Saul Alinsky

ACORN's Original Sin

Critics of the expiring activist group say it was driven by the vision of Saul Alinsky. If only that were true.

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The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as ACORN, will shut its doors as a national operation next week. A wellspring of activism for four decades, the left-wing group has gotten more attention lately for a series of scandals, from an embarrassing embezzlement case at the top of the organization to the hidden-camera videos that captured low-level employees doling out advice on how to operate a brothel without raising red flags at the IRS. Republicans hated the group, which they loved to link to the ideas of the veteran activist Saul Alinsky, a demon figure on the right. But the primary problem with the organization—a trouble running deeper than either corruption or ideology, one with lessons for grassroots activists across the political spectrum—is that ACORN wasn't Alinskyan enough. It may have emerged from the community organizing tradition that Alinsky helped to found, but it also rejected some of his most important advice.

You wouldn't guess that from reading most of ACORN's conservative critics. Phyllis Schlafly has called the association a "Saul Alinsky-style group," while Human Events described it as "the radical group that directly applies Saul Alinsky's tactics." An article in National Review claimed that "ACORN follows the Saul Alinsky model." Meanwhile, ACORN's own founder is prone to praising the man and clearly regards him as an influence.

But while ACORN learned from Alinsky's confrontational style, there's an important difference between the Alinsky model and the ACORN model. As the liberal writer Harry Boyte put it in his 2004 book Everyday Politics, Alinsky thought the best way to build political power was to "create an organization of existing community institutions," such as churches and neighborhood associations. ACORN, meanwhile, "avoided organizing through institutions and sought out previously disconnected community residents"; as a result it was "plagued by rapid turnover in leadership and transcience of affiliates." The group's central tactic was door-to-door canvassing—to the point where, in Boyte's view, "the canvass has become the tail that wags the dog. Narrowly scripted issue campaigns come to dominate, while the more complex, vital work of public leadership development and the creation of sustainable local cultures of civic engagement disappears." The canvassers, meanwhile, were overworked and poorly paid, and on at least one occasion went on strike. Until the recent scandals hit, ACORN was best known in some circles for being the group that worked to raise the minimum wage but didn't want to pay the minimum wage to its own employees.

The organization did its share of bona fide local activism: helping a neighborhood get a traffic light or a speed limit sign, winning funds for a park cleanup, reminding residents of their rights when encountering the police, demanding compensation for the occupants of an RV park being displaced by a city redevelopment plan. But that didn't mean the locals were in the driver's seat. In her recent book Organizing Urban America, the Rutgers political scientist Heidi Swarts notes that ACORN "relies heavily on its national staff for research, strategic planning, and a unified national direction"; while local members "pick neighborhood-level issues that they care about," the professional organizers "exert more influence on city and national campaigns." Thus, though decision-making authority theoretically rests with the grassroots, "in practice, most power emanates from the center." That isn't a new development. In 1980's The Backyard Revolution, Boyte described ACORN in terms much more glowing than the ones he would use in 2004. But he also quoted a staffer on a problem that was already emerging: "The temptation is to use the membership as mouthpieces while the staff does the real work. The membership falls hopelessly behind the staff in political knowledge and skill so that when the organizers present their plans members are in no position to formulate their own programs. What does it mean to advocate democracy to the outside world, but not tend to its practice inside?tag=reasonfoundation-20"

Why did ACORN reject the Alinsky approach? Partly because of the group's rural origins (the A in ACORN originally stood for "Arkansas"): You face a different institutional environment in dispersed small towns than in the urban neighborhoods that shaped Alinsky. There was also a belief that, as a 1973 ACORN manual put it, "Community leaders always bring the past history of the area with them. Our purpose is always to organize against that past history." ACORN additionally argued that the most powerless people weren't a part of the mediating institutions that Alinsky favored—an excuse that would have been more persuasive if the group had a stronger history of helping the disadvantaged create new institutions of their own.

And then there was the association's ability to draw on outside sources of support. ACORN's members paid dues to the organization, but it also received grants from foundations, unions, corporations—and the government. For nearly all of its history, ACORN was subsidized by Washington.

The federal funds were an aftereffect of the Great Society, when dollars flowed from the Office of Equal Opportunity to militant community organizations (including some, such as The Woodlawn Organization in Chicago, that owed their origins to Alinsky). Many organizers felt this alliance would help give the poor themselves some say in how the War on Poverty would be fought. More often it had the opposite effect: It made the activists more receptive to political and bureaucratic agendas and less accountable to the people they supposedly represented. (A study someone should write: Compare the experiences of left-wing groups getting OEO money in the '60s and '70s to the experiences of right-wing groups getting money from the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in the Bush era.) ACORN started taking subsidies in 1970, the very year it was founded. It was cut off briefly when the conservative firebrand Howard Phillips took over the OEO in 1973, but that didn't last long.

The full amount of the government's support for ACORN is under dispute, and it isn't always easy to follow the group's corporate, union, and foundation money either. But the more a community organization depends on outside cash, the less beholden it is to the community it says it is organizing—especially if it isn't constrained by ties to indigenous institutions. If the organizers are sufficiently corrupt or careless, they may find themselves beholden to the grantmakers instead. (Alinsky took his share of foundation grants too, but the structure of his organizations helped keep the decision-making power at the grassroots. So did his principle that the groups should move as quickly as possible toward being self-sustaining.) ACORN knew how to play hardball with its sponsors, at one point extracting donations from J.P. Morgan and Chase Manhattan while the two banks' merger was up for review, in what amounted to an agreement to refrain from causing trouble. But that doesn't mean the activists were always in command.

Consider one recent financial relationship. As my colleague Damon Root has reported, ACORN allied itself with Bruce Ratner, the real estate and sports tycoon who is using eminent domain to seize and demolish private homes and small businesses in Brooklyn, allowing him to build a 22-acre development called the Atlantic Yards. Under other circumstances, ACORN might have fought against this sort of mass eviction, but in this case the group agreed to lend Ratner its "political might" and "political cover." (The phrases come from ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, in an interview with the Regional Labor Review.) In exchange, Ratner would include some allegedly affordable housing in the plan, which ACORN would (quite profitably) help to operate. Perhaps more importantly, Ratner gave the group $1.5 million at a time when it was desperately short of cash. The results, Root writes, included "large numbers of noisy ACORN members present at every Atlantic Yards public hearing, press conference, and media event—including an August 2006 event trumpeting 'community support' for the project where Bertha Lewis acted as MC."

Atlantic Yards is the sort of state-corporate partnership that earlier generations of community organizers fought against, bringing pastors and housewives and union men and business owners together to stop the threat to their homes. Saul Alinsky battled urban renewal plans in neighborhoods ranging from Woodlawn in Chicago to Chelsea in New York. Whatever flaws you might find in Alinsky's political vision, I can't imagine him endorsing Ratner's land grab.

Alinsky, after all, was always a decentralist at heart. He distrusted government planners, and while he was by no means opposed to redistribution in itself he was an acute critic of the welfare state as it functioned in practice. He regularly denounced "welfare colonialism," and in one speech he described LBJ's poverty program as "a huge political pork barrel and a feeding trough for the welfare industry, surrounded by sanctimonious, hypocritical, phony, moralistic crap." Above all, he argued that political action had to be driven by the people directly affected, not by professionals—including professional activists—acting on their behalf. If ACORN really followed the Alinsky model, it would have been on the other side of the barricades in Brooklyn. But then, if it followed the Alinsky model, it would have been a different group entirely.

Jesse Walker is managing editor of Reason magazine.

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  1. Good Morning Reason. Oh, that’s not my line…

    1. It’s always 5:43 A.M. somewhere in the world, Jimmy.

  2. If ACORN really followed the Alinsky model, it would have been on the other side of the barricades in Brooklyn.

    If they took Alinsky as a model, they’d have been paid by Ratner and the city to misdirect and thwart the rage on the other side of the barricades. That’s how they used to do it. Got cocky.

    1. The article strikes me as true but slightly nitpicky. So ACORN fell prey to the eternal law of bureaucracies: working more for itself than for its stated mission. That doesn’t mean the conservative critics are wrong to link it with Alinsky. The fact that every communist government of the 20th century departed in significant ways from Marx doesn’t mean it’s wrong to call them “Marxist.”

  3. “if ACORN had followed the Alinsky model more closely, it never would have ended up in a position where it would side with a wealthy developer over the neighborhood he’s eliminating via eminent domain.”

    Who you callin’ stupid?

  4. God bless them, they were doing God’s work.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    1. Never forget!!

  5. A great article; this stuff is Pulitzer Prize material. All mockery and joking aside, Alinsky was a true decentralist. Very much “power to the people”.

  6. Come on, fighting eminent domain abuse? Alinsky sounds swell to me! (I own a copy of Rules for Radicals)

    Of course, the comment boards are crawling with conservatives.

    1. Why does someone have to have power? When power goes to the people as a collective you get the tyranny of the majority. When it is in the hands of a few, it is also abused. Maybe no one having power is the best way to go. If everyone were allowed to decide how to live their own lives, only the power hungry would suffer and to that I say “Tough shit.”

      1. What did Alinsky have to say about ownership of private property, or of the free market?

        I’m not gonna read his screed, so I don’t know for sure, but I’d say he didn’t like either concept, then or now.

        1. Well, it good that your willing to form an opinion without an knowledge (other then vague stereotypes of leftist).
          His main thing was helping poor blacks (I know, the fiend!).

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Alinsky

          1. Nice of you to insinuate racism on my part, “liberty”.

      2. Why does someone have to have power?

        Because someone will have power, whether you like it or not. There’s always gonna be someone with a bigger gun and fewer scruples about liberty. The best system anyone has come up with is democracy, and anything else is rule by a minority, all forms of which are tyrannical.

        1. democracy? feseriously? you gonna run w/ that shit?

          1. Don’t confuse freedom with democracy, Ransom.

        2. “There’s always gonna be someone with a bigger gun and fewer scruples about liberty.”

          Thanks for summing up the Rs and Ds, Tony.

      3. Regarding power- there are or seem to be a small minority of people that just need to tell people what to do. Conservatives feel the best way to control this is a republic. Liberals ( or me ) feel we should solve problems on an ad hoc basis, but you still need folks to reprisent us to the ” others/ them ” out there. Sadly the first major institution to do this was military If there was a world wide rejection of military service about 95 % of the problem of the world would be solved- even it the USA military adopted a science component to their mission ( a la star trek ) it would reduce lots of problems-No i am not blaming America first but we like to brag about how cool we are . Heck even Sean Penn complimented the military response over in Hati. So if military missions were changed over to rapid respnse relief forces and science driven lots of power would disappate or something like that. heh i am only a junior college graduate but the Ivy league had screwed this world up long enough power to the drop outs and self educated!

    1. That never gets old man.

    2. ACORN claims to have registered 900,000 voters in its history and they would have incentive to pad the total.

      Assume 1/2 voted in 2008 – effect = nil.

      1. I won by 312 votes.

      2. You hate Breitbart but defend ACORN. God you are a leftist troll.

        1. No, idiot. I am saying ACORN is irrelevant.

          Good riddance. I hope they go away.

          They are another right-wing idiot conspiracy theory for GOP failure.

          “They comin’ to git mah guns!”

          The GOP redneck vote is withering – you fool.

          You can only go “God Guns and Gay” for only so long.

          1. I agree. The redneck vote isn’t really worth a damn. Personally, I have contempt for both the left and the right.

            1. To shrike, right-of-center = redneck.

              1. Not true.

                Republicans I like –

                Lincoln Chaffee
                William Weld
                Warren Rudman
                Christie Wittman
                The Governator

                Its the SoCon asshole theocrats I hate.

                1. So you really do like democrats a bunch? None of those guys has the whole “fiscally conservative” part of the libertarian-simplification of fiscally conservative/socially liberal down.

                  1. The Republicans don’t have the social liberalism thing down; that makes them far worse. Look, it’s a better situation to have a government that is wasting money like crazy, but not trammelling on your liberty. You at least are able to complain. In the reverse situation, you are unable to do a damn thing about it.

                    1. That’s only true if the liberty being trampled is expressive, and the Democrats take any excuse they can to limit that to the opposition voices too (in the name of “fairness” or “tolerance” or “truth”, or “preventing corruption”, of course). There are civil libertarians on the left, but there are also plenty of civil libertarians on the right. No side has a monopoly on good or evil there. There’s much more of a right/left skew when it comes to sexual or economic freedom.

                      Fact is, “wasting money” is one thing, and controlling large parts of the resources that govern everyone’s quality of life is another thing entirely. There’s a reason that any nation where the government acquired massive economic power also experienced a massive loss of most other liberties — it’s pretty hard to have freedom of the press when the government literally or effectively owns all the presses, and it’s pretty much downhill from there given that they can attach any number of strings to any number of essential goods and services. They’re like the worst megacorporate monopoly times a thousand.

                    2. “Look, it’s a better situation to have a government that is wasting money like crazy, but not trammelling on your liberty.”

                      Not when the wasteful spending is contributing to so many people being out of work. And let’s not forget that much of this wasteful spedning is infringing on our ECONOMIC liberty, which is just as important as our SOCIAL liberty.

                  2. Ever hear of the Gramm-Rudman Act?

                    I thought not.

    3. Two observations:
      1. Joe REALLY was the entertainment of the thread. All the others pale in comparison (maybe MNG).

      2. I think I may actually be liking threaded comments (OHH THE HORROR!!! I spent a decent amount of time bashing them but after a while they seem to have grown on me).

      Joe, the rational thinker.

    4. I guess joe just cares more about democracy than you do, SugarFree.

  7. “Am I the only one who doesn’t read many of the emails I get announcing no-doubt fabulous things going on around my campus?”

    Yikes! I hadn’t heard that one. Thank God for Jesse, a real journalist.

    1. I think you may have quoted the wrong article there, Lester.

  8. Alinsky was a cynically manipulative schmuck. Machiavelli would have been proud to have written Rules for Radicals.

    1. Do I smell a hint of jealousy? Besides, the book has good advice. As well as The Prince.

  9. Why does someone have to have power? When power goes to the people as a collective you get the tyranny of the majority. When it is in the hands of a few, it is also abused. Maybe no one having power is the best way to go. If everyone were allowed to decide how to live their own lives, only the power hungry would suffer and to that I say “Tough shit.”

    Quoted for motherfucking truth.

  10. Does anyone know what site joe has taken over since Epi drove him out of here and he took his 300 comments per day with him? I want to go there and see how he’s doing.

  11. You just made Glenn Beck cry again – you godless Marxist.

    1. *laughs* I’d like to see him eat a hot pepper on TV. Then we can see real tears.

  12. Alinsky is an interesting and misunderstood guy. As Jesse points out above, he hated the poverty industry and the limousine liberals. For that reason, I can’t say he was all bad.

    1. He was a leftist in the mold of Eugene V. Debs; genuinely motivated by the plight of the poor against the powers that be. For that, he deserves some respect.

      1. I agree. I totally disagree with his politics. But I have to respect him for that.

      2. genuinely motivated by the plight of the poor against the powers that be

        How do you know this? How can you tell that they were not simply using the rhetoric of “the poor” or “the worker” to advance their own personal power?

        Since economic freedom has historically done much more for the “plight of the poor” than any kind of coercive government, it appears to me that they were either considerably uneducated or not “motivated by the plight of the poor” at all, but personal power.

        Seriously, why do you believe that they were true believers?

        1. Some of them were. Not all of them. But some of them were. Granted, they stupid and utterly mistaken. But I wouldn’t put bad motives behind all of them. Most maybe, but not all.

        2. Often times, when people do bad things, they don’t think it is wrong. Everyone always thinks they’re doing the right thing.

          1. genuinely motivated by the plight of the poor against the powers that be. For that, he deserves some respect.

            Often times, when people do bad things, they don’t think it is wrong. Everyone always thinks they’re doing the right thing.

            I agree with the second comment, which makes me disagree with the first. Neither Debs nor Alinsky did things that actually increased individual liberty. They did many things that increased their own personal power. Their intentions, impossible for me to divine, are irrelevant. What tyrant doesn’t claim his actions as for “the people”?

          2. That’s overstating. People act according to their desires. Those desires include wanting to not do something morally wrong, but it’s only part of the equation.

        3. Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.

          1. This is one of my favorite quotes/sayings.

    2. Hey! I made the fucking trains run on time!

      1. A common myth. Over enthusiastic PR guys?

  13. Does anyone know what site joe has taken over since Epi drove him out of here and he took his 300 comments per day with him?

    Sweet’n’Low reported a sighting over at Yglesias’ blog yesterday.

    I want to go there and see how he’s doing.

    No, you don’t.

  14. I haven’t read Alinsky’s book or made any real attempt to study him, therefore I feel perfectly free to denounce him as the communist freak he was. And so should you.

    1. Is that you Joe McCarthy? Take a chill pill man.

      1. Tristan you are a victim of sarcasm.

        1. Guess so!

    2. You can kill two birds with one stone by reading Hillary Rodham’s senior thesis on Alinsky. Like her or not, HRC is perceptive and intelligent and her writing is not bad.

      Rodham’s paper is out there on the internets at various sites. Google it yourself or just use:
      http://www.hillaryclintonquart…..Thesis.pdf

      By reading this paper, one learns all one needs to know about Alinsky and and quite a bit about Clinton at the same time.

      And, it confirms your notion that Alinsky was a small “c” communist. So are Obama and Clinton. They just extol the wonderfulness of community rather than the ideology of communism because it sounds nicer.

  15. Actually, Joe was responsible for my moving more into the libertarian camp. His arguments always came down to the common good excusing any trampling of the individual, which hardened my resolve.

    1. Kind of like Tony.

    2. Same here. Even when I *agreed* with him on certain topics, he’d then tell me to fuck off and veer into far-left territory where I won’t go. There’s nothing like an arrogant, know-it-all, talkative lefty when it comes to showing you where you’ve been wrong all this time.

      1. I don’t recall Joe ever saying a kind word to those who agreed with him or denouncing the leftist trolls on this board.

        He only wanted to argue.

  16. Greg Gutfeld is dead on: ACORN isn’t going away, it’s merely going to find itself another shell.

    1. Until you destroy the ring, the shadow will always return.

    2. Greg Gutfeld is a slightly less sociopath version of Bratbitch.

      1. You hate all libertarians but somehow still claim to be one.

        1. Just like you hate Bill Maher – another “libertarian” – who supported McCain in 2000.

          Face it – the Bushpigs changed everything.

          Civil liberties, social freedom, anti-war, small gov types hated the Bush Pig.

          You lick his splooge off your chin while begging for scraps in the tax code.

          1. Bush is gone, shrike. Take a deep breath and realize that it’s OK to hate the new asshole, too.

            1. Take a deep breath and realize that it’s OK to hate the new asshole, too.

              He can’t. His head is buried to far inside that very same asshole

              1. If you hate Obama and Bush? Good.

                I just want to stick a fork in the grill of numbnuts like John who denies the anti-liberty reality of the Bushpigs.

                1. The difference between Obama and Bush is the difference between 95% wrong and about 70% wrong. The first quantity is accurate +/-5%; the latter quantity is only accurate +/-25%. It’s hard to say. Anyway, both suck.

          2. You are just pissed that your side has managed to produce a worse President. And if you are so pissed at Bush, I would think you might be bothered to be pissed at Obama for continuing all of his policies along with others that are much worse.

            You are just a liberal troll Shrike. Worse than Tony. At least Tony is honest about who he is.

            1. Worse than Bushy-boy?

              You’re insane.

              Mr. 23% is a new market low.

              Dow/S&P up 20% since the Bush disaster left office.

              And in eight years? Bush shat all over the market – dragging it lower.

              Spending? Bush pushed it way up.

              Debt, disaster, war, lying, corruption, – you Bushpigs win all the prizes.

              1. I agree!

              2. “you Bushpigs”

                Fuck off, shrike. You and that cuntbag you call president now, AND Bush AND McCain AND either of the Clintons… ad infinitum.

                1. Oh, and shrike… FYI, Bush Version 1.0 sucked, too. In fact, I can credit him for opening my eyes to the Libertarian Party… which means at least he had one good quality.

                  “Thousand points of light”, my ass.

              3. You’re making shit up Shrike. Nobody is going to listen to your shit when it’s just hate filled venom.

                You sound like Keith Olberdumb.

              4. Come on, shrike. The disaster in US capital markets was a bipartisan project. Ever hear of Fannie and Freddie?

                Anyway, since when did American “liberals” ever care about the stock market?

          3. Back in 2000, Bill Maher was actually sort of libertarian. And he only liked McCain because back then McCain was pissing off the social cons in the primary. As soon as he had to patch things up, Maher would have deserted him.

            1. How did Maher change?

              It wouldn’t be Bush the Lesser, could it?

              Conservatives are in denial.

              Bush was a fucking disaster – chasing away all types from Hitchens to Bartlett and Libertarian at Reason.

              1. Again, you are right. The PATRIOT Act was more unlibertarian than the health care bill. Jesus, I thought my fellow libertarians would understand that now.

                1. You really think idiots like Maher care about the Patriot Act? They would cheer Obama if he jailed Muslim in the country. They just didn’t like white conservatives doing it. Where are all the ‘repeal the Patriot Act’ people now?

                  1. Of course Maher does – since he regularly breaks the law.

                    And Islam? Fuck that type of conservatism too.

                    1. Hey shithead. I doubt it.

                      Bill Maher wouldn’t dare to insult Islam.

                      He have white guilt shits over his face.

                      What do you think about this video?

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

                2. And the progressives/librals voted to keep the PATRIOT Act add health care pass the stimulus and are working on cap and trade… also no one here is for the lesser of two evils.

                3. The so-called PATRIOT Act was also a bipartisan project.

                  Senate Vote Count
                  YEAs 98
                  NAYs 1
                  Not Voting 1

                  House Vote Count
                  YEAs 357
                  NAYs 66
                  Not Voting 9

                  Obama has nothing to repeal it, but has instead re-inforced it.

        2. He’s one-a them big-government libertarians.

      2. Greg Gutfeld is a slightly less sociopath version of Bratbitch.

        But at least he’s had Nick Gillespie as a guest on his show, which is more than any of your buddies at MSNBC would ever do.

    3. Gutfield and I must think alike.

  17. I guess joe just cares more about democracy than you do, SugarFree.

    More than you care about accuracy in your attributions, shitcock. My pancreas is pissed that you would mistake me for him.

    1. That wasn’t a response to you, fuckbatter. That was a general pean to the spirit of SugarFree, you oozing ass-sore.

    2. The cold causes shrinkage!

  18. Warty, like everything else you’ve ever tried in life, your attempt at saving face is a dog’s breakfast of laughability and failure.

    1. That’s not very nice, you foul little cretin. There’ll be no saving your face when my chimpanzees rip it the fuck off. Queer.

  19. My car-eating dogs will make short work of your chimps, ass-pirate. And don’t think i’ve forgotten our blood feud. You’ll wear the blood eagle yet.

    1. My car-eating dogs will make short work of your chimps

      What the fuck is this, some barely-concealed racist code? You sicken me, you ugly, seersucker-wearing, octroon prick.

  20. IMO, the tipping point started when ACORN got their first taxpayer-sourced dollar.

    Then again, that’s the usual moment when everything starts going horribly wrong…

    1. Blackwater actually murdered people and got orders of magnitude more government money than ACORN.

      Of course, when you think recruiting minority votes IS a bigger threat to society than shooting people in the head, the selective outrage makes sense.

      1. Again, when one puts that in perspective, Blackwater was far worse. I sometimes toy with this conspiracy theory: Republicans, noticing that the libertarian vote was turning against them in droves, cooked up this attack on ACORN in order to turn our attention away from their abuses. Bread and circuses.

        1. I don’t think they were thinking of libertarians at all, I think they wanted to destroy a big minority voter recruitment organization.

          1. Guess that’s what happens when one’s constituencies are racist peckerwoods.

          2. The “minority vote” is destroyed anytime they follow a party line instead of voting by the canadit just like how the “black vote” went to republicans until the civil rights movement.
            Politicians are politicians the party is just which talking points they use.

      2. And given that both got those wonderful taxpayer sourced dollars, you’ve essentially proven the point. Both organizations are fucked.

      3. Come on now, Tony. I’m still trying to figure out if the descrepencies in what you’ve told us about yourself indicate, my guess you’re either 12 maybe 14 years of age or suffering some form of hypogonadic disorder that’s stunted your emotional maturity, either way you can’t be that stupid. You know damn well ACORN did much more that.

      4. You don’t honestly think Blackwater “murdered” innocent people for fun, do you? You can make an argument against private security forces, but blackwatger and ACORN are apples and oranges, IMO.

        I’m not white. What’s one significant thing that ACORN has done for me? Registering minorities to vote? What, Asians and Latinos can’t take advantage of internet resources? We can’t visit the local libraries to pick up forms in their own language? We need groups like this to receive millions of federal subsidy so they can stage protests, break into foreclosed homes, and offer tax advice to fake pimps? If I grabbed a random Vietnamese in the OC and asked him about ACRON, he couldn’t tell me a thing about the organization. Trust me, we’re more resourceful than you think.

        Please, I don’t want statists to blow any more money in my name. Minority politicians and their little empowerment / diversity projects achieve very little of anything. I detest the diverse group of clowns that are sinking California.

        Yes, ACORN and other nanny state acts pale in scale of the war in Iraq or other Bush mistakes. “Oh what about George Bush and the last eight years” is the left’s ready made defense against any criticism of the current admin. But if we allow the left’s expansion of the government just to avoid a sense of double standard, we’ll go broke pretty soon.

        Wars, unlike entitlement programs, eventually END. I expect Obama to keep his words about withdrawl. But this new healthcare bill is a gift that will keep on giving, right along with Medicare.

        1. Look, if we pull the double standard, that will bite us back in the end. There are bigger fish to fry.

      5. Did I *say* Blackwater deserved government money, Tony?

        No, I didn’t, so shut the fuck up with your implied racism on my part.

  21. Could we please stop recycling that awful james o keefe garbage? That video was a hoax?a scandal that wasn’t, perpetrated by the worst wingnuts around.

    1. That’s news to me. Anything on Snopes?

      1. not that I know of, but there’s a half-hearted retraction of the story covering the video on the new york times at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03…..ml?src=twr . Additional defenses of ACORN and accusations at O’Keefe can be found at liberal blogs (digbysblog , bradblog), but I doubt they’d be of much interest to anyone here until they get picked up and examined by more disinterested journalists.

        1. As far as I know, the only retractions involve reporters who got the impression that O’Keefe showed up in ACORN’s office in that gaudy pimp get-up. He actually wore normal clothes, though he didn’t correct journalists who saw him in the pimp costume and got the wrong idea. That doesn’t leave me very impressed with O’Keefe, but it doesn’t change the basic story either.

          There have been some efforts to argue that he didn’t really tell the ACORN workers that the business he was asking their advice about was a brothel. But the transcripts of the videos very clearly show that he did. I know there was some overdubbing on at least one of the videos, but I haven’t seen anyone make the case that the dialogue in question was faked — if you’ve seen that, please pass it along.

          Weigel has a bit more about the issue here.

          1. I’m sure his failure to correct journalists on the fact that he didn’t wear that awful minstrel show getup in the actual offices was purely a mistake. Silly me! I thought he was a race baiting partisan scumbag who should be dismissed out of hand!

            Never mind that the unedited transcripts were what exonerated acorn in the end (just in this instance though. I agree with the thesis of your article, I just have a bone to pick with anyone who gives breitbart & o’keefe the smallest inkling of legitimacy)

            I could comb through the transcripts and cite excerpts, but acorn do well enough for themselves here, in an appropriately yet haphazardly named pdf document
            http://www.acorn.org/fileadmin…..cperts.pdf

            1. Like I said, O’Keefe’s failure to correct reporters about his pimp costume does not leave me impressed with him.

              But that ACORN document is really unconvincing. If you read the entire transcripts (or at least the Baltimore and D.C. ones; I haven’t read them all) you’ll see it become obvious that he’s talking about, yes, getting her away from her old pimp, but also continuing her work as a prostitute. Go to the D.C. transcript, for example, and scroll down to page 13.

            2. Nice cock-and-bull story you got there on that ACORN propaganda sheet, a(ss)oh! Too bad the videos themselves are still quite available to be viewed and seen as the proof they are that you and your commie cronies are all lying as usual.

              Here’s an autobiography of a famous confidence man which is about as truthful as just about anything any of your child-prostitution supporting pedophile butt buddies over at ACORN ever said.

              1. The Red Scare ended years ago, numbnut. You can calm down now.

                Please leave now, little conservative. The grown-ups are trying to have a conservation.

                1. At least with the conservatives you get a half ass attempt to follow rhetoric, liberals have majority and cant stop spending long enough to pass civil liberty legislation? not only that but you continue all the bad practices of bush…

      2. O’Keefe put in a guilty plea today.

        Really – a plea bargain.

        Bratbitch should serve time – he put the shitfuck up to his crimes.

        But Andrew is a fucking GOP god now like the Rush Redneck.

        1. Fuck you. O’Keefe and Breitbart are the real journalists and you’re a fucking statist totalitarian smear merchant. Simply being a witch-hunting leftard like you ought to be grounds for execution on charges of treason. As it is, O’Keefe was NEVER EVER EVER EVER accused of a “wiretapping scheme” as your fucking libelous “journalist” presstitutes at the Washington Compost, MSDNC, the Traitor Prick Morons, Cock & Bull Shit, the Assholiated Presstitutes, Asshole Sullivan, and SLIME magazine asserted.

          As it is, you’re still fucking lying; the only bullshit you cuntwaffle commies were able to make stick to O’Keefe and company was that “entering a building under false pretenses” bullshit. Every MSDNC presstitute you leftards worship is guilty of THAT: they go to their “news” buildings every morning on the pretense that they’re real reporters! Now fuck off and die, shrieker; O’Keefe will be back out there busting your child-molesting commie asses in no time.

          1. Again, where are all you conservatives coming from? Don’t you have the The Corner or some shit like that?

            1. huffington post called for you, they miss you!

              1. You assume I am liberal? I’m a libertarian; I’m against liberals and conservatives.

                1. I’m against liberals

                  Not that I have ever seen. You repeat almost everything that they say, parroting the Leftist troll shriek. The simple fact that you believe that we were worse off with Bush and the war than we are with Obama and the war AND socialized medicine doesn’t exactly lead a person to think that you are “against liberals”.

                  1. shriek is not a left troll. I’m not a fan of the health care thing, but I try to keep a sense of perspective. This whole health care thing will blow over, the war won’t.

                    1. I am not saying I know what you think, only what it appears from your posts.

                      Why would the health care thing blow over but the war never end? Since you are clearly not part of the fighting wouldn’t the one that cost more money be worse? How does a volunteer army fighting affect you, other than monetary costs? The list of negative effects to each individual in this country from HCR is extensive, at least to the libertarian ideal of individual Liberty.

                      And yes, shriek is a Leftist troll. Perhaps you should spend some time at HuffPo? Read the comments there and see how many with which you agree. I would be surprised if it were not most of them. Lots of people “respect” Alinsky over there. And you wouldn’t have to worry about “conservatives” under every bed.

        2. Go blow black Jesus, dipshit.

          1. ^that was for shrike|3.26.10 @ 8:53PM

  22. The real problem is that it helped a community unwilling to pull itself up by its bootstraps. When you steal from taxpayers, it’s you too who will get THE STRAP.

  23. Why, Jesse! You secret Alinsky perv!

  24. Only because you brought up the subject –

    If ACORN really followed the Alinsky model, it would have been on the other side of the barricades in Brooklyn. But then, if it followed the Alinsky model, it would have been a different group entirely.

    Poletown, Kelo, Atlantic Yards (that’s off the top of my head) WTF is it going to take for Americans to realize that emeinent domain is too often a tool to redistribute wealth from the poor and middle class to the politically connected wealthy?

    Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer (the compassionate left wing of SCOTUS) should hang their heads in shame over the travesty that was Kelo.

    Look, you wanna bulldoze a neighborhood for a freeway, condemn a square block for a park or school, that may be an abuse of power but it’s at least constitutional. A taxpayer giveaway accompanied by eminent domain so a billionaire owner and his millionaire employees get a brand new home to play crappy basketball in, not so much.

    /standard libertarian rant against the poor and powerless.

  25. Look, if we pull the double standard, that will bite us back in the end. There are bigger fish to fry.
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  28. Many years after receiving my graduate degree, I returned to the State University of New York at Binghamton as a faculty member. One day in a crowded elevator, someone remarked on its inefficiency. I said the elevators had not changed in the 20 years since I began there as a student.
    When the door finally opened, I felt a compassionate pat on my back, and turned to see an elderly nun smiling at me. “You’ll get that degree, dear,” she whispered. “Perseverance is a virtue.” ????

  29. A look for a pleasure.

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  30. A look for a pleasure.

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  31. I think there are things that libertarians can learn from Alinsky. He may have had viewpoints somewhat at odds with the right-libertarians that dominate this site, but he was an effective advocate that despised bureaucracy. Given that true small government ideals have an uphill battle to fight against BOTH ruling parties, his book “Rules for Radicals” contains advice it would be wise to heed.

  32. TO USE AN OLD CLICHE…………….
    IF YOU BELIEVE THAT OBAMA’S THUG FORCE HAS DISBANDED, I GOTTA BRIDGE FOR YA. BUT…….. IF THEY COME TO MY VOTING PLACE I WILL HAVE AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE FOR THEM, AS SHOULD ALL AMERICAN VOTERS

  33. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke.

  34. Most of the attacks on the Bible, and Christians, I see here really don’t reflect well on REASON or libertarianism. I can hear Beavis and Butt-Head laugh tracks behind half of them, and the rest are mostly facile, mean-spirited and/or intolerant.

  35. Many years after receiving my graduate degree, I returned to the State University of New York at Binghamton as a faculty member. One day in a crowded elevator, someone remarked on its inefficiency. I said the elevators had not changed in the 20 years since I began there as a student.
    When the door finally opened, I felt a compassionate pat on my back, and turned to see an elderly nun smiling at me. “You’ll get that degree, dear,” she whispered. “Perseverance is a virtue.”

  36. Atlantic Yards is the sort of state-corporate partnership that earlier generations of community organizers fought against,

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