Friday, September 11, 2009

Update to "Community organizing at it's best"

In Community organizing at it's best , we saw secretly shot video of a sting in which a lawyer and small business consultant were helping a prostitute to buy a house to use as a brothel- with imported child sex slaves- and set up a money laundering scheme to funnel the money into a political campaign. As disgusting as it was, there are bad apples in any profession; it was just one office. But now it turns out it wasn't; footage has been released of the same sting working in a second office.

Forget for the moment that this was an ACORN office. Is this really how lawyers operate? Ok, I know that criminal defense attorneys defend the guilty; even the guilty deserve to have their rights defended. But this was before the fact. Why? It's not like they're getting rich doing it, not in a community organizer office- they act like it's a calling. Do lawyers lose their souls as a consequence of practicing law, or does the law attract the soulless?


Chalicechick said...

When I was nine, my buddy James and I spent the entire bus ride to the Smithsonian figuring how we would steal the Hope Diamond had we the inclination to do so.

Now I'm in law school and James works for the film industry in LA.

So yeah, it could be in the blood.

As for this situation, if the lawyers were actually filling out the paperwork it is inexcusable. My guess is that they didn't take these folks all that seriously and were figuring out how to do all this stuff more as an intellectual game than anything else. I have to say I get a kick out of figuring out how to defend cults and murderers as class assignments.

But I don't know.

Chuck B. said...

"Is this how lawyers operate?"

In a post Nixon, post torture memo Bush administration, you can't be serious?

Our legal system is adversarial based, not justice based. It is not "guilty" or "innocent" it is "guilty" or not "guilty" and the latter means an absence of evidence of guilt.

It is a culture of the best argument, not truth and in that culture there will always be a subculture of evaision of arrest as opposed to conforming to the law.

While there are of course laws of ethics that bind attorneys to report certain bad behaviors, there is a long history of Attorneys being used to skirt the law: tax law, racketeering, the US Constitution, on every level of society.

Presidents, corporation execs, pimps, everyday people and mobsters have always sought and often found that attorney who will deal in the possible. As is how can I possibly get away with this bad act?

There will always be an attorney who interprets their zealous representation incorrectly. Just like there are Physicians who will sit in and aid torture o prisoners to save lives, psychiatrists who will sit with their physicians, Accountants who will cook the books, and pediatricians who will ignore the abuse of children of the wealthy.

Just like for hackers or unethical scientists, money is not always the goal. It can be the challenge, or the way they are mentally put together.

Is it shameful? Yes, but if you are gonna be indignant, be consistant and be indignant to all the conservative polticians (even Regan) who consulted their crooked attorneys before they fluted the law.

Maybe this will help you:
I knew a person who was doing a sleep study. According to her Lawyers, Doctors, Scientists, and Engineers, seem to have the same low Rapid Eye Movement count as those with Borderline Personalisty Disorder (sociopaths)

Joel Monka said...

I have been consistent, and have criticized conservative politicians, frequently. But this time, I wasn't criticizing those who were asking advice, but those who supplied it.

Chalicechick said...

Now I haven't a clue what Chuck does for a living. My impression was that Joel was in sales at some point and now is a writer so I will use those for my examples.

Are there salesmen who will sell crappy and dangerous products to the unwitting?

Are there writers who write untrue and malicious things, cash their checks and then sleep just fine at night?

My impression is that the answer to both questions is "yes," but that doesn't mean that all writers and salespeople are amoral jerks either.

Every profession has evil, awful people. All of those awful people look especially awful when caught on camera. Google the YouTube video of the Dominoes employees putting cheese up their noses and then putting it on people's pizzas* if you don't believe that any job can be done in an evil or disgusting manner when there is someone of that inclination doing the job.

The ACORN lawyers will likely get kicked out of the bar if the bar determines that they were helping someone plan a crime rather than just stringing along some people who came off as crazy. (Which is not a nice thing to do, but probably won't get you kicked out of the bar.)

To me "yes, I'm a mere hooker looking to pay taxes now, but I'm planning to buy my own brothel and start an international sex ring" sounds so very dubious on its face than I can see a bored lawyer playing along just for kicks. Again, that's not a nice thing to do and I'm pretty sure those lawyers are now unemployed in the worst legal job market in 50 years, or soon will be.

But I don't think that it is worth quite the level of drama that it has gotten. By contrast, I'd say Alberto Gonzales' torture memos WERE used for awful things and that's where the fuss properly lies.


*Pause to shudder with revulsion.

Joel Monka said...

You make some excellent points (as usual), but I don't think unethical salesmen, etc., are quite the same thing. Lawyers have a special place in our society; it's impossible to live without them. They make up 90% of our legislators, are involved in nearly all aspects of our lives- and most of the time, we have no way of knowing whether they're doing a good job or not. (after all, if we knew the law that well, we wouldn't need the lawyer) Given their status, I think they should be held to a higher standard.

As to whether they were just going along because they were bored; 1. A third video has been released from a NY office- that's a lot of bored lawyers. 2. That third video showed people waiting their turn in the lobby while the illegal advice was being given- if boredom were the only motivation, they could have taken one of those customers.

Joel Monka said...

As to the torture memos, unless you have seen something I haven't (which is quite possible) I thought Bush was asking for a definition of what the law was, not asking how to get around the limits once they were outlined. I thought the controversy was over where Gonzales drew the line, according to his understanding.

Chalicechick said...

The issue with the memos is that Gonzales knew what his boss wanted and used unreasonable twisting of the law to give it to him.

If a salesman gets fired for sleazy behavior, then he just gets a job down the street. Lawyers can and do get fired for sleazy behavior, but their malfeasance is reported to the bar, or at least can be. So they are sort of held to a higher standard.

My guess is that ACORN lawyers do the same kind of work day in and day out. I've worked at that type of firm and I promise you that if someone popped in the door and asked "if you were going to start an international sex ring, how would you do it?" they would get an answer from most lawyers I knew there, even if there was other work awaiting said lawyers.

Especially if this stuff happened in July or August. Those are law's dullest months ever. No one calls you back for weeks on end. I knew a paralegal who was openly planning her wedding, and enlisted a secretary's help, and nobody cared because it was August.

Again, maybe ACORN hires the evil and immoral. I don't know that my boredom hypothosis is necessarily correct. But it remains my take.


Chalicechick said...

Further thoughts now that more has come out about those videos:

-- I found out that ACORN is a much bigger organization than I realized. I submit that if you found a hardware store with an equal number of stores, sent some of them a tool or machine that you later told them was defective and dangerous, then sent some plants in to ask to buy the item, the hardware store's record of concern for the public good wouldn't be any better than ACORN's.

-- And the part about ACORN being expected to get 8.5 billion in stimulus money assumed that ACORN would get every since dime put aside for community revitalization.
So phrasing it that ACORN "is expected" to get that money was a little sleazy.

-- I submit the pimp guy's outfit as further evidence for the "nobody took them seriously" idea, ACORN offices that threw them out and called the cops notwithstanding. When the filmmakers started claiming that no ACORN office had kicked them out or called the cops, the Philly office gave CNN the copy of the police report they had.

Police have investigated the ACORN employee on the San Bernadino, California video who claims to be a murdering ex-prostitute who killed her husband and is willing to "take somebody out" if they needed it. Her ex is very much alive and there is NO indication that her claims of having been a prostitute were true either. I think it's safe to say she was fucking with them, which is what she told the press.

I wish the filmmakers would release all their video, without the pretty editing, including that of them getting made fun of in some offices and kicked out of others, but I know that's never happening since they've been caught in the lie about never having been kicked out.

-- Also, I submit the following from the Washington Post, Aug. 22, 2009:

Of the scores of private security contractors that have worked for U.S. military and government agencies, Blackwater gained the most notoriety because of accusations its personnel used excessive force against civilians in Iraq. The Justice Department investigated the North Carolina company, now known as Xe Services LLC, for the alleged role of its employees in the slayings of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad in 2007. Five Blackwater guards were indicted last year in connection with those deaths.

The founder of the privately held firm, Erik Prince, is a major financial backer of Republican political candidates and causes. After the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, his company won numerous lucrative contracts to provide protection for U.S. personnel, including a $21 million no-bid contract to protect L. Paul Bremer, head of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority.

The next year, Blackwater secured a $1 billion, five-year State Department contract to guard U.S. diplomats and other dignitaries worldwide.

For a comparison, ACORN has gotten $53 million dollars from the government over 15 years.

-- Given the amount of crap ACORN took for FOLLOWING the law last year, I gotta feel for them somewhat. The voter registration scandal never would have broken had ACORN offices not submitted the suspicious voter registrations under separate cover flagged as "We know we are legally required to turn these in, but they look fake to us." Indeed, apparently, in San Diego 2/3rds of the flagged ones turned out to be real and just people with strange names.

Who does not condone claiming that you're a murderous ex-prostitute willing to help someone start a brothel, let's be clear.