"She's On Her Own Now"

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Almost 48 hours after Reason's Brian Doherty chimed in on Rep. Cynthia McKinney's run-in with the law and the story still won't die. The congresswoman is hitting the morning shows, fending off charges of racism (from Tom DeLay), and being told to shut up by the neoconservative horde at The Nation. The magazine's excellent reporter Ari Berman kisses her off in five short paragraphs.

The Nation defended McKinney when the right-wing and AIPAC slimed her as an anti-Semite back in 2002. But, as far as I'm concerned, she's on her own now.

Reason Editor Nick Gillespie first diagnosed McKinney's unique brand of sanity in 2002.

UPDATE: McKinneygate 2006 is bringing out the best in our pundit class. The folks at Media Matters offer a clip of radio host Neil Boortz opining for a really, really long time about the congresswoman's "ghetto trash" hairstyle.

(Reason's web editor Tim Cavanaugh e-mails that he has "mixed feelings about the new 'do: It makes her face look a bit rounder, but takes at least five years off her age.")

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  1. The Nation is neocon? With cover stories like “Taming Global Capitalism? and columnists like Eric Alterman? I don’t believe the term neocon is that elastic yet.

  2. Sarcasm meter busted, T.O.M.?

  3. The Nation is neocon?

    I think David was being ironic.

  4. I’ve heard it reported that the incident was captured on video. Video anyone ?

  5. Cynthia McKinney’s obviously a wingnut, but her particular kind of wingnutism is more common on the right. Some right-wing wingnuts even think Israel had a hand in 9/11.

  6. There was a fairly lengthy argument about it on my ISP (which unfortunately devolved into the usual name-calling, but whatever.) Some interesting points were made:
    -As a Congressman, she is immune from arrest while attending Congress except under felony charges
    -BUT assaulting a policeman is probably a felony
    -BUT she was entitled to use reasonable force against an unreasonable police action, which this seems to have been
    -BUT the cop seems to have been acting in good faith.
    IMO, she shouldn’t be arrested, but the House should officially censure her for being a gigantic bitch about the whole thing when taking two seconds to show her ID would have solved everything.

  7. Uri: My impression is that 9/11 revisionism is more common on the left, but we don’t really have statistics on that sort of thing. Besides, when you’re that crazy the left/right distinction gets blurry.

  8. Cynthia McKinney’s obviously a wingnut, but her particular kind of wingnutism is more common on the right. Some right-wing wingnuts even think Israel had a hand in 9/11.

    Hey there Tzvi-Bro, thanks for the rigorous statistical analysis of wingnutism as a function of left-right political beliefs. Got video ?

  9. “McKinney framed the matter in terms of race. “The issue is racial profiling,” McKinney, who is black, told CNN.”

    So she’s saying that someone else hit the officer, and that the only reason she’s being investigated is because she fits the racial profile of someone who’d slug a capitol policeman?

    Or does the phrase “racial profiling” not have an actual meaning?

    Comment by: independent worm at April 3, 2006 08:34 PM
    —————————————-
    Best comment and this affair I’ve heard from anyone

  10. JK:

    Okay, it’s just an impression.

  11. JK,

    Sometime in early 2002, I stopped being able to keep Pat Buchanan, David Duke and Noam Chomsky straight. Now apparently, you can put in senior members of the Harvard and University of Chicago political science departments into that group. When it comes to anti-semitism and crackpot conspiracy theories, they are all swimming in the same cesspool and covered in the same shit.

  12. This is such a weird story.

    I know that her playing the race card is not going to be too popular, but from what I have read the capitol police have a history with her.

    From this slate article:

    In August 1993, during her first term in office, a Capitol Hill police officer tried to prevent her from bypassing a metal detector, as members of Congress are allowed to do. For years afterward, The Hill reports, the Capitol Police pinned a picture of McKinney to an office wall, warning officers to learn her face because she refuses to wear her member’s pin. (And because officers are innately suspicious of a black woman with braided hair and gold shoes.) Five years later, she blasted White House security after guards thought her 23-year-old white aide was the congresswoman.

    And while hitting the cop is definately a questionable action, I can see someone reacting in that way if they really didn’t expect to be grabbed by the capitol police. She has been in congress for quite a while, and she shouldn’t expect to be stopped or touched by the capital police, since congresspeople are exempt from having to stop at security.

    I don’t know how exactly she “hit” him either. Details have been lacking. If by “hitting”, it is meant that she swatted his hands off of her, I would hardly consider that assaulting an officer. I certainly would swat someone’s hand away if I was suddenly grabbed in public.

    It’s very hard to pass judgement without knowing all the facts, but history does seem to warrant taking the claims of racism on the part of the capitol police a little more seriously than just calling her looney.

    On a side note, aren’t congressfolk immune from prosecution when the infraction occurs in the course of their work as a congressperson?

  13. does it really make you an asshole to go “eh, fuck israel” like you would “eh, fuck europe” or “eh, fuck ramapo, new jersey”?

    i’ll admit the first thing i thought watching that shit from my steps was “eh, fuck the mossad.”

  14. John:
    Let’s not exaggerate. Chomsky is a keen critic of Israel, but he never peddles anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that make Israel out be the source of everything that’s wrong with the world.

  15. dhex:

    Of course not, but it does make you an anti-Semite to say, “Eh, fuck Israel because it might have planned 9/11 and probably would boil and eat gentiel children if it could get away with it.”

  16. John, ura not a particularly smart person. U don’t have to shut the fuck up, but that would be wise.

  17. Let’s see, on the one hand we have cops insisting that they did nothing wrong.

    On the other hand, we have a Congresswoman making the allegations.

    I have no clue whom to believe. Can we just refer all of the people involved to Helen Waite? If they want us to believe them, they can go to Helen Waite.

  18. Who’s Helen Waite? Oh.

  19. Am I the only one to be glad to see someone denfending the use of force against cops? More often than not they deserve it.

    As for 9/11 conspiracy theories and Israel — its not a stretch that their intelligence services are more compentent than the FBI (not very hard really), basically knew what was goning to happen and based on self-interest kept their mouth shut. Whether they did or not I’m not sure and don’t really care, but its certainly possible and not in the wing nut category.

  20. Spur

    I suppose as speculation–there’s precious little hard evidence that Israeli intelligence knew–it’s not so wingnutty. But the wingnuts take flight from there and suggest that Israel is in control of both Al Qaeda and the White House. They don’t think just that Mossad is more competent than the FBI. They think Israel controls U.S. foregn policy. But such wingnuts are very very marginal, so it’s silly of me to go on about them.

  21. Why would cops bother profiling a middle aged black woman anyways.

    Its the puerto ricans you gotta look out for.

  22. “I don’t know how exactly she “hit” him either. Details have been lacking. If by “hitting”, it is meant that she swatted his hands off of her, I would hardly consider that assaulting an officer. I certainly would swat someone’s hand away if I was suddenly grabbed in public.”

    ChicagoTom, the difference is, in this same situation, you’d still be in jail charged with multiple felonies and probably looking for a good reconstructive dentist. She (being a someone who makes the laws and thus doesn’t need to obey them) gets to call everyone who doubts her a racist.

    I’m no fan of cops but I’m even less fond of folks who can get away with things that would get me hospitalized and then imprisoned.

  23. spur,

    Excuse me? You don’t care if Israel “basically [knew] what was going to happen and based on self-interest kept their mouth shut?” I find it very hard to believe that anyone would not care if they learned that a nation America regards as one of its closest allies knew a terrorist attack of 9/11’s magnitude was coming and didn’t pass along a warning.

  24. I’d like to renew my call for recognizing that the labels “left” and “right” have little value unless you’re more interested in picking and rooting for “your side” than you are in reaching any kind of truth.

    Spur–it may not be a stretch, but given that there’s absolutely no credible evidence that it’s true, espousing that viewpoint does make one a wingnut.

  25. Or does the phrase “racial profiling” not have an actual meaning?

    Of course it does. It means “something bad happened to a black person.”

  26. RCD,

    You miss the point. If Cynthia McKinney, hyper black congresswoman, were Fred Johnston (er, whoever…), reserved WASP congressman, do you think this would have happened?

    JMJ

  27. If Cynthia McKinney, hyper black congresswoman, were Fred Johnston (er, whoever…), reserved WASP congressman, do you think this would have happened?

    If white boy Fred blew past security without being screened or passed, do I think they would have gone and stopped him to confirm his identity?

    Yes. There are any number of accounts of white male Congressman being stopped at security.

    Do I think the cops would have run after him and grabbed his arm if he ignored them and refused to stop?

    Sure. Why not? If white boy Fred keeps walking after being asked to stop, do you think the cops are going to just shrug and blow it off? I don’t.

    Do I think white boy Fred would have hit the cop? Only if he is a mentally unstable asshole. Your reserved WASP types don’t usually belt cops who are just doing their duty, though.

    Do I think the cops would be pressing charges if he had?

    You bet I do. Why wouldn’t they? Of course, your reserved WASP types generally defuse these situations short of charges by apologizing, etc. rather than going on TV to accuse the cops of wrongdoing, thus guaranteeing that the cops press charges in order to prove that they were not at fault.

  28. Wait…so Cynthia Mckinney knew about 911 and didn’t say anything because she’s Jewish?

    Holy shit.

  29. Boortz apology:
    Monday — April 3, 2006

    AN APOLOGY

    Talking about stepping in it!

    Suddenly, for some people, the issue isn’t Cynthia McKinney hitting a law enforcement officer and then screaming racism. Nope. The issue is what I had to say about her hair style. That’s entirely fair — to a point. Last Friday I said that that hairdo … the wild and crazy every hair going in a different direction hairdo — made her look like a ghetto slut. Know what? That was wrong. Bad wrong. That was overboard. I know Cynthia McKinney. I’ve know her for years. I intensely dislike her anti-American politics and her constant race baiting … but on a personal level we’ve always gotten along just fine .. kidding each other … needling each other. I remember her spotting me sitting in the House visitors gallery one day and yelling (with a smile on her face, by the way) “Neal Boortz! Who the hell let you in here?” I’ve known her father much longer than I’ve known her. I have said on the air several times this past week that I think that she has an endearing personality and a million-dollar smile.

    That being said, I don’t think that it was right to use the word “slut” in any description involving her or her hairdo. So … my heartfelt apologies to Cynthia McKinney. I’ll say it here, and I’ll say it on the air on today. When I’m wrong I’ll admit it with no hesitation.

    Now this apology is going to mean absolutely nothing to those of you who consider every word ever uttered by someone-not-liberal to be “hate speech.” This apology is going to mean nothing to those of you who consider every negative comment or criticism ever made of or about anybody-not-white to be “racism.” Most of the people who have sent me some rather nasty emails in the last 24 hours know nothing about me except what they’ve read on some far-left websites. One listener from Saginaw, Michigan wrote to say that this apology indicates that I recognized my error and that I take responsibility for my words. He then wonders if it will be accepted. I am not concerned about whether or not it will be accepted. That’s up to McKinney. I’ve said this because it’s the way I feel. The apology, therefore, is for the millions of listeners who do know me and who were disappointed by my statement on Friday. Sorry I let you down.

    Actually, I should be horsewhipped for saying something stupid that allowed, to some extent, the attention to shift from the wrongdoing of Cynthia McKinney to my ill-chosen words. The issue here is not how one would define Cynthia McKinney’s hairstyle. The issue is whether or not Cynthia McKinney assaulted a law enforcement officer who was merely trying to do his sworn duty. Contrast, if you would, my apology with that of Cynthia McKinney. McKinney has only said that she “regrets” that the incident happened. That is not an apology. So far as I’ve heard there has not been one “I’m sorry.” Instead, McKinney stages a news conference Friday afternoon featuring two of premiere Hollywood leftist jackasses, Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte, two men fresh from their recent appearance giving aid and comfort to America-hater Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. So, there is Cynthia McKinney, standing there with two men who have said some mighty foul things about our country and our president, accusing a police officer of being a racist because he didn’t recognize her when she circumvented a screening station. That man spends his days protecting McKinney and her colleagues; and she thanks him by calling him a racist for merely doing his job. Let’s see if Cynthia can eventually stand up and apologize for being a fool. I just did. It really doesn’t hurt all that much.

  30. *Warning: Shameless plug for my own blog*
    I’ve written a bit of satire on the McKinney issue, most recently,

    “Top Four Defenses That Are Better Than the One McKinney is Using.”

    It’s “Top Four” because I couldn’t think of ten. If you’ve got any, email me, or drop a comment on either my blog, or this one.

  31. This is so overdone, I can’t even begin.

  32. “BUT she was entitled to use reasonable force against an unreasonable police action, which this seems to have been”

    How stupid. The only unreasonable action on the part of the capital police was their failure to arrest her criminal ass on the spot.

  33. “BUT she was entitled to use reasonable force against an unreasonable police action, which this seems to have been”

    How stupid. The only unreasonable action on the part of the capital police was their failure to arrest her criminal ass on the spot.

    It is amazing that anybody would be guessing about the facts here when a videotape exists.

  34. You know, a Capitol Hill Police officer really should recognize someone who’s been a member of Congress for over a decade. If she was a newbie and this happened a couple of times, it would be a lot more understandable. But that this keeps happening twelve or more years later…

    It’s just a fact that people have trouble distinguishing the faces of people of other races, moreso than those of people of their own race.

    It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in her as a legislator that her “solution” to this ongoing problem is to stew about it for years until there’s a blowup, instead of sitting down with someone is charge and making sure the problem gets solved.

  35. Joe, I don’t think she had to sit down with anyone. There is a method of identifying members of congress already in place. It seems she refuses to wear the proper identifying pin. She should were that ID, just in case the officer working security happens to be a “newbie” and would have no idea who has been a member of Congress for ten + years.

  36. She should were that ID, just in case the officer working security happens to be a “newbie” and would have no idea who has been a member of Congress for ten + years.

    Then maybe the sensible solution would be that the police enforce the id requirement against everyone so that there is no appearance of racism. They could have sat down and hammered that obvious solution out I would think.

  37. Obviously, she should wear her id.

    But rather than police recognition of every member of Congress being unrealistic, as Kevin suggests, it is in fact already “in place.” As part of their training, every USCP “newbie” is required to memorize the names and faces of every member of Congress (as are 16 year old pages, btw), and are expected to keep current as the years pass.

    And for the most part, they do. I can understand McKinney being peeved about being singled out like this, and I imagine it comes off as not a little disrespectful.

    Whether her reaction was appropriate is another question, but the recognition requirement is reasonable, important, and already in place.

  38. You know, a Capitol Hill Police officer really should recognize someone who’s been a member of Congress for over a decade. If she was a newbie and this happened a couple of times, it would be a lot more understandable. But that this keeps happening twelve or more years later…

    Since when should someone be required to remember the face of possibly hundreds or thousands of people?

    Perhaps congressmen and woman should have to show their ID and go through metal metectors, just like anyone.

  39. “Since when should someone be required to remember the face of possibly hundreds or thousands of people?”

    RexRhino,

    I don’t know. Perhaps you should write to the Capitol Police and the Congressional Page Service and ask them when they adopted those policies.

    Because both of them do require, as standard policies, that their employees be able to recognize every member of Congress by name and face.

    And, uh, “thousands?”

  40. Her new Buckwheat hairdo threw them off.

  41. Joe, I did not know about that aspect of their training. However, based on my expereince, it is one thing to match a name to a picture, and quite another to match the memory of that picture to a person.

    Given that members of congress are asked to wear something to identify themselves seems to indicate that it may be unrealistic to expect every officer to accurately identify every member of congress every time that he/she enters the building. In other words, If the recognition requirement is reasonable, then why is it obvious that she should wear her id?

    That said, I am curious as to how the entire situation occurred. When the officer touched her did he tap her on the shoulder or grab her around the neck. When she hit him, did she wave her hand at him or punch him in the face. THis may turn out be about something really innocuous.

  42. “spur,

    Excuse me? You don’t care if Israel “basically [knew] what was going to happen and based on self-interest kept their mouth shut?” I find it very hard to believe that anyone would not care if they learned that a nation America regards as one of its closest allies knew a terrorist attack of 9/11’s magnitude was coming and didn’t pass along a warning.”

    You can only care about so much. If Israel did know, no one would believe it anyways beyond the usual suspects — even if it came out of a Congressional report, we’d probably end up sending a bigger welfare check to Israel than we currently do given our curious relationship with the place. Its really not worth bothering about.

  43. You know, a Capitol Hill Police officer really should recognize someone who’s been a member of Congress for over a decade.

    You know, when you walk through the same two doors for over a decade, a congresswoman really should learn to say hello to the guards.

    Seriously, I always thought she was loopy and unqualified, but she’s also a complete bitch. How DID she get elected, anyway?

  44. Jesus my grammar sucks.

  45. Good point, theOneState. She certainly seems quite the diva, eh?

  46. “Since when should someone be required to remember the face of possibly hundreds or thousands of people?”

    “I don’t know. Perhaps you should write to the Capitol Police and the Congressional Page Service and ask them when they adopted those policies.”

    Joe: Apparantly they have not adopted that requirement. You can call the recruitment office of the capitol police. There is no official requirement for them to recognize members of congress. They are given a photo roster of members and encouraged to learn their names.

  47. Nope, not gonna get into a discussion of the semiotics of the term “supposed to.”

  48. I have a solution: Make representatives go through security. After all, these people don’t know the representatives personally, and I would think the best way to get past security would be to simply impersonate a representative. It wouldn’t be too difficult to create a replica of the pin.

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