Friday roundup

| September 18, 2009

Crocodile tears

ITEM: See the guy weeping above? This is the ACORN community organizer (the paper’s phrase, not mine) in San Diego who offered to help smuggle underage girl into the United States for prostitution. Turns out that ACORN actually fired him.

NATIONAL CITY – Local ACORN officials reversed an earlier decision Thursday afternoon and fired a community organizer who was caught on video providing advice about human smuggling to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute.

In an afternoon press conference, Lagstein said he believed his employee, Juan Carlos Vera, did his best to deal with a challenging situation, and would not be disciplined.

But two hours later, Lagstein stated he had reevaluated the videos posted online in which Vera was secretly filmed answering questions about smuggling people across the Tijuana border. Lagstein said in his earlier evaluation, he had only found a short, 52-second video, and not a longer seven-minute video. After consulting with supervisors and state ACORN officials, he decided Vera had contradicted his earlier statements and his conduct was “unacceptable.”

The recording showed Vera appearing to suggest he could help get people across the border and asking the woman posing as a prostitute how much her services cost.

At the news conference, Lagstein said the organization is “furious” that hidden cameras filmed employees of the community-organizing group, and he called such actions “immoral if not illegal.”

Unlike, say, all the ACORN workers giving advice on child prostitution? But wait — it gets better:

[Lagstein] also added that “we accept the imperfections that it exposed.”

Vera was at the news conference and he gave an emotional recounting of what happened. He broke into tears at least twice.

He said that English isn’t his first language and that he was confused about what was going on. He said he was just trying to help.

ITEM: Speaking of ACORN, JammieWearingFool posts this Jay Leno clip:

ITEM: Charlie Cook over at the National Journal wonders if the Democratic leadership is really aware of their potential problems in 2010:

. . . Democrats ought to keep in mind that 84 of their current House members represent districts won by President Bush in 2004 or John McCain in 2008.

A whopping 48 of those Democrats — eight more than the size of their party’s majority — are from districts that voted for both Bush and McCain. That America is very different from the Democratic base in blue America, and it sees many major issues very differently. . . .

The 17-point advantage that Democrats enjoyed in the January Gallup Poll (when “leaners” were included) shrank to 5 points in August. Their edge on the generic congressional ballot test has vanished, according to most national polls. For three years, Democrats enjoyed high single-digit or low double-digit leads on this question — a very good indicator of which direction (and how hard) the political winds are blowing as a congressional election nears.

Read the whole thing.

ITEM: Dana Milbank — who, to his everlasting credit, seems just as willing to aim his snark at the Obama White House as he did at the Bush White House — rolls his journalistic eyes at Michelle Obama’s visit to a nearby “farmer’s market” in DC:

The first lady had encouraged Freshfarm Markets, the group that runs popular farmers markets in Dupont Circle and elsewhere, to set up near the White House, and she helped get the approvals to shut down Vermont Avenue during rush hour on Thursdays. But the result was quite the opposite of a quaint farmers market. Considering all the logistics, each tomato she purchased had a carbon footprint of several tons.

The promotion of organic and locally grown food, though an admirable cause, is a risky one for the Obamas, because there’s a fine line between promoting healthful eating and sounding like a snob. The president, when he was a candidate in 2007, got in trouble in Iowa when he asked a crowd, “Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?” Iowans didn’t have a Whole Foods.

For that reason, it’s probably just as well that the first lady didn’t stop by the Endless Summer Harvest tent yesterday. The Virginia farm had a sign offering “tender baby arugula” — hydroponically grown, pesticide free — and $5 for four ounces, which is $20 a pound.

Obama, in her brief speech to the vendors and patrons, handled the affordability issue by pointing out that people who pay with food stamps would get double the coupon value at the market. Even then, though, it’s hard to imagine somebody using food stamps to buy what the market offered: $19 bison steak from Gunpowder Bison, organic dandelion greens for $12 per pound from Blueberry Hill Vegetables, the Piedmont Reserve cheese from Everson Dairy at $29 a pound. Rounding out the potential shopping cart: $4 for a piece of “walnut dacquoise” from the Praline Bakery, $9 for a jumbo crab cake at Chris’s Marketplace, $8 for a loaf of cranberry-walnut bread and $32 for a bolt of yarn.

The first lady said the market would particularly appeal to federal employees in nearby buildings to “pick up some good stuff for dinner.” Yet even they might think twice about spending $3 for a pint of potatoes when potatoes are on sale for 40 cents a pound at Giant. They could get nearly five dozen eggs at Giant for the $5 Obama spent for her dozen.

Again, be sure to read the whole thing.

ITEM: Speaking of snark, this item over at the Politico tries to dish some up in reviewing the Right’s adoption of Saul Alinsky, but ends up making some grudging admissions:

Still, enough of the co-opting is intentional that the Democrats might be wise to stop snarking, sit up, and take notice. And some of it is already working, notes Lakoff: In the health care debate, he says, the right has taken “all the progressive arguments and made them conservative arguments.”

Says Zelizer: “The tactics can be powerful. Direct confrontation, community organizing, in-your-face politics, as we’ve seen in August, can get a lot of media attention and can scare politicians away from taking certain positions.”

They can also be their own reward. At FreedomWorks, says Brandon, “We’re having fun. I have been pissing people off left and right calling myself a progressive, because I’m fighting myself against the establishment.”

And, according to Alinsky, that’s one of the keys to a good uprising: As he put it in “Rules for Radicals,” “A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”

Heh. Not only did we have a lot of fun in DC last Saturday, we left it clean — unlike some gatherings.

ITEM: Lots of coverage on Obama’s abandonment of Eastern Europe, reconsigning it to be Russia’s “near abroad”, and doing so on the 70th anniversary of Stalin’s invasion of Poland, so I won’t repeat it here. However, Darleen at Protein Wisdom did put up this great cartoon by Ramirez:

ITEM: Oops!

SPOKANE, Wash. — A killer committed to Eastern State Hospital in 1987 escaped Thursday during a supervised field trip to the Spokane County Interstate Fair, resulting in a manhunt and a freeze on further field trips from the mental institution.

Phillip Arnold Paul, 57, was last seen Thursday morning in the northeast part of the fairgrounds, Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan said. A store clerk told authorities she saw someone matching Paul’s description later in the morning, and authorities believe he managed to get outside the fairgrounds.

ITEM: And we’ll wrap up with ACORN again, the gift that promises to keep giving for some time to come:

..bruce w..

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Category: 2010 Election, Congress, Food, Geopolitics, Journalism, Leftist organizers, Links roundup, Main, Military, Obama Administration, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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