Written by David Greenwald Saturday, 03 December 2011 06:54
Jon Stewart Compares Linda Katehi to Hitler
As the Sacramento Bee's Stuart Leavenworth notes, "[John] Stewart has remained remarkably steady. In my mind, there's never been a comedic talent as consistently funny, informative and influential as Stewart."
Jon Stewart was doing his job poking fun of the pepper-spraying incident when he crossed the line. He played a clip of one of her various apologies and then after mocking her accent, he "held a pen up below his nose, as if it were a Hitler mustache, and pretended to be Katehi, with a German accent."
Yeah, okay, no longer funny. According to UC Davis' officials, Chancellor Katehi's father was Jewish and her family had to live through the Nazi occupation in Greece during the Second World War.
But who cares, I do not care if she is full-blooded German, she does not deserve to be painted with the Hitler brush. I am not going to spend time arguing why, if you cannot see the differences, it is not worth my time explaining.
Then again, I cringe when we compare every two-bit dictator to Hitler. In my view, we can argue, of course, whether Hitler is the worst of the worst, but if he is not the worst, he's in the top 5. It is a shame there are so many other bad people in history.
There are some places we should not go, in particular for comedy. This is one that has no place. Mr. Stewart is not that kind of guy, he made a mistake, he should apologize and move on.
Republican Presidential Race
I wish I had more time to follow the Republican Presidential Race, it is one of the more interesting I have seen. The battle to play the role of John Kerry has been highly amusing.
The news this morning is that Herman Cain, who for a time led the Republican race, is about to drop out, probably today.
Politico is reporting he will get out today, citing a source in the Cain campaign which said, "He'll probably get out, but nothing's been decided."
I saw a poll where his support dropped from a high of 23% to 8% after his campaign has been wracked by scandals, the latest of which was a woman's decision to go public with claims of a 13-year extramarital affair.
I should state that I am not a big believer that infidelity should disqualify people from public office, though I am consistently amazed at the inability that some people have to keep their pants zipped up.
"I am reassessing because of all this media firestorm stuff," Cain said at a town hall meeting in South Carolina on Friday. "Why? Because my wife and my family come first."
You can read into that by a mile. Usually Republican races are boring because in the end, the front runner always wins. This has been more exciting than usual, but in the end, Mitt Romney, the most well-known and the man considered by Democrats to be most dangerous, will probably win.
But we get another round, at least, as Newt Gingrich amazingly takes his turn. Republicans can take heed that Democratic strategists are licking their lips to take on that fight. Not only do they get to break out two-decade-old video clips, but if there was ever a person who needed his lips sown shut, it was Gingrich. The only question is whether the passage of time has made him more cautious.
Gingrich would definitely fall into the Democratic strategy to hope that the Republicans simply pick a nominee that is so bad that the country cannot help but support Obama as the lesser of evils.
I had to laugh when Democratic strategists this week came out with a little blurb showing Obama with numbers similar to Truman and Clinton a year before they won reelection. If Dan Quayle was not Jack Kennedy, Obama is certainly no Truman and Clinton, two of the best fighters and counterpunchers we have seen. Obama wouldn't last a round in the ring with either of those street fighters.
Jerry Brown's Tax Proposal
It is a busy week when we do not have time to discuss a major tax initiative by Governor Jerry Brown. His plan is to raise $7 billion by taxing the rich and hiking sales taxes by half a cent. Of course, he cannot do this on his own and the legislature won't do it, which means that he has to ask the voters to do it.
He hopes the pension reform plan will convince the voters to do this, telling lawmakers, "Without pension reform I don't think we'll have the credibility to ask the people to do other things that are very much needed and that you'll want."
The Bee is skeptical of one aspect, the fact that too many tax proposals are coming forward. "Gov. Jerry Brown and well-intentioned initiative promoters are running the risk of wasting the crisis that afflicts California government."
"With the 2012 presidential election likely to drive up turnout among moderates and Democratic voters, political experts believe that next year's general election could be the best chance they'll have for years to win voter approval for a tax overhaul," the Bee writes in an editorial today.
"But in their rush to provide what they see as help for the state, initiative promoters risk placing a glut of tax increase initiatives on the ballot. If they all end up on the ballot next November, voters almost surely will reject them all," they write. "Brown needs to play traffic cop to avert that pileup."
Clearly, Governor Brown and other liberals are attempting to take advantage of the anger toward the "one percent" and the Wall Street crowd. Democrats will be hoping to ride the wave of the Occupy Movement and the anger it embodies, much as Republicans rode the wave of the Tea Party movement in 2010.
Of course, the Occupy Movement, particularly the Occupy UC Davis movement, has already denounced the Democrats as part of the problem. They point to the Democratic mayors who have ordered crackdowns of demonstrators in Los Angeles and Oakland.
Our own Democratic mayor and council are looking to clear Central Park of protesters, as well.
There is an interesting piece in the Huffington Post, where the occupiers sought to get Governor Brown to join them.
"Gov. Brown, we challenge you to take up the fight with Occupy," declared demonstrator Kevin Carter. "We occupy for the First Amendment, free speech, peaceful assembly and the redress of grievances against the government. As the governor, you should lead this fight."
They were asking, it appeared, for the governor to join them. The problem is, as the Huffington Post reports, Governor Brown had left the state.
He then, a few days ago, issued a statement asking that POST, the Peace Officer Standards and Training body, review its crowd-management guidelines and make "whatever changes are necessary to ensure compliance with First and Fourth Amendment protections against excessive force."
"The recent 'occupation' protests in cities throughout California and on campuses of the University of California underscore the urgency of articulating guidelines that are crystal clear and comport with constitutional requirements," the governor wrote.
That was not exactly the ringing endorsement the occupiers were hoping for.
Then again, despite the Governor Moonbeam label, the Post rightly pointed out, "Brown was never the liberal caricature that many made him out to be. Indeed, his first stretch as governor was marked by a streak of fiscal conservatism."
Local Scene - Water is Back
The pepper spray incident took the water issue off the front pages for a few weeks, but with the Swanson-Wolk proposal it is back. If they stick together on this vote, they really cannot lose because there is no coalition that can come together to get three votes.
The reaction was interesting, to say the least. First, Sue Greenwald basically came out and acknowledged that she supported the water supply project, but she is unsure of the timing, the cost and the fact that we are proceeding with the wastewater treatment simultaneously. Frankly, she is not wrong about those concerns.
Second, Michael Harrington tells the Enterprise one day that his group does not oppose the plan but comes on the Vanguard the next day talking about an initiative. The initiative is not going to go anywhere if this plan passes, that much is pretty certain.
Councilmember Stephen Souza has said nothing on this issue, which in and of itself is interesting, considering he was the one out in public opposing the referendum.
We do not know where Mayor Joe Krovoza is at this point. He seems resigned to the fact that mistakes were made and that we need to have a public vote, but he has not issued any kind of statement.
While it is possible that Sue Greenwald could form a coalition with Mayor Krovoza and Councilmember Souza to defeat the Wolk-Swanson motion, I do not see how. If those two stick to their guns, that they can form a policy that gets three votes.
That puts Mayor Pro Tem Swanson and Councilmember Wolk in the driver's seat to cut some sort of compromise deal.
Of course, ultimately the trump card is the voters getting to decide if the politicians can't. Right now, Mayor Pro Tem Swanson and Councilmember Wolk think that would be problematic, but it may come down to that.
One thing that is clear is that the city needs to focus on finances, and quickly. A good first step will be on unmet needs this week, and we will talk more about the budget in our Sunday Commentary.
---David M. Greenwald reporting
David, how do you feel about this post from yesterday?
12/02/11 - 07:07 PM
The "9 month study period" to be brought up by Swanson and Wolk at an early December meeting allows the two sitting members, Wolk and Souza, up for election and reelection in June(6 months) to take no campaign position other than they are awaiting the results of the studies. 9 months? ... It usually takes at least 2 years for Davis city staff, Council and citizen committees to analyze the complexities of a proposed residential development. The 9 month study period is very suspect and suggests that this proposal is a political gambit to neutralize the approved citizen-initiated referendum and potential initiative now and get back to business as usual in September."
Even though Swanson isn't up for election is 9 months really enough time to analyze all the alternatives? Do you feel that this could just be a political ploy? At best, it's a good start.
I could not agree with you more about the presence of "media bias" on both sides of this issue. For example from the article you cited
"The use of the pepper spray has been depicted by various media outlets as completely unprovoked. In fact, this new video shows that it was a virtual last resort by the police to restore law and order on campus.
The clip they play is just as limited as those appearing to portray the incident as completely unprovoked. What they conveniently leave out of this clip is the counter point clips of chanting " you can go" after the protesters themselves had quelled the use of expletives in chants. It also fails to show that there were many officers on the scene at the same time who were not in riot gear and were mingling with the protesters and not apparently concerned about their safety or perceiving the need for pepper spray as a last resort. It also fails to focus on the very calm, deliberate demeanor of Lt.Pike as he sprays not the more aggressive chanting and supposedly actively surrounding and "threatening" protesters, but those on the ground in a universal position of non violence.
So I agree. The use of limited footage can be used to promote any point of view desired by the media. What one can do to fully inform themselves is to watch clips from many different sources to get the full picture of what occurred from as broad a perspective as possible. That is the beauty of the cellphone and camera.
I believe there is a difference between comedy and satire... the latter is less to entertain, but more to make "a point"... did not see the clip, but could the satire been aimed more at those who would treat the chancellor as the 'wicked witch of the west' and call for her employment 'death', or at the chancellor?
The 9 month plan to come back in September after the June election needs to be clearly abandoned by this Council with no deadline made for the studies and analysis required. Close scrutiny, transparency with those clearly skeptical of the need for this project being offered a place "at the table" as this information gathering proceeds needs to be included in the plan. Populist pressure needs to be maintained and not dissipate in the next 6 months as the current Council Majority(most assuredly Souza and Wolk) may be counting on. The political playbook for dealing with populist pressure against status-quo power is really the same, whether it it is the Egyptian military's political response to the potential power of
of the populist Tahir sq movement or the rising populist pressures growing in Davis.
MW, permit me to iterate from a prior post, perhaps you missed it (or don't recall the gist of it)?
Paraphrasing off the top of my head -- the USSC has unequivocally ruled that the motive of the officer on the scene (per your comment Lt. Pike) is NOT relevant to a 4th Amendment/Use of Force analysis.
However a relevant consideration (among several others) is that w/in the Use of Force continuum, the officer on the scene is in the best position to decide what level of force is appropriate.
Accordingly, any focus on the "...very calm, deliberate demeanor of Lt.Pike..." is irrelevant & "many" (yes - using DG's definition of many) would say...is a waste of time.
Close scrutiny, transparency with those clearly skeptical of the need for this project being offered a place "at the table" as this information gathering proceeds needs to be included in the plan.
Those skeptical of the need for this project do have a "place at the table" on the water advisory committee. I expect some pretty lively conversations around the water advisory committee table, and much research and education...
I do get your point about the possibility of the 9 month timeframe perhaps being too arbitrary and short... on the other hand how long is too long to put the decision off one way or the other, with a 2017 deadline looming to come into compliance with water quality standards?
" the USSC has unequivocally ruled that the motive of the officer on the scene (per your comment Lt. Pike) is NOT relevant to a 4th Amendment/Use of Force analysis. "
We have no disagreement with this very limited point about the motive and its lack of relevance to a 4th amendment use of force analysis. I do not feel that this is the only issue in play. Other issues would involve the
"reasonable officer" standard since there were clearly other officers present who did not, through their actions, seems to share Lt Pike's assessment of the situation. And this limited assertion does not address the issue of whether any action at all was necessary. You may have missed my previous post stating that I believe that a complete independent investigation of all the relevant facts should be conducted before any consideration is made regarding disciplinary action for anyone.
A much bigger issue in my opinion is how we want to be treated as citizens by our police. Do we want the possibility of being pepper sprayed simply for not following command?. How far do we want this to extend.? Was it ok to pepper spray spray the man who refused to get back in to his car when told to do so ? Would we want to be pepper sprayed for other simple cases of civil disobedience? How far do you think this should go ? Do you think that there should be no repercussions for police who use excessive force if that is what is found to be the case by an independent investigation?
David, I agree that Jon Stewart may have gone a little over the top, but I don't think anyone takes him seriously. I remember years ago when Comedy Central made jokes about Davis ... I forget what the issue was. I was at some event with Julie Partansky who was upset about Davis being a national laughing stock and I explained to her that nobody took Comedy Central seriously. There's a reason it was called "Comedy Central." If Jon Stewart wants to apologize or he doesn't, it's no big deal. I think he offends large numbers of people on a daily basis. What half of us laugh at, the other half takes offense at.
Since this is an off-topic forum, here's an article from about a year ago that has some added significance in light of recent incidents:
Dec. 21, 2010: Pope’s child porn 'normal' claim sparks outrage among victims
In his traditional Christmas address yesterday to cardinals and officials working in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI also claimed that child pornography was increasingly considered “normal” by society.
"In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” the Pope said.
mw, that is exactly my point and all along I have tried to share information pertaining to a reasonable officer under same/similar circumstances -- "objective reasonableness," in accordance with the USSC's rulings. Hence, my use of the phrases contextual & fact bound.
Do we want the possibility of being pepper sprayed simply for not following command?.
Is that what happened here? The officers at the scene (again, the persons best suited to decide what level of force to use) were dealing with law breakers who failed to heed lawful directives/commands AND resisted lawful arrest.
I'm with you re: an investigation. Briefly, any time fact-finders determine a situation of "excessive force," repercussions should follow.
LEO training tries to include scenarios that they know may involve quick responses to enter the continuum of force at the lowest level where the officer is most likely to be succusseful. The idea is to overcome resistence w/o anyone getting hurt, but in real life is not always achieved.
I can understand why Katehi--or frankly anyone* who is not a monster--would be personally offended at being compared to Hitler or being called a Nazi, etc. Yet I didn't think his little joke with the pen as mustache as Hitler mustache was worth getting excited about. Stewart was not really comparing the pepper-spray indcident to Hiter's crimes. He was just trying to be funny. I think you really have to give comedians more leeway, to not be so politically correct or uptight when they are clearly joking around. (It is a little bit different when you have a Michael Richards meltdown situation. It did not seem in that instance he was even trying to be funny.)
Speaking for myself, I am amazed that Stewart is popular and people think he is funny. I don't ever laugh at the Daily Show. It was actually funnier to me when the insufferable bore Craigh Kilborn was the host. Kilborn has no funny chops. But he could read the jokes his writers wrote for him well enough. The problem with Jon Stewart is he writes his own jokes. And he just is not funny. He strikes me as an arrogant guy, albeit a smart guy, who has a strong liberal political philosophy, and his entire shtick is to make funny faces when he belittles people who he either disagrees with or who somehow screw up. His Hitler-mustache joke was clear just Stewart belittling someone who screwed up. That is half of his act. ... Given how popular he is, though, I concede that most people either like the guy or really do think he is funny. I don't dislike Stewart. But he doesn't ever make me laugh.**
*I did not know before this Daily Show brouhaha that Katehi had any Jewish heritage. I am sure Stewart, who is a Jew, didn't know that either. And I really don't think it makes any difference in this case. If you are wildly offended by that sort of Hitler-mustache humor, you should be no more or no less offended, in my view, if the object of the derision is a Jew or a gentile.
**The other popular show host/comic I don't find in the least bit funny is Conan. And his "humor" is very much along the lines of Stewart, though without an obvious liberal political bent. Conan's big laughs from his TV audience seem to all be gags where Conan makes a funny face while looking down on someone who screwed up somehow. ...
So who do I think is funny on TV? My current favorite is Jimmy Kimmel. My old favorite is David Letterman. Dave is not as funny as he was when I was in college (in the early to mid 1980s). But his talent still outshines his lazy effort on The Late Show. .... Leno is likeable, but not really funny. ... Jimmy Fallon: I never stay up that late. ... Craig Ferguson: never really watch him. ....
Even further off topic ... A friend of mine mentioned an old Rodney Dangerfield bit from his movie, Easy Money. I don't think Dangerfield would have made a good TV host. But Rodney was 100 times funnier than a Conan or a Stewart. Just watch this one clip of Rodney on Johnny Carson. You will laugh more in 10 minutes of him than anyone has ever laughed at Conan or Stewart.
"Those skeptical of the need for this project do have a "place at the table"
ERM.. I believe that you characterize yourself as "open minded" and perhaps include yourself in that skeptical membership. Your posts on this blog, IMO, would not support that characterization. What we do need are people who are public(why haven't we heard from these "skeptical" members who you say are there?). If they are a clear minority and the rules call for them being silent when their arguments are met with a contrary majority vote(membership,of course, determined by the current Council majority),the public never has a chance to hear alternative narratives.
Just watch this one clip of Rodney on Johnny Carson. You will laugh more in 10 minutes of him than anyone has ever laughed at Conan or Stewart.
I took your advise. Watched the clip. And it firmly reinforced something of which I was already aware. The completely subjective nature of humor. There was one line in the entire clip that I found funny enough to laugh.
So while I rarely watch comedy on TV, I for one, have laughed more at Stewart and certainly more at Colbert, than I did at Dangerfield.
I have rarely watched JON STEWART. The times that I have I found his antics silly; he was straining to be funny, sarcastic and -- ooooh, so important -- "cool".
As for Stewart's Katehi = Hitler performance, I have three (3) remarks:
1. I am disgusted but not surprised as lefties -- and, in addition to being a boor, Stewart is that as well -- trot out the Hitler paradigm with great abandon against people they dislike. (For example, remember all those "peace" rallies with Bush = Hitler signs or Bush with a Hitler mustache? Peace? Hah!)
2. This routine showed a distinct lack of imagination. Boring and overworked, Jon. (See #1, above.)
3. Can you imagine the reaction from Lefties and Liberals if Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly had put on a similar routine re Obama?
Re Swanson, Wolk, etc., and the (seeming) "about face" on the water rates: in addition to being a stall and a CYA for Souza and Wolk -- up for re-election and election, respectively, -- this is also another move to prevent a popular vote on the matter. (Sue Greenwald has sniffed this one out.)
Funny, isn't it? The Council punted and "let us" vote on Target, something which was a routine planning matter, requiring a straight up & down vote by elected officials. BUT . . . these anti-democratic personalities just won't let us vote on water rates.
"The initiative is not going to go anywhere if this plan passes, that much is pretty certain."
Wrong... qualifying an initiative by collecting the necessary signatures should be fairly easy to put it on the ballot in June, along with Souza's reelection bid and Wolk's attempt to translate his appointment into elective legitimacy. An initiative will keep this issue on the political "front-burner" for the next 6 months. Populist dissatisfaction in June,which is impossible to predict at this time, will determine the success of any June initiative.
Perhaps you have forgotten the non comedic, but equally offensive claims that Obama was actually born in Kenya and repeated calls for his birth certificate, or the accusations that he is a Muslim, as if that disqualifies anyone from the presidency. I do not find Stewarts antics amusing. But neither side holds the high ground in tasteless humor or false accusation.