ACORN Community Organizing Ideas and Issues

Illogic of the Right

October 27, 2008

    New Orleans   For the life of me I can’t help trying to figure out how the right wing really thinks about the country and the world.  It is one thing to simply say that they start from a conspiratorial slant, but that is hardly unique to the right, since we hear some of the same saws on the left as well.  I’ve include some examples below of how some of the leading lights string the pieces together.  

    First find an editorial that was printed in the Washington Times that pretends to give readers a better sense of ACORN.  In one brief piece they string together the following disparate threads from their allegations:  voter fraud, abuse of taxpayer money, the “crime” of affordable housing and somehow ACORN responsible for the financial crisis, Saul Alinsky, George Wiley, welfare rights, civil rights, the Poor People’s Campaign, motor voter legislation, 15 employees convicted of voter registration problems, socialism, crime, drugs, and single payer health care.  Wow!  Clearly, this editorial is not meant to be logical or even coherent, but is an exercise in listing “hot button” issues on the right and bundling them into paragraphs loosely held together under the rubric of ACORN.  I am frequently honored to be in the troika of demons of the right (Saul Alinsky, George Wiley, and Wade Rathke), but this is some dangerous stuff when you imagine that members of Congress in Washington DC actually might read some of this stuff.

    Fox News has become obsessed with ACORN.  I read somewhere that ACORN was mentioned more than 700 times in a week.   In the way of self-fulfilling prophecies it is predictable that 37% would see the organization negatively.  17% positive is a pretty ugly number, but at least better than President Bush’s rating, so some comfort there.  More startling was the fact that the “little known ACORN” of articles a couple of weeks ago, is now the almost too well known ACORN with a 70% recognition factor judging from the poll.  Yow!

    Thirdly, I included a widely spread right wing blog that at various times has claimed to be in touch with “whistleblowers” at ACORN and every manner of thing.  This time he has something from a retired teacher and current B&B owner dating back 30 years ago and somehow connected to censuring textbooks in Texas.  Are you still with me?  Once again there is some link between Alinsky and Rathke if you can follow this, and for authenticity they have some supposed chant, which is pretty cute, but for the life of me senility must be setting in, cuz I don’t recall it:  “Aren’t you tired of seein’ the way that your own country’s being run? For the sake of Monster Profit, they would even steal your son. And if you think it’s bad, well, buster, you can bet it will grow worse. So you better start to organize, or empty out your purse!” Might have been a Charlie Best piece from a Year End / Year Begin skit in the 70’s is the best I can offer.  His top song at the time was “Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Organizers,” to the old Willie Nelson hit, but, hey, that was more than 30 years ago — let it go.  At least for the right though this is all fresh and lively news.  You figure.


– Oct 23, 2008

The Washington Times

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as ACORN, is under investigation by state and federal authorities for its voter registration drives.

Allegations are that ACORN’s get-out-the-vote efforts have produced thousands of fraudulent registrations. The probes are encouraging; America wouldn’t be in position to criticize other nations of ballot-stuffing if it permits the same at home. What’s most encouraging, though, is that House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio is calling for ACORN to be defunded. "The latest allegations of voter registration fraud by ACORN are further evidence that this group cannot be trusted with another dollar of the taxpayers’ money," he said.

ACORN helped make the term "affordable housing" a Washington staple. So as the roots of the financial crisis are laid bare, take a hard look at ACORN.

ACORN has its roots in the community-organization teachings of Saul Alinsky, who mobilized Chicago’s stockyard workers in the 1930s. The organization was founded as the Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now by Wade Rathke, a protege of George Wiley, the civil-rights activist who later engineered the Poor People’s Campaign with his founding of the National Welfare Reform Organization. After fighting for "motor-voter" registration in the 1990s, which allowed people to register to vote at departments of motor vehicles, ACORN began expanding its voter registration activities. Since 2004 it has come under scrutiny for producing thousands of fraudulent registrations, and 15 employees intent on exploiting their pay-per-registration policy to make money have been indicted or convicted of voter registration fraud. But it didn’t start out that way.

If the political left is an abstract concept for social justice and socialist sentiments, then ACORN is its avatar. ACORN’s work has been primarily focused on affordable housing for low-income families first through community activism to force improvements to public housing. The group initially wanted to also increase welfare, which it succeeded in doing in cities across the country during the 1970s and 1980s, but the effort ultimately proved to be a failure. The concentrated pockets of poverty that resulted led to overwhelming crime that knew no borders; the residents themselves became easy prey for the criminal drug culture.

In 1984, ACORN expanded widely, establishing chapters in a dozen cities and winning over poor and working-class members who took up the mantle for living wages and single-payer health care. ACORN also protested against insurance redlining issues. It also founded a political action committee and started radio stations and produced television programming. In 1991, ACORN began using its community organizing and protest activities to encourage homeownership, lobbying for banks to offer low-interest loans to people of limited financial means with little to no collateral. ACORN’s work to defeat the weakening of the Community Reinvestment Act in 1991 found members protesting in the halls of Congress. Those efforts spurred anew their activity in voter registration and grass-roots political work.


FOX News Poll: Most Americans Think There Will Be Extensive Voter Fraud

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

By Dana Blanton

Most Americans think there will be extensive voter fraud in the upcoming presidential election. A FOX News poll released Wednesday shows 60 percent think it is either "very" likely, 28 percent, or "somewhat" likely, 32 percent, there will be widespread fraud in voting this year, and 35 percent think it is unlikely.
Furthermore, nearly half, 47 percent, think if there is fraud it is more likely to favor Democrats, while just over a third thinks it will favor Republicans, 35 percent. In fact, 23 percent of Democrats think if voter fraud takes place it is more likely to favor their party, while 11 percent of Republicans think it would favor their candidates.
What concerns voters about allegations of misconduct with voter registration efforts? Slightly more voters say they are concerned because they think the election may be stolen (38 percent) than because their vote may not count, (32 percent).
The results come amid a scandal involving ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. According to the Associated Press, the FBI is looking into possible evidence of a nationwide effort by ACORN to commit voter registration fraud.
The poll finds that twice as many voters have a negative view of ACORN (37 percent) as have a favorable opinion of the organization (17 percent). Many voters either did not have an opinion (15 percent) or had never heard of the group (30 percent)
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 likely voters for FOX News from Oct. 20 to Oct.21. The poll has a 3-point error margin. "Likely voters" are registered voters who are considered more likely to vote in the November presidential election.
Many voters doubt the outcome of this year’s race for the White House will be known the night of the election. About a third of Americans (30 percent) think the outcome will be known the next day, 11 percent think it will take several days and 9 percent a week or longer. Just under half (47 percent) think the winner will be known that night.

"Margy the Teacher" Appreciated the ACORN Threat

By Michael J. Gaynor

Oct 24, 2008    

Obama has ACORN’s endorsement…and he deserves it. But Obama is not fit to be President of the United States.
“Margy the Teacher” knew what ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) was about back in the 1970’s.
Born in 1940, Margy is now a retired teacher and the owner and operator of a bed and breakfast.
Margy served on a local school board in Texas from 1978 to 1985 and took her responsibilities seriously.
In 1980, Margy testified before the Texas State Board of Education, objecting to a page about ACORN in a book titled “Comparing Political Behavior,” published by Prentice-Hall.
Margy had read the Houston Post, now defunct, and kept a copy of an article about ACORN published in the May 6, 1979 edition.
That article is titled “Group hopes to gain control of U.S. power” and begins with the ACORN recruiting song: “Aren’t you tired of seein’ the way that your own country’s being run? For the sake of Monster Profit, they would even steal your son. And if you think it’s bad, well, buster, you can bet it will grow worse. So you better start to organize, or empty out your purse!”
The lead sentence of the article reported: “ACORN organizers are taught to be ever aware their goal is to create a massive political pressure group which ultimately will take over the full operation of this country–for the benefit of ‘low-to-moderate-income’ Americans.
Former ACORN organizer and trainer Obama is indeed “The One” ACORN wants to put in the White House.
The article quoted from a 40-page booklet, Community Organizing: Handbook 2,” issued in 1977 by the Arkansas Institute for Social Justice and drawn “particularly from the ACORN model.”
The ACORN philosophy is stated unambiguously: “Behind the organization’s concern with these issues is a basic understanding which says that all these issues are mere manifestations of a much more fundamental issue: The distribution of power in this country.”
The article describes issues as “vehicle[s] toward the[e] goal,” and the goal as “building power through the organization of a low-to-moderate income majority.”


“One of the more candid discussions of ACORN’s involvement in electoral politics is found in the reminscence of John Beam who coordinated the efforts of the justices of the peace ACORN was instrumental in electing to the Pulaski County Arkansas Quorum Court, the budget-making body the handbook calls the country’s largest legislative body.
“Beam noted that the 175 ACORN endorsees who were elected had the potential for real power as the court–whose membership has since been shrunk considerably–frequently had trouble assembling a quorum of 234 members.
“‘The task for the members, leaders and staff of ACORN was to translate this potential into some sort change…The ACORN members elected elected to the court were not experienced politicians. Their legislative skills ranged from minimal PTA sophistication to functional illiteracy. What they shared in common was a loyalty to ACORN and its version of a fairer deal for low to moderate income people.”
In April 1979, ACORN advertised for organizers in “Mother Jones,” a magazine named after “[p]ioneer socialist Mary Harris ‘Mother’ Jones,” on the same page as the Marxist Guardian, the Anarchist Cookbook and “readable radical scholarship” were advertised.
That textbook to which “Margy the Teacher” objected had a full “ACORN and Citizenship” page lauding ACORN, deeming 1970 “memorable” because Wade Rathke and others organized ACORN, and concluding: “Does your community have an organization similar to ACORN? If it does, briefly describe the organization and what it has accomplished. If there is no such organization in your community, think about whether one is needed and the kinds of concerns it could tackle.”
“Margy the Teacher” also objected to a high school government textbook titled American Political Behavior that recommended Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, an ACORN bible.
Mr. Alinsky actually suggested using blacks as “natural stink bombs” so that
“[t]he law would be completely paralyzed.”
From p. 128 of Rules for Radicals: “I suggested that we might buy one hundred seats for one of Rochester’s symphony concerts. We would select a concert in which the music was relatively quiet. The hundred blacks who would be given the tickets would first be treated to a three-hour pre-concert dinner in the community, in which they would be fed nothing but baked beans, and lots of them; then the people would go to the symphony hall–with obvious consequences. Imagine the scene when the action began! The concert would be over before the first movement! (If this be a Freudian slip–so be it!)”
The last sentence on p. 138 opined that if Alinsky’s "natural stink bomb" attack were to be executed, "[t]he law would be completely paralyzed."
No wonder Obama has ACORN’s endorsement.
Obama deserves it.

But Obama is not fit to be President of the United States.