Afghanistan

Eighteen Months per Shoe

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Last week Iraqi journalist Mutander al-Zaidi got three years for throwing his shoes at then-President Bush during the latter's December visit to Baghdad. That seems excessive. To be sure, hurling shoes at someone is a form of assault, but (except in the case of a well-aimed stiletto heel) it is quite unlikely to be deadly, and in this case neither the target nor anyone else was injured by the flying footwear. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino did get a shiner from an errant microphone during the ensuing melee. Meanwhile, according to another reporter at the press conference, Iraqi security personnel beat and kicked Al-Zaidi until "he was crying like a woman." If that was not adequate retribution, surely a few months in jail would have done the trick.

Al-Zaidi initially was charged with assault of a foreign head of state, an offense that carries a sentence of up to 15 years. Last week prosecutors changed the charge to assault of an official during the execution of his duties, which carries a maximum penalty of three years. It seems clear that Al-Zaidi is being punished mainly for the views he expressed and for the embarrassment they caused both Bush and his Iraqi hosts. "This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!" he said before throwing the first shoe. Upon throwing the second one, he declared, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!" If Al-Zaidi had thrown roses at Bush and expressed his gratitude for the U.S. invasion, he would not be going to prison, even if the president had been cut by a thorn. The shoe throwing was a political gesture that incidentally involved hurling objects, as opposed to an act of violence with a political motivation. As Bush himself remarked at the time, "That's what people do in a free society, draw attention to themselves." Here's something else that happens in a free society: People are punished for actions that violate the rights of others, not for expressing opinions that make people in power uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, in another Middle Eastern country that the U.S. is trying to transform into a liberal democracy, the Supreme Court of Afghanistan has affirmed the 20-year sentence that another journalist, Parwiz Kambakhsh, received for committing blasphemy by downloading and distributing an essay about the treatment of Muslim women. The good news: He was originally sentenced to death. 

Previous Reason coverage of the shoes that shook the world here and here. I noted the Kambakhsh case last year.

Addendum: Several commenters seem to be under the impression that I think Al-Zaidi should not have been punished at all, even though I said he was guilty of assault and called his sentence "excessive" (as opposed to completely inappropriate). To be clear, I am not saying that what he did ought to be protected as free speech; I'm saying that his punishment was disproportionate given the nature of the assault and that it seems to have been enhanced based not on the crime itself but on the ideas he expressed while committing it.

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  1. Attempted murder doesn’t violate anyone’s rights either; should that not be punished?

    yeah, the punishment is way too harsh, but if Bush’s reflex weren’t quite as sharp, he could have been seriously hurt. Blunt trauma to the head is no joke (and you may have noticed that the soles of even non-stiletto shoes are pretty hard, especially the shoes an Iraqi is wearing, ie not sneakers).

  2. Yo, fuck American involvement in the Middle East.

  3. Also, you can bet an American who threw shoes at the Iraqi PM in Washington would be doing some jail time also. I guess we’re not a free society either.

  4. To prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future Iraq should just give their journalists NERF guns at the beginning of press meetings

  5. I agree with Jacob. He should not have gotten any punishment for throwing shoes at Bush.

    If anybody tries it to Obama they should get the death penalty.

  6. …an elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.

  7. …the 20-year sentence that another journalist, Parwiz Kambakhsh, received for coommitting blasphemy… He was originally sentenced to death.

    The law’s the law.

  8. TofuSushi | March 16, 2009, 12:43pm | #

    I agree with Jacob. He should not have gotten any punishment for throwing shoes at Bush.

    If anybody tries it to Obama they should get the death penalty.

    Masterful, as always! I don’t understand why libertarians should have to be ok with assault. 3 years? I dunno, maybe 1 or 2, but assault is a serious crime. regardless of it’s motivation. In a free society, people who assault other people go to jail.

  9. Assault is assaule. What if some dickhead had whacked Ron Paul in the head with a shoe during one of his speeches? Would the Reasonites be okay with the Daily Kos saying the guy shouldn’t be punished? If you don’t like Bush or BO or anyone else, that is fine with me. Tell the world how much you hate them and how lousy they are. But whoever they are let them speak without being assaulted.

    Who is the hot blond in the picture?

  10. This line of argument is right up there with Sideshow Bob’s famous rationalization: “Attempted murder, really, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry?”

    The guy was a journalist. If he really wanted to speak his mind, he had a way to do it. Freedom of speech does not entail the freedom to chuck shoes at unpopular world leaders.

  11. I always think that heads of state should be afforded no special treatment. In fact, folks who are especially good at mocking, embarrassing, and insulting heads of state should be held in particularly high regard. I always thought the office of Presidency should be ended by a formal execution and a formal dance on the grave.

  12. John,

    Who is the hot blond in the picture?

    From the post above your comment, she nis: “White House Press Secretary Dana Perino”.

    The word shiner goes along with the discoloration around her right eye.

  13. Abdul,

    I agree. And if he had done it to Obama, the guy should have been at least jailed, like Lincoln did when the wrong people were publishing in America.

  14. Thanks Tofu. She is really fucking hot.

  15. John,

    I am trying to picture a partner for her so I can make breakfast for them both.

  16. Seriously, Jacob, I hate to pull a Lonewacko on you but you really should answer my question above about whether an American would do jail time for throwing shoes at the Iraqi PM in Washington.

  17. John, she’s not your type. She’s got wind blowing through her ears, dude.

  18. Am I the only one that thinks it is proper to have laws which disincentivize assaulting visiting heads of state? Such actions could potentially cause much more costs for the nation than a normal shoe-tossing.

  19. crimethink,

    Only if he is still a tool of the Bushies.

  20. I always think that heads of state should be afforded no special treatment.

    I hear what you’re saying, but one does have to take into account the amount of disruption that an event has. Because the shoes were thrown at a high-profile guy in a high-profile way, there will be more consequences then if this guy just threw his shoes at a low-profile target, like a Comcast customer service rep.

    This event probably had a chilling effect on the amount of access Iraqi reporters will get with American officials. However bad Bush was, he was willing to stand at a podium in front of a broad swath of media. After the shoe chucking, why should he bother or anyone else bother? If “security” is raised as a reason to avoid criticism, this guy played into that convenient justification.

  21. she’s not your type. She’s got wind blowing through her ears, dude.

    I don’t know, the possibilities are intriguing.

  22. What ever happened to the kid that threw a hand grenade at Bush in some backwater of the former Soviet Union?

  23. Oh, and I am not LoneWacko. I just think you liberal-DC libertarians are funny sometimes.

  24. We have different punishments for assault against different types of people in the US as well. Police officers, minors, judges, etc all get extra protections.

    I guess the US isn’t a free society either, eh Jacob?

  25. John likes the battered look. Noted.

  26. There’s two ways of analyzing this.

    One is in terms of what the law should be and the punishment should be for such a thing totally aside from what the law is in Iraq or what it is anywhere else. This would be a philosophical question (not to mean it would be useelss) and could be interesting. There’s various angles to address, as some here already have.

    An entirely separate question is whether this is out of line with how such behavior is handled or criminalized in other relatively liberal societies. Others here have adddressed this too, although only speculatively thus far.

    I can only speculate too, but while I can understand arguments for why this should be a very minor crime if any at all, I tend to suspect most nations, including the relatively liberal and democratic ones, would treat it more or less the same way.

    That combined with the reduced charge makes me think that, whatever is wrong with this sentence (and especially the way security treated him!!!), it’s hardly a punishment against the guy’s freedom of expression.

    Though, sigh, that won’t stop anyone who chooses to view it that way from doing so. He probably should have been let off with nothing beyond probation just to prevent his martyrdom, aside from any pure issues of justice that may indicated the same.

  27. John likes the battered look. Noted.

    Is not that look similar to the heroin chic look popularized in the Iriss ditty “Salvation is Free”? (I think that is the name and the Cranberries are Irish)

  28. PS, I should probably add that in comparing his sentence to what similar acts of disruption might net elsewhere, one would probably want to do so in light of the serverity of punishment of crime generally. I could see pranksters threatening foreign heads of state in Europe getting less than three years, but then you probably get less for just about anything in Europe than in the Middle East! The relevant thing would be if even in the US and Europe (and Japan?), do threatening gestures and acts against officials get you more than the same for ordinary folks. Rightly or wrongly, I suspect they do. Though I’m not certain….

  29. “What can an Iraqi journalist tell Dana Perino?
    Nothing he already told her once”

  30. #

    How do you comment without a date/time stamp?

  31. This:

    Al-Zaidi initially was charged with assault of a foreign head of state, an offense that carries a sentence of up to 15 years. Last week prosecutors changed the charge to assault of an official during the execution of his duties, which carries a maximum penalty of three years.

    is inconsistent with this:

    It seems clear that Al-Zaidi is being punished mainly for the views he expressed and for the embarrassment they caused both Bush and his Iraqi hosts.

    They actually reduced the charge, although they didn’t need to (Bush was a foreign head of state, after all).

    There’s no question he was guilty of “assault of a foreign head of state” and “assault of an official during the execution of his duties.” Why, then, the assertion that a punishment in line with the reduced charges is clearly punishment for the views he expressed? I don’t get it.

  32. R C Dean,

    Because his assault on Bush was right and an assault on Obama would be wrong. How can anybody be that thick, or were you joking?

    BTW, who is going to the March on the Pentagon this weekend? If we get them to stop working then the wars will end. I will bet anybody that most of the Pentagon workers will be too afraid to show up on Saturday and the parking lots will be empty.

  33. RC, I bet he got the reduced sentence because of public opinion, which is usually the only way anyone gets a reduced sentence save for a plea bargain.

    Speaking of sentencing, did I miss Ryan Fredericks? I only remember hearing he would get max 10 years, but that sentencing would come later. Why does sentencing take so long?

  34. Why does sentencing take so long?

    Grammar, semantics and spelling.

  35. “Assault is assaule. What if some dickhead had whacked Ron Paul in the head with a shoe during one of his speeches?”

    I suspect he would begin yet another anti-Semetic rant.

  36. ‘Who throws a shoe? Honestly! You fight like a woman!’

    Assault is assault, even if done in womanly fashion.

    Bush should ask for early release after 6 months. Let him be the bigger man.

  37. RC, I bet he got the reduced sentence because of public opinion, which is usually the only way anyone gets a reduced sentence save for a plea bargain.

    I’m sure that’s right. I’m just looking for any possible justification for the claim that Al-Zaidi is being punished mainly for the views he expressed and for the embarrassment they caused both Bush and his Iraqi hosts.

  38. R C Dean,

    Now I see you are joking. Ha!

  39. You know, I bet Obama couldn’t dodge a shoe the way Bush did. That was mutant-powered-president impressive.

  40. Jacob, so what’s ok to throw at Obama?

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that bananas would be frowned upon.

  41. Great. After reading this entire thread, I now have the sick fantasy of Rachel Madow being Dana Perino’s lesbian domanetrix. Well my day is shot.

  42. Seriously, Jacob, I hate to pull a Lonewacko on you but you really should answer my question above about whether an American would do jail time for throwing shoes at the Iraqi PM in Washington.

    See 18 U.S.C. ? 112(a) (“Whoever assaults, strikes, wounds, imprisons, or offers violence to a foreign official, official guest, or internationally protected person or makes any other violent attack upon the person or liberty of such person . . . or attempts to commit any of the foregoing shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”).

  43. “Jacob, so what’s ok to throw at Obama?

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that bananas would be frowned upon.”

    So would watermelon and KFC.

  44. Shoe, fly, don’t bother me,
    Shoe, fly, don’t bother me,
    Shoe, fly, don’t bother me,
    For I belong to somebody.

    I feel, I feel,
    I feel like a morning star,
    I feel, I feel,
    I feel like a morning star.

  45. Are you banana/watermelon/fried chicken people trying to get joe to come back?

  46. Is this literally 3 years, or is it the ‘3 years’ which on average involves incarceration for a significantly shorter length on time*

    *not necessarily a bad thing.

  47. Hmm… chicken-fried banana…

  48. Really enjoying your work on this thread Soy(sea)Kitten.

  49. So is any former Bush Administration members asking the Iraqis for leniency? Is anyone in the Obama Administration asking for leniency?

    I didn’t think so. An insult was made on the ruling class, and it must be punished.

  50. Brandybuck,

    Obama is expressing class and dignity in abstaining from comment on something that happened before him.

    Bush is probably unaware of anything that is happening now.

  51. I join with Jacob in expressing that I loved to see the shoes fly at Bush. We need more love and less hate.

  52. Bush doesn’t need awareness–he is one with the Tao of Shoe Evading.

    I had sushi last night–de-licious. Still can’t imagine eating it with tofu.

  53. Anyone condoning any form of assult on a US president or high level offical is a freaking moron. That so called reporter didn’t just insult Bush, he insulted the US military and our entire country. He got off light. If he had thrown it at Sadaam, he would have been executed.

    YOU PEOPLE ARE ASSHOLES

  54. Sick lesbian S&M references and no response. You guys really are nerds.

  55. We see nothing interesting about ill lesbians.

  56. John,

    We just figured you’d be in your bunk for a while.

  57. Ok Pro, dirty lesbian S&M references.

  58. True enough sugerfree. True enough.

  59. John,

    Some of us call it lovely, not sick. But if sick is what turns your crank . . .

  60. TofuSushi,

    What is the old Woody Allen joke? Psychiatrist asks patient “do you think sex is dirty?” Patient says “only if it is done right”.

  61. Lighten up, JohnD. We’re talking about lesbians now.

    Mmm… lesbians.

  62. crimethink | March 16, 2009, 1:11pm | #

    John, she’s not your type. She’s got wind blowing through her ears, dude.

    As long as she can whistle in her pants…

  63. Still can’t imagine eating it with tofu.

    They’re tofu in the Miso soup, so it’s not that hard to imagine.

    OK, let me take this in another direction:

    How Heavy/Dense would the object thrown have to be to consider it criminally dangerous?

    Nerf balls don’t hurn, but that Nerf football with the hard platic whistle stung like hell if you caught it the wrong way. So where’s the line?

    A pillow? A golf ball? A lawn dart?

  64. Whatever you do, do not suggest throwing Obama fingers at the president.

  65. YOU PEOPLE ARE ASSHOLES

    Bottoms up!

  66. And no, my mangled spelling today does not meet the benchmark…

  67. How Heavy/Dense would the object thrown have to be to consider it criminally dangerous?

    If it weighs more than a duck it should not be thrown at a visiting head of state, or any other part of the body.

  68. Amendment to 2:35pm comment: Unless in the castle Anthrax.

  69. Also, not to throw a wrench into the works, but assaulting a foreign official is not the same as simple assualting someone, because the repercussion can be far greater than simply injuring another person.

    See: “Start of WWI” for an example…

  70. Anyone condoning any form of assult on a US president or high level offical is a freaking moron. That so called reporter didn’t just insult Bush, he insulted the US military and our entire country.

    What a sad joke of a person who thinks this. As if some pathetic moron like Bush (or Obama) could possible represent the US military and country.

    And blech, Dana Perino has those gross thin, wrinkly lips that look disgusting on a woman.

  71. . . .which was started when a Serbian nationalist threw a shoe at an Austrian dude.

  72. We no longer have enemy combatants in the USA. Is reason going to report on that?

    Next step: free the political prisoners!

  73. Yes, speaking of that, why doesn’t Obamarama just declare that the recession is over? It would be just as valid as any of his other redefinements.

  74. his punishment was disproportionate given the nature of the assault and that it seems to have been enhanced based not on the crime itself but on the ideas he expressed while committing it.

    Alright, I’ll ask again:

    How is reducing the charge and penalty for this assault “enhancing” the punishment because of the ideas expressed?

  75. R C Dean,

    Stop it man! Please! The people in the office think I am laughing randomly at bits of actual work!

  76. I wonder how hard a U.S. prosecutor would press on a similar assault of, say, Vladimir Putin on U.S. soil. I doubt the usual “Don’t do it again” punishment would occur.

  77. “Yes, speaking of that, why doesn’t Obamarama just declare that the recession is over?”

    Becauase he needs a continuing sense of crisis to justify getting his across the board left-wing agenda passed under the excuse that it’s needed to “fix” the economy.

    That’s why we need union card-check legislation and socialized medicine you see, because the absence of those things were REALLY instrumental in causing the current recession.

  78. “And blech, Dana Perino has those gross thin, wrinkly lips that look disgusting on a woman.”

    As opposed to Mick Jagger lips. Her lips are not gross or wrinkling. She is a very attractive woman. Better her natural if thin lips than some coligen injected freak lips that many woman have.

  79. “I wonder how hard a U.S. prosecutor would press on a similar assault of, say, Vladimir Putin on U.S. soil. I doubt the usual “Don’t do it again” punishment would occur.”

    Or better yet a chinese Premier? or how about throwing a Koran at the King of Saudi Arabia?

  80. Gilbert,

    Are you trying to get MNG in here to totally spank you again over the brilliant fairness of card check?

  81. The brilliance of MGN resides entirely within the confines of his own noggin.

    No evidence has yet escaped to the outside world.

  82. “Next step: free the political prisoners!”

    Alright. There are no political prisoners in the US anymore. Moving forward, the term “political prisoners” no longer holds any meaning.

    That was easy.

    Next task, please?

  83. I was so looking forward to some grainy footage from a cell phone camera of this brave journalist being hanged.

  84. Messiah! Obama! I knew you would not be afraid of these small minded anti-intellectuals. Thank you for visiting.

    See? No more political prisoners in the USA! If you do not understand how that worked then you are just not enlightned enough to comment.

  85. I’m saying that his punishment was disproportionate given the nature of the assault and that it seems to have been enhanced based not on the crime itself but on the ideas he expressed while committing it.

    Assaulting a visting head of state does make this transgression a greater crime than if was merely one private citizen chucking shoes at another.

    That is a simple, and perhaps brutal, reality.

  86. Gilbert,

    Oh, right, we must preserve the sanctity of the crisis. Of course, one wonders if there’ll ever be a “right” time to declare the crisis at an end. I suppose the government can’t allow any one crisis to drag on and on, so perhaps it can simply change from one crisis to another, periodically.

  87. As opposed to Mick Jagger lips. Her lips are not gross or wrinkling. She is a very attractive woman. Better her natural if thin lips than some coligen injected freak lips that many woman have.

    Her eyes aren’t bad. There are plenty of beautiful women with normal-sized, non-shrunken corpse lips. Better a natural, beautiful woman then an average one sporting a pageboy. Just imagine if she weren’t wearing that (little bit) of eye makeup. Yuck.

  88. PL,

    But the workers are in crisis! Mega Corporations are shipping their factory jobs overseas and they don’t have enough college to survive.

    And think about the Developing World with their massive unemployment due to USAian Mega Corporations impoverishing them!

  89. Yes, that’s a good one. I’m sure we can expect some sort of foreign affairs crisis before too long, too.

  90. If he had thrown a shoe at Saddam Hussein, he probably would have been imprisoned AND tortured, and maybe executed.

    But go ahead and defend this witless asshole. Do it all you want. Most people- ie, non-retards who don’t believe everything posted on this site is the best possible argument- will make the correct response, which is: “Fuck you, and fuck the show-throwing asshole too.”

  91. PL,

    Even the Russians are working with Obama on the foreign affairs crisis deal. They were going to put long range bombers in Cuba and Obama scared them away before they could launch a plane.

  92. And don’t forget about the crisis of the obesity epidemic!

    People are just too damn fat because the government is not spending enough dough (cough, cough) to thin them out!

  93. I’m kinda getting a dinosaur vibe from that pic of Perino. Like one of those skinny little dinosaurs that ran around eating eggs and shit. Imagine that as she’s opening her mouth she’s making a little reptile shriek. Not saying I wouldn’t hit it.

  94. zoltan – sorry, brother, but a quick browse of Google Images for the woman in question shows you’re WAY overly picky. Her lips are fine, man. Srsly.

  95. Bush should ask for early release after 6 months. Let him be the bigger man.

    So is any former Bush Administration members asking the Iraqis for leniency? Is anyone in the Obama Administration asking for leniency?

    I didn’t think so. An insult was made on the ruling class, and it must be punished.

    Even if Bush wanted to ask for leniency, he couldn’t do it in public. Iraqis would likely find it insulting.

    This is a total speculation, but the State Department or Bush may have asked for leniency in private, telling them a severe sentence would look bad here. Possibly this led to the drop from 15 to 3 years.

  96. Who else used crisis to push through freedom-killing legislation? Obama truly is Bush’s predecessor and protege.

  97. I wonder how hard a U.S. prosecutor would press on a similar assault of, say, Vladimir Putin on U.S. soil.

    Pretty fucking hard, is my guess. With State riding his ass every inch.

  98. She reminds me of a chick I knew once. “The chick with no face”. But at least she’s nowhere near as bad looking as Ann Coulter. I think she just needs longer hair. Short hair on tall women is a no go.

  99. But go ahead and defend this witless asshole.

    I don’t see anyone defending him except the few morons saying he shouldn’t be in trouble. I think the point is that there shouldn’t be special protected classes who get special laws made especially them. Well, someone individualists still think so, at least. But I guess throwing a shoe is the same as pulling a trigger.

  100. Someone needs to get tickets to the Daily Show and throw their shoes at John Stewart, just for teh lawlz.

  101. I’d love that. Especially if someone brought enough shoes for everyone in the audience as well.

  102. I remember when he threw the shoe and the wingnut right was all “now he’s free to express himself! He should thank us.”

    Also:

    Is this literally 3 years, or is it the ‘3 years’ which on average involves incarceration for a significantly shorter length on time*

    *not necessarily a bad thing.

    This is Iraq, not America. The government has barely existed three years itself. So as for how long he will actually serve (and longer than three years is also an option, given what I’ve seen of Iraqi justice and bureaucracy), it’s anyone’s guess.

    In any case, the time he serves will be hard time. There was a Wapo story I read about how he’d been beaten every day while waiting for trial.

  103. I’d rather be beaten every day than dead. I’d also rather not be bankrupting our country and destabilizing our democracy and endangering our citizens for the sake of some shithole halfway across the world.

  104. “She reminds me of a chick I knew once. “The chick with no face”. But at least she’s nowhere near as bad looking as Ann Coulter. I think she just needs longer hair. Short hair on tall women is a no go.”

    Colter is nasty looking Actually if she would gain 20 lbs and chop off that fucking nasty straight hair, she wouldn’t look half bad. As it is she looks like Cousin It’s anorexic sister.

    Dana Perino is admittedly a bit too skinny and a bit too course looking. But she still isn’t bad. She was hot enough to get all the way to presidential press secretary on her back.

  105. R C Dean,

    Exactly. While I think an assault should be treated as an assault, I can grudgingly accept that an attack on the president of an important (and threatening) country might warrant the maximum sentence.

    All this said, of course, I’m sure this guy is getting a whole lot worse than the standard punishment for assault, even taking in the account that he’s getting the max.

  106. She was hot enough to get all the way to presidential press secretary on her back.

    You mean she got the job by providing sexual favors? Really?

  107. She was hot enough to get all the way to presidential press secretary on her back.

    Yikes.

  108. “You mean she got the job by providing sexual favors? Really?”

    I don’t know. But I honestly can’t see where she has one quality beyond her looks. There are about a million people men and women who could have done that job better than her. Yet she somehow managed to go from journalism graduate at Colorado State Pueblo to Presidential Press Secretary in like ten years with a stop on the way as spokesman for the Justice Department. How do you do that? Somehow I don’t think she would have gotten there if she had been homely and a bit over weight, but that is just me.

  109. I don’t know. But I honestly can’t see where she has one quality beyond her looks. There are about a million people men and women who could have done that job better than her. Yet she somehow managed to go from journalism graduate at Colorado State Pueblo to Presidential Press Secretary in like ten years with a stop on the way as spokesman for the Justice Department

    You can say this about most Bush appointees. Do you think Scott Mclellan slept his way to the top as well?

  110. gah.

    McClellan

  111. Is that how Hillary Clinton got to be SoS? For that matter, I have the same question for most of Obama’s appointees. . .and for Obama himself.

  112. Brandybuck-

    “An insult was made on the ruling class, and it must be punished.”

    Mmmmmm. Sounds suspiciously close to conspiracy theorizing. Of course, I won’t hold it against you, but others, perhaps, will. Just thought I would alert you. I got your back, Brandybuck.

  113. Pro,

    She got where she is on her looks. It is unfair to say that she got there on her back. That is true. But then again, if people who get places on their backs have to work pretty hard versus just looking nice and kissing the right ass. I was never impressed with Perino.

  114. Is that how Hillary Clinton got to be SoS?

    Is there an emoticon for retching? Because I need one right about now.

    All this said, of course, I’m sure this guy is getting a whole lot worse than the standard punishment for assault, even taking in the account that he’s getting the max.

    He’s getting a lot less than the prescribed max for assault on a foreign head of state.

  115. John-

    Looks certainly didn’t get in the way of Marlin Fitzwater, Ari Fleischer and others from getting the job.

  116. John, do you seriously look at all the people Bush appointed, and out of all of them, you think she is one of the least qualified? Seriously? She may not be a superstar, but she never disbanded the Iraqi army or ruined a federal agency. Even compared to other press people in the white house operation, she was of above average competence – look at Scott McClellan. You’re primary argument against her is that she is an attractive woman. What the hell?

  117. Just too bad he didn’t have a ‘well-aimed stiletto heel’. One heel to another.

  118. How about Bill from Chapaqua’s girl, Deedee Meyers? Cute, maybe attractive, but no knockout. Then again, being a knockout or even attractive, was not a prerequisite for the kid from Hope.

  119. “Looks certainly didn’t get in the way of Marlin Fitzwater, Ari Fleischer and others from getting the job.”

    They were all good old boys. It is perfectly acceptable to loath incompetant good old boys who schooze their way to the top. Just like it is acceptable to loath women who use their looks to get ahead. One doesn’t preclude or excuse the other.

  120. One point to consider is that the POTUS is a disproportionately tempting target to hit with a shoe. The punishment therefore needs to be disproportionately dissuasive.

  121. Why does not liking Perino in some way endorse McCellen. McCellen was an idiot who happened to be politically connected. That doesn’t make Perino any more admirable.

  122. Are there any good press secretaries? How could you tell? I’m with Radley ax that stupid position.

  123. But how are they substantially different except that Perino happens to be attractive? How can you say she used her looks to get ahead when on paper, gender aside, she is exactly like everyone else in the administration?

  124. Looks certainly didn’t get in the way of Marlin Fitzwater, Ari Fleischer and others from getting the job.

    Not terribly different from Parino, these fellas likely got where they got on their knees…

  125. OK, seriously, if I tried rifling my shoes at Obama next time I was in DC, what could I expect? I would think a nice beating and a balls to the wall interrogation by the Secret Service to start. I could also see getting shot if the shoe removal was interpreted as reaching for a hidden weapon or something. Follow that up with what kind of prison sentence if I hadn’t gotten shot?

  126. The modern public affairs official (in both government and the corporate world) has generally spent some time on the journo circuit, normally as a local TV reporter/anchor. The (female) local TV reporter/anchor tends to be of above average pulchritude (at least when they started in the biz). Thus, most senior female press secretaries tend to be good looking. QED.

    Fwiw, Perino wasn’t all that bad as a PR flack, because she understood her limitations. And got unfairly maligned by her off-the-cuff ‘girlz didn’t play with GI Joe so we don’t know Tomahawk SLCM BGM-109 TLAM-C specs instinctively’ comment

  127. Maybe we’re just na?ve. Perhaps everyone in Washington got there based on their willingness to perform sexual favors.

  128. “But how are they substantially different except that Perino happens to be attractive? How can you say she used her looks to get ahead when on paper, gender aside, she is exactly like everyone else in the administration?”

    Because it is obvious they didn’t use their looks to get ahead since they don’t have any.

  129. John-4:55

    I agree with you. I only made the point about the looks in humor.

    My guess is that you would not put the late Tony Snow in the same category. He was eminently qualified. I still don’t know why he took the job, but that guy was the real deal.

  130. “My guess is that you would not put the late Tony Snow in the same category. He was eminently qualified. I still don’t know why he took the job, but that guy was the real deal.”

    It would be fun to go toe to toe with the media every day like that. I bet he liked it. That is the point. There are people out there who are really qualified. Perino wasn’t one of them. She was at best a cute face that should have been out covering if it bleeds it leads stories at some local news station. Press secretary is actually an important job. McClellen being such a fuck up did real damage.

    I don’t know whether Perino got the job based on her looks or her connections or both. But the fact remains she was in an important job and marginally qualified for it and did at best an average job at it. I dislike Perino because there are lots of people out there are who could no doubt wipe the floor with Perino but will never get the chance to have the jobs she has because they are not cute or connected enough. Don’t tell me for a minute she would have gotten a sniff at that job if she were homely.

  131. John-
    *Everyone* who has or ever had a high profile job in Washington DC is politically connected. Since 180something.

  132. “John-
    *Everyone* who has or ever had a high profile job in Washington DC is politically connected. Since 180something.”

    But some of them are actually competant and deserve the jobs they get. The ones who aren’t deserve all the scorn they get and then some.

  133. Press secretary is actually an important job

    I agree that public affairs is an important facet of any organization, esp in modern times.

    But if public affairs is making or breaking your org, your org is all manner of fraked up.

  134. I’m not gay, but always thought Tony Snow was kinda hot in a rakish, chemo-chique kinda way.

  135. “I agree that public affairs is an important facet of any organization, esp in modern times.

    But if public affairs is making or breaking your org, your org is all manner of fraked up.”

    IN normal business yes. But in politics public affairs really matters. How well you put out your message is important. It is not enough to be right. You have to be able to explain and convince people why you are right.

  136. But some of them are actually competant and deserve the jobs they get.

    Sure, but anyone, esp the median commenter here would say they are the minority.

    I’m just not seeing how Perino was particularly incompetant by whichever standards you wish to chose: those of a PAO, those of a govt official, or those of a Bush Admin govt official.

  137. “It is not enough to be right”

    But if your wrong, the best you’re going to do is win 2 elections in a row after a tie. But then see the bottom drop out.

    The problem with the last two years (or any years) of the Bush administration was not their ability to shape and deliver their message.

  138. I’m sorry, but public officials (see: people who have power over us) are never immune from criticism, even if it can be irrational at times.

    Sorry fuckers, you want power over you me, you don’t get my sympathy…

  139. Meh, some Iraqi citizen shows utter disrespect towards our leader, he goes away for 3 years. Sounds good to me. You won’t find any sympathy here. I hope he rots. Hey Jacob, why don’t you go join the Taliban?

  140. shrugged-

    “Our” leader?

  141. “Al-Zaidi initially was charged with assault of a foreign head of state, an offense that carries a sentence of up to 15 years. Last week prosecutors changed the charge to assault of an official during the execution of his duties, which carries a maximum penalty of three years.”

    “To be clear, I am not saying that what he did ought to be protected as free speech; I’m saying that his punishment was disproportionate given the nature of the assault and that it seems to have been enhanced based not on the crime itself but on the ideas he expressed while committing it.”

    They downgraded the charge to something lesser, even though technically the original charge seem to fit the crime. He did assault a foreign head of state, even if it was inffectual. Now, one can quibble about whether the sentence actually fits what he did, but it is the accepted sentence for what he was charged with.

    When you want to do something embarrassing to your government, don’t commit an actual crime while doing it. So endeth the lesson.

  142. Jacob,

    Addendum: Several commenters seem to be under the impression that I think Al-Zaidi should not have been punished at all, even though I said he was guilty of assault and called his sentence “excessive” (as opposed to completely inappropriate). To be clear, I am not saying that what he did ought to be protected as free speech; I’m saying that his punishment was disproportionate given the nature of the assault and that it seems to have been enhanced based not on the crime itself but on the ideas he expressed while committing it.

    This does not quite go along with what appears above it. How would you reword the whole post to give this as your true position?

  143. I wonder how many of the people who’ve had trouble understanding Jacob’s argument also have trouble understanding the almost exactly analogous argument against hate crime statutes.

  144. JW,

    I can see the comparison between the hate-crimes law and the assaulting-foreign-heads of state law. Someone who assaults a Korean shopkeeper because he’s Armenian could be said to be attempting an assault against the whole Korean community, just as someone who assaults the President of the U.S. *because* he’s the President of the U.S. could be said to be making an assault on the U.S.

    A main difference is that in the case of the racial hate crime against the Korean, the latter does not *in fact* represent all Koreans; the connection is in the evil mind of the assailant. In the case of an assault against the president of the U.S., the President does *in fact* represent the U.S., not just in the assailant’s mind.

    If someone *in fact* represents a country, then that person’s attacker (supposing he’s attacking the representive because of the country he represents) could be said to have *in fact* offered a concrete insult – an illegal insult – to the country in the person of the representative.

    Of course that raises all sorts of questions. If the assailant in the Korean case has a generalized desire to hurt Koreans, doesn’t that actually make the victim representative of the Korean community? How do we tell if an assault against G. W. Bush is based on the country he represents or his specific policies, ore should there be a legal distinction? Etc.

  145. Jesse Walker,

    Attacks on foreign diplomats and heads of state historicallly have had disastrous potential consequences to the host country.

    Attacks on domestic goverment officials can be viewed as a sort of negative bribe undermining the rule of law.

    Such considerations really do not figure in to hate crime laws.

    As well as the fact that there does not seem to be any official extension of the sentence due to the speech content of the act. All that can be argued is that they threw the book at him under the letter of the law, and even that does not really hold up under scrutiny.

  146. Jesse,

    I have no problem with a higher punishment meted out for, say, assaulting Vladimir Putin on a visit to the White House compared to assaulting the local homeless street preacher. One action carries greater external costs than the other. That’s called “smart lawmaking”, something I wouldn’t expect a libertarian to understand.

    You really need to move your offices to the Arlington suburbs.

  147. I disagree about the merit of the law, but that wasn’t the point. The fact that the case Jacob made and the case against hate crimes laws are analogous doesn’t mean that if you agree with one argument you have to agree with the other. It does mean that if you’re able to follow one, you shouldn’t have trouble following the other. And yet here are people who probably understand that “I’m against hate crime legislation” doesn’t mean “I think hate crimes should be legal,” who nonetheless seem to think that Jacob has called for legalizing assault.

    You really need to move your offices to the Arlington suburbs.

    What does that even mean?

  148. “The shoe throwing was a political gesture that incidentally involved hurling objects, as opposed to an act of violence with a political motivation.”

    Jacob is arguing that an act of assault should not be judged as an act of assault if the perpertrator has a great enough symbolic intent behind it. It is a nice theory, i suppose, but not a practical one.

  149. I’ll try!

    You really need to move your offices to the Arlington suburbs.

    What does that even mean?

    Your offices, located in a ritzy section of Washington, DC have infected you with the dreaded Cosmotarian thought influences. You should be with the bourgeouis masses in the gun saturated, pedestrian woumb of Virginia to cleanse your infected mind.

    How was that?

  150. Jesse,

    Don’t think I stopped agreeing with you. I still agree with you and MJ summed it up well, but he just does not understand us.

  151. Your offices, located in a ritzy section of Washington, DC have infected you with the dreaded Cosmotarian thought influences. You should be with the bourgeouis masses in the gun saturated, pedestrian woumb of Virginia to cleanse your infected mind.

    How was that?

    I stll don’t know what it has to do with anything else in RWR’s comment, or in Jacob’s original post either. Also, Jacob lives in Texas and I (as RWR knows) live in Michigan.

  152. Jesse,

    Oh, you were looking for something approaching proper logic? I did not think that was at play here, so I went with personal bias on the part of the accusor.

    Sorry, best I have.

  153. OK, seriously, if I tried rifling my shoes at Obama next time I was in DC, what could I expect? I would think a nice beating and a balls to the wall interrogation by the Secret Service to start. I could also see getting shot if the shoe removal was interpreted as reaching for a hidden weapon or something. Follow that up with what kind of prison sentence if I hadn’t gotten shot?

    Your prison sentence would be one of up to 10 years. (See 18 U.S.C. ? 1751(e).)

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  156. The shoe throwing was a political gesture that incidentally involved hurling objects,

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