I just got done watching the full 15 plus minutes of footage and I really don't get it. I invite you to watch the clips yourself and see if you walk away with the impression that the ACORN employee(s) they talk to are evil, criminal "thugs."
The woman they spoke with was told that Hannah was trying to escape an abusive pimp and wanted to figure out a way to set up a bank account and a business so that she could hide her income from him. And the ACORN employee - without judgement of her but with sympathy for her condition - proceeds to give her suggestions on how to do that.
Really, it's not legal. But it ain't evil! That my views on the illegality of prostitution (I think it should be decriminalized, for mostly the same reasons I think the "war on drugs" should end) color my ambivalence about the situation is most certainly the case. And likewise, the fact that Giles, O'Keefe, Hannity, Beck and the rest seem to take these videos as evidence that "ACORN" is evil and corrupt and what not certainly relfects a prejudice on their part: and after watching these videos, it appears that the crime of this employee is that she treated an apparent prostitute with compassion.
Of course, Beck and the rest will say that the failure of the woman is that she is promoting prostitution. But this is dishonest. Watch the video, the woman is concerned with helping the pretend prostitute out of her abusive situtation and doesn't want to be judgemental. She says that it's her life and she can do with it what she wants, but that she should start thinking for herself and her safety and to save up money. When Giles says that its a dangerous job and that she knows underage girls that she wants to protect, the woman nods her head in agreement.
I mention this because I suspect that will be one of the points that Beck and others will scream indicates that "ACORN" is pro-underage illegal prostitution. Watch that segment (it's about 3.5 minutes into the second video) and you'll see that Giles mentions this as kind of an aside to the employee's comment about it being a dangerous professsion. It's pretty clear from the video that Giles was trying to bait the woman (as O'Keefe does in other portions of the video) into agreeing tacitly with a gotcha moment, but it's also clear from the video that the employee had no idea that Giles was suggesting she herself would be running an illegal immigrant underage prostitution ring. What Giles quietly says is that she knows (the audio is difficult to make out, but I believe she says "we've got") underage girls from El Salvador that she wants to protect and give a place to live to. Within the context of the conversation, an easy interpretation of Giles' remark is that she's aware of underage prostitutes, and being a young prostitute herself coming from an abusive pimp, she has empathy for the plight of such girls and wants to help them.
How the ACORN employee's response indicates something corrupt or evil about herself is beyond me.
Update: It seems my inability to keep pace with the anti-ACORN hysteria has gotten the best of me. I now see that Beck was making reference to the 4th "sting" operation from an ACORN office in San Bernardino. While this is certainly the most sensantional of the videos released so far; it's also the most propagandistic. The woman featured in the video maintains that she was not being serious. For example, in the video she claims to have killed her husband, but a supervisor told The San Bernardino Sun that the employees husband is indeed alive. Jim Miller, who also appears in the video (and has been represented by Glenn Beck as an employee of ACORN) told the paper that he is not an employee of ACORN.
The account of the incident Miller gave the paper seems, to me, consistent with his behavior in the video. In the video, you can see him sitting there, just sort of trying to absorb the absurdity of the situation.
Glenn Beck told his audience that this video demonstrates the "true colors" of ACORN. Yet even if the employee in the video was not faking her responses, it is ridiculous to attribute her behavior to the organization as a whole, especially since she notes that her supervisor and ACORN itself would not approve of the fake prostitute's plan to set up a brothel with underage girls from El Salvador. O'Keefe, appearing on Beck's program, said that he suspects ACORN trains its employees to act like this. I encourage anyone who isn't prejudiced with paranoid, conspiratorial hatred of ACORN to watch that video and come to the conclusion that the behavior exhibited by the employee must have been the result of training. You really must watch the clip to realize the profound absurdity of the notion.
Really, this isn't much better than were I to go into a Wal-Mart, find an employee in the car parts section who is willing to advise me on how to buy black market car parts, then turn around and claim I've proved Wal-Mart is training employees to do so. Of course, this still wouldn't rise to the level of absuridty demonstrated by the anti-ACORN propagandists, because I'd have to also posit that Wal-Mart is training employees to do so because it will help them achieve their dreams of totalitarian control of America. Or something like that.
That isn't to say that I don't believe that ACORN needs to do a better job of training/screening its employees (as I said in the first post commenting on these "stings.") And if there is corruption and fraud at ACORN I don't have a problem with the organization being held to account for that.
But none of these video actually demonstrate what they claim to prove: that there is systemic fraud and corruption at local ACORN offices. What they have effectively demonstrated is that local employees of some ACORN offices can be manipulated into yielding footage of that can be used by Fox News to demonize the group. A pimp or prostitute walking into an ACORN office to ask for help setting up a brothel featuring underage illegal immigrants ain't gonna happen in the real world!
Another clue that these videos are pure propaganda and not journalism is there no context. Never do the filmmakers, or Fox for that matter, examine the actual work that ACORN does. The filmers weren't interested in that. What they wanted to do was fabricate an incident which could "prove" what they already believed.
In my previous post on the bigoted nature of these attacks on ACORN, I noted that while these manufactured incidents of imaginary crime are taken to indicate a grave, immediate and present danger to American democracy, it's interesting to note how this only seems to be the perception when the corruption can be attributed to a group that focuses its efforts on helping minorities and the poor.
Funny how fake crimes that reveal more about the prejudices of the filmers than it does about the organziation they seek to smear generate more outrage and hysteria than actual crimes.Here is another example of that funny dynamic: while Beck and the rest are working themselves into a frenzy over this ACORN "scandal," the 19th US soldier or contractor in Iraq has been killed by electrical wiring.
For instance, KPMG helped rob the government of billions of dollars, but I don't recall anyone dreaming up elaborate conspiracy theories with KPGM as a sinister group of "thugs" out to rule the world, using their magical powers to manufacture catastrophes and what not. Funny how the stereotyping of an organization as "thugs" is reserved for an organization that primarily helps register the poor and minorities to vote.
And while the Drudge/Hannity/Limbaugh/Malkin axis of misinformation believes that two low level employees of ACORN - who were immediately fired when their behavior was discovered - looking the other way at a fictional illegal immigrant underage prostitution ring that could only be dreamed up from the dark bogeyman world of conservative fears means that "ACORN" is in favor of child prostitution, it's interesting that the same conclusion was not drawn when two high level power brokers of Republican politics - Tom DeLay and Ralph Reed - lobbied on behalf of a government that actually was facilitating virtual sexual slavery. I don't recally anyone in the Malkin-sphere saying that DeLay and Reed "proved" the Republican Party was a bunch of "thugs" in favor of wage/sexual slavery.
Funny how that works.
Michelle Malkin, who is oh so outraged about the incidents in the ACORN videos which didn't actually happen, managed not to find the same outrage about contractor corruption in Iraq. No, those wanting to investigate the billions of dollars that actually have been lost in Iraq to corruption, war profiteering, and cost plus/no bid contracts were just "obstructionists" to her.
Update II: Some more actual corruption that doesn't seem to earn the ire of Beck and friends.
Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va.Of course, if you watch Beck, populist champion of the American people, you know that those who favor environmental protection and regulation are just another part of the grand ACORN/Obama/Alinsky conspiracy to install Marxist liberal fascist totalitarian rule by "overwhelming the system."
In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.
Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.
This pattern is not limited to West Virginia. Almost four decades ago, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to force polluters to disclose the toxins they dump into waterways and to give regulators the power to fine or jail offenders. States have passed pollution statutes of their own. But in recent years, violations of the Clean Water Act have risen steadily across the nation, an extensive review of water pollution records by The New York Times found.
In the last five years alone, chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have violated water pollution laws more than half a million times. The violations range from failing to report emissions to dumping toxins at concentrations regulators say might contribute to cancer, birth defects and other illnesses.
However, the vast majority of those polluters have escaped punishment. State officials have repeatedly ignored obvious illegal dumping, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which can prosecute polluters when states fail to act, has often declined to intervene.
Good thing families like the Hall-Masseys have someone like Glenn Beck looking out for them, telling them they really need to be worried about the scary"community organizers" who want take their hard earned money and use it to steal an election for a Manchurian president and to give it to underage illegal immigrant prostitutes to quicken the demise of American freedom and capitalism (a likely scenario, to be sure.)
Yep, the Hall-Massys are lucky, just like the folks in Libby, Montana are lucky that Beck and the rest are protecting them from the liberal fascists at the EPA.
Update III: I hadn't bothered mentioning this, but O'Keefe has previously used these same propaganda tactics against Planned Parenthood. In a statement posted at Huffington Post by ACORN representative Mike Shea promising to use these incidents to review and improve policies and procedure for proper employee behavior, he brings it up
What these activists have done to us is not original. The "producer" of these videos has a history of targeting progressive organizations. Dianne Quest, of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, wrote us about their experience: "(James) O'Keefe (the activist) has a sordid history of preying on receptionists and other front-line service workers for respected organizations. In 2008 he pulled a similar stunt on Planned Parenthood when he and another female colleague secretly recorded phone conversations with staff who handle fundraising calls at a few of the organization's affiliates. During the calls, O'Keefe pretended to be interested in setting up funds for low-income women in need of health care. Once the conversation hit a comfortable stride, O'Keefe would change his tune and explain, in explicit language, that his real intent was to target women of color in an effort to control minority populations. The audio recordings were edited in an attempt to make it appear that Planned Parenthood was complicit in accepting donations for racist purposes. O'Keefe's intent then, as it is now, was to entrap an organization whose mission he is ideologically opposed to, and masquerade his efforts as investigative journalism rather than the propaganda videos they are."And here is another example of corruption that actually happened.
[New York Federal Judge] Rakoff characterized the settlement [which he rejected] as "unfair," "inadequate" and "unreasonable." One year after the collapse of investment banking behemoths threw the economy into crisis, the case raises profound questions about why so few Wall Street titans have been indicted and the continuing lethargy shown by the top cops charged with policing the market.Again, I don't hear Giles, Beck, and O'Keefe calling Wall Street collectively "thugs" who want to destroy American because they are criminal by nature. (Beck has taken to inviting his audience to conclude the Rathke brothers are sinister because they look like James Bond villians, according to Beck.)