Vilsack’s Big Blunder Compounded by White House: Fix the Sherrod Problem Now

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(This is the full rather than edited version of Shirley Sherrod’s comments at a recent NAACP dinner)
I can’t believe that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is taking even a moment to “reconsider” his intemperate and uninformed firing of Georgia State USDA rural development director Shirley Sherrod for ‘alleged’ racially-tinged remarks.


According to the Associated Press, Vilsack said that he will “conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts” about his decision to ask Shirley Sherrod to resign.
Where was the “thorough review” of the facts in this case before? Now we know that the highly publicized, edited account of Sherrod’s statement was fraudulently edited and manipulated.
It appears that Vilsack — and now even the White House which is pathetically standing behind Vilsack’s idiotic move — ran for cover rather than trying to investigate the full story.
Now to get her reinstated, they finally want to get all the data in. Well, at least they are willing to reconsider.
DC’s big political guns really screwed up here — and it is just an outrage that Sherrod hasn’t received an apology been immediately reinstated.
Sherrod was recounting a story of racial reconciliation — a constructive, useful narrative — in a way that her NAACP audience could hear and understand. Barack Obama has done the same in his own discussions about race. This is what the nation needs to get over the past and to heal racial wounds and create new bridges.
It’s an injustice and outrage that the White House isn’t fixing this now.
This is a learning moment.
Vilsack needs to admit the mistake and his own fallibility, which we all should do from time to time, and fix this.
Given Barack Obama’s own shoot from the hip comments in the past that got in the way of African-American scholars and out of control police, the White House should be encouraging tempered behavior when these cases occur.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

53 comments on “Vilsack’s Big Blunder Compounded by White House: Fix the Sherrod Problem Now

  1. questions says:

    Google “sarcasm definition”

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Happily, you never ever ever ever post anecdotes about individuals, saccharine life stories, or anything touching!”
    Actually, I do. Quite often.
    But I have the good sense not to post such simple cupcakes immediately after posting some over-cooked stew about how complicated things are.

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    POA, you are RIGHT! Happily, you never ever ever ever post anecdotes about individuals, saccharine life stories, or anything touching!

    Reply

  4. John Waring says:

    The Obama administration, little soul, less spine.

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Posting individual stories of illegals who are great people is absolutely fuckin’ dumb, Questions. I could add a multitude of such stories myself. And needless to say, asshole, I could go the other way, and post story after story of illegals who are hardly the stellar citizens your sacharin little skits are casted with.
    Its unsustainable. What, we should do nothing? Stand by idly while these sacks of shit on the federal level refuse to enforce inmmigration law, and the problem grows, grows, grows as each year passes?
    Stop with this attempt to pull heart strings with these touching little life stories, you’re makin’ an ass of yourself.

    Reply

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “So, your entire evidence for Michelle Bachman’s being a dingbat is that she doesn’t believe in the church of global warming, of which you are clearly an orthodox member?”
    There she goes again; straight face, absurd comment. Can the jackass REALLY wake up in favor of herself? It must be hell in there.

    Reply

  7. questions says:

    And this:
    “Down a gravel driveway, behind a locked gate, a man who preferred that only his first name, Marco, be used, considered that question.
    He arrived in Tucson seven years ago on a tourist visa, found work framing the new houses. He got a paycheck then and paid taxes. He brought his wife and two kids to join him, and they moved to Benson, where he works for a rancher.
    “We’re not just here to benefit,” said Marco, 37. “We’re also giving.”
    He rents a trailer where he sat down on an overstuffed couch in a room decorated with frilly maroon curtains, his son’s baseball trophies, family photos, two paintings of Jesus and one of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
    He is nervous about the new law, he said, and like everyone else, he is preparing.
    He has gathered all the documents he can find in a desperate hope that they might satisfy police asking for papers: some invoices from a store he owns in Mexico; a letter of recommendation from his home town’s mayor. He plans to fix the small crack in the windshield of the sedan he drives to work, an infraction that could lead to his deportation if the law takes effect. He will try to look friendly but unassuming.
    “I always try to dress clean, not dirty, like I’ve been walking through the desert,” Marco said. Still, he worries about what might happen.
    “Maybe it was a mistake to bring my family here,” he said. “If it gets too tough, I will go. Maybe California.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/21/AR2010072106457_3.html?hpid=artslot&sid=ST2010072106582
    ********
    Now THAT’S one scary guy. Did you get a load of the paintings of Jesus? And he pays taxes? We can’t have this kind of thing in America, no siree.
    I didn’t bother pasting in the part about the Latina with a kid at Stanford, who worries about the Arizona law in a way that white people don’t have to. Funny, that disparate impact thing.

    Reply

  8. questions says:

    Here’s a fun fact!
    “Like many who grew up in Benson, Bevin Judd remembers giving bread and water to Mexican farmworkers who crossed through town when he was a kid. He remembers leaving doors unlocked, keys in the car. “But now it almost seems like there’s a criminal element to it,” he said. The sense that crime has increased with illegal immigration isn’t supported by either local or statewide crime statistics, although that is difficult for some around here to believe. ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/21/AR2010072106457.html?hpid=artslot
    *****
    Note the disconnect between fantasy and fact, between the golden age of yore and “Mexicans these days” or whatever.
    ******
    And from the same piece a paragraph or two above:
    “She and her husband, Bevin, a UPS salesman, moved from Tucson to a new house on 22 acres in San Pedro Ranches three years ago, but their rural-lifestyle fantasy was quickly spoiled. They found stashes of clothes when they were out for desert walks. They found a smuggler’s van abandoned in their gravel driveway. More recently, they arrived home with their two kids from an evening baseball game to a scene of floodlights and U.S. Border Patrol agents scrambling across their property. ”
    *****
    Horror of horrors, they found stashes of clothing and an abandoned van in their very own driveway. The burbs ain’t what they used to be….
    The fantasy of getting away from all those others, from the difficulties of life, from conflict and sadness and death — this is THE suburban fantasy. It’s just a fantasy.
    ********
    Here’s another story:
    “President Barack H. Obama
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
    Washington, DC 20500
    Dear Mr. President,
    My name is Yahaira Carrillo and I’m undocumented. As I write this, over 20 undocumented youth are risking arrest and deportation to demand that Congress take action for the DREAM Act. Just over two months ago, I, along with two others, became one of the first undocumented immigrants in U.S. history to do the same. Like Mohammad Abdollahi, who wrote you a letter on Monday, I too am queer. I risk being deported to a machista country, Mexico, where killings related to homophobia are rising.
    I was born in 1985 to a barely-turned 16 year-old who had been kicked out of her house while she was pregnant for being a disgrace to the family. I lived with my mother in an abandoned house in Guerrero, Mexico. She struggled to find work, but was either harassed or asked for sexual favors. She said no. She was 17 in 1986 when the 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico. She decided to take me to the U.S., but we didn’t stay that long. At my grandmother’s request, we returned to Mexico. The hits kept coming: my mother ended an abusive relationship with a military man and feared for her life.
    Then, my father called- after abandoning my mother while she was pregnant and being MIA for most of my early years, decided he wanted us to join him in California. My options have always been limited. I was 8 years old when I came to the U.S. When I was 14, my 18-year-old boyfriend wanted to marry me. I said no. When I graduated from the top of my high school class, I thought I couldn’t go anywhere. My parents were migrant farm workers- college wasn’t likely. But years later, I found a private college in Kansas that would accept me. I worked myself to the bone, and obtained an Associate’s Degree. Today, I am working towards my Bachelor’s degree. According to my calculations, it will take me eight years.
    I’ve had people tell me that it’s not a big deal, that I should keep on waiting for the DREAM Act to pass. My life has been on pause, rewind or replay for years. Waiting is not an option. That is why undocumented youth like myself are risking everything, right now, to pass the DREAM Act, this year. If we’re putting our lives on the line for this, Mr. President, the least you can do is call members of Congress and ask them to do the same.
    It started with 3 undocumented youth sitting in John McCain’s office, and it has escalated to 20. How many more will it take before Congress passes the DREAM Act?
    Sincerely,
    Yahaira Carrillo”
    ********
    This one is from Crooks and Liars
    There are a lot of ways to be “illegal”, many of which do not deserve rounding up and deportation, all of which have to do with human suffering of one sort or another.

    Reply

  9. nadine says:

    So, your entire evidence for Michelle Bachman’s being a dingbat is that she doesn’t believe in the church of global warming, of which you are clearly an orthodox member?
    Might I point out that a very long (and growing longer by the year) list of climatologists, physicists, and other earth scientists don’t believe it either, nor increasingly, does the public at large (as shown by polls), as the evidence for it grows weaker by the year, since the warming promised so confidently by the computer models has failed to show up? This despite a media barrage over the last 20 years in which global warming has become an unfalsifiable thesis. According to the media, everything “proves” it: heat, storms, drought, any weather event. Every heat wave “proves it”; every cold snap is ignored.
    But global temperatures are not cooperating. We haven’t warmed globally since 1998. In fact, the last few years have been cooling. And that’s if you trust the global temperature records, which, as the leak of CRU East Hadley mails should tell us, have been cooked pretty thoroughly by a small coterie of warmists, who admit to withholding data from scientific review, destroying data demanded by FOIA requests, conspiring to prevent skeptics from publishing, using “tricks” to “hide the decline”, who plaintively ask each other why they can’t explain the lack of warming they deny in public, and who handle their data with utter disregard for scientific accuracy. Now they are trying to resurrect their reputations through official whitewashes. It won’t work.
    As a side note, when the CRU leaks came out, the reporters only looked at the emails, not being technical. Since I have a software background, I looked at some of the code files, and in particular, at harry_read_me.txt, the diary of the luckless CRU programmer whose job it was to update the temperature record for new publications.
    At any well run lab, Harry should have started by uploading the published programs from the archives, and re-running them according to instructions. But Harry didn’t have an archive or any instructions. Poor Harry just inherited 11,000 undocumented files — data, code, partial data sets, vectors to be applied, working partial products, all mixed up, no telling what the numbers mean — and he spent months trying to verify his own efforts by comparing the numbers he got against Hadley’s published data, and being really cheered when he got within half a degree of the published figures.
    Now, mind you, this is supposed to be the ultra scientific, adjusted uniform global temperature set that gets fed into the models to tell us the rate of global warming: TENTHS of a degree matter, a lot.
    It’s particularly instructive when Harry gives up trying to understand the data and just welds partial data sets together by multiplying one of them by a vector named “fudge_factor”. There is a lot of unexplained adjustment to the raw temperature data, which always seems to skew it down before 1950 and skew it up after 1950 without a scientific explanation.
    And don’t get me started on the low quality of the IPCC reports, which finally is being exposed, far too late.
    No, you’ll have to do a whole lot better to prove Michelle Bachman is a dingbat than saying she doesn’t believe in global warming.
    Check out also Walter Russell Mead, “The Big Green Lie Exposed” http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2010/07/12/the-big-green-lie-exposed/ Mead goes into the policy overreach of the Greens.

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    Sorry, a couple of typos occurred in the twitter part of my
    post. Here is the correct English version:
    Peaceful Americs, pls refudiate any claim that Mchll
    Bachman is in any way connct to Norw. Prhps a Sekret

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    I’m over my head, Dan, way over my head. The snark is
    apparent, the thinking is not.
    As for me and my aunt, we are both choosing ignorance
    over information. We know nothing about Frau Bachman,
    whom we think is a secretary (Sekret

    Reply

  12. Dan Kervick says:

    Where does one begin, drew? Let’s start with her several garbled statements on CO2 which, taken together, seem to imply that she doesn’t grasp the fairly elementary point that a chemical compound that is essential for life can nevertheless also be a harmful pollutant in the right circumstances. For example, there are both organic and inorganic compounds that spur plant growth as fertilizers, and also lead to river pollution. Bachman seems convinced that since plants need CO2, CO2 can never be a pollutant.
    Then let’s add her suggestion that the entire science of global warming is not just an imperfect human endeavor, beset by some cases of malpractice and error, but is through and through a “hoax”. I would say that this a level of ignorant and deeply conspiratorial thinking that characterizes unbalanced and very uneducated people in our society, not the “thoughtful”, and is on a par with the view that scientists faked all the moon missions, and are hiding many alien spacecraft from us in secret government bunkers.
    Then there was the time she hid behind a bush at a gay rights rally; and the time she ran screaming from a bathroom claiming two lesbians had been holding her prisoner; and her several statements on homosexuality that display not just scientific ignorance, but a pronounced streak of persecuted paranoia.
    And as an example of talking without thinking, we could mention Bachman’s rant against Keith Ellison, which she subsequently had to walk back since it was riddled with embarrassing inaccuracies that she must have swallowed whole and without investigation from some viral email or similar form of information.
    Then there was her insider knowledge of the secret Iraqi plan to give half of Iraq to Iran.
    Of course, she made a string of statements during the health care debate which were not really dingbatty, but were just absurd falsehoods. I don’t know whether she was lying, or has an honest proclivity to believe absurd falsehoods.
    I don’t mean to hurt your feelings. Since you call her “Michelle”, you must feel some personal tie with her.

    Reply

  13. Don Bacon says:

    Yeah, right, those Norse raiders were Peace Corps wannabes.

    Reply

  14. Dan Kervick says:

    You’re right, Paul, although I forgot that Bachman was of Norwegian heritage.
    I hereby call on you and all decent, peace-loving Norwegians to refudiate Michele Bachman.

    Reply

  15. drew says:

    Sure, okay. What’s an example of dingbat Michelle Bachman?
    Curious. You’re fast with the labels, slow with the actual
    observations. How is Michelle a ‘dingbat’? (Remember, to be a
    dingbat she has to be crazier than Dennis Kucinich.)

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    By extension, Dan, you are calling me and my aunt morons
    or cynics.
    I don’t think neither me nor my aunt are morons. Or cynics.

    Reply

  17. Dan Kervick says:

    “An intelligent person at least wonders why M. Bachman is clear, strategic, pleasant, effective, when to a partisan she is so objectionable.”
    An intelligent person might think that your statement begs the question, drew. Why would one wonder *why* Bachman is clear, strategic, pleasant and effective if one doesn’t accept in the first place *that* Bachman is clear, strategic, pleasant and effective.
    But in any case, your claim seems to have been that Bachman is clear, strategic, pleasant and effective *in person*, while Nadine was eager to add that Bachman is thoughtful, clear and strategic *in public* as well. And Nadine was the only person to whom I was talking. Only those who know Bachman personally can judge what she is like in person. But we are all capable of judging the virtues and vices of her public personna. And I’ll stand by my own judgment in that realm: in public, Bachman is a dingbat; a clown. She lacks seriousness, and frequently gives evidence of having thought very little about her remarks before allowing them to pass her lips.
    Now if she really is much more thoughtful and serious in private, I suppose an intelligent person might ask why she chooses to maintain such a sharp split between her public and private demeanor. Perhaps she is really very canny and insightful, and just does what she must to appeal to her target constituency. Perhaps we could submit this deep question to a private intelligence contractor to get an answer.
    As for the remark about Mondale, I don’t follow you. Your claim is that some associate of Walter Mondale thinks Bachman is thoughtful in person. Now suppose, for the sake of argument, Bachman is not actually that thoughtful, in person or otherwise. It would by no means follow logically or evidentially that Mondale is a moron or cynic. It wouldn’t even follow that Mondale’s associate is a moron or cynic – only that that associate is mistaken in judgment.
    So your free-associating my disparaging assessment of Bachman into a slur on Mondale doesn’t fly logically. But as a practicing intelligence professional, I know I don’t need to instruct you on logic.

    Reply

  18. drew says:

    So by extension, Dan, you are calling Mondale a moron or a cynic.
    I don’t think Mondale is a moron or a cynic.

    Reply

  19. Drew says:

    You have to admire Vilsack. He speaks plainly and well, as an Iowan
    (well, he’s really from Penna), even though he’s covering for Rahm.
    Dan, you’re over your head. The snark is apparent, the thinking is
    not. I’m referencing someone who teaches with Walter Mondale.
    You’re choosing ignorance over information. An intelligent person
    at least wonders why M. Bachman is clear, strategic, pleasant,
    effective, when to a partisan she is so objectionable.

    Reply

  20. Dan Kervick says:

    “Actually, Michelle Bachman is thoughtful, clear and strategic in her public persona too.”
    Nadine, this is the kind of thing that makes me think you don’t believe 90% of the things you say. You’re too smart to actually think that dingbat is “thoughtful”.
    But I do have to admire Republican solidarity and loyalty. They’re more disciplined than us Democrats, and don’t break stride with even the slowest marchers in their ranks.

    Reply

  21. nadine says:

    “I like Rotwang’s take, at TPMCafe: “In the hierarchy of the nation’s tribulations, reverse racism ranks somewhere around flat Pepsi Zero and iPhone call drops.”
    Not when the reverse racists are running the Justice Department. That elevates the problem considerably.
    This the problem with the whole Obama administration: they’re still talking about sticking it to “The Man” when they ARE “The Man”.

    Reply

  22. Don Bacon says:

    WaPo:
    “Press secretary Robert Gibbs conceded Wednesday afternoon that the government had acted rashly and without all the facts when it sought Sherrod’s resignation for racially themed comments she made during a recent speech to the NAACP.”
    But it’s not Obama’s fault. It’s the ‘frenzied culture.’
    WaPo again:
    “Gibbs also blamed the media and those who practice politics in Washington, who he said all acted rashly in their fast-paced discussion of Sherrod’s speech. He said mistakes were made because of a “frenzied culture where everything happens so quickly.”
    A new threat. Will we now have a War On Frenzy? Whip Frenzy Now buttons? How about national frenzy controls?

    Reply

  23. Don Bacon says:

    That’s Jane Hamsher.

    Reply

  24. Don Bacon says:

    Vilsack: “”This is a good woman,” he said. “She has been put through hell. I could have done and should have done a better job.” Vilsack said he offered Sherrod, who had been Georgia State Director of Rural Development, a new position at the USDA, though he declined to specify the nature of that “unique” position. Sherrod indicated to him that she wants time to consider his offer.
    Vilsack should have sacked himself.
    The Obama administration has a soul?
    Let Jam Hamsher (FDL) tell it:
    Barack Obama ran his campaign on progressive messaging, but he basically despises liberals and hired a White House staff full of people who share those sentiments. . .The White House does not want any whiff of association with the people who gave them their jobs, and it

    Reply

  25. nadine says:

    Actually, Michelle Bachman is thoughtful, clear and strategic in her public persona too. That’s why she has zoomed to prominence as the “second most hated conservative woman” in the US. She speaks very well.

    Reply

  26. DCPundit says:

    Steve,
    Secretary Vilsack has offered Ms. Sherrod her job back and apologized. I think that whether they are reading your blog or not, you clearly have a connection to the soul and decisionmaking center of the Obama administration. They did what you and some others suggested. Interesting to see how this works.

    Reply

  27. DonS says:

    “On the of the leading democratic party pollsters is a friend, and he says Bachman, in person, is thoughtful, clear and strategic.” (drew)
    So that means she is scheming, contrived, intentionally obfuscatory, and propagandistic in her projection of public persona??

    Reply

  28. Don Bacon says:

    Another good person has been discharged from US government service as a result of Obama’s dithering.
    Lieutenant Dan Choi’s National Guard unit has notified him by mail and phone he has been fully discharged and is no longer serving as an American solider. According to Gay City News: “Choi lost his battle with the Pentagon on June 29 when his discharge from the Army under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was finalized.”
    Choi, an Arabic Linguist, Iraq Veteran, West Point Graduate, and Infantry Officer, has been an outspoken opponent of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, engaging in not only media and rally speeches, but also acts of civil disobedience and hunger strikes.
    photo: http://tinyurl.com/346tuwa

    Reply

  29. Don Bacon says:

    I like Rotwang’s take, at TPMCafe: “In the hierarchy of the nation’s tribulations, reverse racism ranks somewhere around flat Pepsi Zero and iPhone call drops.”

    Reply

  30. Carroll says:

    Watching the unedited version it’s pretty clear that Sherrod was explaining she was biased against whites (result of her father’s murder by a white man) or at least gave blacks her priority before she saw the light and realized it’s class thing not race thing.
    Senator Byrd was not forced to leave the senate because of his past KKK mentality before he saw the light.
    So what you wanna do? There are some whites that still hate blacks and some blacks that still hate whites but the Sherrod flap seems a tad extreme to me. Unless one wants to go back thru her entire work to see if she has a history of favoring blacks over whites in government programs the race fanatics on both sides will have the story either way they want it.
    Mainly Sherrod provided us a typical example of the pitfalls of any government employee/ appointee speaking to, or being used to speak to, any race oriented or other specially oriented interest group.

    Reply

  31. Beth Mahoney says:

    Oh she shot her mouth off and she got caught. Plain and simple, now she is paying the price and she doesn’t like it…

    Reply

  32. questions says:

    Regarding “unsafe” — please look at the stats for crime in Arizona and the stats for crimes by undocumented people. There’s less there than the conservative panic line would have us believe.
    I’ve already posted the Brewer insanity thing about all those supposed but actually non-existent headless bodies strewn across the desert.
    Narco terrorism is not akin to migrant labor.
    Narco terrorism is a law enforcement problem and a drug demand problem and a market problem. There is so much money involved in drug dealing, and so much fear that no border guard, fence or anything else will help.
    There is a funny paradox in enforcement of codes that people have a super strong incentive to violate. You enforce, and people get sneakier. When cocaine was being dealt with, crack came along as it was more potent and smaller in size for equivalent highs. Marijuana has also gotten more potent so that small amounts can be effective.
    Enforcement is a funny thing. The more illegal you make something people want, the more open to corruption you make the system as well.
    Put in fences, people will find other ways.
    What we need is a whole bunch of conceptual clarification and a lot more, and better, information about the real incentives, threats, and conflicts of interest.
    Going on about illegal Messicans (as Wonkette would have it) who are taking our jobs and beheading us in the desert and who are just plain illegal so there — doesn’t help anything.
    There is a drug issue.
    There is a labor issue.
    There are huge economic ramifications regarding labor costs that I can identify at some level, but can’t exactly solve. To make stuff affordable, we need cheap labor. To have cheap labor we need migrant workers. Without the cheap labor, production goes away. And even with it, we’ll lose some production (note that I posted China’s lost status as the cheapest fucking place to make any and everything. Bangladesh is crowding the territory now.)
    I don’t really have a solution for the range of problems here, but at least I can keep the categories separate. Better analysis comes when people can do that.
    And note that there is no longer a sector of the economy not vulnerable to some kind of labor competition. Everyone, professional and not, is being hit by technology, outsourcing, immigrants, lack of money to do stuff, willingness to put up with trashier goods and services.
    The loss of status sucks, don’t it?

    Reply

  33. questions says:

    drew,
    farming “exits” to Mexico where a fair amount of our produce originates at this point.
    When it gets too expensive to pick crops grown in the US, farmers leave.
    There has been some documentation of this phenomenon. I don’t know how pervasive it is, but as long as labor and shipping together are cheaper there than here, indeed, farming can “exit.”
    Here’s one link:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/09/eveningnews/main4004958.shtml
    Again, I don’t know how common a phenomenon this is, but labor crackdowns are likely to encourage it.
    Was that so scary that you have to regret having asked?!!

    Reply

  34. Elizabeth Miller says:

    The only person coming off in this entire episode as having any integrity and intelligence at all – and she has lots of both – is Shirely Sherrod.
    This is a huge black mark on Obama and whoever briefed him and on Vilsack and, indeed, on the entire administration, to say nothing of the imbeciles who started this whole sad and sorry affair.
    There is only one way out of this mess and it should have happened yesterday!

    Reply

  35. drew says:

    Questions:
    I’ll probably regret this, but why will farming “exit”? And what will
    replace it? This is an extremely amusing assertion you make. The
    latest farmland sale in my area was for over $7000/acre.
    –drew

    Reply

  36. drew says:

    POA, evidently I’m *not* smart enough to understand the tea party
    deal as a giant conspiracy, because I haven’t seen any evidence of
    that. I see a lot of evidence that they’re driving the Republican
    machine batty (in the manner that Palin is driving them batty). I
    don’t think it’s a party, but a cultural phenomenon, so the dynamic
    you describe of being disillusioned by leadership, is a little
    different. There are a few people like Rand Paul who are explicitly
    associated with tea party support groups, but not many.
    On the of the leading democratic party pollsters is a friend, and he
    says Bachman, in person, is thoughtful, clear and strategic. The
    name-calling thing is very Journolist-ic, but again, it just means
    that the argument is over and lost.

    Reply

  37. drew says:

    Questions:
    Mexico is a greater national security threat to the U.S. than the
    Taliban; the border is controlled in many places by narco cartels,
    and unemployment in places like Nevada is over 14%.
    This does not make people “immigration nuts” if they don’t want to
    repeat the failure of Reagan’s amnesty/reform plan. It does mean
    that they want to fix the problem that Reagan did not fix, which was
    sufficient border integrity to make the concept of reform
    meaningful. That some people do not feel vulnerable to open
    immigration does not make the people who actually are
    economically vulnerable, and sometimes physically unsafe, “nuts”.

    Reply

  38. questions says:

    POA,
    The immigration issue is far more complex than you have it.
    First off, how do you know those framers would have their jobs if the borders were sealed?
    How do you know that there wouldn’t simply be some kind of temporary worker status that does the same thing?
    How do you know that no production would be off shored (more pre-fab housing, ready to assemble)?
    Yes, indeed there is exploitation of undocumented workers.
    Yes indeed employers take advantage of the most vulnerable so they can avoid costs.
    Yes indeed cheap labor keeps prices down.
    Yes indeed, off shoring is what happens when domestic labor prices rise and immigrant labor documented or not can’t keep the costs down.
    Farming will exit. As much construction as possible will exit. Manufacturing has largely exited. X-ray readings have exited. Call centers have exited.
    Capital wants cheap labor. What’s the shock in that?
    So now you add in to a miserable labor situation the additional rounding up, arresting, deporting, family breaking mess of the anti-immigration crowd, and what do you have?
    The fact is, you, POA, have a blind spot on this one and you really hate to think you do.
    We need some new labor status that helps people keep their families together, that, sadly, keeps wages down enough that some productions stays in the US, that ensures that people aren’t dying in the desert.
    Your friends who have lost their jobs — of course it’s sad. But there’s no guarantee they’d have those jobs at their preferred wages anyway.
    So maybe it’s time to find something other than “illegals” to blame for the systematic mess we are all in as all sorts of labor relations shift because many people have been priced out of the labor market.
    It’s the economy, stupid.

    Reply

  39. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I wonder if Drew has the intelligence to realize that the “teaparty movement” is a giant con-job, nothing more that an organized far right effort to rebrand the extreme right hand side of the GOP.
    Pushed as a grassroots movement, one would find the status quo right behind the curtains, handling the puppet strings.
    I suspect, should the “tea partiers” manage to shove some ignorant red neck like Bachman uphill, they will be as disappointed in her as the Obama crowd is in him.

    Reply

  40. drew says:

    I guess in matters of race, double standards are progressive.
    Somehow, it occurs to me that if a white guy were talking on
    videotape about uppity blacks acting ‘superior’ (which justifies
    their getting a haircut) that most people here would be appalled,
    and rightly so. It’s a curious way to introduce the subject of
    working with the other side of town: asserting that they’re racist.
    I don’t believe that USDA officials in 2010 should be telling
    anecdotes about racist white farmers as a means of explaining
    that the USDA should not use race in the delivery of services.
    It’s too easy, as a professional, to just say, “I am from the USDA
    and race is not a factor in our delivery of services. As I recall,
    this was to be a post-racial administration, so look, now it’s
    comin’ at ya.” But she wanted, evidently, to pander to the racial
    politics at the NAACP. I don’t think I’d fire her for that, but I
    would ask her if she thought that other interest groups should
    receive special hearings as well. And maybe assign her to work
    a field office in multi-cultural North Dakota.
    It seems pretty clear that Vilsack panicked or was intimidated
    into an act of panic. The more curious thing is the yo-yo-ing
    NAACP over the past few days, including the mystery resolution
    condemning (or not) the Tea Party movement’s inherent “racism”.
    After all, they had the full tape. To me it appears (speculation
    alert) that someone in the White House is also whispering in
    their ears, and is very concerned about Obama’s collapsing
    support among whites — to the point where they’re telling the
    NAACP to mute their criticisms.
    Of course, Obama’s lack of support from whites is not racial (he
    was elected by whites), and this whole thing is more evidence
    that the administration lacks any mainstream underpinnings.
    This idea that Americans are an angry, racist mob desperate to
    desert the president on racial grounds is really mistaken, and
    really misleading.
    I can’t believe that they’ll throw Vilsack over the side for this, but
    they may. Vilsack endorsed Mrs. Clinton during the campaign so
    he can’t be in the inner circle. Obama looked good when he
    fired McChrystal, so maybe he needs to fire someone each month
    between now and the election.
    Or, just let Biden handle such things. “Oh, she was just shooting
    her mouth off, get a life” is not a foolish response to this
    controversy. It wouldn’t be mine, but would be better than
    many.

    Reply

  41. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Whats the problem here???? This is just typically Obama. Someone farts, and Obama thinks its a wind blowing through. Up goes the mainsail, and once again he’s tacking upwind.
    How the fuck did this guy manage to weasel his way into the Oval Office??? It doesn’t speak kindly towards the intelligence of the average American.
    And very smooth, questions, the way you present opposition to illegal immigration as an issue of racism everytime you get the chance.
    I know framers that served apprenticeships, bought homes, and worked faithfully their entire lifes to raise their families on less than adequate wages. Many of them are now out of work. Who is framing many of the homes now in this area??? Illegals, thats who. Crews of them. You think thats right??? You think these born and raised Americans that are forced out of work by cheap illegal labor are racists???
    Fuck off, asshole. It amazes me that those least affected by this issue are those that raise the biggest hew and cry about the “immorality” of opposing allowing this continued influx of people that break the law to get here, and ignore the law after they’ve arrived. And what of the contractors taking advantage of the illegals, questions? Time and again Mexican friends of mine will tell me of unscrupulous contractors that have paid their illegal workers less than promised, or even NOTHING at all, the attitude being “Tough shit, turn me in if ya don’t like it”. You think thats right, questions???
    Gee, I’m surrounded by racists, because I don’t know anyone that thinks we can sustain this steady influx of illegal workers, anchor children, and growing pockets of poverty withing our inner cities.
    But spew on you ignorant jackass. Label hardworking Americans as “racist” because they are tired of losing their jobs and tradescraft to underpaid, underskilled, and ILLEGAL immigrants who are EXPLOITED by unscrupulous employers looking to make a dime on the backs of BOTH sets of victims here, the American workers AND the illegal immigrants.
    Frankly, questions, you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about on this issue. So like the Jew defending Israel frying Muslims in white phosphorous, all you can come up with is the timeworn EXCUSE for your position, pointing your finger and spitting the word “bigot” at anyone that doesn’t buy into your bullshit.

    Reply

  42. Linda says:

    As someone who lives in Atlanta, far outside the Beltway, I have perhaps a somewhat different view of this entire mess, i.e., the focus first and foremost should be on immediate action by Obama Administration to do the right thing and apologize to Ms. Sherrod and reinstate her (if she even wants her job back.) All the chatter and spin about Fox News, the tea party, NAACP,etc. is secondary and will be endless.
    Anybody who has driven three plus hours in GA that involves going through Atlanta traffic to get back to Athens can understand the pressure placed on this woman to receive three cell calls Monday while making that drive and ordered finally to pull off the road to text her resignation from her Blackberry. BTW, as on July 1, it became illegal to text while driving in GA.
    As I look at the Sherrod affair as compared to the Henry Louis Gates affair, I can’t help but wonder if this administration isn’t favoring a well known professor at an elite NE Ivy League institution who lost his cool and didn’t behave at his best over a totally unknown woman in rural GA who did absolutely nothing wrong. Indeed she has spent her entire career working tirelessly to help poor farmers in rural GA. Her speech to the local NAACP last March was an excellent example of the kind of discussion about race that needs to happen more.
    And it does happen a lot more here in the South because people who have lived here all their lives (I haven’t) have had to think about and confront their own prejudices over the past 50 years.
    “Prejudice” means to pre-judge without looking at all the facts. USDA and the Obama Administration pre-judged Ms. Sherrod. They should reinstate her immediately or perhaps offer her a better position in the Office of Civil Rights at USDA where she could continue to spread her message with eloquence and dignity.

    Reply

  43. PrahaPartizan says:

    Vilsack should not only be “considering” reinstatement but considering possible promotion of Ms. Sherrod. She’s the only person in this whole rancid affair who has actually demonstrated any professionalism whatsoever.
    Vilsack should also be tendering his resignation and revealing the identity of the individual at the White House who forced this resignation hastily. I’m sure we all have our own ideas of just which person with access to the Oval Office pushed this disaster forward, but let’s get confirmation on whose scalp should really be nailed to the wall.

    Reply

  44. The Pessimist says:

    This whole episode simply reinforces my belief that a serious question regarding the Team Obama is not being asked by the media:
    How much of Team Obama’s faults and failings can be directly attributed to Rahm Emanuel’s personality?
    Is Obama’s credibility gap in all important issues more accurately defined as a reflection of Emanuel’s politcal instincts rather than the other way around?

    Reply

  45. YY says:

    Apologies about being snookered is not sufficient for NAACP to regain any level of credibility. They should be pulling out all stops to pressure reinstatement of Sherrod, if they are to retain any useful role as an organization. Mistakes need to be corrected, not just be apologized. Otherwise you keep sliding backwards.

    Reply

  46. questions says:

    Dan,
    Two thumbs up, 10 stars out of 10!
    And bonus for “refudiate”!
    ******************
    drew,
    How do videotapes lie, let me count the ways….
    1. Splicing in pix of yourself dressed in pimp and prostitute clothing (see O’Keefe and Breitbart)
    2. Leaving out all of the context that explains the short part you have excised and screened.
    So that’s at least 2 ways.
    Here goes:
    In 1986, when Sherrod was dealing with the white farmers in question, she was NOT working for the USDA.
    In 2010, March, when she was recounting the story to the NAACP audience, she was NOT celebrating racism.
    In fact, in context, she was talking about how she had had a moment of thinking things were about race, that she had had a moment of seeing the reverse of racial power — a white asking her, a black, for help, that she had considered doing less to help, that she had realized that in fact the issue isn’t race, it’s class and in that, the white farm family was like any other victim of the distribution system we have put in place. So she helped that white family, helped them save their farm, helped them enough that they are all now fast friends, helped them enough that the white couple in question has been all over the media arguing that in fact Sherrod isn’t racist.
    So re-read Dan’s post and think about how video tapes can lie……
    And the think about Fox’s use of chyrons, Fox’s use of selective editing, Fox’s use of selective screening, Fox’s use of context-setting information — all of this helps videos lie.

    Reply

  47. DonS says:

    Obama and his team remain hyper sensitive to the narrative that because he is a black man, etc. etc. He has in many ways left a footprint that is anything but “pro black”, pro poor, etc.

    Reply

  48. drew says:

    Sorry, typo:
    “..”fraudulent”, *any* more than remarks …”

    Reply

  49. Dan Kervick says:

    This has No Drama, Team Obama written all over it. Throw under the bus first, ask questions later. Eventually one of these weaselly moves was bound to come back to bite them. And here it is.
    You have to wonder what would have happened if the current Oval Office occupants had been in charge during Martin Luther King’s time:
    MLK:
    “I have a …”
    Breitbart:
    “A gun! Martin Luther King has a gun!”
    Beck:
    “Why is Barack Obama letting black radicals run around with guns? Didn’t Hitler give guns to the brownshirts just before Poland invaded Austria?”
    Coulter:
    “Decent Christian white people are having their guns taken away from them every day, while black criminals are running through the streets with guns!”
    Palin:
    “Guns are for shooting moose and polar bears, not for threatening white people who conscientiously object to “civil rights” on religious grounds. I call on all honest and peace-loving Black Muslims to dejecticize and prenouce these dangerous remarks.”
    Limbaugh:
    “Sho’ nuf. I gots me a gun now, massah! An’ I be fixin’ to blow yo’ head off!”
    Malkin:
    “My nephew didn’t get into grad school, because some gun-toting affirmative action panther held a gun to the admissions director’s head.”
    Clinton:
    “Shame on you, Barack Obama!”
    White House:
    “We hereby reject, rebut, regurgitate and refudiate the ill-considered remarks of Doctor King. We have removed him from our civil rights advisory board, and revoked his Safe Black Man certificate of Presidential approval. And Attorney General Holder has a established a blue-ribbon panel to investigate charges of gun-running in the SCLC.”
    MLK:
    ” … dream.”

    Reply

  50. drew says:

    I don’t understand how tape can be “fraudulent”, and more than
    remarks can be “allegedly.” Tape is tape, remarks are remarks.
    When Republicans (Trent Lott?) say dumb things, for some
    reason those remarks are not “allegedly racially-tinged” and
    “manipulated … out of context.”
    Anyway, the idea that I want to pay USDA officials to direct
    federal funds to farmers in a way that advances “racial
    reconciliation” is bogus. I want the USDA to fulfill its USDA
    mandate irrespective of the racial politics (or any other politics)
    of its bureaucrats. If that’s too burdensome for the bureaucrats
    — just doing their jobs — they should get different ones.
    There’s no difference in Sherrod saying to the NAACP she didn’t
    do her job, than for her to stand in front of a group and say that
    she stole from the petty cash drawer. I don’t think it’s a big
    deal to expect people to do their jobs, and I don’t think it’s a big
    deal for an organization devoted to civil rights, like the NAACP,
    to reject racial spoils, payback, and extortion strategies.
    I write this from Iowa. Do people really believe that small-town
    lawyer Vilsack is on the level, saying no one in the political
    apparatus of the White House called him or consulted with him,
    prior to his taking the most observed action of his life? Me
    neither.

    Reply

  51. questions says:

    Nadine,
    13 minutes and 45 seconds of your life — click, scroll, watch Rachel Maddow’s take:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/7/20/886062/-%28UPDATE%29-Obama-White-House,-Stop-believing-the-RIGHT-WING-media-%28Maddow-video%29
    Below the Maddow piece is the full video, which I haven’t watched yet.
    ****
    What is truly sad about this whole episode is the extent to which it plays into the white anxiety about black people, revenge, power and status loss.
    One of the many nice points in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit is the idea that the “bondsman” (or “slave”) actually has far more truth than does the “lord” (or “master”). The bondsman knows how to work the world, make, do, fix, provide food and so on. The anxiety that the lord has to feel over the power of the bondsman is what I think underlies the ability of these kinds of stories to grab white people’s deepest anxieties.
    So what we’re supposed to believe is that a black woman, when given some power over white families, uses that power to hurt the white families as that is what all blacks want to do.
    Hegel, though, is too smart to stop here, even if Breitbart isn’t really bright enough to get it.
    In fact, the two sides, lord and bondsman, need each other and end up resolving the relationship. THAT is Shirley Sherrod’s message. There is a moment at which the structure suggests one ought not to reach out in kindness, and that moment is resolved in the reaching out.
    So, in fact, she did help the white family. They became friends for life. The family farm was saved.
    Sherrod’s father was killed by a white man (or so I’ve read), she swore to stay in the south and fight for change (in the Maddow video tape), and she helped a white family save its farm.
    Read your Hegel, Nadine. It’s worth the effort (and effort it is!)
    ******
    The Obama admin is faced with this completely crazy racial dynamic in which the first black president of the US cannot at all be black lest he play into the fear of a black planet or whatever lurks in the hearts of men.
    They have to distance themselves from every single black-oriented moment, they cannot admit ever that there’s still huge amounts of discrimination, that the generational aspects of past discrimination will take forever.
    The closest they get is school reform, but they’re doing that with Arne Duncan’s dumbfuck school closure and “race to the top” shit. This is not the way to overcome the legacy of racism.
    That the NAACP gave cover does not excuse the admin from this one.
    That Fox and the Tea Party and the anti-immigration nuts speak for the deep fears of white people does not excuse the admin.
    That Breitbart will find more and more “black” things to attack should be a message to the pres. You can’t be the first black pres by being the nth white one.
    Thanks for health reform, thanks for financial reform, thanks for Ledbetter, thanks for some of the executive orders, thanks for the creep towards ending DADT, but please, don’t be so white!

    Reply

  52. nadine says:

    Steve, you are falling for DNC talking points. The NAACP can hardly complain that they were “bamboozled” by an edited tape when they themselves were in possession of the full tape. It’s not the fault of Fox News that they didn’t look at it. Though perhaps it is the fault of the White House, who seem to have given the order for this one.
    “Sherrod was recounting a story of racial reconciliation — a constructive, useful narrative — in a way that her NAACP audience could hear and understand”
    Yes, in a black racist way, which the NAACP audience applauded. She gave the white guy over to “one of his kind”. Just imagine that language with the races reversed. That is the real story, Steve. The reverse racism and race huckersterism of the NAACP.
    – The NAACP demanded that the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panthers — an open and shut cast the DOJ had already won — be dropped.
    – The NAACP lodged a spurious charge of racism against the Tea Parties based on no evidence. The Tea Parties are not racist. Obama=Hitler signs may be bad taste, but they are no more racist than the thousands of Bush=Hitler signs that preceded them.
    When all you can do is shout “racist” in a crowded theatre, you are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    Reply

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