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Author Topic: On government funding and partisan activities (Acorn related)
Mariner
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Way back during the Acorn prostitution ring, and before that during Acorn voter-fraud issues, certain people kept claiming that this was all no big deal, that Acorn was still a fundamentally good organization, and that this should have no impact on their funding ability. I (and maybe some others, I forget) tried pointing out that Acorn's ethical problems ran deeper. In any case, Breitbart's war on Acorn continues, and I think there's now enough evidence that Acorn needs to suspend some of their activities (besides engaging in tax fraud and child sex rings, of course...) or lose all government funding permanently. I just want to check to see if my legal reasoning is correct and if I'm not missing anything.

So, background: CA's AG publicly announced it would investigate San Diego's Acorn office after the prostitution sting. By complete coincidence, this office realized it was time for spring cleaning and threw about 20,000 documents in the garbage a few days before the authorities came around. Just routine trash, I'm sure. In any case, they weren't very bright about it, and didn't bother to shred it. So, surprise, surprise, it ended up in Breitbart's hands. Which seemed like a convenient time to announce that this wasn't the first time it happened, and that they also had documents dumped from an office in OK. The fallout from this is already pretty big, as due to the sensitivity of some of these documents Acorn committed a very serious crime by doing this (although fat chance of that ever being prosecuted...). But I want to focus on some other documents released. But first:

Acorn's Project Vote is registered as a 501(c)(3). In other words, it's registered as a charitable organization. Direct from the IRS, this means that "it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates." Now, anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that, given the groups Project Vote targets, the end result is a boost for one particular party. However, because that's just a happy coincidence from their stated goal, it's probably not enough to deny funding. But what do these documents say:

#1, from San Diego, is a plan for Acorn to influence tax policy in California. The post claims that it's specifically about repealing Prop 13, but you can't get that from the document. However, it is clear that they plan to put new propositions on the ballot as well as "moving elected officials", so it's clearly attempting to influence legistlation. And it's clear that they're using their GOTV arm (ie, Project Vote, the 501c3) to do this. Strike 1.

Strike 2 - an Oklahoma document shows the plan for gaining power in the state. Included in the document are specific legislative seats they intended to target for getting progressive candidates in. While no candidates are mentioned by name, it's clearly an attempt to support specific campaigns, also prohibited by the IRS' rules.

So with that said, here's the logical train of thought:

1) Acorn's GOTV effort is labeled as a 501c3, and thus cannot be used for partisan purposes.

2) Government funding cannot and should not be used for partisan purposes in terms of elections

3) The GOTV effort is, in fact, used for partisan purposes, as seen above.

4) Acorn's various arms are so closely interlinked that funding for one segment can easily be used for another (this has been shown to be the case)

5) Acorn's accounting principles are sufficiently poor that there is no way to verify that public funding for one segment is not used for another.

6) Therefore, we can not be sure government funding of Acorn is not being used for partisan GOTV efforts.

7) Therefore, we should not publicly fund Acorn.

Am I missing anything?

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kenmeer livermaile
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I think ACORN will be fighting on several fronts for many years. The battles should be interesting.
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cherrypoptart
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> Mariner


> Am I missing anything?

You might be missing the possibility that the current government wants Acorn doing what it does, and is very happy with public funding of it to help secure their political goals.

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Greg Davidson
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The evidence is stronger that the Republican Party has used official state money to commit far more egregious violations of voting rights than what ACORN is accused of doing. Examples include spending state money for voter "caging" and targeted removal of legal voters from voter roles. In these cases the severity of the crime is at least as bad (if not worse) and the impact in terms of 10's of thousands of voters is greater.

That being said, Acorn should be held legally accountable for its behavior. So should the Republican Party.

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Pyrtolin
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Authentication on the documents? Confirmation that they were actually policy documents of some stripe? What's been put forth so far definitely warrants some investigation, but at the same time completely unmarked documents like those need something more than just the say-so of someone with an axe to grind before they hold up.

Of course, there are a number of churches, in including the Catholic Church that are much more blatantly well over the line on political behavior and should be treated with at least the same degree of scrutiny.

I also notice that you don't exactly set an unbiased tone by distorting Acorn's admitted registration fraud into voter fraud, which is not something that any legitimate charges have been made against them of. (Unfounded accusations? Sure, but nothing based on evidence aside from similar distortion)

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Greg Davidson
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Oh, and if you are worried about the "Acorn prostitution ring", how do you square that hypothetical crime with the actions of Sen. Vitter? (or former Gov. Spitzer, although at least he resigned).
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Pyrtolin
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In PA, at least, a number of top Republicans are actually under official investigation for using public funds to develop campaign resources. (And last year a number of Democrats were called out on similar charges) It's a far cry from full addressing the problems that exist, but it's nice to see a little proper motion, at least.
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JWatts
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Acorn is derelict and corrupt and should be shut down.

It's amazing the partisan bias that exists on this issue though. For many it doesn't matter what they've done, it only matters on what side of the fence they sit.

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Pyrtolin
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They've helped clean up communities. They've helped get poorer people registered to vote and involved in their communities. They managed to get legislation passed in at least one place that would have prevented the sub-prime crisis (which was later handicapped by state legislation that catered to the abusive brokers)

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/eastbay/acorn-foresaw-the-foreclosure-crisis-in-2001/Content?oid=1371384

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edgmatt
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What Republicans have done or are doing that may also be corrupt or illegal should have exactly zero bearing on the Acorn case.

I feel like some of you are sitting there, arms crossed, sour face on, saying "Oh yea? Well THEY did it too, SO THERE!"

Mariner - It seems to me that individual branches would get shut down instead of the whole thing. How would they be able to link wrongdoings of one branch in CA with the rest of the company?

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Mariner
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Well, this topic went downhill real quick. Never mind then.
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edgmatt
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Don't go too quick Mariner. I was asking if, by your logic, we could stop funding of Acorn completely. It might be hard to show that the entire Acorn organization is corrupt, not just those few branches. That might be something your "missing".
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edgmatt
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Well, that's a shame.
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whitefire
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I was told, and this is total hearsay, but: Supposedly acorn has divisions that are 501(c)3, they have elected to be considered a "taxable" entity.

From what I can tell, they have other divisions that are tax exempt with legal separations that are eligible for gov money. The question is are these divisions kept separate?

So they would be a hybrid, eligible for gov assistance/grants, etc, but still have to pay taxes on donations/income(?).
Please do not take this as fact, as much was hearsay, and the rest is based on some google searches. They seem to have so many legal entities that I can't make heads or tails of how they actually work. Please set me straight if I am wrong.

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Greg Davidson
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The reason why this thread engenders partisan scorn is that it is not based on principle, it's based on partisanship. A principled argument might be to discuss specific thresholds for the moral behavior of organizations, and then introduce specific facts about the degree to which organizations violate those thresholds, and then argue that all such violating organizations should be shut down.

But I don't see that kind of principled argument here. Instead, it's piling onto an organization that conservative elements in the country have decided to demonize. Now, the fact that groups are intentionally demonizing ACORN does not excuse unethical or illegal behavior by ACORN, and the fact that others have done worse would similarly not excuse ACORN for wrongdoing. However, if the facts are that many other organizations violate the same standard and yet the focus remains solely on ACORN, then the argument is not principled, it is partisan. If you cared about the principle, then you would care equally about all violators.

As with any discussion here, you're allowed to do just that.

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kenmeer livermaile
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Well said, Greg D.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
But I don't see that kind of principled argument here. Instead, it's piling onto an organization that conservative elements in the country have decided to demonize. Now, the fact that groups are intentionally demonizing ACORN does not excuse unethical or illegal behavior by ACORN, and the fact that others have done worse would similarly not excuse ACORN for wrongdoing. However, if the facts are that many other organizations violate the same standard and yet the focus remains solely on ACORN, then the argument is not principled, it is partisan. If you cared about the principle, then you would care equally about all violators.
I think the issue with ACORN is that it's (arguably) a partisan organization masquerading as a neutral one and soliciting public funds.

Now part of this problem is understandable and inevitable, given that ACORN supports voter registration among people who have historically voted for one political party. But on the other hand, there is an extremely fine line between being an organization that advocates for people who happen to support a particular party and being an organization that supports a particular party.

The Republicans see ACORN as a front for the Democratic Party, which is not totally incorrect. It's not surprising that they are seeking to shut ACORN down.

However, if ACORN's activities were not as shady as they apparently have been there would have been no way of attacking them to this extent. ACORN seems to have gotten very sloppy in its activities, particularly in very sensitive and politically dangerous areas like voter registration. The organization may be getting piled on, but perhaps not unfairly.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
if ACORN's activities were not as shady as they apparently have been there would have been no way of attacking them to this extent.
I disagree with that premise. Do you believe that just because Jews were attacked and killed for hundreds of years over the blood libel (killing young Christian children and drinking their blood) that there needs to be some substantiation to those paranoid fantasies?

ACORN is a very large organization in terms of numbers of people. On a percentage basis, if you take the Republican members of Congress in the past five years (or the Democrats at some similar bad time in the past when more of the scandals were hitting Dems) and applied those percentages to members of ACORN, of course you will find a certain number who use prostitutes, solicit and/or pay bribes, use their position of power to have sex with minors, etc. But unless you demonstrate the uniqueness of crime in ACORN, then the organization deserves no worse sanctions than those that you would impose on Republicans in Congress.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I disagree with that premise. Do you believe that just because Jews were attacked and killed for hundreds of years over the blood libel (killing young Christian children and drinking their blood) that there needs to be some substantiation to those paranoid fantasies?

ACORN is a very large organization in terms of numbers of people. On a percentage basis, if you take the Republican members of Congress in the past five years (or the Democrats at some similar bad time in the past when more of the scandals were hitting Dems) and applied those percentages to members of ACORN, of course you will find a certain number who use prostitutes, solicit and/or pay bribes, use their position of power to have sex with minors, etc. But unless you demonstrate the uniqueness of crime in ACORN, then the organization deserves no worse sanctions than those that you would impose on Republicans in Congress.

If we were talking about incidents of criminal activity on the part of ACORN employees independant and unrelated to ACORN's actual operations, I would agree with you. For example, if it came to light that an ACORN employee was a rapist or a car-jacker, that wouldn't really mean much to me.

But in both cases (the alleged voter registration fraud and the prostitution scandal), ACORN's employees appeared to have been operating in the course and scope of their employment, and the crimes they committed were not unrelated to their employment activites. In a civil context, at least round these parts, these factors would support a finding that ACORN was vicariously liable for its employees' misfeasance.

The voter registration problems are particularly damning, because by all accounts, ACORN's own policies of providing monetary compensation for registration activities effectively created incentives for the fraud, with no quality control / oversight to monitor the activities of its employees. My understanding is that ACORN's policies in respect of providing monetary compensation for voter registration activities were actually illegal in some states. I will say though, to its credit, that ACORN did in some cases report the fraud when it was discovered. Still, I am rather shocked at their apparent negligence in setting up such a flawed system to begin with.

In the case of the prostitution ring, the activities of the employees who were apparently aiding and abetting prostitution and tax fraud were doing so under the auspices of and seemingly in furtherance of their employment. They had no motive to assist the under-cover pimp / prostitute apart from their employment activities. They were certainly not making any money from the transaction, so they must have thought that they were doing what they should have been doing in accordance with their jobs. That casts a very poor light on ACORN'S employee training practices and employee supervision.

[ November 26, 2009, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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"That casts a very poor light on ACORN'S employee training practices and employee supervision."

I think there's considerable truth to this, and I also think there's considerable truth to the notion that the larger a bureaucracy grows, the less control it retains over its personnel, who tend to creep further and further from the original goals.

When Ray Crock revolutionized burger stands with the McDonalds' franchising, it was sold on the concept of consistent quality within a brand name, not on the concept of tens of thousands of teenagers working at minimum wage and venting (I apologize in advance for this premonitory pun) their teenage, um, whatever, by ejaculating into hamburgers.

The same arguments by which we rail at Big Guv (and rightly so) apply to ACORN and are, I think, the primary reasons for the unsavory things done under the ACORN aegis.

A similar principle of scalar-based demise applies to Verizon and the nasty rep they have. Some of that nasty rep is the result of truly nasty intent on the part of Verizon leadership, but much of it is simply the result of Verizon being too big (too fast, I'll add, 'too big' being related to time as well as space) to maintain proper standards.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
ACORN's employees appeared to have been operating in the course and scope of their employment, and the crimes they committed were not unrelated to their employment activites
A fair point, but compare this with Congressional influence peddling (the illegal sort) as well as efforts to illegitimately remove citizens from the voting roles and the same principle applies.
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Greg Davidson
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quote:
That casts a very poor light on ACORN'S employee training practices and employee supervision.
(1) That's a lot to generalize on based on a handful on incidents. Would you generalize similarly about the 40 Republican Senators based on the behavior of Sen. Craig and Sen. Vitter (who are 5% of the Republican Senate population)? 5% of 400,000 members of ACORN (assuming that's an accurate number - I think it's probably an exaggeration based on the number of people who have ever done anything with them) would be 20,000 ACORN members. And how many recorded incidents of inappropriate behavior have been identified?

(2) Actually, I would expect ACORN to have poor employee training practices and employee supervision, because the place doesn't have much money, and money helps pay for things like that (including higher salaries and thus higher selectivity for who you can hire). The question is whether the incidence of inappropriate behavior is significantly different with ACORN than with other institutions so as to deserve special focus and sanctions against ACORN.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
A fair point, but compare this with Congressional influence peddling (the illegal sort) as well as efforts to illegitimately remove citizens from the voting roles and the same principle applies.
I don't think I'd be any more charitable or understanding in that case. And as I'm sure you know, there's good reason why most people think politicians are sleazy. That's hardly news.

quote:
(1) That's a lot to generalize on based on a handful on incidents. Would you generalize similarly about the 40 Republican Senators based on the behavior of Sen. Craig and Sen. Vitter (who are 5% of the Republican Senate population)? 5% of 400,000 members of ACORN (assuming that's an accurate number - I think it's probably an exaggeration based on the number of people who have ever done anything with them) would be 20,000 ACORN members. And how many recorded incidents of inappropriate behavior have been identified?
If someone tried to bribe a senator at random and the first few he spoke to accepted the bribe, then yes, that would be a very bad sign.

quote:
(2) Actually, I would expect ACORN to have poor employee training practices and employee supervision, because the place doesn't have much money, and money helps pay for things like that (including higher salaries and thus higher selectivity for who you can hire). The question is whether the incidence of inappropriate behavior is significantly different with ACORN than with other institutions so as to deserve special focus and sanctions against ACORN.
There's an added wrinkle to this situation though. In the case of the voter registration scandal, there was arguably a political motivation for the organization to turn a blind eye to these shenanigans. Maybe they were duped by their own employees, and maybe they were merely the victim of bad quality control. Then again, maybe they just didn't care, because the fraud was benefiting their political allies. If I'm a Republican, I would be understandably suspicious.
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RickyB
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"I think the issue with ACORN is that it's (arguably) a partisan organization masquerading as a neutral one and soliciting public funds."

I don't think it's "masquerading". I think its political identification and bent are inseparable from its stated goals. Republicans scorn community organizers, so maybe that's why there are so few of them... (tongue in cheek). Seriously: every single place you look in the world, organizations working on behalf of the poor and the marginalized are on the "left" side of the map.

And since people active in voluntary organizations of the sort tend to have strong political convictions... you basically couldn't have any sort of organization with these goals with a seriously different character.

BTW - if there was wrongdoing, there should be consequences.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I don't think it's "masquerading". I think its political identification and bent are inseparable from its stated goals. Republicans scorn community organizers, so maybe that's why there are so few of them... (tongue in cheek). Seriously: every single place you look in the world, organizations working on behalf of the poor and the marginalized are on the "left" side of the map.

And since people active in voluntary organizations of the sort tend to have strong political convictions... you basically couldn't have any sort of organization with these goals with a seriously different character.

Agreed. It's a chicken and the egg scenario. But it's all the more reason for them to keep their noses clean.
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KE
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quote:
I think the issue with ACORN is that it's (arguably) a partisan organization masquerading as a neutral one and soliciting public funds.

Kinda like the Christian churches during Bush's campaigns?

What "child-prostitution ring"? (I must have missed this one. Please enlighten me.)

KE

[ November 27, 2009, 12:21 AM: Message edited by: KE ]

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
If someone tried to bribe a senator at random and the first few he spoke to accepted the bribe, then yes, that would be a very bad sign.
Unclear how many ACORN people were contacted before the corrupt ones emerged. And from a statistical sampling perspective, there's a tiny bit of information based on your first one or three or five samples, but in general statistical significance comes from a larger sampling (30 being one rule of thumb, for various reasons).
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Unclear how many ACORN people were contacted before the corrupt ones emerged.
But you acknowledge the distinction between "corruption" in the context of a Senator taking a bribe, versus corruption in terms of what happened here. In the case of bribery, the corruption is for personal gain. The corrupt party knows that they're not working towards their employer's best interests, but their own.

In this case, the employees were not "corrupt" in the conventional sense. It's not the same as an employee seeking sexual favours from a member of the public either.

They were not seeking to help themselves at the expense of their employer. Their corruption was, frankly, gratuitous. They had no reason to do what they did except that they thought it was a good idea and in keeping with their jobs. That's not a good sign. That speaks to crappy training on ACORN's part.

But I agree that if the video sting was tried with 20 or 30 different offices before they got these results, then that's a less damning situation for ACORN. I am curious how many times this was tried before the filmmakers struck gold.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by KE:
quote:
I think the issue with ACORN is that it's (arguably) a partisan organization masquerading as a neutral one and soliciting public funds.

Kinda like the Christian churches during Bush's campaigns?

No, because the IRS regularly investigated and punished churches guilty of participating in "political activity".

anti-abortion group

IRS investigation

Obama's church

Ohio

Whereas, ACORN seemed relatively immune to such actions until recently. Indeed, ACORN actually worked with the IRS on preparing tax returns.

IRS severs ties with ACORN

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
quote:
If someone tried to bribe a senator at random and the first few he spoke to accepted the bribe, then yes, that would be a very bad sign.
Unclear how many ACORN people were contacted before the corrupt ones emerged. And from a statistical sampling perspective, there's a tiny bit of information based on your first one or three or five samples, but in general statistical significance comes from a larger sampling (30 being one rule of thumb, for various reasons).
30 is the rule of thumb for large sample sizes (1000+). There aren't 1000 Acorn offices in the US, there are 104 by my account. The videos hit 6 different offices and showed a clear evidence of a willingness to go along with illegal activity at 5 of them.

"Your accuracy also depends on the percentage of your sample that picks a particular answer. If 99% of your sample said "Yes" and 1% said "No," the chances of error are remote, irrespective of sample size. However, if the percentages are 51% and 49% the chances of error are much greater. It is easier to be sure of extreme answers than of middle-of-the-road ones."

Percentage


Online calculator
By plugging the data into the Linked calculator (Find Confidence Interval)
Sample Size = 6
Population = 104
Percentage = 5/6 = 83%

You'll get a confidence interval of 29%. So the polling results of ACORN rottenness indicate an 83% chance of illegal activity throughout the entire organization +/- 29%. So the odds are between 54 and 100% chance of ACORN having widespread illegal activity throughout the entire organization.

All this assumes a random polling sample, which is impossible to ascertain at this level, but combined with the amount investigations for electoral fraud from various Attorneys General Offices, it's virtually certain ACORN is engaging in illegal activity on a company wide basis. [Embarrassed]

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Greg Davidson
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An article in today's LA Times asserts as fact that a number of ACORN offices called the police, and at one office the ACORN rep "got" that James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles were full of crap and responded by coming up with her own wild, imaginary life of crime.

And yet you, JWatts, assert that there were 6 visits and 5 instances of "clear evidence of a willingness to go along with illegal activity".

(1) What are the facts here? I am not certain that the LA Times column I cite is correct, but what is the sourcing for your information?

(2) My comparison with Republican Senators was based on a level of guilt beyond "clear evidence of a willingness to go along with illegal activity", it was based on actual illegal conduct. And the incidence just looking at Vitter and Craig was 5%. While we are sorting out the ACORN facts, would you share with us your standards for allowable illegal conduct before extraordinary sanctions are required? Either you find >5% allowable, or you should advocate sanctions against the Republican Party.

(3) JasonR, if you are serious about a principle that ignores personal morality crimes (such as Vitter, Craig, or the House Page thing), then just replay my arguments using the explicitly political corruption associated with Jack Abramoff and tell me what threshold rule you have that (a) determines that not enough members of the Republican Party have committed illegal acts that justify extraordinary sanction, but (b) determines that enough members of ACORN have committed illegal acts to justify extraordinary sanction.

edited because I accidentally left in a sentence fragment (now removed)

[ November 27, 2009, 01:28 PM: Message edited by: Greg Davidson ]

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PSRT
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I'm wondering why the people calling for sanctions against ACORN were silent when the Bush administration was violating the law.
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KE
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
quote:
Originally posted by KE:
quote:
I think the issue with ACORN is that it's (arguably) a partisan organization masquerading as a neutral one and soliciting public funds.

Kinda like the Christian churches during Bush's campaigns?

No, because the IRS regularly investigated and punished churches guilty of participating in "political activity".

anti-abortion group

IRS investigation

Obama's church

Ohio

Whereas, ACORN seemed relatively immune to such actions until recently. Indeed, ACORN actually worked with the IRS on preparing tax returns.

IRS severs ties with ACORN

Right, all those Christian Coalition organizations that get billions every year by not paying taxes and were pushing their members to vote for and support Bush in a myriad of ways were investigated, prosecuted, and forced to pay taxes from then on. Geez, you'd think I would remember that.

KE

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Right, all those Christian Coalition organizations that get billions every year by not paying taxes and were pushing their members to vote for and support Bush in a myriad of ways were investigated, prosecuted, and forced to pay taxes from then on. Geez, you'd think I would remember that.
Fine, throw them in jail. No argument from me.

quote:
I'm wondering why the people calling for sanctions against ACORN were silent when the Bush administration was violating the law.
No you're not. You know the reason. It's because they supported Bush's agenda and they opposed Acorn's agenda. Welcome to planet Earth. We're all hypocrites. Humans are hypocrites by nature. Doesn't change the fact that Acorn clearly has alot of dirty laundry. Rather than try to defend Acorn, maybe those on the left would find it a better use of their time to try and take down one of those Christian coalition fronts. There's plenty of dirt to go around.
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Greg Davidson
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quote:
No you're not. You know the reason. It's because they supported Bush's agenda and they opposed Acorn's agenda. Welcome to planet Earth. We're all hypocrites. Humans are hypocrites by nature
I didn't agree with the tone of the question that led you to respond this way, but I also have some problem with the response. While we on Ornery cannot control the behavior of people outside the public sphere, we also cannot have useful dialog if we accept the premise that hypocrisy is acceptable. If we don't have intellectual integrity in how we interact with each other, then we're just venting on a public wall.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
I didn't agree with the tone of the question that led you to respond this way, but I also have some problem with the response. While we on Ornery cannot control the behavior of people outside the public sphere, we also cannot have useful dialog if we accept the premise that hypocrisy is acceptable. If we don't have intellectual integrity in how we interact with each other, then we're just venting on a public wall.
You're missing the point. I didn't say that hypocrisy was acceptable. My point was (1) It's a fact of life in politics on both sides and (2) It's completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.

If I start a thread about how crappy it is that a Republican Senator was taking bribes, does it make sense for someone to come along and say "oh yeah, well Elliot Spitzer got caught with a hooker, so there!!!" That's pretty much on par with PSRT's argument. It's a variation on the "how come we have money for Halliburton but no money for universal healthcare!" argument. It sounds really compelling only if you have the intellect of a turnip.

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kenmeer livermaile
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" a) I'm wondering why the people calling for sanctions against ACORN were silent when the Bush administration was violating the law.
b) No you're not. You know the reason. It's because they supported Bush's agenda and they opposed Acorn's agenda. Welcome to planet Earth. We're all hypocrites. Humans are hypocrites by nature. Doesn't change the fact that Acorn clearly has alot of dirty laundry. Rather than try to defend Acorn, maybe those on the left would find it a better use of their time to try and take down one of those Christian coalition fronts. There's plenty of dirt to go around."

If you'd only said 'I think you don't' instead of "No you don't" you wouldn't have earned a spanking.

Sure, it's quite likely that PRST's question was a rhetorical device to point out seesaw hypocrisy. Even so, it was asked as a question.

Furthermore, " It's because they supported Bush's agenda and they opposed Acorn's agenda" assumes they even knew what Bush's agenda was or what ACORN's agenda is. In fact, it assumes that Bush had an agenda and knew what his agenda was, and that ACORN, a large conglomerate, has "anagenda" and that agenda is known and shared by its components.

These are all reasonable enough assumptions, but assumptions nonetheless, and once one's strung a few assumptions together, one typically has a tangle of string lying on the ground. Pretty soon you're trading shots about tit-for-tat hypocrisies and using turnips as an intellectual gauge.

Meanwhile, this underlying assumption: "There's plenty of dirt to go around" points out a basic agenda that fora like Ornery usually share: an interest in dirt for dirt's sake, a tendency to place the satisfaction of finger-pointing moral outrage above the adequacy of genuine strategy to promote a better good.

So I will ask the question again:

"I'm wondering why the people calling for sanctions against ACORN were silent when the Bush administration was violating the law."

Specifically, I'm curious about the forms of denial and elective filtering and cognitive dissonance that we use to acquiesce probable malfeasance on 'our side' while fulminating against probable malfeasance by 'them'.

I ask because I chose to ingest and endorse an especially indigo hue of Kool-Aid in the last presidential election, and have watched (somewhat bemusedly, somewhat disapprovingly) my own impulses toward denial and selective filtering and cognitive dissonance.

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PSRT
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I guess the point of the question would be completely missed, and assumed to be idiotic, if someone had the moral integrity of a chocolate tea kettle on a hot stove.

That out of the way, you lose the moral ability to demand your political opponents be held accountable if you won't demand your own side be held accountable for equal or greater transgressions. When you explicitly or implicitly say "Its ok for my side to break the rules, but not for the other side," then you believe the rules are only there to benefit your "team." There's no reason to take you seriously, because its about your side winning, and not benefit to the people. Since politics is supposed to be of benefit to the people, rather than about winning, tossing the people who want to win regardless of the rules out of the argument is a good place to start if we want to improve the quality of what we get from politics.

[ November 28, 2009, 01:09 PM: Message edited by: PSRT ]

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Gaoics79
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quote:
That out of the way, you lose the moral ability to demand your political opponents be held accountable if you won't demand your own side be held accountable for equal or greater transgressions.
Do I have a side in this? I'm a republican in this?

My third objection to that manner of argument is its indiscriminate and circular nature. You presume that everyone calling out ACORN would not have been equally outraged at similar Republican transgressions in the past.

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PSRT
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In some cases I'm assuming, in some cases I'm not. Some of the people in this thread have made statements about pursuing members of the Bush administration, others not.

The "you," is a general "you."

Of course, one could also take the moral stance that, if discussing an immoral activity, you defend the activity, then you are also taking the stance that the actor shouldn't be punished. Many of the people posting in this thread have in the past defended illegal activities of the Bush administration, so I don't think its a stretch to ask "Why weren't you concerned about illegal activities when it was your side doing it?"

[ November 28, 2009, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: PSRT ]

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