
Nationally, Barack Obama is between 5 and 10 points ahead in the polls. In the states defined by Rasmussen as battlegrounds, Obama ranges from a tie in North Carolina (North Carolina!) to slight leads in all the rest of them. Also Bush announced the nationalization of the banks or something today, prompting the Dow to jump in early trading. So Matt Drudge, who controls your news with an iron opera glove, is leading today with the news that ACORN registered Mickey Mouse to vote. Ha ha ha. Honestly, what the hell's the deal with the ACORN story and why are right-wingers already clinging to it like guns and religion? Sigh. We'll try to explain. What is ACORN?? An evil group that exists to organize poor people into a violent militia and overthrow the government via "voting." Or basically a lobbying group for low- and middle-income families, either one. Oh no, lobbyists! Right? ACORN is in some respects a lobbying group like, say, the oil or pharmaceutical lobbies. Except they represent poor people instead of profitable corporations so they're a much less successful lobbying group. What do they do? They started as a radical group dedicated to getting welfare recipients and underemployed non-welfare recipients together to demand socialist things like free lunches for kids and emergency room care. Now they lobby Democrats for terrorist things like raising the minimum wage and forcing the government to subsidize affordable housing. Also they organize voter registration drives. But what about all these crimes they're committing?? ACORN pays local losers in Florida $8 an hour to gather 20 voter registrations a day. So some of these losers are lazy, like all employees, and just make up the registrations. ACORN does try to find these made-up registrations and fire the employees who submit them, but, you know, sometimes they miss a couple. Also the law seems to say that ACORN has to submit all the registrations they gather no matter what, and even though the law is a little bit vague, they're still trying to follow it. Why do Republicans need to attack and delegitimize a damn voter registration drive?? Because a certain amount of passive voter suppression is built in to the Republican campaign strategy. If all the disenfranchised and disenchanted voters were organized and registered and informed, we'd probably be a crazy socialist 10-party country like Italy or something. The GOP engages in active voter suppression—voter ID laws and legal challenges—and the more passive kind built into the democratic process, like engendering cynicism about the democratic process. Obviously convincing the guys who disagree with you to not vote is part of any party's campaign strategy, but the GOP's by necessity targets poor people and minorities, and the vast history of suppressing the votes of poor people and minorities is way grosser than any history of disenfranchising white protestants. To us! Maybe you have some totally oppressed landed gentry in your family tree so you may feel differently. Quite honestly the very heart of the utter bullshitness of this anti-ACORN campaign can be found in one incredibly telling quote from a spokesman for the RNC: "Cairncross accused ACORN of engaging in a 'systematic effort to undermine the election process' through its voter-registration drives." Do you see the problem with that statement? And basically there is a CERTAIN CLASS of Republican voter that does not think that the poors, the Blacks, the homelesses, and so on honestly really deserve the same power to choose our rulers as a guy who's worked his whole life to get where he is. The politics of resentment are the last, most powerful weapon the McCain campaign has left this cycle. The details of the charges don't matter, actual proof of fraud doesn't matter, any evidence whatsoever of voter fraud being a real problem with a measurable effect on elections certainly doesn't matter, because the "fraud" is just that, you know, no-good hoodlum welfare recipients are being handed voter registration forms, and one type of person sees that as the point of democracy and the other type sees it as an utter perversion of democracy. Didn't McCain used to totally be in the tank for ACORN? Well Republicans have been bitching about ACORN and voter fraud for years now, but McCain definitely didn't used to be one of those Republicans. In 2006 McCain did give a keynote address, about immigration rights, at a rally co-sponsored by ACORN. Can you maybe use a little more false equivalence to explain this in a way I understand? Sure. ACORN's voter registration drives are to conservatives what Diebold voting machines are the liberals. The possibility of abuse is present and clear, but no one's yet convincingly proved that any abuse has occurred. OK so what's up with everyone suddenly talking about ACORN? As we said, nuttier conservatives have been on the ACORN-bashing bandwagon for years now. That it's finally trickled up to Drudge and Fox means they're scared they're losing the election and they need to preemptively delegitimize Obama. What are my talking points for when crazy relatives argue that ACORN stole the election? What we're dealing with so far is minor voter registration fraud. The questionable registrations number in the double digits in most states, and most of them have been flagged and caught by either ACORN themselves or election officials. Furthermore in many places the false registrations are required by law to be submitted anyway, so that ACORN isn't guilty of, say, tossing out the forms of Republicans they sign up. They do try to flag the fake ones as fake, but regardless, the fake ones are still being caught. Also: voter registration fraud does not coherently lead to voter fraud, because if you register one man 75 times, how will he vote 75 times, exactly? More importantly, the election can't be stolen if it hasn't happened yet, and voter registration fraud does not explain in any way a double digit lead for a candidate in national tracking polls. Like, wtf, how are you making this argument, are you slow? ACORN registering Mickey Mouse is why Barack Obama is up 12 in Pennsylvania? Ok, sure, whatever you say.
If the Democrats pull this off and win the presidential election, the Republican "noise machine" will not simply give up and devote themselves to charity. They will need to undermine and delegitimize President Obama as much and as loudly as possible, non-stop, for the entirety of his term. Early predecessors of this strategy include claims that John Kennedy stole the 1960 election with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's corrupt machine and reminding everyone that Bill Clinton didn't win a majority of the vote in 1992. But the 2008 version will be even nastier and so much more toxic! Thanks, then, to Roger Stone, old-school GOP Political Operative, for giving us a sneak preview of the complaints you'll be hearing until 2012:
White financiers are all flooding up to the Waldorf Astoria this morning for the opening of today's Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst confab! The topics and the attendees are undeniably sexy; Paul Gigot, the WSJ's editorial page editor, Hamilton James, president of Blackstone Group, and, most of all, David Rubenstein, the reformed liberal, capitalism evangelist, Bush family friend and co-founder of private equity firm the Carlyle Group, who is not to be confused with uber-publicist Howard Rubenstein. And for some reason, New York's poor people are going to show up and protest the intricate system of tax breaks and benefits that help the rich amass more capital.