"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." -- Abraham Lincoln
ACORN has been in the news, or some of the news at least, for a few days now. Actually, it was or should have been in the news since before the election in November. It wasn't, or only barely appeared in most places, often being part of a "look at those guys go nuts over nothing" sort of thing, with 'those guys' being Republicans, conservative, or those on the right. But it seemed that the Big Names in news media didn't really do much more than copy public relations releases.
A few days ago a video showed up revealing some decidely dubious advisings at an ACORN office. A couple amateurs posed as pimp and prostitute and sought advice on getting housing for a brothel, and not just that but one that would be trafficking in children. This seemed rather far out. How could this be? Oh well, once is just a fluke.
Then another video was released. They had done it again, with about the same results, in another city. What? Well, twice is merely a coincidence.
And then another video was released, made in another city. Again with the same result. Uh oh, that looks like a trend. There followed denials and claims that this bit had been tried in several cities, listing those where it had failed.
Oops. The next video was from a city on ACORN's list of places it hadn't worked. Unfortunately for them, it had. If three is a trend, what is four? "Oh, shit" perhaps? And then a fifth video was released. It had been recorded in another city on the list of places where it supposedly hadn't worked or would not be seen. Five? That must be "#%&^!!"
During this, it made some news on the net. It made news enough that Congress voted to not fund ACORN. It didn't make news, at least until after the vote, in places like the New York Times and ABC. Not only had the so-called MainStream Media not done the investigating, they weren't even reporting it until left without choice when a Congressional vote made it hard to ignore.
I said so-called MainStream Media. This is hardly the only place it has been falling down, merely the currently obvious one. I've heard it derided as the "drive-by media" and the "state run media" and a few other things. While there might be a drive-by mentality (hit, hit again, issue a correction later as an afterthought if need be - the damage will have been done) there is certainly no official state control. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it the Big Incompetent Media.
The amateurs, the ones who did the real investigative reporting or at least something closer to it than ABC or NYT has done, didn't settle for a one-shot and publish. As mentioned earlier, once can be dismissed as a fluke and the few people involved blamed for poor judgment. And twice can be an unfortunate coincidence as we all know lots of people don't have the best judgment. But now, at the current count, it's been five times. These guys are not acting merely as reporters but, in a way, as scientists - they are showing that the results are reproducible. "If it keeps on happening, it's not coincidence." This indicates a systemic problem. I will not go so far as to say that ACORN will fold over this, but ACORN's influence has certainly taken a hit. I think it is a long overdue and much needed hit.
Then there are the so-called Czars. The idea itself is hardly new, having originated - beyond the historical Russian royalty - in the 1940s. Yes, Reagan appointed a fellow that the media dubbed a 'czar' - and he was confirmed by the Senate as per the Constitution (Article II, Section 2, second paragraph). And Bush appointed more over his time in office. To the Obama administration's credit the 'czar' label is still a media term rather than an administration term. Obama, however, has appointed or at least suggested more than all previous history* in just a few months in office. This worries some folks, not just for the doing of it but how it is being done.
One of the folks it worries, at least as practiced, is Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) who is certainly not noted for right-wing views or conservative activism. He's not arguing with the appointments themselves, nor their number (The President can do that, or at least nominate all he desires). He does, however, believe that the Constitution ought to be followed, at least minimally: He'd like the promised transparency not be so opaque.
The race issue has come up in places, but it seems to be an ultimately self-defeating tactic. By calling any opposition to the administration and its policies racist when almost** all opposition is about disagreement with policy and ideas it just alienates those who are falsely accused. The ultimate result is that those falsely accused will then discount (almost) all charges of racism as utter bilge. Using the charge against the wrong targets only serves to dull the weapon and eventually render it useless.
I heard an interview with a fellow on NPR a few nights ago went on about racism at tea parties and the like. The more he spoke, the less I was inclined to give him any credit. It reminded all too much of a class I once took - because it compulsory - that was supposedly about racial and gender sensitivity and filling in the gaps in education. I was far from alone in believing that while that's what might have been listed as being the course's purpose, it was really, "blame the world's ills on European/Western civilization." One person made the mistake of bringing this up in class. He got support from almost everyone but the professor, who issued denial after denial but utterly failed to convince anyone. I suspect most of us made it through the class by using our "marketing skills" that is, we fed him his baloney right back without believing a word of it just to get the hell out of there. The only things the professor convinced most of us about was that he was an idiot and that the class was a complete waste of time.
That very same thing is going on now. Those charging racism for every little, and big, disagreement are only convincing most of their own idiocy or desperation. The result is not likely to work in the Democrat's favor. Their supporters might gain some small benefit in the very short term, but long term they are shooting themselves in the foot.
The illusion of "Hope and Change" without substance is at last starting to crack. Great sounding speeches aren't going to be enough to gloss over problems - and never should have been. This does not automatically mean a big Republican win in 2010 or 2012, but it does mean that the Democrats will have to work hard to stay in control and will have to pay attention to the people who put them there. Now, I'm starting to get just a bit hopeful, but only just a bit.
* At least in the U.S.A. It would be unfair to include all the Russian Royalty in this.
** I cannot discount the possibility of some trace amount of actual racism from some fortunately minor truly backward quarters.