Mighty aches from little ACORN’s fall

In all the foofaraw surrounding the ACORN scandals, there is a huge important consequence of them understood – but not spoken – by everyone who follows politics as a blood sport. This story describing conditions in Michigan and tallying up some recent ACORN convictions for electoral fraud is an indicator. And, on top of Obama’s plummet in the polls, the attention now being focused on ACORN has got to have any thinking Democratic strategist deeply worried about the 2010 midterms.

No, I’m not talking about the mere aura of scandal, the prospect that some of the smell coming off of ACORN might cling to the general run of Democratic politicians. That’s not going to happen, not while most of the mainstream media seems ever more intent on operating as an unpaid auxiliary for the Democratic National Committee. No stench will be allowed to adhere, not even if the stalwart partisans of the Fourth Estate have to lick it off with their own tongues. No, the real problem is this: ACORN was the linchpin of the Democratic electoral-fraud machine. Without it, the party’s position going into the next round of elections may be seriously weakened.

Three years ago I wrote a mini-essay on Game Theory and Vote Fraud, explaining the psephological logic behind the observed fact that vote fraud is in recent U.S. history primarily a crime associated with urban Democratic political machines; simple risk-benefit analysis explains why a national minority party operating in densely populated districts should be the most likely to systematize the practice. What I didn’t write at the time (but could have, as the fact was quite well known to anyone who pays attention to retail politics) is that ACORN has long been the Democrats’ single most important source for legions of deniable fraudsters.

The “deniable” part is important. The Democratic party is (probably) not yet so corrupt an organization that most of its members want to know about the dirty-tricks side of winning elections — but those tactics are more important every year as the Democratic minority gets smaller, older, and more regionally concentrated. (Another dangerous corollary of this trend is that the Democrats depend more on wealthy individual donors than the Republicans do; objectively, the Democrats have been the “party of the rich” for more than fifteen years now.) Thus, the symbiosis between ACORN and the Democrats served both organizations well; the Democrats got a vote-fraud operation their more honest members could could avert their eyes from, while ACORN got funding and political top cover.

That’s probably over now. It seems unlikely that ACORN’s effectiveness as a vote-fraud engine can be saved even if its local affiliates reorganize under different names – too many LEOs, from ambitious local DAs up to the FBI, are smelling blood in the water now, and the few Democratic apparatchiks who have tried to defend the organization have gotten badly stung in the polls. Having former ACORN organizers on staff will be a political and possibly legal liability for some years to come, which is going to hinder any efforts to rebuild the network.

As bad as that is, the Democrats are going to be preoccupied with damage control against even worse possibilities. One is political: Barack Obama is not “the general run” of Democratic politician; as a former attorney and staff trainer for ACORN he was far more intimately involved with the organization. Republicans could yet succeed in using that association to damage him.

The other problem is that the legal disruptions to the Democrats’ street-level network may not stop with ACORN. It is becoming clear that SEIU (the Service Employees International Union, closely tied to ACORN by interlocking directorates), is just as corrupt and even more prone to public thuggery (this was the organization responsible for the brutal beating of an elderly black protester at a town-hall meeting a few weeks back). If LEOs follow the money trails into and out of ACORN with any thoroughness, it is quite likely that SEIU’s brass will find itself under criminal investigation, with the Democrats obliged to cut ties with them as well. From there, who knows? Republican zealots think that ACORN is the street end of a criminal conspiracy subject to prosecution under the RICO statutes that extends all the way to DNC headquarters. They may not be wrong.

Anybody who thinks politics ought to at least be a game played cleanly should welcome having this whole swamp drained. But cheering for that cleanup won’t come easy for Democrats. In a society as relatively law-governed as the U.S.’s, electoral fraud is not a risk any political network can take lightly; the natural and logical suspicion is that if Democrats have been complicit in large-scale vote fraud through organizations like ACORN and SEIU it’s because without it they could not win national elections at all. Thirty years ago, when they were still the majority party, that would have been a fairly ridiculous charge. Today…it isn’t.

UPDATE: I had misremembered Ken Gladney’s age. “Elderly” struck.

110 thoughts on “Mighty aches from little ACORN’s fall

  1. objectively, the Democrats have been the “party of the rich” for more than fifteen years now.

    Unless your metric is “who is voting for them?”.

  2. Your work on free software is great, but when you comment on party politics it sounds like Fox News. ACORN “voter fraud” was the biggest non-story of 2008. The “fraud”–registration, not voter–was committed by people who got paid to collect signatures, and ACORN’s discretion to throw out obviously fraudulent regustrations was constrained by law. Again, note that the fraud took place at the point of registration; it’s a lot easier to write Mickey Mouse on a registration form than it is to show up and produce photo ID to vote as Mickey Mouse.

    Republicans don’t bother with (ahem) Mickey Mouse stuff like voter fraud. They just get a state attorney general to purge tens of thousands of black voters from the roll on the false claim that they’re ex cons, or put up flyers warning blacks the police will run them through the wire when they show up to vote.

    I don’t recall any posts here blaming the housing bubble on the evil ACORN/Community Reinvestment Act axis, but I may have missed one.

  3. Kevin, the Democrats’ hands aren’t clean. Look, for example, at Republican voters who were disenfranchised in Chicago by poll workers who told them they weren’t gonna vote, period, and at the destruction of Republican property in Wisconsin.

    ACORN is a dirty, dirty organization, and every last bit of its activities are suspect. It needs to dry up and blow away.

  4. “The “fraud”–registration, not voter–was committed by people who got paid to collect signatures…”

    Ultimately, paid by whom will be the salient point. Taxpayers should not be funding this kind of crap.

  5. Looks like Keven has suddenly discovered that not everybody in the OSS community lives completely in the liberal echo chamber. :-)

    If you wanted a post blaming the housing bubble on the “people deserve houses even if they can’t pay for them” movement, consider it done.

  6. Yes Kevin, we Republicans are always distributing flyers that say “attention negroes, the police will run you through the wire (whatever that means) when you show up to vote”.

    What actually does happen every single election is that a patently absurd flyer, like “remember, republicans vote on tuesday, democrats vote on wednesday” is “discovered” in a black neighborhood, reported to the local news, and alleged to have come from the Republicans. Gotta whip up the turnout with a little contrived indignation.

    And of course “Police Intimidation” always turns out to be a normal speed trap or a search for a fugitive, never within a mile of a polling place. I guess Democrats just think police should refrain from all law enforcement on election day. Of course, if they actually did that then minority neighborhoods would become so dangerous that turnout would be suppressed, at which point libs would do a 180 and claim that “racist cops are staying off the street” to keep poor people from voting.

  7. Kevin, please (and tell your friends) stop using Fox News as the go-to villan or representative of all that is wrong with media. It’s tired, it’s predictable and, most importantly, it just doesn’t work. Millions and millions of people in this country view Fox as the only truly honest mainstream television media outlet that exists in this country right now. Telling a blogger they “sound like Fox News” is actually quite an endorsement, not the pithy putdown you apparently see it as.

    And by all means, please keep ignoring the ACORN story, fervantly hoping it’ll go away. It only makes you look more corrupt and ignorant.

  8. Republicans don’t bother with (ahem) Mickey Mouse stuff like voter fraud. They just get a state attorney general to purge tens of thousands of black voters from the roll on the false claim that they’re ex cons, or put up flyers warning blacks the police will run them through the wire when they show up to vote.

    Sounds like urban legends. Be very interested to see proof that rise to the same of level that we now have of ACORN’s perfidy. Kinda doubt it exists, though.

  9. I agree that ACORN is now radioactive and even with the pending name change will remain so for some time. But for the GOP to capitalize on this opportunity would require a thirst for battle it lost at some point during Dubya’s administration. Dirty Chicago politics, BTW, go back a long, long way. Who remembers that the first Daley won the election for JFK by registering thousands of voters slumbering in the graveyards of Cook County.

  10. It’s people like Kevin who, by excusing any crime, have allowed the progressive machine to become completely corrupt. Why wouldn’t any decent individual who, believing in their cause, would demand it be held to the highest ethical and legal standards? The explanations for the excusing of such pathetic conduct are not pleasant; excusing it because one knows the left can’t win a fair fight, looking the other way because the core of progressive ideology is based on theft (income redistribution), or worse, that the left’s history of socialism and fascism makes matters like this historically irrelevant. And then there’s the possibility that someone like Kevin is posting either for pay or in the voluntary service of a progressive agency.

    Either way, it’s reprehensible. Fortunately, the tea parties have shown that the majority of the U.S. will not tolerate this unethical conduct and outright theft of our property and nation from Kevin and his ilk. We’re done playing defense; now we’re coming after your causes and getting in your face. We’ve studied Alinsky and other community agitation thought-leaders and will defeat your strategy. Unlike us, the progressives have much to hide. A lifetime of rationalization of theft and disregard for principle makes them sitting ducks. And we won’t stop until their movement is destroyed, their leaders in jail and their followers converted or deported..

    By the way, I’m looking forward to standing outside predominantly Democrat districts and getting in voters faces. Thanks to our visionary President and Attorney General, voter intimidation will be the cool thing to do these next elections. Video cameras will catch false voters and we’re planning on shouting them out and demanding proof they’re legally able to vote. If they refuse, our camera will track them and analysis will catch them. The ACORN incident was just the beginning.

  11. Kevin…”show up and produce photo ID “, it seems the Democratic Party is the one that insists on not requiring photo ID to vote; that seems to tie in very well with fradulent voter registration.

    …”put up flyers warning blacks the police will run them”…or you could just have (New) Black Panthers in psuedo-military garb actually standing outside the polling place, oops, that probably wasn’t the Republicans.

  12. Enjoyed your examination of the ACORN fallout. The ruiniation of the democratic fraud machine came to mind when ACORN fell. I have just one thing to add. Mr. Gladney is just 38 yrs old according to reports. If 38 is “elderly” then I’m prehistoric :)

  13. I’m not the first to espouse this theory but I buy into it. ACORN never intended to send all those fraudulent voters to the polls, but were happily registering fraudulent names to overwhelm the system so that there was not time to check all the registrations.

  14. Kevin, every fraudulently registered name is an easy way to fraudulently vote. Sure, “Mickey Mouse” is obvious, but “Thaddeus P. Farnsmith” might not be. All I’d need is a list of fake names — but which have been officially registered: there’s no chance the “real” Thaddeus will show up complaining that “he” has already voted. In those states where ID is not required to vote, or is (wink wink nudge nudge) not checked even though the law requires is, “Thaddeus” can vote and no one will *ever* be the wiser. I can go from precinct to precinct, voting as Thaddeus in precinct A, Alain in Precinct B, Carl in Precinct C,…

    Easy, safe, and almost undetectable.

    All thanks to fraudulent “registrations” which you and other defenders of Acorn and the Democrat Vote Fraud Machine dismiss as “not a real crime”,

    And don’t forget that favorite mechanism for vote fraud here in FL: snowbirds from NY and NJ who blatantly vote in both locations, and proudly inform the press and anyone who asks “I live in both places, why shouldn’t I vote there, too?” (Thus voting twice, in the same election, for President, and get a “say” in four different Senators’ elections, and two different Congressmens’ elections). And the solidly Dem Northeast states wink and nod, and don’t cooperate in prosecuting these FELONS, who dilute MY vote.

  15. Very few states require voters to confirm their identities with a Photo ID. In California, it is against the law to ask for ID of any kind from a voter. You simply enter your polling place, provide your signature, and vote. One year, I had moved but never registered at the new address. So, I filled out the registration information and voted at my new polling location. On my way back to my car, an idea hit me. I drove back to my old neighborhood and made it to my old polling place about 10 minutes before the polls closed. My name was still on the list… and I found out that I had already voted there that day.

  16. As a former Democratic campaign worker and Dem Congressional staffer, I can personally confirm your impression that ACORN-style vote fraud machines are the core competency of the party. If anyone has any doubt, they can stand outside a Dem Congressman’s campaign HQ the morning after a successful election. There’ll be a swarm of thugs passing out and collecting “walking around money”, basically bags of cash for delivering their neighborhoods.
    Sadly, African-American churches are another leg of the corruption stool — where black preachers auction off their ‘endorsement’ among a field of Dem candidates; with that ‘endorsement’ coming in the form of a sermon the Sunday before the election with the preacher screaming “It is your Christian duty to vote for X on Tuesday, the other guy is a RACIST.”
    I got disgusted with the entire machine. If only the rest of the public could see what I saw, they’d blow the Dem party up.

  17. Kevin Carlson trots out the now-tired argument (amazing how quickly it can grow tired) that ACORN’S problematic activities in getting out the vote — for Democrats, natch — was simply and only “voter REGISTRATION fraud” as opposed to “voter VOTING fraud.”

    Is it a distinction with a difference? Sure. Is it a distinction that reflects well on ACORN? Obviously not.

    C’mon. When I smell a decaying carcass, I don’t need to see it to know it’s rotting. The sting videos however exposed the carcass for what it really is–everyone can see it now.

    Who knows how much or how little ACORN engaged in real voter fraud? Nobody at the NYT or the LA Times believes it’s really worth investigating because, you know, it would hurt the prospects of the President Teleprompter Messiah. But ACORN was, among many things rotten, a get-out-the-vote organization for Democrats. I would not be surprised if it was “successful” in that regard. I would not be suprised if Democrats benefited from their efforts.

    But that’s over now. And a good thing.

  18. Pardon me, but in what way to defenders of voter fraud believe that defending it as merely ‘voter registration fraud’ is effective. If the registration doesn’t lead to fraud in the vote totals (and there are many other ways to commit fraudulent elections than voting as ‘Mickey Mouse’), then why does ACORN put so much effort into it? It’s not just signature collectors, for if it was, why spend millions of dollars that could be spent elsewhere in order to commit a fraud with no return.

    As one who grew up and lived in Illinois for decades, either those like Kevin Carson above are wildly naive, totally disingenuous, or supportive of fraud (or possibly some combination) if they refuse to acknowledge the power that over-registration through fraudulent registration gives to those who wish to steal elections.

  19. > Again, note that the fraud took place at the point of registration; it’s a lot easier to write Mickey Mouse on a registration form than it is to show up and produce photo ID to vote as Mickey Mouse.

    In 1984, I decided to register to vote. There was one place in my little home town that I could do so: a local dry cleaners. I went inside and told the lady behind the counter, an African-American woman, that I wanted to register. She gave me the form, I filled it out, checked over my identification, and I stood there in her business, raised my right hand, and swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. A few weeks later, I got a voter’s registration card in the mail.

    In 2004, I was working on a computer for a friend of my father’s whose son was a local candidate for Sheriff. She asked that we change party affiliation so we could vote for him in the upcoming primary. When we agreed, she pulled out the postcard, we filled it out, and she sent it in. A few weeks later, I got a new voter’s registration card in the mail. Her son lost in the primary to a candidate who lost in the general election.

    My question is, why was the system so much more secure and less prone to fraud in 1984 then now? I think the answer is pretty obvious.

    http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-js031401.html

  20. About the statement that the only fraud was in registration (tho this one isn’t ACORN):

    There is an actual voter fraud case brewing in Troy NY. According to affidavits, dozens of fraudulent absentee ballots were cast in the recent primary, and a Democratic operative appears behind many of them:

    http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=846612&category=YTTROY

    “Judge to act in vote case
    Court anticipated to name special prosecutor to probe Troy primary absentee ballot fraud allegations as WFP officials call for investigation

    …The voting scandal centers on allegations that people associated with the city’s Democratic party forged absentee ballots attributed to several dozen voters, including students and people living in the city’s public housing complexes….

  21. Kevin, when you have voter fraud investigations ongoing in 35 states, and ALL involve ACORN…there must be something there. Voter fraud, and intimidation weren’t reported by Major Media because none of the stories involved the GOP or its supporters at the root. They all involved ACORN, or in Philly the New Black Panther Party (that case was dismissed by Eric Holder, US AG). Where there’s this much smoke…there’s gotta be a fire down yonder somewhere.

  22. Ken Gladney was 38 years old at the time of the SEIU attack. He is not elderly.

  23. “sounds like Fox News”. Is that supposed to be an insult? I guess to idiot lefties it is, but to most of us out here, that’s a very high compliment.

  24. This is bold logic:

    Vote fraud is so dangerous that major parties don’t do it unless they would otherwise lose.
    The Democrats have engaged in vote fraud (via ACORN)
    THEREFORE: Without ACORN, the Democrats will lose in 2010.

    There’s a lot more to the story, pro and con… but one bit you leave out is the 2010 census. If there was ANY time you wouldn’t want to get wiped out in a “wave election,” it would be the decennial redistricting election. Without ACORN stacking the census numbers with “Mickey Mouse” and without ACORN registering the obituary pages to vote and without Obama at the head of the ticket to mobilize millions of new voters, the Democrats could have a rough election cycle. And once the incoming state legislatures lock in the new districts, that could make for a tough ten years.

  25. Kevin,
    How in the world is it possible to purge the rolls of Black voters? Since when is race identified in voter registration?

  26. Kevin’s playing the normal defense for ACORN’s fraud — “look how clumsy their efforts are! They were caught! Nothing happened!”

    Of course, the clumsy efforts are exactly that — the clumsy ones. The ones so obvious they’re caught. The ones that aren’t caught are the problem, particularly in areas that do not require positive identification for voting. Now, ask yourself why ACORN simultaneously operates registration drives in a manner (paying by the piece) they admit is likely to generate fraud, while blocking voter ID laws — it’s not simply their belief in access to the ballot box, it’s because the combination is the surest way to create fictional voters.

    You also need to ask why the same people are so opposed to purging the dead from voting rolls, and why, when pressed to find people who would be adversely effected by voter ID laws, were unable to find any legitimate examples.

  27. Second to last para refers to the beating of an “elderly black man”. Ken Gladney is his name and he’s hardly “elderly”. Do me a favor. I’m supportive of your general position. Clear, factual statements are needed. Avoid descriptors chosen for their emotional content.

    Here’s a link. Mr. Gladney is obviously NOT elderly:

  28. Kevin: “…it’s a lot easier to write Mickey Mouse on a registration form than it is to show up and produce photo ID to vote as Mickey Mouse.”

    Please name a place where photo ID is required other than Indiana. I am certain that absentee ballots are being mailed to more than one Mickey Mouse.

    Here is hoping that ACORN is gone by 2010. Unfortunately another corrupt organization will replace it. Democrats can not survive without fraud.

  29. KevinCarlson writes: “…Again, note that the fraud took place at the point of registration; it’s a lot easier to write Mickey Mouse on a registration form than it is to show up and produce photo ID to vote as Mickey Mouse.”
    Come to Minnesota (Franken +310 votes) where, by law, you may not be asked for identification when you register or vote. You need only produce a utility bill in the name under which you wish to register and have been resident in the state for a short period of time. No utility bill? No problem. A “registered voter” can vouch for you.
    BTW – we had a number of precints that recorded more total votes than the number of people who registered and voted. Care to hazard a guess whether these precints were located in densely populated areas (Franken-friendly) or in the out-state areas (Coleman-friendly)?

  30. Isn’t is just awesome that our tax dollars are going to Acorn to pay for voter fraud? Doesn’t it just warm your heart?

    I also find it interesting how this story is dug up by Andrew Breitbart and run with by the new media, with the msm ignoring it as hard as they can to no avail.

    No wonder the newspapers are dying, if they won’t cover or look for stories like this. The guy who went in with the hidden camera did us all a solid. Why isn’t 60 Minutes doing it? This is what they used to be known for; the hidden camera story was their stock in trade.

    And Kevin Carson you defend this crap all you want, Acorn is going down and deserves it.

  31. Kevin, that’s the democrat party line. The reality is that voter fraud is voter fraud.

    In many states, ID is not required to vote. Poll workers are not ALLOWED to challenge voters just because their name is Mickey Mouse. In fact, states have had to fight legal battles as far as the Supreme Court to be permitted to require that voters present ID’s. The counterargument was that requiring identification was somehow “voter suppression” and intimidation. Which, of course, it is– suppression of illegal votes and intimidation against the corrupt. Poll workers required to review IDs face long lines and legal roadblocks, so it’s easier to look the other way. And I’m not even including cases where the poll workers (local volunteers) are themselves corrupt. Or the political machines who appoint the investigators who are charged with investigating the machines.

    Whether or not ESR sounds like Fox News or some other State Enemy is a judgment call, I suppose. Even liberals have to admit that the other channels were openly batting for the Democrats in the last election cycle, and have been slow to even cover the story that the blogs broke. The voter fraud that I’ve seen was been defended with “well, both sides do it” (although when I worked in republican politics I never personally saw any on our side, my district is urban and democrat, so there may be sample bias). The message is always, “it’s not news”, “there are Bigger Issues to worry about” and, of course, “you sound like Fox”.

    But don’t let that stop you: volunteer as a poll worker in a heavily democratic, urban district. I won’t even bet you about what you’ll find; it’s purely for your own edification. Localities are always short of volunteers so you’ll be doing a good deed. And you’ll probably learn something, unless you choose to look the other way.

    Just be careful about what you say when you’re done. You might sound like Fox.

  32. Anti-voter fraud efforts have a limited amount of time and money to devote to purging the rolls. If you can, at max, pull 5000 fraudulent voters and you have 9000 suspects, some subtle suspicions but maybe 4000 Donald Ducks et al you’re going to waste time and money pulling the obvious ones.

    The obvious frauds aren’t missiles aimed at the heart of the voting system. They are chaff designed to overwhelm the defenses to let the real attacks through. Releasing loads of chaff is a hostile act whether or not anything else is done.

  33. “it’s a lot easier to write Mickey Mouse on a registration form than it is to show up and produce photo ID to vote as Mickey Mouse.”

    Indeed, which is why Democrats almost universally fight against requirements that voters have to show proof of identification.

    Note also that having extra registrations can be very handy to corrupt election officials. In elections which are very close, requiring a recount, urban districts will with suspicious frequency find an extra box of ballots which had been overlooked for the first count. Sometimes they have gone so far as to show more votes than there are voter registrations, but they prefer not to be so blatant.

  34. Voter registration fraud is what enables having more votes than eligible voters. See Seattle 2008. That is clearly vote fraud.

    Again, note that the fraud took place at the point of registration; it’s a lot easier to write Mickey Mouse on a registration form than it is to show up and produce photo ID to vote as Mickey Mouse.

    Why is it then that the Democrats fight voter ID laws? If we can require an ID to buy a six-pack or pay with a check (and sometimes credit/debit card), why can’t we ask for a photo ID when voting? Is voting less important than buying beer?

  35. I also grew up in Illinois.

    I didn’t even think Obama would win the Presidency. I figured “Who in their right mind would put a Illinois politician into the White House?

    Kevin Carson, if there’s no voter fraud going on, then the Democrats have absolutely nothing to worry about. If they were really thinking, they’d push a Voter ID law. They have a super-majority right?

    A coalition of Democratic Party officials and activists promptly challenged the Indiana law.”
    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080128/epps

  36. While I like your theory of the fallout resulting from these latest ACORN and SEIU scandals to the Democratic political machine in the face of terminal demographics, I think you’re dreaming for exactly that reason. Just like socialized medicine is so much of a grand prize for the Left by cementing the future (by changing the relationship between the government and the polity and the terms of all future politics … or at least until they “run out of other people’s money to spend” (Thatcher)), the Democrat’s system of vote fraud is one of the necessary things that’s keeping them from becoming a permanent minority (excluding the times Republicans named Bush screw up :-).

    They will fight the dismantling of these hydra headed outfits this tooth and nail, delaying, denying, just as they have with all the previous ACORN and SEIU frauds. I think they’ll be damaged by losing a lot of funding (mau maued Bank of America says they’re cutting them off and maybe the Federal restrictions will actually make it into law), but down for the count? It remains to be seen.

  37. Kevin, part of the fraud is to overwhelm the system, think Cloward Piven, such that everyone is busy dealing with the facially false registrations of Mickey Mouse, and not John Smith the ex-con or non-existent but reasonable seeming name.

    The fact that ACORN is being investigated in 15 states over the same type of voter fraud suggests that there are more than just a couple of bad apples and is more indicative of systemic corruption.

  38. I’m going to humor Kevin Carson for a moment and pretend he believes his Mickey Mouse example is all that happened and is of no consequence.

    Kevin, imagine a voting district populated principally by african-americans. Some group comes in and uses fraudulent registrations to enhance the number of registered “voters” in that district. Then, when voting tallies show an abnormally low turn-out for the district, they have the basis for a voter suppression complaint, or perhaps a court challenge to the election.

    Of course, honest person that you are, such a devious use of fraudulent registrations never occurred to you, did it?

  39. Kevin, fraudulent voter registration is a crime. There are laws against it. It. Is. A. Crime. ACORN commits that crime systematically and deliberately on a massive scale. They’re doing it to overload the system, by the way. They swamp the system with noise at the last minute (the last-minute business is their hallmark) so it’s impossible to vet registrations properly.

    I understand where you’re coming from: You’re a Democrat. In your mind, the only thing that really matters is politics, and all politics is about is seizing the machinery of the state by any means that come to hand, and using it to transfer wealth from other groups to your own group. Laws, in your mind, are just pieces of paper. You’re like the guy who cheats on his wife and feels good about it, because “what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her”.

    So in your mind, what ACORN does is fair play. The fact that it’s a crime looks to you like a fundamentally uninteresting bit of trivia.

    Well, there are a lot of countries in this world where it’s normal for people think that way. They’re massively corrupt, miserably poor, and their economies grow slowly, if at all, because everybody thinks the only way to get ahead is to rob people who produce goods and services. When you reward people for “redistributing” wealth instead of producing it, guess how much gets produced? Not a whole lot. Europe was like that in the middle ages: The people who were most respected weren’t those who produced the most food or clothing. The most respected people were gangs of armed thugs.

    This is why you’re incapable of understanding conservatives and libertarians. Literally incapable, the way a dog is incapable of understanding nuclear physics. We’re not like you. We don’t think politics and government are what life is all about. When we don’t want to use government to rob other people, you think we’re confused. You think we’re “voting against our own self-interest”. Nope. Wrong. If I choose not to commit robbery, am I “acting against my own self-interest”? Maybe so, but I don’t much care, because ROBBERY IS WRONG. I don’t want to make a living robbing people. I want to make a living creating value, because it’s more fun, it’s the right thing to do, and when everybody creates value instead of robbing each other, everybody is much wealthier and happier.

    Get it?

    No. You don’t get it. You’ll never get it. You’re a born crook.

    Well, at least I tried.

  40. Kevin – fraudulently attempting to establish an identity as a voter is “voter fraud”. Your absurd wheedling around this blatant truth is pathetic.

    The modern ‘liberal’ Democrat party/organization has no rightful place in America. It is an offense to the very fabric of our nation.

    The Republicans aren’t far behind…

  41. @mndasher -

    Ohio requires proof of address ID at the time of voting – it prefers state-issued photo ID, but other things are acceptable. Then your signature is checked with the one in the poll book.

    @rob -

    I’ve been a poll worker now for almost a year (last fall’s Presidential contest and our city’s mayoral primary earlier this month), and I expect to be a poll worker for our general election in November. As a Republican. In an urban, racially integrated, (probably) mostly Democratic precinct. We had a non-stop rush for the first two hours during the election last fall, followed by heavy traffic the rest of the day. Things were busy, but there was *always* time to check IDs per the rules. There were quite a number of provisional ballots cast, but those got counted only after the voter had followed up and proven his/her eligibility to the Board of Elections. Earlier this month, we just barely had 100 voters (out of over 620 registered) in 13 hours; never more than 2 people at one time, absolutely no time pressure on us.

    Frankly, I saw nothing that led me to believe that there were attempts to have ineligible voters vote. Either time. Either party.

  42. Eric, your older readers might recall fifty years ago, when a Presidential election turned on a few hundreds of thousands of votes from Chicago and from LBJ’s machine counties in Texas, both notorious for delivering their votes late and in just sufficient numbers to ensure the Democrats’ win.

    If Richard Nixon were as civic-minded as Al Gore, Kennedy might not have been President at all.

  43. Ways of Looking at an ACORN

    ACORN: Alien Children Offered Regularly Nationwide
    ACORN: Authorities Caught One Registering “Napoleon”
    ACORN: Assembly of the Complacent: Organized, Registered & Non-productive!
    ACORN: Association of Crooks O’Keefe Revealed in a Nanosecond
    ACORN: “Audacity” and “Change” that Obama Represents Nationally
    ACORN: Assorted Crazies, Oddballs, Reprobates, and Nincompoops
    ACORN: Association of Criminals Obama Represented in the Nineties
    ACORN: Advising Criminals, Organizing Radical Nutjobs
    ACORN: Assisting Call-girls, Obama, Reid & Nancy
    ACORN: Advancing Communism, Obamamania, Reparations Now!
    ACORN: After Clinton, Obama Retards a Nation
    ACORN: Alike Carter, Obama is Regretful and Negative
    ACORN: America, Could Obama Resign Now??
    ACORN: Against Conservatives, Order, Republicans, and the Nation
    ACORN: American Cash Outflows to Rathke’s “Nonprofits”
    ACORN: Apparently “Community Organizing” Really is Nefarious
    ACORN: Andrew Clearly Outplayed the Resentful NYT
    ACORN: Another Corrupt Obama Run Network

    Others? Please suggest!

  44. A question for all those pushing for stricter voter identification laws: what sort of error rate is acceptable? i.e., how many legitimate voters are you prepared to disenfranchise for each fraudulent vote prevented?

  45. Without ACORN voter fraud, Obama wouldn’t have gotten the nomination. Remember all the caucus states, busing students from one state to another …

    The elections this November, especially in VA and NJ, will be instructional. If Democrats win without ACORN chicanery, then what hope is there for getting the Chicago thug and his czars-a-plenty out of the White House?

  46. Kevin Carson: perhaps it was a NON issue to you, but to many of us that value our voting system, last years election (and this was NOT the first time ACORN has rigged up voter registration, nor the democrats illegally gained registration/votes, and yes, felons and homeless people are NOT allowed to vote) just was more in-your-face election fraud.

    But to some, they would prefer that it go away. National ID voter cards will NOT disenfranchise anyone. There can still be absentee voting, there just needs to be a way to make sure that the person is a US citizen, and eligible to vote. And I for one am ALL for using Soc Sec #’s to block bad/illegal votes. The only ones that do not want National IDs are the democrats. They know that they are getting votes from illegals because they just need to show up and vote. And those that can, vote in one state and than bus across the state line, using someone to ‘vouch for them’ and they cast ANOTHER vote. That is the only reason BHO won. Yes, I know, that doesnt sit well with YOUR opinion of WHOM the country wanted. With the purported number of between 45-60 million illegals in this country, and the double voting, and absentee voting in one state, while living in another state, the BHO vote doesnt hold up. It is said that roughly 135 million people voted, with BHO getting 53% of the vote or roughly 63 million. Minus out the illegals: I’ll give half of the higher number, so 30 million – leaving him with 33 million. SO who REALLY won? Not BHO. And that doesnt take into account all the rampant double votes in the country nationwide.

    In Racine County Wisconsin, over 4000 votes were cast out due to being done by Illinois residents. OVER FOUR THOUSAND. In one county. Milwaukee County had rampant fraud and cheating going on, including democratic (ACORN) volunteers driving around with citizens from polling place to polling place – to vote. When any questions were asked, the ACORN members shouted down the polling officials screaming about violating their rights because ID’s were asked to be seen.

    Forget the Mickey Mouse and the Dallas Cowboys – rampant registration fraud at the very least – we will NOT know of all the false and ill-gotten votes in the last election simply because of the crappy system we now have. So save your ‘how many convictions were there’, it doesnt even begin to enter the equation. I personally know of many NON citizens that voted in last years election and they openly talked of it. It is done, and it is fraud. As an American citizen, MY vote was disenfranchised.

  47. One reason to go after minor cases of fraud is that, when that works, people then try bigger things. I mentioned the current case in Troy NY, which seems unambiguous. A few years back, there was an ambiguous absentee ballot fraud story in Albany NY (a few miles away), where hundreds of ballots were filled out for people in nursing homes, who couldn’t remember whether they’d asked for them. You may guess to which party the person handling the ballots belonged.

    Within the last 20 years, James Coyne the (Democratic) chief executive of Albany County, and McDonough, the head of the Democratic Party in Rensselaer County (home of Troy), have both gone to jail. Coyne accepted a “gift” from the architect of a stadium being built. Unfortunately the jury considered the gift to be a bribe in return for the design contract. They might have been influenced by the fact that it had been laundered thru 2 lawyers.

    Coincidentally (really!), Pres. Obama visited Troy last week for a few hours.

  48. One comment: it seems to me that if there were ever a need for open source software it would be in this arena. Diebold screwed up voting machines in a very embarrassing way (especially when their CEO was plugging the Republican party in a very inappropriate manner.)

    The very nature of this type of business requires deep public scrutiny, in such areas as cryptography and digital signature to verify the data. It seems to me that it would be pretty straightforward to build a piece of software that could be used for electronic voting, which allowed electronic submission, and also printed a visual voting card that users could examine, and post in a traditional voting box. This would give two sources of data for verification. Add in various crypto measures (such as signing the vote with a hash of the binary and other measures to ensure legitimacy), and you would have a secure voting system.

    Issuing voter cards doesn’t seem all the difficult to me either. You can apply through your electrical or phone utility with your address. If there are more than four people registering at an address, deeper investigation takes place. Not perfect, but better than current. Voter cards are mailed to you with a code number which you enter when you vote (with a PIN you specified when you registered.) If you didn’t get your code, you can ask for another, and the first is revoked.

    Of course none of this really matters, because for the most part, voting doesn’t matter. However, it is is a sense a civic duty to keep politicians under a little pressure, rather than an action that actually changes anything. (Would we be better off in McCain had won? Would Norm Coleman really have made a difference?) Voter fraud is more of an offense to that duty than something that really matters all that much unless it is at banana republic levels.

    (BTW, as an aside, in ESR’s original article he is critical of the democrats. If you read the comments following though people seem to assume that being critical of the democrats somehow implies support for the republicans. I am familiar enough with ESR’s politics to know that he repudicates the republicans as much of the democrats. I think it is interesting that many commentators can’t seem to separate the two arguments. It just shows the disturbing bifurcation of tribal politics in America, though perhaps I do the commentators an injustice.)

  49. If they are clean, they will have no problem with opening their books. The problem stems from Acorn it self which seems to have alot of problems with opening their books! What do they have to lose? They are already losing mightily, because they are stonewalling. The blame belongs right at their own door. If you have nothing to hide, let us see that!

  50. I wonder if it would be a good use of time for Tea Party members to start sitting down at the voter registrar’s office and systematically challenging voter registrations for irregularities. Isn’t the information public records? Barack Obama successfully did that in his first run for public office…

  51. jack gott Says:
    September 28th, 2009 at 8:07 am
    As a former Democratic campaign worker and Dem Congressional staffer, I can personally confirm your impression that ACORN-style vote fraud machines are the core competency of the party. If anyone has any doubt, they can stand outside a Dem Congressman’s campaign HQ the morning after a successful election. There’ll be a swarm of thugs passing out and collecting “walking around money”, basically bags of cash for delivering their neighborhoods.
    Sadly, African-American churches are another leg of the corruption stool — where black preachers auction off their ‘endorsement’ among a field of Dem candidates; with that ‘endorsement’ coming in the form of a sermon the Sunday before the election with the preacher screaming “It is your Christian duty to vote for X on Tuesday, the other guy is a RACIST.”
    I got disgusted with the entire machine. If only the rest of the public could see what I saw, they’d blow the Dem party up.

    Do the afore-mentioned A-A churches lose their non-tax status when they bring Church and State together? Methinks they ought to, if nobody at IRS has picked up on this yet.

  52. above statement “Do the afore-mentioned A-A churches….” is my statement. All else is attributed to Jack. My MAC apparently cannot make the necessary font changes to italicize. I’ll go PC next time.

  53. JupiterSuite: one phonetically-correct spelling of A-C-O-R-N is K-O-R-A-N. No conspiracy here, I believe. Just weird coincidence!

  54. Kevin Carson says Again, note that the fraud took place at the point of registration; it’s a lot easier to write Mickey Mouse on a registration form than it is to show up and produce photo ID to vote as Mickey Mouse.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could have photo idea to vote. Isn’t that one of the things the left was fighting against??? I can’t write a check or board an airplane without photo idea, but it would be discriminatory to require a voter to show photo idea!!!

  55. Pardon my typo on the ID I twice typed it idea. makes me sound like an idiot

  56. did’t the dems just changes the laws in massachusetts for the second time to meet their needs – please!!!!!!

  57. upstater wrote, “About the statement that the only fraud was in registration (tho this one isn’t ACORN)”.

    Just to fill in some info. The alleged voter fraud in Troy was committed by the Working Families Party. It’s one of ACORN’s many front groups.

    Also, didn’t ACORN setup the week long “Vote Early and Often” campaign at an Ohio University last year? And weren’t they involved with the Minn. recount that gave Al Franken his seat? It would be great to see an investigation into these. Did Obama even really win?

  58. “A question for all those pushing for stricter voter identification laws: what sort of error rate is acceptable? i.e., how many legitimate voters are you prepared to disenfranchise for each fraudulent vote prevented?”

    100%, why do you ask? If we can’t validate the identities of ANY of the voters then I’m perfectly willing to suspend the election until we figure out what’s wrong and fix it. But let me be clear: For all the handwringing by the left (who stand to lose the most from a clean election, btw), there’s not been ONE CASE IN ANY STATE with photo ID where someone with a valid photo ID was turned away. Even when they screw up and forget their picture IDs they can still vote through the provisional ballot system.

    The right to vote is not “sacred”. God will not strike the pollworker down if he asks the voter for a picture ID. It’s a simple and reasonable requirement to assure the integrity of the voting process. MY rights as a voter are violated when a bus load of college students drives around on election day voting “early and often” in as many precincts as they can visit before the polls close.

  59. Mathematically, each fraudulent vote that’s cast in a given jurisdiction is exactly equivalent to taking the ballot of a voter and removing it from the count. So from that point of view, any solution that eliminates more fraudulent votes than the number of otherwise valid voters who are prevented from voting by the new restrictions is a win.

    That is, unless the fraudulent votes are overwhelmingly cast in favor of Party X and I am a member of Party X. In that case, preventing the fraudulent votes is always a loss.

    A friend of mine who is rather liberal — and who is, I’m sure, well known to Eric — claims that there is no problem with individual voter fraud in the U.S. However, he defines it very narrowly, eliminating almost all cases of documented fraud that put more ballots into the box than really ought to be there. This is a neat rhetorical trick, but doesn’t solve the problem of the fraudulent votes that were cast.

  60. Kevin: So, do you want to go all in? The reason people of your and ACORN’s and some in the Dem Party get away with this drek is because most Repubs, Libertarians and Conservatives have principles, convictions and morals.
    But if nothing’s going to happen, if ACORN’s not going to be truly defunded and prosecuted, we all need to put the matter in the balance-scales. Do we let our votes continually be nullified or do we start playing by different rules? You seem to think we already do. I guarantee you if we traditional hardworking Americans (yes, please infer my non-inclusion of your type) started registering as if we were Sybil, you know, like what you’re defending, you’d get steamrolled into the next millenium.

    So, the question is: is it a greater sin or transgression to follow ACORN’s example, or sit by and watch our country warped into some obscene deformation that would make Hugo Chavez proud (assuming our currency doesn’t become annihated and our economy doesn’t neutron bomb itself away)?

    Remember, Kevin: WE CAN ACORN TOO!

  61. Why? Did somebody finally get video evidence against the voter registration division of ACORN? I’ve seen the videos on the housing division but Democrats don’t care about that and it has no effect politically but the voter registration division…now that’s paydirt!!! All investigations against ACORN’s voter registration has turned up nothing and have been dropped. We needed Giles and O’Keefe to infiltrate the voter registration practices of ACORN. That would have been significant.

  62. I can’t trust a blog post in which the author claims Democrats are “the party of the rich”, “the regional party”, and the “shrinking minority party”.

    Because, you know, the opposite is true in all cases. If we replace the word “Democrats” with “Republicans” then this shit starts to match with reality.

    Maybe Obama won because people liked him, and the Democrats rode on his coattails. And maybe at the time there were more Democratic voters and more Democratic-leaning Independents. I’m just sayin’.

    Also, this supposedly regional party won in FL, NC, VA, and IN. The lesson is not that the Democrats cheat, it’s either that the Republicans’ golden age in the electoral cycle was up (losing was inevitable), or that the Republicans needs to change their message in order to win the next round (cycles don’t matter, message does, and the Republicans failed at this). I tend to think it was a deadly combination of both.

    Learn to be less of a sore loser. I know you’re not a Republican, ESR, but in America’s bipolar political system, you have effectively chosen and shilled for one side 100% of the time.

  63. I was a Republican Committeeman years ago in Indiana. While i was manning my post at our polling place, (A hostile place, the three old Democrats there with me were angry old women) A pair of Union thugs stood all day out at the marker line to ensure the numerous union workers understood that they were being watched. During the course of the day, we had three school busses of folks that obviously didnt live in our neighborhood show up and vote. They stood in line at time and observed that the last polling place was nicer, and wondering when they were going to be fed lunch…

    We need to have video cameras and observers outside every polling place in the country if we want our country back. This was 1990/1992 this isnt new.

  64. >I can’t trust a blog post in which the author claims Democrats are “the party of the rich”, “the regional party”, and the “shrinking minority party”.

    Unfortunately for you, all these things are true; consult Michael Barone’s Almanac of American Politics for detailed demographic breakdowns. As I noted four years ago, the Democratic base is increasingly confined to the coastal metroplexes – it used to have a strong southern and rural wing but lost that after 1980. Democratic fundraising is accordingly dependent on the wealthy bicoastal elites Barone calls “gentry liberals”; for a look at what happens when they slow down contributions, see this Washingtom Post article.

  65. Vote fraud in this country is so absurdly easy. The system is completely indefensible.

    Last year I went to the polls to vote on California propositions 98 and 99 (both of them anti-Kelo laws). There were also a few local primary races being held, but I’m registered as an independent. The poll workers were kindly octogenarians, a husband and wife, who handed me a homemade cookie, and… three ballots. One Republican ballot, one Democratic ballot, and one NPA ballot. It was my first time voting in California, so I rationalized this away. I thought maybe California had open primaries, and that the poll workers don’t have access to your party affiliation, so you were just handed all three and vote the one of your choice. So I wandered over to the voting booth without protest and filled out the NPA ballot.

    But after I’d done that, the poll workers were adamant that I was supposed to fill out all three. I objected that that couldn’t possibly be correct, since 88 and 89 appeared on all of them. After their continued insistence, I gave in and put all three ballots into the box, two of them still blank.

    Right after voting, I went over to city hall to file an irregularity report. I checked the box on the form requesting to be updated on the status of the investigation. Naturally, I never heard anything.

    I’ll never know whether the poll workers had criminal intent or were just senile. But the scariest part is that I voted just before the polls closed, and was the first one that day to file an irregularity report, and judging by the poll workers’ response to me, either they were very good liars or I was the first one to voice any objection! When presented with an opportunity to commit vote fraud, virtually everyone will do so. I suppose the situation was effectively a Milgram test, and I was the only one to pass.

  66. The question shouldn’t be “can the Democrats win without ACORN?” It should be “can the Democrats win without voter fraud, corruption and the left-wing media?”

  67. It is not enough for us to sit back and think “with ACORN in disgrace we don’t have to worry about voter fraud any more”. We have to become vigilant, very vigilant to ensure that there is a ZERO tolerance for voter fraud.

    I live in Mississippi. In order to vote you have to be registered. In order to register you have to go to the court house in the county that you live in and prove that you live in that county. You have to show a picture ID and a birth certificate. You get a voter ID card. When you go to vote you have to show your voter ID card and a picture ID. They look your name up on the voter registration rolls.

    If you live in a state that has anything less than this you need to start pounding your state elected officials to change the voting laws.

    These loosey goosey voting laws where a person doesn’t have to prove their identity are a disgrace to our republic. Any elected official who supports such nonsense should be turned out of office at the next election.

  68. >The question shouldn’t be “can the Democrats win without ACORN?” It should be “can the Democrats win without voter fraud, corruption and the left-wing media?”

    Don’t go overboard. Given a sufficiently charismatic candidate, they probably can. However, I could name at least one governorship and one Senate seat they almost certainly wouldn’t hold without election fraud, and that’s enough to matter.

  69. “In those states where ID is not required to vote” – wow. WOW! How is that even supposed to work? (Note: I’m not American.) Do they keep a list of name frequencies like there are 11982 John Smiths in the state and they simply won’t let the 11983. person who says his name is John Smith cast his vote or what?

  70. Even widespread “voter fraud, corruption, and the left-wing media” isn’t enough for Democrats to win. Look at all of the times in recent decades Democrats have taken the White House; in EVERY case they were following an incompetent or crooked Republican (or at least one who was perceived that way).

  71. Many good points and anecdotes above. And bravo, Retardo. My $.02: There are numerous instances of heavily Democratic cities recording more votes than there are voting-age adults. There are anecdotes of people arriving to vote and being asked their name, at which point they pull a piece of paper from their pocket and read a name written on it.

    ACORN is now suffering, on a vast scale, for ignoring a bit of wisdom a friend once told me: never commit more than one crime at the same time. He meant (e.g.) that if you have some pot in your car, you should obey all traffic laws, because if you get busted for one thing, you get busted for everything. ACORN obviously has a long history of skullduggery, so more scandals and crimes will come out, more members will turn state’s evidence, more ambitious AGs will smell blood in the water and investigate. The IRS will look at their 501(c)(3) status. Donations will dry up, and companies will feel emboldened to stand up to their extortion attempts. All but their diehard supporters will run for cover. And the fact that all this will dribble out over time just serves to keep the story alive. It’s a positive feedback loop from which they probably can’t escape. It’ll be interesting to see how far it extends. Certainly there’s a lot of sweating going on in SEIU and Democratic party offices these days….

  72. Daniel Franke: not necessarily. I merely need to show up at my precinct polling place, give them my name, and sign the form in order to be able to vote. They *do* have the address on file, but I’ve *never* been asked to give it. And they *do*, I believe, have my signature on file as well and I recall seeing them compare it.

    I haven’t tried signing it “Richard J. Daley” just to see if they’re paying attention. :)

  73. I’m don’t think Acorn’s downfall will lead in and of itself to a vast Democratic overall defeat, but it will be significant. Two of these include:

    DISTRICTING AND RE-APPORTIONMENT:
    As others mentioned above, Acorn is no longer there to help “enhance” census results. Results that would almost certainly have artificially pumped up populations in Democratic-leaning states and Congressional districts (e.g., counting false persons, counting as many illegals as possible, etc.), while simultaneously depressing numbers in Republican-leaning states and districts. That wouldn’t have affected 2010 elections — the redistricting and reapportionment wouldn’t hit until 2011 and 2012.

    The 2010 census numbers are likely to be bad for the Democrats. Blue states are likely to gain several representatives, and conversely red states are likely to lose ones (http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/no_20081222_1323.php). There are undoubtedly Democratic operatives out there to minimize this as much as possible. But now they’ve lost their best chance at influencing these numbers with Acorn being removed from census work.

    REGISTERED VOTERS:
    Acorn was a fountain of fradulent votes (and probably a lot of real Democratic votes as well). Given the tiny victory of Senator Franken in MN, they undoubtedly gave him the edge. Other national and local contests were probably decided by the additional votes, real and bogus, that were cast thanks to Acorn’s actions. Even a 1% difference in voting can lead to tremendous difference in outcome. Opposition to ID restrictions may also be less politically tenable as well. Voter fraud will probably be more difficult (though certainly not impossible) with Acorn’s demise. If the SEIU gets marginalized as part of Acorn’s fall, then a great “get out the vote” force will also go down.

    There has to be some drop in Democratic registered voters in future elections without Acorn. (Unless other groups step in and resume Acorn’s legal and illegal efforts…) What percentage though we may not know until after those elections. (If ever…)

    Without Acorn in their corner tipping the scales, and growing anti-Obama, anti-socialism, pro-Tea Party momentum, the 2010 and 2012 elections could be very challenging for the Democrats.

  74. So the Democrats are the shrinking minority party of the very large cities? Seems like they’re in trouble…

  75. >So the Democrats are the shrinking minority party of the very large cities? Seems like they’re in trouble.

    Yes. They can’t win national elections by turning out their base, period. To win they need some combination of (a) independent and Republican votes, and (b) fraudulent votes. The relative importance of the latter two components is hard to estimate.

  76. In the Reality-Based Community ACORN is far too ethical to commit voter fraud.

  77. > “sounds like Fox News”. Is that supposed to be an insult? I guess to idiot lefties it is, but to most of us out here, that’s a very high compliment.

    Seriously? Sounding like a TV station is a very high compliment? How depressing.

  78. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have photo idea to vote. Isn’t that one of the things the left was fighting against??? I can’t write a check or board an airplane without photo idea, but it would be discriminatory to require a voter to show photo idea!!!

    Papers, please!

    Is there a legal requirement that you show a photo ID to cash a check?

    No, there isn’t.

    Is there a fundamental legal requirement that you show a photo ID to board an airplane?

    Maybe, but the government won’t show you the law. (GIlmore .vs Ashcroft), and Schneier says its ineffective, anyway.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-schneier28-2008aug28,0,109404.story

  79. I dont know where you write checks at, but if you are going to buy something in my store (A well recognised national chain) you must show ID to use a check. if you sign up for utilities, you need ID. i put my 18 yr old son on a greyhound bus, he needed ID to board it. you get a cell phone contract, you need ID.

    and even if you didnt for any of that, you sure as hell should have it to vote in the United States of America. if you cant figure out how to go down to the DMV with a birth certificate and fill out a few simple forms, you have no business picking public servants.

  80. >Seriously? Sounding like a TV station is a very high compliment? How depressing.

    For the record, I’ve never seen Fox News, because I don’t watch TV. I know of it only by reputation.

  81. To those who pointed out it’s not all that hard to vote without proving identity, I thank you for correcting me.

    And i’d be the first to agree that the Democrats’ hands aren’t clean. I have no ideological affinity (to say the least) for the goo-goos or the “Why Mommy is a Democrat” crowd, but I hope to God I can dislike them for my own reasons without having to make common cause with Palin and Joe the Plumber.

    As for Buzz and others who deny the existence of concerted vote suppression efforts by the likes of Karl Rove and Katherine Harris, or minimize its significance compared to the great ACORN menace, I’d like some of what you’re smoking.

  82. BTW, the idea of requiring uniform national ID is one of those areas where I side with the paranoid tinfoil hatters against the likes of Olbermann. I’ve been an enemy of the upwardly ratcheting drug war/counterterrorist police state through administrations of both parties, and one of the reasons I regarded Obama as a lesser evil was my hope that we could look forward to something like another Church Committee setting the process back by at least a few years. His opportunism on this issue hasn’t done a lot for whatever minimal respect I had for him.

    One of the comments was to the effect that it’s unfair to pigeonhole ESR as a right-winger for dumping on ACORN. Point taken. It’s also illegitimate to pigeonhole someone as a Democrat for questioning the anti-ACORN meme. Although I consider myself a left-winger, if anything I tend to sympathize more with “extremists” of both left and right against the managerial-professional liberals of the corporate center. It would be nice if the “right-wing” people who into gun rights, home schooling and free juries realized they were on the same side as “left-wing” people who are into open-source, community technology, worker self-management and organic farming. And vice versa, of course.

  83. >It would be nice if the “right-wing” people who into gun rights, home schooling and free juries realized they were on the same side as “left-wing” people who are into open-source, community technology, worker self-management and organic farming. And vice versa, of course.

    Some people that started out on those ends of the spectrum have in fact figured this out. They’re called “libertarians”…like me.

  84. To be sure–and they’re a significant strand of the libertarian movement. I consider myself a libertarian, and know plenty of libertarians (e.g. Roderick Long, Sheldon Richman, etc.) who fit into that category. But in my experience they certainly don’t define the libertarian mainstream. Reading most of the material at “official” and beltway libertarian venues iike Cato, Reason, etc., I find the lefty-decentralist stuff is more likely to be met with dismissals along the lines of Eric Cartman: “Buncha goddamn tree-hugging hippie crap!”

  85. Kevin Carson: From what I can tell, instances of Republican vote suppression etc. are either arguable or anomalous. I suspect that for every case you can list, one could find 10 instances of Democrat voter fraud or voter suppression. How many instances of Republican voter registration fraud can you find? I’ve heard of one in recent years, compared to the, what, 10-20 cases ACORN has been charged or convicted of in recent years. And how many heavily Republican areas have ever reported 100%+ election turnouts? How many close elections have been won at first by Democrats until “missing ballots” are repeatedly found in heavily Republican areas? Remember the Democrats trying to (or getting? I forget) perfectly valid military ballots disqualified in Florida, because they were in sealed mailbags with valid postmarks, but didn’t have a postmark on each ballot? Remember the Democrat operative who was found with a voting machine in the trunk of his car in Florida in 1980? Etc.

    There are plenty of areas where one can accuse both parties of roughly equivalent misdeeds, but I don’t think this is one of them.

  86. >I find the lefty-decentralist stuff is more likely to be met with dismissals along the lines of Eric Cartman: “Buncha goddamn tree-hugging hippie crap!”

    That’s largely because “lefty-decentralist” theory is normally presented in language that owes too much to Marxism and left centralism. The relatively minor problems with the idea content are exacerbated by propaganda terms that give people with a classical-liberal or conservative background hives, and for valid reasons. The relatively minor substantive problems need to be fixed too, but that’s less difficult. Most of them would be cleaned up quickly if left decentralists would just learn some basic microeconomics and take it seriously. The language disconnect is a bigger problem.

  87. The linguistic divide works both ways, though. For example, the term “free market” is commonly used, by mainstream talking heads and politicians, not to refer to genuine free markets, but rather in reference to an extremely statist system of corporate globalization. And a lot of the left decentralists who seem so economically illiterate are people who take the neoliberal misappropriation of the term “free market” at face value and conclude that free markets must be a bad thing.

    And to be frank, some of it is also the fault of the libertarian right. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a facile claim that the classical political economists were “disproved” or “destroyed” by Bohm-Bawerk, from someone who 1) has never read Bohm-Bawerk, 2) based his characterization of the classical economists and labor theory of value on third-hand appeals to authority, and 3) can’t state what the labor theory of value actually entailed, or what the marginalists’ specific points of difference with it were. Far from “disproving” the law of value as described by the classical political economists, marginalist theory IMO is better conceived as a complement to it–i.e., providing an explanatory mechanism.

    I also think the free market libertarian critique of IP law, coupled with Rothbard’s critique of absentee titles to vacant and unimproved land, dovetails very well with the economic analysis of my own anarchist tradition (the individualist anarchism of Thomas Hodgskin and Benjamin Tucker), which explains economic exploitation in terms of artificial scarcity.

  88. >The linguistic divide works both ways, though. For example, the term “free market” is commonly used, by mainstream talking heads and politicians, not to refer to genuine free markets, but rather in reference to an extremely statist system of corporate globalization.

    Libertarians from a conservative background, or a classical-liberal one like mine, are generally quite aware of this.

    >And a lot of the left decentralists who seem so economically illiterate are people who take the neoliberal misappropriation of the term “free market” at face value and conclude that free markets must be a bad thing.

    That’s not a problem you can blame on “right” libertarians.

    >I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a facile claim that the classical political economists were “disproved” or “destroyed” by Bohm-Bawerk,

    I’ve never run into anything like this. I do know that the labor theory of value, like all intrinsic-value theories, has intractable problems. The Austrian crowd is particularly good at pointing them out; you might consider reading von Mises, if you haven’t.

  89. A Modest Proposal on Election Reform
    by Ken Burnside

    We have news of ACORN’s systemic attempts to shuttle busses full of
    illegal immigrants and convicted felons between urban voting districts. Four
    years ago, we had accusations that Diebold was pimping for Dubya, and
    the Party of the Elderly was using computers (which they didn’t understand)
    to steal the election. I got to thinking about this, and realized that we’ve
    strayed mightily from the original roots of representative democracy, and
    perhaps, in doing so, we’ve lost something important.

    Pot sherds and baked clay.

    Most of the pushes in elections are geared towards making ballots easier to use,
    handle, manipulate, and file. We’re going from ballots where people have to punch
    out divots, to ballots where you have to mark within a box, to touch screen displays
    that will mark ballots for you, to electronic balloting. No doubt some wiseacre is
    looking for a way to have your brainwaves read when you close the curtain
    and fill the ballot out exactly the way you should.

    This seems, like price supports for illegitimate children and invading
    countries most people can’t find on a globe, like one of those ideas
    that seemed good at the time, and probably doesn’t bear out.
    Historically, the more portable ballots have become, the more
    prominent election fraud and election fraud concerns have gotten.

    I hereby propose that ballots be baked in clay, and that to fill in
    your vote choice, you be assigned a set of wooden pegs and a small
    rubber mallet.

    This will completely eliminate most complaints about how ballots are
    discriminatory to people of different races; the ability to hammer
    round pegs into square holes is universal. Any adults who have
    forgotten how to do this can be escorted past any group of small boys
    in a play ground, or introduced to the fine product lines of
    Fisher-Price.

    Done properly, these ballots are all but impossible to alter once the
    vote has been cast – I’m talking about hammering 3/16″ pegs into 5/16″
    square holes. (For off-cycle years, we’ll go metric, just to keep the
    “We wish we were Canadian” crowd from feeling disenfranchised.)

    At 2-3 lbs per ballot, they’re also damned hard to play “hide the ballot box”
    games with. Misplacing three ballot boxes and changing a presidential
    outcome is easy with paper. It’s harder when you’re misplacing three dump
    trucks full, especially with Google Earth and satellite photography becoming
    so cheap. We can even mandate that they be made from local clays for
    the election district they’re in, and have an independent way of
    assaying if they were used outside of their districts. I also
    recommend mandating that the type face be at least 14 point for
    greater legibility; I reckon the AARP would be fine with that. Voter fraud
    will be considerably more taxing – chronic vote chiselers will be readily
    identified by their sore arms from hammering pegs into ballots, and it’ll be
    pretty noisy to hear them work.

    We can also gainfully employ legions of otherwise unemployable liberal
    arts graduates in preparing and firing ballots with kilns. Even
    better, the archival costs will be enormous, making endless recounts
    horribly expensive. Best of all, all counts will pretty much have to
    be hand counted; clay tablets are not conducive to electronic readers;
    they cause jams in sheet feeders like nobody’s business. This should
    make election returns tabulation a great deal healthier. Well, at
    least as a form of exercise, anyway.

    Now, this will cause a great deal of consternation among those who
    want instant election returns; to those folks, I say ‘bat pucky’.
    Your constant demand for election coverage means that we haven’t even
    had Obama in office long enough to get past the “New President” phase,
    where, like a newborn infant, we cherish and praise every mess he
    makes, and we’re already assessing every item of clothing Sarah Palin
    buys and discussing how it impacts her chances on the 2012 campaign
    trail. We’ve already got three whole months between election night
    and the Inauguration, we might as well keep the American public
    entertained by showing them pictures of clay tablets being counted by
    election officials; that’ll take ‘em at least through Thanksgiving.

    As an added benefit, it will give a physical gravitas (or at least,
    mass) to the entire election process. Voters lugging 12 pounds of
    clay tablets to hit with mallets will feel the full weight of history
    in the impact of their choices. Voting will take on the grandeur it
    is often touted as having, but seldom lives up to.

    (I am considering submitting this as an op ed piece in my local
    newspaper. Opinions?)

  90. When it comes to right-wing libertarians, your mileage may differ. But from what I’ve seen, the majority of those who tip their hats to corporatism tend to take an equivocal position on the present system’s relationship to a free market. They make a pro forma stipulation to statist elements in the system, but then revert to defending the present corporate economy (or defending the present beneficiaries of artificial property rights) in terms of “free market” rhetoric, and hoping nobody sees their hands moving.

    I really think the problem is a cultural bias, for a major part of establishment libertarianism. It boils down to “Yeah, corporate welfare and privilege are kinda sorta bad, and I guess we oughta do something about them someday maybe, and blah blah woof woof–but a single mom on Food Stamps is FLAMING RED RUIN ON WHEELS.”

    It’s a shame, because the principles of free market libertarianism if consistently applied would be dynamite beneath the foundations of corporate capitalism. But most of the people I talk to on the mainstream left can’t get beyond saying “yeah, but a ‘free market’ is what THOSE PEOPLE say they’re for.” And I try to get the point across to genuine free marketers of the right that if I were the average person who identified the term “free market” with the typical AEI or Heritage schmuck I hear using it on C-SPAN, I’d hate free markets too–and so would any morally sane person.

    For the decentralist left to allow such people to coopt the term “free market” is equivalent to Rosa Luxemburg and Peter Kropotkin letting Stalin take over the term “socialism.” It’s essentially letting the enemy define the terms of debate.

    I’ve read Mises, and found much of his analysis useful. The main thing about the classical LTV is precisely that it’s *not* an intrinsic-value theory. It’s a description of the normal equilibrium value around which prices fluctuate for commodities in elastic supply. The treatment of it as ascribing some sort of innate, quasi-metaphysical “value” to commodities is a strawman.

  91. >Reading most of the material at “official” and beltway libertarian venues iike Cato, Reason, etc., I find the lefty-decentralist stuff is more likely to be met with dismissals along the lines of Eric Cartman: “Buncha goddamn tree-hugging hippie crap!”

    The “libertarian” think tanks are funded by the big-government right, and exist to frame corporate friendly policy in libertarian language.

    >Libertarians from a conservative background, or a classical-liberal one like mine, are generally quite aware of this.

    What they seem to miss is the distinction between free-market as in “free from govt interference” and freemarket as in “meets the criteria of the welfare theorem”.

    >I do know that the labor theory of value, like all intrinsic-value theories, has intractable problems.

    There is no theory of value without intractable problems. Economists basically gave up on finding one and retreated into “empirical adequacy”.

  92. A somewhat less sarcastic mode of election reform:

    To prove your identity at the polling place, you have to show your last two year’s federal income tax statements. They must be attached to absentee ballots, and they’ll be used to prove residency in the voting district.

    In order to vote, your net federal income tax payment must be positive – you must have contributed more to the Federal government than you’ve received in Social Security payments, Welfare payments, or other Federal aid (including Pell Grants and student loans). As there is already a Federal database on who gets those payments, it should be a fairly simple match to run.

    Drawing a salary from the US government, or a military pension does not prohibit you from voting; if you’re working for the government and paying taxes on what you earn, it’s like any other job.

    If you can demonstrate an income tax statement AND a property tax statement, you get to vote twice.

    The logic here is that we want to ensure that the people who have a say in the largess to be redistributed should not be the beneficiaries of such redistributionism, for the common death of democratically elected governments is when the people learn to vote themselves the contents of the treasury.

    I would also stagger election day to election week, and run the state elections from Tuesday through Friday of the first week in November, running from the states with the fewest Electoral College votes to the states with the most. I mean, really, if we’re going to be treating these as entertainment, we should at least get the timing and pacing right for the dramatic finale.

  93. >I really think the problem is a cultural bias, for a major part of establishment libertarianism. It boils down to “Yeah, corporate welfare and privilege are kinda sorta bad, and I guess we oughta do something about them someday maybe, and blah blah woof woof–but a single mom on Food Stamps is FLAMING RED RUIN ON WHEELS.”

    Yes. I understand this – it’s a natural way to react when you think the threat to freedom from left statism is much more serious than the threat from corporate privilege. (As it happens, I agree with that assessment – but I would consider this reaction reasonable even if I didn’t.)

    >It’s a shame, because the principles of free market libertarianism if consistently applied would be dynamite beneath the foundations of corporate capitalism.

    Agreed.

    >But most of the people I talk to on the mainstream left can’t get beyond saying “yeah, but a ‘free market’ is what THOSE PEOPLE say they’re for.”

    Most of the people on the mainstream left have political reflexes formed in large part by by internalized Soviet propaganda memes that are (very effectively) designed to make them incapable of rational thought in certain areas. I don’t think libertarians can fix this by adjusting their terminology, because the resulting gut-deep suspicion of markets can’t be fixed, can’t even be addressed, at that superficial and intellectual a level. By the time a lefty can even hear the difference between those two senses of “free market”, getting him/her to buy the libertarian one is trivial; it’s de-conditioning your lefty to that point that is difficult.

  94. >Most of the people on the mainstream left have political reflexes formed in large part by by internalized Soviet propaganda memes.

    If I tell my cat “sit there and ignore me” he will sit there and ignore me. That doesn’t mean he’s obedient.

  95. Kevin Carson says:
    > Buncha goddamn tree-hugging hippie crap!”

    Ah, but these are two different things Kevin. The problem with tree huggers is that they are usually hugging someone else’s tree. Hippies, on the other hand — well it is a pretty broad term, but there was a lot to like about the hippie movement, and some things not to like. I’m not an expert, but in many ways it seems to have been the matrix for the modern American libertarian movement. However, I think they greatly underestimated the importance of soap, water and razor blades. And tie dye? Please…

    >I also think the free market libertarian critique of IP law,

    There really is not common ground on IP law in the libertarian movement. It goes from Ayn Rand (copyright and patents should be forever) to me, patents are a scourge on society, and copyright isn’t much better.

  96. Ayn Rand (copyright and patents should be forever)

    Cite, please. A couple of seconds of Googling suggests you have it wrong: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/patents_and_copyrights.html

    Since intellectual property rights cannot be exercised in perpetuity, the question of their time limit is an enormously complex issue . . . . In the case of copyrights, the most rational solution is Great Britain’s Copyright Act of 1911, which established the copyright of books, paintings, movies, etc. for the lifetime of the author and fifty years thereafter.

  97. Kevin,

    if you have mixed feelings about Libertarianism then perhaps you might want to take a look at Distributism (an unfortunate name, it should be called “microcapitalism” or “Taiwanese model” or “capitalism as if it took its own principles truly seriously”). I recently got interested in it because it looks like L. with a few corrections that make it much more rooted in everyday reality:

    theory:
    http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/?p=3629

    practice (cooperatives and Taiwan):
    http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/?p=3806

    I don’t really know enough economics to tell whether it’s right or not, there are some parts that look fish to me (dwelling too much on usury f.e.) but the general and very simple idea behind Distributism: that in order for markets to work properly there really needs to be a vast number of very small firms and capital must not be concetrated in a few hands, sounds logical to me as it’s wholly in line with standard economic theory.

  98. It all depends on your view of what a market ‘working properly’ looks like….what you describe sounds rather ideologically warped to me.

  99. I vote for Ken Burnside’s clay ballots. Sounds sensible. As SW engineer by trade, I think electronic voting is the end of our democracy. Ballots should be hard to duplicate.

  100. For those of you giving Kevin Carson a basic reading list, you might want to read his main body of work itself, starting with Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective. I think you’ll find that even if you disagree with some of his points, he’s not exactly unaware of the subtleties of libertarian political thought.

  101. The reason that Dems think that voter fraud is OK when they do it is because they are just SURE that they are correct, enlightened, and so morally superior to the republicans, that it would be a SIN to follow the law if it meant losing an election.l

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