Who is James O’Keefe?

Here are two articles I could find giving some biographical background on who James O’Keefe is. One is neutral, one is hostile. There is some vulgar language. You can make up your own mind about him, for my part I fail to see why the silly Lucky Charms stunt is something insidious.

Most interesting point to me- he’s a friend of Lila Rose, who did the phenomenal work showing Planned Parenthood ignoring laws about reporting statutory rape.

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Call Me a Prophetess, Here Comes An Expanded Version of the CPSIA

ON February 16th I posted:

Many of those opposed to the bill have pointed out one of the most obvious shortcomings- it cannot possible keep children safe because adult products are not so regulated, and the youngest children, who are the most vulnerable, are far more likely to be sucking on their parent’s buttons than their own, and they will be chewing on Mama’s necklace, taking a bite out of Papa’s shoe, and grabbing the dog’s chew toys. It’s only a matter of time before Public Citizen et all replies to these points by saying, “You are so right. Let’s regulate those, too.” And I say that not because I think it’s only a matter of time before they think of it- I firmly believe they already have. It’s only a matter of time because these groups know that if they started by regulating all products, it would garner more negative attention.

It’s a sort of war of attrition- put people out of business, get them scrambling to merely survive, demoralize them, and get everybody else comfortable with the next level of regulation. Then pull the noose a little tighter and add another round of regulations that at one point people thought were far fetched and ridiculous.

I wrote this in May:

My guess is it is only a matter of time until garage sales are simply banned at the local level. That time may be a decade or two, because you’ll need to be boiled slowly enough that you won’t notice the temperature increasing and your liberties evaporating in the steam. So you’ll be as complacent then as we have been in the past about lost freedoms.

As well as this:

I have said this before, only partially tongue in cheek, but I really believe that this sort of mindset is leading up to the day when you must have your breastmilk regulated and tested before you receive permission to breastfeed your own baby, and it’s only a matter of time before they are inspecting home kitchens. This over-reliance on regulation and bureaucratic oversight must cease if liberty is to thrive.

Well, it hasn’t taken long. Here comes Jeff Gearhart and an organization called Alternet and HealthyStuff.org warning us that the whole world is toxic, toxic, I tell you, and we need some more regulations:

Hazardous chemicals are still far too commonplace in everyday consumer products. One quarter of all pet products had detectable levels of lead, including seven percent with levels higher than 300 ppm – the current Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard for lead in children’s products. Sixty-four percent (64%) of the plastic women’s handbags contained lead over 300 ppm. No matter how selective consumers are, they are likely to be faced with these unnecessary hazards in their homes, offices and vehicles.

The well-publicized and oft-criticized CPSC reforms of 2008 were clumsily implemented, but did put in place critical protections against hazardous chemicals in children’s products. But most products, including pet products and women’s handbags are not regulated by the CPSC. What’s more, the CPSC only regulates less than ten chemicals in children’s products; there’s no system in place to adequately deal with the thousands of other chemicals on the market or provide incentives for companies to develop safer chemicals.

It’s called the 2009 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Supposedly it’s a big improvement over the CPSIA, which makes me think that all the problems with the CPSIA were not, as I have long suspected, unintended consequences or ‘bugs.’ Those problems were features, and their goal was to make consumers and small businesses and crafters embrace the TSCA:

TSCA reform package also shifts the burden upstream to chemical manufacturers, not chemical users like product manufacturers and retailers, to develop hazard information of chemicals. Overall, this system of regulating at the chemical manufacturer level is significantly more efficient and cost-effective than an attempt to regulate hundreds of individual product or component manufacturers.

Ultimately, the TSCA reform package addresses the root problem in a common sense way by phasing out the chemicals we know are toxic, requiring chemical manufactures to provide chemical hazard information and promoting the use and development of safer chemical alternatives.

So why didn’t we start with that one instead of the CPSIA? Because then CPSIA would have been a harder sell. Note that this isn’t a replacement for the CPSIA, it’s just more of the same.

Right now, we have a tremendous opportunity for positive change as Senator Frank Lautenberg and Representative Bobby Rush will soon be introducing new bills to reform the outdated, toothless TSCA of 1976, that we currently use to regulate chemicals.

Bobby Rush was a sponsor of the CPSIA, too. And one of the biggest problems with the CPSIA is that is entirely based on the ‘precautionary principle,’

Consider the testimony from U.S. PIRG, Mr. Ed Mierzwinski.

In that testimony before Congress he talks about all the damage lead poisoning can cause to a child, but never gives any evidence that any rises blood lead levels have, in fact, occurred from, say lead in an overall buckle or a book, and then just leaps from ‘lead poisoning makes kids real sick’ (paraphrased) to the sweeping (and unsupported) claim that therefore, a

‘better, precautionary approach is to simply ban lead in all toys and children’s products…

Incidentally, at the time of his testimony the age limits for the bill were for children seven and under, but he demanded that the limits be raised to 12 and under, and that did happen- which is another cause of some of the most byzantine and harmful, as well as just plain stupid, aspects of the CPSIA.

This is because the Naderite groups subscribe to the Precautionary Principle as the proper basis for the government to restrict freedoms, and they think you should, too.

Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, and similar advocacy organizations invoke a regulatory approach often called the precautionary principle, which presumes that chemicals are likely to cause harm and must be proven innocent. Information suggesting a risk is considered meaningful, but exculpatory data is rarely given equal weight. One potential risk of this approach is the potential for regulatory overload, where all chemicals are to be regulated by default, and only permitted for specific uses after demonstrations of harmlessness.

Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, and similar advocacy organizations invoke a regulatory approach often called the precautionary principle, which presumes that chemicals are likely to cause harm and must be proven innocent.

Most U.S. regulatory agencies eschew this approach, and use an approach similar to the authors of the CPSC study, employing a standard scientific risk-assessment approach (though still one focused only on risk and not on benefit). In such a framework, a chemical might warrant regulatory control if evidence supports the contention that the chemical is capable of causing harm to human beings at a relevant level of exposure.

I would like to know how we simply crossed over from risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis into the precautionary principle as seen by lobbyists such as PIRG, Public Citizen, and the folks behind HealthyStuff.org- who were not elected to their position and did not consult me, and do not live in a world where they have any understanding that there is any value to pre-1985 books.

Over at Shaw’s Eco-logic, the author writes:

Interestingly, to change TSCA into a precautionary law would require overlooking the terrible example of the CPSIA, a blatantly precautionary law that avoids all concept of risk assessment.

As Gib Mullan, Director of the Office of Compliance and Field Operations of the CPSC stated on February 26 at the ICPHSO (International Consumer Product Health & Safety Organization) Conference in Orlando, Florida (www.icphso.org), “Congress made it clear that [the CPSC is] to get away from ‘that kind of analysis'”. Thus, the CPSC is a precautionary law in which the regulatory agency is prohibited from considering if there is ANY risk associated with banned or restricted products.

More on the Precautionary Principle here and here.

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Another Giveaway!

Sometime in the last 24 hours or so we hit our millionth visitor to our humble bloggy abode!! That is both exciting and humbling.

As of this writing Equuschick has still, as our hillbilly elderly lady friend says, “shown no symptoms of labor,” but we’re talking baby stuff anyway. Tell us a funny story about your own labour and delivery or the first few months of parenting in the comments if you don’t have a blog, or link back to us from your own blogpost about something funny and baby related to enter this week’s drawing for a five dollar gift certificate for euphoriababy.com (something I bought with my swagbucks!!)!

See all those exclamation marks! It MUST be exciting!!!!

Meanwhile, we have other sweet links to share- a tip for a nifty baby shower present over at Frugal Hacks, a delicious looking recipe for zucchini-foo-yong over at a Foothill Home Companion (mmm, and mega-frugal right now!), and this lovely diaper cake you can make using little freebies you collect and save plus a package of disposable diapers, and there is a chance to win your 999 dollar emergency fund from Dave Ramsey!

You have until Monday night, the 21st (midnight ET). Sometime Tuesday we’ll put names in a bonnet and draw one out to see who wins the gift certificate.

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Did at least ONE ACORN office turn O’Keefe away?

UPDATE: Link fixed, further information added at bottom of post:

If this is true
, it does appear that O’Keefe, at least, did go to one ACORN office that turned him away. I say only O’Keefe, because ACORN seems to be saying he was with another girl. The police report they are showing does not not seem to include a claim that he mentioned trafficking in under-age girls, but rather that he ’caused a verbal disturbance’, whatever that means. It’s also a little strange that O’Keefe’s name is on the report- in the videos I saw, Hannah used a pseudonym, so I would have assumed James did, too.

But let’s grant that this could be true, say this one office turned him away. Let’s say even that a few others did, too, even though we already know ACORN lied about this happening at the New York and the San Diego office. It’s not clear to me how this absolves ACORN from wrong-doing in the five videos we have seen so far, particularly the Baltimore, New York, and San Diego episodes- in the Baltimore and NY videos the tax evasion advice is duplicated and it seems that that they are accustomed to giving criminal tax evasion advice. In the San Diego version, we have the ACORN worker offering to smuggle in under-aged girls and suggesting he’d like to be a partner in the child slavery business. Nothing that happened in any other office can make these things go away or somehow cancel them out.

It’s also a little disturbing that ACORN’s first response to the San Diego video was to say that they wouldn’t fire the employee offering to help coyote 12 and 13 year old girls across the border for slavery and asking to partner because he was simply dealing with a challenging situation as best he could’ and didn’t even need to be disciplined. Lagstein, the SD group’s head organizer then said after further discussion with supervisors and state ACORN officials he decided Vera’s conduct was “unacceptable.”

Nor can a single police report, dubious or authentic, and a spurious claim that only ACORN helps the poor explain away this:

A group of former ACORN leaders have created the group ACORN 8 because the executive branch of ACORN wouldn’t open up the books and let them see where the money was going. www.acorn-8.net/

The founder and chief organizer of ACORN is Wade Rathke. His brother, Dale Rathke admitted to embezzling almost a million dollars from ACORN. ACORN executives decided to handle it as an internal matter, and did not inform most of the board members or law enforcement, and instead signed an enforceable restitution agreement with the Rathke family to repay the amount of the embezzlement.

Wade Rathke told the NY Times, “the decision to keep the matter secret was not made to protect his brother but because word of the embezzlement would have put a ‘weapon’ into the hands of enemies of Acorn, a liberal group that is a frequent target of conservatives who object to ACORN’s often strident advocacy on behalf of low- and moderate-income familiehttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=10775661s and workers.” A whistleblower revealed the embezzlement in 2008. On June 2, 2008, Dale Rathke was dismissed, and Wade stepped down as ACORN’s chief organizer, but he remains chief organizer for ACORN International.

How much more could they help the poor if they weren’t so corrupt?

This is a question that has disturbed other former ACORN employees, including those who started ACORN8.

Here’s what ACORN found Wade Rathke had to say about a former ACORN employee who went to the police and revealed a bomb threat against the Republican party- it’s:

“one thing to disagree, but it’s a whole different thing to rat on folks.”

ACORN gets a lot of credit for work in New Orleans after Katrina, but it seems they showed up months late and then demanded that all organizations work through them– thus enlarging their public relations arm without actually doing anything in the community.

The corruption runs deep, wide, and high
and one office in Philly that may have chosen not to help a pimp avoid taxes is not going to fix that.
———————–
UPDATE:
About ACORN offices calling the police- Again, we already know that ACORN was not honest about this- they initially claimed:

“This recent scam, which was attempted in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia to name a few places, had failed for months before the results we’ve all recently seen”

This was false on several fronts- one is that we now know that it did not fail in New York, and, in fact, ACORN (and the NYT) dropped the NY reference after the video footage came out. The other is that… ‘for months?’ Wasn’t this a summer project? It’s also interesting that ACORN has now scrubbed the entire claim from their website. Hmmm.

Now it appears that the San Diego worker, who seemed the most disturbing to me, actually may have called the police after the pair left his office. Several points here:
Note this does NOT make O’Keefe and Giles liars. Since he did it AFTER they left the office, they really couldn’t have video taped that phone call, could they? It’s unlikely they even knew.
This employee was terminated by ACORN, and if he actually did call the police, then that bothers me. THat makes it credible that he asked for prices, for where the business was located, for email addresses because he always had the intention of turning them in- and if that is true, then it seems to me ACORN has thrown a good man under the bus to protect themselves.
Is it true? I don’t know- he does seem to tell two different stories.
Here he says:

…he was merely trying to help the pair because he thought they were in danger.

Vera said he was told the woman needed to escape her controlling pimp, who wouldn’t let her start a new life.

Immediately, Vera said he offered to call the police but the filmmaker quickly stopped him.

“Don’t call the police because I’m gonna be a lawyer,” O’Keefe said in the video.

After the pair left the building, Vera said he called the National City Police Department.

National City police confirmed that Vera contacted them, but said there was not enough information about the couple to file a formal report.

If he was only trying to help them because he thought they were in danger, why the advice on helping them coyote under-aged girls through Tijuana? Why ask prices if he was only concerned for their safety?

It’s like unraveling a very tangled ball of yarn, because it turns out he didn’t so much ‘call the police,’ as he called his cousin who works for the National City Police department. Nothing wrong with that, but it does put a little bit of a different facet to the story, making it less than an official call, and meaning we aren’t dealing with a completely impartial police officer, either.
In this version of the story he also didn’t call the police because a prostitute was offering to smuggle in under-aged girls, but because he wanted to help the prostitute deal with her abusive pimp. And he said he was offering to help smuggle in the girls, but the language barrier prevented him from understanding how the girls were to be used- he was going to smuggle in illegal aliens as an altruistic act. Maybe so. Um, he was going to trust the prostitute and the new pimp to do the right thing by these young girls?

Here we find it was not exactly an official report:

At the afternoon news conference, Vera, 39, offered a tearful recounting of the incident, saying he was confused during the conversation because English is not his native language. He said he later contacted a cousin who is a National City police detective, but did not file a report because he did not know the couple’s names.

National City police did not return a call placed to confirm Vera’s account.

Note that he says he did not file an official police report because he did not know the couple’s names- which brings into question again the Philadelphia police report which has O’Keefe’s name, as well as merely the claim that he caused a ‘verbal disruption’ (is that how you would characterize ‘offered to commit a crime and asked for ACORN’s help?’). And he did not claim he called the cops because the couple were doing something wrong, but because he was worried about their personal safety.

It also seems he has told two separate versions to his former boss, and that may be why he is fired:

A few hours after Vera explained his side of the story, Lagstein issued a statement that read in part, “After release of the second San Diego video by the unscrupulous partisan videographers, we have reevaluated our assessment of the incident that occurred last month. No papwerwork was filed, but the video reflects unacceptable conduct that contradicts the earlier statements of ACORN Organizer Juan Carlos Vera. He has been terminated….”

Lying to your boss is a good way to lose your job. So… I started out this update concerned that ACORN had wrongfully terminated the guy, and after googling around reading several news stories, it looks to me like ACORN really had no choice, but sort of spun the story about him calling the police when what he really did was call his cousin rather than file an official report. I would like to know, however, why he gets fired, and the white woman in the San Berdoo video only gets suspended with pay.

In other news, ACORN is considering dropping their voter registration activities, because ‘small mistakes’ are inevitable.’
Um. It’s not ‘small mistakes.’ It’s systemic fraud. And, tellingly, the defense most often heard these days is NOT, “No, they didn’t.” It’s, “Yeah? But what about….” and then some argument on the level of “I know I am, but what are you?”
Since when did Haliburton become the standard for ACORN? Don’t we always hear that stronger criticism of American actions is because ‘we’re supposed to be better that?’ Well, shouldn’t ACORN be ‘better than that,’ too?

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Ego-Centrics

Once a traditionally male syndrome, narcissism generally begins at home and in schools, where children are praised excessively, often spoiled rotten and given the relentless message that they are ‘special’.

We spent decades telling our kids lies- that they could all, each and every one, do anything everything they wanted to do, and this really isn’t true. We should have been telling them what Terry Pratchett said in Wee Free Men, “If you believe in yourself and trust in your dreams and follow your star … you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.”

According to the American research, there has been a 67 per cent increase in it [narcissism] over the past two decades, mainly among women.

An estimated ten per cent of the population suffers from narcissism as a full-blown personality disorder.

The symptoms include: a grandiose sense of self-importance; the belief that he or she is special or unique and in some way better – either intellectually or physically – than others; a requirement for excessive admiration; a sense of entitlement, whether to fame, fortune, success and happiness or simply to special treatment; enviousness of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her; an inability to empathise; an inability to admit a mistake; and haughty behaviour or attitude.

What researchers have also identified, and are far more worried about, is what has been described as ‘normal’ narcissism – a cultural shift that has seen even non-narcissistic people seduced by the emphasis on material wealth, physical appearance and celebrity worship.

The researchers believe our culture brings out narcissistic behaviour in almost all of us.

They blame the internet (where ‘fame’ is a click away), reality television (where the lure of fame without talent is most prevalent), easy credit (which enables people to buy far beyond their ability to pay), celebrity worship, our highly consumerist, competitive and individualistic society, and a generation of indulgent parents who have raised their children to think they’re special, amazing and perfect.

According to Twenge, this focus on self-admiration has caused a cultural flight from reality to the land of grandiose fantasy.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1213212/The-ego-epidemic-more-inflated-sense-fabulousness.html#ixzz0R467faNC

More here

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