Politics & Policy

No Joke

James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, two guerilla documentarians, have accomplished what neither the Republican party’s sense of outrage nor the Democratic party’s sense of decency could: They have inspired the federal government to begin cutting its ties with ACORN, the shady “community activist” organization that helped bring Barack Obama to power.

The set-up was both risible and shocking. Mr. O’Keefe and Miss Giles, who look for all the world like young Republican country-clubbers dressed for a tasteless costume party, walked into a number of ACORN offices and managed to pass themselves off as a pimp and a prostitute. They informed ACORN staffers that they were looking to set up a whorehouse and to traffic some children into the country for the purposes of prostitution. ACORN’s official mission is to facilitate affordable housing and social services for low-income families, not to facilitate child trafficking, but the staffers responded with advice on getting on welfare, claiming their underage victims as dependents, evading law enforcement, cheating on their taxes, defrauding federal housing authorities, et cetera ad nauseam. One ACORN staffer advised Miss Giles to bury her illicit sex-trade earnings in a tin in her back yard.

Asked about housing assistance, an ACORN staffer explains: “Honesty is not going to get the house. That’s why you’ve probably been denied. . . . Don’t say you’re a prostitute thing or whatever.” Similar sagacity followed.

This was not a single, isolated incident. Mr. O’Keefe and Miss Giles took their chinchilla cape and hot pants, respectively, to a number of ACORN offices: in Baltimore, Washington, New York City. The results were similar for each outing. Mr. O’Keefe says there are more and yesterday released another video, of a California ACORN office.

The Census Bureau has severed its relationship with ACORN, and House Republicans are pressing the Internal Revenue Service to do the same. The Senate has voted to deny any future Housing and Urban Development funding to the organization. (Whether Nancy Pelosi’s House will follow suit is not yet known.) Somebody in Washington must be forced to answer this question: Why would any government agency have anything to do with this motley crew? Heads already are rolling at ACORN, and they should be rolling in the offices of the government agencies that approved these relationships. HUD is bad enough, but letting ACORN within spitting distance of the IRS bespeaks defective judgment. The group is deeply tapped into Washington: ACORN relies on government money for some 40 percent of its revenue, and that fact is a national disgrace.

President Obama’s ties to ACORN are of long standing and are widely documented. ACORN, which ran a number of voter-registration drives rife with fraud (Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck being two notable registrees, along with one Mr. Jive Turkey of Ohio) is at its core a political operation, one that was an important presence in Obama’s community-organizing days, as well as in his campaign. The organization has enjoyed a degree of political protection in Washington: Rep. Barney Frank was called upon by the Consumer Rights League to investigate ACORN in his role as an overseer of housing and mortgage matters. He refused to do so.

ACORN now alleges that the videotapes were altered — but they fired the employees in question, which does not suggest gross distortion or an innocent misunderstanding. As more videos come out, this story will get worse. Not that this story is a story so far as the mainstream media is concerned: Outside of Fox News, which aired the videos, the media has abdicated on ACORN coverage. This is the sort of sting video that used to be the bread-and-butter of 60 Minutes and other investigative television journalism. Now they look on the story with contempt; Charlie Gibson sneered that it was the sort of thing better left to “the cables.”

This is serious business — advising people how to defraud the government in furtherance of child prostitution and human trafficking — but it took two twentysomething documentarians to get it on our national radar. We’d argue that Congress should investigate, but who would be put in charge? Barney Frank? Nancy Pelosi? A blue-ribbon committee selected by President Obama? By their fruits (and nuts) ye shall know them.

 

Most Popular

The Rural Way

Almost every national Election Night reveals the same old red/blue map. The country geographically is a sea of red. The coasts and small areas along the southern border and around the Great Lakes remain blue atolls. Yet when the maps are recalibrated for population rather than area, the blue areas blow up, ... Read More

The Rural Way

Almost every national Election Night reveals the same old red/blue map. The country geographically is a sea of red. The coasts and small areas along the southern border and around the Great Lakes remain blue atolls. Yet when the maps are recalibrated for population rather than area, the blue areas blow up, ... Read More

The Coup That Wasn’t

Donald Trump is not done challenging the results of the 2020 election in court, and he is by no means done complaining. But there will be no “coup.” Any prospect of Trump remaining in office without a legal process that declares him the recipient of more legal votes in the decisive states has now evaporated. ... Read More

The Coup That Wasn’t

Donald Trump is not done challenging the results of the 2020 election in court, and he is by no means done complaining. But there will be no “coup.” Any prospect of Trump remaining in office without a legal process that declares him the recipient of more legal votes in the decisive states has now evaporated. ... Read More
Elections

It’s Only ‘Free and Fair’ When We Win

Indeed, this is astonishing: https://twitter.com/felixsalmon/status/1331295033325219840 In 2018, after two years of media spinning tales about shady Russian infiltrators in our government, 67 percent of Democrats believed that Putin’s gremlins had bored into our voting machines and altered the outcome ... Read More
Elections

It’s Only ‘Free and Fair’ When We Win

Indeed, this is astonishing: https://twitter.com/felixsalmon/status/1331295033325219840 In 2018, after two years of media spinning tales about shady Russian infiltrators in our government, 67 percent of Democrats believed that Putin’s gremlins had bored into our voting machines and altered the outcome ... Read More
Books

Jordan Peterson v. the Publishing Mob

Staff at Penguin Random House Canada have “confronted management” about the decision to publish Jordan Peterson’s book in an “emotional town hall,” Vice reports. Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life will be released in March 2021. Apparently, one “junior employee who is a member of the ... Read More
Books

Jordan Peterson v. the Publishing Mob

Staff at Penguin Random House Canada have “confronted management” about the decision to publish Jordan Peterson’s book in an “emotional town hall,” Vice reports. Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life will be released in March 2021. Apparently, one “junior employee who is a member of the ... Read More
Elections

To ‘Steal’ an Election

Dan has a good article on the homepage, the main point of which is that the system worked, since Trump’s efforts to reverse the election failed. Certainly I agree with him about that. But he also finds charges that Trump tried to “steal” the election “overheated.” Since I made such a claim myself, I ... Read More
Elections

To ‘Steal’ an Election

Dan has a good article on the homepage, the main point of which is that the system worked, since Trump’s efforts to reverse the election failed. Certainly I agree with him about that. But he also finds charges that Trump tried to “steal” the election “overheated.” Since I made such a claim myself, I ... Read More