The Land Of Opportunity

August 14, 2009

There’s an interesting Barbara Ehrenreich story in the NY Times about the growing criminalization of the poor during the recession. Here’s an telling example:

“A grizzled 62-year-old, he [Mr. Szekely] inhabits a wheelchair and is often found on G Street in Washington — the city that is ultimately responsible for the bullet he took in the spine in Fu Bai, Vietnam, in 1972. He had been enjoying the luxury of an indoor bed until last December, when the police swept through the shelter in the middle of the night looking for men with outstanding warrants.

It turned out that Mr. Szekely, who is an ordained minister and does not drink, do drugs or curse in front of ladies, did indeed have a warrant — for not appearing in court to face a charge of ‘criminal trespassing’ (for sleeping on a sidewalk in a Washington suburb). So he was dragged out of the shelter and put in jail.”

In general, there are two factors that work against the poor. One is the ‘poor tax.’ Everything is either more expensive or carries greater risk of an unexpected or catastrophic fee or fine for poor people. For example, poor people pay more for car loans and mortgages and credit cards (higher interest rates on all debt in general). Poor people are less likely to be able to purchase a new or quality car so are more susceptible to expensive auto repairs. Or they have to go without a car, which makes many, many things more expensive: there’s the opportunity cost of it taking much longer to get anywhere, limitations on possible jobs because of limitations on commuting options, the inability to frequent big-box or discount stores and a greater reliance on supermarkets and stores in poor neighborhoods, all of which charge more, etc., etc. Poor people are more likely to have late payments or overdrafts, all of which carry substantial penalties. And of course health is a big issue. Poor people are more likely to have jobs that don’t provide paid sick days off from work, so illness translates directly into lost wages. They are more likely to go without healthcare, which means more out-of-pocket expenses for medical emergencies. Fewer opportunities for exercise, greater life stresses, and poorer diet means more medical problems.

The other factor at work is greater susceptibility to problems with the law. Poor neighborhoods, particularly those that are predominantly black or Latino, are more heavily policed. Small infractions, from drug possession to jaywalking to – my favorite of late – disorderly conduct are more likely to be prosecuted. The court system is more hostile to poor people on every level, and poor people cannot afford the same quality legal representation as wealthier citizens. And problems compound faster. Unpaid parking tickets or failures to get inspection stickers more easily translate into contempt of court charges or failures to appear, especially when you cannot afford the initial fines in the first place or hire a lawyer.

In sum, all the things wealthier people take for granted, from simply paying off parking tickets to paying for the tow truck when the car breaks down or renting a car to get to work when yours is in the shop, translate into major crises for poor people, often leading to additional expenses, fines, lost jobs, or even jail. And as the problems accrue, they compound. Once you have a criminal record, you can’t get a job. When you don’t have a job, you can’t afford a place to live. When you live on the street, you can be subject to any one of a gazillion causes for legal harrassment.

Think about all that, and then think about George W. Bush’s remark that the poor can use the emergency room for healthcare. What will the outcomes be for asthma, diabetes, or even far less grave illnesses as gastro-esophogeal reflux, chronic pain problems, anemia, high cholesterol, high blood pressure if you rely on the emergency room?

Completely out of touch with reality.


How Is This Legal?

August 13, 2009

Must-see television:

Is it really me? Is it because I’m a left-wing loon? Should I just embrace the crazy?

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad, mad country.

Apparently, I Am A Nazi

August 9, 2009

Or so says Rush Limbaugh. Nancy Pelosi, it turns out, is similar to Adolf Hitler. And, as Joan Walsh points out, who would have ever predicted that our first black president would turn out to be a Nazi? Wow. What are the odds? I guess it makes sense, though, when you consider that Obama is a racist (according to Glenn Beck, he hates white people, apparently including his own mother, and he hates “white culture,” whatever that is). Hitler, of course, was born in Austria, and then became chancellor of Germany. Obama was born in Kenya or Indonesia or somewhere and became our pretender-usurper False-Dmitri president. And, as many on the right have pointed out, including Beck and Limbaugh, the logo for Obama’s healthcare plan look an awful lot like swastika-type Hitler things. Or something like that.

Sarah Palin has chimed in to tell us that Obama is going to set up “death panels” at which he parents and her child will be judged unfit to live:

“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.”

And the wingnuts are showing up at town halls, flipping out and near-rioting over some sort of Nazi euthanasia plan.

And the list goes on and on and on.

My question is, what the living #$%#$% #$%#$% is this? Why is this crazy #$%#$ being covered by the press? Why, after saying crazy nonsense like this, are people like Newt Gingrich and Michelle Malkin asked onto major network news programs? If I said stuff like this at work, I’d be treated like a plague victim. Death panels???? Obama’s a Nazi??? The Democrats are like Nazis because (this is Rush Limbaugh and Jonah Goldberg saying this) the Nazis too were vegetarians and supported animal rights and didn’t like pollution???

Wait, the Nazis wore shirts and pants? DEMOCRATS wear shirts and pants!!! They’re Nazis!!! ARE YOU SHITTING ME??

People, this is entirely beneath us. I have nothing to offer in a healthcare “debate” that involves Hitler, Nazis, killing old people, FEMA death camps, a black Nazi fake president, and God only knows what else. I understand that insurance companies need to protect their $$$, and they’ll do it any way possible. I understand that the Republicans could care less about the content of any healthcare legislation and are just looking to defeat Obama’s #1 legislative project, willing to say whatever they need to to accomplish that. But really, “death panels?” We’re going to go THERE? And there are a lot of people out there who believe it??

So the press covers this garbage. I’m not saying they support it (except FOX), but they cover it: look at the crazies at the town hall meeting! look at Senator Crazypants calling Obama a serial killer! And instead of discussing health insurance reform, we discuss the circus. Which helps them to defeat the actual bill. Then we all pretend the actual bill is sooooo complicated that we CAN’T understand it.

We have two major problems in this country related to healthcare. One is that a large portion of the public has no healthcare. We’re the only industrialized nation that doesn’t provide healthcare to all its citizens. Added to that portion with no healthcare is the portion that either has too little insurance or could be dropped from insurance pretty damn quick. With millions of people either with no care, or having to worry about losing the little coverage they do have if they get sick, or possible bankruptcy if they get very ill, that’s unacceptable. It’s unfair, it hurts the country as a whole, and it drags down our economy.

The other problem is that we spent way too much on healthcare relative to what we get out of it (obviously we need to kill some old people to save money!!!). Some of this results from the uninsured – a pregnancy test, say, at a doctor’s office or at home costs a lot less than at the ER. Addressing a medical issue early with a doctor is cheaper than waiting until it’s an emergency and going to the ER. In general, sending people with no insurance to the ER is about the most wasteful and inefficient way to give them healthcare, and that’s all they have if they can’t pay out of pocket for everything. Also, costs are rising rapidly. We use wasteful procedures, pay far more for pharmaceuticals here than in other countries (trips to Canada, anyone?), and put too little effort into preventive medicine.

The plans (more than one proposal is floating around right now) under consideration on Capitol Hill address these two problems. None of them are ideal – they are all extremely watered down from what true “progressives” or “liberals” would prefer. Any changes would still leave in place (a) the same system we have now with private insurance supplied through your employer, and (b) Medicare covering those over 65. That’s the core of our system now, and it’ll remain the core of any future system. Is that the best way to go? No, I don’t think so. But that’s what we’re going to have. Insurance will be better regulated. It will be much harder, for example, for insurance companies to drop people with “pre-exiting conditions” that are suddenly discovered once they become ill. Obviously the insurance companies don’t like that. The government will also provide subsidies for small businesses and poor families to get insurance. There’s not enough in the plan to keep costs down, however. One way to do that was to force private insurers to compete with a “public plan,” basically something similar to what federal employees like Michele Bachmann have now (while she rants and raves about the horrors of government-provided medicine — the Palins have government-provided insurance as well). In most markets in this country, there are only one or two insurers (e.g., BCBS has a virtual monopoly on insurance in Alabama, Wellpoint the same in Indiana). A public option would provide competition in what are now remarkably uncompetitive markets.

But let’s look at the status quo. More and more people are uninsured or underinsured. In terms of health outcomes – infant mortality, life expectancy, quality years of life – we rank behind every other wealthy nation. We’re last. The World Health Organization ranks us behind every other industrialized healthcare on every dimension. Meanwhile, costs go up and up. Despite having shitty healthcare, we pay FAR more than other countries do. France gets better outcomes by paying 2/3 the amount. If we don’t do anything, it will get worse and worse.

And this may be our last chance.

But hey, the black guy who’s president could be a Kenyan Nazi. We should check that out before he sets up the death panels.

My original post on the Skip Gates arrest incident came before the media circus, and I’ve been wary of posting on it again because there are far more important things going on in the world, but I want to clarify a few things (and correct some, too).

First, after hearing what Lucia Whalen, the original 911 caller, had to say, I have to apologize for saying there was anything racist about her report. It seems she was reluctant to call the police and was prompted to do so by an “elderly woman” from the neighborhood. She said to the 911 dispatcher that it was possible the people entering the house lived there. And she said nothing about the men being black. In fact, she said nothing about their races at all, and when prompted by the dispatcher said she thought one may be Hispanic and that she did not see the other. To be honest, I feel bad for the woman and can only imagine the invective thrown at her. She’s probably been called a racist 10,000 times at this point, basically for nothing. I can completely imagine myself in her exact same situation (although I’d be less likely to call the police, for a variety of reasons, none of which make me a better person).

Second, I’m tired of the term “racial profiling” being thrown around with respect to this incident. Racial profiling doesn’t mean any and all sorts of racial bias by police. It means disproportionately stopping or searching members of certain groups because of assumptions about that group rather than anything specific to the case itself. If cops pull over black people on the highway with greater frequency than other groups, that’s profiling. This case would be profiling if the cop has witnessed the entry and suspected a break-in based partly on race. But that’s not what happened.

Third, the most enraging things about the incident to me are (a) the arrest for “disorderly conduct” and (b) the public reaction. Nothing has changed my outrage over a man being arrested IN HIS OWN HOME for, essentially, being rude to a cop, insinuating he’s a racist, and questioning the legitimacy of his actions. I wasn’t there and don’t know what Gates said (although I strongly doubt he said “I’ll see your mama outside” – I think I’d bet everything I own that he didn’t). However, I don’t think that there is anything you could say, in your own kitchen, to a police officer that would justify arrest. Do I think it’s wise to talk trash to a cop? No – I wouldn’t do it, and I wouldn’t because I know all too well what the likely reaction would be. Do I think it’s ethically or morally justified to mouth off to cops? Sometimes, but there are many times it’s not. It may be unwise, rude, obnoxious, inappropriate, whatever. But these are all distinct from ILLEGAL. In free societies, people get arrested for crimes, not for pissing off police officers. If Gates were interfering with the police’s duties, or obstructing them in some way, or inciting riot or violence, or putting someone in danger, that of course would be different. But Gates was simply mouthing off to a cop in his house. You could argue that makes him a big asshole (I’d disagree, but that’s at least a legitimate argument), but it doesn’t make him a criminal. The power of arrest is not a trivial one. The police are not given this power, or the power to use deadly force, on a whim. They are given this power to enforce the law and protect the citizenry. They were given this power by the citizenry for that specific purpose, and are trusted to use that power in a legal and legitimate fashion. Make no mistake – I understand that being a police officer is a tough job. A very tough job. But many people with tough, serious, dangerous, or potentially deadly jobs do not have the power to arrest or use deadly force against others. The police do not have that power to retaliate against someone who pisses them off, annoys them, or hurts their feelings. The laws do not exist for that purpose. Yet, the police have relied on laws against things like disorderly conduct to do just that. Don’t believe me? Try it out. The next time a cop comes into your house, for whatever reason, tell him you’re a communist who thinks that all cops are fat pieces of shit. I assure you of two things: (1) the First Amendment affirms your right to do this, and (2) the cop’s concern for your First Amendment rights will amount to two things: jack and shit. The First Amendment is there to protect the annoying, in-your-face speech we don’t like. It’s not there to protect nice speech at the tea party. Nobody’s worried about the authorities denying that speech. It’s there to protect the war protesters, the skinheads, the NAMBLA people, the conspiracy theorists, and the assholes.

Of course, the above somehow makes me a left-wing radical in this country. Watching the public reaction to the Gates incident has led me to believe that many, many people in this country are all in favor of handing tremendous – authoritarian, really – power to the police. Police have a tough job and put their lives on the line, and we shouldn’t mouth off to them. They need to be concerned about watching their backs, not your tree-hugging right to be an asshole and talk trash. This attitude fits better with an occupying army than a police force. The police are empowered as they are to protect our rights. That’s their very purpose. The idea that we need to abandon some of those rights to suit the police stands the whole principle of our republic on its head. The Boston cop who referred to Gates as a “banana-eating jungle monkey” said it best when he claimed that “suspects” have no rights. The conception of law enforcement in this country has been one of a legally authorized gang of thugs fighting a war against an opposing gang of criminals. We send police into neighborhoods to subdue these criminals. Everybody else had better get out of the way. The goal is now to stop the bad people – the criminals, the terrorists, the threats to America and our “freedom” and “way of life.” The rights that we are abandoning to do this? Last I checked, those WERE our freedoms and our way of life. Otherwise what, exactly, is the point?

In All Their Glory

July 22, 2009

This really has to be seen to be believed. Watch how he has to walk the fine line between throwing red meat to the crazies in the party and at the same time sound at least minimally sane to everyone else by not actually coming out and saying what he’s hinting at: the president’s some sort of weird, foreign, illegitimate, usurper Other.

By the way, my birth certificate is only from the Town of Norwood (Massachusetts). How come this woman in the video gets one from the “United States of America?” I guess that’s the kind of birth certificate patriots get.


July 22, 2009

There’s an interesting article in Slate about the advantages of rotaries instead of lighted intersections. One correction, though, of the article: it claims that what we call “rotaries” here in the Boston area (it says the Northeast, but the term is limited to Boston and environs) are really just traffic circles, not the roundabouts one finds in, say, Britain. This is false. Rotaries in Boston are exactly the same as roundabouts. Cars entering the rotary must yield to the traffic on the rotary. They are generally very small and do not have traffic lights. They are ubiquitous here, but are almost entirely absent from roads in the rest of the country. They are features of Boston’s driving landscape just as, say, 4-way stops are in Chicago.

The biggest problem with rotaries is that out-of-towners who are not used to them get spooked by them and often confuse who has the right-of-way. Particularly to the uninitiated, they feel awkward and unsafe, but the truth is they are very safe – significantly safer (and more efficient) than the use of traffic lights.

Read the whole article.

h/t: Yglesias

Unbelievably, Henry Louis (“Skip”) Gates, Jr., one of the most prestigious professors at Harvard University and a man that Time magazine recently named one of the 25 most influential people in America, was arrested last Thursday in Cambridge for, well, nothing.

Gates had just returned from China, where he was filming a documentary for PBS. His family was at their home on Martha’s Vineyard, where Gates planned to soon join them, but first he decided to stop at his house on Ware St. near Harvard Square in Cambridge. When he arrived there, he was unable to unlock his front door. He went around to the back entrance, entered the house there by key, shut off the alarm, and then went back to the front to try to open the front door. With the assistance of his driver (a car service drove him from Logan to Cambridge), whom Gates described as a “large Moroccan man,” the two managed to pry open the stuck door. Gates is a 5’7″ 58 year old man who weighs 150 lbs, is disabled, and walks with a cane. He is a quite popular figure at Harvard, is a celebrity as a result of his best-selling books and popular TV shows, and is well-respected by colleagues. He is also known as a very mild-mannered person. Gates was wearing a blue blazer and dress shoes. The car service driver was wearing a black uniform. The event took place at 12:44pm on a weekday afternoon on a tree-lined street in a very safe neighborhood.

With the door opened, the driver was able to carry Prof. Gates’s luggage into the house. Prof. Gates immediately called the Harvard maintenance service to come repair the front door of the house. While he was on the phone, he noticed a Cambridge police officer standing on his front porch.

You see, while Gates and his driver were trying to pry the door open, a passerby who observed them decided to call the police and report that two “black men” were breaking into a house.

The responding officer (who was white) reacted, according to Gates, with hostility, and demanded to see Gates’s ID. Gates believes the officer did not believe that it was his home. Apparently the cop believed that a small, middle-aged black man who walks with a cane and was wearing a dress blazer and leather shoes broke into a house in broad daylight at 12:44pm in Harvard Square. Something that happens, well, never.

The officer demanded that Gates exit his home. Gates refused. He said, however, that he would provide the officer with identification. Gates then went into his kitchen to get his wallet. The cop entered the home uninvited and followed him. Gates gave him the ID, which the cop look at suspiciously. Gates told the officer he felt he was being treated with prejudice because he was black, and that a white man under the same circumstances would be treated very differently. He asked the cop for his badge number and name. The cop did not respond. Gates asked this question repeatedly and became huffy, saying to the cop that this is what happens to “a black man in America.” The cop then turned and walked out onto the porch.

Gates then saw that a number of Cambridge and Harvard police officers had gathered on his porch. He walked outside and asked the other police officers for the name and badge number. Once Gates stepped onto the porch, he was grabbed by the first police officer and handcuffed behind his back. As he was being led off the porch, Gates protested that he was in pain and was disabled, needing a cane to walk. The handcuffs here moved to the front and he was given his cane.

Gates was then taken to the Cambridge Police HQ, where he was processed, fingerprinted, had his mug shot taken, and booked. He was charged with disorderly conduct, the police officer reporting that he was “loud and tumultuous.” He was then confined, handcuffed, in a small jail cell for four hours. Finally, he was released once distinguished Harvard Law professor and mentor of Barack Obama Charles Ogletree arrived and secured his release. He was scheduled to be arraigned on August 26th.

Once the Middlesex County DA’s office got word of what happened, of course, and once the story made international news, being reported on the front page of many, many newspapers, the powers that be scrambled to do damage control. Charges were immediately dropped, and a joint statement was negotiated in which neither side would admit fault but the police would state that the arrest was “regrettable.” It is unknown whether or not there will be repercussions for the officer involved.

So to recap – an innocent man in his own home trying to pry open his own door was reported to the police as a burglar. In the middle of the day, in broad daylight. A middle-aged man well dressed and walking with a cane. I’m certain, though, the witness saw none of this – she only saw BLACK MAN PRYING OPEN DOOR. Oddly, she reported to the police that both men were wearing backpacks.

That’s bad enough, but you have to figure there’s always some whack job out there. But once the police arrived and found Gates IN HIS HOUSE, don’t you think they’d assume it was a mix-up? OK, ask for idea, I guess so, sure – I could see them doing that to a white person, just to be abundantly (ridiculously) cautious. But to carry on as he did, following him into his house? Certainly he didn’t think the 60-year-old with the cane and the Harvard ID was going to run off.

But then, to arrest him? ARREST HIM? To be honest, I don’t care if he was rude to the cop (I’d be!), I don’t care what he said. He was in his own home, in the middle of the day! He was arrested well after that fact WAS ESTABLISHED. At the time he was arrested, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Professor Gates was in his home, and that no break-in had occurred. The police report admits as much. Exactly what would you have to do to justifiably be arrested for “disorderly conduct” at 12:44pm in your own home? Probably a lot more than a 58-year-old mild-manner professor with a cane could possibly do.

What fucking year is this, 1953? And where are we, Alabama? This story better not just fade away, because it reveals something seriously wrong with the Cambridge Police Department. There’s no room in our society for armed racist authority figures.

There is an enormous disconnect in this country between the realities of nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation on the one hand and the way our press corps covers these issues on the other. These seem to be some of the most prominent concepts whenever nuclear weapons issues are discussed in the media:

1. North Korea might drop an A-bomb on us!

Where to begin? North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, Country X – they are not going to drop a nuclear bomb on us. And it’s not because we have magic missile shields protecting us. Let’s just think this through. Country X gets a couple of nuclear warheads. By this I mean that they actually have a number of weapons and the means of delivering them to US territory – no small achievement in itself. Let’s suppose they decide to drop one of these bombs on Los Angeles, destroying the city. We have about half of all the nuclear weapons in the world. We can deliver them to any spot on the globe at will. We also have the world’s most powerful military by a long shot, and can project conventional military power anywhere in the globe. Take a guess as to what would happen to Country X shortly after they destroyed Los Angeles. You see where this is going? A nuclear attack on the United States is suicidal. Kim Jong Il and company may be very, very, very, very bad men. And they may not be the sharpest scissors in the drawer, either. But I’ll bet you that they (a) want to stay alive and in power, and (b) know very well that we have a big nuclear arsenal. And that’s all they need to know to make sure they don’t simply decide on a whim to drop bombs on us. Period.

But it actually goes well beyond that. North Korea may have some (very small) nuclear devices, but they have not demonstrated the capacity to put them on missiles. They also do not possess missiles that can reach the United States. And they don’t seem to be anywhere near developing these things.

And yet, listening to the people on my TeeVee, you’d think we’re moments away from nuclear war with North Korea.

2. Once Iran gets the bomb they’re going to drop one on Israel.

Conveniently left out of these news reports is the fact that Israel has a nuclear arsenal, and has the capacity to deliver many, many nuclear weapons to anywhere they want within Iran’s borders. They can easily destroy the whole country. Iran, meanwhile, does not have the capacity to deliver a single bomb to Israel. Iran is right now on the verge of developing the capacity to make the nuclear fuel necessary for a bomb. There is no reason to believe they can put together a bomb, never mind one that can fit on a missile to deliver it to Israel.

But again, beyond all of this, there is the simple fact that an attack on Israel is suicide. Period. If Iran dropped a nuclear bomb in Tel Aviv (I’m assuming they would not drop a bomb on Jerusalem, considering it’s one of the holiest cities in Islam), soon there would be no Iran. Ahmadinejad may not like Israel, but he’s not suicidal.

These two points are so obvious and elemental (or at least they ought to be) that they are not worth the time it consumes writing about them. And yet they seem to be tossed around in the media constantly.

Yesterday Russia and the US signed an agreement to cut their nuclear stockpiles by roughly 30%. If the agreement is ratified by the legislatures in both countries, which is likely, these will be the first substantial cuts in the countries’ nuclear arsenals in many years. This is very welcome news – finally we have an administration that understands that we cannot effectively stem nuclear proliferation without simultaneously working toward nuclear disarmament ourselves. This is a huge step in the right direction.

Yet, after President Obama’s speech today in Moscow, members of the American press corps decided to ask not about nuclear proliferation but about – wait for it – Michael fucking Jackson! It’s true.

So if you’re wondering why the level of discourse in the media on nuclear issues is so low, this may have something to do with it.

Dave Weigel nails it (I’m reproducing his entire post here b/c I agree with every word of it):

“‘MSNBC’s “Morning Joe’ roiled, as most political shows will today, with discussions of Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-Alaska) resignation. And as with most discussion of Palin, it featured well-paid New York or Washington-based pundits explaining why the second member of a Republican ticket that lost Indiana, Ohio and Virginia represented ‘real America.’
‘Which vice presidential candidate was taken off the campaign trail and which one was out there drawing thousands of people?’ asked Joe Scarborough. Of course, then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) was not ‘taken off the trail,’ and as TWI’s Laura McGann has reported, Palin’s crowds were always overrated. Scarborough’s quasi-co-host Mika Brzezinski followed this up by saying Palin represented ‘real Americans,’ and that some people in ‘urban America’ didn’t get it.
This is fascinating. In 2004, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) lost the presidency with 48.3 percent of the vote, and no one seriously suggested that they represented ‘real Americans’ or anything else. As Ben Smith reported after the election, at least 79 percent of Americans now live in urban areas; the people with whose opinion Brzezinski is so concerned represent a demographic and political fringe. Famously, the county in North Carolina that Sarah Palin pegged as an outpost of ‘real America’ went for Barack Obama over John McCain, by 18 points.
By every metric, Palin is one of the less popular Republican politicians on the national stage: her ticket even carried less of the vote in Alaska (59.4 percent) than the Bush/Cheney ticket carred in 2004 (61.1 percent). And yet mainstream pundits insists that she represents more of the country than the people who won the 2008 election. It’s quite extraordinary.”

(h/t: Sullivan)

There are a lot of things the media has to wake up to with respect to Palin. One is that she’s a pathological liar (and possibly a sociopath). Another is that she has no business in politics whatsoever – she is completely ignorant of public policy, has no interest in it whatsoever, cannot even speak coherently about it, and is utterly incompetent at governing. But perhaps most importantly of all, they need to understand that she’s just not all that. She has essentially no chance of winning the presidency, and is really not much of a viable candidate for anything outside of the tiny, tiny political world of Alaska. Her followers may be rabid (and many possibly violent) but they are also fringe reactionaries. They certainly do not represent the mainstream. And the whole “hockey mom” business is just so much more bullshit: McCain/Palin carried 43% of women nationally. That’s the worst showing among women in a two-candidate race since Goldwater got smacked around by LBJ in 1964. She’s got nothing.

Is it really so hard to wrap your mind around the idea that the guys who won the election with an outright majority of the popular vote just may be the ones who represent the “real America,” and not the losers?

Palin’s resignation is great news for the GOP. And really puts Obama in a tough spot. Or something like that. At any rate, he should apologize.

Seriously, what do you think’s going on? My money’s on Todd Palin got drunk, went out on his snow machine with a shotgun, and killed a hobo.

BTW, it is completely beyond me how Todd Palin being member of the Alaskan secessionist party (and Sarah Palin being pretty closely affiliated with it as well) didn’t become a major issue.