Friday, July 24, 2009

The Equivalent of Nonsense Is The Nonsense Of Equivalency

Balloon Juice's DougJ spots National Review's Greg Pollowitz equating the birther idiocy to the 9/11 Truthers, arguing:
It's typical that the MSM is taking such an interest in this conspiracy theory while it did very little to dispel the Truther conspiracy theory that Bush knew of 9/11 beforehand. A Rasmussen poll found 35 percent of Democrats actually believe in that nonsense. Why wasn't that as big a story?"
This is what passes for birther repudiation among the Winger crowd: "See, see, Democrats were insane long before Republicans were, so that proves Republicans are still better! We win!"

...Seriously. As DougJ points out:

Did Democratic Congressmen ever bring any 9/11 Truthers type bills to the floor? Were there any 9/11 Truthers with regular CNN gigs?

The Rasmussen poll number is probably bogus anyway, but to be clear, the coverage of the birther stuff does not arise because of the percentage of Republicans who believe it (I have no idea what that number is), it arises because Dobbs, a variety of Fox wingers, and some Republican Congressmen are talking about it.

More importantly, Republican Congressmen and Village Wingnuts are actively encouraging it. Secondly, the 9/11 truth garbage was and still is offensive to a wide number of Americans, because a wide number of Americans were victims of 9/11. They lost their loved ones. We went to war because of it.

The birther stuff is nothing more than a direct political attack on one man, Barack Obama. Feebly equating the two in order to feel better about yourself is pretty vile, even for your average NRO staffer.

Zandar, Editor-At-Large

From the WSJ, "GOP, In Attack Mode, Tries To Avoid Obstructionist Label"
Republicans, seeking to regain political ground bury in the health-care debate, have launched a series of attacks on Democrats' overhaul plan Barack Hussein Obama. But some GOP strategists worry an aggressive approach could backfire, if voters decide the party is obstructing efforts aren't subjected to imaginary racial controversies to address making them completely forget an issue they care about.
Edited for accuracy.

After all, if you totally kill Obama's agenda by swamping it under manufactured outrage, there's nothing to obstruct.

[UPDATE 4:21 PM] Bonus editorial fun: Dow is up 900 points in 2 weeks, or more than 10%. In the same two weeks, Obamacare has been getting savaged in the press and delayed by Congress repeatedly.

Naturally, CNBC's lead article at this hour: "As Healthcare Reform Speeds Ahead, Investors Get Nervous."

They're not even hiding the fact they want it dead now.

That Old Familiar Feeling

Yet another episode of What Digby Said:
Following up on dday's post below, can I just ask if those of you who are older than 35 or so are getting that strange familiar feeling? You know the one, where the media are suddenly hostile to the president, the Democrats are running for the hills and the country is confused and doesn't know what to think? The one where cable news gets obsessed with manufactured wingnut shitstorms designed to distract and diminish the president's stature and sap his political capital just when he needs it the most? We've seen this movie before, haven't we?

It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that we are seeing a rather sudden attention being paid to race. First, our black president nominated a Hispanic woman to the Supreme court. That got the right wing noise machine all hyped up about "reverse discrimination" a concept which began seeping into the mainstream almost immediately. Then we suddenly have a lot of attention being paid to the Birthers, out of the blue. It's not like they haven't been around for a while, but on the heels of the Sotomayor discussion, we are hearing a whole lot about them --- and their claims are being aired over and over and over again on mainstream TV (even as they are being refuted.) Hmmmmm. Now we have the president having the temerity to suggest that the arrest of a black man for disorderly conduct in his own home was handled "stupidly," which has sent the media into a frenzy the likes of which we haven't seen since Jeremiah Wright.

Indeed, I heard a TV commentator suggest this morning that this one comment may be the reason for the death of health care reform because it sucked the air out of the conversation. The fact that it's the media which is doing the sucking doesn't seem to occur to anyone.
And so it goes. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. Only, this time when the Village Clinton playbook for wrecking Obama invariably gets mutated by the GOP Pretty Hate Machine on the issues of implied racism, fascism, and the end of White America, we're all going to get a front row seat to just how ugly the world is going to be. The Jeremiah Wright/Seekrit Mooslum stuff is but a pale specter of what is truly to come. Skip Gates, Wise Latina and the Birthers are much more indicitive.

It will, if you can imagine it, get worse. Much worse. And soon. Remember the worst, most vile, most racist and idiotic parts of the campaign coming out of the GOP? Expect that from everyone. You've already had a taste of the Derangement in Obama Derangement Syndrome. Now imagine every media outlet acting like that, on a daily basis, for pretty much the rest of the legislative year.

Just wait.

Obama Speaks On Gates Again

In an appearance today at the daily White House briefing, the President remarked on his comments on Skip Gates and Sgt. Michael Crowley on Wednesday.
"These are two decent people," Obama said. He said he spoke by phone with Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, which he said confirmed his idea of Crowley as a good, decent police officer.

But, he said, African-Americans are sensitive to racial issues. "Even when you have a police officer that has a fine track record on racial sensitivity," he said, the interaction was "fraught with misunderstanding."

"My hope is this ends up being a teachable moment," Obama said.

As for those who criticized the president for getting involved:

There are some who say as president I shouldn't have stepped into this at all, (which) I disagree with. The fact that this has become such big issue is indicative of fact that race is still a troubling aspect of our society.

"Whether I were black or white, I think me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive, not negative, (discussion) ... is part of my portfolio," Obama said.

Good for him, and well said.

Lone Nut State

Via Yggy, we learn Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, apparently afraid of not getting that lock on the title of Most Insane Governor After Sarah Palin Resigns This Weekend, has decided that if Obamacare does pass that he totally sees the means to "resist" it.
Gov. Rick Perry, raising the specter of a showdown with the Obama administration, suggested Thursday that he would consider invoking states’ rights protections under the 10th Amendment to resist the president’s healthcare plan, which he said would be "disastrous" for Texas.

Interviewed by conservative talk show host Mark Davis of Dallas’ WBAP/820 AM, Perry said his first hope is that Congress will defeat the plan, which both Perry and Davis described as "Obama Care." But should it pass, Perry predicted that Texas and a "number" of states might resist the federal health mandate.

"I think you’ll hear states and governors standing up and saying 'no’ to this type of encroachment on the states with their healthcare," Perry said. "So my hope is that we never have to have that stand-up. But I’m certainly willing and ready for the fight if this administration continues to try to force their very expansive government philosophy down our collective throats."

Ahh, the thievery and tyranny of providing health care insurance for people who can't afford it! What would we do without folks like Rick Perry, bravely standing up to the 72% of America that wants health care reform?

If I'm reading this right, Rick Perry's basically saying that should Obamacare pass, he's going to exempt Texas and its 24 million Americans from it. He also expects other GOP governors will exempt their states from it too and just make sure tens of millions of Americans don't get access to what the plan would provide.

So, if you live in Texas, and you don't have health insurance, Rick Perry apparently wants to keep it that way.

Nice guy.

[UPDATE 2:42 PM] And speaking of Texas...

Guaranty Financial Group Inc
(GFG.N), the second-largest publicly traded bank in Texas, said
it will probably fail after loan losses and writedowns left it
"critically" short of capital.
 The Austin-based lender has about $16 billion of assets and
more than 150 branches in Texas and California, according to
its website.
 On that basis, if it were to fail, Guaranty would be the
largest U.S. bank to do so in 2009. Guaranty is about half the
size of IndyMac Bancorp Inc (IDMCQ.PK), which failed in July.
 In a regulatory filing late on Thursday, Guaranty said it
has been unable to obtain new capital from shareholders, and
believes it will be ineligible for help from U.S. regulators.
 Guaranty said it does not expect to raise enough capital to
comply with an April cease-and-desist order from the federal
Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS).
 It said losses and writedowns have left it "critically
undercapitalized," with negative capital ratios.
 "The company believes that it is probable that it will not
be able to continue as a going concern," Guaranty said.

Dear America:

"Since we here at the Village have determined you don't want health care reform (meaning our plan to scare the piss out of you is working like a charm), how will Obama handle the defeat we're going to hand him? I predict...badly."

--Peggy Noonan, WSJ

Bonus Stupid: "So this might be an unarticulated public fear: When everyone pays for the same health-care system, the overseers will feel more and more a right to tell you how to live, which simple joys are allowed and which are not.

Americans in the most personal, daily ways feel they are less free than they used to be. And they are right, they are less free."

Yep. Remember, more health care insurance options, more choices, a larger network of doctors to choose from, equals less freedom.

Remember that when Obamacare is dead and your premiums are 50% higher five years from now.

Helicopter Ben Meets His Arch-Enemy

If Ben Bernanke has a nemesis, it's Florida Democratic freshman Rep. Alan Grayson...The Questioner.

His most recent battle with Bernanke, which is already on its way to 100,000 views, was fought over the Fed's project of "central bank liquidity swaps." The Huffington Post first reported the swaps in March. In response to the global economic crisis, the Fed has injected hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars into foreign central banks in exchange for foreign currency. The swaps represent a radical intervention by the Fed in the global money supply but have barely been covered by the media. They are done without approval from or oversight by the Congress or the White House.

Bernanke, asked by Grayson what the central banks did with the U.S. money, replied: "I don't know."

Grayson, in an interview with the Huffington Post, said that the lending program represents a startling amount of decision-making authority vested with one man.

He put the $500 billion-plus lending program in perspective. "I see all the time, still to date, actual recorded votes on $100,000-dollar elements on these actual appropriations bills. Now compare that to the fact that the Federal Reserve handed out $500 billion dollars, which is literally five million times as much...and they don't even know who ended up with the money," he said.

"Was the money used to buy U.S. treasuries and prop up the dollar? They don't know. Was the money used to bail out European automakers? They don't know. He literally doesn't know what happened to $500 billion dollars," he said. "I find that extremely disturbing."

And no, Helicopter Ben really doesn't have any friggin' idea where that half a trillion dollars went as part of that currency exchange swap.

The Fed doesn't consider the currency exchange risky because it holds the foreign banks' currency as collateral. But that fundamentally misrepresents the risk associated with currency speculation, said Grayson, who has a deep business background.

"It's speculation. It's exactly the thing that hedge funds do all the time and hedge funds do blow up," he told the Huffington Post. "Look at the Fed balance sheet right now. It has 40 times as much in liabilities as it does in capital. Historically that's a dangerous place to be."

And judging from the movement of the dollar since the swaps began, Grayson said, it looks like the U.S. could have taken a $100 billion dollar loss because the value of the foreign currency held by the U.S. depreciated in value by roughly one-fifth. Bernanke told Grayson that it was a "coincidence" that the dollar appreciated substantially after the half-trillion dollar swap project got underway in September. The Fed website maintains that the transactions are without risk because the exchange rates are locked in.

But regardless, the currency value did change, leaving somebody with a big loss, despite any Fed attempts to avoid losses. "You can't undo the fact that the relative value of the currency did change," said Grayson. "You can't stop the world from turning."

The Questioner has beaten Helicopter Ben once again in an EPIC WIN...but in the larger battle we're the ones who have lost.

What accountability does Bernanke have? "Oh, I lost half a trillion. It's under the couch, maybe?"

Breaking Bad

Steve Benen notes the GOP Plan on health care reform is to stop it at all costs.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa argued the other day that the public would likely blame Republicans if reform efforts fall apart, but Pelosi's vision of the landscape strikes me as more plausible.

Let's put the polls aside, at least for a moment, because they can be misleading. Generic questions about whether Americans support "health care reform" produce encouraging results, but there's a degree of superficiality to the numbers -- a few dishonest television ads can sway opinions fairly quickly.

Instead, consider the idea that the consequences of passing reform, after a few generations of attempts, would almost certainly be a huge boon to the majority, especially once the changes take place and unfounded fears prove baseless. It's why Bill Kristol demanded that Republicans block reform 15 years ago; it's one of the reasons why the right is fighting so hard now; and it's why negotiating with the minority in good faith seems like an enormous, and likely counter-productive, risk.

It creates an obvious incentive for the GOP -- kill reform or suffer electoral consequences -- and fear is a powerful motivator.

Hence the full court Village press to "break Obama." Let's face it, the Village doesn't like having the Democrats in charge. I've been saying this for months now, but it's nice to see somebody who actually gets paid to have opinions come up with the same conclusion.

This of course explains the craziness of the last week, the rise of birther silliness across the airwaves, and today's charges that the President is basically a cop-hating racist. The GOP knows it can go for the kill, and right now, we're seeing the jaws close on Obamacare.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Reuters headline at this hour:

"Obama stokes racial passions, police anger"

Yeah, that's a "fair and balanced" headline. The story gets even better.
President Barack Obama plunged his presidency into a charged racial debate and set off a firestorm with police officers nationwide by siding with a prominent black scholar who accuses police of racism.

Saying he was unaware of "all the facts" but that police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "acted stupidly" in their arrest of Harvard's Henry Louis Gates, Obama whipped up emotions on both sides of an issue that threatens to open old wounds.

"The President has alienated public safety officers across the country by his comments," said David Holway, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, which represents 15,000 public security officials.

In a letter to Obama, he sought an apology. "You not only used poor judgment in your choice of words, you indicted all members of the Cambridge police department and public safety officers across the country."

Our in the tank liberal media strikes again. "Why does this black President hate cops so much, and when is he going to apologize for making white people uncomfortable? He's not just President of black America, you know." Barack Obama has gone from spendy intellectual explainer guy to black racist cop-hating asshole in less than 48 hours. Unbelieveable.

As I've said on a number of occasions, you thought they hated Clinton? You have no clue what's coming.

Well, as of today, maybe you do. Look at what's gone on here in the last two days, a massive push from the Village on the birther thing and now this. According to the Village, Barack Obama is the worst human being ever, a cop-hating racist illegal immigrant.

At what point does this insanity end, before or after somebody decides to get famous by seeing he's "dealt with?"

Kroog Versus The Village

Paul Krugman takes offense today at the Village panning the President's Wednesday night presser.
Mr. Obama was especially good when he talked about controlling medical costs. And there’s a crucial lesson there — namely, that when it comes to reforming health care, compassion and cost-effectiveness go hand in hand.

To see what I mean, compare what Mr. Obama has said and done about health care with the statements and actions of his predecessor.

President Bush, you may remember, was notably unconcerned with the plight of the uninsured. “I mean, people have access to health care in America,” he once remarked. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush claimed to be against excessive government expenditure. So what did he do to rein in the cost of Medicare, the biggest single item driving federal spending?

Nothing. In fact, the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act drove costs up both by preventing bargaining over drug prices and by locking in subsidies to insurance companies.

Now President Obama is trying to provide every American with access to health insurance — and he’s also doing more to control health care costs than any previous president.

I don’t know how many people understand the significance of Mr. Obama’s proposal to give MedPAC, the expert advisory board to Medicare, real power. But it’s a major step toward reducing the useless spending — the proliferation of procedures with no medical benefits — that bloats American health care costs.

And both the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats have also been emphasizing the importance of “comparative effectiveness research” — seeing which medical procedures actually work.

So the Obama administration’s commitment to health care for all goes along with an unprecedented willingness to get serious about spending health care dollars wisely. And that’s part of a broader pattern.
Or, it could be that the Village is always looking to frame the President's policies in terms of the Eternal Popularity Contest rather than their merits. It also could have everything to do with the big companies that run the Village have every interest in maintaining the status quo. Insurance companies and Big Pharma buy ads and sponsorships. GE, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, News Corporation...not exactly small companies.

Besides, picking on the President is cool. As Atrios says, policy is boring. Chiding the President on "not being post-race" is much more fun. I swear, the Village mission is befriending the incurious sound bite machine that was Bush, and then doing everything possible to feel smugly superior to Obama.

Wonder why that is.

Robbing Peter To Pay Ahnold

Via Atrios and CalcRisk, this article from the Orange County Register shows just how bad of a problem the Governator's budget plan is, taking money allocated to California's cities to fund the state may in fact bankrupt the cities.
Placentia city officials are howling in effort to keep state hands out of their coffers. The plan to seize millions could bankrupt the city, they say.

"We may have to declare bankruptcy – that's how serious this is," said City Administrator Troy Butzlaff. "This is something the system can't endure. We just avoided bankruptcy by doing all the right things; by cutting back, by getting concessions from staff, by cutting $4.5 million over last year's budget."

As the new state budget bills approach a vote by the legislature, the city is urging residents to print and clip out "deficit dollars" posted on, the city's Web site, and send them to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in protest of plans to hijack what would amount to $2.5 million from local coffers.

In a release, city officials called the funds grab "stealing" and argued it was unconstitutional.

Placentia was just extricating itself financially from a massive boondoggle, paying down and reorganizing millions in debt from the failed road-rail separation project called OnTrac.

"We were seeing light at the end of the tunnel," Butzlaff said. "Six fiscal years have gone by, and this was the first time we've had a balanced budget."

Placentia City Councilwoman Connie Underhill said she hoped a grassroots protest effort would mean more to legislators than the complaints of city officials.

"I think that maybe just having council members and city managers approaching legislators doesn't seem to be doing too much," she said. "Maybe if they heard from the residents, it'd make more of a difference. These are the people who will really be affected by this."

Butzlaff said earlier this week the state legislators' budget proposals could take roughly $900,000 from gas tax money, $800,000 from property tax money, and $400,000 from the Redevelopment Agency.

At some point, we're going to see these cities and counties start suing the state over this, and I'm betting it's coming sooner rather than later. Thousands of local government employees are going to have to be laid off, city and county services will cease to exist, and it's going to make several already hard hit areas with double digit unemployment like the Inland Empire that much more unliveable.

Revenue is going to leave, and it's not going to come back. The people who have to stay because they can't afford to leave are the ones that are going to really hurt. Think Ninth Ward, New Orleans, only spread over the entire state.

It angers me that the GOP continually wants to be in charge of government when they hate government and governing so very much. It angers me more that the state's Democrats go along with it.

Playing It Cool

Nate Silver argues that Harry Reid's admission that there will be no health care bill before the August recess is not a problem.
Ten days ago, I wrote a piece entitled, "Why Democrats Have No Time to Waste", the thesis of which was basically that Obama's approval ratings were liable to decline over the near-to-medium term and so Democrats had better get busy on health care while they could.

But a couple of things have happened since then.

Firstly, the media environment has become very treacherous. There's been all sorts of piling on, for instance, about last night's satisfactory press conference -- this is almost certainly the most sustained stretch of bad coverage for Obama since back when Jeremiah Wright became a household name after the Ohio primary.

I don't think the media has a liberal bias or a conservative bias so much as it has a bias toward overreacting to short-term trends and a tendency toward groupthink. The fact is that there have been some pretty decent signals on health care. Yes, it has stalled in some committees, but it has advanced in others; yes, the Mayo Clinic expressed their skepticism but also the AMA -- surprisingly -- endorsed it; yes, the CBO's Doug Elmendorf got walked into a somewhat deceptive and undoubtedly damaging line of questioning about the measure's capacities on cost control, but also, the CBO's actual cost estimates have generally been lower than expected and also favorable to particular Democratic priorities like the public option. This all seems pretty par for the course, even if you wouldn't know it from reading Politico or Jake Tapper, who giddily report on each new poll telling us the exact same thing as though there's some sort of actual news value there.

The media likes to talk about "momentum". It usually talks about the momentum in the present tense -- as in, "health care has no momentum". But almost always, those observations are formulated based on events of the past and sloppily extrapolated to imply events of the future, often to embarrassing effect: see also, New Hampshire, the 15-day infatuation with Sarah Palin, the Straight Talk express being left for dead somewhere in the summer of 2007, the overreaction to "Bittergate" and the whole lot, and the naive assumption that Obama's high-60's approval ratings represented a paradigm shift and not a honeymoon period that new Presidents almost always experience.

I also believe that the media can, in the short term, amplify and sometimes even create waves of momentum. But almost always only in the short term. And that is reason #1 why it's not such a bad thing that the Democrats are getting a breather on health care. They're at, what I believe, may be something of a 'trough' or 'bottom' as far as this media-induced momentum goes. By some point in August, the media will at least have tired of the present storyline and may in fact be looking for excuses to declare a shift in momentum and report that some relatively ordinary moment is in fact the "game changer" that the Democrats needed. This is not to say that the real, underlying momentum on health care has especially good -- and the Democrats' selling of the measure certianly hasn't been. But it hasn't been especially poor either . As I've said before, the health care process has played out just about how an intelligent observer might have expected it to beforehand.

The second reason why the delay might be OK for the Democrats is because of the economy. Nobody much seems to have noticed, but the Dow is now over 9,000 and at its highest point of the Obama presidency; the S&P is nearing 1,000 and the NASDAQ has gained almost 55 percent since its bottom and has moved upward on 12 consecutive trading days. There are ample reasons to be skeptical about the rally -- it isn't supported by strong volumes, and it's almost entirely the result of surprisingly solid corporate earnings numbers rather than the sorts of figures that Main Street cares about. But, there are two big dates to watch out for. On July 31, an advance estimate of second quarter GDP growth will be released, and on August 7th, we'll get the monthly report on the unemployment situation. If either of those reports reflect the optimism elicited by the corporate earnings numbers -- in this context, a job loss number under ~250,000 or a 2Q GDP number somewhere close to zero -- there will be a lot of quite optimistic chatter about the end of the recession which might not penetrate to Main Street, but which will at least have some reverberations on Capitol Hill.
While I actually believe Nate is correct about the first reason, that same Village groupthink tendency causing Obama problems is exactly why the economy is not going to be an advantage for Obama anytime soon. As long as the unemployment rate continues to rise, it actually may hurt Obama to point out that the Dow is rising. The groupthink has assured that the only economic data that exists as a Village criteria for a succesful economy is the unemployment numbers.

Now, as Nate said, should the numbers in two weeks actually be a significant improvement in number of jobs lost, Obama will be able to say his plan is working. But I don't think that's going to happen for a while, I think we're still going to be in a situation where we are losing 400-500k+ jobs a month for at least the rest of this year, and as far as the Dow, I think we're overdue for a correction pretty soon.

Still, the problem is that groupthink. The Dow could go higher, but as long as the unemployment rate keeps rising, it's going to hurt. The real problem is that the longer this takes, the more we'll get towards the Reconciliation scenario in Nate's projections. At some point, if the GOP keeps stalling and the Democratic leaders keep stalling, Obama's going to eventually have to pull the trigger on making this part of the budget. September still leaves open the possibility, and work has progressed. But the forces arrayed against Obamacare have grown in power and volume as well. All things being equal, we end up with the status Obama said on Wednesday, the default is inertia.

We need enough to beat that to get this passed. Time degrades that momentum unless something happens to boost it. Without Congress actually in session to advance the issue, there's going to be backslide, and the Village will have plenty of time to proclaim it...even if there have been significant advances up until now. We'll need more advances, and that means the President is going to have to spend a healthy chunk of the next six weeks pushing the ball forward.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

BooMan asks:
The Village's desire, almost a demand really, that President Obama transcend his half-blackness is very offensive to me. Why does his outrage at the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. violate the protocols of Washington? Is it okay to arrest a man in his own house after he provides documentation that he owns the house?
As a mixed-race man myself, my view is that the Village has a real comfort level problem when it comes to people of color talking about race, particularly African-Americans. As long as they know there's a frank and serious discussion about race in America coming, they can ignore it. It gets shunted off to a "special report" (like CNN's recent Black in America series with Soledad O'Brien) or to specific outlets (like the radio shows of Tavis Smiley or Tom Joyner.) They don't have to feel bad about it or face it.

So in a real way, despite my eye-rolling response to Lynn Sweet's question Wednesday night as a distraction from health care, she actually asked a good question and should be given credit for doing so. It was unplanned, she said. Obama's answer was very good, I thought. I would have said much the same thing. Any cursory research into Obama's political background as a community organizer and Illinois state senator would have revealed the President's history as having sponsored legislation combating racial profiling.

A discussion at work between co-workers yesterday had a white friend of mine and a black friend of mine talking about the Gates arrest. While the first argued that it may not have been racial profiling, and that Gates blew his stack, my black friend said "Look, have you ever felt that you have been approached or questioned or pulled over by a cop because of your skin color?" My white friend admitted, "Well, no." My black friend continued "Wouldn't that make you angry if you thought you had been?"

It goes back to the very real differences that people have in point of view in this country about race. It wasn't Sweet's question that knocked the Village for a loop. They expected a politician's answer. What they got was the truth instead. And that truth makes people uncomfortable because unless a racial profiling incident has happened to you, you don't understand the feelings of powerlessness and despair, and you wonder what the hell kind of world you live in when this kind of thing still happens in 2009.

As the President said, he wasn't there. He doesn't have the details. But the fact of the matter is being angry for having a cop approach you in your own home accusing you of breaking into your own home is not a crime. I'd be angry too. If Gates assaulted the police officer, that's one thing. But an old man with a cane with an ID showing he lived in the house? You arrest a guy like that? That's a display of power you have over the other person, plain and simple. Racial profiling is just another example of that, and let's face it, people don't like admitting racial profiling still happens in 2009.

People make assumptions. We all do it. And we'll continue to do it if we don't talk to each other about it. Perhaps the President showing an honest answer will get all of us talking about it too...honestly.


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