Dover Bitch

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Client

Will somebody please explain to Alberto Gonzales that he is working for the American people now and his days of getting George Bush out of jury duty are over?

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Can of Corn

It's not always that you can pinpoint exactly when somebody goes from "generally full of crap" to "there is no reason to ever take this person seriously again." But it's always fun when you can forever link some bloviator to a particularly stupid or unseemly outburst or flawed interpretation of reality.

Like when Christopher Hitchens suggested that Ahmed Chalabi was capable of cracking U.S. government encryption using nothing but his own marvelous brain. Good stuff.

Today, DB is reminded of the night that holier-than-God ear polluter Dennis Prager transformed, in this blogger's mind, from just another opinionated radio guy to a shiny-object-chasing goofball. It was August 11, 1995.

The night before was Baseball Night at Dodger Stadium, when fans in attendance were all given souvenir baseballs. Dodgers outfielder Raul Mondesi was tossed out of the game for arguing a call and manager Tommy Lasorda was ejected soon after. You know where this is going, right?

After fans threw the balls on the field for the third time, the umpires called the game in favor of the Cardinals. Baseballs rained down all over the field. It was the first (and only) forfeit in Major League Baseball since 1979.

Needless to say, Prager found in this a perfect example of the deteriorating morals of the entire planet. Put aside for a moment the fact that Dodger fans used to throw "spears fashioned from umbrella ribs at Giant outfielders" from the roof of the Ginny Flats next to "New" Washington Park in Brooklyn. Or that the Dodgers got their name from Manhattanites in the 1890's, who came to Eastern Park to watch the games and were amused by the way the Brooklyn fans needed to avoid getting hit by the electric trolley cars. As many as one person a week was killed by a trolley there.

No, a few hundred fans throwing baseballs in protest is perfect evidence of the disintegration of our moral fabric. But forget about all that. It was obvious Prager was going to make hay out of this episode. It was his show itself that was ridiculous.

First, he blamed the fans for being such awful human beings. He went on a rant about the horrible state of society, etc. Then, a caller told him that the Dodgers did not make an announcement that the game could be forfeited.

What? How could the Dodgers be so irresponsible? Now Prager ranted about the Dodgers and how they should have done this and that, etc. Then, a caller told him that it's up to the umpires to make an announcement.

What? How could the umpires be so irresponsible? Didn't they know what would happen? Weren't they aware of the downward spiral of human behavior (that began when Jimmy Carter failed to keep the Shah of Iran in power and went into overdrive when Bill Clinton was elected president)?

Rant, rant, rant. The whole thing was such a joke... this post just cannot do it justice.

So when DB saw that Prager claimed Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison wanted to be sworn into office on a copy of the Koran, an act which "undermines American civilization," that brought back all these fun memories.

What a jerk. The Constitution, which doesn't care what religion you are, is the foundation of American civilization. What is wrong with people like Prager? Or Glenn Beck (whose own "there is no reason to ever take this person seriously again" moment involved Ellison)?

It's not just holier-than-thou. It's the-right-kind-of-holy-and-still-holier-than-thou.

[edited the part about the umbrellas for accuracy -- DB]

UPDATE: Prager was on CNN's Paula Zahn Now tonight. What a moron.

PAULA ZAHN: Radio host and columnist Dennis Prager has written that a swearing in using the Koran would undermine the fabric of American civilization. He joins us tonight from Los Angeles, along with UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. And here with me in New York is Daisy Khan, the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancing. Welcome all.

Dennis, I want to start with you tonight and start off by reading a small part of the editorial you wrote, where you said "when all elected officials, take the oath of office, with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed it change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America than the terrorists of 9/11."

How can you charge that someone expressing religious freedom would be causing the kind of damage that the 9/11 terrorists did?

DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO HOST: Well the issue isn't expressing religious freedom. As I also wrote in there, I would fight for his right to worship as a Muslim, to run for Congress as a Muslim. That's not the issue.

The issue is exactly as you put it earlier. What is the book that these people affirm as the central text of American life? Now some people will say the Constitution. But the Constitution derives its legitimacy from that Bible. Secular congressmen have all used the Bible. They don't believe in it.

Mormons do not ask for the book of Mormon. If a scientologist ran, would he ask for Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard? If a racist ran, would he ask for Mein Kampf? We are starting a very unfortunate further unraveling of the fabric of American life. That's my worry.

ZAHN: Eugene, does the Constitution say anything about using a religion text when being sworn in for Congress?

EUGENE VOLOKH, UCLA LAW PROFESSOR: Well it actually does say a couple of things. First, it doesn't even require congressman to use any religious text or any religious component. It specifically provides that they may affirm, rather than swearing. That was for the benefit of people who have a religious objection to invoking God in an oath.

Quakers were a traditional example. And for example, President Herbert Hoover was sworn in without putting his hand on any book. So already we've departed from Dennis's vision of everybody swearing on the same book.

It also says no religious text shall be used for government office. And when you're required to swear on the book of a religion that is different from you, not traditionally you've done it, that would be an impermissible religious test. More importantly, the purpose of an oath....

ZAHN: ... OK, we've just lost Eugene. A quick reaction, Dennis from you, before we hear from Daisy?

PRAGER: Well, there's no religious test. The issue is what is the work that he wishes that we wish to affirm as our central text? There's no religious test. I want Muslims to run for office, I want atheists, I want Buddhists. It is no religious test of Keith Ellison. It is what decision does he wish to convey? What message to the American people? Do our values derive from the Bible or from the Koran? That is to me, the question. No religious test of Keith Ellison.

Mein Kampf? What a complete jackass.

UPDATE II: Crooks & Liars has yet another appearance by Prager, this time on Fox News.

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Journalistic Rules

Via Atrios, DB came across Media Matters' spotlight of this column by the Washington Post's David Ignatius.

What would make a Hagel candidacy interesting is that he can claim to have been right about Iraq and other key issues earlier than almost any national politician, Republican or Democratic. Though a Vietnam veteran and a hawk on many national security issues, he had prescient misgivings about the Iraq war -- and, more important, the political courage to express these doubts clearly, at a time when many politicians were running for cover.

Hagel warned about the dangers of invading Iraq in a Feb. 20, 2003, speech in Kansas. He noted that America stood "nearly alone" in advocating military force to disarm Iraq and cautioned against "a rush to war." Some of Hagel's premonitions were almost eerie: "What comes after Saddam Hussein? The uncertainties of a post-Saddam, post-conflict Middle East should give us pause, encourage prudence and force us to recognize the necessity of coalitions in seeing it through." He urged the Bush administration to transfer postwar oversight to the United Nations as soon as possible, and he admonished Iraq boosters to "put aside the mistaken delusion that democracy is just around the corner."

As Media Matters noted, there are plenty of examples of Democrats who can make that claim. Too bad Ignatius couldn't find any. For example, here's John Kerry on Oct. 2, 2002:

I'm prepared to go. I think people understand that Saddam Hussein is a danger. But you want to go maximizing your capacity for victory, not beginning with deficits. That's one of the lessons of Vietnam. The war will not just be the military operation to move the regime out and to take Baghdad. The war will be an ongoing process of how you then rebuild the country. How you build the democracy in a place that's never had it, in a place where violence is the tradition. And that is the challenge for us. I want to think it through, Chris, so no one has to ask the question, was this a mistake?

And here's Kerry on the Senate floor explaining why he was voting to give Bush authorization to use force in Iraq:

I want to underscore that this administration began this debate with a resolution that granted exceedingly broad authority to the President to use force. I regret that some in the Congress rushed so quickly to support it. I would have opposed it. It gave the President the authority to use force not only to enforce all of the U.N. resolutions as a cause of war, but also to produce regime change in Iraq, and to restore international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region. It made no mention of the President's efforts at the United Nations or the need to build multilateral support for whatever course of action we ultimately would take.

I am pleased that our pressure, and the questions we have asked, and the criticisms that have been raised publicly, the debate in our democracy has pushed this administration to adopt important changes, both in language as well as in the promises that they make.

Too bad they didn't keep any of those promises.

So, a Vietnam vet warning about a rush to war, the necessity of coalitions and the United Nations and the difficulty that will arise in the rebuilding phase... If his name was Hagel, his "premonitions were almost eerie." If his name was Kerry... well, here's what Ignatius said about Kerry in 2004.

His line should be that he wants success in Iraq and will do everything he can, as candidate and as president, to make it happen. He needs to make clear that failure isn't an option for him any more than for Bush -- and that a Kerry presidency would never embrace a Spanish-style policy of cut and run.

In that sense, Kerry needs to take Iraq off the table as an issue. His advisers may say that's crazy -- to throw away their biggest weapon against Bush. But that understates the gravity of this election. Kerry's best shot is that he would be a stronger, smarter leader in wartime. On Iraq, he should tell the truth: Now that we've gotten in, we have to stay and support the Iraqi people in rebuilding their country. Period.

Here, by contrast, is what Kerry had to say this week about Iraq: "To leave too soon would leave behind a failed state that inevitably would become a haven for terrorists and a threat to our future." At the same time, he cautioned, "the answer is not a stubborn pursuit of the same arrogant policies." What that two-sided statement really meant is unclear.

Yeah, what could that have meant? Maybe that explains why the same columnist who advised Kerry to talk like Bush in 2004 has no apparent recollection of things he actually said. He just didn't understand them. (By the way, how many GOP narratives can you find in that column?)

Let's not forget, though, that Ignatius issued America's most feeble explanation for the media's failures in debating the Iraq war when it would've mattered the most:

Assessing coverage of Iraq is trickier. The media offered a wide range of reporting and opinion before the war, including some skeptical assessments of Saddam Hussein's WMD threat and his links with al Qaeda. Our biggest failure (and my own) was that we didn't ask enough questions about the administration's planning for postwar Iraq.

A Feb. 17 article in the Times about what could go wrong in Iraq included this haunting quotation from an unnamed senior official: "We still do not know how U.S. forces will be received. Will it be cheers, jeers or shots? And the fact is, we won't know until we get there." Even though it was a blind quotation, that should have been a red flag to every editor and columnist in America. But it wasn't.

The uniformed military privately had serious questions about the Iraq mission, but these only occasionally made their way into print. A rare example is a March 11, 2003, story in The Post by Vernon Loeb and Thomas E. Ricks, which began: "The U.S. Army is bracing for war in Iraq and a postwar occupation that could tie up two to three Army divisions in an open-ended mission that would strain the all-volunteer force and put soldiers in the midst of warring ethnic and religious factions, Army officers and other senior defense officials say." Again, that story should have been a red flag.

In a sense, the media were victims of their own professionalism. Because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldn't create a debate on our own.

Journalistic rules? Unbelievable. Really, you've got to be kidding. The media in this country couldn't be in worse shape than it is. Columnists like Ignatius actually embrace the idea that they cannot even think about things that aren't faxed to them by the campaign chairmen. And then anything that's sent to them is automatically a legitimate topic for debate and on equal footing with the other side's faxes. Here's Ignatius on the Swiftboat attacks:

But it must be said that Kerry invited this sort of scrutiny by making his Vietnam exploits the centerpiece of last month's Democratic convention.

An incessant parade of lies equals "scrutiny."

The 2008 election isn't going to be any different than the last two presidential contests, at least as far as the pundits go. We've already had front page stories about the Clintons' sex lives. If there's a collective mission for the blogosphere in 2007, it should be to force the media to take the future of the world seriously for a change.

Obviously, there's no hope for Ignatius, but let's try to have these punks whipped into shape before the first intra-party debates.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Our Prayer Of Thanks

DB is off for the holiday. Hope yours is safe and rewarding. Here's a Carl Sandburg poem (the second in a week here) to start things off right.

Our Prayer Of Thanks

For the gladness here where the sun is shining at
evening on the weeds at the river,
Our prayer of thanks.

For the laughter of children who tumble barefooted and
bareheaded in the summer grass,
Our prayer of thanks.

For the sunset and the stars, the women and the white
arms that hold us,
Our prayer of thanks.

If you are deaf and blind, if this is all lost to you,
God, if the dead in their coffins amid the silver handles
on the edge of town, or the reckless dead of war
days thrown unknown in pits, if these dead are
forever deaf and blind and lost,
Our prayer of thanks.

The game is all your way, the secrets and the signals and
the system; and so for the break of the game and
the first play and the last.
Our prayer of thanks.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stuck on stupid

While DB still thinks his comments in Vietnam are among the stupidest ever uttered by a president, every time Iraq is mentioned, a different stupid Bush utterance comes to mind.

After the Haditha news broke, DB wrote the following:
Regardless of how we got into this war (sigh), there was a turning point -- a key moment when the war changed from taking down Saddam to the quagmire we've been stuck in for two years. A key moment when the situation changed not just from fighting to rebuilding, but from a war our troops were prepared and equipped to win into a mess they were asked to clean up without the necessary support or tools.

It's probably foolish to pinpoint the exact moment in time when the situation shifted, but DB has an eye on what this blogger would call the prime candidate. No, not "Mission Accomplished." Not the fall of the Saddam statue or when they pulled him out of the spider hole.

No, the turning point was Dec. 11, 2003. The president had already denied that the "mission accomplished" banner behind him on the USS Abraham Lincoln referred to the entire war effort (and just six weeks earlier he blamed the Navy for putting up that banner).

After a cabinet meeting, Dec. 11, 2003, the president made it clear that, despite what he said about the banner, in his view the war was essentially won.

"Our people risked their lives. Friendly coalition folks risked their lives, and therefore the contracting is going to reflect that."

Aside from the fact that giving billions to companies like Halliburton is in no way a reflection of the sacrifices made by our troops, the president's use of the word "risked," in the past tense, highlights that he felt that the risks had already been taken and it was time to enjoy the rewards.

The president had an opportunity to bring other nations into the crucial and more difficult phase of stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq, but he didn't want to share the profits. So he told the rest of the region and the rest of the world to take a hike. It was this greed and the administration's immense misreading of reality that essentially doomed U.S. forces to be left to defend Iraq against the insurgency all alone, without sufficient troop levels, body armor, mental health resources... the list goes on.

Hubris and avarice, the two pillars of the Bush Administration.

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The Long Goodbye

Rest in peace, Robert Altman

UPDATE: Here's an outstanding version of the theme song to Altman's fantastic film, The Long Goodbye, sung by Harry Connick Jr., accompanied by conductor/composer John Williams and the Boston Pops.

(earlier) UPDATE:

Robert Altman [Jonah Goldberg]
His passing is no doubt sad to his friends, family and fans. Though when an appropriate period has passed, we might have a fuller discussion of his merits as a director. Personally, I never saw the genius his fans saw.

You don't say?


Monday, November 20, 2006


DB's first reaction to George W. Bush's comments in Vietnam last week was disbelief.

Standing in Hanoi, explaining that the lesson of the Vietnam war was not to quit... Really, could there be a dumber thing for a president to say while over there?

It appeared to this blogger in 1991 that the only lesson our country seemed to have learned from Vietnam was how to sell war to the public. Yellow ribbon bumper stickers, support our troops T-shirts, platitudes, Dulce et Decorum est...

They believe, Henry Kissinger believes, that the way you change the world is by keeping the American public clapping while you flex whatever muscles you have around the world and hope to get the job done before everybody at home figures out how horrible war really is.

This time around, it's been especially true. They've been saying it explicitly. Here's Dick Cheney on Ned Lamont's primary win:

The thing that’s partly disturbing about it is the fact that, the standpoint of our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the al Qaeda types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.

And Ken "Cakewalk" Adelman in 2004:

"Iraqis can't defeat us. Only USA Today editorials and similar worrywarts can defeat us."

And now here's Bush picking the least opportune moment possible -- on a diplomatic mission to Hanoi -- to say the same thing. The lesson to learn from Vietnam is that we should've clapped louder and continued the killing.

As long as the American people are into it, there's no end to the possibilities! It doesn't matter how many lives are lost. It doesn't matter how much debt we rack up. It doesn't matter how many of our principles we abandon. It doesn't matter how much moral authority we piss away. All they care about is selling it long enough to get what they want.

Keith Olbermann effectively schooled Bush tonight in his special comment on Countdown. Olbermann went through a list of lessons Bush could have learned, any of which would have had the virtue of being an appropriate skull session.

Watch the whole thing because it is as excellent a special comment as Olbermann can deliver.

But there is one lesson to which Olbermann alluded, but didn't really deliver: The Domino Theory Is Bullshit

Atrios often asks why are we in Iraq. Of course, that's rhetorical. But the obvious answer is that a bunch of morons sat around in the 90's hatching schemes. And the biggest one they came up with was to set off a domino effect of democracy throughout the Middle East. They got the opportunity with 9/11 and they took it. But the domino effect didn't turn the world Red in the 70's and it isn't making the world safe for democracy today. It's a simplistic and bankrupt theory that should have been put to rest decades ago.

Maybe there's an even better reason to call dominoes "bones."

UPDATE: To be fairer to Olbermann, he said this:

The third vital lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush: don't pretend it's something it's not. For decades we were warned that if we didn't stop "communist aggression" in Vietnam, communist agitators would infiltrate and devour the small nations of the world, and make their insidious way, stealthily, to our doorstep.

The war machine of 1968 had this "Domino Theory."

Your war machine of 2006 has this nonsense about Iraq as "the central front in the war on terror."

So he did, in fact, call the Domino Theory a bunch of nonsense. He just did not point out that the Domino Theory is alive and well in the small neocon brain. It's just that Bush thought he could tip the first bone.

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On the draft

Tonight on Scarborough Country, Joe and his guests were discussing Charlie Rangel's proposal to reinstate the draft. Lawrence O'Donnell tried to shout everybody down to make the case that people who haven't served in the Armed Forces shouldn't advocate for war.

Now, DB is certainly disgusted by foamy-mouthed (and cheeto-fingered) war hawks who wouldn't dream of enlisting or watching their children risk anything. But the argument O'Donnell was making so passionately is rather hollow in the context of any real discussion of policy (especially when he complains that the Bush girls aren't in Baghdad). After all, it's not an accident that the Constitution puts control of the military in civilian hands and does not list service in the military as a requirement for elective office.

Abraham Lincoln never served a day in his life and he presided over the bloodiest conflict in American History. DB, for one, is pleased with the results.

Obviously, anybody who calls the war in Iraq (or elsewhere) an "existential threat" and is still unwilling to make any real sacrifices in order to win it is a hypocrite and, quite frankly, an immoral piece of crap.

As far a Rangel's proposal, DB supports him. Not because this blogger supports the proposal, but precisely the opposite. The country resoundingly believes the draft is a bad idea, that this war is a bad idea and either expanding or escalating this war is a bad idea.

Rangel's proposal serves a series of useful purposes. It reminds the country how rotten this war is. It reminds us how wrong John McCain and Joe Lieberman are. It reminds us that they don't have the public support to actually pull off the things they are suggesting and, therefore, they are not credible people or presidential contenders. And it reminds us that these two hawks and their ilk are not, as the media tries to tell us, centrists. They are extremists, far, far out of the mainstream.

So Rangel's proposal is not good for America (or the world), but the act of proposing it is fantastic.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Pay attention, Satveer

That's just terrific.

Catch-phrases like that don't grow on trees. Savor it:

Pay attention, Satveer.


Meese alert

What a drag it is to be reminded of the enduring presence of Ed Meese. But twice in one day?

Misery loves company, so DB passes the fun to you:

Mercury Rising finds an interesting article about the Pacific Legal Foundation, the right-wingers behind the attacks on Affirmative Action.

Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a right-wing legal advocacy group founded in 1973, represents the Seattle parents. In 2001, PLF represented Ward Connerly's American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) and provided pro-bono counsel to then Calif. Gov. Pete Wilson in a successful effort to expand the scope of Prop. 209, which banned affirmative action in public education, employment and contracting.


Scaife gave former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese $1.9 million to start PLF. Between 1985 and 2005, Scaife gave more than $4.5 million to PLF. He is the primary supporter of the Heritage Foundation, of which he is a trustee and Meese a former staff member.

And tonight David Kurtz at TPM locates this interview with the man himself:

Let's move to the Geneva Conventions. A lot of people are concerned that terrorism suspects don't have any kind of habeas corpus.
In order to be covered by the Geneva Convention, you have to fulfill certain requirements. . . . So there are a number of criteria in the Geneva Convention that are not met by everyone on the battlefield. Then there's another category of people going back to the Revolutionary War—people who were in those days called spies. If they were not in uniform, they were subject to being summarily executed.

You mean they were executed without even a military tribunal?
I think there were some. Also, a "tribunal" could be a military commander ordering the hanging. I think that's what happened to some of them.

You're advocating summary execution.
Well, yeah, that happens in the military. Illegal combatants are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Will guys like Meese just keep dragging us down forever? Will we ever be able to close the chapter on these Reagan-era power brokers?

Help me, Carl Sandburg:


I AM riding on a limited express, one of the crack trains
    of the nation.
Hurtling across the prairie into blue haze and dark air
    go fifteen all-steel coaches holding a thousand people.
(All the coaches shall be scrap and rust and all the men
    and women laughing in the diners and sleepers shall
    pass to ashes.)
I ask a man in the smoker where he is going and he
    answers: "Omaha."

UPDATE (No offense, Carl): Digby sums Meese up pretty damn well:

This is the quality of thinking among the "honor and integrity" "grown-ups" for whom everyone in DC circles is still so nostalgic. I frankly don't see anything in that last comment that wouldn't have been perfectly natural coming out of Mary Matalin's or Rush Limbaugh's gaping gobs. He's a sub-standard intellect from a bankrupt political movement who worked for a genial dunce and is now being called in to rescue an arrogant idiot. He is, in other words, the best and the brightest the Republican party has to offer.

Well done.

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How do you say idiot in Vietnamese?

The President of the United States stood in front of a microphone IN HANOI ON A DIPLOMATIC MISSION and basically said that the lesson he learned from the Vietnam War was that we should have continued to bomb them.

Two more years of this? Unbelievable.

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Maybe it really was a mandate

The Election Defense Alliance has issued a report after analyzing the results of the recent elections. Their findings?

Major Miscount of Vote in 2006 Election:
Reported Results Skewed Toward Republicans by 4 percent, 3 million votes


As in 2004, the exit polling data and the reported election results don’t add up. “But this time there is an objective yardstick in the methodology which establishes the validity of the Exit Poll and challenges the accuracy of the election returns,” said Jonathan Simon, co-founder of Election Defense Alliance. The Exit Poll findings are detailed in a paper published today on the EDA website.

The 2006 Edison-Mitofsky Exit Poll was commissioned by a consortium of major news organizations. Its conclusions were based on the responses of a very large sample, of more than 10,000 voters nationwide*, and posted at 7:07 p.m. Election Night, on the CNN website. That Exit Poll showed Democratic House candidates had out-polled Republicans by 55.0 percent to 43.5 percent – an 11.5 percent margin – in the total vote for the U.S. House, sometimes referred to as the “generic” vote.

By contrast, the election results showed Democratic House candidates won 52.7 percent of the vote to 45.1 percent for Republican candidates, producing a 7.6 percent margin in the total vote for the U.S. House — 3.9 percent less than the Edison-Mitofsky poll. This discrepancy, far beyond the poll’s +/- 1 percent margin of error, has less than a one in 10,000 likelihood of occurring by chance.

Maybe James Carville should be yelling about this while CNN is willing to pay him to throw fits on television.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

U-C-L-A Fight, Fight, Fight

What happened Tuesday at UCLA is simply nauseating.

From the Daily Bruin:

[Mostafa] Tabatabainejad was also stunned with the Taser when he was already handcuffed, said Carlos Zaragoza, a third-year English and history student who witnessed the incident.

"(He was) no possible danger to any of the police," Zaragoza said. "(He was) getting shocked and Tasered as he was handcuffed."

DB finds it hard to believe that UCPD officers were given Tasers to use on library users who can not produce a BruinCard. Outrageous.

Let's face it: Not to diminish the threats that these officers must occasionally face and definitely train to handle, these guys aren't living like Ethan Hawke in Training Day. Although it has a history of activism, UCLA is hardly teeming with armed and dangerous criminals, ready to kill officers and staff who challenge them in the library.

But even if these officers are on the front lines of the GWOT: Powell Library Edition, this was basically a case of non-violent civil disobedience. Going limp and refusing to move is not a reason for officers to inflict pain on someone. Especially someone who is already handcuffed.


UPDATE: Just to be clear... the thing that really rattles this blogger is the fact that this kid was Tased when he was limp and cuffed.

UCLA's policy about ID's in the library: Whatever.
UCPD confronting this kid: Sure, fine.
The cops Tasing him: Don't know enough about the crucial first moment when they made that decision.
The kid's yelling and swearing: DB would have said even worse. Much worse.
Tasing a kid who's cuffed: Unacceptable.

Two other points:

1) It is understandable for cops to worry about protecting themselves (and their own service revolvers, Tasers, clubs) from potentially violent people.

2) Going limp is what young people are taught to do when they expect to be arrested at a protest -- older activists, including lawyers, instruct college kids to go limp when arrested. Cops know this.

If they start Tasing anybody who goes limp on a college campus, they will either strike a severe blow against young people's right to feel free to peacefully protest (yeah, sure the UCPD cares about that one) or they will make it more likely that passionate young people will expect a physical confrontation at future protests and will not go easy (which the cops should care about). Either way, Tasing kids who are cuffed and limp cannot be tolerated.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Textbook Right-Wing Authoritarianism

Following up on the on small part of this morning's post about Right-Wing Authoritarianism, here is Raw Story's expansion of Keith Olbermann's treatment of the anthrax hoax on Countdown.

Olbermann focused his attention on the fact that Castagana considered "thuggish" right-wing bloggers and commentators his idols.

KEITH OLBERMANN: For the record, as I understand it, the connection is that the fellow identifying himself as Costanzo posted something about science fiction, which he said was a rewrite of something he’d previously posted on a sci-fi site, which was written by and identified by Castagana. But the Ann Coulter-Laura Ingraham-Michelle Malkin connection is—how is that best described? Is that hero worship? Or crushes of some kind, or do we know what that is?

JOHN COOK: Well, I mean, if he is idolizing them, that sounds like hero worship to me. I mean, I think, you know, these, Ann Coulter and Malkin, you know, they sort of present a kind of rhetorical world view where they have their troops out there, and I think he thought of himself as one of their troops and wanted to live up to their standards.

And I mean, I don’t think we can always hold these people responsible for the actions of the least hinged of their followers, but I think it is clear that he was an acolyte of the Coulters and the Malkins, and I think that they clearly enjoy having acolytes, and they clearly sort of issue calls to action -- not necessarily to send threatening powder-filled envelopes to you in so many words, but they certainly exhort their followers to let themselves be known.

OLBERMANN: But to that point, I mean, the part—it was one thing—an acolyte is one thing; an emulation is something else. There were students at the University of California at Santa Cruz who protested military recruiters on their campus. Malkin posted their addresses and their personal information on her blog, and then when people harassed the students at their homes, Malkin did the King Henry thing about Thomas Becket, “who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” I never told anybody to do anything. And then this is the problem, right? You can come out, you can directly encourage people to act violently. Ann Coulter has done that. Or you can do it in this sort of thinly disguised way, the way Malkin has.

DB has no doubt that there is a connection between this loser's infatuation with these horrible people, their advocacy of intimidation and his actions. No doubt whatsoever.

But to reiterate from that previous post, it is surprising that Olbermann hasn't made more of a connection between this behavior and the Right-Wing Authoritarianism that he has discussed (with John Dean and others) on his program. Looking at the actions of the extremists on the right through the lens that Dean has provided is illuminating and useful. It would be a shame to forget those lessons.

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Oh, but what about the children?

LOU DOBBS: Seven-year-old Saul Arellano, a pawn in the battle over illegal immigration, appeared before Mexico's Congress today. Arellano's mother, an illegal alien, has taken refuge in a Chicago church in an effort to avoid her deportation from the United States over the past three months. She has been deported before.

The boy is an American citizen. And immigration advocates and the boy's mother apparently see no problem in using her 7-year-old son as an outright political pawn.

A little American boy is trying to keep his mother here, with him, in America by talking about her situation to anyone who will tune in.

A rich American man is boosting his ratings and helping his network sell advertising by talking about this same woman to anyone who will tune in.

Regardless of how you feel about illegal immigration, that's basically the story here. Dobbs helped make this boy's mom a piece of national news. He's advocated for this boy's mother to be deported.

Now he's concerned about the boy?

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Brute Existents Revisted

DB has written previously about the tendency, clearly visible in "conservatives," to define themselves not by what they are, but by what they are not:

[Pat] Buchanan, when not boasting about having debated at Oxford, makes the assertion that "a campaign's purpose was to divide the country." But a liberal believes that a divided country is merely a consequence of an election. The purpose of the campaign is to attract people to a set of values and ideas.

It was a long post (with a reference to John Gardner's fantastic book, "Grendel") and the purpose was to assert that "the debate over wedge issues as a tactic is a loser for Democrats." But the thesis also fits the purpose of this post, which is simply to respond to a comment left in this blog by Phoenix Woman.

Gardner writes:

The dragon tipped up his great tusked head, stretched his neck, sighed fire. "Ah, Grendel!" he said. He seemed that instant almost to rise to pity. "You improve them, my boy! Can't you see that yourself? You stimulate them! You make them think and scheme. You drive them to poetry, science, religion, all that makes them what they are for as long as they last. You are, so to speak, the brute existent by which they learn to define themselves. The exile, captivity, death they shrink from - the blunt facts of their mortality, their abandonment - that's what you make them recognize, embrace! You are mankind, or man's condition: inseparable as the mountain-climber and the mountain. If you withdraw, you'll instantly be replaced. Brute existents, you know, are a dime a dozen.

The racist, homophobic, misogynistic and repressive tendencies of the modern GOP are certainly tied to their "base" organizations, highlighted with yesterday's draconian anti-gay vote at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

But it goes even further than that. John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience describes, much more effectively than this post or blog ever will, the frightening world of Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) and how it manifests itself in the GOP and Republican policies and campaigns.

The lesson Grendel learns from a dragon is that humans need enemies, will find them easily and replace them when necessary. They are "brute existents." It sums up the second principle RWA attitudinal cluster:

1. Authoritarian submission - a high degree of submission to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives. "It is good to have a strong authoritarian leader."

2. Authoritarian aggression - a general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, that is perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities. "It is acceptable to be cruel to those who do not follow the rules."

3. Conventionalism - a high degree of adherence to the social conventions that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities. "Traditional ways are best."

The first and third are easy to see in the context of the church. For example, Bush's approval rating is 62 percent this week in Utah, while 61 percent of the nation thinks he's doing a lousy job. There's your authoritarian submission. And there's nothing more traditional than the oldest book on earth.

This doofus in California who mailed white powder to his enemies hasn't been reported to be a Southern Baptist, but he apparently has an acute case of RWA. 1) He admittedly worships leading right-wing personalities. 2) He clearly acted aggressively towards "various persons ... perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities." 3) He pined for fiction about a future that hasn't progressed to be more inclusive and multicultural than more traditional established orders of the pre-political-correctness world he yearns to reclaim.

It was surprising yesterday to hear Keith Olbermann talk about his own personal terrorist without explicitly connecting all these dots and relating this loser's behavior to the patterns that Dean has illuminated in his book and on Countdown.

DB has a particular fascination with that second characteristic, though... the need for brute existents. Nothing seems to foster a need for them more than defeat. Take, for example, the scapegoating that doomed and followed the Weimar Republic after Germany's defeat in World War I.

This week, Public Radio International's Studio 360 featured a discussion of the film "Gone With The Wind." Novelist and Southerner Nancy Lemann made the following observation:

"The Civil War is something that's deeply ingrained in our nation, especially if you're the defeated party. Defeat hangs longer in the mind. You'll always find that Yankees don't think about it that much because they were the winners and you just go on. You don't just sit around thinking 'Wow, I'm a winner.'

But you do sit around thinking 'Wow, I'm a loser.'"

The program also quoted William Faulkner on the South: "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

And it never will be. The South will always define itself by what it is not and Right-Wing Authoritarianism will always have a home there. That's why George Felix Allen could put a Confederate flag on the wall of his Senate office, while the GOP blew a gasket over the national anthem being sung in Spanish. That's why it will either be immigrants or blacks or gays or black, gay immigrants... whatever. There will always be a brute existent to act as a foil for them.

As Phoenix Woman points out in the question that inspired this post, the Southern Baptist Convention was established largely in defense of slavery. How it is that the South ended up with it while the North didn't and why it was so different than South American slavery? How did Bacon's Rebellion change the South forever? Was it just an unhappy accident that the South ended up with a particularly brutal system of subjugation?

That's all too much for this blog to tackle. DB will have to settle for generalizations about the South with a little armchair psychology sprinkled in.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

This Side Of The Truth

DB wanted to blog today... too busy. Instead, here's an all-time favorite by Dylan Thomas, written for his son, Llewelyn. (You could do a lot worse than to stumble upon something like this while surfing the Web)

This side of the truth,
You may not see, my son,
King of your blue eyes
In the blinding country of youth,
That all is undone,
Under the unminding skies,
Of innocence and guilt
Before you move to make
One gesture of the heart or head,
Is gathered and spilt
Into the winding dark
Like the dust of the dead.

Good and bad, two ways
Of moving about your death
By the grinding sea,
King of your heart in the blind days,
Blow away like breath,
Go crying through you and me
And the souls of all men
Into the innocent
Dark, and the guilty dark, and good
Death, and bad death, and then
In the last element
Fly like the stars' blood

Like the sun's tears,
Like the moon's seed, rubbish
And fire, the flying rant
Of the sky, king of your six years.
And the wicked wish,
Down the beginning of plants
And animals and birds,
Water and Light, the earth and sky,
Is cast before you move,
And all your deeds and words,
Each truth, each lie,
Die in unjudging love.

Hear Dylan Thomas read this and other poems here.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Magnificent highest mountains

Joe Scarborough tonight has kicked off his show with the topic of George W. Bush and his daddy. If you've found this blog (and you have, well done!) you probably already know that you will discover no better elucidation on this or any other topic than that provided by Digby.

But one thing jumped out to DB and that was Joan Walsh's comment that the petulant behavior by our current president -- his prior refusals to work with his father's experienced team -- is simply "petty."

He should have taken some advice from the last total loser to occupy his office:

"Remember, always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself." -- Richard Nixon

UPDATE: Now Scarborough is talking about Rove's magic numbers. He must be reading Digby.

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Beam them all up, already

A quick Google search for the utter prick who sent white powder to Nancy Pelosi, Keith Olbermann and others yields this dilithium crystal, apparently sent by him to SciFi Channel:

With the passing away of Lexx ends an intriguing albeit smarmy experiment in sci-fantasy. One that breaks with conventions, or should I say, cliches of TV sci-fi of the '90s. The politically correct pabulum, the multicultural indoctrination, the Bladerunner motifs, and not the least—the steroid mutated superbabes that can punch the lights out of men, but never get punched back in return!?

How about creating a new sci-fi anthology with none of the puerile baggage of Rod Serling, Gene Roddenberry, Rockne O' Bannon, etc., etc. It is time to end their reign of Left-wing innuendo, their anti-American, anti-mankind cynicism and fatalism.

Yes, please SciFi Channel, return us to a world where liberals don't regulate how we spend our quatloos. Oh yeah, and more scenes with women getting punched by conservative men.

Let us create a future of infinite possibilities devoid of the agenda of the social engineers who work their corruption on us through the one-way world of television (kind of how the liberal-left have always worked). A world where anything is possible but not everything is possible. Anything can happen, but not all things can happen at once. That is what time is for, to keep all things from happening at the same moment. That shall be the only rule of our new fantasy world. That an event happens only once. What has been done, cannot be undone. There is no turning back the sands of time. You can review the past but you cannot change the past. That a vision of a possible future, to the present, must be taken in the context of the present. A cosmos not governed by compassion or tolerance or equality, but common sense and merit. A universe of strange and totally new lifeforms and not distorted reflections of human characters in our present world, just to make some social allegory—that is the insipid barren road of Political Correctness that sci-fi entertainment has been a slave to for so many years.

The future is not the current events of our world thrown into outer space. The future is not with the Liberals, not with the Multiculturalists (both hate America), and it is certainly not to be found in Canada! The future is not written, the future is unformed.

Is it any wonder that the romulan wine-drinking followers of the modern conservative movement are on the frontlines in the war against liberal control of comic book reality? That Jonah Goldberg thinks George W. Bush should kill a bear and eat its "still beating heart" to show the Democrats who's boss?

Yeah, this Jonah Goldberg:

In a recent issue of Prospect, a high-brow British political magazine, authors Charles Shaar Murray and Mike Marqusee make many of the same points I've just made about the story arc of the "Trek" universe. But that's where our agreement ends.

They believe "Enterprise" is another example of exhausted writers lacking the confidence of the original series.

"What will become of 'Star Trek's' visionary liberal humanism?" they ask. Their answer is nothing. "… by retreating into the prehistory of its own mythos in 'Enterprise,' it seems to be telling us that we no longer have much of a future at all."

And, because they are liberals writing in a liberal egghead journal, they suggest the real culprit is … George W. Bush.

Of course, this is a stretch, not least because "Enterprise" was conceived and filmed mostly before Bush was elected.

But if we are going to score political points, there is another interpretation. "Enterprise," with its rediscovered emphasis on "human" (read American) values and its revived enthusiasm for the thrill of exploration, is, to me, good news for American culture. The 1990s were more aimless, corrupt and materialistic than the so-called "decade of greed" that preceded them. With the end of the Cold War, and the election of a straightforward, honest and non-intellectual president, we could have said America was "getting back to basics" even before the patriotism we've seen since Sept. 11.

That's how I see "Enterprise." Flawed - as is all science fiction, like all mortal things - but its heart is in the right place, and it is unconfused about its priorities. And that's good news for "Trek" fans and normal Americans alike.

UPDATE: A sleuth has discovered that this criminal was also a regular on FreeRepublic and used similar language. Shocking.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Subsidize this

DB told the LA Times to stop sending the paper when they replaced Robert Scheer with Jonah Goldberg. That was the last of many straws.

Today, as Los Angeles' biggest paper lays people off and swirls in turmoil, this blogger feels happier than ever not to be paying for bottom-feeding crap like this (Goldberg, at NRO):

How Bush Should Handle Loss
I think James Baker and Dick Cheney should take Bush out to the woods around Camp David. After 24 hours in a sweat lodge, he should be given only a loin cloth, a hunting knife and a canteen of water. Bush should then set out to track and kill a black bear, after which he should eat its still beating heart so he can absorb its spirit. He should then fly back to Washington in Marine 1. His torso still scratched from the bear's claws, his face bloodied and steaming in the November chill, he should immediately give a press conference at which he throws the bearskin on the front row of the press corps, completely enveloping Helen Thomas, declaring, "I'm not going anywhere."

This will send important messages to Democrats and well as to our enemies overseas, who are no doubt high-fiving as we speak.

These GOP shills really think the world is one big comic book, don't they? Somebody put a valium in Jonah's tube of Pillsbury.

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Ricky set us up the bomb

ThinkProgress actually tried to read Santorum's farewell letter.
And I did, and I’m very proud of that. I do not rescind a word because those words are words that this country was not receptive to hear tonight. But, they are going to continue to hear those words from me and I assure you from many others as that threat become my clear, and hopefully our country is called to action to stop that threat before it becomes too serious of a threat to the future of our country.


America's pasttime

Lee Siegel would be proud:

There is a new rule at Saginaw City Council meetings. Men are required to take their hats off. Evidently, they are pretty serious about this new rule.

The man was wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers hat. Officer Doug Stacer of the Saginaw Police Department asked him to remove the hat. The man raised his voice and did not remove the hat.

As the officer tried to grab the hat and then tried to grab the man, the man with the hat tried to kick Saginaw Police Chief Gerald Cliff, who was coming to help out.

At that point, Stacer TASERed the man, which sends 50,000 volts into a person's body. Cliff and Stacer got help from Saginaw County Sheriff Charles Brown hauling the man off to jail.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

This bad

How bad a night was it for the GOP?

PIERRE, S.D. - A woman who died two months ago won a county commissioner's race in Jerauld County on Tuesday.

Democrat Marie Steichen, of Woonsocket, got 100 votes, defeating incumbent Republican Merlin Feistner, of Woonsocket, who had 64 votes.

County Auditor Cindy Peterson said voters knew they were voting for a dead person rather than voting for a Republican.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

F Yeah

Maybe it's the tequila, but despite Lieberman's win (CT would have been dead to me had Johnson won), this blogger is even happier than on the day Jon Stewart killed Crossfire forever.

Rep. Waxman, you know what to do. You've got the gavel. Use it with extreme prejudice.


Burning not so bright

Did Chris Matthews just credit accused -- but acquitted -- murderer/actor Robert Blake with penning "The Tyger" by William Blake?

DB isn't sure, but the look on Keith Olbermann's face sitting next to him might be confirmation.

UPDATE: Slate describes Matthews quoting William Blake as one of tonight's funniest moments, so maybe he said William after all... Could've sworn he said Robert.

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How to deliver a joke well, apparently

"If it breathes, tax it. And if it stops breathing, find their children, tax it." -- Bush, Monday