The recent stories about ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — are pretty amazing.  Only days after one story showed an ACORN staffer in Baltimore advising a would-be pimp and prostitute about how to prepare their taxes and disguise the nature of their business comes a new story about ACORN staffers in Washington, D.C. advising the claimed pimp and prostitute on how to obtain a loan to buy property to set up a brothel.  The scandals have caused the U.S. Census Bureau to nix a plan under which ACORN would have helped the Bureau conduct the 2010 census.

It just goes to show that relying on community organizations can be a risky business.  ACORN calls itself a network of families “working together for social justice and stronger communities,” but in these two cases the actions of its staffer belie its noble-sounding purpose — unless there are people out there who actually think that helping pimps and prostitutes builds “stronger communities” and promotes “social justice.”

Was Abe Always Honest ?

As I have mentioned before on the blog, one of my goals in retirement is to read a book on each of our presidents. Yesterday I finished a book on Abraham Lincoln and one of the things I learned about “Honest Abe” is that he wasn’t always honest and that politics in his day were not all that different then they are today. One particular incident happened towards the end of the Civil War where Lincoln dearly wanted to permanently abolish slavery through a constitutional amendment.

Lincoln was concerned that his Emancipation Proclamation would be revoked once the Civil War was over and that the Supreme Court may or may not uphold the Proclamation as legally valid. The Proclamation was also limited in scope and it freed only those slaves in rebel states. Lincoln was worried that a judical decision might be limited and that only current slaves would be considered free, but it would have no effect upon the children of those slaves.

So Lincoln set out to amend the Constitution which had not been done in sixty years. He knew that he had to get Congress to do so before the end of the war because the eleven southern states that were not part of the Union at the time and could not vote on the measure. He urged Rep. Ashley from Ohio to introduce the following legislation “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction and that Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation”.

In order to get the votes needed to pass the legislation Lincoln invited congressman to the White House and offered highly sought after federal jobs to either them or their family members. Congressmen whose seats were seen as tenuous they were promised campaign appearances by Lincoln and financial support in order to be re-elected.

When the legislation came up for a final debate on January 31, 1865 rumors circulated that Confederate peace commisioners had arrived in Washington and if true most all of Congress believing that peace was at hand would probably not support the amendment. So Lincoln sent a message to Rep. Ashley stating “So far as I know, there are no peace commissioners in the city nor will their likely be any in the city anytime soon”.

In turn Ashley floated Lincoln’s message to fellow congressmen to assure them that no peace negotiations were in the offering. Lincolns message was purposely misleading because he knew of three peace representatives that were just a few miles away at Fort Monroe prepared to discuss the means for a peaceful ending to the Civil War which had lasted so long and had taken so many lives.

The legislation passed congress, but the amendment had to be ratified and to make sure the states did ratify the amendment Lincoln wanted to offer payments to the states in the amount of $400 million, but his cabinet rejected the idea so he discarded it.

One has to wonder if this type of thing had happened today would the media be all over the story that the president had been dishonest and lied about the peace commissioners ? Would the political favors offered by Lincoln have been seen in a positive light ? Had Lincoln not sent his message to Ashley would the slavery amendment have ever passed Congress and would salvery have ever been abolished ? All very interesting questions and good food for thought !

Bad Start

I watched the Browns lose to the Minnesota Vikings yesterday, and in many ways the game captured the futility of the Browns since they returned to the NFL. The Browns played a decent first half — particularly the defense — and led at halftime, 13-10. Even so, there were the normal danger signals. After the Browns got the ball on the Vikings 6-yard-line following a penalty, they could not punch the ball into the end zone and had to settle for three points. This has been a persistent problem for the Browns, who did not score an offensive touchdown in the last six games of last season. Other danger signs? A bad interception by Brady Quinn, apparently the result of a mix-up with Braylon Edwards, after the Browns were effectively moving the ball on the ground, and the usual assortment of ill-timed penalties.

The second half was a disaster from start to finish, marked by penalties, poor tackling, and almost comic ineptitude on offense. The defense, which had been stout during the first half, spent most of the half on the field, was worn down by repeated rushing attempts by Adrian Peterson, and finally gave up a long TD run by Peterson that put the game out of reach. In the meantime, the offense looked lost — relegated to two-yard runs and dink-and-dump passes without any meaningful effort to stretch the field. Brady Quinn had one of those embarrassing plays where he lost control of the ball as he got ready to throw and looked like Garo Yepremian during the Miami-Redskins Super Bowl. As the defense gave up scores, the offense never responded until the game was effectively over. The only positive was that the Browns ended their string of games without an offensive touchdown by scoring with a few seconds remaining in the game.

As usual, the Browns lost their home opener, and the season is off to a bad start. The Vikings are supposed to be one of the best teams in the NFL, so maybe the Browns aren’t as bad as they looked in the second half. Time will tell, but so far the signs aren’t very encouraging.