Monday, November 30, 2009

Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Special Comment on Afghanistan

Here at the UP we have been discussing our position on Afghanistan and will be putting up a post in response to Obama's speech tomorrow night.

Check Out Olbermann's Special Comment Below:

In Case You Missed It...

I can't believe this man actually said this on national television. See we even have crazy elected Democrats!

Take that Michelle Bachmann!

As much as I hated the Bush administration, they definitely didn't do what this nut is saying.

"Look what happened with regard to our invasion into Afghanistan, how we apparently intentionally let bin Laden get away. How we intentionally did not follow the Taliban and al-Qaeda as they were escaping," Rep. Hinchey said. "That was done by the previous administration because they knew very well that if they would capture al-Qaeda, there would be no justification for an invasion in Iraq."

But hey maybe some people will watch this and think he's making sense you never know.

Whither the Black Activist - Part II

[Sorry for the delay, but I've been busy. hope this doesn't bore you]
Whither The Black Activist? – Part II

The first part of this essay dealt with the American political landscape in which the black activist must now operate, contextualized by the Obama election and presidency. In my estimation (and I am certainly not the only one) the administration, by virtue of its blackness, has the effect of narrowing the debate on substantive racial matters but more importantly almost totally negates vibrant debate of the country’s heinous, militarist mindset.

Moreover, in the public’s eye, the election of Obama has settled the question of race and the country’s history of oppression. The genocide of the Native American, the African-American Maafa (holocaust) and the century of apartheid are distant memories that presumably have no current impact or lasting effect on today’s society.
With this being said, the most pressing question going forward for American progressives in general and for this writer and African-Americans in particular is what are the next steps? What strategic issues must we confront and generally speaking, how do we go about it?

As black activists we have a significant history and legacy from which to learn and critique. There are problems which we have overcome – domestic terror and unjust discriminatory laws – but we still are faced with seemingly intractable impediments – family breakdown, poverty, educational achievement and internecine violence – that seem beyond our capacity to solve.

There’s a great deal to be said about American foreign policy and we need to do everything possible (nonviolently) to reverse the current, accepted premise: the notion, rooted in white supremacy, that the U.S. has the exclusive right to invade, intervene or occupy any sovereign nation that it deems a threat (or in reality has natural resources that our country covets). American “empire” as fait accompli isn’t acceptable to the rest of civilization, nor should it be. There are so many reasons that militate against such a wicked worldview, not the least of which is the military’s unsustainable and unproductive drain on the economy.

But with respect to the black activist, I’d like to focus specifically on domestic concerns that plague too many African American communities. Certainly from a national perspective, the idea of reparations for the 240 plus years of enslavement and the subsequent century of legal oppression simply must be addressed. Not “committing those crimes anymore” is one thing and the political actions, civil disobedience and violent resistance that ended slavery and American apartheid were absolutely necessary. However, there has been no significant payment, restitution or investment to the aggrieved people or their progeny for the crimes against their humanity.

We must create an effective movement for reparations that has two fundamental aspects: significant resources and self-determination. A lack of either element will ensure unsuccessful or meaningless outcomes.

Several attempts to create such a movement include the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association led by Sister Callie House in the early 1900s and the more recent activities of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA). Without going into the reasons for the previous failures, I think the time is long past due for a strategy that is state focused. In such a scenario, black activists in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, for example (former confederate, terrorist states) would organize and bring pressure on state authorities to address the historically unequal and oppressive treatment of its black citizens. Texas, Louisiana and other southern municipalities must be called to task and made to answer for the billions of dollars worth of education, health care, job opportunities and access to capital, withheld from blacks for decades. The cumulative resultant of multiple state lawsuits, demonstrations and political agitation could be a national requiem on race and social justice.

As important as the reparations issue is, what I think is overlooked by black activists today on the domestic front is the degree to which local decision making can be impacted. In cities around the country, African American often times have significant if not majority political representation. I’m from Philadelphia so let me use it as an example. This city has 655,000 people who identify themselves as African Americans (43% of the population) as well as seven black members of city council out of fifteen. Not to mention, for the past ten years, there has been a black mayor.

Unfortunately, the poverty rate in Philadelphia for black people is over 30%, unemployment is 15% (and twice that for black teens), the dropout rate for high school students is over 25% and 70% of the Philadelphia prison population is black! With significant segments of its population in precarious straits, one might ask, has the black community (or its elected leadership) developed a plan for addressing these monumental problems? If you see it, let me know.

Philadelphia’s operating budget is approximately four billion dollars with three billion more allocated for airport, water department and capital expenses. The Philadelphia School District is another three billion. Throw in the budgets of the housing authority, parking authority, Delaware River Port Authority and we’re literally talking about multi-billions in government and quasi-government funds – funds generated from taxes and fees that black folks contribute to. So again, with large segments of the African American community suffering and so many dollars at stake, why isn’t there a plan or several plans available on how these funds are to be used for the improvement of black communities? Cat got your tongue?

I don’t think Philadelphia is alone in this regard. What it shows though is a sort of mental lethargy on the part of local black political leadership – a lack of purpose, creative thinking and expertise that is disconnected from knowledge of our history and our legacy of struggle. There’s a lot more that can be said about this but it should be sufficient to note that not effectively organizing to impact the distribution of local public resources defies any notions of common sense and logic.
In early November the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a front page investigative report on the city of Camden, New Jersey and how more than 175 million dollars had been squandered over the past decade despite the oversight of a state appointed administrator. This disgusting story mirrors what has transpired in Philadelphia, pitiful Detroit and other largely black populated cities. And, it segues well into the next general grievance with respect to what our people could and should be doing for themselves and the broader African American community. That is to say how black activism should be manifest in this millennium.

In many big cities, there are black professionals engaged in decision making, project and budget management and the development and implementation of programs that ostensibly are to improve the lot of the least of our brethren. But, far too often initiatives created to solve or at least ameliorate problems do little in terms of approaching the intended goals.

I’m not talking about run of the mill corruption, nepotism and ineptitude we’ve come to associate with local governance, although that is often a material factor. What bothers me even more as a person who has spent over twenty years in the public/government sector is how supposedly educated people adopt and administer programs and policies that don’t work nor have any chance of doing so. We have been so conditioned and miseducated to treat symptomatic issues in fragmented, uncoordinated ways without any concern for the outcome of a project, that we are often satisfied with paltry results and hence oblivious to the unfinished work left before us.

While others in powerful places may determine national policies calculated to return nothing to the poor, we professionals on the local front participate in a sort of endless, pointless menagerie of grant driven programs that never solve or change anything of consequence. Although we may be keenly aware of the needs of neighborhoods and the people living there, we’re unable to effectively speak for them and demand the resources and the types of initiatives that may begin to lift people from their miserable conditions.

There are too many examples our of commitment to unproductive work to cite here but just a few that come to mind are the juvenile justice initiatives in Pennsylvania and the sham associated with small business development. In this state, there is a government agency charged with reducing juvenile delinquent behavior and advocating for victims of juvenile crime. A few years ago an article appeared in Philadelphia’s major newspaper stating that the city received less than 5% of the more than 20 million in grant dollars for youth crime prevention from the agency. Philly however accounted for more than half of the youth violent crimes in the state! The article was clearly politically motivated to undermine the John Street administration and it claimed that the reason for the city’s few grant awards was the poor proposal submissions. But no one, not the Negro professionals in the agency nor the politicians questioned the credibility of a multi-million dollar agency charged with reducing youth crime. Whatever the reason, this agency had failed miserably! Its mission was not to develop and manage a great grant writing exercise – it was and is to provide resources to help stem the growth of violent crime among young people!!

Consider also the entire gambit referred to as small business development. If one were to look at results or outcomes the whole notion of the Small Business Administration would be scrapped. It should come as no surprise that our neighborhoods look the way they do. We’ve known for years that access to capital is the major determinant for starting a business and yet we support and encourage programs that make that process difficult if not debilitating. Major banks don’t even recognize 10-25 thousand dollars as a small business loan, yet this is what we call it in the nonprofit world. And, in many economic development and ghetto entrepreneurial programs, aspiring business owners have to undergo stringent, complicated application processes to access not enough start-up money to get through their first year of operation.

These are just a few examples of programs and policies that sound nice, but are not intended to accomplish much or solve anything. The problem is that African American “professionals” know about these things, participate in their creation and are often responsible for their implementation. Educated people of color sat around watching millions of dollars wasted in Camden, as they’ve done in Philadelphia. Still others know of the situation regarding the Pennsylvania juvenile justice agency and refuse to address it.

No planning, no serious results oriented programming and with respect to the two most basic issues affecting a people, that of family and education, we’re in the twilight zone. It’s almost as if we know less about how to development strong families and educate our people now than we did fifty years ago. Let’s face it, we’ve pretty much resigned ourselves into thinking that we can’t teach third graders! That’s a sick, but fairly accurate assessment. The number of black children growing up without fathers is frightening. We can stand in front of a press conference and pontificate about the deleterious impact single parenthood has but what about coming up with purposeful policy that may help the situation, not a chance.

Ask however, an educated Negro how they might go about marketing a new sneaker to young people or a television program on fashion or some other bullshit and they become as creative and brilliant as one could imagine. Ideas for the saving the lives of our children – not a clue. In the former cases, it’s the bottom line that is at stake. What’s at stake for our children and communities? I don’t watch nearly as much television as I have in the past but I recently saw a national ad about talking to your kids about drugs. You’ve probably seen it also. If black folk were polled and asked what were the top two or three issues burdening communities of color, using drugs might not be one but my sense is violence, education and perhaps fatherhood (I hope) would be suggested. The point is that changing people’s attitudes about some of these things is critical to our survival but why are there no communications media addressing them? Constantly and consistently!! Why must our people only hear or see what is the next thing they should buy? Shouldn’t young black boys hear messages about fatherhood on the radio in the midst of listening to their favorite rap song?

You know, right now we have the wherewithal to change some of this. There are enough of us in positions of power and many more who by virtue of just being alive can demand greater accountability from of our local representatives, businesses and ourselves, and make the institutions and policies we live with much more effective, empowering and life enhancing. The one thing that is worse than the social maladies effecting our youth and communities is our total inability to address them. Radicalism + common sense = Black Power. Let’s get up and do something – for real. Peace.

Get Off My TeeVee: Fox & Friends Edition

This is so stupid I'm not even sure I can comment.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Not So "Blind Side" of Race in Hollywood

***DISCLAIMER: If you are a person who is easily offended by the mere discussion of race, or if you are unable to engage in a civil discourse about the subject of race on the merits without taking it personally, then this forum is not for you. For everyone else, we welcome your comments. Thank you.***

Give us us free! Free from Hollywood's notion of race, that is.

There are certain genres of films that Hollywood likes to produce over and over again: the romantic comedy where the dumb guy finally realizes he loves the girl five minutes before the credits roll and is forced to do the obligatory profession of love in [insert embarrassing public venue here]; the horror/thriller movie that (supposedly) keeps you guessing who the killer is until the end; the comic book adaptation summer blockbuster movie; and of course, the lovable computer animated insect/animal/toy/etc. Included among this list of usual suspects is the Hollywood "feel good" story about race in which the star White actor/actress invariably saves the stereotypically helpless Black characters from their naturally downtrodden predicament.

When it comes to race on the Big Screen, it seems that Hollywood is only interested in showing the Black Community in one of two ways: (1) in slapstick comedies where Blacks act ignorant, use superfluous amounts of slang, and play out every ghetto stereotype in the book; or (2) as helpless victims who can't do anything for themselves and can only be saved by the heroic White protagonist. There isn't enough time in the day to dignify #(1), so this post will be limited to the discussion of #(2).

Hollywood's latest #(2)-type movie is The Blind Side (clip below), which is based on the true story of B-more Ravens player Michael Oher and the white family who took him in (the mom is played by Sandra Bullock). Don't get me wrong, this is not an indictment on Mr. Oher or the family who helped him along the way. I'm happy Oher is doing well and kudos to the family for showing humanity to this brother. My beef, however, is specifically with the fact that Hollywood seems to be stuck on this notion that Blacks are helpless creatures that can only be saved by the White man, or Woman as the case may have it. Of course, we all know this isn't true (at least I'd like to think that) so why is this scenario one of the only scenarios you continuously produce about Black people, Hollywood? Hollywood, why are you eager to produce movies like this with the quickness, but movies like "Do The Right Thing," "The Great Debaters," "Malcolm X" or "Love Jones" either have to be produced independently or, if you do produce them, they receive significantly less support or distribution?

The reason I take such issue with this depiction of Blacks by Hollywood is because it has real-life implications in our day to day lives. For instance, when I attended college at my beloved alma matter, The University of Kansas, I stayed in a dorm where I was literally the first Black person that many of my fellow freshmen had ever met in real life. Their only knowledge of Blacks for their 18 years of life on this planet had not been formed by personal interaction, but rather by what they saw on TV, read in books, and yes, what they saw in movies. How do I convince a fellow classmate that we are intellectual equals when throughout all of his life he has been inundated with feel-good stories of how he must save me and all people like me?

I understand that the bottom line for Hollywood is the almighty dollar. Hollywood will, of course, produce whatever it feels will sell for a profit. Producers need to make their investments back; this is understandable. That being the case, are we to understand that feel-good stories where Blacks save themselves are NOT profitable? If that were true then how does one explain the success of Antoine Fisher or The Great Debaters? Both of these films are but a few examples of highly profitable films (bringing in $23 Million and $30 Million respectively) which portray Blacks in a positive light.

Hollywood, if your argument is that Black movie-goers will not come out to support Black films, then I direct your attention to a guy you might have heard of by the name of Tyler Perry, who alone provides an example that not only disproves that argument but shatters it. His first movie alone, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, was produced for $5.5 Million and made $50.6 Million at the box office. Much of that support came solely from the Black Community.

So if we know that Blacks can and will go to the movies in large numbers, and we know that movies that portray Blacks as self-sufficient and sophisticated can and will be profitable, then I ask you, what is the deal with the whole "Only White People Can Save Us" genre? For extra credit, what does the constant selection of this type of film say about the state of race relations in America today?

**Updated** Did Tiger Woods Get Caught Cheating?

So pictured to the right is not the woman that Tiger Woods is allegedly having an affair with, IT'S HIS WIFE. I think I chose this picture of her to make the point that (alleged) affairs can happen to anyone but I digress...

It really baffles me sometimes why men insist on having affairs on their wives or girlfriends, instead of simply, breaking up (or not getting married in the first place) and doing what they want and need to do to make themselves happy.

Like do what you gotta do right!?

By now everyone has heard the news that Tiger Woods got into a car accident outside his Orlando home early Friday morning. At first the story, was that Tiger hit a fire hydrant and a tree pulling out of his driveway sober at 2:25am on Friday morning.

This story sounded suspect from the very beginning, so I waited to hear more knowing that could not possibly be the whole story.

These are some of the initial questions I had:

1. Where was Tiger going at 2:30am? At that hour it's likely illegal, immoral, or it's an airplane flight (which Tiger Woods the billionaire would likely have a limo or car service for). Or maybe he was tryna catch some Black Friday sales? Um...probably not.

2. How do you hit a fire hydrant and a tree pulling out of your driveway sober?

Photo of crash below:

3. Does this crash have anything to do with the tabloid stories 24 hours prior, of his having an affair with the woman pictured below?

In her defense she is denying the affair and has hired famed Hollywood attorney Gloria Allred to represent her in a lawsuit against the tabloids for defamation.

When there were initial reports that his wife supposedly "freed" him from the vehicle by breaking the window with a golf club after hearing the crash from inside the house, I immediately began to think that she might be the reason he crashed in the first place. To me it made more sense that he crashed while she was hitting the car with the aforementioned golf club, not that she hit the windshield with the golf club to get him out of the Escalade.

Maybe I'm totally wrong about all of this and Tiger really is just a bad driver.

You have to admit though that it looks even more suspicious that he has now turned away the cops coming to his house to question him and his wife about the incident not once but twice in the past 24 hours.

There are two things about this story that fascinate me.

First, his wife is gorgeous. If a man will cheat on her I can't help but become the cynical about men and relationships and I hate cynical people!

Second, how will the media treat the story of a beloved black billionaire athlete and his Swedish wife (allegedly) having domestic issues?


Update: Tiger's statement on the incident. He is going with the version of the story where his wife SAVED him.

As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I’m pretty sore. This situation is my fault, and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I’m human and I’m not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn’t happen again.

This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.

The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.

This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

**Updated** Secret Service Epic Fail

A couple CRASHED the State Dinner at the White House!

They even took pictures with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Vice President Joe Biden. (Updated: Pictured to the right the crashers meet and TOUCH the POTUS. If you've seen the TV show 24 you might understand why this is totally not okay! They actually tried to assassinate the fictional president, David Palmer, when a woman shook his hand with a deadly virus. No seriously.)


Via Huffington Post:

AP - Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the couple who crashed the White House state dinner, may face criminal charges, the Secret Service announced today.

Jim Mackin, the agency's spokesman, said this is one reason the Secret Service has kept mum about what happened when the couple, who are auditioning for the Bravo reality show "The Real Housewives of DC", arrived at the security checkpoint Tuesday. They were not on the guest list for the dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but managing to get into the party, where they posed for photos with Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

"As this moves closer to a criminal investigation there's less that we can say," Mackin said. "I don't want to jeopardize what could be a criminal investigation. We're not leaving any option off the table at this point."

It was not immediately clear what charges would be pursued. The Salahis lawyer, Paul Gardner, posted a comment on their Facebook page saying, "My clients were cleared by the White House, to be there."

He said more information would be forthcoming.

Attempts to reach Gardner on Friday were not immediately successful.

Michaele Salahi's hairdresser at the Georgetown salon where she scheduled a last-minute appointment hours before the dinner said she asked to look at the invitation to the White House event, but never saw it.

"She was so excited. She told me that she got it in the mail and it was just an amazing feeling and they couldn't wait and in fact they called the White House, I believe, to make sure that she was going to be dressed appropriately," Peggy Ioakim told CBS' "The Early Show" on Friday. Salahi wore a red sari to the dinner.

Bravo Media, meanwhile, confirmed that on the day of the dinner Michaele Salahi was being filmed around Washington and while she prepared for the dinner by a film crew connected with the network's reality show, "The Real Housewives of D.C.," because she is being considered for the upcoming TV program.

"Half Yard's cameras were not inside the White House. They filmed the couple preparing for the event," Johanna Fuentes, Bravo Media's vice president, communications, said in an e-mail late Thursday. She said the Salahis "informed Half Yard that they were invited (to the dinner), the producers had no reason to believe otherwise."

Fuentes referred further questions to the Virginia couple's lawyer and their publicist.

The White House refused comment on the Salahis and referred all calls to the Secret Service.

Ronald Kessler, author of a book on the Secret Service, said, "While the couple did pass through a magnetometer to detect weapons, they could have assassinated the president or vice president using other means – anthrax, for example." He added the Secret Service would not detect secreted biological weapons.

Kessler, a journalist, wrote "In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect."

The author added that it's unlikely the Secret Service performed the usual background check to ensure that the crashers were not possible threats.

"The party crashers could have had outstanding arrest warrants for murder. They could have been involved with terrorists. They could have been agents of Iran or North Korea. The Secret Service would never have known," he said.

During President George W. Bush's administration, it was standard procedure to have someone from the White House social office at the gate for state dinners and other events with large groups of visitors, according to a former senior Bush aide who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to be seen as criticizing the Obama White House.

The social office is most knowledgeable about the guest list and could have been called in case of any uncertainty, this official said.

White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, asked by The Associated Press on Thursday whether personnel from her office were at the checkpoint said, "We were not."

Hey Secret Service and White House staff, DO BETTER!

Update: The couple may have had help from a diplomat at the Indian embassy. The Indian embassy is denying this.

Update II: They did meet the President. Someone needs to explain this!

Update III: How much did their race factor into their ease in getting into the White House without an invitation? A very interesting take on the incident as it relates to racial profiling here:

On the evening of Tuesday, November 24, a young couple from Virginia made their way into one of the most secure events in the country, President Obama's state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Monmohan Singh and his wife at the White House. Like the other 300 plus invited guests, Tareq and Michaele Salahi went through multiple layers of Secret Service security, took photos with Chief of Staff Rom Emanuel and mingled with Vice President Biden and other invited guests. The problem is that the Salahi's were not invited to the dinner. Their names were not listed on the official guest list or any other list that would have allowed them entrance into the White House. They crashed the party!

All that this couple needed to gain entrance into a state dinner at the White House was a tuxedo, traditional Indian evening wear, attitude, and white skin. When they arrived at the Secret Service checkpoint without a printed invitation and without their names on the official guest list, they were not detained nor questioned. No telephone calls were made; no further inquiries were needed; just white skin, blond hair, the expectation of admittance, and a pretty smile. Had this occurred at an airport the Salahi's would have never made it past airport security.

This is the latest example of the privilege and expectations of privilege that comes with white skin. Had the Salahi's been African-American, or any other ethnicity with a darker skin tone, the Secret Service agent or Marine on duty would have never allowed this couple on the White House grounds simply based upon a "...what do you mean our names are not on the guest list...this is a travesty...obviously your list is not up to date...blah, blah, blah..." or some other self-righteous retort.

In most instances, these senses of expectation and privilege are not planned, they just are. They have developed over time and have become the norms of American culture. They are so deeply ingrained in the American psyche that they are now patterns of action, perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, and emotional response.

Racial profiling can work a number of ways. For people of color, profiling works against them as they are targeted by those in positions of power and authority based upon a mistaken belief that they (particularly African-Americans) are more inclined to be involved in criminal behavior in non-suspect specific situations. For people of European decent or with white skin, profiling can work to their benefit as they are given favorable consideration and deference based upon the assumption that they pose no threat in a particular circumstance. White people get access; black people get arrested.

This favorable consideration or deference has developed into a sense of entitlement as evidenced by the Salahi's expectation that they would be admitted into the seemingly most secure event in America just by showing up. Even with an African-American President in this supposed "post racial" America, no African-American would ever expect such unfettered access to the White House.

According to Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan, President Obama was never in any danger. "It's important to note that they went through all the security screenings -- the magnetometer screening -- just like all the other guests did..." Donovan's confidence in the systems that have been designed to ensure the presidents safety are a bit misplaced. The Salahi's did not go through all the security screenings. Obviously the Secret Service failed to send them through the "match a persons name and identification to those on the guest list" part of the process. In spite of the fact that their names were not on the official guest list, they were admitted into the White House and into the same room as the president and vice president. The first level of security failed. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Yes, in this instance the security measures that have been put in place to protect the president and those who visit the White House failed. They failed for a number of reasons. The written processes and procedures will be evaluated and tightened but it's the human aspect of this event that should cause the most concern. Simply because a couple "looked the part" they were given deference and allowed within striking distance and within the personal space of the most threatened man in America.

White privilege is a dangerous thing on a number of levels.

Does looking the part not only include the tuxedo but also their skin color? I don't completely agree with the above article but I do think it raises some very valid points and provides a platform for discussion.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Beanie Siegel Disses Jay-Z

For all you Hip-Hop heads out there, you know how important Beanie Sigel was to the Roc A Fella, Dynasty. Check out this fireball song, by Benie Sigel, who I am not that crazy about, but I love a good battle record and this one is FIRE!!! I'm wondering if Jay-Z will have an answer for this....Any thoughts?!?!

The Open Politico

Open forum for our any of our readers to discuss issues, drop links to articles of videos, or just voice your opinion about whatever is on your mind out there in Urban or Political news.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

John McCain Reminds Me Just How THANKFUL I Am That He's Not The POTUS

Did this guy just insinuate that an "exit strategy" in Afghanistan is not that important?

Just in time for the holiday, I want you to know that I'M THANKFUL TO HAVE PRESIDENT OBAMA IN THE WHITE HOUSE instead of this guy and Caribou Barbie (pictured above).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Feel Good Clip of the Day!

President Obama continues the tradition and pardons a turkey named, "Courage."

And because everyday is an opportunity to share my favorite West Wing clips here is one of my favs when President Bartlet is asked to pardon a 2nd turkey:

CJ : They sent me two turkeys. The most photo-friendly of the two gets a Presidential pardon and a full life at a children's zoo. The runner-up gets eaten.

Bartlet : If the Oscars were like that, I'd watch.

This Is Completely Unacceptable: Glenn Beck Compares Himself to MLK


Get Off My TeeVee: Dana Perino Edition

Oh Really Dana Perino?! 9/11 wasn't during President Bush?!

"We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during president Bush's term. I hope they're not looking at this politically. I do think that we owe it to the American people to call it what it is."--Former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino

This is called LIE TELLING.


Dana Perino will forever and always be known as the idiot Press Secretary who didn't know what the Cuban Missle Crisis was:

Is Obama A Liberal Reagan?

A new article out today makes that argument:

So Barack Obama's approval rating in Iowa has slipped below 50%. Indeed, he receives negative ratings from Iowans in every area except foreign policy. So much for all that Hope and Change, eh? Well, not quite. As a savvy Democratic lobbyist emails:

More and more, the overlays between Obama and Reagan seem to match. Succeeding disastrous presidencies, charm/star power, awful off year elections, bad first mid-term, laggard economy on the cusp of growth, and a badly fractured opposition trying to figure out purity vs. change within their own ranks. Reagan was, of course, unabashedly conservative and more and more, it seems that pre-presidency predictions of Obama as a closet moderate were wrong.
There's a lot to this. In the first place, the Carter and Bush presidencies were, in the end, so disastrous (or considered disastrous) that they permitted the election of candidates who might, in more placid, less desperate times have been too extreme, too strange and too risky for the electorate to take a chance upon. Even then, Reagan was rather more conservative than many voters appreciated; similarly Obama is a more orthoox liberal than many supposed.

I don't think people should be surprised by this but it appears many are. Obama has a passion for bipartisan cover - or, at least, for being seen to offer the prospect of a bipartisan approach to policy - but he has never been a fan of Broderist centrism or bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship. On the contrary, Obama's approach is to use the centre as a means of advancing liberal goals. There's a reason Obama won support from liberals during the Democratic primaries and it wasn't just a matter of his opposition to the Iraq War (though that, for sure, was a vital, even necessary condition for his rise.)

There's nothing underhand or devious about this and, as they say, elections have consequences. Just as Reaganism was able to take advantage of Democratic disarray, so Obama has a chance to use the Republican party's exhaustion to fundamentally redraw the board on which the political game is played.

This can't be done in 12 or even 24 months but it can't be done at all unless the groundwork is prepared in the first two years of his Presidency. If that means risking, or perhaps even guaranteeing, heavy losses in the midterms then so be it.

And despite the polls, it's worth remembering that Obama's position is not as weak as Reagan's was for much of his first term. In January 1983, Reagan's popularity rating fell to 35% and, in fact, Reagan's average approval rating as President was just 53%. So let's hesitate before writing Obama off just yet.

At the moment, as Ross Douthat, happily back blogging after a six month hiatus, says, Obama is not being challenged by the Republican party. Like the Democrats in Reagan's first term the GOP is good at saying No, less effective when it comes to putting forth alternative policies - especially on domestic matters. The danger is that the party will draw the wrong conclusions from encouraging election results next year and that this will delay the reform project by at least another electoral mini-cycle. In other words, given the choice between a conservative Mondale type and a Republican equivalent of Gary Hart, the GOP, like the Democrats in 1984, may prefer the comfy orthodoxy of the Mondale figure.

Now clearly, historical comparisons are never exact. Nonetheless, assuming the economy recovers then you can bet that Democrats will argue that it was the stimulus what done it and you can further bet that plenty of voters will be happy to nod and agree with this proposition. And if health insurance reform passes and if Afghanistan looks less problematic in a year's time, well, you can see where a second term is coming from, can't you? Sure, there remains the deficit and I'm sceptical that Congressional Democrats are really terribly interested in tackling that but economic recovery will create some greater room for tackling the deficit in a second term. Equally, if the economy recovers, voters may be less concerned by aspects of the liberal agenda that, at present, they find disconcerting.

Granted, there are plenty of ifs there. But that's always the case. Like Reagan a generation ago, one sense that Obama realises that he has the opportunity to redraw the map. He can be a consequential President whose legacy is such that it defines or shapes the parameters within which his successors must operate. He may not succeed, but the scale of the Republican crisis and the depth of the hole he found himself in at the beginning of his presidency give him a chance to be the heir to LBJ liberals have been waiting for.

The existence of the chance doesn't guarantee success, but it's a long, long game that will not be decided in 2009 or 2010. We are still, despite the temptation to think otherwise, in the opening stages.

Of course this is just speculation, but it is not the first time someone has drawn the parallel between President Reagan and President Obama.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Genius Political Ad: James Perry for Mayor of NOLA

This new political ad put out by James Perry in the New Orleans Mayoral race is AWESOME.

It's like a breath of fresh air. I think it is so creative!

Help elect James Perry as the next Mayor of New Orleans and force Ray Nagin to change back to being a registered Republican. (This post is not affiliated with the James Perry 2010 Campaign).

Left & Right Finally Unite?

This week, Adam Liptak wrote a New York Times article which discussed the half-dozen or so upcoming Supreme Court cases that will decide how the United States will handle people charged with crimes from here on out whenever a crime involves sex, drugs, or corporate corruption.

Not surprisingly, Liberal groups such as the ACLU (which as a general rule is never fond of the government sending anybody to jail for just about anything) already have their lawyers drafting amicus briefs in support of the accused and against the prosecution (aka the Government).

In a rather interesting turn of events, however, Conservative groups are also writing amicus briefs in support of the accused and against the prosecution. Oh, you heard me right. That's not a typo. As the NY Times put it:

"Civil liberties groups and associations of defense lawyers have lined up on the side of the accused. But so have conservative, libertarian and business groups. Their briefs and public statements are signs of an emerging consensus on the right that the criminal justice system is an aspect of big government that must be contained. The development represents a sharp break with tough-on-crime policies associated with the Republican Party since the Nixon administration."

So why the change of heart, you ask?

The NY Times goes on to speculate:

In an interview at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group where he is a fellow, Mr. Meese said the “liberal ideas of extending the power of the state” were to blame for an out-of-control criminal justice system. “Our tradition has always been,” he said, “to construe criminal laws narrowly to protect people from the power of the state." There are, the foundation says, more than 4,400 criminal offenses in the federal code, many of them lacking a requirement that prosecutors prove traditional kinds of criminal intent. “It’s a violation of federal law to give a false weather report,” Mr. Meese said. “People get put in jail for importing lobsters. "Such so-called overcriminalization is at the heart of the conservative critique of crime policy."

Overcriminalization you say? Too many laws on the books you say? OK, let's run with that for a minute. Isn't it quite a great coincidence that nearly all of the 4,400 some-odd laws that are on the federal books today are the same 4,400 some-odd laws that were there a year ago? Two years ago? 8 years ago? At what point, exactly, did these 4400 laws become "too big" for government? Are we to believe that Conservatives were sitting around one day post-January 20, 2009 when the law count was at 4,399, and that these Conservatives were perfectly fine with this count until Congress came along and passed that 4400th law which somehow pushed Conservatives over the edge?


Is this merely a shift in attitude against the Government now that Government has a new leader?

While you try to figure that one out, let me take this opportunity to at least give props where props are due to the two consistent Conservatives on the Supreme Court who remain steadfast and unwaivering in the face of these flip-flopping, anti-Obama, I mean, anti-Big Government Conservatives: Justice Scalia-Thomas (the two have become one mind over the years).

Justice Scalia-Thomas. A true Conservative's Conservative. Rejecting Liberalism since 1986 when men were men and sheep were scared.

As the NY Times comments:

Scalia and Thomas are vanguards of an understanding by the modern right that its distrust of government extends all the way to the criminal justice system,” said Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University...The conservative re-evaluation of crime policy is not universal, of course. Two notable exceptions to the trend, said Timothy Lynch, director of the Cato Institute’s criminal justice project, are Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “Roberts and Alito are coming down consistently on the side of the government in these criminal justice cases,” Mr. Lynch said.

Has the Right's hatred for Obama finally forced them to turn a 180 on Crime & Punishment? Or am I way off base here because this whole thing is a genuine concern by Conservatives about the Criminal Justice System becoming too much of a "Big Government" problem?

Homework: President Obama Wants Everyone to Read This

Well, at least everyone on his Senior Staff and therefore since my dream job is to work in the White House and be the female Josh Lyman, I've read this and you should too.

The Atlantic Magazine:

A Milestone in the Health Care Journey

by Ronald Brownstein

When I reached Jonathan Gruber on Thursday, he was working his way, page by laborious page, through the mammoth health care bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had unveiled just a few hours earlier. Gruber is a leading health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is consulted by politicians in both parties. He was one of almost two dozen top economists who sent President Obama a letter earlier this month insisting that reform won't succeed unless it "bends the curve" in the long-term growth of health care costs. And, on that front, Gruber likes what he sees in the Reid proposal. Actually he likes it a lot.

"I'm sort of a known skeptic on this stuff," Gruber told me. "My summary is it's really hard to figure out how to bend the cost curve, but I can't think of a thing to try that they didn't try. They really make the best effort anyone has ever made. Everything is in here....I can't think of anything I'd do that they are not doing in the bill. You couldn't have done better than they are doing."

Gruber may be especially effusive. But the Senate blueprint, which faces its first votes tonight, also is winning praise from other leading health reformers like Mark McClellan, the former director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services under George W. Bush and Len Nichols, health policy director at the centrist New America Foundation. "The bottom line," Nichols says, "is the legislation is sending a signal that business as usual [in the medical system] is going to end."

Both the Senate bill's priority on controlling long-term health care costs, and its strategy for doing so, represents a validation for Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT). When Baucus released his health reform proposal last September, after finally terminating months of fruitless negotiations with committee Republicans, Democratic liberals excoriated his plan as a dead end. And on several important fronts--such as subsidies for the uninsured, the role of a public competitor to private insurance companies, and the contribution required from employers who don't insure their workers--Reid moved his product away from Baucus toward approaches preferred by liberals.

But the Reid bill's fiscal strategy, and its vision of how to "bend the curve," almost completely follows Baucus' path from September. Baucus' bill was the first to establish the principle that Congress could expand coverage while reducing the federal deficit; now that's the standard not only for the Senate but also the House reform legislation. And, perhaps even more importantly, the Reid bill maintains virtually all of Baucus ideas' for shifting the medical payment system away from today's fee-for-service model toward an approach that more closely links compensation for providers to results for patients. In the Reid bill, there is some backtracking from Baucus' most aggressive reform proposals, but not much.

Almost everything Baucus proposed to control long-term costs have survived into the final bill. And, with only a few exceptions, that's just about all the systemic reforms analysts from the center to the left have identified as the most promising strategies for changing the economic incentives in the medical system. (The public competitor to private insurance companies championed by the Left would affect who writes the checks in the medical system, but not what the checks are written to pay for.) Most of the other big ideas for controlling costs (such as medical malpractice reform) tend to draw support primarily among Republicans. And since virtually, if not literally, none of them plan to support the final health care bill under any circumstances, the package isn't likely to reflect much of their thinking.

In their November 17 letter to Obama, the group of economists led by Dr. Alan Garber of Stanford University, identified four pillars of fiscally-responsible health care reform. They maintained that the bill needed to include a tax on high-end "Cadillac" insurance plans; to pursue "aggressive" tests of payment reforms that will "provide incentives for physicians and hospitals to focus on quality" and provide "care that is better coordinated"; and establish an independent Medicare commission that can continuously develop and implement "new efforts to improve quality and contain costs." Finally, they said the Congressional Budget Office "must project the bill to be at least deficit neutral over the 10-year budget window and deficit reducing thereafter."

As OMB Director Peter Orszag noted in an interview, the Reid bill met all those tests. The CBO projected that the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $130 billion over its first decade and by as much as $650 billion in its second. (Conservatives, of course, consider those projections unrealistic, but CBO is the only umpire in the game, and Republicans have been happy to trumpet its analyses critical of the Democratic plans.) "Let's use the metric of that letter," said Orszag, who helped shape the health reform debate for years from his earlier posts at CBO and the Brookings Institution. "Deficit neutral; got that. Deficit-reducing second decade, got that. Excise tax: That was retained. Third is the Medicare commission: has that. Fourth is delivery system reforms, bundling payments, hospital acquired infections, readmission rates. It has that. If you go down the checklist of what they said was necessary for a fiscally responsible bill that will move us towards the health care system of the future, this passes the bar."

McClellan, the former Bush official and current director of the Engleberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution, was one of the economists who signed the November letter. McClellan has some very practical ideas for improving the Reid bill (more on those below), but generally he echoes Orszag's assessment of it. "It has got all four of those elements in it," McClellan said in an interview. "They kept a lot of the key elements of the Finance bill that I like. It would be good if more could be done, but this is the right direction to go."

Reid gave ground on one Baucus proposal that the economists identified as a priority-taxing high-end insurance plans. Like many health reformers, the economists who wrote Obama argue that such a tax "will help curtail the growth of private health insurance premiums by creating incentives to limit the costs of plans to a tax-free amount." Amid intense opposition from unions, Reid raised the thresholds at which family plans would face that excise tax from $21,000 to $23,000. But given all the pressure from labor, the more striking thing may have been that Reid didn't increase the thresholds even more; the CBO calculated the proposal, which the House excluded from its bill, would still raise $35 billion annually by 2019. "They held pretty strong," said one administration health care expert. "It's not like unions haven't been making the case that it shouldn't have been a much higher number."

On delivery reform, Reid stayed even closer to the Baucus blueprint. The Finance bill laid out a series of measures to change the way providers are paid for delivering care to Medicare recipients; the hope was that once Medicare instituted these reforms, private insurers would also adopt many of them. "The goal here is that the things we do in Medicare will translate over into the private sector, and there is quite a bit of historical precedence for that," said one Democratic aide involved in drafting the package.

The Baucus delivery reform ideas revolved around two central aims. One was to reward Medicare providers who deliver care more efficiently and penalize those that don't. The Reid bill upholds the major proposals Baucus offered to advance that goal. For instance, hospitals under current law must report on their performance in treating patients for common conditions like heart problems and pneumonia; under the bill, their Medicare payments, for the first time, would be affected by their ranking on those reports. Hospitals would also be penalized if they readmit too many patients after surgery or allow too many to acquire infections while in the hospital itself. Another provision would begin the process of applying such "value-based purchasing" toward other providers like hospice providers and inpatient rehabilitation facilities.

With physicians, the Reid plan takes a step back from the Finance Committee bill but still a long step beyond current law. The Finance Bill proposed automatic reimbursement reductions for doctors who order up the most care for Medicare recipients with similar medical and demographic characteristics. That was meant to respond to the research showing big disparities in spending on medical services for similarly-situated patients in different communities. But, Democratic sources say, that proposal ran into charges that it would promote rationing-and even function as "a death panel by proxy"-by compelling doctors to arbitrarily reduce care. So the final bill takes a less direct route toward a similar end. It requires Medicare to begin studying the utilization patterns of doctors participating in the program. And then it establishes a "values based payment modifier" that would, in a budget-neutral manner, increase reimbursements for physicians found to deliver high-quality care at lower cost, and reduce them for physicians at the other end of that spectrum. "It will, we believe, have the same net effect [as the original proposal]," said the Democratic aide. "It should change behavior around that threshold."

The other set of Baucus proposals were intended to promote more coordination among providers. These have survived almost verbatim into the final bill. The bill encourages groups of providers to establish doctor-led "accountable care organizations" to more comprehensively manage patients' care by allowing them to share in any savings for Medicare they produce. It also establishes a voluntary national pilot of "bundled" payments that would encourage hospitals, doctors and other providers to work more closely together. Another pilot program would test coordinated home-based care for chronically ill seniors.

Finally, the Reid bill maintains the two powerful institutions the Finance legislation proposed to promote these reforms and develop new ones. The one that's attracted the most attention is an independent "Medicare Advisory Board." Under the Senate bill, that board would be required to offer cost-saving proposals when Medicare spending rises too fast; Congress could not reject its proposals without substituting equivalent savings. Since the board would be prohibited from offering changes that raise taxes or "ration care," and since the legislation initially exempts hospitals from its recommendations, it could choose to promote the sort of payment reforms the bill establishes. (More prosaically it might also clear away some of the expensive coverage mandates that Congress imposes on Medicare under pressure from different elements of the medical industry). Given the limitations imposed on the commission, an equally important means to expand these reforms might be a second institution the legislation creates: a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in the Health and Human Services Department. Though this center has received much less attention than the Medicare Commission, it could have a comparable effect. It would receive $1 billion annually to test payment reforms; in a little known provision, the bill authorizes the HHS Secretary to implement nationwide, without any congressional action, any reform that department actuaries certify will reduce long-term spending. While the House bill omitted the Medicare Commission (a top priority for Obama) it included the innovation center.

No one can say for certain that these initiatives will improve efficiency enough to slow the growth in health care spending. Some are only pilots; others would affect only a small portion of providers' revenue from Medicare. CBO typically evaluates them skeptically: it generally scores little or no savings from most of them. Former CBO director Robert Reischauer, who signed the November 17 letter, says that's not surprising. "CBO is there to score savings for which we have a high degree of confidence that they will materialize," says Reischauer, now president of the Urban Institute. "There are many promising approaches [in these reform ideas] but you...can't deposit them in the bank." In the long run, Reischauer says, it's likely "that maybe half of them, or a third of them, will prove to be successful. But that would be very important."

While generally supportive of Reid's approach, McClellan, the former Medicare administrator under Bush, offered several specific ideas for strengthening it. He says the Senate should improve the capacity of HHS to more quickly evaluate whether the payment reforms are working, and also to provide data and technical assistance to new physician groups like the accountable care organizations that will be attempting to better coordinate care. "Ideally you'd both be able to tell the organizations involved and Congress what is working or not, and give the organizations the feedback and data they need to know whether they are doing a good job," he says. McClellan also believes that the plan needs sharper sticks-tougher penalties on providers who don't provide efficient and effective care. "There are a lot of carrots and not so many sticks," he maintains. Of course, tougher penalties might provoke more opposition from provider groups like hospitals and physicians now tenuously supporting the legislation.
[[McClellan stands at the forefront of centrist Republican thinking on health. Even the more ideologically conservative health care thinkers to his right generally don't oppose long-term reform ideas like bundling payments (John McCain promoted that during his presidential campaign). But they tend to view them as insufficient or tangential to the real problem. Their view highlights a fundamental difference between the parties' on health care. To save costs, Democrats mostly want to change the incentives for providers. Republicans mostly want to change the incentives for patients by shifting toward a model where insurance covers only catastrophic expenses and people pay for more routine care from tax-favored health savings accounts. In essence, the Republican view is that the best way to hold down long-term costs is to directly expose patients to more of them. Few Democrats accept that logic though and it has little influence on either chamber's legislation.

Another Republican cost-containment priority missing from the bill is meaningful medical malpractice reform. (The bill only encourages states to think about it.) Nichols, of the centrist New America Foundation, would like to see that included as well. Its omission is one reason he says he gives the plan a "b" rather than an "a"; the other is he'd like to see mechanisms to more quickly diffuse into the private insurance system reforms that show promise in Medicare. Democratic sources say a group of centrist Democrats led by Virginia Senator Mark Warner is trying to devise a package designed to do just that, perhaps by expanding the role of the independent Medicare advisory commission.

The attempt in all these ideas to nudge the medical system away from fee-for-service medicine toward an approach that ties compensation more closely to results captures how much the health care debate has shifted toward cost-control. So far, the rise in health care spending has proven almost invulnerable to every previous attempt to tame it, like the managed care revolution in the 1990s. Even if Obama signs into law a final bill embodying all these reform proposals, many skeptics wonder if they can bend, much less break, the seemingly inexorable increase in health care spending. Reischauer understands that skepticism, but isn't able to entirely suppress a kernel of optimism that this latest reform agenda may prove more effective than its predecessors. "One never knows whether we're turning the corner or if this is just playing the same old game for another inning," he says. "But I sense there's something different out there. I think the medical profession and its leaders have read the handwriting on the wall and are trying to evolve." If so, the ideas the Senate will begin voting on tonight could mark a milestone in that journey.

Bonus for reading this far, my favorite Josh Lyman scene where he celebrates a small political victory over a rival (read: ex-girlfriend):

Judge Dread: How the Judiciary Feels about KSM

Last night, several former classmates and I shared in a common ritual: dinner and drinks with a federal judge. Our judge is retired from the federal bench, but like many retired judges, he remains on a first-name basis with those in the legal and political world and therefore is in a position to offer career advice to young attorneys who are still trying to make a name for themselves. As such is the case, occasionally a group of us who used to work for the judge get together every now and again to take him out to show our appreciation for the many doors he has opened for us over the years. One of the best parts of this ritual: political conversation!

The conversation quickly turned to the topic of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ("KSM") and whether the judge thought it was a good idea to try KSM in the federal court in NYC. He sighed a deep sigh and basically said he felt the whole thing is "a mess." It is a mess because the Bush Admin had a chance to sweep it under the rug in a military tribunal 5 or 6 years ago when they first indicted KSM and the 4 other men involved in the 9/11 attacks, but for whatever reason, the Bush Admin never followed through with the prosecution when they had the chance. So it got handed over to the Obama Admin. This sets up a dynamic where a new administration, which was elected by the people to specifically send a clear indictment against the policies of the former administration, is now faced with the same challenge: what to do with KSM. Clearly, this new administration can not follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, lest it fall victim to the same fate. But the people still demand justice. So what are you going to do? Another military tribunal that goes nowhere, or do you scratch that idea and take it to a federal court as America has always done for these type of terrorism cases in the first place? (see Ramzi Yousef; see also Zarcarias Moussaoui; see also Jose Padilla).

Another thing our judge mentioned as an issue to consider with the KSM trial in New York's Southern District Court is the life-protection that will be necessary for the lucky judge who is actually assigned to the case. Federal Judges who take these high-profile cases often have to be driven around by U.S. Marshalls for the rest of their lives. On the one hand, if you were a judge this would definitely suck; who would want to be troubled with that type of burden for the rest of their lives? This definitely provides an argument as to why this case should NOT be brought to the federal court in NYC. On the other hand, however, as our judge told us last night, when you sign up to become a judge or a prosecutor, this is a part of the job you have to accept. If the Judiciary dropped every case where a criminal defendant might harm a judge, there would be no more criminal cases.

Jeffrey Toobin recently wrote an article in The New Yorker addressing this very point:

The other day, [former Judge Pierre N. Leval] was wearing a mismatched checked shirt and striped tie, and he affected disdain for quotidian matters like his own safety. “Toward the end of the [Pizza Connection] trial, I stopped taking the subway and let the marshals drive me,” he said. “They kill judges all the time in Sicily, and I was counting on the idea of ‘When in Rome,’ you know?” Still, he does not underestimate the challenge posed by the 9/11 conspiracy case. (Among the smaller hindrances is that the main court building, at 40 Foley Square, the site of all the big local federal trials, from the Pizza Connection and Martha Stewart to the Rosenbergs, is in the midst of a renovation; K.S.M. will likely face justice in the newer Moynihan Courthouse, next door.)

Leval has confidence in the ability of the American judicial system to dispense justice even in a case as difficult as this one. “You have to be very careful in jury selection, ask the right questions, identify the jurors who will be fair,” he said. “Judges and juries can be protected. I don’t see any reason why the system can’t handle this case.”

Due to the safety concerns for the Judges and Prosecutor in NY's federal court, should the KSM trial be taken to a Military Tribunal?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tea Partiers Have No Shame

This is just disgusting.

Tea Party "Patriots" shout down a woman at a townhall meeting, who's daughter and unborn grandchild died because they did not have health insurance.

They are just concerned citizens worried about government spending and taxes OR they are despicable human beings who have no class and should be shamed into moving to Canada.

Warning: Watching this clip may cause your brain to leak the smart

I'm surprised these folks even knew the location of their local bookstore, because clearly they do not have an intimate relationship with books.

Geniuses at a Sarah Palin Book Signing:

Like I've before this is who they follow:

Greatest Hits:

More of Sarah Palin's genius:

WTF is this lady talking about?

Still more:

Top 10 Dumbest Sarah Palin Quotes (via PoliticalHumor)

1. "As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border." --Sarah Palin, explaining why Alaska's proximity to Russia gives her foreign policy experience, interview with CBS's Katie Couric, Sept. 24, 2008 (Watch video clip)

2. "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil." –-Sarah Palin, in a message posted on Facebook about Obama's health care plan, Aug. 7, 2009

3. "Who calls a shot like that? Who makes a decision like that? It's a disturbing trend." –Sarah Palin, pushing a conspiracy theory that "In God We Trust" had been moved to the edge of coins because of the Obama administration (the change was made by the Bush administration in 2007 and was later reversed by Congress, before Obama took office), West Allis, Wisconsin, Nov. 6, 2009

4. "We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. ... We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation." --Sarah Palin, speaking at a fundraiser in Greensoboro, N.C., Oct. 16, 2008

5. "Ohh, good, thank you, yes." --Sarah Palin, after a notorious Canadian prank caller complimented her on the documentary about her life, Hustler's "Nailin Paylin," Nov. 1, 2008 (Read more about the prank call, watch the video and see the transcript)

6. "Well, let's see. There's ― of course in the great history of America there have been rulings that there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American, and there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but ―" --Sarah Palin, unable to name a Supreme Court decision she disagreed with other than Roe vs. Wade, interview with Katie Couric, CBS News, Oct. 1, 2008 (Watch video clip)

7. "All of 'em, any of 'em that have been in front of me over all these years." --Sarah Palin, unable to name a single newspaper or magazine she reads, interview with Katie Couric, CBS News, Oct. 1, 2008 (Watch video clip)

8. "[T]hey're in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom." --Sarah Palin, getting the vice president's constitutional role wrong after being asked by a third grader what the vice president does, interview with NBC affiliate KUSA in Colorado, Oct. 21, 2008 (Watch video clip)

9. "They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan." --Sarah Palin, speaking at a fundraiser in San Francisco, Oct. 5, 2008

10. "I think on a national level your Department of Law there in the White House would look at some of the things that we've been charged with and automatically throw them out." --Sarah Palin, referring to a department that does not exist while attempting to explain why as president she wouldn't be subjected to the same ethics investigations that compelled her to resign as governor of Alaska, ABC News interview, July 7, 2009

~Compiled by Daniel Kurtzman

Today in STOOPID

Whatever Tucker Carlson is smoking must be really strong.

"President Obama is "less experienced" than Palin even though he thinks there should be "more respect for the office" than to want to elect either one of them. Tucker added that he believes Palin is smarter than Al Gore, and just thinks its "weird" that anyone would be terrified of her and afraid that she might actually have a chance of being elected President."

Tucker Carlson is an idiot.