Contrition Through Aggression: ACORN Sues Filmmakers While Claiming Regret Over Misconduct of its Employees

logoAs we discussed earlier, ACORN has decided to move forward with a lawsuit against the independent filmmakers who showed its employees engaged in potentially unlawful conduct. While insisting that it is terribly sorry for the actions of its employees, ACORN is pursuing the people who forced the misconduct into the open: filmmakers James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles. It is curious method of contrition but ACORN is seeking massive damages for nonconsensual surveillance.

ACORN is itself under criminal investigation in New York and experiencing a cascading impact by agencies and organizations severing ties with the organization. There is also a bill in Congress to prohibit contracts by the government with ACORN, though that bill raises serious constitutional questions.

The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore, also names, which is run by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart and posted the videos. Breitbart released five similar videos that O’Keefe and Giles recorded in ACORN offices in Washington, D.C.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; San Bernadino, Calif., and San Diego, as well as the Baltimore office.

ACORN has fired the two employees shown in the recent undercover video by filmmaker James O’Keefe of Veritas Visuals— showing the staffers advising a faux pimp and prostitute (here) on how to get federal assistance and lie on federal forms. Now, however, it is threatening legal action in what would be part of a trend of cases involving companies and organizations suing investigative reporters and filmmakers.

In this video, Four ACORN workers appear involved in potential criminal conduct:

ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis immediately went on the offensive and threatened legal action:

“It is clear that the videos are doctored, edited, and in no way the result of the fabricated story being portrayed by conservative activist ‘filmmaker’ O’Keefe and his partner in crime. And, in fact, a crime it was — our lawyers believe a felony — and we will be taking legal action against Fox and their co-conspirators.”

In bringing the lawsuit, ACORN joins a rather ignoble group of businesses seeking to sue journalists and filmmakers for uncovering improper conduct:

In Food Lion v. ABC , a store was shown in an undercover segment engaging in unsanitary techniques and accused Food Lion of selling rat-gnawed cheese, meat that was past its expiration date and old fish and ham that had been washed in bleach to kill the smell. Food lion denied the allegations and sued ABC for trespass. A jury ruled against ABC and awarded Food Lion punitive damages for the investigation involving ABC journalists lying on their application forms and assumed positions under false pretenses. (here). The Fourth Circuit however wiped out the punitive damage award while upholding the verdicts of trespass and breach of loyalty with awards of only $1 for each.

This case would come closest to a case out of the Seventh Circuit. Judge Richard Posner wrote the decision in Desnick v. ABCwhere investigative reporters went undercover in 1993 to show that employees of the Desnick eye clinic had tampered with the clinic’s auto-refractor, the machine used to detect cataracts so that the machine produced false diagnoses to find cataracts (and require procedures). The court rejected wiretapping claims (based on the state’s one-party consent rules) as well as trespass and defamation claims. On trespass, the court noted that the reporters were allowed into areas open to new patients. Posner relied on the consent to the entry to negate the trespass claim even when the entrant “has intentions that if known to the owner of the property would cause him . . . to revoke his consent.”

That seems quite close to the ACORN case. However, Maryland does require the consent of all parties, which is a difference with the Illinois case. They are focusing on the nonconsensual surveillance aspect. Maryland’s Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code §§ 10-402(a) and 10-410, requires two party consent to all electronic surveillance. It allows for both criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.

ACORN attorney Arthur Schwartz insists that the videos were “clear violations of Maryland law that were intended to inflict maximum damage to the reputation of ACORN, the nation’s largest grassroots organizer of low-income and minority Americans.” Well, it didn’t seem to take much to produce this self-inflicted wound. Moreover, ACORN’s tactics have been controversial for years and the organization has been the subject of continual allegations of improper and potential criminal conduct.

For her part, while trying to destroy the filmmakers who disclosed the misconduct, Lewis insists “[w]e were just as shocked and horrified as the American public was. I will not tolerate such behavior. It is incumbent upon me and my board to set things straight.”

The decision of ACORN to aggressively pursue the filmmakers is, in my view, a mistake and evidence of continued poor judgment by the organization’s leadership. These filmmakers may be properly prosecuted under state law and such charges are being contemplated, here. However, ACORN should confine its role to that of a witness and focus on cleaning up its tarnished organization.

For the full story, click here and here.

104 thoughts on “Contrition Through Aggression: ACORN Sues Filmmakers While Claiming Regret Over Misconduct of its Employees

  1. “Ok . . . so in summation, the final plan of the ACORN Board of Directors is to freak completely out?”



    Sometime it isn’t what you do or say, it’s when you do or say it. You didn’t have a pending statute of limitations issue. Filing against the filmmakers could have been put off a bit. You should have let one hullabaloo calm down a bit before starting another. Let your page one story die back and then drop your page three story later because you only add fuel to a still burning fire by filing now. Hire a new media consultant because you’ve been given poor advice.

  2. I’m not a fan of two party consent laws, but this case is an exception. The documentary film markers essentially entrapped the ACORN employees by inducing them into acts they would otherwise not have committed, and ACORN was deprived of the opportunity to supervise its employees that it no doubt would have exercised if it knew the interaction was being recorded. I think this gives rise to liability and ACORN is correct to pursue a civil remedy. If they did not, this sort of entrapment-based gotcha journalism would become commonplace, and show up every where in the form of “reality TV” like shows without the consent of the persons involved.

  3. This was a newsworthy matter of public interest and significance that did not disclose private information about the ACORN employees themselves.

    What’s the problem?

  4. Alan:

    I am an engineer and I just had a client ask me to cheat on a test, I told him no but that he was certainly free to find another engineer that may be so inclined. I do not think ethical behaviour is limited to when someone is watching or if there is a possibility of getting punished.

    May I assume from your comment that you are for child prostitution, illegal immigration, pimps (which is nothing but abuse of women) and tax evasion?

    They were not enticed, they offered it up freely, they were unethical and ACORN should have fired them. Their behaviour has tainted the entire organization although I believe that this couple did this in more than one location and the outcome was similar to what it was in Baltimore.

    I am making an assumption now based on my political persuasion, but my feeling is that had the video not been shown publicly those 2 would still be employed. ACORN has shown very questionable ethical behaviour across a number of issues. Had a conservative group done these things I don’t doubt for a minuet that individuals would be on their way to jail and rightly so.

  5. Some of the news media pointed out that the videos were fraudulently edited to portray a false scenario.

    The also pointed out that the fake ho and the fake pimp were thrown out of some ACORN offices, and that the complete dialogue on the most notorious ACORN office encounter was skewed by editing out certain exculpatory sequences.

    This type of lawsuit worked for John Boehner when a couple listened in on his cell phone call to Newt Gingrich some years ago.

    The call was scandalous but Boehner prevailed and recovered damages anyway.

  6. When I retired from NYC Govt. I had more than 300 working for me in 12 different offices. It was impossible to have everyone on the same page no matter how well the communication. I would only find out when workers crossed the line in retrospect and I had to sometimes fire them. ACORN faces the same issues.

    When it comes to ACORN though, the issue is really they have become the bogeyman on purpose. Why, because they are conceived in people’s minds as a Black organization and so represent a target for Right Wingers to make points. Truth is they are barely a force enough to cause concern if the purported stuff they are accused of were true. 98% of what’s said about them is simply not true.

  7. My defense to this claim would be the simple proverb that “You can’t cheat an honest man.” Mike S. is correct that you cannot have employees march in lockstep and make good judgments all the time. Had ACORN merely acknowledged this truism, and apologized the matter may have died. Now they have invited new scrutiny and reprobation by trying to correct a wrong with a wrong. They would do well to remember that, in a democracy, the ultimate Court doesn’t sit in the nation’s capitol but in the living rooms of the “justices” taking this all in, and armed only with their senses–both common and of right and wrong.

  8. Actually John, I like sugar free kool-aid and drink it every day instead of orange juice. Gives me a clean citrus flavor and no calories.

  9. John
    1, September 24, 2009 at 1:21 pm
    Mike, you have had enough Kool-Aid.


    John, there was a time in my city, St. Louis, when the only group working to improve the plight of the disenfranchised (by race and class) was Acorn. They were demonized then also. I’ll hold off on judgment until I see the unedited tapes. Even then I might cut them some slack. It’s not as if they’re electrocuting our troops and having their contract for electrical work extended after all. Admittedly you might be able to deconstruct the particular fallicy of my argument but I’ll still contribute to them now and then.

  10. Okay, I’m not at all sure what Jonathan has against ACORN, or why he believes anything said about them, even though he knows they lie about other things. But I will happily take on the role of unofficial ACORN defender of the Jonathan Turley Blog (*gling*) and point out how deeply in error y’all are.

    That seems quite close to the ACORN case.

    Really? You don’t think their is any difference at all about employees actually misadjusting a piece of equipment and employees claiming they will facilitate fraudulent paperwork?

    May I assume from your comment that you are for child prostitution, illegal immigration, pimps (which is nothing but abuse of women) and tax evasion?

    Way to maintain a civil discussion, Byron. Suppose you agreed to cheat on that test to get the client’s account, but then didn’t. Now how unethical are you? Will you cause the collapse of civilization? Have you even committed a crime?

    But at least the insanity is not unrelenting:

    Some of the news media pointed out that the videos were fraudulently edited to portray a false scenario.

    The also pointed out that the fake ho and the fake pimp were thrown out of some ACORN offices, and that the complete dialogue on the most notorious ACORN office encounter was skewed by editing out certain exculpatory sequences.

    Those outlets you refer to are not “some of the news media”, those would be the actual news media. Those that didn’t report this fact are more appropriately referred to as “the right wing noise machine”.

    My defense to this claim would be the simple proverb that “You can’t cheat an honest man.”

    Also, you have nothing to fear if you’ve done nothing wrong.

    I really thought this blog would attract a higher caliber of intellect, I gotta say. But I’ll admit to being of the opinion that to me, intelligence and liberalism are mutually re-enforcing.

    In summary:

    1) ACORN has a practically air-tight case, given the precedent. Sure, ABC “won the appeal”. But they lost the case. And unlike the partisan hack at issue here, ABC was (at least at the time) actually a legitimate journalism outfit reporting on actual public safety, not paranoid political scare tactics.

    2) If you think ACORN is even CAPABLE of any form of “political corruption”, you are racist. Sorry, it is that simple. No other fact could explain how you could be so powerfully ill-informed about the reality of community organization.

    3) ACORN, unlike Halliburton/KBR and Blackwater and several other close personal cronies of the Republican Party, has never once ever anywhere received a no-bid contract (nor any direct grant) from the federal government, let alone any no-bid contracts worth BILLIONS (not millions) of dollars.

  11. I’m not the little one, you are, think more spatially,if you can, and stop calling people “racist” because they don’t agree with you..

  12. I called them racist because there doesn’t appear to be any other rational explanation for their behavior, not because of any personal animosity.

    I’ve noticed, particularly in the last couple years (gee I wonder why that is?) that when you point out that someone is being racist, they always react identically: you have insulted them. You have impugned their integrity, branded them as hateful, and attempted to inhibit their free speech and/or free will.

    When really all you’ve done is point out that it is noticeable to others that their behavior is being motivated by a knee-jerk distrust of black people. As if ACORN is to be less trusted than the Heritage Foundation or the fucking John Birch Society, and represents (unlike these outstanding endeavors meant only to benevolently aid society and good government) an insidious plot to force the nation to conform to their ideological plans.

    Talk about pegging the irony meter.

    Yea, OK, I’ll say it again, and hopefully it might someday get through. If you are concerned ACORN isn’t on the up-and-up, you ARE a racist. If you don’t believe me, well, that is because you are racist and in denial. Now your racism might be caused by ignorance and/or a lot of misinformation, thanks to the previously described right wing noise machine. I am not accusing anyone of bigotry or ill intent when I point out that IF YOU MISTRUST ACORN IT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE RACIST.

  13. Possibly they feel Acorn is not on the-up-and-up, because they feel some misconduct or impropriety took place behind closed doors. Something to think about, eh..

  14. How do you know this person has a “mistrust” of black people? Did you ask them this? Or, are you only speculating, because it gives you ammo to argue with….

  15. They still may not know they are racist, you still might not be convinced they are racist. But that they are racist simply can’t be denied.

    Did you notice “anonymously yours” wondering why ACORN would invite discovery in a civil trial? Were you unaware that ACORN has been investigated and audited and sometimes even indicted (by Karl Rove’s US Attorneys, hand picked to spare no expense to destroy such a successful liberal endeavor) for all the DECADES they have been helping the poor find housing (and advocating against sub-prime!) and register to vote (and turning in all suspected fraudulent registrations as required by law!) and organize their communities to better their circumstances, boot-strap style.

    But, hey, they’re black, and they aren’t to be trusted.

  16. TmaxPA, I agree with you in theory. I hate racism to, in all its’ disgusting forms. I also despise “bigots”, you know the ones, they “hate” Catholics or Jews! Have you ever listened to some of their vitriol and diatribe? You know the ones who think all Catholic priests are pedohiles and mock people who worship, and think anyone who listens to the teachings of Rome is either a moron or someone to be reviled and looked upon with scorn! These same irrational people hate Jews and mock them to scorn. Surely you must have encountered some of these close-minded bigots, in all your worldy travel? They are about on the same level as these racists you abhor..

  17. Billy;
    I’m not sure where you can find it on the Internet, but there is a simple test that you can perform. Now, I can’t force you to believe the results of this test or their interpretation. Nevertheless, it simply demonstrates that mistrusting people of a particular race (this is socially cued, so it isn’t even necessarily an ‘other’ race) is something we can overcome, but not something we can wish away.

    Now as to whether it “must be” racism in This Particular Case for Every Individual, I can only say that I am not accusing them of a crime, but of an attitude, so unless they can show some thin reed at least of evidence that it is otherwise, I feel content simply declaring that it indeed must be racism that causes this knee-jerk distrust of ACORN, as it represents an Urban (read black, though it is not itself in any way racist) success story.

    Like I said, if they simply suspected this vast network of being corrupt, it isn’t clandestine Punk’d videos they’d use as evidence. KBR electrocuted American servicemen in a warzone, killing them while they showered thanks to rank incompetence. On a no-bid contract that immunized them from liability. If you think the fact that non-profit community organizers might somehow help a few street criminals scam the government out of some non-existent “welfare checks” is a scandal that should call into question the entire organization, you’re being racist.

    Now someone could always come back at me with “well, I can prove you wrong, because I used to think they were the cause of the mortgage collapse and then I learned they weren’t and it was that not racism which caused me to suspect them.”

    And that person would, indeed, get whatever divine special exemption is necessary to continue believing they weren’t being racist to believe such a thing to begin with.

  18. I enjoy your posts Tmax. You are thoughtful and you don’t insult. A lot of things can be accomplished in this world when we decide to be civil and respectful even when we disagree and have a spirited argument. This is where real “virtue” will be achieved. How we treat our fellow man……

  19. Furthermore, I am not trying to prove you wrong. I am trying to help you think. Sometimes the “value systems” we despise in others is only a muddied reflection of ourselves.

  20. There are people who are bigoted against Jews and that means… what?

    As for what you claim is ‘vitriol’ aimed at Catholics, it sounds more like simple observations or opinions.

    Where the real problem in your comment comes is when you say “These same irrational people hate Jews and mock them to scorn.” I’ve never known that to be the case, frankly.

  21. Furthermore, I am not trying to prove you wrong. I am trying to help you think. Sometimes the “value systems” we despise in others is only a muddied reflection of ourselves.

    Not sometimes, billy, always. It is called “projection”. If you despise it, you embody it.

  22. Having the last word and adroilty making your opponent look foolish is not the most important or relevant thing. Being respectful and finding value in a person you are not inclined to like, is an even greater achievement than winning an argument that nobody will remember tomorrow, except you. Besting a foe is not always the “best” thing…

  23. Are you saying you are not inclined to like me? I’m deeply offended, clutching my pearls, you will find me on the feinting couch!

    Seriously, billy, I’m not trying to score any mythical points, I’m just trying to be both right and slightly amusing. And I’ve been online for over twenty years, so you aren’t being instructive, for what its worth.

  24. The same opinions can be levied against you. If you feel Catholics are stupid or foolish because of how they live or worship, yes it is an observation, a “bigoted” observation, because you choose not to find value in them irrespective of the differences in value systems. This why we have bigots. What you call an opinion, I call bigotry. Because behind your opinion is contempt and scorn. Correct. That’s what makes you a bigot…….

  25. I’m afraid your concern for the legitimacy of some particular or any religion fails the test of empiricism. Being of the opinion that people who worship God aren’t acting rationally or benefiting themselves by worshiping that God rather than any other is not “bigotry”, it is honesty.

    And harboring a rather venomous vehemence for the Catholic Church in regards to the enabling of unspeakable crimes, well, that might not be rational, but I would have to consider it normal, at least for those directly affected.

    Sorry, you don’t get to conflate even outright “hatred” of any particular or all religion with racism as just two forms of “bigotry”. But at least now I understand why you tried to claim that anti-Catholics show prejudice against Jews. It certainly makes it convenient to imagine a ‘sliding scale’ of bigotry that connects racial mistrust with religious distaste. You wouldn’t perhaps be a Catholic trying to paint himself a victim, would you, billy?

  26. The fact you despise them, for crimes that never affected you personally, only adds to your obvious bigotry. The Nazis in world war II said the same of the Jews. They claimed that the Jewish bankers were starving all the good gentiles of northern Europe and taking the bread out of the mouths of good teutonic children. They were wrong, as you are wrong. These imaginary crimes against humanity, are just that. Somehow you feel you have a “pass” to be a bigot, because in the circles you travel in you are all “bigots”. You are as revolting as the racist you have such derision for. Who gives you the right to mock Christians and there beliefs. You are a bigot, because you hate them for there beliefs. The racist who comes clean is more respectablt to me than you, who hides behind the guise of pseudo-respectability. You are a true coward, at least be intellectually honest enough to admit you are a bigot!

  27. Yes, I knew all along it was merely a trap to get me to declare that I’m (gasp!) an atheist. Having been raised a Catholic and attended 12 years of parochial school, however, I neither fear nor hate Catholics in general. Having been an alter boy and never in any way treated badly by a priest (other than that one who insisted on ad-libbing while you were holding a 15 pound book up at shoulder height) I know abuse was not entirely endemic. Having personal knowledge of an abuse survivor (in starkly literal terms) however, I have little sense of humor about it, or how the Catholic Church enables it still. And at least some Catholics (Bill Donohue AKA the Catholic League comes to mind) insist on defending it, and those people, I hope we can all agree, deserve great heaping gobs of scorn.

  28. If you are an atheist so be it. When you mock Christians because of there beliefs you become a bigot. If you have disdain for them because they believe in God you are not only a bigot, but may in fact be evil…

  29. verlander just won number 17 for the Tigers. Magic number is now 8. The twins were idle. I’m smellin World Series. Maybe they will play the Dodgers and I can get some tickets comped to me. I would love to see the Tigers at Chavez Ravine. Go Tigers, Go Blue. Go Bruins…

  30. billy:

    “verlander just won number 17 for the Tigers.”


    Justin Verlander is a fine man and was a great kid when I first saw him in Little League here in Richmond. He was coached by a good friend of mine, and through high school coached by another good friend. Both had nothing but great things to say. Now there is another brother on the horizon whom I predict will do great things, too. He was on my youngest son’s AAU team and he can throw too. Professor Turley might be interested to know (also Binx101–I know you’re there) that his mother is Italian. Good ball players, those gumbahs, per Billy Martin because “they take it personal.” Here’s to taking everything important, personal!

  31. billy:

    “When you mock Christians because of there beliefs you become a bigot.”


    Not so billy. When you mock those who institutionalize child abuse you become an advocate, not a bigot. By the way mocking silly beliefs doesn’t make one a bigot either–just rational.

  32. Its’ easy to talk about the bad in anything, religion or politics, this way we can feel good about ourselves when we do wrong…..

  33. Sorry, billy you’ve got the wrong reference book. I bet yours has two columns, a cheap satin page divider, and lots of text printed in red. If it’s full of fairy tales, I know what it is. Not all beliefs are worthy of reverence because not all beliefs are of equal value. Recognizing that is not bigotry, just rational criticism of those who believe things for no good reason. BTW if you define “bigotry” as being unashamedly intolerant of fools, I’ll happily wear the t-shirt. I’ll even size Buddha up too.

  34. Thats’ what I love about most attorneys, “deception” is as welcome as “truth” if a favorable verdict can be had by either….

  35. I know you are a brilliant man, thats’ why I would be more impressed with you Judge, if you would only be intellectually honest with me..

  36. Louis Pasteur was a devout Roman Catholic. He prayed his rosary daily and contemplated the priesthood, in his youth. I guess when he was busy saving the world from contaminated milk, would you have dared say he was subscribing to “fairy tales”.

  37. Billy:

    “Thats’ what I love about most attorneys, “deception” is as welcome as “truth” if a favorable verdict can be had by either….”


    That may be true for some, but one thing we never engage in –unlike your pious friends–is self-deception. That takes more guile.

    You would do well to remember that an expertise in one field does not imply an expertise in all fields. That Pasteur was a devout Christian tells me nothing about his expertise in microbiology. It’s also worth remembering that Jim Jones and David Koresh were equally devout to their religious delusions too. Wonder how they were at microbiology?

  38. Unlike Koresh and J. Jones, Mr. Pasteur used his God given talents to heal and enrich the world. Sadly, the gentleman you referenced used their destructive intelligence to instill terror and murder. I know not what the “biological” acumen of Jones or Koresh was, but I suspect Pasteurs were quite “keen” for his time. Just keep diggin’ your hole judge..

  39. Mespo: “That Pasteur was a devout Christian tells me nothing about his expertise in microbiology. It’s also worth remembering that Jim Jones and David Koresh were equally devout to their religious delusions too.”

    Undistributed middle.

    Missing the premise that all devout Christians are ‘devout to their religious DELUSIONS’ or that all Christians are delusional.


    It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

  40. And BTW Billy,

    You may want to pick up your copy of “Man & His Symbols” and flip through the pages. If memory serves, Jung only wrote no more than a 100 page introduction. The rest was authored by his students and colleagues.

  41. billy:

    Wonderful job of avoiding the central premise that Christian faith is simply a set of First Century delusions practiced by those who fear just about everything. The dirt you seeing flying isn’t from my argument’s “hole” but is,in fact, covering your assertion that because one man was pious and accomplished, that the piety must be true. That’s not undistributed middle; that’s a non-sequitur coupled with a pretty lame appeal to authority. That, as you say, is “logic.”

    BTW Bob,Esq. is right. Jung was nothing if not lazy.

  42. When you die, no one will care or remember save a few of your family members, Jung wil “continue” to be quoted and revered in academia, long after you are gone. Thats how stupid and lazy he was judge. Must have been all those fairy tales he wrote about..

  43. A number of those first century “delusions” you mentioned had a goodly amount of “corroboration”. In law isn’t that the thing you shoot for to establish credibility?

  44. Well, after that interlude, back to the original story that sparked this thread. I agree with most of what tmaxPA has had to say, but I would like to expand further on one of the implications he made because I think it is important.

    Every week at Grover Norquist’s office, in DC, a group of faux conservative big shots meet to decided the agenda of talking points to be used in the coming week and to work on the continuance of certain strategies. This meeting is attended by political activists, politicians and media types. Since the beginning of the Administration of the Bush/Cheney Crime Family the product of these meetings, is repeated mostly word for word, by congress people, pundits, “columnists” and media whores and becomes issues that tend to drown out what is really happening in the news, replacing it with a falsified set of grievances and “atrocities.”

    For many years now ACORN has been on the top of Grover’s and the faux conservatives hit list. The why is very simple. They are predominantly a Black organization, registering people of color and/or people in poverty. They are a grass roots organization dedicated to aid in giving America’s underclass a voice in its’
    political game. This is antithetical to the needs of faux conservatives because they devoutly believe that a wealthy elite and corporations should rule the US. The underclass, if it started voting in its’ own interests would greatly outnumber these priveleged few and their minions and thus represent a danger to their current control of the national dialogue.

    Underlying Grover and the Gang’s chief point of attack against ACORN is that their membership and workers are overwhelmingly Black. The message against ACORN propagated by this demi-cabal is loaded with sub-rosa racial epithet. The thrust of the campaign against ACORN is thus racist in content and intention.

    I don’t fully agree with tmaxPA that all who criticize ACORN are per se racist, given the amount of mud slung reasonable people might assume there is fire, where there is smoke. What I’ve written is not surmise but can be easily found using the search engine of your choice.

    Lastly, I reiterate my previous point that in a large, diverse organization, one can always find people who are not following the given plan. This is especially true for a multi-state, multi-
    city organization that works on a community level. As tmaxPA so cogently analogized, better ACORN receiving some Federal money than a traitorous outfit like KBR.

  45. Billy,

    Fair warning: Approaching the deep end of the pool.

    The Bible as history and the books credibility as such is a well worn topic on this blog. In taking mespo to task, you have made an interesting choice. Next to Mike S., probably the hardest player to beat on this field at this particular game. I’m not telling you this to discourage you in any way. Please, I encourage you to continue in that vein if you wish. It’ll be a good show. I just wanted you to be aware of your surroundings. Safety first.

  46. Beautifully stated and illustrated Mike. Thankyou for presenting a reasonable and thoughtful response. I am not attacking ACORN, or its’ efforts in the community. I take umbrage when a blogger assigns anyone to the rank of “racist”, because they challenge ACORN and some potential misconduct or impropriety, that may or may not have taken place. Stick to the argument, don’t flail around and play the “race” card because you think you can score some quick points, or curry favor from the “gallery”. I listened to the postion of TMax, and he writes well and sounded “spot on” until he “blew his wad” with the race “stuff’….

  47. buddha, nobody is trying to “beat” anybody, save you. I have shared my opinions, much like you all do. Because you don’t approve, so be it.

  48. I watched Justin V. pitch at Edison Field at Anaheim back in April, it wasn’t one of his better outings, he was through after the third. Since that outing he went on a tear! He has now beaten the “tribe” in all four starts this year. He carved them up last night and punched them out with 11 K’s..

  49. Billy,

    I didn’t say I didn’t approve. I said the exact opposite. I like a good show.

    I’ve had this conversation before so all I offered was the advice of a spectator that you should bring your A game. It was meant as friendly advice. Take it however you like.

    But I’d like to point out it is you who have adopted the adversarial stance by making claims and taking a defensive posture. That implies one has taken a side, which implies one of three necessary outcomes: victory, failure or stalemate – all of which are dependent upon the outcome of a conflict no matter what you dress it up as. A battle of words is still a battle. It is not me – a stipulated bystander – who has expressed a desire to “beat” anyone in this instance, billy. Rather it was you by making assertions and changing your posture. So let’s not get snippy, shall we?

  50. I probably should have stayed out of the whole “ACORN” affair. I just get annoyed, because a person can take offense to an organizations’ “inability to run right”, without making them a racist! You guys on this blog, and I cite you specifically buddha, write “beautifully”, so does Mike and Mespo, all you guys! I just scratch my head and get frustrated because I “personally” would never make that leap! By the way, I howled with laughter, when I read that post about “the computer burping out a report”. I enjoy reading your posts and love the think tank atmosphere. I just get a little miffed when I see a person crossing that imaginary “mendoza line”..

  51. Billy,
    Thank you for your kind words, however, regarding your remarks on bigotry and religion, I have some disagreement with you conceptually. I’ll use my being Jewish to first illustrate.

    Although other Jews may believe differently, I believe that one could rationally believe that the Torah and 613 commandments that govern Jewish Religious practice are fanciful, ridiculous and/or even barbaric and not be anti-Jewish, or bigoted. In that instance they are using their intellectual faculties to make a judgement about the validity or non validity of a set of religious beliefs. It becomes prejudice and bigotry when a person believes that Jews are per se evil, especially if they practice their religion.

    Much of the bigotry against Jews has come from two concepts, not necessarilly intertwined, but working together to produce sometimes disastrous results. The first concept is that Jews killed Jesus and took that blame upon themselves for all the generations that followed. The second is that Jews are a race.

    From that first formulation all the later depradations that fell against Jews: the Ghettoization, banning of certain occupations,
    expulsions from countries, Blood Libel, Crusades, Inquisitions and persecutions from Protestants followed. The second formulation of Jews as a race apart was begun by the RCC, but was merely a symptom of anti-Jewishness. This was made into science by the 19th Century Eugenicists and into firm, deadly doctrine by the NAZI’s and other Jew haters that followed.

    In truth Jewish existence has always be problemmatic for Christianity since the later was supposed to replace the former and the Torah became the “Old Testament.” That Jews did not immediately embrace Christianity and would continue as a viable entity is problemmatic for Christianity, since in effect Christians have appropriated our holy book, claims of being chosen by God and indeed worship a Jew.

    Now in that vein as a Jew and one who has read and re-read the Gospels, I can firmly say I don’t believe in their validity and thus the religion that they provide the bulwark for. This is not bigotry, it is a religious choice. Could my critique be harsher in light of what the RCC has done to Jews throughout the centuries? Certainly, but I have no need to offend your personal sensibilites, nor to criticize Christians and RCC members in general, who are merely following their own belief systems.

    However, where the RCC is concerned, unlike Judaism, there is a governing body. In the instance of Priestly Pedophilia the record clearly shows a multitude of offenses and the RCC ignoring or covering up these offenses. I can be extremely critical of the RCC as an institution for making these bad choices and not be bigoted.

    Now to take it further and yet return to the point at hand we have atheists and agnostics. Their particular belief systems are either that all religion is illogical and ridiculous, or that various religious beliefs have no basis in fact and while there might be a God, the as well might not be one. This is not bigotry, nor would their stating openly on the blog that a certain religion(s)are ridiculous be bigotry. Where it would become bigotry is if they said that all those practicing a particular religion are bad, evil, etc.

    This is in essence my point. Open disagreement is not bigotry.
    Criticism of religious intstitutions is also not bigotry. It becomes bigotry when being bad, evil etc. is attached to the persons believing in a faith as a whole and castigating them for their deep faith. I admit there is a fine line to be walked, but I think the path is easy to see.

  52. Miffed, like fear, is simply a reaction. Your reactions are the only thing in the world you have any actual control over as they are internal processes. Master them and they will not master you.

  53. Mike, the same type of “bigotry” was faced by JFK. Many protestant southerners were opposed to him being the President because he was Catholic. Many of these “anti-catholic” good ol’ boys are the same ones who dislike Jews. These bigots felt that he would be incapable of leading, because he would have to confer with the Pope, prior to making critical decisions that could affect the nation and world. This type of irrational thinking is what we call “bigotry”. It is irrational beacause the beliefs are not based in fact but based on some “illogical fear”. This isn’t astrophysics, its’ just recognizing and defining bigotry.

  54. Billy,
    I sort of agree with you re: JFK, but being in my 60’s I remember it well and he represented great hopes for me and my family. Where it gets sticky is that he was the only Catholic to have run besides Al Smith. Smith was a “dese,””dem,” and “dose” guy with a heavy NYC accent and that may have hurt him as much as
    his Catholicism. In the 30’s one of the most popular radio personalities in the country was Father Coughlin an RCC Priest, who was virulently anti-Jewish. Then too, with the advent of TV their was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, an RCC Bishop who was an inspirational speaker, writer and thus had great national popularity. No doubt JFK was hurt by anti-Catholicism, but I think it was a smaller group of people than history imagines.

  55. Buddha,

    Really you don’t find the sentence, “If you think ACORN is even CAPABLE of any form of “political corruption”, you are racist.” Unreasonable or illogical?

    Billy was on the right side to call that out. If I had been around, I’m sure you know I would have done the same. That is the kind of language that stops any intelligent discussion dead in it’s tracks. All it does is assume that others who hold a view different then yours are all on lower footing morally and that yours is the only “pure” cause.

    Even if his major premise is correct, he still over looks the fact that people have opinions about stuff they’re ill informed about, or that other types of prejudice exist. For instance, I’m pretty sure that any large organization that deals with government money is capable of being politically corrupt. I bet there’s at least one rich person out there that distrusts ACORN because it deals with poor people. I bet there’s at least one farmer out there that distrusts it because it’s run by city folk. I bet most North Koreans wouldn’t trust it because it’s a organization based in the U.S.

    He may have strayed from the subject a little after that (and even exposed a bit a plank in his own eye), but let’s not forget that if we want those we disagree with to start being reasonable, we have to ask the same of those we might agree with.

  56. Mespo (to billy?):

    “Wonderful job of avoiding the central premise that Christian faith is simply a set of First Century delusions practiced by those who fear just about everything. The dirt you seeing flying isn’t from my argument’s “hole” but is,in fact, covering your assertion that because one man was pious and accomplished, that the piety must be true. That’s not undistributed middle; that’s a non-sequitur coupled with a pretty lame appeal to authority. That, as you say, is “logic.””

    Exactly who are you addressing here Mespo? I’m the one who commented on the undistributed middle. I’m the one who constrained you to assert your (hidden) premise that ‘all Christians are delusional.’

    You do know of course, as an agnostic/Jungian/Kantian, I must inform you that in order to carry your ‘delusional Christians’ premise any further you’ll have to contradict a few portions ‘The Critique of Pure Reason.’ And while I do consider you to be an extremely intelligent man, well, how shall I say… “I know Immanuel Kant, and you sir are no Immanuel Kant.”

    Fallacious? Perhaps. But true? “”Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.” (some Russian guy)

    BTW, about that “Jung was nothing if not lazy” crack … care to back that up with so much as a syllogism?

    Of course, if you ever happen to pick up “Memories Dreams & Reflections” by Jung, you’d be surprised to find out that Jung was far more skeptical of organized religion than you. I’m pretty sure it started in his childhood when he asked his father, a learned minister, what the ‘Trinity’ was and his father couldn’t tell him.

    Come to think of it, it must be far easier to dismiss Jung as lazy in lieu of exercising that brain of yours to comprehend that which you so easily dismiss.

    Lazy. Uh huh.

  57. TmaxPA, Billy.

    Here is an interesting article in the Texas Observer about a black operated charity successfully destroyed by racially motivated and false allegations of corruption.

    It is a general rule that racists do not know that they are racist, they believe that they are people following simple common sense in dealing with people who on objective criteria such as rate of drug convictions are racially inferior.

    The problem that the Nazis had is that they went a long way in exterminating as racially inferior a race that is not actually racially inferior as the Palestinians can attest.

  58. Nobody likes to admit they are a “racist”, anymore than they like to admit they are a “bigot”. Its’ not a likeable word, its’ not a likeable thing.

  59. Billy,

    Don’t make me squash you like a bug simply because the others are having their way with your weak arguments. Trying to goad me in no way helps you. Indeed, it is historically a very bad mistake. And you flip flop. You goad, you apologize, you goad. Nothing makes you look like you’re about to panic more than flailing about.

    Carry on.

  60. Carlyle:

    that was an interesting article. Sounds like a typical small business getting started. Their board of directors did not do shit for them. They would have been better off with some small business owners that were successful and had gone through all the growing pains.

    That reporter was a real piece of sh!+. But was he a racist or just a prick, it sounds like they had made some enemies and someone “tipped” him off about the possibility of a story and the press is so unethical he just ran with it, probably shouting across the office “I smell a Pulitzer”. I doubt it was about race, it was about the reporters ego. He was also probably a bully and would have not gone after them if they were a larger charity.

    Hopefully he will pay at some point in his career, maybe someone will accuse him of child molestation. A person that would do what he did is probably capable of anything.

  61. I’m a stipulated observer on this go around. As I said earlier, I’ve had this conversation. I know how it will end. If billy wants to drag me in so even more arguments go against him, that’s just too bad. He’s in capable hands to acquire that experience already. I’m taking a mulligan and having a hoot watching billy flail. Nothing more, nothing less. That he’s getting upset about it would be filed under “His Problem”. I’m not his lifeline. He can crawl out of this hole on his own or not. That’s the sport in the thing.

  62. billy:

    I came in here all full of piss and vinegar and got my ass kicked. I have since learned quite a bit from Buddha, Mike S, Mike A, Gyges, Mespo, Jill, BobEsq and others. They are all, as you have acknowledged, very smart people and as lawyers they know how to advocate.

    You seem like a very sharp guy yourself, but you are still in the minors compared to these people.

    Just sit back and learn from them how to present an argument. I am engineer and was not used to the written word, it has been very valuable to interact here. I hope you also find it a beneficial experience.

  63. I’m heading up to my cabin in Big Bear tomorrow buddha, after the Michigan game. To bad you can’t join me and my girlfriend in my new Land Rover. I would love to perch you in by back seat so I could use you as my “verbal punching bag” on the way up the mountain. For your pain and suffering I would take you to “In and Out Burger” and maybe give you a ride to the greyhound bus station, after I’m through turning you into my own personal “hand puppet”.

  64. billy,

    You are one misguided individual.

    I’m not the one you just lost an argument with, so I’m not really sure where the personal hostility comes from.

    Unless your that other blindly and ineptly defending RCC guy who has a fixation on the DSM and trying to piss me off. Which I have already considered.

    So I’ll make this simple, billy. You lost to others. Take it up with them. It was them who sank your battleship, sport.

    If you just want to act like a jackass, I’m content to let you do that too. I’m not in this argument despite your attempts to make me so. I have nothing invested in this conversation other than the derived entertainment value, which leaves me with a net gain.

    Carry on.

  65. I wouldn’t have had to get “righteous” with you senor, but you don’t like to play by the rules. When you don’t I will make it a point to “rap” you across the knuckles, like the good little “green goblin” you are. You savvy?

  66. billy,

    You are clearly delusional. Therefore, you must be Wayne. Plus, you can’t resist the faux pirate talk. It’s a tell, matey. Don’t go to Vegas. So you think whatever you like because you cannot defeat a foe you were not in combat with no matter how hard you try. It’s called “impossible”. It’s like kicking the neighbors dog then rushing into the local Red Lobster and declaring victory over Spain. Sure, it may be flashy and make YOU feel good, but what have you really accomplished? What are the rest of those poor people thinking as they stare at you from over their shrimp scampi that’s steadily growing cold as you pronounce your victory over the forces of Queen Isabella?

    I’m pretty sure it’s not the same thing you’d be thinking.

  67. With regard to the original post, although I am not a lawyer, it occurs to me that if ACORN believes that there is exculpatory evidence on the complete tapes, but the makers will only release edited tapes, then perhaps ACORN sees discovery as the only way to get the full story and clear its name.

    I know it seems impossible to justify this, but we already know that one taped ACORN employee saw through the ruse and made up outrageous things such as that she had murdered her husband, and we know another employee humored them in the office, then contacted law enforcement despite suspecting a hoax. I have seen the photos of the pranksters and heard them on the tape and it seems incredible to me that anyone believed they were who they claimed to be.

  68. “When we think about the power of words, we often focus on the power of words to hurt. I doubt there is anyone here today who doesn’t remember some hurtful words, perhaps a childhood taunt, ( I know still remember) or some ill considered words from a parent, lover or close friend, whose sting was as painful as any slap or jab. We probably also remember words that we said, or, today equally likely, typed or texted, that we wish could have been recalled. How many of the sleepless nights in our lives have been caused by the words we used. How stupid we felt when we realized the pain and trouble we had caused, often without even considering what we were doing at the time.”

    Buddha, Billy, other regulars and to Myself,

    This came from a Rabbi’s Rosh Hashonnah sermon that my wife sent me after it had gone viral on Twitter. I think it is apt for all of us here and I certainly have often forgotten this message writing here. The link to the entire sermon is included and is not really particularly religious, but the ethic presented is an expression of why I still consider myself religiously Jewish, although deist.

    It is of course a comment on your interplay above, but I must say it gave me much pause to think about myself and my behavior.

  69. Kiril:

    Good points and quite plausible. Dat “pimp” and “ho” did look a tad bit like a middle class frat boys idea of a Halloween costume.

    I think, if was a juror, that I might believe it.

  70. Kiril – Have you seen the movie “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” ? It doen’t take much to film common people of normal intelegence in obsurd situations and interactions. At least Sacha Baron Cohen knows that you must film with an exposed camera and get legal signoff from everyone beforehand before you publicly broadcast or display their stupidity. This was a hit job and no where as good as you see from Corbert on Comedy Central. I’m not a lawyer but I would say Acorn has a case.

  71. QUOTED:

    November 13, 2009
    Acorn Sues Over Funding Vote in House

    Saying a resolution by the House of Representatives that barred Acorn from receiving federal aid violated the Constitution by singling the antipoverty group out for punishment, lawyers for Acorn filed a lawsuit on Thursday that seeks to restore the financing.

    The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Brooklyn, says that the Congressional resolution constitutes a “bill of attainder,” or a legislative determination of guilt without a trial. In the suit, Acorn, which came under fire especially from conservative critics after a series of embarrassing scandals, said it was penalized by Congress “without an investigation” and has been forced to cut programs that counsel struggling homeowners, and to lay off workers.

    For example, it said, because of budget cutbacks, a first time homebuyer class in New York that enrolled 100 people in September enrolled only seven people in October, after the Congressional action.

    “It’s a classic trial by the Legislature,” said Jules Lobel, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought the suit. “They have essentially determined the guilt of the organization and any organization affiliated or allied with it.”

    The suit represents the first legal response by Acorn to the Congressional action in September, when the House of Representatives added the financing prohibition to a bill on college lending.

Comments are closed.