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Posts Tagged ‘Shirley Sherrod’



Meyer to Jerry: Crank Up the Volume; Press Clips

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Jerry Brown kicked off Labor Day week with his first TV ad and a radio spot as well opening with narrator Peter Coyote telling us, “Never accused of following conventional wisdom, Jerry Brown took on the status quo,” a statement pregnant with understatement.

But as soon as Krusty the General launched his ads, the Armies of eMeg fired back with their own blast from the past — a  devastating 1992 debate clip of Bill Clinton smacking Jerry down for leaving California broke.

C’est la guerre. Calbuzzer Chief Editorial Cartoonist Tom Meyer picks up on the disparity in amplification between Brown and the Meg Whitman campaign, suggesting Jerry’s sitar just might get drowned out by THE HUGE SPEAKERS THAT WHITMAN CAN AFFORD.

Calbuzz Hits the Big Time: You know you’ve made it onto the radar when Andrew Breitbart, the king of the Neanderthal Wing of the Blogosphere publishes a 794-word essay attacking you, which, we are delighted to report, is exactly what has happened to Calbuzz.

In a piece written by Warner Todd Huston (and you know you should never trust anybody with three last names, especially when he’s got a blog, Publius Forum, that sounds like a social disease), who bills himself “as Chicago based freelance writer [who] has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001,” Calbuzz got 20 mentions and several links amid a brutal assault on our character, integrity and ancestry, which met the same high standards of high-quality journalism as Brietbart’s infamous attack on Shirley Sherrod.

Amid the horrible things WTH had to say about us were these libels:
– “Widely read.”
– “Calbuzz gets a lot of respect from California’s Old Media and political establishment.”
– “Calbuzz is one of the first stops for so many in the Old Media and Sacramento.”

Actually, a comment from a reader named “Petroglyph” hurt most: “Nobody reads this piece of crap Calbuzz unless it’s Jerry himself.” Sadly, we have it on good authority that Jerry hardly ever reads us unless Anne or Steve clips us for him.

Still and all, we’re delighted to have attracted the attention of the right-wing lap dogs of imperialism. Thanks for the props, Andrew.

Press Clips

All you need to know about the state of MSM (h/t to H.D. Palmer, who had it before Drudge).

Seema Mehta and Maeve Reston, the hardest-working women in show business, were everywhere at once over Labor Day weekend and still found  time to file a solid situationer for the tiny handful of Californians who haven’t  been paying close attention to the campaign.

Given the indefatigable labors of the dynamic duo, it’s unfair to the rest of us that the LAT  has the wily veteran Cathy Decker coming off the bench to make perfect sense of PPIC’s latest data dump.

Joe Garofoli busts Krusty big-time traveling between past lives.

Must read: Tim Noah’s series on income inequality, only the most important undercovered issue in American politics.

For those too bored to penetrate Charlie Cook’s pontifications about the mid-terms, here’s a handy list of the 50 races that matter.

For those who are even lazier, here’s a good, Hearstian mini-list of 10.

Swell analytical work by the Viet Cong Star’s Timm Herdt pulling together the multiple strands of the political reform debate.

Glenn Beck: more honest that you’ve ever seen him.

Press Clips: Windbags, War & WikiLeaks

Friday, July 30th, 2010

It didn’t take long for the Beltway’s windbag geniuses to prove anew how brilliant they are, by devising instant conventional wisdom about the unprecedented dump of classified Afghanistan war documents by the double-secret online cult called WikiLeaks.

From the condescending Anne Applebaum (“these documents just don’t matter that much”)  to the first class blowhard Doyle McManus (“The most surprising thing about WikiLeaks’ released trove of officially secret documents is how few surprises it contains”)  and the tiresome Richard Cohen (“the news…is that there is no news at all”)  the message was nearly unanimous from the opinion shapers who spend their days mainlining self-importance: Evvveryone worth knowing already knew all this.

Except…everyone didn’t.

Call us disconnected from the One True Reality of Washington, D.C., but we missed the prime time presidential addresses when Bush and Obama looked straight into the camera and said: “We’ve poured $876 gazillion down a rat hole and all we got show for it is a hyena pack of back-stabbing double dealing so-called allies, an uncounted number of massacred civilians and our own, deeply bruised well-kicked asses.”

Among the allegedly elite East Coast journos who populate cable TV like termites, only the level-headed Jim Fallows, a true insider with an outsider’s mind, had the common sense God gave him to opine that  “information that may be old news to insiders may seem a revelation to the broader public.”

Media massages: We don’t claim to understand the complexities and nuances of AfPak  policy, but the Calbuzz Department of Pioneering New Technologies and Sensitive New Age Guys does know a world-class media story when we see one, and the startling coup pulled off by Julian Assange, the Mr. Weirdo Orville Schell lookalike who runs WikiLeaks  (Rafti Khatchadourian’s New Yorker profile remains the defining piece about him) was extraordinary, game-changing and historic.

Not only did Assange imagine and build an unheard-of digital and security infrastructure to solicit, obtain  and channel a steady stream of official and corporate secrets offered up by conscience-stricken whistleblowers around the globe, but, in the instant case, he enlisted the managements and resources of three of the leading  MSM operations in the world to help.

If that’s not some kind of milestone of what you like to call your still-emerging radical transformation of the global news business, well then, Dr. P.J. Hackenflack ain’t from Vienna.

Amid the reams of dead tree and puny-minded analysis, NYU’s Jay Rosen, our favorite Big Think Media Guy, seemed best to grasp the sweeping scope and implications of the event:

If you go to the WikiLeaks Twitter profile, next to “location” it says: “Everywhere.” Which is one of the most striking things about it: the world’s first stateless news organization. I can’t think of any prior examples of that…WikiLeaks is organized so that if the crackdown comes in one country, the servers can be switched on in another. This is meant to put it beyond the reach of any government or legal system. That’s what so odd about the White House crying, “They didn’t even contact us!”

Appealing to national traditions of fair play in the conduct of news reporting misunderstands what WikiLeaks is about: the release of information without regard for national interest. In media history up to now, the press is free to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the laws of a given nation protect it. But WikiLeaks is able to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the logic of the Internet permits it. This is new. Just as the Internet has no terrestrial address or central office, neither does WikiLeaks.

Whew. Pass the smelling salts, please, it’s the fainting couch for us.

Silver lining dep’t: Happy to say, all was not a lost cause this week amid the teeming ranks of opinion mongers resident in Our Nation’s Capital.

In truth,  it appeared at times that someone had spiked the coffee in the op-ed offices of the WashPost, where scribblers Ruth Marcus and E.J. Dionne put on a clinic about the logic and rhetoric of expression, with a couple of finely crafted columns of high political import that put the Applebaum/Cohen ilk to shame.

Both pieces came in the wake of the stomach-churning Brietbart/Sherrod scandal. Although neither focused on the particulars of that matter, both  seemed somehow birthed by the industry-wide whirlwind of  post-mortem self-critical navel gazing, which resulted in solemn declarations of renewal and re-commitment to the kind of upright truth-telling that was soiled by the sordid episode, as if the writers had had a bellyful of punditry parsing, mushy language and false equivalencies, and decided simply to announce that the Emperor had no clothes.

First up was Marcus. Tackling the issue of whether the Bush tax cuts should be extended, she noted that Republicans always make exactly the same argument, whether the federal government has a surplus or a deficit, whether the economy is growing or sinking and regardless of the facts. Offering a neat, quick stroke sketch of GOP cant, she had us saying, “we wish we’d said that.”

The modern Republican argument about taxes seems to boil down to two principles, both misguided: Taxes can be reduced, but they can never be allowed to go up. And whatever level taxes are at, they are too high.

Next came our old friend E.J., unburdening himself in a well-reported column called “The Politics of Stupidity,” in which he bashed the absurdities of the U.S. Senate, surgically dispatched pig-headed arguments about the stimulus and worked the same rich vein of tax policy as Marcus, beginning with a contrast between the fact-based tax-and-cuts deficit strategy of British P.M. David Cameron and “the fairy tale of supply-side economics (which) insists that taxes are always too high, especially on the rich.”

The simple truth is that the wealthy in the United States — the people who have made almost all the income gains in recent years — are undertaxed compared with everyone else.

Consider two reports from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. One, issued last month, highlighted findings from the Congressional Budget Office showing that “the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007″…

The other, from February, used Internal Revenue Service data to show that the effective federal income tax rate for the 400 taxpayers with the very highest incomes declined by nearly half in just over a decade, even as their pre-tax incomes have grown five times larger.

The study found that the top 400 households “paid 16.6 percent of their income in federal individual income taxes in 2007, down from 30 percent in 1995.” We are talking here about truly rich people: Using 2007 dollars, it took an adjusted gross income of at least $35 million to get into the top 400 in 1992, and $139 million in 2007.

The notion that when we are fighting two wars, we’re not supposed to consider raising taxes on such Americans is one sign of a country that’s no longer serious…

What say you, Meg and Carly?

Today’s sign civilization is getting better all the time: Man’s best friend.

Obama Pantsed, Lobby Exposed, Calbuzz Menaced

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

With a cast of thousands, it’s hard to decide exactly who’s the biggest loser in the sad and sorry saga of Shirley Sherrod.

For those who’ve been resting on Uranus the last few days, she’s the Department of Agriculture staffer who got briefly fired when the Obama Administration panicked after the vicious right-wing provocateur Andrew Breitbart posted a doctored video clip from a speech she gave to the NAACP.

In the cut up tape, she appeared to say she had given favored treatment to black farmers over whites; in fact, the point of her speech was to describe how an experience many years ago helped her  overcome her own bias and conclude that class, not race, is America’s crucial social marker.

Before that fact became abundantly clear, however, the Breitbart-to-Drudge-to-Fox-to-conservative blogosphere echo chamber succeeded, not only in stampeding most of the MSM into reporting on the phony tape as legitimate but also in intimidating the NAACP and Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture into falsely denouncing Sherrod.  As Calbuzzer Betty Medsger put it Thursday in a post-mortem email:

It’s about the gale force dangerous stupidity and injustice that can result when the mindless news judgment often caused by the 24-hour news cycle is mixed with the tendency of confidence-lacking liberals to fear extreme conservatives to the point of instantly asking how high they should jump.

Our vote for the biggest dumbo in the incident is Jim Messina, the White House deputy chief of staff who was dispensing high fives and attaboys at the staff meeting the morning after the firing, for the fine job of political rapid response they all performed in cynically tossing Sherrod under the bus.

The net effect of the actions of the self-infatuated political geniuses in the White House was a) to add even more weight to the increasingly inescapable conclusion that it’s amateur night on Team Barack and b) to wrest defeat from the jaws of victory by stomping all over the Administration’s story about passing financial reform legislation, the best news they’d had in weeks.

The best commentary churned out about the whole mess that we read came from Young Turk Cenk Uygur, who quite correctly compared Obama to the school kid who gives up his lunch money to the bully, and gets his pants tossed on top of the school bus in the bargain:

As we can all see now, when Fox says jump, the Obama administration asks how high? (Then jumps one inch less and considers it a progressive victory). Is there anyone Obama won’t fire or throw under the bus if Fox asks him to? What if they ask Obama to fire himself? Would he do it? Or would he just fire Biden and say he met them halfway?…

In Washington, Fox News is very important and you get judged by how quickly you handle the media maelstroms they create. That’s viewed as a barometer of how well you handle “bad news cycles.” So, the rest of the Washington press corps judges you by how quickly you drop to your knees to end the “bad news cycle.” Congratulations Obama administration, you’re now professionals!…

The only real damage that Fox can do is if they spread their poison to other news stations. That is why it’s so imperative to label them what they are — a conservative propaganda station (not that there’s anything wrong with that). They’re just not news. And they couldn’t have proved it any better than they did in this case. And what did the Obama administration do with this golden opportunity? They turned it into a massive loss. Who is fucking retarded now?

Here’s a transcript of what Sherrod actually said in her speech, courtesy of Joan Walsh at Slate.

The envelope please: Mega kudos to Karen de Sa of the Mercury News for a superb investigative series demonstrating and measuring the extent to which Sacramento lobbyists have been the biggest beneficiaries of term limits.

Methodically deconstructing the legislative session, de Sa disclosed that over one-third of the bills introduced in the Capitol originate with special interests and presented case-study reporting on how rookie lawmakers get sucked into the cycle of serving the whims of the Third House, then get rewarded with campaign contributions for their trouble.

It’s been an article of faith among pundits (we name no names) that with the 1990 term limits initiative, the lobbying corps supplanted the Legislature as the keeper of expertise and institutional knowledge at the Capitol. Now de Sa has firmly established the notion as fact.

Amid the constant stream of here-today-gone-tomorrow lawmakers obsessed with reaching for the next step of the political ladder, it’s easy to forget bygone days when when legislators  were around long enough – John Vasconcellos on the budget, Gary Hart on education and Peter Behr on the environment come to mind – to master the substance, complexities and nuances of public policy and how to pass it.

Complete with main bars, side bars, data bases and old school, got-the-reporter’s-back editorials, the entire Mercury News series can be accessed here.

Swimming with the sharks: No truth to the rumor being peddled by Flash Fleischman that eMeg finally agreed to meet Calbuzz for dinner if we agreed to swim out to her yacht.