I'll Show You Zero Tolerance

« July 2010 »

Memo to Tom Vilsack and anyone above and below him: YOU ARE DUMB.

Longtime readers of this column know that the right acting like the right irritates me, but to really fucking infuriate me? To get the vein in my forehead to pop and spray rage-juice like a lawn sprinkler hooked up to a fire hose? That takes a Democrat acting like a complete fucking moron. And today, with the Shirley Sherrod incident, I'm hosing down the goddamned walls with my skull.

Even if you know about this from reading the blogs or watching the news today, let me give the whole thing to you You Are Dumb style. Because I'll tell you where this started. It started last week. It started when the NAACP condemned the teabaggers for teabagger racism.

That set the Wingnut Revolutionaries on fire. And the fire only burned brighter when the story got traction, and people actually started talking about racist teabaggers like they were real thing for a change. And then, Mark Williams, who I was going to get to yesterday before I ran out of time, said a bunch of incredibly racist shit about the NAACP to prove how racist he wasn't. Since Mark Williams was the head of the Tea Party Express, this was awkward. The NAACP got uppity, and had to be taken down a peg. And when you need a smear job, you turn to Andy Breitbart.

Breitbart found a video of Shirley Sherrod, a state-level USDA director in Georgia, speaking to the NAACP. In the video, she recounts a story of holding back and denying a white farmer help because she thought the white farmer was acting superior, and because she knew of a lot of black farmers who needed help.

The intent was clear. Provide a race-based scandal as a counter-example to deflect the news media away from teabagger racism and Mark Williams, and provide fuel to racist right-wing fears that the Obama administration is keeping the white man down.

The story moved from Breitbart to Fox News at lightning speed, and by the end of Monday, Sherrod had been forced to resign - according to her, by the USDA on orders from the White House.

If you know anything about Andrew Breitbart and video, you know what's coming next. The rest of the fucking video. By all accounts, the video, which should be either out or imminently out, reveals a giant pile of inconvenient facts edited out by Breitbart, or, if you believe Breitbart, whoever gave him the video. But who would be stupid enough to believe Breitbart? We'll answer that question in a second. First, the inconvenient facts.

One, the incident Sherrod recounted happened 24 years ago. Two, it happened before she was a government employee. Three, she was telling this story because this was her initial reaction, she realized it was wrong, changed her ways, and went on to help the family keep their farm. The family she supposedly discriminated against called into CNN to say Sherrod didn't discriminate against them, and they would fucking well know, wouldn't they?

But Tom Vilsack was stupid enough to believe Andrew Breitbart, even though Breitbart's entire track record consists of deceptively edited video, punctuated with the occasional run out to a balcony to accidentally support child slavery. Nobody should ever believe Breitbart - not because he's an insane, drunken wingnut, but because he has a demonstrable record of being completely fucking wrong about every single thing he touches. EVERY SINGLE THING.

But even if it wasn't Breitbart, forcing a resignation that quickly is insane. I propose a simple standard. As long as David Vitter holds elected office, if what you did wasn't as bad as putting on a diaper and fucking a hooker, you get to keep your job too. Holding to a higher ethical standard is one thing, but holding to an ethical double standard is a sucker's game.

But when you fold as quickly as Vilsack did, you're fucked no matter what. You're fucked because you've shown you can be pushed around by the merest hint of potential scandal, and you're even more fucked when you have to stand by your decision in the face of embarrassing facts. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"First, for the past 18 months, we have been working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA and this controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices. Second, state rural development directors make many decisions and are often called to use their discretion. The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia. Our policy is clear. There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA and we strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person. - Vilsack, standing by his decision in the face of embarrassing facts.

Don't blame the controversy, asshole. If the mere existence of a controversy can make you fire people, then just fire everybody now and save yourself some time. Fire yourself, while you're at it. It's 2010, and the infrastructure is in place for the right to make a controversy about anything and anyone out of thin air. Let's get that middle sentence again, because it is physically impossible for me to heap enough scorn on it.

"The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia."

Rightly OR WRONGLY? IF it's rightly, fire her. If it's wrongly, don't fire her. This is not difficult. If you don't care whether the people calling your decisions into question are right or wrong, then you don't care whether your decisions are right or wrong. And that makes you a world-class fuckhole. And when you apply that fuckhole standard to someone else just to make your political life easier, and to appease known liars and provocateurs who will never, ever, ever give you any credit for doing what they want you to do? That makes you a world-class stupid fuckhole.

Breitbart's a vile piece of work, but I expect him to pull shit like this. I expect him to do this and I expect Hannity and O'Reilly and Beck to lap up that shit like it was a giant pile of runny caviar with corn in it. It's despicable, but it's consistent and predictable. I expect YOU to understand this and fight back against it so that they won't keep pushing you around and making you their bitch.

The damage is done. They need to reverse this decision and give Sherrod back her job. The right will howl and make hay for months over it, but they'll howl and make hay for months out of the situation as it stands right now. They'll keep bringing it up, because they can. You're going to get shit on by them either way. So you can either give an innocent woman her job back, doing the right thing and restoring a tiny fraction of the faith you've lost with everyone to the left of Sean Hannity over this whole sorry affair, or you can throw her to the wolves and piss everyone off for exactly zero political gain.

And given what you've done so far, I can only assume you'll play this in the worst, most politically damaging way possible. Because you're a world-class stupid fuckhole.