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Inside the Beltway

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

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BREITBART'S LEGACY

Critics continue to vilify Andrew Breitbart, the online publisher who initially posted the video clip of U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod appearing to make a racially tinged remark during a 1986 NAACP event. Mr. Breitbart has been accused of slander, racism and misbehavior; suggestions have surfaced that he apologize or be prosecuted.

But Mr. Breitbart, founder of BigHollywood.com and other news sites, has given the press a great gift.

The video launched a thousand arguments, teachable moments and dissertations about race, media and manners in America. Often all dressed up with nowhere to go, cable news received red meat politics to slice, marinate or barbecue at their discretion. The White House got to go on apology tour while its attendant reporters reveled in barbed questions. Pundits got to use big words while the term "snookered" was reinstated into the nation's lexicon.

Fox News was called "racist." The White House was called "off-message." Mrs. Sherrod - who lost her job, garnered apologies from the White House and the Department of Agriculture, plus a new job offer in less than 24 hours - says she is now receiving hate calls and e-mails herself. National Public Radio, meanwhile, has proclaimed that the nation's "post-racial future" has yet to arrive. There is one group that doesn't care about any of it, some say.

"For the so-called millennial generation, roughly those now between 18 and 32 years of age, the name-calling that surrounded the NAACP-Tea Party dispute doesnt make sense at all. I suspect this is because of the greater cross-racial interactions that this generation has known. Shouting about whos racist is so 1970 to them," says Sam Fulwood III, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

HOLA, AMERICA

"Hundreds" of protesters are expected to gather outside the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse in Phoenix on Thursday to await the outcome of hearings that could temporarily block the implementation of SB1070, Arizona's new immigration law, says Pablo Alvarado, an organizer and executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network

"Thousands," however, are expected to join the "National Day of Non-Compliance" on July 29, the date SB1070 would take effect. The motto of the day is "don't work, don't buy, don't comply." Activists are encourage to rally at jails and detention centers, ICE headquarters and "areas related" to Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, who wrote the legislation, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

"Regardless of the judge's decision, our movement can only go forward from here. If a judge temporarily stops a law that should have never passed, it's a victory, but it's not the end. Maricopa County, Arizona, is already living under SB1070 conditions. Sheriff Arpaio has pledged to continue his raids. Obama has yet to stop criminalizing our communities," Mr. Alvarado adds.

HOLA, AMERICA 2

"Congress has plenary authority to regulate aliens. Congress has continuously encouraged states to assist in enforcing federal immigration law. S.B.1070 is consistent with that intent. Therefore, this Court should deny Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction." - from an amicus brief filed in federal court Wednesday by the American Center for Law and Justice and the Immigration Reform Law Institute on behalf of 81 members of Congress, in support of Arizona's immigration law.

"It is very clear that Arizona's law regulating immigration is both sound and constitutional," says chief counsel Jay Sekulow. "What is equally clear is that the Obama administration is overstepping its constitutional authority in its legal challenge of the Arizona law. The American taxpayer would be better served if the federal government concentrated its efforts on securing our borders instead of pursuing a faulty legal course."

WHAT'S BREWING

Twenty-five lawmakers - all Republicans, needless to say - have joined Rep. Michele Bachmann's Tea Party Caucus, with more on the way. Among those who have joined the Minnesota congresswoman's quest to return fundamental constitutional principles to the halls of Congress: Reps. Joe L. Barton of Texas, Trent Franks of Arizona and Cliff Stearns of Florida.

"The fact that this caucus even exists speaks volumes about the power of this movement," Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips tells Inside the Beltway. "Imagine if someone had mentioned a Capitol Hill 'tea party' even 18 months ago. We would have envisioned a bunch of lawmakers sipping a caffeinated beverage with their pinkies in the air."

Mr. Phillips continues, "Michele Bachmann is a class act, and if she's in charge, I'm at ease. Anytime someone gets Congress to listen to the American people for a change, then this is a great thing."

"The forced passage of the unconstitutional Obamacare bill over the objections of the American people shows that this belief is well-founded. As the new majority-makers in American politics, the views of the 'tea parties' deserve a congressional forum," says Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who's also joined the caucus.

FAT CHANCE

Obesity revelations to ponder, both revealed Wednesday: The University of Kansas reports that a 48-year study finds that the nation's yellow-bellied marmots are growing "larger, healthier and more plentiful" in response to climate change. Meanwhile, the American Chemical Society announced that chili peppers cause weight loss and fight fat buildup by triggering beneficial protein changes in the body, according to a new study. Inescapable conclusion: Marmots should eat peppers.

POLL DU JOUR

  • 36 percent of U.S. voters say they'd vote for President Obama if the presidential election was held now.
  • 39 percent would vote for the "Republican candidate."
  • 13 percent say it "depends on the candidate," and 12 percent don't know.
  • 76 percent of liberals would vote for Mr. Obama.
  • 64 percent of conservatives would vote for the Republican candidate.

Source: A Quinnipiac University Poll of 2,181 registered voters conducted July 13 to 19.

Hand-wringing and annoyances to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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