Friday, January 27, 2006

It's just a joke

So, Ann Coulter engages in more "unhinged" speech by suggesting that Justice John Paul Stevens ought to be killed:
"We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee," Coulter said. "That's just a joke, for you in the media."

Of course! How could I have missed that? Just a joke!

Although, perhaps, Ann could explain just what was supposed to be humorous about it. Perhaps I'm just dense, but assassinations have never been very funny matters in my experience. Is this a new hip thing?

OK, I'm not really an aficionado of such cutting-edge humor, I'll admit. So I'm wondering if, in the same spirit, I could joke about some cyanide on Antonin Scalia's communion wafer. Whaddya think?

I bet Michelle Malkin would finally write about me then.

But I've noticed that, for some strange reason, doing away with liberals is a recurring joke for Coulter. Not just recurring -- it's a defnitive obsession.

Take, for instance, all the "jokes" reported in a talk in Texas from Coulter before a hostile college audience:
"This free speech thing is a canard. ... How about not letting traitors teach at universities? Yes, I realize I've just proposed firing the entire Harvard faculty. These institutions can be shaken -- look at Dan Rather. He's out. Or, as I look at it, one down, two to go. We're going to need a much bigger trophy case for all these stuffed heads."

"Some liberals have become even too crazy for Texas to execute, which is a damn shame. They're always saying -- we're oppressed, we're oppressed so let's do it. Let's oppress them."

"Liberals have been attacking America for 30 years and now we've got to hit back."

Among her other notable "jokes" were the time she wished that journalists were targeted by the military, or the time she urged Clinton's assassination as a topic of public discourse, or of course the infamous wish that Tim McVeigh had driven his truck bomb up to the New York Times Building.

Or some of her other notable bon mots:
"We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too."

"They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America's self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant. Fifty years of treason hasn't slowed them down."

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

"I have to say I’m all for public flogging."

"I think [women] should be armed but should not [be allowed to] vote."

"Liberals hate America, they hate flag-wavers, they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam, post 9/11. Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do. They don't have the energy. If they had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now."

"My libertarian friends are probably getting a little upset now but I think that's because they never appreciate the benefits of local fascism."

Just knee-slappers all, don't you think? I'm rolling in the aisle, really.

Ah, yes -- when I see Coulter, I hear "Springtime for Hitler" all over again. She's as funny as Auschwitz. You could just call her the comedienne of eliminationism. The Borscht Belt Brownshirt. The Stand-Up Stormtrooper. Why stop with just a little local fascism?

I'm just joking. Really.

More Abramoff

One of the ways that the media nimrods are able to tell themselves -- and the nation -- that the Abramoff scandal is a bipartisan scandal is by pointing out that many of Abramoff's clients gave money to Democrats, too.

What they haven't been able to show, though, is that a single one of these clients gave to any Democrat at the direction of Abramoff.

All of the clients in question are Indian tribes, who have a history of donating primarily to Democrats over the past half-century. That's mainly because Democrats have a history of being sensitive to tribal issues, particularly treaty rights and funding issues. Meanwhile, Republicans -- embodied by that old Indian fighter Slade Gorton -- were largely seen as the enemy.

Indeed, it's evident that the intent of Abramoff's involvement with the tribes was to find ways of siphoning off much of their new wealth into the coffers of Republicans (see esp. Conrad Burns) who had a history of being shunned by the tribes. As we now know, the actual purpose was to rip the tribes off by getting their money in exchange for a few votes.

Meanwhile, Democrats were still the recipients of the tribes' financial support, as they always had been. And they were still voting in defense of tribal interests, as they always had.

But there is no evidence extant to indicate that any of these tribes donated to Democrats because Abramoff suggested it. His whole purpose, in fact, was to try to divert the tribes' money away from Democrats.

It's no wonder Republicans are scrambling to find someone else to tar in the scanddal, since it reflects so poorly on their party. Among the other diversionary tactics has been to claim that it's the Indians' fault for having so much money to spread around.

Maybe, as a reality check, all of these media talkers should remember that Jack Abramoff's explicit ideology revolves around "defunding the left" and eviscerating the Democratic Party. To suggest that his K Street activities were anything less than fully devoted to this agenda is to pretend that 800-pound gorilla is not hanging about on your furniture.

Remember the credo taught by Abramoff and Grover Norquist when they were still in College Republicans:
Abramoff wrote in the 1983 annual report: "It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the Left. Our job is to remove them from power permanently." The group's recruits were required to memorize a speech that included the lines: "Democrats are the enemy. Wade into them! Spill their blood!"

Jack Abramoff and the K Street Project were always about creating a one-party state. That was at the heart of its corruption as well.

This is not a hard reality to comprehend or explain.

So what kind of journalists are people like Katie Couric and Tim Russert, exactly, that they either do not know this or, worse yet, are willfully refusing to make this reality clear to the public?

UPDATE: Reader Hanna in comments points out that RonK at Next Hurrah has documented that not only did Abramoff direct money to Democrats, and neither did they lessen their donations to Democrats. The larger point -- that the K Street Project's goals were to defund Democrats and direct funding to Republicans -- stands.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Abramoff and Lapin: The dark side

Even as halfwits like Katie Couric mindlessly parrot the GOP Newspeak talking point that the Abramoff scandal is a bipartisan scandal -- as if! -- my old friend Mike Hood at BlatherWatch earlier this week took us down memory lane to point out the sewer from which Abramoff crawled -- along with his friend and, eh, spiritual mentor, the right-wing Rabbi Daniel Lapin, whom Hood dubs "David Duke's favorite Jew."

That's not a smear. Lapin in fact writes the kinds of things about Jews that haters like Duke -- whose current book, Jewish Supremacism, is a classic anti-Semitic screed -- just love to quote.
Lapin continued: The sad fact is that through Jewish actors, playwrights, and producers, the Berlin stage of Weimar Germany linked Jews and deviant sexuality in all its sordid manifestations just as surely as Broadway does today. Much of the filth in American entertainment today parallels that of Germany between the wars.

"Indeed, it does," Duke writes glowingly, "It is interesting to note that there a few Jews in America who are concerned about the destructive influence of many powerful Jews. He [Lapin] is concerned not only because he believes that such evil is against his own morality but that it also inevitably brings down Gentile wrath upon Jews. The amazing thing is that there are so few honest voices like that of Rabbi Lapin."

Lapin and Abramoff have been closely linked for much of his ascent -- and the source of that link goes back to both of them simultaneously crawling out of the racist swamps of the apartheid South African government that was finally dismantled in the 1990s.

Lapin grew up in South Africa and still has a distinct Afrikaner accent. Abramoff, meanwhile, got his start defending the apartheid government -- which, even back then, was as close to a nest of white supremacists you could find without donning white hoods and Nazi regalia.

Hood explains all this, and goes on:
As we dug deeper into Lapin's past, there's something darker than mere far-right Republican politics- there's a pattern of recurring disdain for anything in the 3rd World- especially that inhabited by dark-skinned "idiots," "troglodytes," or "morons," as his friend and cohort Jack Abramoff called the Native Americans he was shaking down.

There's no question the ultra-religious Abramoff shares the racial and cultural imperiousness of his friend, spiritual mentor and business associate, Rabbi Lapin. Abramoff has had no compunction making millions cynically exploiting the ignorance and corruption (and by implication, the inferiority) of under-developed nations- from the American Indian tribes to the unregulated sweat shops of Saipan to black South Africans.

That Lapin hails from Apartheid-era South Africa where racism was strictly codified and staunchly defended with Christian arguments, we think, is more than of passing interest.

It was in South Africa that Abramoff began his friendship with the Lapin brothers.

His long, well-documented affinity with the now-defunct racist regime started in 1983, when, as chairman of the College Republican National Federation, he helped pass a resolution condemning "deliberate planted propaganda by the KGB and Soviet proxy forces" against the South Africa regime. Apartheid was never mentioned.

In the late '80's, Abramoff shot his rank, potboiling, virulently anti-Communist action movie, "Red Scorpion," in South Africa. He was assisted by the separatist regime who provided extras, military equipment and locations in Namibia for the movie.

It was later revealed that the movie itself was funded by the racist government, though Abramoff incredibly denies knowing that.

When shooting was done, Abramoff, guided by his infamously haywire moral compass, and rationalized by his world class disdain for the wogs, disappeared from South Africa, stiffing everyone- actors, extras, and technicians. He apparently got his from the government and lowered his overhead by fucking over the help.

During the film production, Abramoff met younger brother David Lapin, another rabbi/businessman who sent him home to LA with an introduction to his brother Daniel, and a long term friendship ensued which included Abramoff helping found Lapin's non-profit Toward Tradition in 1991, and serving as board chair and board member until he was quietly expunged in 2005 after his indictment.

In the early '90's, Abramoff worked for the racist South Africa government directing the International Freedom Foundation (IFF) a phony "conservative think tank" later revealed to be an intelligence-gathering and propaganda operation secretly funded by the apartheid government to trash Nelson Mandela, the ANC and massage the international pariah state's image.

IFF drew prominent wingnuts like clown/zealot Alan Keyes; Congressional wingnuts like Sen. Jesse Helms, Reps. Dan Burton and "B-1" Bob Dornan; who served as advisers and delegates to international forums.

In 1994, Abramoff's religious sociopathy reached new heights when he took as a client the kleptocratic Mobutu Sese Seku, the Zairian despot also tied to the business misadventures of right-wing Christian clergyman/businessman and Lapin friend, evangelist Pat Robertson; who also has a penchant for seeking profits by joining corrupt, despotic 3rd World regimes in shaking down their citizenry.

Hood's piece is quite thorough, and well worth your time reading in its entirety.

More on Lapin and Abramoff here and here. Lapin's self-defense is here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The backyard Nazis

[Photos by David Lynn at OlyBlog]

I'm not sure why this always happens on weekends when I'm out of town on business, but while I was away in L.A. the neo-Nazis came out to play just down the road in Olympia -- and were chased away by a crowd of opponents who outnumbered them by about a factor of 20:
Justin Boyer, Seattle unit leader of the Nazi group National Socialist Movement, said the rally was a prelude to a larger march on the Capitol planned in July. He said he was happy with the group's turnout after two weeks of organizing. The group had planned a march down State Avenue but at the last minute chose to gather at a parking lot across the street from The Olympian.

But if Boyer was happy, anti-neo-Nazi organizers were delighted with their turnout, which drew 150 to 200 protesters to the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Martin Way, where the rally was scheduled to start.

One man said he gave away 150 anti-neo-Nazi signs at Sylvester Park.

The march and counter-protest have sparked a lot of discussion over at OlyBlog, where some of the contributors and commenters have suggested that it might have been better to ignore them or, perhaps, to have held a counter-rally in a place other than the Nazis' venue. Meanwhile there are also posts with photos and an on-scene report.

The question they're struggling with is one that I've seen the town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, struggle with for over 25 years, as organizers from the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations compound at nearby Hayden Lake would put together an annual July parade on their streets.

At first, counter-protesters organized as those in Olympia did, by confronting the paraders with large numbers of opponents. But after a few years of this, the tensions were growing and violence seemed likely to break out at any moment. So organizers put together a separate rally celebrating diversity elsewhere in town the same day, and drew significantly larger crowds in support. Still, there was always a small contingent of protesters who preferred to hurl insults, and they continued to show up and harass the Nazis over the years.

The counter-protest in Olympia featured some insult exchanges and some ugly but minor interactions with the members of the NSM who came out to rally. From all the accounts I could examine, however, it's clear that the vast majority of the protesters were peaceful and well behaved.

More to the point, their presence sent an unmistakable message: That this kind of hatemongering will go neither unheeded nor unconfronted. The NSM organizers were clearly unprepared for this kind of response and shut their rally down sooner than they had intended.

Sending this message is vital, because the quiet approach -- simply pretending they don't exist, and perhaps they'll go away -- doesn't work. People like those who join the neo-Nazi movement believe they're standing up for white society's unspoken wishes, and they see this kind of silence as tacit approval. It encourages them to ratchet things up, particularly recruitment and violence.

Now, if the NSM were to try to make this kind of rally an annual event a la Coeur d'Alene, it would make sense to simply organize a counter-event elsewhere. But when they first go poking their heads out of their holes, it's absolutely vital to let them know the community isn't going to just pretend they're not there.

The counter-protesters, I think, could have done a better job of reining in those inclined to verbal abuse. But they did the right thing, most of all, by showing up and letting the haters know the challenge they represent would not go unmet.

Sports and politics

I've probably only obliquely mentioned that I'm a longtime season-ticket holder of the Seattle SuperSonics. I'm a basketball nut, and I've loved the Sonics since I was a kid, when they were the only professional sports franchise of any kind in the Northwest.

But I never write about them because this is a political blog, and I don't think sports and politics mix very well at all. (Besides, having at one time been a sportswriter, I learned along ago that the best way to take the fun out of sports is to start writing about them.)

But today I read in the P-I that the Sonics are ending their longtime ties to KJR-AM and switching their broadcasts to KTTH-AM:
"We're looking forward to 770 AM KTTH as our new home of Sonics basketball," Sonics CEO Wally Walker said in a statement. "KTTH and its six sister stations align the Sonics with our ticket buyers and listening-audience demographics."

What is KTTH-AM? Only the biggest megaphone for right-wing propaganda in the Seattle area, with a lineup that includes Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Medved.

That's right. It's the station where Seattle audiences awhile back were treated to the following thoughts, regarding the tsunami in Southeast Asia:
It's not a tragedy. I wouldn't call it a tragedy. ... Many of the countries and the areas in these countries that were hit by these tidal waves were hotbeds of radical Islam. Why should we be helping them destroy us? ... I think what we're doing is feeding our own demise. ... I truthfully don't believe in foreign aid. ... We shouldn't be spending a nickel on this, as far as I'm concerned. ... I don't want one nickel of my money going over there. ... I am sick of being bled to death by every damn incident on the earth.

I even wrote to KTTH management at the time and asked whether they thought this kind of discourse was acceptable. I never heard back. Obviously, to them, it must be.

So we're getting the worst of all possible worlds: Sonics fans are going to have to wade into the right-wing swamps to listen to their team's games. Worse yet, their support of the team is going to translate into support for one of the biggest outlets of right-wing propaganda in their town.

Notice that it was none other than Wally Walker, the Sonics CEO, who made the announcement -- fitting, because it's just about certain that it was Walker who engineered the change.

Now, I'm going to put aside the politesse that dominates most of the local press coverage of all this and talk a little about what's going on here just beneath the surface.

Y'see, it's well known in press circles that Wally Walker is a diehard Republican and conservative-movement ideologue. There was a lot of speculation -- privately, of course, since no one would say so in the press -- when Walker chased George Karl out of Seattle that a lot of it had to do with Karl's somewhat liberal politics. (The press referenced this obliquely by talking about how Karl was "outspoken" -- which he was; but his conflicts with Walker apparently had to do with the views he eespoused, too.)

It didn't help, of course, that Walker replaced him with the blowdried right-winger Paul Westphal, whose tenure as Sonics coach was an unmitigated disaster. He was replaced with Nate McMillan, an extremely effective coach but not exactly a button-down conservative either. Likewise, there was quiet speculation that Walker's right-wing sensibilities -- and sensitivities, or lack thereof -- played a significant role in McMillan's eagerness to depart over the last offseason for Portland.

Now, Sonics fans like myself (that is, politically liberal sports fans) are being forced into a decision: Do we continue to support a team that is now in partnership with a right-wing political entity like KTTH? When supporting the Sonics translates into helping drive listeners to a station whose politics are anathema to us? When listening to Sonics games meaning driving up the ratings for an openly right-wing station?

KJR-AM is many things, but it is not a political station. You could tune in with some assurance that you weren't participating in politics right or left. As an all-sports station, that's as it should be.

As I say, politics and sports don't mix. You know, it never bothered me before that Walker and the Sonics ownership tended to be right-wing, because the game transcends politics. I was still glad to spend my money on them.

But by linking my support for the team to an openly right-wing political entity like KTTH-AM, they have probably brought an end to all that. I'm seriously, and quite negatively, reevaluating my ticket season ownership. And I sure as hell won't be tuning in the games on the radio anymore.

P.S. Go Seahawks!

The Jellyfish Party

What Nancy Goldstein sez:
For five years now it's been "Please baby, baby, baby, please! I'm sorry I was a no-show last time, but hey, that was because I was working overtime to save up to do something extra special for next time, which is the really big event - right, baby?"

Last April, when the Democrats backed away from filibustering extremist appeals court nominees, it was, "Don't you fret, baby. We're not going to go to the mat over small fry like Owen, Pryor, and Brown because we're saving the filibuster for the big one - you know, the Supreme Court, baby." Months later, Democrats folded rather than fight John Roberts, the young-ish yes man with a penchant for executive privilege and a wife who used to head an anti-choice organization. After all, they said, they needed to save their energy, and the filibuster, for the next Supreme Court nominee, who would undoubtedly be worse.

Well, baby, the moment of truth has arrived. It's Alito-time, and the lyin'-ass boyfriends are backpedaling again. Why aren't they going to raise a ruckus this time? Aw, baby... the filibuster is just so darned hard to use with only 45 senators! And what's the point of trying to do anything until we've recaptured the Senate or the White House?

I broke my longstanding policy of not donating money to political parties last fall when the folks from the DNC called and asked for money to help gird them for the upcoming fights over judicial seats. I was assured that indeed they would fight to keep right-wing extremists off the Supreme Court.

And now, faced with a clear-cut extremist (and dissembler) who is about to not only overturn the right to obtain an abortion, but also to pave the path for an imperial executive branch with limitless powers ... nothing.

I'm not terribly inclined, as my readers know, to use profanity in my posts. But if the Democratic Party wants any more of my money, they can just go fuck themselves.