What happens when an ACORN is buried?

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After showing how the trivial ACORN sting videos became a "major story" after a week of ricocheting around the conservative media echo chamber, Media Matters detailed the "misleading, incomplete" coverage by noting that "the conservative media had a few isolated facts but were willing to extrapolate an entire thesis from them:"

...all three network evening news broadcasts -- ABC's World News, NBC's Nightly News, and the CBS Evening News -- left out substantive facts about the incidents that mitigate the accusations, exonerate ACORN employees, or undermine the credibility of the filmmakers. Moreover, none reported that Fox News, in its aggressive promotion of this story, had made false accusations.

Anonymous Liberal observed that "You Can Tell a Lot About People By Who They Choose to Demonize:"

That the GOP and its conservative supporters would single out this particular organization for such intense demonization is telling. In September of last year, the entire world came perilously close to complete financial catastrophe. We're still not out of the woods and we're deep within one of the worst recessions in U.S. history. This situation was brought about by the recklessness and greed of our banks and financial institutions, most of which had to be bailed out at enormous cost to the American taxpayer (exponentially more than all of the tax dollars given to ACORN over the years). The people who brought about this near catastrophe, for the most, profited immensely from it. These very same institutions, propped up by the American taxpayer, are once again raking in large profits.

But rather than focus their anger on these folks, conservatives choose to go after an organization composed almost entirely of low-paid community organizers, an organization that could never hope to have even a small fraction of the clout or the ability to affect the overall direction of the country that Wall Street bankers have.

Digby has some comments at Hullabaloo, noting that "important not to throw in the towel and grant the conservative ratfuckers the moral high ground." Glenn Greenwald's Salon piece, "The Distracting Benefits of ACORN Hysteria," provides some much-needed perspective:

ACORN has received a grand total of $53 million in federal funds over the last 15 years -- an average of $3.5 million per year. Meanwhile, not millions, not billions, but trillions of dollars of public funds have been, in the last year alone, transferred to or otherwise used for the benefit of Wall Street. Billions of dollars in American taxpayer money vanished into thin air, eaten by private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, led by Halliburton subsidiary KBR. [...]

So with this massive pillaging of America's economic security and the control of American government by its richest and most powerful factions growing by the day, to whom is America's intense economic anxiety being directed? To a non-profit group that devotes itself to providing minute benefits to people who live under America's poverty line, and which is so powerless in Washington that virtually the entire U.S. Senate just voted to cut off its funding at the first sign of real controversy -- could anyone imagine that happening to a key player in the banking or defense industry?

Apparently, the problem for middle-class and lower-middle-class Americans is not that their taxpayer dollars are going to prop up billionaires, oligarchs and their corrupt industries. It's that America's impoverished -- a group that is growing rapidly -- is getting too much, has too much power and too little accountability.

This is why I try to ignore right-wing "news" items like this; avoiding the distraction helps one focus on much more interesting things occurring behind the curtain. In this case, as Greenwald mentions, "The issue is one of proportion:"

If someone ostensibly opposes government waste and unfairness in tax policy yet spends most of their time focusing on a tiny group that helps the poor and receives a miniscule amount of government money -- all while ignoring or even revering the enormous, omnipotent industries which eat up trillions in taxpayer waste and dwarf the impact of ACORN by many, many magnitudes -- then any rational person would question what the real motives are... [...] Claiming you're worried about large government and taxpayer waste while fixating on ACORN proves the insincerity of the ostensible concern...

Congress has since seen fit to de-fund ACORN, but this HuffPo piece points out a little problem with their sledgehammer tactics:

The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to "any organization" that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.

In other words, the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex. Whoops.

Anonymous Liberal notes that "The GOP's obsession with optics over substance is also on full display here:"

In their rush to capture headlines and grandstand, they didn't bother to consider what the law they were proposing would actually do. Everything is a game, including the lawmaking process.

And the Democrats didn't exactly bathe themselves in glory here either. Rather than reject a hastily thrown together and poorly thought out bill, most of them took the path of least resistance and voted for the bill. It was a perfect demonstration of the kind of fecklessness and political cowardice that pervades the Democratic caucus.

Washington Monthly echoes Greenwald's assessment:

The next question, of course, is why ACORN's problems with voter-registration materials are extremely important, while Lockheed Martin's and Northrop Gumman's bad habits are not only considered uninteresting -- to conservatives, to lawmakers, to news outlets -- but largely verboten as a topic of conversation.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on September 23, 2009 1:38 PM.

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