Tag Archives: triumphalism

Breitbart Lies About Shirley Sherrod: do facts actually matter anymore?

By John

[This post has been edited to correct the spelling of Breitbart and Sherrod]

Update: here’s the full original video from the NAACP site, also via TPM:

Update II: go here to sign a petition to support Sherrod being reinstated.

While the NAACP is receiving death threats over their call for the ‘tea parties’ to repudiate racists elements in their midst, the rightwing republican blogs are getting the vapors over a very deceptively edited tape of an Ag Department official who is made to appear to admit to blatant racism against a white farmer. The conveniently redacted video is of a black woman, Shirley Sherrod, explaining how she encountered racial tension and her own mixed feelings, 24 years ago, before working through the difficulties, helping the white family keep their farm and becoming friends with them.

I first saw the video at redstate, although it was first put out by Brietbart’s Big Government site, the same site that put out the very deceptively edited ACORN videos, which created an equally untrue perception. It was clear that it was strategically cut, literally it stopped Sharrod in mid sentence when it appeared she was going to explain how her first reactions were mistaken.

TPM is working on getting the whole, unedited, tape, which a local production company is holding until it gets permission from the local NAACP chapter to release it.

Sharrod has spoken to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and CNN — Media Matters has the video, which I can’t embed. I’ll put it up here as soon as it’s available in a format wordpress supports.

So, do the actual facts matter here? Or are we just going to accept the false rightwing republican narrative that has counter factually smeared Shirley Sharrod, just as they did to ACORN, Van Jones, Dawn Johnson and countless others?

[From the AJC article] The wife of the white farmer allegedly discriminated against by the USDA’s rural development director for Georgia said Shirley Sherrod “kept us out of bankruptcy.”

Eloise Spooner, 82, awoke Tuesday to discover that Sherrod had lost her job after videotaped comments she made in March at a local NAACP banquet surfaced on the web.

But Spooner, who considers Sherrod a “friend for life,” said the federal official worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they faced bankruptcy back in 1986.

“But Tuesday morning, Sherrod said what online viewers weren’t told in reports posted throughout the day Monday was that the tale she told at the banquet happened 24 years ago — before she got the USDA job — when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.

Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with the farmer and his wife.

“And I went on to work with many more white farmers,” she said. “The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race.”


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And now begins the birther summer

The still prevailing narrative is that Democrats will suffer great losses in the fall and Republicans might take over the house and make strong gains in the Senate, even if they might not win both houses. This narrative has been the conventional wisdom for months now and, while it has been getting push back for awhile, it still qualifies for the title of conventional wisdom.

For months, I’ve been writing and saying that I think this is overblown. Yes, historical trends favor the Republicans as the out of power party in the first midterm election. Yes, the birfer/teabagger brigades are vocal and enthused. Yes, the economy is not yet fully recovered. Yes, there is a general feeling of anti incumbency and there are more Democratic incumbents than Republican incumbents. And yes, many progressives and Democrats are less pumped than in 2008.

But I don’t think it’s going to be as bad for the Democrats and progressives as the prevailing narrative is predicting. They will probably lose seats in both houses; but I doubt they’ll lose either of their majorities.

Despite efforts to tamp it down, there will be a civil war on the right. There was a minor freak out yesterday over the fact that a muslim Arab-American won a beauty pageant. It was a tempest in a teapot, but it was still illustrative of the nativist racism that animates so much of the animosity of the birfer/teabaggers.

Even if congress doesn’t act on it, immigration and immigration reform will be part of the debate. This is bad for rightwingers and Republicans because, not only does it alienate latinos and other immigrant groups as well as young people generally, it encourages loony rhetoric, especially from the types of older white people who like to complain in public about their liberties and country being taken away from them and how they, as older white christians, are the most persecuted group in America today.

That’s not exactly a formula for victory for the rightwing Republicans. The leadership knows this, but the base is clueless about their lack of broad appeal.

The base is largely isolated. They watch Fox, listen to talk radio, visit far right sites and mainly only talk politics to people who agree with them. The vastly overestimate the popularity of their views. But, fueled by this misapprehension regarding how many people share their beliefs and prejudices, they are ready to let their freak flag fly.

Like the apocryphal American tourist who shouts louder and more slowly when confronted with people who don’t speak English, the birfer/teabaggers, who are just the far right segment of the rightwing Republicans with new names, become louder and more shrill when they see their message isn’t getting the widespread approval they were so sure it would.

If you thought last summer’s ‘town hall’ meetings featured petulant, whiny baby boomers, wait till this summer. There will be rallies and protests galore. And the anger of the birfer/teabaggers will be directed just as much at the rightwing Republican leadership as at the Democrats, progressives, liberals, immigrants, young people, etc, etc…

When they encounter negative public reaction to their extremism, they will blame the leadership for ‘pulling punches.’ They will get more extreme and the leadership, becoming more and more afraid of their prospects in the general, will pull further and further away. Each factions’ actions will fuel the other’s reactions and it will get increasingly ugly.

And many of their potential supporters will either vote for Democrats or stay home.

Then, after the Republicans under perform, the leadership will blame the extremism of the base and the base will blame the punch pulling of the leadership. The disarray could last until after the 2012 elections.

Now, this could of course be overly optimistic. What if the Republicans do better than I predict, even perhaps taking the House?

I’d still think the base, and in this case the leadership as well, would take the wrong message. They would feel empowered and run to the right in 2012, which, I’d contend, would be a mistake.

Basically, I believe the rightwing Republicans created a monster when they ramped up their fringe base. Whether it’s sooner or later, there will be a backlash against the extremism. When — and whether — that actually happens remains to be seen. But I predict it will come sooner rather than later and that this summer will set off the backlash.

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The Party of Hypocrisy: the label Republicans (and some Democrats) deserve and that progressives must make stick

I wrote yesterday that progressives should turn the recent flurry of rightwing Republican hypocrisy into a long term narrative of double standards that comes to the forefront of everyone’s mind every single time they see, hear or think or Republicans and rightwingers of any affiliation.

This is certainly happening in response to the continuing over the top examples of hypocrisy and has been an ongoing project of some outlets.* However, as far as the larger message from progressives goes, the notion of Republicans and rightwingers as consummate general practitioners of hypocrisy has not been a recurring theme.

In fact, what is unusual about this particular moment when we are experiencing a surge in stories about Republican and rightwing hypocrisy is not that the level of such hypocrisy has increased, but only that the coverage of that hypocrisy has increased.

And if the past is any guide, this recent uptick will be temporary unless progressives make a concerted effort to keep it at the forefront of the national narrative.

If we know a well is poisoned, we know that any water from that well is not fit to drink. This was true yesterday. It is true today and it will be true tomorrow. Any water from that well, no matter how shiny and clean the bucket seems to be, cannot be trusted to be safe.

Progressives need to establish the fundamental belief that Republicans and rightwingers — of any or no affiliations — are water from the poisoned well of hypocrisy. In time, some Republicans who are not hypocrites might gain positions of influence in their party and will not deserve that label. But, as seems obvious, this is not the way things are today.

In the mean time, if we want to avoid another 8 or 16 years of Republican rule under the leadership of Palin, Beck, O’Reilly and Limbaugh, it is the job of progressives to ensure that there is a virtually hardwired link in the mind of every voter between Republicans and rightwingers and the general — and predictable — practice of unrestrained hypocrisy.

You can check out the full Gingrich from the Daily Show last night here.

* Note, of course, that this is by no means an exhaustive, let alone any where near complete, list of recent and ongoing efforts to document and archive Republican and rightwing hypocrisy. Please feel free to provide other examples in the comments if interested.

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What might have been: Sarah Palin reminds Americans what they voted against

David Weigel at TWI is reporting on the Palin speech to the “Tea Party Convention” in Nashville. I’ve dvr’d it and have only listened to the first fifteen minutes and will either update this post or write more expansively tomorrow.

For now I’ll just say that she is putting the capstone on the merger between the so called tea party — or parties — and the Republican party. It was obvious anyway, but now they’re not even trying to put up a facade. Still, I think that’s a a move that will diminish their outsider credibility and spark various internal skirmishes.

Also, by defending the Bush administration and adopting, in the first fifteen minutes at least, a combative tone reminiscent of some of her really odious posturing during the campaign, it seems that she is giving quite a gift to the administration and congressional Democrats.

Update: Okay, it’s only been a few minutes, but

…and around the world, people who are seeking freedom from oppressive regimes wonder if Alaska is still that beacon of hope for their cause…

I’d have more sympathy for her stumbling over her notes if she hadn’t repeated the strange rightwing Republican attack on Obama as somehow being dependent on teleprompters.

Update II:

…and unethical shameless tactics like considering a candidates children fair game…

Like Rush Limbaugh, John McCain and many other rightwing Republicans did to Chelsea Clinton?


and children with special needs are welcomed in this world and embraced

Like the way Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck used exactly the same term Rahm Emanuel used, except they used it explicitly to mock and ridicule developmentally challenged people?

Update III: her hypocrisy is shameless. Sam Stein at Huffington Post notes the following about her Sunday morning appearance on Fox

Palin also used her platform to continue a call for the president to rid himself of his closest advisers. On Attorney General Eric Holder, she labeled his handling of captured terrorists — “allowing them our U.S. constitutional protections when they do not deserve them” — a firing offense. On Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, she said his comments calling liberal groups “f-ing retards” was “indecent and insensitive” and cause for his dismissal.

But the former governor went to great and sometimes awkward lengths to insist that when conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh used the same exact term to describe the same exact group, it was simply in the role of political humorist.

“They are kooks, so I agree with Rush Limbaugh,” she said, when read a quote of Limbaugh calling liberal groups “retards.” “Rush Limbaugh was using satire … . I didn’t hear Rush Limbaugh calling a group of people whom he did not agree with ‘f-ing retards,’ and we did know that Rahm Emanuel, as has been reported, did say that. There is a big difference there.”

Also, there are now pictures and videos of the notes she scrawled on her hand; no word on whether she wrote the notes before or after she made the telepromter dig.

Again, this would normally not be a big deal if she hadn’t repeated the weird teleprompter line. Also, as Stefan Sirucek notes at HuffPo in the above link, it was a “lovefest” with pre selected questions. Criticizing Obama’s performance at the “question time” with House Republicans and overlooking this requires some world class level mental gymnastics.

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Hayworth a birther and O’Keefe a Liddy wannabe

[Updated with Hayworth video and correction that he referred to “football and youth sports,” not little league baseball.]

As if to prove that Democrats are not the only ones capable of self destructive behavior, two darlings of the far right seem to have stepped in it.

First, McCain’s new challenger for the right, JD Hayworth, just came out as a birther on Hardball. Video and transcripts as they become available but the heart of the money quote is:

We had to show our birth certificates to play little league baseball. Why can’t the president show his?

That will pump up the base but is also, along with Rubio’s strong showing in polls against Crist, is the opening shot in the upcoming, and soon to be very bloody, rightwing Republican civil war.

[Scroll to bottom for video and transcripts from ThinkProgress.]

Second, James O’Keefe, the videographer who passed of the questionable ACORN videos over the summer, is facing felony charges and up to 10 years in the federal penitentiary for trying to bug LA Sen Landrieu’s phones.

NEW ORLEANS — A conservative activist who posed as a pimp to target the community-organizing group ACORN and the son of a federal prosecutor were among four people arrested by the FBI and accused of trying to interfere with phones at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.

Along with the upcoming internecine teabagger fights and that looming civil war, the rightwingers and Republicans are going to make the Democrats and Obama seem much better. I’ve written before that I think the spring and summer internal battles will make the worst of the Palin rallies pale by comparison.

And, by contrast, Obama’s calm coolness might just start to pay dividends. As long as they don’t fall dead center on their swords over health care reform.

Update: ThinkProgress has video and transcripts:

[Via ThinkProgress]MATTHEWS: Are you as far right as the birthers? Are you one of those who believes that the President should have to prove that he’s a citizen of the United States and not an illegal immigrant? Are you that far right?

HAYWORTH: Well, gosh, we all had to bring our birth certificates to show we were who we said we were and we were the age we said we were to play football and youth sports. Shouldn’t we know exactly that anyone who wants to run for public office is a natural born citizen of the United States and is who they say they are? […]

MATTHEWS: Should the Governor of Hawaii produce evidence that the President is one of us, an American? Do you think that’s a worthy past time for the Governor of Hawaii?

HAYWORTH: No, look…I’m just saying the President should come forward with the information, that’s all. Why should we we depend on the Governor of Hawaii?

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Politics, perception and reality: are Republicans really better than Democrats at messaging?

In vetting the part of the title to the left of the colon, I did a quick google search of the phrase “politics, perception and reality,” which yielded “about” 4,460 hits.

It’s a truism that in all areas of human endeavor, and maybe even more in early 21st century American politics, perception is not the same thing as reality. In many cases, it doesn’t even seem to come close to being an even somewhat faithful analog. But, turning to the part of this post’s title on the right side of the colon, are the Republicans and rightwingers more successful in messaging and, if so, why?

This is a long term project of mine and I don’t have any definitive answers at this point. And it’s not a question that really lends itself to final and definitive answers anyway. Still, it’s a question very much worth examining and doing so on a continuing basis.

Also, it’s not just a question about the strategies, tactics and relative effectiveness of the two parties’ propaganda efforts, but those of their constituents and allies as well, including various ostensibly independent news and media organizations.

My research centers on political discourse on the web and the literate practices of people engaging in such discourse individually, as part of groups, and on behalf of organizations and institutions. One obvious example is the teabaggers/tea partiers*, their influence on the Republican party and what I would contend is the complicity of Fox News.

I would also contend that, despite a very small number of progressives, the rest of the corporate media is structurally more in tune with rightwing/Republican policies and politics than the centrist/Democratic alternative. The asymmetry in that equation is deliberate: there hasn’t been a real leftwing/Democratic alliance in a very long time, if ever.

You could perhaps make a case about some of the anti war and pro civil rights work in the 60s, although I wouldn’t necessarily be so bold as to contend that civil rights is necessarily a leftwing agenda item. I realize that it has played out that way in American politics for at least several generations. Certainly, when fewer of “them” vote, it works to the advantage of rightwingers/Republicans. Also, the next contender, FDR’s New Deal reforms were actually quite centrist or at most center left in the politics of the time.

So, in short, I my argument is that there is a structural bias that favors rightwing/Republican policies and politics, which gives them an advantage in getting their message out and sustaining narratives that benefit them. However, I do not believe that exonerates the inability of Democrats, along with their erstwhile liberal and progressive constituents and allies, to formulate and disseminate effective messages and narratives.

It’s important to note that none of these coalitions, or their various components and subcomponents, are monolithic. In this post I have used “rightwing/Republican” as shorthand, but I realize that, as with their opponents, they do not make up a unified whole made up of completely like minded individuals.

*My preferred name is teabaggers. Despite protestations, this is the label they originally self applied. Liberals and progressives were quick to take advantage of the lack of cultural awareness of the “teabaggers.” After realizing their mistake, the wide assortment of groups and individuals who first proudly claimed this label began to refer to themselves as “tea partiers.” This is a very relevant example of the messaging battle and one that, I contend, shows that the rightwingers and Republicans are far from the messaging masters many are proclaiming them to be.


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Right and wrong lessons from Brown Massachusetts victory

Republicans and rightwingers are, predictably, crowing about Brown’s victory, declaring health care reform dead.

And right on cue, rightwing Democrats like Jim Webb and Evan Bayh are already pitching their claims that the MA race was about hcr and only about hcr and, further, was a repudiation of a Democratic party utterly beholden to the far left.

I would lament how two people elected to ‘the greatest deliberative body in the world’ could make such monumentally wrong headed assertions, but last night’s election, along with countless other examples, show that such vacuousness is no stranger to the senate.

If the Democrats decide to backpedal, or even soft pedal, on hcr now, they will consign themselves to minority status for a generation. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but they came into 2009 with huge majorities and support. They had difficult problems to deal with, but they had the momentum to take them on.

The wars. The economy. Immigration and hcr. And these are just the big ticket items. Still, they could have pushed hcr through in the summer instead of chasing the rainbow and unicorn cupcakes of supposed bipartisan reform.

Had they listened to the multitude of voices, including those of every Republican, telling them that the Republicans only goal was, literally, to ‘break Obama,’ they could have dispensed with the slow, self disemboweling kabuki theater of the last eight months and passed a hcr bill before August.

But they faltered. And now, some are calling for them to pull even more punches. That would be colossally inept.

However, I am cautiously optimistic that they will, finally, figure out that 59 — or, importantly, 58 — is still more than half of 100 and, along with their majority in the House and, y’know, still holding the presidency, are enough to get things done.

First, dump Lieberman from the caucus, strip him of his chairmanship and shrug when he stomps his feet and finally makes it official and becomes a Republican. Then watch the fun as he and his new party figure out how much they actually don’t care for each other so much.

Then, tell the blue dogs, also known as the conservadems, that, since the mythical 60 seat ‘super majority’ is no longer attainable, their votes matter as much as Mitch McConnell’s. If they’d like to stay in the caucus and continue to get money and support from the party, that they better start voting with the party on things that matter.

If they don’t want to play for the winning team, then cut them loose. It’s not as if anything would be lost.

The silver lining for liberals and progressives here is that the Republicans are very likely to misread the lessons of this election as well. The teabaggers are emboldened and will demand ever more rightward movement going into the primaries and then the general next November.

They think this special election for a senator in one state was a national referendum on hcr and Obama more generally. They are wrong. But they will probably go in this direction nonetheless.

The Democrats’ only hope to stave off generational minority status is to get something done on hcr, start immediately fixing the many flaws such a bill will have, and demonstrate to the public that it is a good thing with instant benefits — like ‘pre existing condition’ protection and bans on lifetime and yearly caps.

And then they need to make the Republicans commit to taking those benefits away if people vote for them in November.

We know the Republicans will play their part. Will the Democrats have the sense to set them up for this fall?

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