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© Jack Cashill
In my Thursday column, Who is Sandy Berger, I noted the tendency among our progressive friends to dismiss all information that is incompatible with their worldview.
I cited as an example my recent experience at the Avalon Theater in Washington D.C. There, during an evolution debate, I ventured to discuss last November’s referendum in Missouri on the issue of embryonic stem cell research.
“Amendment Two” had been drafted to give researchers in Missouri a constitutional right to engage in embryonic stem cell research.
Although I was right in the middle of the Missouri battle, the audience members rejected my observation that education on the issue favored the opponents of embryonic stem cell research.
When I observed that the opponents closed a two to one gap in the last month of the campaign through a serious grass roots education campaign and nearly pulled out a victory despite being outspent about ten to one, some audience members reacted angrily. The arsenal of facts at my disposal impressed them not at all.
After that article was published, I received the following email:
I was there that night at the Avalon Theatre. I would be the gent that angrily responded to you about the Missouri information about Stem Cell Research that you were trying to pass off as fact. Care to take the time to back that up with some hard data? Or are you ID people stuck on "intuition" or conjecture as portrayed so accurately in the film, Flock of Dodos.
I just rechecked the numbers, and I stand corrected. The YES on Amendment 2 forces did not have a 10 to 1 lead in fundraising. They had a 20 to 1 lead. As of October 15, 2006, they had out-raised the NO forces $28.74 million to $1.47 million--$28 million of that from one couple.
Yet despite the money, and the glossy intervention of Michael J. Fox, the YES forces had lost their early 2-1 lead in the polls and were nearing a dead heat. The more Missourians learned about therapeutic cloning, the less they liked it. It was time to play hardball.
For me the defining moment of this new ball game came on Halloween night. I was mindlessly watching TV and passing out Halloween candy when my neighbor and her three little ones, two football players and a cheerleader, came breathlessly to the door of my Kansas City home
“Did you see the ACORN guy,” the mom said alarmed. “He is peeing in the street.”
I had not yet seen this fellow, but I had met two of his colleagues in the days previous. The radical community activist group ACORN--Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now--had dumped them and scores of other “paid volunteers” in our midst to drum up new voter registrants.
These volunteers had made local news when it was revealed that, to meet their daily quotas, they were not limiting the pool of new voters to the living. True to form, while ACORN workers were exhuming new voters, major media folks were burying the story. They all had an election to win.
As to specifics, Election Board officials in St. Louis had discovered roughly 1,500 "potentially fraudulent" voter registration cards, including at least three from the deceased, and this just a few weeks before the election.
The primary culprit in St. Louis was ACORN. In Kansas City meanwhile four ACORN employees were indicted for voter registration fraud.
None of this surprised me. What did surprise me, however, was that my ACORN guys were recruiting only those progressive-minded folks, living or dead, who would vote “YES” on Amendment Two.
I read ACORN’s web site from end to end, and found absolutely nothing in their mission about stem cell or any other kind of medical research.
I tried to find out what motivated the ACORN volunteers, but I met with little success. The first guy I met was incapable of talking to anyone. He had been sitting uninvited on people’s porches for the past few hours scaring the neighbor children.
When I tried to talk to him, he told me he thought he was on Chestnut Street, two miles to the east. I honestly thought this guy had Alzheimer’s so I called 911 on his behalf in the hope that some kindly police officer would escort him to a better place. To his credit, he did not pee on me or in the street.
The second ACORN guy I met was at least semi-coherent. He also did not pee in the street. The third ACORN guy, the one who peed in the street, was also marginally alert. I asked them both why ACORN was supporting Amendment 2.
Although they were amiable enough, neither of them had a clue. Both were clearly zoned out in any case, almost assuredly on drugs, as they and their pals wandered Zombie-like throughout Missouri, likely scoring some serious candy in the run-up to Halloween.
Still, their collective efforts paid off. With their huge edge in campaign funds, complete media support, and free reign in the streets, the YES forces eked out a 51 to 49 percent victory, a smaller than 50,000 vote margin.
The ACORN recruitment efforts proved instrumental. By a 64-36, the forces of scientific progress convinced the “no high school” vote that embryonic stem cell research was in their best interest.
They did nearly as well with the “under $15,000 income vote,” scoring there 63-37. That was just the margin they needed, and they elected Democratic senator Claire McCaskill in the progress.
In general, the NO voters went to the polls hugely better informed than the YES voters. Here I speculate, but I am confident a far higher portion of the NO voters know what the letters “SCNT” stand for.
And I would bet my house to my querulous correspondent’s lawnmower that this is so.
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