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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Another In CONgress, Maxine Waters, Wades Into The Unethical Waters -- Pun Was Intended.

Ethics Trial Expected for California Congresswoman

WASHINGTON — Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, will face charges of misusing her office and is expected to contest the claims in a House trial, the second powerful House Democrat to opt for such a public airing in recent days, Congressional officials said Friday.

A House ethics subcommittee has charged Ms. Waters, 71, a 10-term congresswoman, in a case involving communications that she had with the top executive of a bank that her husband owned stock in while it was applying for a federal bailout in 2008, two House officials said.

Charges are expected to be announced next week, several Congressional officials said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because the proceedings remained confidential. Details of the specific accusations of wrongdoing were not available Friday evening.

The expected trial, coming just after the start of a similar proceeding on Thursday for Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, would be a modern-day precedent for the House, Congressional officials said. At no time in at least the last two decades have two sitting House members faced a public hearing detailing allegations against them.

It would also be an embarrassment for the Congressional Black Caucus. Ms. Waters and Mr. Rangel are two of its most revered and long-standing members, and both have spent decades as key leaders in banking and financial services issues in the House.

Mikael Moore, Ms. Waters’s chief of staff, declined to comment on the case on Friday, saying that the congresswoman had not been formally notified of any action by the ethics committee.

Ms. Waters, at the time the investigation by the House ethics panel began last fall, was accused of intervening on behalf of OneUnited, a Boston-based bank. The Times reported last year that Ms. Waters called Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. in 2008, as the economy was in a free fall, to ask him to host a special meeting with executives from black-owned banks.

As a key House player on the Financial Services Committee, Ms. Waters often called Mr. Paulson. He agreed to arrange the requested meeting, The New York Times reported last year.

What Mr. Paulson did not know at the time was that Ms. Waters’s husband, Sidney Williams, owned stock in and had served on the board of OneUnited, whose chief executive turned the Treasury headquarters meeting into a special appeal for bailout assistance. The executive of the institution, one of the nation’s largest black-owned banks, asked for $50 million in federal aid, The Times reported.

After articles on the case by The Times and The Wall Street Journal, the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent watchdog agency, began an inquiry. The office referred the matter to the ethics committee, which charged the subcommittee with opening an examination of Ms. Waters’s activities. The four-member subcommittee, which included two Democrats and two Republicans, was led by Representative Kathy Castor, Democrat of Florida.

Because Ms. Waters — like Mr. Rangel — has refused to agree to a proposed settlement, the case is headed toward a House ethics trial, officials said. “She is fighting it,” one House official said Friday.

Ms. Waters made the call to Mr. Paulson on behalf of the National Bankers Association, a Washington-based organization of minority-owned banks. Its incoming chairman, Robert Cooper, was an executive at OneUnited, which had branches in Miami and Los Angeles, part of which Ms. Waters represents.

Mr. Cooper and his boss, Kevin Cohee, the chief executive at OneUnited, ended up dominating the meeting, participants said, and made an unusual request for a special federal bailout.

The Treasury Department officials, in interviews with The Times, said they were taken aback when they later learned about Ms. Waters’s ties to the bank. She had once owned stock in the bank, and her husband still did. He had stepped down from the board earlier that year.

Mr. Rangel separately is facing charges that he inappropriately used his office staff to try to line up donations for a New York City educational center being built in his honor, and also that he failed to report income from a beachfront property he had rented out in the Caribbean.

The prospect of two trials playing out as the November election approaches will almost certainly be seized upon by Republicans, who already had been attacking Democrats’ moral leadership and questioning whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi had lived up to her promise to “drain the swamp” of ethics violations in Washington.

The case could still be concluded without trial, if Ms. Waters decided to settle. But if a trial were to take place, it is highly unlikely that it would start before September, as the House began its summer recess on Friday.

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Joel Pett Takes On Wikileaks' Afghanistan And John Calipari. LOL.


Friday, July 30, 2010

"Immigration" Protests Continue In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer Urges Lawmakers To Change Law To Comply With U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton's Order.

Watch video below:

Read more here.


OK, Ethically Challenged CONgressman, Charlie Rangel, Needs To Do All Of Us A Huge Favor And Resign Or Be Booted Out.

Read more here.

It's shamefully awful.

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South Carolina U. S. Senator Lindsey Graham Is My Man: He Wants A Constitutional Amendment Banning Citizenship For Illegal Aliens' Children!

South Carolina's Graham does an about-face on immigration
By James Rosen

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that he's talked with other senators about crafting a constitutional amendment that would deny American citizenship to illegal immigrants' children born in the United States.

Graham's idea is a stunning reversal for a senator whose advocacy of giving legal status to the country's 12 million undocumented workers is so well known that conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh and many of his listeners call the Seneca Republican "Senator Grahamnesty."

Graham, along with President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., were GOP leaders of a 2007 failed Senate effort to enact comprehensive immigration reforms including a path to legal residency or citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Now, Graham is weighing a constitutional amendment in response to a federal judge's ruling Wednesday that he said "gutted" Arizona's controversial law directing police to demand proof of citizenship or legal residency from anyone detained or arrested.

"It makes no sense to the average American in 2010 that if you come across the border illegally and have a child here, that child automatically becomes a citizen," Graham told McClatchy. "I don't know of many other countries that do this."

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton issued an injunction blocking implementation of most parts of the Arizona law authorizing local police to enforce federal immigration law.

The state law was to have gone into effect Thursday. Bolton ruled on an injunction request from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who filed suit July 6 against the state of Arizona.

In every session of Congress since 1995, when Republicans gained control of the House for the first time in a half-century, GOP lawmakers have introduced bills removing "birthright citizenship" from the offspring of illegal immigrants.

Such legislation has never advanced far, and Graham said eliminating birthright citizenship for undocumented immigrants' children would require passage of a constitutional amendment.

"I welcome a debate about whether it's good policy to create an inducement to break our laws," he said. "My goal is to create inducements to come here legally."

Toward that end, Graham is also pushing to increase the number of foreign employees that companies can sponsor under several government work-visa programs.

"Whether it's a computer engineer or someone to help harvest the crops, I'd like employers to be able to access labor in an orderly way," he said.

Graham's notion of a constitutional amendment to end automatic citizenship for the newborn of illegal immigrants got a mixed reception even from groups that back tougher enforcement of the nation's border restrictions.

Mark Krikorian, an analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, said eliminating "birthright citizenship" would actually increase the number of illegal immigrants.

Children who would have been citizens, Krikorian said, would become illegal aliens were Graham's constitutional amendment pass Congress and be ratified by the states.

"I'm exactly against changing this," he said. "I think it's sort of a stupid thing. You would end up with lots of U.S.-born illegal immigrants. There's something like 300,000 kids born here to illegal immigrants every year."

Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, said Congress has the power to prohibit automatic citizenship for undocumented workers' babies through legislation rather than a constitutional amendment.

Mehlman, though, said he wouldn't have expected Graham to be backing such an idea.

"Certainly, there's some surprise given the fact that he has supported amnesty for illegal aliens," Mehlman said. "We take him at his word that he is proposing this. We were somewhat surprised, but people can find redemption."

Graham, though, said the 14th Amendment of the Constitution would have to be changed in order to end birthright citizenship.

The first sentence of that amendment, passed by Congress in 1866 and ratified by the states in 1868, reads:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."

The amendment was enacted after the Civil War in order to guarantee citizenship to former slaves.

In order to take effect, a constitutional amendment must be approved by minimum two-thirds votes in both chambers of Congress and then ratified by three-quarters of the states.

The 27th Amendment, ratified in 1992, is the most recent such constitutional change. It requires that any change in lawmakers' salaries not take effect at least until the session of Congress following the one in which the change was approved.

Read more:


Joel Pett Picks On Mitch McConnell (Again) And Right Wing Noise Machine.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Leonard Pitts: Absent Reason, We're Easily Manipulated.

Absent reason, we're easily manipulated
By Leonard Pitts

Not to startle you, but you have a narrative in your head. Dozens of them, in fact.

You're hardly unique. We all carry around these narratives, these perceptions of How Things Are: customer service is extinct; athletes are spoiled and overpaid; kids these days don't know what real music is; this newspaper has an anti-conservative/anti-liberal bias, whatever.

Some narratives are unsupported by fact, others sit atop a mountain of empirical evidence. The point is, we all have them and when some incident appears to confirm one, we rush to use it in our blogs, our barroom debates, our newspaper columns.

For instance, when Sarah Palin recently mangled the word “repudiate” (she kept saying “refudiate”) she was roundly ridiculed because it fit neatly into an existing narrative: Palin's a dummy. Granted, it's a narrative she herself created and has helped maintain, beginning with bungling a softball question (what do you read?) from Katie Couric in 2008.

Still, it's worth noting that when President Barack Obama mispronounced the word “corpsman” (”corpse-man,” he said) some months back, it received much less notice. That's because there is no narrative that says Obama's a dummy. To the contrary, he's generally regarded, whatever one thinks of his politics, as a pretty sharp customer. So he got a break Palin did not.

But debate by iconic example often isn't debate at all, if by that word you mean intellectual give-and-take, thrust-and-parry. Instead, one slams down one's examples like a royal flush in poker. Game over, rake in the pot. And never mind the fairness or even the truth of the tale. After all, the object is not to reason, elucidate or persuade but simply to win, i.e., leave the opponent embarrassed and/or speechless.

Last week's sliming of Shirley Sherrod offers a telling signpost of how far into this intellectual mudpit we have slid. With the exception of Sherrod herself, every major player was more interested in projecting or protecting a narrative than in simply finding and telling the truth.

Blogger Andrew Breitbart was so desperate to push a narrative of the NAACP as a hotbed of anti-white bias that he posted an excerpt of Sherrod's speech to that organization as “proof” she was a racist without caring if she was.

The NAACP was so desperate to protect itself from Breitbart's narrative that it promptly condemned Sherrod without even checking if the video was legit.

Team Obama was so desperate to avoid furthering the right wing's “liberal extremist” narrative that it sacked Sherrod from the Agriculture Department without asking if she was really the hatemonger Breitbart said.

As the world now knows, she wasn't. She was the opposite of a hatemonger, a fact indisputably proven by the simple expedient of listening to what she said.

That he was so easily able to move the White House and the NAACP to action (and media titans like Bill O'Reilly to condemnation) with such a crude hoax suggests Breitbart understands an essential truth of modern discourse: Stroke our existing narratives and we stop thinking. We are content to skate the surface of profound issues, call it debate and then wonder why the only people who hear us are the ones who already agree.

Ten years ago, Arthur Teitelbaum, then an official of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote in another context: “Beware the moments when facts seem to confirm prejudices. Such times are traps, when the well-meaning are misled and the mean-spirited gain confidence.”

It is excellent advice. What does Breitbart exemplify, if not a mean-spirited confidence? Why not? He knows that we are a people loath to listen, resistant to reason, imprisoned by our own narratives … easily fooled.

And the mud pit is getting full.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald. His e-mail address is

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Amid Protests, Arizona Appeals Adverse "Immigration" Ruling -- A FUTILE But Needed Move So SCOTUS Can Decide Issue.

Arizona Appeals Ruling on Immigration Law Amid Protests, Dozens of Arrests
(Photo: Opponents of Arizona's immigration law rally in Phoenix as police block the street.)

PHOENIX -- Arizona asked an appeals court Thursday to lift a judge's order blocking most of the state's immigration law as the city of Phoenix filled with protesters, including about 50 who were arrested for confronting officers in riot gear.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer called U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton's Wednesday decision halting the law "a bump in the road," and the state appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thursday.

Outside the state Capitol, hundreds of protesters began marching at dawn, gathering in front of the federal courthouse where Bolton issued her ruling on Wednesday. They marched on to the office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has made a crackdown on illegal immigration one of his signature issues.

At least 32 demonstrators were arrested after blocking the entrance and beating on the large steel doors leading to the Maricopa County jail in downtown Phoenix. Sheriff's deputies in riot gear opened the doors and waded out into the crowd, hauling off those who didn't move.

Dozens of others were arrested throughout the day, trying to cross a police line, entering closed-off areas or sitting in the street and refusing to leave. Former state Sen. Alfredo Gutierrez, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2002, was among them. A photographer for the Arizona Republic also was detained.

Marchers chanted "Sheriff Joe, we are here, we will not live in fear," and in the crowd was a drummer wearing a papier-mache Sheriff Joe head and dressed in prison garb.

Arpaio vowed to go ahead with a crime sweep targeting illegal immigrants. Phoenix police made most the early arrests, before protesters moved to the jail.

"My deputies will arrest them and put them in pink underwear," Arpaio said, referring to one of his odd methods of punishment for prisoners. "Count on it."

Arizona is the nation's epicenter of illegal immigration, with more than 400,000 undocumented residents. The state's border with Mexico is awash with smugglers and drugs that funnel narcotics and immigrants throughout the U.S., and supporters of the new law say the influx of illegal migrants drains vast sums of money from hospitals, education and other services.

In Tucson, between 50 and 100 people gathered at a downtown street corner to both protest and defend the new law on Thursday morning. Tucson police spokeswoman Linda Galindo said one man was arrested for threatening people in the other group.

In Los Angeles, about 200 protesters invaded a busy intersection west of downtown. Police waited more than three hours before declaring it an unlawful assembly. Most of the demonstrators left peacefully, but about a dozen, linked together with plastic pipes and chains, lay in the street in a circle as an act of civil disobedience. Officer Bruce Borihanh said police were cutting their chains and taking them away to be booked for failure to disperse.

The protesters chanted, "These are our streets" during the raucous demonstration.

In New York City, about 300 immigrant advocates gathered near the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan.

New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, a first-generation Caribbean-American, told the crowd: "We won a slight battle in Arizona, we've got to continue with the war."

Bolton indicated the government has a good chance at succeeding in its argument that federal immigration law trumps state law. But the key sponsor of Arizona's law, Republican Rep. Russell Pearce, said the judge was wrong and predicted the state would ultimately win the case.

In her temporary injunction, Bolton delayed the most contentious provisions of the law, including a section that required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws. She also barred enforcement of parts requiring immigrants to carry their papers and banned illegal immigrants from soliciting employment in public places -- a move aimed at day laborers that congregate in large numbers in parking lots across Arizona. The judge also blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.

"Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked," said Bolton, a Clinton administration appointee who was assigned the seven lawsuits filed against Arizona over the law.

Other provisions that were less contentious were allowed to take effect Thursday, including a section that bars cities in Arizona from disregarding federal immigration laws.

Kris Kobach, the University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor who helped write the law and train Arizona police officers in immigration law, conceded the ruling weakens the force of Arizona's efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants. He said it will likely be a year before a federal appeals court decides the case.

"It's a temporary setback," Kobach said. "The bottom line is that every lawyer in Judge Bolton's court knows this is just the first pitch in a very long baseball game."

Opponents of the law said the ruling sends a strong message to other states hoping to replicate the law. Lawmakers or candidates in as many as 18 states say they want to push similar measures when their legislative sessions start up again in 2011.

"Surely it's going to make states pause and consider how they're drafting legislation and how it fits in a constitutional framework," Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, told The Associated Press. "The proponents of this went into court saying there was no question that this was constitutional, and now you have a federal judge who's said, 'Hold on, there's major issues with this bill."'

But a lawmaker in Utah said the state will likely take up a similar law anyway.

"The ruling ... should not be a reason for Utah to not move forward," said Utah state Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from Herriman City, who said he plans to co-sponsor a bill similar to Arizona's next year and wasn't surprised it was blocked. "For too long the states have cowered in the corner because of one ruling by one federal judge."


Charles Rangel's ethics -- Or Lack Thereof.

Charles Rangel's ethics

The House Ethics Committee has been investigating U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., for two years, and it is expected to bring forth more details this week of the charges against the 20-term congressman who until recently was chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Already alleged is that Rep. Rangel failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets, failed to pay taxes on a Caribbean villa, accepted Caribbean trips from corporate lobbyists and used official stationery to raise money for a private center that bears his name at the City University of New York.

The last thing Democrats need on the eve of what's shaping up to be a bruising mid-term election campaign across the country — and at a time when polls suggest that voters well may be inclined to “throw the bums out” — is the spectacle of one of their own being dragged through the mud in an ethics scandal. As for Rep. Rangel, he remains wildly popular at the age of 80 in his Harlem district. Other Democrats, however, are on shaky ground, and they wish that Rep. Rangel and his problems would just go away.

Rep. Rangel, of course, is entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty. However, the allegations against him are very serious. And isn't it ironic not just that the congressional career of Rep. Rangel's mentor and predecessor — the late, fabled Harlem preacher and civil rights leader Adam Clayton Powell Jr. — was upended by ethical scandals, but that Rep. Rangel's main opponent in New York City's September Democratic primary is Adam Clayton Powell IV?

History may not repeat itself here. But of what there is no doubt is that, in the midst of a recession that has cost millions of Americans their jobs and sometimes their homes, many people are simply in no mood to tolerate members of Congress who abuse their many privileges for personal gain.


Is Coach Rick Pitino A Lecher, Or Is Karen Sypher A Gold Digging WHORE? Follow All The Tawdry Details And Decide.

Yes, go here to catch all the tawdry details. Make sure you listen to the audio recordings.

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Feds Sue Arizona Over "Immigration", WIN And Take Over. LMAO!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Lost in a Maze

The waterfall of leaks on Afghanistan underlines the awful truth: We’re not in control.

Not since Theseus fought the Minotaur in his maze has a fight been so confounding.

The more we try to do for our foreign protectorates, the more angry they get about what we try to do. As Congress passed $59 billion in additional war funding on Tuesday, not only are our wards not grateful, they’re disdainful.

Washington gave the Wall Street banks billions, and, in return, they stabbed us in the back, handing out a fortune in bonuses to the grifters who almost wrecked our economy.

Washington gave the Pakistanis billions, and, in return, they stabbed us in the back, pledging to fight the militants even as they secretly help the militants.

We keep getting played by people who are playing both sides.

Robert Gibbs recalled that President Obama said last year that “we will not and cannot provide a blank check” to Pakistan.

But only last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Pakistan to hand over a juicy check: $500 million in aid to the country that’s been getting a billion a year for most of this decade and in 2009 was pledged another $7.5 billion for the next five. She vowed to banish the “legacy of suspicion” and show that “there is so much we can accomplish together as partners joined in common cause.”

Gibbs argued that the deluge of depressing war documents from the whistle-blower Web site WikiLeaks, reported by The New York Times and others, was old. But it reflected one chilling fact: the Taliban has been getting better and better every year of the insurgency. So why will 30,000 more troops help?

We invaded two countries, and allied with a third — all renowned as masters at double-dealing. And, now lured into their mazes, we still don’t have the foggiest idea, shrouded in the fog of wars, how these cultures work. Before we went into Iraq and Afghanistan, both places were famous for warrior cultures. And, indeed, their insurgents are world class.

But whenever America tries to train security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan so that we can leave behind a somewhat stable country, it’s positively Sisyphean. It takes eons longer than our officials predict. The forces we train turn against us or go over to the other side or cut and run. If we give them a maximum security prison, as we recently did in Iraq, making a big show of handing over the key, the imprisoned Al Qaeda militants are suddenly allowed to escape.

The British Empire prided itself on discovering warrior races in places it conquered — Gurkhas, Sikhs, Pathans, as the Brits called Pashtuns. But why are they warrior cultures only until we need them to be warriors on our side? Then they’re untrainably lame, even when we spend $25 billion on building up the Afghan military and the National Police Force, dubbed “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight” by Newsweek.

Maybe we just can’t train them to fight against each other. But why can’t countries that produce fierce insurgencies produce good standing armies in a reasonable amount of time? Is it just that insurgencies can be more indiscriminate?

Things are so bad that Robert Blackwill, who was on W.’s national security team, wrote in Politico that the Obama administration should just admit failure and turn over the Pashtun South to the Taliban since it will inevitably control it anyway. He said that the administration doesn’t appreciate the extent to which this is a Pashtun nationalist uprising.

We keep hearing that the last decade of war, where we pour in gazillions to build up Iraq and Afghanistan even as our own economy sputters, has weakened Al Qaeda.

But at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. James Mattis, who is slated to replace Gen. David Petraus, warned that Al Qaeda and its demon spawn represent a stark danger all over the Middle East and Central Asia.

While we’re anchored in Afghanistan, the Al Qaeda network could roil Yemen “to the breaking point,” as Mattis put it in written testimony.

Pakistan’s tribal areas “remain the greatest danger as these are strategic footholds for Al Qaeda and its senior leaders, including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri,” the blunt four-star general wrote, adding that they “remain key to extremists’ efforts to rally Muslim resistance worldwide.”

Questioned by John McCain, General Mattis said that we’re not leaving Afghanistan; we’re starting “a process of transition to the Afghan forces.” But that process never seems to get past the starting point.

During the debate over war funds on Tuesday, Representative Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, warned that we are in a monstrous maze without the ball of string to find our way out.

“All of the puzzle has been put together, and it is not a pretty picture,” he told The Times’s Carl Hulse. “Things are really ugly over there.”

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Eugene Robinson: Leaked Documents Prove Futility Of Aghan War.

Leaked documents prove futility of Aghan war

WASHINGTON — The tens of thousands of classified military documents posted on the Internet Sunday confirm what critics of the war in Afghanistan already knew or suspected: We are wading deeper into a long-running, morally ambiguous conflict that has virtually no chance of ending well.

The Obama administration, our NATO allies and the Afghan government responded to the documents — made public by a gadfly organization known as WikiLeaks — by saying they tell us nothing new. Which is the problem.

We already had plenty of evidence that elements within Pakistan's intelligence services were giving support and guidance to the Taliban insurgency inside Afghanistan, even though Pakistan is supposed to be our ally in the fight against the terrorists. The newly released documents don't provide conclusive proof, but they do give a sense of how voluminous the evidence is. “American soldiers on the ground are inundated with accounts of a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators,” according to The New York Times, one of three news organizations — along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel — with which WikiLeaks shared the documents in advance.

We already knew that U.S. and other coalition forces were inflicting civilian casualties that had the effect of enraging local villagers and often driving them into the enemy camp. The documents merely reveal episodes that were previously unpublicized — an October 2008 incident in which French troops opened fire on a bus near Kabul and wounded eight children, for example, and a tragedy two months later when a U.S. squad riddled another bus with gunfire, killing four passengers and wounding 11 others.

We knew that U.S. and allied special forces units were authorized to assassinate senior Taliban or al-Qaida figures. The leaked documents sketch the activities of the secret “kill or capture” unit named Task Force 373 — and in the process, according to the Guardian , “raise fundamental questions about the legality of the killings … and also pragmatically about the impact of a tactic which is inherently likely to kill, injure and alienate the innocent bystanders whose support the coalition craves.”

The Guardian highlights a 2007 incident in which Task Force 373, operating in a valley near Jalalabad, set out to apprehend or kill a Taliban commander named Qarl Ur-Rahman. As the commandos neared the target, someone pointed a flashlight at them; they called for air support, and an AC-130 gunship strafed the area. Later, they discovered that they had killed seven Afghan National Police officers and wounded four others.

A few days later, according to the documents, a Task Force 373 unit fired rockets into a village where they believed a foreign jihadist fighter from Libya was hiding. They killed six Taliban fighters — but also seven civilians, all of them children. One was alive when allied medics arrived. “The Med TM immediately cleared debris from the mouth and performed CPR,” the incident report states, but after 20 minutes the child died.

We knew that the Afghan government was spectacularly corrupt. The documents let us glimpse a bit of that corruption — how commonplace it is and how it destroys public trust.

The documents do tell us some things that we didn't know — for example, that the Taliban apparently used a heat-seeking missile to shoot down a coalition helicopter in 2007, at a time when U.S. officials were pooh-poohing the threat to allied aircraft from insurgent forces. Underestimating the enemy is rarely a good idea.

And the “Afghan War Diary,” as WikiLeaks calls the documents, brings into clear focus the Catch-22 absurdity of trying to wage counterinsurgency warfare in a nation with a 2,000-year tradition of implacable resistance to foreign invaders. As the White House was quick to point out, the documents cover the period before President Obama ordered an escalation and a change of strategy. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Obama's chosen commander, tried his best to limit civilian casualties — but soldiers complained, with some justification, that they were not being allowed to fully engage and pursue the enemy. Gen. David Petraeus, put in charge after McChrystal's dismissal, is under pressure from the ranks to relax the rules of engagement — which would surely lead to more civilians killed, and more grieving relatives transformed into Taliban sympathizers.

Overall, though, the most shocking thing about the “War Diary” may be that they fail to shock. The documents illustrate how futile — and tragically wasteful — it is to send more young men and women to fight and die in Afghanistan.

But we knew this, didn't we?

Eugene Robinson is a Washington Post columnist. His e-mail address is

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Update: Read The Federal Judge's (Susan Bolton) Opinion On Arizona's "Immigration" Law, SB 1070.

Read the full text of the opinion here.

Key parts of the judge's ruling are as follows:

Applying the proper legal standards based upon well-established precedent, the Court finds that the United States is not likely to succeed on the merits in showing that the following provisions of S.B. 1070 are preempted by federal law, and the Court therefore does not enjoin the enforcement of the following provisions of S.B. 1070:
- 4 -
Portion of Section 5 of S.B. 1070
A.R.S. § 13-2929: creating a separate crime for a person in violation of a criminal offense to transport or harbor an unlawfully present alien or encourage or induce an unlawfully present alien to come to or live in Arizona
Section 10 of S.B. 1070
A.R.S. § 28-3511: amending the provisions for the removal or impoundment of a vehicle to permit impoundment of vehicles used in the transporting or harboring of unlawfully present aliens

Applying the proper legal standards based upon well-established precedent, the Court finds that the United States is likely to succeed on the merits in showing that the following Sections of S.B. 1070 are preempted by federal law:
Portion of Section 2 of S.B. 1070
A.R.S. § 11-1051(B): requiring that an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is nlawfully present in the United States, and requiring verification of the immigration status of any person arrested prior to releasing that person
Section 3 of S.B. 1070
A.R.S. § 13-1509: creating a crime for the failure to apply for or carry alien registration papers
Portion of Section 5 of S.B. 1070
A.R.S. § 13-2928(C): creating a crime for an unauthorized alien to solicit, apply for, or perform work
Section 6 of S.B. 1070
A.R.S. § 13-3883(A)(5): authorizing the warrantless arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense that makes the person removable from the United States

The Court also finds that the United States is likely to suffer irreparable harm if the Court does not preliminarily enjoin enforcement of these Sections of S.B. 1070 and that the balance of equities tips in the United States’ favor considering the public interest. The Court therefore issues a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of the portion of Section 2 creating A.R.S. § 11-1051(B), Section 3 creating A.R.S. § 13-1509, the portion of Section 5 creating A.R.S. § 13-2928(C), and Section 6 creating A.R.S. § 13-3883(A)(5).


BREAKING News: Federal Judge Finds "Heart" Of Arizona's "Immigration" Law Unconstitutional.

The judge ruled that:

Arizona cannot determine immigration statuses of those it arrests;

Cannot force people to carry immigration papers to identify their immigration status;

Cannot force those who seek employment to verify their immigration status.

Stay tuned for more updates. I will review the ruling when it is published.

Read more here.


Louisville Courier Journal Editorial: The Afghan Papers.

The Afghan papers

The first thing that should be done about the huge archive of classified military documents concerning the war in Afghanistan made public last weekend is to dispel the notion that they are on a level with the Pentagon Papers of the Vietnam era or with the release of the records of the Stasi secret police in East Germany.

The former lifted back the veil of a web of deception and error that explained how the United States had blundered into an unjustified and far deadlier conflict in Southeast Asia. The other laid out how a Stalinist state's agents (successor to the Gestapo, no less) extended its tentacles into every branch of an Orwellian society.

The Afghan papers, in fact, tell little that is new. Moreover, because the documents posted at WikiLeaks stop at about the time President Obama escalated the conflict, some are of questionable relevance. Finally, since many are raw intelligence reports or battlefield dispatches, it is often impossible to gauge their accuracy.

It is appropriate that attention be directed to the actual leaking of the classified material. WikiLeaks attempted to redact names of people who could be endangered by exposure, and The New York Times , the British newspaper The Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel (all of which published excerpts) took even greater pains. Nonetheless, names of American personnel and of some foreign agents, particularly Pakistani and Afghan, are revealed. Defense and intelligence officials seem to think that damaging disclosures will be rare, if they exist at all. But in wartime some things must be kept secret, and there is no telling what the next batch of leaks might contain.

As strongly as we believe in transparency and oppose excessive secrecy, an investigation into the leaks is warranted.

That said, the leaked six-year archive is now in the public domain, and there are important points to bear in mind about its content and impact.
Grim conclusions

One is that while little information is actually new, the cumulative effect of the reports is a grim one. It underscores how difficult the war is, how unreliable Afghan troops and police are, the pervasiveness of official Afghan corruption, the corrosive effect of civilian casualties and how adversely the Bush administration's long and tragic distraction with Iraq affected the military effort and U.S. morale. The sheer weight of these problems is sobering.

A second is that many of the documents shed light on the role of Pakistani intelligence officers, some of whom are clearly playing both sides. This, too, is not a new insight. The important thing is for both the United States and Pakistan to remember how much they need each other — a mutually recognized reality reflected in the implicit Pakistani approval of attacks by U.S. drone aircraft in Taliban-infested areas of Pakistan and by more rigorous Pakistani military action in recent months against terrorist organizations.

'Two-faced' approach

Some of Pakistan's two-faced approach is dictated by history — the Americans abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 — and some by its desire to avoid letting its archenemy India gain influence among the Afghans. Clearly, it is in the American interest to act as a peacemaker between India and Pakistan whenever possible. But even conservative critics credit the Obama administration with forging a better and more constructive relationship with Pakistan, and that must not be abandoned.

Finally, although the documents are informative, they do not seem to be game-changers in deciding how to proceed in Afghanistan. Unlike Vietnam, Afghanistan knowingly harbored a terrorist force that carried out deadly attacks on American soil. The mission in Afghanistan must be to create circumstances under which Afghanistan will not again become a staging ground for attacks on the United States, its allies or its vital interests. The debate about Afghanistan should center on whether the U.S. is pursuing a strategy that will accomplish that goal and, if not, on what, if anything, can be done to make success more likely.

To read the Afghan archive excerpts and to conclude that war is hell is simply to embrace a cliché. To read them and to be reminded that the war is going badly in many respects — and to ask whether success still can be achieved and, if so, how — would lead the nation toward a debate it badly needs to have.

Labels: Issues Afghan War Diary 2004-2010 -- A DAMNING Indictment Of The Afghanistan War. Check It Out.

Go here.

A DAMNING evidence, indeed.

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Joel Pett Provides Today's Cartoon.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taking A Cue From Andrew Breitbart, MoveOn.Org Reveals He "Hearts Al-Qaeda". I Guess Whats Good For The Goose, Will Suffice For The Gander. LOL. Watch

'Post-Racial America' Is An Obvious Term Of Fiction".

'Post-racial America' is an obvious term of fiction

Whoever came up with the insipid term “post-racial” ought to be forced to sit down and read aloud the vile commentary that pours into any newsroom after it publishes or airs a story on race. That would quickly cure the urge to insist we’ve finally reached that harmonious other side of the rainbow.

We certainly saw no such evidence in recent days, even in the actions of Barack Obama’s White House, which is supposed to be living proof that Americans are “over” race. Administration officials acted as discreditably as the nation’s most storied civil rights organization, the NAACP, in its lame-brained, cowardly response to the latest racial provocation from the right.

By now the saga of Shirley Sherrod is well known. The Georgia Department of Agriculture official was forced out of her job based on a selectively edited video. Posted on the website of right-wing provocateur Andrew Breitbart, and then trumpeted on Fox News and other cable channels, the video made it sound like the African-American Sherrod had once refused to aid a farm couple because they were white. Conservatives went wild with indignation. In a hasty reaction, the NAACP called for Sherrod’s head, too. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack got it.

Both the NAACP and the USDA should have suspended judgment until they had done a little research. They would have discovered that Sherrod was actually telling a much longer tale, one of redemption. She had helped the white farmer save his farm, realizing that poor black and poor white have more, not less, in common.

Unfortunately for Sherrod, Fox and Breitbart have almost unrivaled power to shape political debate in the United States. When they go on attack, their opponents tremble. In these times of the media’s 24-hour spin cycle, there are the quick and the dead. Vilsack acted in haste, and now he and his boss in the Oval Office have a mighty mess to clean up.

There is another racially charged dimension to this drama, one that most commentators and reporters don’t mention: The Department of Agriculture is still trying to settle lawsuits with black farmers who for decades were systematically denied loans, causing financial ruin for many in lost crops and land. (Interestingly, Sherrod herself is a former farmer who sued the government over this discrimination and won.) The Obama administration is backing legislation enabling a $1.25 billion grant to settle the outstanding claims, a plan that conservatives have attacked vigorously. That legislation was supposed to be voted on the very week Breitbart chose to release his edited video. Coincidence? And, of course, right before it nose-dived on the Sherrod story, the NAACP was battered for daring to adopt a resolution asking the tea party movement to shun the racists in its midst. The response? How dare the NAACP! And what about that New Black Panther Party? Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, probably lost count of the number of times he was asked recently to denounce the actions of this handful of loons that decked themselves in paramilitary gear and hung out at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008.

Why does anybody care about the New Black Panther Party? Because Fox News will not stop excoriating the Obama administration with the false claim that it has done nothing to investigate or prosecute the group.

The case is dredged up as a supposed example of a pattern in the Obama White House of being soft on minority “racists” and lawbreakers.

It seems there’s always another side to these lurid stories — the truth, the complicated truth. But the truth seldom has the visceral appeal that Fox’s all-too-often fictional exposes have. And by the time accurate information makes its way into mainstream print media, the damage is done.

Post-racial America? Not happening. Not until people quit twisting the truth, pandering to the indignation of the hypersensitive, and feeling entitled to ruin the lives and careers of innocent people just to win a news cycle.

Read more:

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The Conversation On Race.

'The Conversation on Race'

Shirley Sherrod, as presented last Monday, was a woman robbed of history. The immediate history of her comments were removed, as anyone can see from the tape. But the broader history--the murder of her father by the Klan, her subsequent devotion to a war against domestic terrorists inaugurated by her rifle-toting mother, the sad years of unpunished murder of black people in the South, and the accompanying pillage of black farmland--was also necessarily excised. What you saw last week was rather profound--like a watching tribunal in which the zeal to render a verdict was only matched by the zeal to ignore all evidence.

It's rather shocking when you consider the facts. The NAACP is the oldest organizational champion of integration in existence today, and maybe the greatest in American history. Founded in 1909, as an integrated group with integrated leadership, the NAACP has historically not just suffered at the hands of racists, but also at the hands of black nationalists and separatists. No less then the W.E.B. Du Bois parted with the group, in part, because of its steadfast commitment to integration. In 1995, the NAACP, likely much to their peril, refused to support the Million Man March because of its disagreements with Louis Farrakhan.

With that backdrop, the likelihood of an Obama official with roots in the Civil Rights Movement, coming to NAACP meeting to preach racism should have set off alarm bells, immediately. (Specifically for the NAACP itself.) The scenario only becomes likely if you either excise history--or if those who seek to excise history shake your confidence. The former describes Breitbart's legions. The latter describes the NAACP.

I keep hearing people bantering about this notion of a national conversation on race, and I have finally figured out why it rankles so. This is a country where any variant of the phrase "slavery caused the Civil War" is still considered controversial, and where respectable intellectuals believe the NAACP and the Tea Party movement are two sides of the same coin. The NAACP has repeatedly cited "elements of the Tea Party" for racism, and yet the argument is just as repeatedly rendered as "the NAACP says the Tea Party is racist."

Expecting an American conversation on race in this country, is like expecting financial advice from someone who prefers to not check their bank balance. It's not that the answers, themselves, are pre-ordained, its that we are more interested in questions than answers, in verdicts than evidence. Even now, there are people who insist--in spite of the actual video--that the NAACP audience is actually cheering for Sherrod to not help the white farmer.

Put bluntly, this is a country too ignorant of itself to grapple with race in any serious way. The very nomenclature--"conversation on race"--betrays the unseriousness of the thing by communicating the sense that race can be boxed from the broader American narrative, that you can somehow talk about Thomas Jefferson without Sally Hemmings; that you can discuss Andrew Jackson without discussing his betrayal of the black artillerymen who fought at the Battle of New Orleans; that you can discuss the suffrage without Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells or Frederick Douglass; that you can discuss temperance without understanding the support of the Klan; that you can discuss the path to statehood in Florida without discussing Fort Gadsen; that you can talk Texas without understanding cotton, and so on.

It's not so much that we don't know--it's that we aspire to not know. The ignorance of the African-American thread in the broader American quilt--the essential nature of that thread--is willful, and the greatest evidence that the spirit of white supremacy walks with us. There was a lot of self-congratulation around the justice done on Shirley Sherrod. It's premature. The thing will happen again. Race isn't a "distraction" from Obama's agenda--it's the compromised, unsure ground upon which this country walks everyday. It is the monster, and it will not be evaded writing Shirley Sherrod off to the machinations of the 24-hour news cycle.

Talk is overrated. There can be no talk with people who've conditioned themselves out of listening. This is the country we've made. This is the country we deserve.

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Shirley Sherrod: Racial Healing And God's Amazing Grace.

Shirley Sherrod: Racial healing and God's amazing grace
By: Gustav Niebuhr

The story of how Shirley Sherrod briefly lost a job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and almost immediately received an offer of a new one --from departmental Secretary Tom Vilsack himself--has had a remarkable staying power in the news media. A week has gone by since an administration official, furiously dialing Sherrod's cell phone, demanded she pull her car over and resign. Very few subjects, short of wars and catastrophic oil spills, receive the amount of ink her dismissal has.

But amidst all the ruminations about and fulminations against blogger Andrew Breitbart, Fox News, Vilsack, the NAACP, President Obama, and--well, you name 'em all--a central character in the drama has gone almost unremarked. That would be Ms. Sherrod's God, to whom she assigned the decisive role in the now globally famous speech she gave to Georgia's NAACP last March.

By now, most Americans must know how the video excerpt of her words, posted on the Web, made Sherrod look as if she were discriminating against a white farmer by not extending him the services he, a struggling agriculturalist, deserved. And most now know the excerpt was not the full speech, but served Sherrod as a prelude to explain how she changed and came to be who she is today.

As she said to members of the Georgia NAACP back on that March day, she spoke as the daughter of a murdered black farmer, victim of a racial crime whose author was never convicted. That allowed her to talk about how, through her experiences with the financially hard-pressed white farmer in 1986, she came to believe a divine agency was at work in her life, teaching her.

"God helped me to see that it's not just about black people--it's about poor people. And I've come a long way. I knew that I couldn't live with hate, you know."

That's the key statement in her speech. In traditional Christian terminology, it's called a testimony.

In her speech, Sherrod singled out young people, asking them to hear her story of moral transformation. The daughter of a murdered man, she credited God with goodness and showing her a way helpful to others.

In reporting on Shirley Sherrod's case, commentators have focused on the high-pressure dysfunctions of the 24-hour news cycle, the embarrassing, knee-jerk, rush to judgment of high administration officials, and the way race as a subject continues to bedevil many Americans into saying and doing stupid things.

But not to be ignored is one woman's recounting of how she experienced an amazing grace. That's not a singular narrative. Americans have been telling those stories about themselves for centuries. The details vary, but the essential storyline remains the same: I was lost, now I'm found. Too bad a lot of the news media are tone deaf when it comes to recognizing the story and the tradition to which it belongs.

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"Sherrod Case Stokes Race Issue".

Sherrod case stokes race issue
By Jonathan Mann, CNN

(CNN) -- A soft-spoken African-American woman with a gentle manner has become the most famous face in U.S. politics, in Kafkaesque confusion involving race, right-wing media and officials of the Obama administration.

"On behalf of the administration, I offer our apologies," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Until this week, Shirley Sherrod was a largely anonymous government employee helping struggling farmers in a poor part of the country.

But a right-wing internet blogger found video of a speech she gave, mentioning her work with a white farmer she found condescending.

"I was struggling with the fact that so many black people have lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land," Sherrod said in the widely viewed and quoted excerpt. "So I didn't give him the full force of what I could do."

Edited out, though, were her explanation that the work was done decades earlier for a different employer, that it taught her to look past race, and that she even offered the disagreeable white farmer exactly the help he needed.

Indeed, when CNN found his family, they were grateful and credited Sherrod with saving them from financial disaster.

But the country's leading civil rights organization, the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People had already called for her dismissal and President Obama's agriculture secretary had ordered her fired from her job.

They were reacting not just to Sherrod, but also a lot of painful history. Tens of thousands of black, Hispanic and female farmers have complained over the years of unfair treatment by the Department of Agriculture, when they wanted government assistance.

So a largely black organization and the cabinet secretary of America's first black president wanted to demonstrate their rejection of any form of discrimination.

When the full facts emerged, the NAACP complained that it had been intentionally fooled by the blogger and the media that repeated his account. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized to Sherrod and offered her a new job.

Editor's note: Click here for the job offer.

And Obama's America was left scratching its head about race and politics once again.

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Race: The Discussion We Avoid. YEP!

Race: the discussion we avoid
By Charles J. Ogletree Jr. and Johanna Wald

President Obama has called and chatted with Shirley Sherrod. Tom Vilsack and Ben Jealous have issued heartfelt apologies. There is talk of a “chardonnay summit” in the Rose Garden. The subtext to all this? Let's wrap up this incident quickly so we can all go on our vacations guilt-free, secure in the knowledge that our “post-racial society” remains intact.

Once again, in the midst of the cacophony, calls abound for a national “dialogue” on race. Yet our nation cannot muster the patience or stamina to sustain such a discussion beyond a single news cycle. In some ways, Sherrod's tale is a metaphor for this country's aborted efforts to address race. In its entirety, her deeply moving story was about transformation and reconciliation between blacks and whites. It contained the seeds of progress and healing. She spoke of blacks and whites working together to save farms and to end poverty and suffering. But Sherrod, and those listening to her story, could get to her hopeful conclusion only by first wading through painful admissions of racial bias and struggle.

Unfortunately, our news and political cycles make it impossible for any of us to stay in a room long enough to reach that transformative moment. At the barest suggestion of race, we line up at opposite corners and start hurling accusations. Attorney General Eric Holder was widely criticized last year for suggesting that we are a “nation of cowards” when it comes to such discussions. The reaction to his comments is a reminder that we cannot continue to ignore this challenge. Yet Americans refuse to acknowledge that, in today's society, racial attitudes are often complicated, multilayered and conflicted.

Racial inequality is perpetuated less by individuals than by structural racism and implicit bias. Evidence of structural inequality is everywhere: in the grossly disproportionate numbers of young black men and women in prison; in the color of students shunted into remedial and special education tracks; in the stubborn segregation of our neighborhoods and schools; in the lack of recreational and academic opportunities for children of color in poor communities; in the inferior medical treatment that people of color receive; and in the still appallingly small numbers of men and women of color in law firms, corporations and government. It is evident, too, in the history of blatant discrimination against black farmers practiced by the Agricultural Department.

But that does not make doctors, nurses, police officers, judges, teachers, lawyers, city planners, admission officers or others prejudiced. Most are well-intentioned professionals who believe themselves to be free of racial bias. From their perspective, it is not easy to connect individual actions and decisions to broader structural conditions and environments built up over decades and even centuries.

Implicit bias is a reality we must confront far more openly. A growing mass of compelling research reveals the unconscious racial stereotypes many of us harbor that affect our decisions. Such attitudes do not make us prejudiced; they make us human. Those who take the Implicit Association Test often express shock when results show that their unconscious biases conflict with their explicit egalitarian values and ideals.

Nonetheless, white and black test-takers match black faces more quickly than white ones with words representing violent concepts and are more likely to mistake a harmless object for a gun when it is carried by a black person. One study found that the more stereotypically black the features of a criminal defendant, the harsher the sentence he or she is likely to receive.

Implicit bias has been shown to factor into hiring decisions and into the quality of health care that individuals receive. Mazharin Banaji and Jerry Kang, leading scholars on implicit bias, have noted: “As disturbing as this evidence is, there is too much of it to be ignored.”

The good news is that structures can be dismantled and replaced and unconscious biases can be transformed, as happened to Sherrod and the family she helped, the Spooners. First, though, they must be acknowledged. We and others researching race and justice are committed to untangling the web of structures, conditions and policies that lead to unequal opportunities. Our nation has to stop denying the complexity of our racial attitudes, history and progress. Let's tone down the rhetoric on all sides, slow down and commit to listening with less judgment and more compassion. If Americans did so, we might find that we share more common ground than we could have imagined.

Charles J. Ogletree Jr. is executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice and the author most recently of “The Presumptions of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America.” Johanna Wald is director of strategic planning at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.

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"Diversity And The Myth Of White Privilege".

Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege
America still owes a debt to its black citizens, but government programs to help all 'people of color' are unfair. They should end.

The NAACP believes the tea party is racist. The tea party believes the NAACP is racist. And Pat Buchanan got into trouble recently by pointing out that if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will not be a single Protestant Justice, although Protestants make up half the U.S. population and dominated the court for generations.

Forty years ago, as the United States experienced the civil rights movement, the supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America. After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers. The time has come to cease the false arguments and allow every American the benefit of a fair chance at the future.

I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America's economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white.

In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.

How so?

Lyndon Johnson's initial program for affirmative action was based on the 13th Amendment and on the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which authorized the federal government to take actions in order to eliminate "the badges of slavery." Affirmative action was designed to recognize the uniquely difficult journey of African-Americans. This policy was justifiable and understandable, even to those who came from white cultural groups that had also suffered in socio-economic terms from the Civil War and its aftermath.

The injustices endured by black Americans at the hands of their own government have no parallel in our history, not only during the period of slavery but also in the Jim Crow era that followed. But the extrapolation of this logic to all "people of color"—especially since 1965, when new immigration laws dramatically altered the demographic makeup of the U.S.—moved affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination, this time against whites. It has also lessened the focus on assisting African-Americans, who despite a veneer of successful people at the very top still experience high rates of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and family breakup.

Those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa did not suffer discrimination from our government, and in fact have frequently been the beneficiaries of special government programs. The same cannot be said of many hard-working white Americans, including those whose roots in America go back more than 200 years.

Contrary to assumptions in the law, white America is hardly a monolith. And the journey of white American cultures is so diverse (yes) that one strains to find the logic that could lump them together for the purpose of public policy.

The clearest example of today's misguided policies comes from examining the history of the American South.

The old South was a three-tiered society, with blacks and hard-put whites both dominated by white elites who manipulated racial tensions in order to retain power. At the height of slavery, in 1860, less than 5% of whites in the South owned slaves. The eminent black historian John Hope Franklin wrote that "fully three-fourths of the white people in the South had neither slaves nor an immediate economic interest in the maintenance of slavery."

The Civil War devastated the South, in human and economic terms. And from post-Civil War Reconstruction to the beginning of World War II, the region was a ravaged place, affecting black and white alike.

In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt created a national commission to study what he termed "the long and ironic history of the despoiling of this truly American section." At that time, most industries in the South were owned by companies outside the region. Of the South's 1.8 million sharecroppers, 1.2 million were white (a mirror of the population, which was 71% white). The illiteracy rate was five times that of the North-Central states and more than twice that of New England and the Middle Atlantic (despite the waves of European immigrants then flowing to those regions). The total endowments of all the colleges and universities in the South were less than the endowments of Harvard and Yale alone. The average schoolchild in the South had $25 a year spent on his or her education, compared to $141 for children in New York.

Generations of such deficiencies do not disappear overnight, and they affect the momentum of a culture. In 1974, a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) study of white ethnic groups showed that white Baptists nationwide averaged only 10.7 years of education, a level almost identical to blacks' average of 10.6 years, and well below that of most other white groups. A recent NORC Social Survey of white adults born after World War II showed that in the years 1980-2000, only 18.4% of white Baptists and 21.8% of Irish Protestants—the principal ethnic group that settled the South—had obtained college degrees, compared to a national average of 30.1%, a Jewish average of 73.3%, and an average among those of Chinese and Indian descent of 61.9%.

Policy makers ignored such disparities within America's white cultures when, in advancing minority diversity programs, they treated whites as a fungible monolith. Also lost on these policy makers were the differences in economic and educational attainment among nonwhite cultures. Thus nonwhite groups received special consideration in a wide variety of areas including business startups, academic admissions, job promotions and lucrative government contracts.

Where should we go from here? Beyond our continuing obligation to assist those African-Americans still in need, government-directed diversity programs should end.

Nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens, including those who happen to be white. The need for inclusiveness in our society is undeniable and irreversible, both in our markets and in our communities. Our government should be in the business of enabling opportunity for all, not in picking winners. It can do so by ensuring that artificial distinctions such as race do not determine outcomes.

Memo to my fellow politicians: Drop the Procrustean policies and allow harmony to invade the public mindset. Fairness will happen, and bitterness will fade away.

Mr. Webb, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Virginia.


Obama's Teachable Moment. LMAO!


Monday, July 26, 2010

"Shirley Sherrod Debacle: Why Obama Stumbles On Race".

Shirley Sherrod debacle: why Obama stumbles on race
The Obama administration hastily forced the resignation of a black Agriculture Department official, Shirley Sherrod, who was accused of racism. Shirley Sherrod was later exonerated. It's the second time in two summers that President Obama has become mired in a matter of race.
By Patrik Jonsson

In its handling of the Shirley Sherrod case this week, the Obama administration has underscored that the nation's first black president is still finding his way on how to deal with race.

One year ago, President Obama said a white police sergeant in Cambridge, Mass., "acted stupidly" when he arrested a black Harvard scholar on his own front porch. He later brought all the parties to the White House for a "beer summit" – the president's tacit atonement for his comment.

Now, Mr. Obama has had to backtrack again, telling Ms. Sherrod Thursday that he regretted the events of the past few days – in which Sherrod was labeled a racist and forced to resign from her post in the Agriculture Department only to be exonerated a day later.

During the 2008 election, Obama suggested that, if elected, he would have "a special insight" into America's black-white divide. Yet in office, Obama has stumbled – not so much with the grand themes of racism in America but with his own unique own role in refereeing a race debate that remains complex but often devolves into farce and caricature.

Part of this problem would seem unavoidable: As America's first black president, Obama faces outsize expectations as a model and a national arbiter on matters of race. Yet those expectations have been further complicated by the rising intensity of Washington's partisan cable news and online echo chamber.

"You've got this strange phenomenon where you have all these little entities working to achieve not necessarily a partisan, but ideological, objective, and the White House ends up getting caught in the middle," says Daniel Klinghard, a political scientist at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. "There's a lot of discomfort over this issue, and it's breaking to the surface now."

The online echo chamber

The Sherrod episode began when conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart released a video on his website of a March 27 speech by Sherrod at an NAACP function. Mr. Breitbart, who is waging a campaign against what he sees as liberal race-baiting, posted only an excerpt of the speech. In that excerpt, Sherrod told a story from the 1980s about when she refused to use the "full force" of her abilities to help a white farmer.

In the uproar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack forced Sherrod to resign Monday, and Obama backed the move. By Tuesday, however, the white farmer at the center of the controversy refuted claims that Sherrod was a racist, and when the full video emerged, it showed that the point of Sherrod's story was that she had used the incident to move beyond racial stereotyping.

A year ago, Obama used his beer summit to encourage Americans to do likewise – to have frank and at times uncomfortable discussions about race. But Professor Klinghard wonders if a more open discussion on race has led to a more visceral and at times angry discussion on race.

"It seems like people use the fact that we have a black president as an excuse to talk about race in a different way, which reflects something about the state of racial relations in America," he says. "But to assume that the history of racial problems is over so now we can just unleash I think takes us to a very bad place."
Obama's unique position

So far, Obama is caught in the uncomfortable position of both representing America's dramatic forward progress on race while also, by virtue of who he is, being a lightning rod for racist attitudes by both blacks and whites.

At the same time, the way he ran for president in 2008 – trying as much as possible to take race out of the equation – might have undercut his ability to control the narrative around his historic achievement.

"By running a racially transcendent campaign, Obama may have implicitly sent a message to non-black people that he wouldn't address racial issues, so when racial issues come up, he's hamstrung," says Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta.

Curiously, the woman at the center of America's current race debate suggests that Obama might be hamstrung in other ways, too. The fact that he is the son of a white American and black Kenyan – an Ivy League-educated lawyer without African-American heritage – might be clouding Obama's political judgment, Sherrod said.

"He's not someone who has experienced some of the things I've experienced through life being a person of color," Sherrod told ABC News. "He might need to hear some of what I could say to him."

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Leonard Pitts: Outrage Machine Misfires.

Outrage machine misfires
By Leonard Pitts

Last week, the conservative outrage machine tried to chew up Shirley Sherrod.

You are familiar with that machine if you have access to the Internet or Fox News. As the name implies, it exists to stoke and maintain a state of perpetual apoplexy on the political right by feeding it a never-ending stream of perceived sins against conservative orthodoxy.

While the machine will use any available fuel (health care, immigration, Muslims) to manufacture fury, it has a special fondness for race. Specifically, for stories that depict the God-fearing white conservative as a victim of oppression.

So Sherrod must have seemed a godsend to blogger Andrew Breitbart.

Last Monday, he posted an excerpted video of Sherrod, an African-American employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, telling a NAACP audience how she once hesitated, because he was white, to help a farmer stave off bankruptcy. “Evidence of racism,” Breitbart sniffs righteously in an accompanying post.

Except that it wasn't.

“After” the NAACP pronounced the video appalling, “after” Bill O'Reilly called her words unacceptable, and “after” the USDA demanded her resignation (all have since apologized) the truth came out, via the full video.

It turns out Sherrod is a daughter of Baker County, Ga., which she describes as having been the sort of proudly unreconstructed place where a black man might be murdered by a white one and despite three witnesses, the grand jury would decline to indict. In 1965, Sherrod's father was that black man, one of many.

So there she is in 1986, working at a nonprofit agency established to help farmers, and in comes this white farmer she finds condescending. She didn't do all she could've for him, she told the audience. Instead, she handed him off to a white lawyer, figuring one of “his own kind” would take care of him.

Which would indeed be appalling and unacceptable, except that when the white lawyer failed to help that farmer, Sherrod resolved to help him herself, to overcome the bitterness and bias of her own heart. That farmer credits her with saving his farm.

Breitbart used a snippet of video to misrepresent her as a black bureaucrat bragging of how she stuck it to the white man. Sherrod's point was actually about reconciliation, redemption, learning to embrace the wholeness of humanity.

Invited by CNN to explain the dissonance between his video and the truth, Breitbart chose instead to reiterate his charge of “racist” sentiment. For Breitbart, the video was an attempt to embarrass the NAACP, because it recently passed a resolution denouncing racist elements in the tea party movement. This is not about Sherrod, he insisted, though she might beg to differ.

In the interview, Breitbart came across as not overly concerned with “truth,” and much less with racial injustice, except insofar as it can be used to further his cause.

And isn't it telling how often conservatives will discover their burning concern over race just when it becomes useful to them? We saw this last year. In a nation where one state may soon require Latinos to show their papers, conservatives hyperventilated over the “racism” of Sonia Sotomayor extolling the virtues of a “wise Latina.” Now, against the backdrop of an Agriculture Department that long ago admitted to decades of discrimination against black farmers, Breitbart weeps over the “racism” of Shirley Sherrod refusing to assist a white farmer — right up until she did.

It is probably useless to say Breitbart should be ashamed. There is little evidence he possesses the ability. But Sherrod is pondering a defamation suit, and a judgment in her favor might help him fix that defect.

May she win big. And may the outrage machine choke on the bill.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald. His e-mail address is

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"After The Shirley Sherrod Furor, A Pivot On Racial Entitlement?"

After the Shirley Sherrod furor, a pivot on racial entitlement?
The US Department of Agriculture, from which Shirley Sherrod was fired for appearing to discriminate, stood at the forefront of institutional racism for decades. The question of whether America has righted historical wrongs against blacks ignites today's heated race debate.
By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / July 24, 2010

Bubbling beneath the Shirley Sherrod furor is a debate that many Americans are itching to have, but aren't quite sure how to bring up in polite company: The fairness of minority preferences and entitlements.

That Ms. Sherrod, who is black, could be fired for making a racist statement – a false charge, as it turned out – seemed to many Americans to show a new willingness by the Obama administration to acknowledge that racism isn't just a problem for the white community. That it happened to an employee of the Department of Agriculture, which recently approved a $1.2 billion settlement for black farmers who faced decades of discrimination, only seemed to drive home that point.

While officials now say that Sherrod's forced resignation was too hasty – in fact, Obama apologized personally to Sherrod and she has been offered another job – the episode gave Americans an opportunity to discuss the substance of the point she was trying to make in the much-publicized March speech to an NAACP dinner in Douglas, Ga.: Whether race should still play a role in federal and state policy and politics.

As such, the Sherrod case embodies the race debate in both personal and institutional terms. It raises questions for many liberals about the state of racism on the political right and questions from many white Americans about when the post-Civil Rights era of minority preferences and entitlements will end.

'No parallel in our history'

"The injustices endured by black Americans at the hands of their own government have no parallel in our history, not only during the period of slavery but also in the Jim Crow era that followed," writes Sen. Jim Webb (D) of Virginia in the Wall Street Journal. "But the extrapolation of this logic to all 'people of color' – especially since 1965, when new immigration laws dramatically altered the demographic makeup of the U.S. – moved affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination, this time against whites. It has also lessened the focus on assisting African-Americans, who despite a veneer of successful people at the very top still experience high rates of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and family breakup."

Few departments have struggled as much with how to resolve the legacy of institutional racism as the Department of Agriculture. That includes the man who fired Sherrod, Secretary Tom Vilsack, "who signaled a desire to atone for the USDA's checkered past, including pushing for funding of a historic $1.15 billion settlement that would help thousands of African American farmers but now faces bitter resistance from Senate Republicans," writes Chris Kromm on the Facing South blog.

"This is a good woman. She has been put through hell," Mr. Vilsack told CNN, acknowledging a shift in priorities. "I want to renew the commitment of this department to a new era in civil rights. I want to close the chapter on a very difficult period in civil rights."

Sherrod herself was struggling with the dichotomy of race and entitlement in her controversial speech, which, in full hearing indicated that, despite her experiences growing up in the Jim Crow South, she had ultimately moved beyond seeing the world through a prism of race.

"It’s a great story, honestly told, and I’d bet that most of those who took the time to watch that tape at one point reflected on their own, perhaps uncompleted journey to that same grace that Sherrod has tried to attain," writes Jay Bookman in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That is a good thing. America has never been a static concept. To the contrary, it has existed in a permanent state of transformation politically and economically as well as demographically."
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But instead of a thoughtful, albeit uncomfortable debate, as Mr. Bookman calls for, the racial tension, political scientists say, has only gotten more intense, fueled by both liberals and conservatives trying to score political points ahead of the election by charging their counterparts with racism.

From racialized caricatures of Obama at tea party rallies to groups like the NAACP seeing shadows of racism behind every mostly-white gathering, the debate seems to have devolved in recent weeks.

"There's a lot of discomfort over this issue, and it's breaking to the surface now," says Daniel Klinghard, a political science professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
Obama as the first black president

Moreover, President Obama's election as the first black president has both fueled racial antagonism while at the same time providing proof to many Americans that their country is no longer defined by race.

"The desire to move past race is genuine, but I think that the method of getting past race reflects a certain type of dysfunction in American society," says Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta.

And once raised, the entitlement question is a difficult one to resolve.

In his column, Sen. Webb suggests getting rid of federal minority preference policies, including affirmative action programs, but not completely gutting programs that help struggling African-Americans. Complicating government's role is that key institutions such as schools, for example, are not federal enterprises, but rely on local property taxes and school boards to function – a system that all but ensures educational disparity that often affects blacks more than whites.

"I like the concept of 'enabling opportunity for all,'" writes James Joyner, on the Outside the Beltway blog. ""But what does that mean in practice? How do we break this cycle through the government?"

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"Race: Still Too Hot to Touch".

Race: Still Too Hot to Touch

If Tom Wolfe had set out to write a “Bonfire of the Vanities” on modern Washington, a farce about lives and races colliding, he couldn’t have done much better than to invent the unlikely story of Shirley Sherrod.

An African-American bureaucrat in the Georgia office of the Agriculture Department, Ms. Sherrod became an instant celebrity last week because of a speech she gave to a N.A.A.C.P. convention in March in which she explained the evolution of her attitudes on race. A conservative blogger triumphantly circulated an edited clip in which Ms. Sherrod seemed to suggest that she had declined to help a white farmer in need of aid. (She hadn’t, to which the farmer attested.) From there, Ms. Sherrod was renounced by a jittery N.A.A.C.P., exploited by right-wing commentators, and fired and then unfired from her job, before at last receiving a conciliatory call from the president of the United States.

In many ways, Ms. Sherrod’s ordeal followed a depressingly familiar pattern in American life, in which anyone who even tries to talk about race risks public outrage and humiliation.

We might have hoped that the election of a black president would somehow make the subject less sensitive and volatile, in the way that John F. Kennedy’s election seemed to allay the last, lingering tension between American Catholics and the country’s Protestant establishment. But as the week’s events made clear, Mr. Obama’s presence alone isn’t going to deliver us from a racial dialogue characterized by cable-TV conflagration — and it may even complicate the conversation.

If Mr. Obama’s campaign was about “hope,” then it was, in some part, the hope for a more nuanced kind of dialogue. A telling moment was in 2007 when then-Senator Joe Biden, in summarizing Mr. Obama’s appeal as an African-American, condescendingly described him as “clean” and “articulate.” It was the kind of comment that at another time, with another black leader, might have led to Mr. Biden’s undoing.

Instead, Mr. Obama shrugged the whole thing off, saying no apology was needed. The next year, he chose Mr. Biden as his running mate.

In this way, Mr. Obama seemed to signal a new paradigm for black-white discussion — one in which a public figure could use language outside the defined limits of acceptability and expect to be judged in some larger context. In other words, the promise of Mr. Obama’s candidacy wasn’t a post-racial society where no one was going to notice the color of your skin; it was a society where you could talk about race — no matter what color you were — without automatically being called a racist.

And yet any hope that Mr. Obama’s election might magically erase the tension of recent decades has faded, as the N.A.A.C.P. and the Tea Party traded accusations over race. Black leaders have discovered that you still can’t raise legitimate questions about racism without being accused of “playing the race card.” And a large element of the Tea Party movement that is simply angered over government spending finds that in much of the public’s mind, it is still linked to its most extreme, antebellum elements.

And then there is the case of Ms. Sherrod, which seemed to bring together all the familiar elements of racial dysfunction in the society: bigotry and hypersensitivity, gross distortions and moralizing.

In some ways, Mr. Obama’s election seems to have further confused the conversation. Some white conservatives may be in no mood to feel contrite about the nation’s racial legacy now that a black man is sitting in the Oval Office. Civil rights groups, meanwhile, are struggling with the question of how to fight racism in a nation led by a president with an African last name.

Al Sharpton, who considers himself a black leader of Mr. Obama’s generation, has made the case that many of his older colleagues are preoccupied with protesters in the Tea Party and not focused enough on the opportunities that come with governing. “Some people are just used to fighting the power, rather than using the power to win,” Mr. Sharpton said in an interview. “You don’t get control of the White House and two governors and the Justice Department, and then start arguing with people carrying signs.”

Why haven’t we moved beyond the old, stultifying debate in the age of Obama?

One reason may be that Mr. Obama himself tries to avoid discoursing on the issue, in the way that Bill Clinton relished. The president is mired in a miserable economy that is endangering his party’s hold on power; White House aides don’t want him to appear distracted by a debate that may seem superfluous to many Americans. And to those aides, perhaps, Mr. Obama’s appeal among white voters as a biracial politician has been helped by the fact that he doesn’t talk much about it.

Before he entered political life, of course, Mr. Obama wrote expansively about his racial identity in a memoir. As a candidate for president, beset by controversy over the race-infused comments of his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Mr. Obama delivered a less personal but deeply thoughtful speech about the racial grudges and suppositions that permeated the two cultures, white and black, into which he was born.

As president, however, Mr. Obama’s instinct, much to the irritation of older black leaders, has been to avoid any lengthy discussion of racial identity or animus. (It was Mr. Biden, and not the president, who spoke for both men when he said recently that they did not consider the Tea Party movement to be grounded in racism.)

President Obama did comment tartly on the arrest of his friend Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and then held the famous “beer summit” in the Rose Garden. Inside the White House, however, Mr. Obama’s foray into that debate, while trying to focus public attention on health care reform, was considered a calamitous mistake.

Perhaps the president’s reluctance reflects the particular perils faced by any president who represents an American minority — the reasonable fear that he will be perceived, however unfairly, as chauvinist or parochial.

The historian Robert Dallek, a biographer of John F. Kennedy, posits that whatever effect Mr. Kennedy might have had on American attitudes about Catholicism was cemented not by his election in 1960, but by the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. It wasn’t until that moment, Mr. Dallek says, when Mr. Kennedy proved that he could be relied on to protect the national interest as a whole — a judgment that extended, perhaps, to American Catholics generally.

Looked at this way, perhaps Mr. Obama is not just a president in the thrall of economic crisis, but a black leader in search of his defining moment, as well. The conflagrations continue, while we wait.

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