Archive for July, 2010

A terrified Gingrich urges America to abandon its principles

So Newt Gingrich thinks that we — the United States of America, champion of religious freedom — should reduce ourselves to the level of Saudi Arabia. The former speaker of the House believes that the American people must abandon the standards of freedom championed by Thomas Jefferson and our other Founding Fathers — “American elites,” he would sneeringly call them — to instead mirror the intolerance of Wahhabi extremists on the Arabian peninsula.


“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia,” Gingrich writes in a new blog post. “The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.”

So let’s toss the First Amendment overboard, huh Newt? To defeat Islamic extremists, we must become like Islamic extremists, because apparently their way leads to strength and ours to weakness. With arguments such as this, Gingrich betrays …

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Obama administration apologizes, offers to rehire Sherrod

In his just-concluded press conference, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has publicly apologized to Shirley Sherrod for acting much too hastily, and without full possession of the facts. He seems to have taken his mistakes to heart, and his regret seems sincere.

The department has also offered to rehire Sherrod, an offer that she is reportedly considering.

I think it’s fair to say that Vilsack and the administration overreacted, out of fear and ignorance, and were “snookered” by Andrew Breitbart and others, as the NAACP put it. The secretary has now apologized, as has the NAACP. The actual perpetrators of the fraud have not followed suit, and almost certainly will never do so.

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The GOP and its Malice in Wonderland attitude

Republicans lost the political battle on extending unemployment benefits Tuesday when the Senate voted 60-40 to end a filibuster and allow the vote to take place. Once the Senate takes that final vote, the bill will go to the White House for President Obama’s signature and benefits to the longterm unemployed will resume.

Yet that final vote has yet to occur. After yesterday’s vote, Senate Republicans no longer have the power to stop the bill, but they are using Senate rules to delay passage as long as possible, a step that accomplishes absolutely nothing except to make the 2.5 million longterm unemployed wait another two days for the money they need to pay the rent, feed their children and keep the lights on.

In a saner, more compassionate world, such acts would be inconceivable.

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In some ways, ‘Feisal Abdul Rauf’ is Arabic for ‘Shirley Sherrod’

Feisal Abdul Rauf and Shirley Sherrod have a lot in common.

At first blush, that might seem a strange assertion. Abdul Rauf is a naturalized U.S. citizen and a Muslim imam in New York City; Sherrod is a black woman from the American South. But they have been both selected as targets by a conservative media machine that is so intent on creating useful villains that it pays little or no attention to concepts such as truth or accuracy. The goal is to create “Objects of Hate” that can then be used to inflame the American public.

Abdul Rauf, for example, describes himself as “both a Muslim and an American citizen, as proud of the important and fundamental principles that America stands for as I am the important and fundamental principles for which Islam stands.”

In fact, Abdul Rauf argues, the reason so many Muslims flee their native countries to come here is because the United States is actually more true to Islamic principles of “human equality, human liberty and social …

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Sherrod seems likely to get job back; Breitbart still flinging baloney

This statement, time-stamped as sent at 2:07 a.m., was in my email this morning.

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tonight released the following statement in response to the release of remarks in video from Shirley Sherrod:

“I am of course willing and will conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner.”

Apparently the case is keeping at least some folks in Washington up at night. Good. The statement from the Obama administration represents a considerable change in tone from an email sent late yesterday afternoon defending Sherrod’s firing. They owe her not just her job back, they owe her a high-level apology as well. The NAACP has already issued such a statement.

Andrew Breitbart, who initially released the highly deceptive video at, continues to defend it. OK, maybe Shirley Sherrod isn’t racist, he now concedes. But her NAACP …

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Roy Barnes glides to win; on GOP side, the real battle begins now

Roy Barnes will be the Democratic candidate for governor.

Karen Handel will be in the runoff for the Republican nomination for governor.

John Oxendine, the frontrunner in the GOP race until a few weeks ago, will not be in the runoff. I don’t know where he goes from here, but it won’t be to the Governor’s Mansion except to visit, and probably not even then. It sounds harsh, but that outcome may be the best possible thing to happen to him. John Oxendine in the governor’s office would be a combination only a federal prosecutor could love.

Nathan Deal is the likely second-place finisher — I don’t know if there are enough uncounted votes on the coast, where Eric Johnson is strongest, to allow him to make up the difference. And if that plays out as expected, it sets up a bitter, divisive runoff focused largely around social issues.

Deal has strong ties to both the Legislature and the GOP congressional delegation; Handel’s support traces back to Gov. Sonny Perdue. Deal was …

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Handel’s fate may depend on who her runoff foe turns out to be

The polls close in a half hour, putting an end to a lot of recent conjecture and providing fodder for a whole new round of predictions and projections, particularly in the governor’s race.

On the Democratic side, I don’t think there’s much suspense. Roy Barnes is almost certain to win without a runoff, although I also remember an election night eight years ago when Barnes was also expected to win pretty handily. I’m sure Barnes remembers it even better.

I suspect Karen Handel will come out of tonight as the GOP frontrunner, with a close and late-called race for the all-important second-place among John Oxendine, Nathan Deal and Eric Johnson. Handel no doubt hopes it will be Oxendine, whose candidacy and political career have been fatally — and justifiably — damaged. If Ox sustains enough support to make it into the two-person runoff, Handel will win the nomination easily.

If it’s Deal or Johnson, things get more tricky. With her blanket condemnation of GOP legislative …

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Sherrod’s ‘victim’: She ‘kept us out of bankruptcy … a friend for life’

From the AJC:

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

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

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

“Her husband told her, ‘You’re spending more time with the Spooners than you are with me,’ ” Spooner told the AJC. “She took probably two or three trips with us to Albany just to help us out.”

Spooner called Sherrod Tuesday morning.

“She’s very sad about it,” Spooner said. “She told me she was so glad we talked. I just can’t believe this is happening to her.”

Let’s see the rest of the tape, Big Government.

From Talking Points Memo:

“Big …

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In the curious case of Shirley Sherrod, let’s see the whole tape

A couple of folks in comments yesterday brought up the case of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, a black woman caught on tape at an NAACP meeting here in Georgia apparently bragging about being less than diligent in helping a white farmer. The folks at Big Government posted a portion of her speech as part of the running feud between the NAACP and the Tea Party over which organization is more racist.

By the end of the day Monday, Sherrod had been forced to resign her post, and NAACP President Ben Jealous had released a statement agreeing with the forced resignation:

“Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race.

We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.

Her actions were shameful. While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common …

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In Georgia, Dems and Reps use the law to suppress competition

In a better world, Mary Norwood would be on the ballot this fall as an independent candidate for Fulton County Commission chair.

In a county long crippled by feuding along racial, political and geographical divides, Norwood’s willingness to serve as a bridge between white and black and Republican and Democrat might have broken up old voting blocs and forced the formation of new coalitions. But she probably won’t get the chance, thanks to her own bureaucratic blunder and to Georgia’s arcane and overly restrictive ballot-access laws.

Norwood’s also not the only victim of those laws.

Ray Boyd, a successful Georgia businessman turned neophyte politician, wanted to launch an independent campaign for governor this year backed by $2 million of his own money. Unfortunately, he withdrew when confronted by state laws designed to make it difficult for independent candidates to get on the ballot. (In fact, Georgia’s ballot-access laws are considered the most restrictive in the …

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