Obama Pantsed, Lobby Exposed, Calbuzz Menaced


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.

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There are 7 comments for this post

  1. avatar sqrjn says:

    Jeeze am I the only one who thinks that Shirely Sherrod doesn’t exactly sound good in the full tape. Where does this redemption angle come from? She doesn’t overcome any prejudices. She clearly still has a racial us versus them attitude. All shes claims to have come to terms with is that white people don’t automatically go out of their way to help other white people like she expects black people to do for black people. As a result she is now willing to help poor white people, it doesn’t follow that she has given up her prejudices or would refrain from exercising her discretion as a federal employee to aid her own racial community over others.

    • avatar SezMe says:

      Yes, you might very well be the only blind person in the room. The redemption comes when she realized that the struggle is not between black and white but between the haves and have nots. Then, in spite of powerful reasons for her to remain a racist, she rejects her racist attitude and, far more importantly, acts for the rest of her life in a completely color-blind manner. I’d be happy to have the integrity that fits under her little toe-nail.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      Yes, you are the only one. This woman’s father had been killed by white farmers, and she still found it in herself to help a white farmer who needed it. That’s my idea of redemption.

  2. avatar tegrat says:

    BTW, this comment from Cenk (Who is fucking retarded now?) is in reference to a comment made by the oh-so-lovable Rahm Emmanuel talking about progressives who he referred to as “fucking retards”. Of course, if it weren’t for progressives, he wouldn’t have the job he has right now. I find the term highly pejorative, on an equal with the n-word in fact, and Rahm’s use of the word is just indicative of his general nature which is to basically be an asshole. But apparently that gets the job done…

    And yes, sqrjn, you are probably alone. We are all racists, it’s what we do with it that makes the difference, not what we feel (we have no control over that). Once you realize her father was shot in the back by a white farmer and there was no justice served in that case, and that she saved the farm of the couple she is talking about in the speech (by their own testimony), perhaps you will agree that yes, she overcame some very severe, and perhaps very justified, prejudices.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      I’m going to disagree with you about Rahm. The only “job” he seems to get done is convincing others about how effective he is. Do we have a good healthcare bill? No. Do we have a good financial regulatory bill? No. Do we have a climate change bill? No. A repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell? No. Guantanamo closed? No. Are the people who, as you rightly note, helped elect Obama, happy with all of this? No.

      In fact, being pretty familiar with Mr. Emanuel after working on staff for a congressional candidate in a district close to the one he used to represent, I’d say there’s a distinct possibility that the White House chief of gaffe was behind all the bowing and scraping to the right-wing media.

      There’s absolutely no doubt in mind who they’re really after. And here I’m absolutely in line with Mr. Uygur. They’re after the head black guy. They’re picking off the lower-level ones for practice, and working their way up the food chain–honing their strategy and techniques along the way, and damaging him a little more each time. I’m also absolutely in agreement that the only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them. Mr. Obama has done so before, and needs to do it again if he is not to become their puppet.

      To do that, he’d better stop listening to Rahm’s self promotion.

      BTW, the candidate I worked for lost to one Emanuel backed. His candidate lost to a very conservative Republican who still holds a seat Democrat could have won. This was just one of several examples of Rahm’s self-professed political genius I could tell you about in the 2006 mid-term elections when he headed the DCCC.

  3. avatar sqrjn says:

    The self-proclaimed racist, defends racism as perhaps justifiable – hilarious. Maybe understandable would be more what you intended. But regardless understandable/justifiable I’d prefer if government employees weren’t racist.

  4. avatar SezMe says:

    Sure it’s fun to point at the losers in this sordid tale but I’d like to take just a moment to look to focus on the wheat, not the chaff. Over the past twenty years Sherrod has been a stalwart but faceless advocate for the poor – of any color. Then this right-wing slime machine went at her and she showed even more class.

    I know you like to highlight various indicators of why the world is coming to an end. Hell, I enjoy your shots at the world immensely. But here is a golden opportunity to find some reason to hope. Too bad you didn’t spend at least one paragraph looking at that perspective.

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