Liberal Learning

ACORN Ideas and Issues Personal Writings

Santa Fe    It is something less of a pleasure to see ACORN front and center in the current scandal de jure of the Bush Administration.  Turns out that sometimes when it seems that “they” are really “out to get you,” that in fact they are really out to get you!   In this case it now seems abundantly and categorically true that the White House and Karl Rove directly targeted ACORN and our wildly successful voter registration efforts (1.2 M in 2004 and 550K in 2006) in order to suppress the vote and to create political issues in close states given the contest for Congress in the last cycle.  U.S. Attorneys who refused lost their jobs.  Newly minted U.S. attorneys who played ball were pets.  Turned out (quelle shock!) that Justice under the Bush Administration is not blind, but slanted with a hard-eyed glint in the eyes looking at us among others.  

    So, when ACORN is mentioned literally hundreds of times in the Senate hearings on this matter, it is definitely an out-of-body experience where at one level, you watch in total fixation as if ACORN were something and someplace where you had not spent your life and work and in the other you are horrified to think how naive we were and whether or not we welcome quite this much attention.

    Two editorials in the August paper of record the New York Times in recent weeks prove this point, including their call the other day for subpoenas to be issued to get to the bottom of this whole affair.  But one sidebar note that I do enjoy is their efforts after all of these years to figure out how exactly to brand the organization.  They seem to be coming down somewhere between “liberal” and “liberal-leaning,” whatever in the world those sobriquets might really mean.  Over the years we have been the activist group, the housing rights group, the consumer advocate group, the voter rights group, the poor peoples’ organization, and one thing after another, and that doesn’t even count the ways they have tried to describe our work in New Orleans over the last two years.  Now it seems that it has become more important to place us within some kind of ideological frame to give the public a way of understanding that a rank and anti-democratic set of dirty tricks was used not to subvert the Justice Department but to steal elections.  Rather than being willing to talk about the real issues and what is really going on in this Administration, they are playing patty cake as if there was someone (perhaps liberal-leaning?) who still thought Justice was not politicized like everything else in this Administration.  

    Perhaps it is time for the Times and others to start telling it like it is on this scandal.  It’s an election scandal that goes to the heart of the franchise and the right of the newly-registered, lower-income and working families who were largely Latino and African-American.  That’s why ACORN was targeted.  These voters — our people and American citizens — were targeted by the Rove Machine in order to try and stop voters and win elections.  This was the ends, and the manipulation of the Justice Department was simply the means.

    The readers of the Times don’t need a right-left scorecard here.  They need some basic reminders about the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution and the fundamental values of this country.  That’s what’s at stake here, and it’s worth both learning and remembering that ACORN is willing to fight for that, no matter the risk or what we are called from day to day.

New York Times Editorial

It’s Subpoena Time
Published: June 8, 2007

For months, senators have listened to a parade of well-coached
Justice Department witnesses claiming to know nothing about how
nine prosecutors were chosen for firing. This week, it was the
turn of Bradley Schlozman, a former federal attorney in
Missouri, to be uninformative and not credible. It is time for
Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee,
to deliver subpoenas that have been approved for Karl Rove,
former White House counsel Harriet Miers and their top aides,
and to make them testify in public and under oath.

Mr. Schlozman was appointed United States attorney in Missouri
while the state was in the midst of a hard-fought Senate race.
In his brief stint, he pushed a lawsuit, which was thrown out by
a federal judge, that could have led to thousands of
Democratic-leaning voters being wrongly purged from the rolls.
Just days before the election, he indicted voter registration
workers from the liberal group Acorn on fraud charges.
Republicans quickly made the indictments an issue in the Senate

Mr. Schlozman said it did not occur to him that the indictments
could affect the campaign. That is hard to believe since the
Justice Department’s guidelines tell prosecutors not to bring
vote fraud investigations right before an election, so as not to
affect the outcome. He also claimed, laughably, that he did not
know that Acorn was a liberal-leaning group.

Mr. Schlozman fits neatly into the larger picture. Prosecutors
who refused to use their offices to help Republicans win
elections, like John McKay in Washington State, and David
Iglesias in New Mexico, were fired. Prosecutors who used their
offices to help Republicans did well.

Congress has now heard from everyone in the Justice Department
who appears to have played a significant role in the firings of
the prosecutors. They have all insisted that the actual
decisions about whom to fire came from somewhere else. It is
increasingly clear that the somewhere else was the White House.
If Congress is going to get to the bottom of the scandal, it has
to get the testimony of Mr. Rove, his aides Scott Jennings and
Sara Taylor, Ms. Miers and her deputy, William Kelley.

The White House has offered to make them available only if they
do not take an oath and there is no transcript. Those conditions
are a formula for condoning perjury, and they are unacceptable.
As for documents, the White House has released piles of useless
e-mail messages. But it has reported that key e-mails to and
from Mr. Rove were inexplicably destroyed. At the same time, it
has argued that e-mails of Mr. Rove’s that were kept on a
Republican Party computer system, which may contain critical
information, should not be released.

This noncooperation has gone on long enough. Mr. Leahy should
deliver the subpoenas for the five White House officials and
make clear that if the administration resists, Congress will use
all available means to get the information it needs.