Month: June 2011

The Torrents of Gannett

When you’re someone who observes politics for a living, one of the things that you get really good at is recognizing the irony in just about every situation you come across.

So when I tell you what happened in the world of journalism today, and specifically where it happened, you’ll see why I’ve brought up the word “irony” and what it has to do with the logo pictured above.

Gannett Newspapers Inc. laid off 700 people from its Community Newspapers division. According to the folks at, which is where folks like me go when they want to get the latest information about the stuff that’s going on in the corporate offices of media corporations, that’s 2 percent of the workforce in that division.

Considering that many of these folks work in small community newspapers where the staffs weren’t all that big in the first place, there’s about to be a whole lot of speed-up going on in a whole lot of places. I’ll explain what I mean by that in a minute.

If that wasn’t enough, some of the folks who did remain, folks who work in places like the Star-Gazette, Gannett’s first newspaper based in Elmira, N.Y., have been asked to take a pay cut of 5 percent. The same ask has been made of the folks in Binghamton and Ithaca, which are the two towns that you have to pass through in order to get to Elmira. Considering that these folks weren’t making much money in the first place, I can only imagine what a 5 percent pay cut is going to make their checks look like.

Now how do I know that they weren’t making a whole lot of money?

Because I was once one of them.

One of my first gigs in the business was working for the Star-Gazette. I didn’t even know where Elmira was until I had to go there for my job interview. I connected with them through the Unity 1994 Convention in Atlanta, the first convention I went to as a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. After the convention, I got a call from Charlie Nutt, the publisher of the newspaper, asking me to come in for an interview.

I got the job. And got very little money. But since the cost of living there was relatively low, it didn’t hurt…much. Let’s just say that this was the period in which I really began to appreciate my ability to make homemade vegetarian spaghetti sauce.

Layoffs are becoming the only thing that you can count on in the newspaper business anymore. There’s a website called Paper Cuts that tracks them and according to that site 2,828 people were laid off in 2010 alone. Including the 700 from the Gannett bloodletting today, 928 folks have already lost their jobs in 2011, and it’s only June.

Heck, one of NABJ’s founders, Sandra Long, was laid off two weeks ago after spending 27 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer! They apparently cut her entire division. She barely got to say goodbye to her colleagues because, as it always seems to be when layoffs come these days, she was ushered out of the building.

Now don’t get me wrong. I get it. Businesses are in business to make money. That’s what they do. Them’s the rules. If a business doesn’t make money, to bankruptcy court it goes.

But there are some dynamics of business that I just don’t get. For example, here’s the truly ironic part of this whole mess, which was found at the top of the Poynter story….

“In March it was disclosed that Gannett CEO Craig Dubow received a $1.25 million cash bonus and had his salary doubled.”

You see, the 700 layoffs came after all of Gannett’s employees took furlough days (meaning days that they stayed at home and didn’t get paid for) to try and save the company money and thus their jobs.

They were rewarded with pink slips.

Dubow was rewarded with $9.4 million. (That’s double his $4.7 million salary.) Add the $1.25 million bonus, you get a dude who made over $10 million putting workers out on the street in boxes.

If you want to do the math and see how many jobs that translates into, go ahead. I’m far too angry to even try.

That’s because while I understand profit and loss, greed as a concept eludes me.

The reporters at these newspapers are still going to be expected to cover their communities, although there will be fewer of them. They’ll be expected to have things in on deadline despite having to make due with substandard equipment. They’ll be working harder and doing not only their work, but the work of the three or four colleagues they just lost. Meanwhile, the company will continue to make the kind of money that will allow them to pay one dude more than $10 million.

I mentioned the phrase “speed-up” earlier in this post. The paragraph above defines it. The phenomenon is detailed in a story in this month’s Mother Jones. The link is here:

I wonder how many people this latest speedup will cause to burn out, leave the profession, and be replaced by, well, nobody…

Meanwhile, we as Americans are probably the least informed that we have ever been as a people. We don’t know what’s going on in our world. We barely know what’s going on in our country. And because we don’t have anyone providing us with the information, we have people clamoring to see President Obama’s birth certificate because they’ve been told he’s a “secret Muslim”, people who think teachers are devils who should live in a box down by the river and teach your kids for minimum wage, and most importantly, people who believe that Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann should be within two time zones of the “red button”.

And don’t get me started on what this lack of information has done to people of color. I recently listened to a radio broadcast from talk show host Neil Bortz that advocated shooting black men because they’re “thugs”. This is a direct consequence of the lack of coverage of neighborhoods of color brought on by layoffs of the magnitude of today’s Gannett bloodletting.

I don’t know the answer here. Sometimes it’s too depressing to even think about.

I do know, however, that the answer’s gotta be within my reach.

Too bad that doesn’t help the 700 jobless folks trying to figure things out right now.

When good Mad (political) Scientists become Politicians

I know that you can’t really tell from this picture, but this is me, circa 2003, hosting a Mayoral Debate as president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.

This debate, which was a collaboration between PABJ, and the local chapters of the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, was moderated by Comcast newsman Arthur Fennell and featured featured Mayor John Street and his Republican opponent Sam Katz. It also happened just before a FBI bug was discovered in the Mayor’s Office, something that led to the debate receiving nationwide coverage and a gang of indictments afterward.

(When my mom called and said that she saw me on C-Span, I knew we had hit a home run. The Mid-Atlantic Emmy that PABJ and Comcast received months later confirmed that. Phillies’ slugger Ryan Howard had nothing on me that year!)

But while we got a lot of mileage and accolades out of putting that debate together, it also pulled the curtain back on the sausage factory that is Philadelphia’s political process. While politics is the art of the possible, those possibilities cost millions of dollars to try and make happen and involve a lot of sometimes really dirty pool. While it’s not nearly at the level of nasty that national politics (particularly presidential politics), is, it’s still pretty cutthroat. But I get the process now, something that’s made me be able to better analyze it.

Lately, that knowledge has become kind of handy in my personal life.

You see, I’ve entered the world of politics.

A couple of months ago, I decided to run for the office of Vice President-Print for the National Association of Black Journalists. I’ve been an NABJ member since 1994 and it’s allowed me to meet some really good people, visit a lot of places that I probably wouldn’t have on my own (like Chicago’s Wrigley Field), and it’s helped me out in terms of finding subjects for the research I do on African American journalists and objectivity.

But while I’ve been an NABJ chapter president, I didn’t see myself running for national office.

That is, until I started teaching.

While it’s been a long while since I’ve been in a church without being forced to be by (a) a funeral, (b) a wedding, or (c) serious maternal guilt, I still remember the lessons that I was taught in church before I realized that most of the people teaching them to me were no better than I was despite their assertions to the contrary. One of the lessons that has really stuck with me is the lesson of not hurting others.

Now the good thing about being a researcher with an emphasis on Blacks in Journalism is that you get a lot of data and information about how Black journalists are doing within the profession. You get to see such things as newsroom census data, studies about who is covering what, and what that means for the quality of information that Americans receive each day.

That you get this information, and lots of it, is also the bad thing about being a researcher. There have been days where I’ve asked myself if I really want to continue teaching journalism because of the hell that journalists of color are catching on an almost daily basis. Did you know that only 13 percent of the White House Press Corps, one of the most important groups of reporters in the country because they cover our government, is made up of people of color? I got this information from a study done by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and UNITY Journalists of Color.

While the information predated the presidency of Barack Obama, not a lot has changed. While reporters of color sometimes get to open up a news conference, they’re still kinda easy to spot.

Me at the Inauguration

So after seeing the number of journalists of color contract instead of expand, and remembering that I was actually sending young people out into this on purpose, I decided that I owed it to them to try and make the path as less bumpy as I could. Since the path for Black Journalists wasn’t smooth when I got into the business, and it probably has never been smooth for us, having that as a goal would not only have been far too ambitious, but damn near impossible.

So I’m running for office. I’m hanging out at all the right events, going to candidate forums, and spending money to try and get my message out, something that as a freelance writer and part-time copy editor means more than you know.

But while my campaign manager keeps telling me that this isn’t a so-called “real” election, I’ve gotta say that it has all of the earmarks of one.

There’s a lot of horse trading. You find yourself asking for stuff from people you just had a violent argument with. And memories are long. Real long. Folks bring up stuff you did to them so long ago that you forgot what you did.

It’s been a real eye-opener.

But I’ve been trying to focus on one thing: what does this mean for Black Journalists? Right now, everyone is nursing a case of the “Last hired, First fired” blues in the business. When the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News underwent their first round of layoffs after being sold, roughly 71 of the 150 folks scheduled to be laid off were journalists of color.

In fact, every time you see the word “layoff” in the newspaper, you see it connected to at least one or two people who look like me. I’m not saying that white folks don’t get laid off because they do. But when there are more of you in a profession, it doesn’t look as bad.

And, as it is in the newspaper business, your stories still get told.

Without someone in the newsroom advocating for the stories of people of color, and by that I mean the stories that don’t involve someone committing a crime or being on the wrong end of a gunshot wound, those stories don’t get told. That’s good news for hyperlocal websites or specialized presses, but it doesn’t help communities filled with people who don’t have a computer or have no access to a Black, Asian, Spanish-language, Native American or gay and lesbian newspaper.

In other words, folks get left out. I don’t see anywhere in my friend the First Amendment where it says that’s okay.

So I’m trying to get connected to a place where my voice, and voices of the like-minded, can be amplified in such a way that the bean counters who run the media these days have no choice but to pay attention.

That place, near as I can tell, is the NABJ board.

Or at least, I plan to make it that way should I win.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens.

Here’s a picture of me at a recent event. I’m going to be doing a lot of this over the next month and a half.

Someone I’ve missed

I probably shouldn’t want to talk to Keith Olbermann because he made a liar out of me.

You see, when Comcast bought NBC Universal, I thought that because his show was the number one show on MSNBC Keith Olbermann was relatively safe. I thought, “Comcast is nothing if not a multinational conglomerate seeking to make tons of money. There’s no way they’d get rid of one of the largest of their cash cows!”

But then Olbermann donated money to the re-election campaigns of a couple of the Democrats that often came on his show. NBC found out. They suspended him, which made sense because if you’re doing something closely resembling journalism, donating money to candidates is a Bozo-no-no. You’ve gotta take the wrath.

However, public outcry made that suspension a really short one. Olbermann was back, he came out swinging, and didn’t care that one of the people he was swinging at was NBC.

So they let him go, shortly after Comcast completed the purchase of NBC. Everyone has tried to tell me that these two events aren’t at all related. In a related story, there is a Santa Claus. The fact that I’m said the latter thing means that I could believe the former…at least I could if a frontal lobotomy were involved.

I was wondering where Olbermann would end up. He’s kind of burned his bridge at ESPN so heading to the House of Mouse was out. While I would have loved to have seen he and Bill O’Reilly wandering the same halls, I sort of knew he wouldn’t end up at Fox either. Olbermann might have made a good host on VH1, BET or MTV. Can you imagine him talking with the “Mob Wives” or the “Basketball Wives”? That would have been some of the most sarcastic television I’ve seen in a long time.

Fortunately for him, Vice President Al Gore saved Olbermann from all that. He put him on his network, Current TV. Granted, you really have to know where to look to find that particular station, but the fact that the VP has chosen to not only give Olbermann his old 8 p.m. time slot, (something that’s probably gonna kill “The Ed Show” on MSNBC by the way), but also control of the news product at his network means that he’s kinda serious.

And not a moment too soon.

Because we’re currently in a world where we worry more about whether or not our elected officials screw around on their wives or are putting their dickshots on Twitter than we do the fact that they’re trying to screw the American public without at least taking it out to dinner first, we kind of need Olbermann. Like him or not, he brought up issues that we needed to talk about, and not just the big ones.

It is for this reason that I welcome Keith Olbermann’s return to the airwaves on Monday at 8 p.m. I’ve missed his righteous indignation on a variety of topics. Here’s a Special Comment on the Anthony Weiner saga. Unfortunately, the Congressman resigned today. Score another victory for the holier-than-thou.

(And by the way President Obama, if you ever found yourself in Congressman Weiner’s shoes, you wouldn’t have to worry about resigning your office. Having been a black woman for 47 years, I can say with no fear of contradiction that Michelle would kill you, thus saving you the trouble.)

Taking one for the Team

This is the time in our Presidential Election lives, oh readers of the Mad (political) Scientist, that I show you how much I love you and am willing to do to make your electoral lives easier.

Now how do I do this? I do this by sitting through things that would only piss you off and do the reporting on them for you. In April 2008, I sat through a debate broadcast on ABC between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton where the most pressing issues, at least to the folks doing the questioning, were American Flag pins (or the lack thereof) and whether or not folks are good Christians, and didn’t kill anybody. I did it so you didn’t have to. Why should all of us be aggravated?!

This year, I’ve done it by sitting through the first of what promises to be a whole gang of debates between the folks running for the Republican Presidential nomination.

I took the time to watch the old: (Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich) the new (Tim Pawlenty) and the Tea Party (Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain) be put through their paces by CNN Newsman (?!) John King for about 90 minutes of a two-hour debate.

The only reason that I didn’t sit through the entire thing is because it was my boyfriend Chris’s birthday, and I was taking him to see “X-Men: First Class”

In retrospect, I probably learned more useful things from watching Charles Xavier, Eric Lensherr (the dude who would become Magneto) and the rest of the mutants than I did from watching this debate…

That’s not to say that it was a total wash, however.

Bachmann announced her presidency for all of us and went on to show that Ed Rollins is some kind of evil genius by toning down her vast reserve of crazy. If you observed Bachmann at all during the 2008 race, she was the one who felt that we should investigate people to make sure that they weren’t against America. One of those people was President Obama, whom she believed to be a Kenyan national until he unveiled his Hawaiian birth certificate.

I also learned that while these paragons of state’s rights wouldn’t step in to try and change a state’s laws regarding same-sex marriage, they were all for a Constitutional Amendment legislating who could get married (a man and a woman in case you’re wondering) and also for returning Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to its former form, meaning that gays and lesbians wishing to serve their country would have to aim their rifles from a closet.

(Or a foot locker. Remember, Rick Santorum was one of the folks on this panel. And don’t even get me started on how Newt Gingrich just plain old needs to shut his piehole when it comes to the subject of marriage. If he’s not careful, I’ll have to pull out that 1995 Frontline documentary with his cancer-stricken ex-wife in it!)

We also learned that in the name of market forces and letting private industry do anything it wants including give people really dangerous jobs that pay pennies on the dollar, all of these folks would have let the Auto Industry go down the drain, and take millions of middle-class jobs with it. This is in spite of the fact that the auto industry bailout really helped make things better and that the automakers have already paid the government back on these loans.

We learned that none of these folks would raise the debt ceiling because paying our debts without gutting all of the programs that folks need to live thanks to the lack of employment brought on by all of the tax incentives that private industry received to move jobs overseas first. We also learned that the economy won’t get back on track until taxes are cut so much that practically no one is paying any.

(Something that has already happened in the case of many multinational corporations.)

I regret that I missed the abortion questions. But my guess is that my liver is glad that I did. Downing an entire bottle of Patron in one fell swoop couldn’t be good for it.

However, I did get yet another set of examples of why you should first read the Constitution before you try and teach it to someone else.

A question was asked about the separation of church and state. Now according to the First Amendment, these two things are supposed to be apart because when the folks who founded our country decided to leave Mother England, one of the reasons they chose to do that was because the church ran the state. Everyone but Ron Paul thought that it would be a good idea to put church back in state. Paul, the lone Libertarian in this group, disagreed vehemently.

But the most in-your-face example of how you should read the Constitution before you try and teach it came from Cain, the lone black man in the group. Having already given us such lovely bon mots as he won’t sign anything over three pages long and any deal between Israel and Palestine should be so heavily weighted in favor of the Israelis that the Palestinians get nothing, it didn’t really surprise me that he’s still committed to making sure that any Muslim that just happens to end up in his administration would be a true-blue American…tests and all.

First of all, you’re not allowed to make “What religion do you practice?” one of your job interview questions. That’s unconstitutional. Secondly, you’re not allowed to NOT hire someone because they practice a religion you don’t like.

But thirdly, I now have an argument the next time that someone Black tries and tells me that we as a people can’t be prejudiced and ignorant because these things stem from power relationships. We now know that Black folks are just as capable of being ignorant and prejudiced as people of any other color and Herman Cain stands as your proof.

While it was 90 minutes of my life that I probably could have spent doing anything else, I’m glad I watched his debate. It gives me some indication of what I should put in my Republican Presidential Candidate Drinking Game: phrases such as “President Obama has failed to leaad”, “Obamacare”, “What does the Constitution say” and others are leading so far.

But i’m willing to put my liver on the line for you M (p) S readers. Hopefully, the herd will thin out soon, Meanwhile, I’ll just sit here and wait for Michelle Bachmann’s eventual meltdown. Being the voice of reason is only going to last so long for her…

Raising Cain

I’ve kind of hesitated to discuss Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain here on the Mad (political) Scientist.

Most of that hesitation stems from my lack of knowledge of the man. In fact, all that I knew about the guy until recently was that he used to be the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, a chain that I frequented when I had money to spare as a student at The Ohio State University. It was okay…but when I came back home to the Delaware Valley, I realized that Godfather’s was a greasy, nasty mess compared to what I get at places like Ralph and Ricky’s or Gianfranco Pizza Rustica here in South Philly.

But I also hesitated because whenever you write about African American Conservatives, and you’re not one, anything you say that isn’t totally complimentary is seen as having a bias against conservatives and blacks that don’t “toe the line” of the Democratic Party. You especially get that particular knock when you point out that most of what comes out of these African American conservatives mouths sounds (a) unfeeling, (b) unrealistic and (c) not at all in tune with what’s really going on in the African American community.

However, since I’ve already annoyed a lot of folks by saying that I think it’s more than a little stupid to demand that Rep. Anthony Weiner resign over putting a picture of his privates out on the Internet when the only person who should be pissed off about this is his wife, I figured, why not? I’m feeling adventurous…

So here goes…

I started to pay attention to Herman Cain just because he’s a black dude running as a Republican and that kind of commands attention. My twin brother is a Republican and that has led to more than one, let’s say, nasty argument. He particularly likes trying to explain the First Amendment to me, a part of the Constitution that conservatives really seem to have a special scorn for…

I also began paying attention because he’s one of those Tea Party folks and I’m really interesting in seeing if that means he’ll be taken seriously or if he’ll get the same treatment that Alan Keyes got in 2008. For those of you who don’t remember the Keyes campaign, I’ll keep it short. He was a black conservative that ran for president. He was treated like an interloper. He didn’t get to participate in any of the Republican debates. He got no traction.

So far, Cain has been invited to all of the right conservative parties. My guess is that this is going on because (a) his Tea Party affiliation and (b)because there are some Republicans out there who are hoping that he can chip away at President Obama’s support in the African American community.

Cain himself believes that. He says that African Americans are actually conservatives.

His argument does have some merit. I say this because there are certain topics that when you discuss them with black folks, you might as well be having a conversation with a rock-ribbed member of the Christian Right.

For example, let’s talk about gay rights. To be exact, let’s point out the fact that in many ways the struggle for rights for gays and lesbians mirrors that of the struggle for rights that blacks went through in the 1960s. I did that in a column that I wrote a long, long time ago regarding the stabbing of a gay man by a black University of Arizona student. The stabbing was a pretty blatant hate crime and I said that prejudice is bad, no matter who espouses it.

I won’t get into the emails I got from one dude about that. Let’s just say that everything from my blackness to my sexuality was questioned.

And I definitely won’t get into the fact that I’m still waiting for my mom to have “the talk” with me, and I’m 47 years old!

(Remember this the next time that you see a statistic showing that HIV/AIDS is going through the Black Community like Grant went through Richmond…)

But where Cain might have a problem with getting Blacks to join him for a cup of Tea is when he says stuff like “Blacks are too poor to Tea Party.”

And where he might have a problem getting anyone else to take him seriously is when he says stuff like he won’t sign any bill over three pages long if he’s president and that his Middle East policy would consist of giving Israel everything it wants at the expense of the Palestinians.

Admittedly, there’s not much that Herman Cain and I have in common.

But I hope that he does really well because Black folks need to be involved on all sides of the spectrum. I may not agree with anything Cain says, but I’m glad that he’s a part of the conversation.

Let’s see how long he stays there.

Why I’ll never run for Congress.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A few confessions first:

1-I live with a guy that I’m not married to and have for the last six years. We have no immediate intention to get married. In fact, we just talked about it this morning and agreed that our relationship as it stands now is pretty good and won’t necessarily lose anything from not having piece of paper notarized by a judge.

2-On July 14, 1994, I was raped. It was a guy that I used to date and I probably should have pressed charges, but I was far too freaked out by it and I also didn’t want to put my friends and family through a date rape trial governed by Pennsylvania’s antiquated date rape laws, laws that required bruises to prove rape.

(In some states, that hasn’t changed a whole lot.)

3-If you’ve read this blog even once, you know that I swear. I also pull no punches when it comes to saying exactly what I think. While I’m always a lady, I’m not always, necessarily, lady-like.

And there are a few more things about me that might make your mouth hang open for a little while longer, so I won’t get into them here. Suffice it to say that they’re fairly personal things and some of them I’m not real proud of.

But while all of the stuff above is true, so is the following:

1-I mentor to the point that there are young people all over the country that have my cell phone number…on purpose.

2-Once I’ve had you in one of my classes, you’re stuck with me forever, meaning that you can come to me five or 10 years later and I’ll still try and help you find a job, get into graduate school, or do anything else you need me to.

3-I know the Constitution better than Sarah Palin, although that’s not really hard for anyone to do.


4-I work my tail off, sometimes to the point where I forget to do little stuff like eat and sleep.

I thought about all of this as I watched Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York join the seemingly endless line of politicians who have had to have what I call the Mea Culpa press conference. This kind of press conference usually takes place when you do something stupid, illegal, illegally stupid, or just so incredibly dumb that you should be taken out and flogged.

Now don’t get me wrong. Taking pictures of your body parts and sending them to folks via Twitter and Facebook is dumb. Real dumb. Continuing to do it after you got married is real, real dumb. Lying about doing it is dumb-diddy-dum-dum-dum. Doing all of the above when you’re a prominent Democratic Congressman who enjoys showing the rest of the world when Republicans are at they’re dumbest especially when there are folks with no scruples like Andrew Breitbart on their side is Sarah Palin-level Dumb.

But the fact that people are crying out for Rep. Weiner’s resignation kind of explains to me why folks the nation’s best and brightest are taking a pass on politics.

You see, the list of stuff I have listed above would indicate that I’ve had some things happen in my life that might be considered bad for a politician’s image. The ones I didn’t include would really do me in.

However, none of these things would stop me from doing my job if elected. But you’d never get to know that because that’s all the media would allow me to talk about.

And that’s kind of sad.

When you’re in a country where the economy is going to hell in a bucket, unemployment is at 9 percent, people can’t access health care because it’s far too costly despite there being a health care reform bill passed and folks are taking out bank loans to do little stuff like fill their gas tanks and eat, we need our best and brightest on the case. We need serious people with serious ideas that can turn said ideas into action.

We need people for whom a tea party is a gathering, not an excuse to take us back 200 years.

But because the media these days have become so focused on digging into someone’s life so intensely that all of your most irrelevant scars are put out for all the world to see, folks that would have made really good legislators, mayors, governors and even presidents are taking a pass on sharing their talents.

We don’t have time for our focus to be on whether or not a Congressman was stupid enough to send pix of his privates to a friend out west. Is it yucky that we have pictures of the weiner of a guy named Weiner running around on the Internet? Yes. But if I have a choice of focus when it comes to Congressman Weiner, I’d rather focus on the fact that he fought like a demon for single-payer health care than what I can find on his Twitpix file.

But then again, we also don’t have time to focus resources on covering the family trip of a woman so dumb that she couldn’t pass elementary American History either. But we sure seem to make it.

Listen, I’m not saying that the media shouldn’t cover the Weiner story at all. But hell, Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the first diagnosis of HIV/AIDS and there was next to no coverage of that compared to the ink that Sarah Palin’s Magical Mystery Tour and Congressman Weiner’s weiner has received. I would think that since there was no money from campaign funds (or rich parents) exchanged to keep husbands (Sen. John Ensign), or baby mamas (Sen. John Edwards) from talking to reporters, this story should go away relatively soon.

Besides, don’t we have a flag pin debate, birth certificate hunt or other bit of stupidity for the media to focus on?

Me, my horsey, and a quart of beer…

Since rolling into Washington with a mandate worthy of Gil Scott-Heron’s derision (Get on the Google and type in “B-Movie” if that statement confuses you), the Tea Party folks (or as we like to call them here at the M(P)S, the folks who actually run the modern Republican Party), have been regaling us with all of their talk of the Constitution and how we should practice strict adherence to it.

Only problem is, it kind of helps if you know what the document says yourself before you try and teach it to other people. At least two high school students have challenged future Republican Presidential Candidate Michelle Bachmann to Constitutional debates because of some of the stuff that’s come out of her mouth…like that the Founding Fathers tried to end slavery and that the government should be able to regulate all of the press…except Fox News because she likes them!…(thank you Mother Jones!)

But by far, the lead Dumb Brunette of the Tea Party was, and still is, former Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. From the moment that John McCain felt the burning need to bring her on the scene to the (unintentionally) side-splitting interview that she did with Katie Couric on the campaign trail, Palin proves every day that it is possible to have just enough knowledge to be dangerous…

Lately, she’s been on a tour of National Parks and historic sites. She stopped by Independence Hall here in Philly recently and talked with folks as part of her “not really campaigning for president, but I’m gonna announce any day” tour. She’s brought her family along and the press has been following her like a pack of wild hounds, something that inspired the following from my friend and Atlanta Post columnist Charing Ball…

“If Sarah Palin were a sexually transmitted disease, she would be herpes. Not that I think she is a nasty, scabby wart that comes with a reoccurring itch, but just like the STD, just when you think Palin is gone, here she comes again to seriously mess up your day.”

(That is the bestest lede for a story I’ve seen all year, by the way!)

As part of the Palin Does America tour, she went to Boston…and felt the need to tell us the story of Paul Revere and his Midnight Ride. Rather than tell you about it, here’s the video…

There are days where I really wish that I could make this stuff up. But I can’t. I’m not that good.

But based on this, can we, the mainstream (or lamestream in the words of Palin the Intellectual Giant) media now and forever ignore this woman?! Please?!

As part of her tour across America, Palin had dinner with Alderman Davis, oops, I mean Donald Trump.

That these two knuckleheads broke bread says a lot.

One, it says that the Republican Party is, officially, no longer capable of controlling its crazies or encouraging its best and brightest to take center stage. When your presidential candidates (or candidate wannabees) include folks like Trump, Palin, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain (whom the Tea Party has trotted out to show that it isn’t racist) and the like, you’re not bargaining from a position of strength.

And secondly, it also says that the Mainstream Media is in more trouble than I originally thought. The fact that there’s a busload of reporters following someone who so obviously didn’t pay attention in elementary American History is telling. Palin is pretty…pretty vacant…but in a day and age where media organizations are cutting out international bureaus to save money, is following this dimwit really the best capital investment?

I think not.

But as long as Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and the other Tea Party Dumb Brunettes are out there, folks who should be focusing on stuff like the Middle East, the economy, or just about anything else of substance will be forced by the media to focus on their shenanigans instead.

Think about this the next time that you see a survey that shows that our kids are slowly becoming as dumb as a box of rocks…

I leave you with a group who is probably better versed in American History than Sarah Palin ever will be…the Beastie Boys…