July 20, 2010

At WEOZ — ‘Shirley Sherrod’s Disappearing Act: Not So Fast’ (See Updates)

The Washington Examiner OpinionZone post is here.

Go there, and you’ll see that this woman is far more than a USDA bureaucrat with a racist attitude, and that her resignation may have occurred very quickly for reasons that have little direct relationship to what she was caught saying on video.

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UPDATE, July 21, early AM: Now the NAACP says it was snookered. Well then, I’m assuming that Tim Vilsack will reinstate Ms. Sherrod immediately, right?

Not if the real reasons she “resigned” from USDA relate what I posited at my WEOZ post, namely that there are problems with “Ms. Sherrod’s previous background, the circumstances surrounding her hiring, and the USDA’s agenda” that threaten to gain unwanted visibility thanks to Andrew Breitbart’s exposure.

If she doesn’t come back even if somehow legitimately vindicated by the full vid (which seems doubtful), I believe that these problems will represent the rationale as to why.

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Update, July 21, 10:45 a.m.: (HT to frequent commenter dscott) — “‘President’ Was in Attendance at Sherrod’s Speech.”

Sherrod doesn’t name ‘the president’ in her speech. Whether it’s Ben Jealous or not isn’t clear. I think the NAACP gives that title to the person in charge of each major chapter. This unrelated link would support that contention.

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UPDATE, July 21, 11:00 a.m.: Sherrod says the White House forced her resignation

The Department of Agriculture employee who resigned after a controversy erupted over recent remarks she made is now saying that the White House forced her resignation.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, however, is taking responsibility for the resignation, and the White House reportedly says it had no part in his decision.

Shirley Sherrod, the USDA’s former director of rural development in Georgia, said USDA deputy undersecretary Cheryl Cook called her Monday and said the White House wanted her to resign, the Associated Press reports.

“They called me twice,” Sherrod told the AP, noting that she was driving when she received the calls. “The last time they asked me to pull over the side of the road and submit my resignation on my Blackberry, and that’s what I did.”

That’s a pretty detailed remembrance.

So the White House decides that someone is expendable. Sherrod, if we are to believe her, doesn’t get a chance to explain herself to Vilsack or anyone else. They just cut her loose.

Isn’t this treatment of a black woman r-r-r-r-r … raaaaaacist?

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UPDATE, July 22: Concerning the accuracy and relevance of the WEOZ post in light of other Sherrod news during the past two days, here’s my comment at WEOZ –

This post is about “(her) previous background, the circumstances surrounding her hiring, and the USDA’s agenda.” The questions about them remain legitimate.

Journolisters’ Plot to Stifle 2008 Rev. Wright Coverage Just the Latest Example of Establishment Media Coordination (Update: Breitbart Elaborates)

ObamaWrightLet me start by noting that there’s no substitute for reading the whole piece by Jonathan Strong at the Daily Caller (HT Big Government, where Andrew Breitbart describes the report as “running the obituary” for American journalism).

Strong’s report is an “argument over” vindication of the claim that establishment press journalists are agenda-driven, are not truth-driven, and coordinate their agenda-driven efforts. But what should not be forgotten (and I will get to after excerpting) is that in historical context the Journolist enterprise is just another chapter in a long history of establishment media coordination.

Here are some of the key paragraphs from Strong’s piece (bolds are mine):

According to records obtained by The Daily Caller, at several points during the 2008 presidential campaign a group of liberal journalists took radical steps to protect their favored candidate. Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.

In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

… Thomas Schaller, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun as well as a political science professor, upped the ante from there. In a post with the subject header, “why don’t we use the power of this list to do something about the debate?” Schaller proposed coordinating a “smart statement expressing disgust” at the questions Gibson and Stephanopoulos had posed to Obama.

… The members began collaborating on their open letter. Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones rejected an early draft, saying, “I’d say too short. In my opinion, it doesn’t go far enough in highlighting the inanity of some of [Gibson's] and [Stephanopoulos’s] questions. And it doesn’t point out their factual inaccuracies …Our friends at Media Matters probably have tons of experience with this sort of thing, if we want their input.”

Jared Bernstein, who would go on to be Vice President Joe Biden’s top economist when Obama took office, helped, too. …

… Columnist Joe Conason weighed in with suggestions. So did Slate contributor David Greenberg, and David Roberts of the website Grist. Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, helped too.

Journolist members signed the statement and released it April 18, calling the debate “a revolting descent into tabloid journalism and a gross disservice to Americans concerned about the great issues facing the nation and the world.”

… The Wright controversy, (the Nation’s Chris) Hayes argued, was not about Wright at all. Instead, “It has everything to do with the attempts of the right to maintain control of the country.”

… “Part of me doesn’t like this sh*t (getting involved with such a project–Ed.) either,” agreed Spencer Ackerman, then of the Washington Independent. “But what I like less is being governed by racists and warmongers and criminals.”

They indict themselves. But as I noted in the intro, Journolist is not the first example of establishment media coordination, or even the most influential.

Several weeks ago, I reminded BizzyBlog readers about an establishment media cooperation arrangment that was exposed in 2005, and that for all I know may still be taking place. It was based on this excerpt from a long since archived Editor & Publisher item:

When The New York Times on July 16 broke the story of a 2003 State Department memo that had become a key element in the Valerie Plame leak investigation, the paper scored a major exclusive. But when The Washington Post hit newsstands that very same Saturday, it had its own version of the same story. It even credited the Times for the same-day scoop.

Welcome to life under the Washington Post-New York Times swap. As part of a secret arrangement formed more than 10 years ago, the Post and Times send each other copies of their next day’s front pages every night. The formal sharing began as a courtesy between Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. and former Times Executive Editor Joseph Lelyveld in the early 1990s and has continued ever since.

“It seemed logical, because for years we would always try to get a copy of each other’s papers as soon as they came out,” Downie tells E&P. “It made sense to both of us to make it simpler for everybody.” Lelyveld, who left the Times in 2001, declined comment.

At the time, Mark Tapscott, who is now at the Washington Examiner, noted that “In any other industry, this would be called “collusion” and the Times and Post editorial pages would be in high dudgeon, demanding anti-trust investigations by the Department of Justice.” Tapscott also reasonably wondered whether the cooperative arrangement went further.

Given the lack of shame, absence of ethics, and the intensely agenda-driven nature of the Journolist campaign to stifle the legitimate debate about the relevance of Jeremiah Wright’s two-decade relationship with Barack Obama as his pastor, it’s reasonable to wonder if “the WaPo-NYT swap” remains onging, and who else might be involved.

Cross-posted in shorter form at NewsBusters.org.

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BizzyBlog Update: More from Breitbart at BigGov

What The Daily Caller has unearthed proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that most media organizations are either complicit by participation in the treachery that is Journolist, or are guilty of sitting back and watching Alinsky warfare being waged against all that challenged the progressive orthodoxy. The scandal predictably involves journalists posing as professors posing as experts. But dressed down they are nothing but street thugs. They deserve the deepest levels of public consternation. We must demand that they do.

The only way that the media will recover from the horrifying discoveries found in the Journolist is to investigate and investigate until every guilty reporter, professor and institution is laid bare begging America for forgiveness.

Positivity: Miraculous cancer cure in St. Louis could canonize Marianist founder

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:19 am

From St. Louis:

Jul 20, 2010 / 05:57 am

Last Friday an evening prayer service marked the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ official closure of its investigation into an alleged miraculous cure attributed to Bl. William Chaminade, founder of the Marianist order.

The archdiocesan tribunal, established by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson to investigate the claim, will now send its findings to the Vatican.

The claim concerns area resident Rachel Lozano, who since her sophomore year of high school has been diagnosed with cancer three times. As treatment, she underwent three different therapies including chemotherapy, radiation, a stem cell transplant and surgery. Doctors told her that no one ever survived her type of cancer after a stem cell transplant.

After joining a group of St. Louisians who attended the year 2000 beatification for the Society of Mary founder Fr. William Joseph Chaminade, Lozano began to pray for his intercession. The first miracle needed for the Marianist founder’s beatification was an Argentinean woman’s healing from lung cancer, according to the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

But in the months after Lozano returned from her pilgrimage, her cancer aggressively came back.

After doctors told her that her situation was terminal, she had surgery to remove the third tumor but doctors found it was dead. They told Lozano there was no medical explanation for the reversal.

If the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints declares the cure to be a miracle, Blessed William Chaminade can be recognized as a canonized saint, pending Pope Benedict XVI’s approval. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

NYT: WH Defending Statist Health Insurance Penalties As ‘Taxes’ In Court, Something Obama Vehemently Denied Last Year

health-care-investment-tax-medicareThe truth comes out. Okay, it was always out there. It’s just that the Barack Obama and the folks in his administration were denying it.

The issue in question is whether the individual mandate and penalties for not purchasing health insurance in the statist health care legislation commonly known as ObamaCare should rightly be considered taxes, or if they are something else.

In a report dated Friday that appeared in the paper’s print edition at Page A14 on Sunday, Robert Pear at the New York Times noted that in legal proceedings, in response to litigation brought by state attorneys general, the administration is now characterizing the mandate and penalties as taxes. Note the subtle water-down that occurred between the web page’s title bar and the published article’s headline:

NYTheadlinesOnOCareTaxAdmission0710

When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

Under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay premiums.

In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.

Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution, the department said. For more than a century, it added, the Supreme Court has held that Congress can tax activities that it could not reach by using its power to regulate commerce.

While Congress was working on the health care legislation, Mr. Obama refused to accept the argument that a mandate to buy insurance, enforced by financial penalties, was equivalent to a tax.

“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” the president said last September, in a spirited exchange with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program “This Week.”

When Mr. Stephanopoulos said the penalty appeared to fit the dictionary definition of a tax, Mr. Obama replied, “I absolutely reject that notion.”

Now that the legislation has passed, Team Obama has clearly changed its tune. What a surprise (not).

As a refresher, what follows is the excerpt from the Obama-Stephanopoulos “spirited exchange” to which Pear referred that I posted last year (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). In his annual exercise in legitimate journalism (the one that preceded it was when he moderated an April 2008 Democratic presidential debate and gave then-candidate Obama grief about his relationship with Jeremiah Wright), Stephanopoulos maneuvers an arrogant President into a de facto assertion that Barack Obama’s take on a word’s meaning is more important than the one found in the dictionary:

STEPHANOPOULOS: …during the campaign. Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?

…. OBAMA: No. That’s not true, George. The — for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it’s saying is, is that we’re not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase.

People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I’m not covering all the costs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it may be fair, it may be good public policy…

OBAMA: No, but — but, George, you — you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase. Any…

…. STEPHANOPOULOS: I — I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Tax — “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”

OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what…

…. STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.

OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that.

Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.

At time, I reacted by writing: “If you don’t think we have a problem of Orwellian proportions with Barack Obama, I’d suggest you re-read the excerpt. He thinks he’s above the dictionary, that words mean only what he says they mean.”

It turns out that I understated the extent of the Orwellian problem. Not only does Team Obama want words only to mean what they say they mean, they want to be able to change the meaning of words at will to suit their purposes.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.