University Student Tazed for Asking a Question

This is really disgusting.  A University of Florida student attempted to ask Senator John Kerry a few questions about his concession of the 2004 election and also about impeaching the Bush White House before they decided to attack Iran.  These seem like fair questions.

But not, apparently, to Florida State Police, who in a clear act of censorship, removed the student from the podium, attempted to handcuff him, and when he did not respond, tazered him.  Crooks and Liars picks up the story with the highly-circulated video here:

Crooks and Liars » University Of Florida Student Arrested, Tasered During Kerry Speech

U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s speech at the University of Florida came to a dramatic close Monday, shortly after a vocal audience member was hauled off by police and shot with a Taser gun. The audience member was preliminarily identified by UF officials as Andrew Meyer, a UF student in the College of Journalism and Communications.

And just in case you were afraid the mainstream media would cover this objectively, breath a sigh of relief:

Political Radar: Kerry Condemns Heckler Arrest

Videos show Meyer being pulled away from the microphone after as he sought to ask Kerry, D-Mass., a rambling series of questions that touch on allegations of voting improprieties in the 2004 election, possible impeachment of President Bush, Iran, and Kerry’s membership in Yale’s secret Skull and Bones society.

Watch the video. Does this man really seem to be “rambling” to you?  He doesn’t to me.  He sounds like a man who wants to get his point across before he’s taken away in handcuffs by the Florida State goon squad.  John Kerry could also have done a lot more to defend a fellow activist than just trying to droll on like nothing happened.  You can hear him doing just that in the background as the student repeatedly asks why he is being arrested and receives no answer.

What a country we’ve become.  This man John Kerry is a leader?

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Well, Now. There’s a Compliment. . . .

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s new book has the typical revelations we’ve come to expect from books written by once-loyal Republicans who are now fuming over the Bush Administration and the Republican-led Congress.  Turns out, he doesn’t like Bush, either.

But inside all that non-controversial controversy is an interesting compliment for President Bill Clinton, as backhanded as many of us who voted for Clinton might regard it:

Greenspan book: GOP ‘swapped principle for power’ –

Greenspan said Clinton and former President Nixon were “by far the smartest presidents I’ve worked with.”

I’m thinking this was said in absence of irony, as in my experience, Greenspan’s public persona has ever been without it.

Oh, Mitt! You’re Such a Tit.

Some people have a real flair for being assholes.  That is not a strictly Republican trait, though they do have a certain joie de vivre about them in such cases.  The more so in this election season, when the landscape is just filled with sore subjects.

But in linking through from a Crooks and Liars roundup, I am struck in particular by Mitt Romney’s peculiar take on the issues of the day, and how completely and resolutely he can contradict himself. . . even when he’s not flip-flopping on his previous stances of a few years ago.  Oh, this is rich.  This is amazing.  This belongs, for so many reasons, scrawled across every television screen in America, but won’t be.  

Congress Moving Towards Banning Touchscreen Voting

Ugh. I weep for the future whenever Congress votes on anything remotely resembling technology. Down swoop the special interests, the 529s and the yahoos, filled with well-meaning yet preposterous intentions, armed with pitchforks and waving fire brands. And witness the mob rule in action right now in Congress.

It looks like Congress is moving towards banning touchscreen voting. And Noah T. Winer, Political Action for MoveOn.Org, lifts his cherry juice stained face, his gap-toothed grin shining in the torchlight, to say, “we got them fancy fellers on the run, now, boys!”

Touchscreen voting, secure digital transactions and a nationally-connected network of voting machines could have ushered in an era of unprecedented electoral responsiveness and accuracy, but because a few bad-apple Republican scumbags seem to have decided to use them for political gain, we need to destroy the monster.

The Nosey Woman?

I’m sick as a dog today, so I came home from work.  I tuned into CNN because it’s the least objectionable thing on TV at this hour.  I said “the least objectionable.”  They were interviewing an editor from Jet Magazine, discussing the recent interview in that magazine with Michelle Obama.  Right away, the questions turned to, “What kind of woman is she?  Is she a folksie woman?  Is she stiff?”

Most importantly, the interviewer wanted to know, “How much does she call the shots in the Obama Campaign.”  Why this question?  I suppose I’d be right to ask why they would ask any of the above questions, but this idea of her running the campaign is particularly objectionable on a number of levels.

Fred Thompson: Consistent “Number Two”

Well, of course it’s childish, but I couldn’t resist this.  The Politico reports that Fred Thompson will be announcing his official candidacy on September the 6th, to my chagrin.  That’s my freakin’ birthday.

But then, I suspect Derf (that’s Fred spelled backwards) will provide this blog with ample comic-tragic opportunity, so perhaps it is the perfect gift.  They’re running strong already, as  campaign manager Randy Enwright, in an interview with reporters “dropped the bomb” with this little gem:

Jonathan Martin’s Blog

Enwright also used the call to allay any concerns from Thompson backers that they’ve lost their opportunity in the race. “We think we enter this campaign in a very strong position,” he said. “We’re consistently number two in the polls, with the closest thing to a draft of a candidate in recent presidential campaign history.”

Bwaaa! Hahahahaha!

I’ve been saying for a while now that the hopes of the Republican Party in the 2008 presidential elections are all about the consistency of number two.

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It’s a Complicated World Out There, Buddy-Boy

When George Walker Bush took the floor of the Senate for his 2005 State of the Union address and announced that, after 200 years of American Democracy, he was going to be the president who single-handedly spread democracy and ended tyranny throughout the world, fourth-graders everywhere were quoted as saying, “how cute!”

Well, the WaPo has an article up now detailing the dismal record of the Bush White House’s “Democracy Push” effort – what might fairly be called “The Democracy Surge” – and the utter lack of interest generated by any serious diplomats or bureaucrats in a position to foster such a move.  Dubya is quoted as saying that he feels like he’s a “dissident president,” having been bucked by every serious statesman in the nation on this issue.  Wow.  When you want to spread peace and democracy throughout the world, nothing’s better than comparing the life of the most vacationed president in U.S. history to people who’ve risked getting their arms cut off.  It shows that you have the proper perspective.

But, subtleties notwithstanding, the answer to why there is such resistance within the diplomatic and NGO community is really quite simple:

As Democracy Push Falters, Bush Feels Like a ‘Dissident’ –

“They don’t want to do it, not because they’re evil but because they’re development people,” said a top official who works on democracy issues. “They want to inoculate children. They want to build schools. And to do that, they have to work with existing regimes. And you’re getting in their way.”

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Our Iraq Policy

According to this poll of D.C. insiders, Tom Toles, editorial cartoonist, is the 48th most powerful person in Washington. You can see his cartoons online here.

Skimming through the last month or so of his cartoons, I liked this one the best:
Iraq attack

Patriot Acts

Hi, everyone. I’m frontpaging for the next while, while Thomas is on vacation.

It’s rather late at night, so I don’t trust myself to say anything important past midnight.
Random political cartoons, however, are great.

I just bought George Lakoff’s latest book, Whose Freedom? : the battle over America’s most important idea. Sounds like it would be interesting. George Lakoff, by the way, is the same guy who wrote Don’t Think of An Elephant, so this sounds like it’ll be good. Speaking of freedom:

Cognitive Dissonance at the WaPo, Spying in the Justice Department

As we all delve deeper and deeper into Alberto “Gonzo” Gonzales’ personal bout of Alzheimer’s or dereliction of duty or whatever it was, the Washington Post proves that no fact is too clear to be confused, if you want to:

Mining of Data Prompted Fight Over U.S. Spying – New York Times

WASHINGTON, July 28 — A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate. But such databases contain records of the phone calls and e-mail messages of millions of Americans, and their examination by the government would raise privacy issues.

“Privacy issues” are a legal issues, aren’t they? If the Justice Department is conducting surveillance which is unconstitutional – or if at least the lawyers at the Justice Department thought they were unconstitutional – that would be enough to quit over. Granted, we don’t know precisely what caused them to quit, but it’s really not that much in doubt, either.

Fox Media Executives Donate to Democrats?

The Huffington Post reports that all three of the front-running Democratic candidates have received money from Fox News executives in this campaign cycle.  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both have the largest shares of Fox exec money, but then, they’re also leading in fundraising, generally.

As much as it does make the front-runners look bad, this also points out a fundamental problem with media executives endorsing or funding candidates.  The article points out that Fox News does actually have a number of Democrats on the payroll, but just the appearance of endorsement from a news organization, especially one so completely one-sided, drags the whole process down:

Hillary Clinton Shuns Fox Debates, But Pockets Murdochs’ Money – The Huffington Post

But in her most recent filing at the FEC, Hillary Clinton reported two large donations from the very top of the Fox corporate structure. On June 5, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the News Corporation, gave her presidential bid $2,300. A few weeks later, his son, James R. Murdoch, chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting in London, gave $3,400. Altogether, NewsCorp/Fox executives gave at least $40,000 to the Clinton campaign.

Obama has taken more $14,000 from NewsCorp/Fox executives, although none came from the Murdochs themselves. In the broad network of NewsCorp/Fox holdings, with many Hollywood and entertainment entities, there are a substantial number of Democrats on the payroll.

Edwards received substantially less than Clinton or Obama. His contributions from NewsCorp/Fox executives Louis Supowitz, Jonathan Sarrow, Sean A. Riley, and Jonathan Sarrow total just under $1,000. There was no immediate comment from the Edwards campaign.

Vive la CMCE!

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Helen Thomas Rocks

I decided to spend the brain cells and listen to the Bush speech on Iraq this morning.  I know, not a good use of resources, but I had little else to do.

One thing that struck me was when Bush said Iraq had gone through three phases.   I don’t remember what he said those phases were, but I did find it interesting that the benchmarks always look better in hindsight than they do going forward.  Bush is just making it up as he goes along and writing his own narrative to justify his actions.

As had already been widely reported, Bush stated that an interim report would indicate that eight benchmarks have been going swimmingly, eight are going not-so-swimmingly and two are “too close to call.”  What an amazing over-simplification that is!  Which eight are going well, and how well, and how related are they to the eight that aren’t going so well?  All benchmarks are not, I am thinking, created the same.  I suppose none of it really matters to the issue of our pulling out of Iraq, but at the same time, I’d like to think that there is some hope for Iraq to pull itself out of this mess.

But Helen Thomas had the question of the morning.  In fact, it was barely a question.  She asked, bluntly, “Don’t you understand that you have brought al-Qaeda to Iraq?”

And really, if he doesn’t get that, what’s the point of asking him anything else?  This being the first press conference I’ve had the fortitude to listen to entirely, I began to notice what causes the fatigue among beltway reporters: asking George Bush a question is like talking to one of those mechanical fortune teller women you used to see in Niagara Falls.  Any question you ask will be replied to with one of a set number of answers, regardless of whether or not it pertains to the question at all.