Why the First Amendment Works

Iraqi Cleric Urges Action Against U.S. (washingtonpost.com)

Since May, Moqtada Sadr and his lieutenants have called for the United States and its allies to leave Iraq. Their initially strident, vocal demands were gradually toned down over the course of several months, and U.S. officials have been deeply divided over how to respond.

A particular concern has been Sadr's militia, called the Mahdi Army, which was formed last year and has thousands of members. The United States wants to dissolve the militias affiliated with several Shiite organizations in southern Iraq because of the threat they pose to stability in Iraq after the planned end of the civil occupation on June 30.

Tensions flared anew on Sunday, when American soldiers padlocked the doors of al-Hawza, a weekly newspaper controlled by Sadr. In a letter ordering the closing of the newspaper for 60 days, the U.S. administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, said it had printed lies that incited violence, although he did not say that it directly advocated violence.

Sadr's followers responded with three massive demonstrations, the first on the night the soldiers arrived at the newspaper's offices in Baghdad.
Freedom of the Press. It's worked to build and preserve democracy in this country for over two hundred years. Bremer should try it sometime in Iraq.

Bush-Cheney Campaign Axes Sloganator

Sloganator Memorial

John Kerry Raises Over $50 Million in First Quarter

John Kerry for President Blog

Friday iTunes Shuffle

  1. Tanya - Dexter Gordon
  2. This Time The Dream's On Me - Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil Soundtrack
  3. Soon All Will Know - Wynton Marsalis
  4. Arnold Layne - Pink Floyd
  5. Birdland - Manhattan Transfer
  6. Acknowledgment (From A Love Supreme) - John Coltrane Quartet
  7. One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer - John Lee Hooker
  8. Three Little Words - Art Tatum
  9. Rose Room - The Benny Goodman Sextet
  10. You've Changed - Billie Holiday

Okay, okay, so I own the Ken Burn's Jazz CD set. It's still great music that I own and like. :P : )

And Zygote Makes Three...

War Liberal > Mobile Register

Mac cracks wise about the idea of a fetus having an estate to settle. I think this opens up a lot of areas for legal dispute, however.

Let's see:

If a fetus can have an estate...

...and the estate tax is reinstated...

...then can the government charge an estate tax against mothers who recieve abortions?

(Probably not - I can't imagine many fetuses who would have large enough estates to qualify for the estate tax.)

Say a pregnant woman runs a small business. Can the fetus be considered a material partner in the business? Can it draw a salary? Would the mother be required to spend 16 hours only at the business, or risk violating child labor laws? If conceived in October, is it required to file income tax, before it's even born?

Can a father sue for custody rights? If he wins, how would the court's ruling be enforced? If the pregnant woman flees the father, has she kidnapped the fetus? Will ultrasounds be appearing on a milk carton near you?

Will fetuses be included in the 2010 census? Will gerrymandering lines divide the neonatal care unit from the maternity ward in the same hospital?

Will abortion clinics be required to file death certificates? To collect estate taxes?

If a pregnant woman suffers discrimination, will the perpetrator be liable to two separate lawsuits?

Will fetuses count as a deduction on your taxes? Will expectant mothers be required to staple a positive home pregnancy test to the 1040?

If the fetus gets too active in the womb, can the mother file assault charges?

Can unwilling fathers sue the fetus for harassment?


Kautilyan: Treasury Used to Attack Kerry

Kautilyan: Treasury Used to Attack Kerry

Really. That's what think tanks are for. If the Bushes keep this up, I swear, I'm going to start believing that they want to lose.

Flippity, Floppity, Bush Has Had His Say...

CNN.com - A look at Bush's reversals - Mar 30, 2004

These are some of the egregious ones. More to follow...

Lamest Kerry Slam Yet?


Right-wingers find photo of John Kerry with a jacket that has a plastic flower zipper pull. Right-wingers have tizzy over whether America will elect a man who wears a jacket that has a plastic flower zipper pull.

Right-wingers: as soon as recess is over, be sure to put your juice cartons in the trash can.

How Nice

Salon.com News | Iraqis drag four corpses through streets

Residents said the bomb attack occurred in Malahma, 12 miles northwest of Fallujah, where anti-U.S. insurgents are active. U.S. Marines operate in the area, but it was unclear whether the slain troops were Marines.

Chanting "Fallujah is the graveyard of Americans," residents cheered after the grisly assault on two four-wheel-drive civilian vehicles, which left both in flames. Others chanted, "We sacrifice our blood and souls for Islam."

Associated Press Television News pictures showed one man beating a charred corpse with a metal pole. Others tied a yellow rope to a body, hooked it to a car and dragged it down the main street of town. Two blackened and mangled corpses were hung from a green iron bridge across the Euphrates.

Krugman: This Isn’t America


Some journalists seem, finally, to have caught on. Last week an Associated Press news analysis noted that such personal attacks were "standard operating procedure" for this administration and cited "a behind-the-scenes campaign to discredit Richard Foster," the Medicare actuary who revealed how the administration had deceived Congress about the cost of its prescription drug bill.

But other journalists apparently remain ready to be used. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer told his viewers that unnamed officials were saying that Mr. Clarke "wants to make a few bucks, and that [in] his own personal life, they're also suggesting that there are some weird aspects in his life as well."

This administration's reliance on smear tactics is unprecedented in modern U.S. politics — even compared with Nixon's. Even more disturbing is its readiness to abuse power — to use its control of the government to intimidate potential critics.
You see what happens when you let crooks and liars steal the White House? You see?

America The Theocracy

Creative Loafing Atlanta

This article is an excellent introduction to the Christian Reconstruction Movement. If you've already heard of these fanatics, it's good to see just how many places their reach extends.

Many right-wing Christians are premillenialists, believing that Jesus Christ will soon return to this earth and reign from Jerusalem for a thousand years. However, the Reconstructionists by and large are post-millenialists. They believe that Jesus will not return to rule the earth until Christians assume control of all governments. What better place to begin world domination than America, the most powerful nation on Earth?

At the heart of dominion beliefs -- whether Boys' gut-punching invective or Rushdoony's and North's complex theological contemplations -- are two biblical passages. Genesis 1:28 commands men to have "dominion" over "every living thing." Adam and Eve broke their covenant with God, and Satan seized dominion. The church -- the church sanctioned by the Reconstructionists, that is -- claims it has a reconstituted covenant with God, and the right to a new dominion in his name.

Then, in Matthew 28:19-20, the "Great Commission," Jesus commands his followers to proselytize to the world.

Put another way, for the dominion theologians, the motto is: We rule!

Starting from those verses, dominion theology preaches that government would be largely replaced by the church. Or, more precisely, three "governments" would emerge, according to Cobb County's [Gary] DeMar: the family, the state and the church. All three would be subject to strict religious oversight.

DeMar, [Gary] North and other Reconstructionists believe the state should be limited to building and maintaining roads, enforcing land-use contracts, ensuring just weights and measures -- and not much else.

Except, as DeMar writes in his book Liberty at Risk, "The State is God's 'minister,' taking vengeance out on those who do evil," a role eagerly embraced by the Bush administration. A major task for the Christian state would be to field armies to conquer in the name of Jesus.
You'd think these flakes have no real influence in America. You'd be wrong. The true links of their power fits together like Lincoln Logs.
Christian Reconstruction "has been the driving force behind the Christian right for some time," says Daniel Levitas, an Atlanta author who follows extremist groups, many of whom, such as the racist "Christian Identity" sects, have found succor in the words of Rushdoony and his disciples.

The movement holds sway over a broad spectrum of conservative religion, and its power extends throughout local and federal governments. George Bush, for example, has called Reconstructionist Marvin Olasky "compassionate conservatism's leading thinker." Olasky, according to the New York Times, was one of Bush's "original advisers" on the creation of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives -- but became a critic after the agency's first director sought to rein in taxpayer-paid-for proselytizing.

Reconstruction's spread is a classic case of "tentacle influence," says Bill Berkowitz, a California journalist who has reported on Reconstructionists' stealth attack on that state's politics. One of the beneficiaries of the movement was California Sen. Tom McClintock, much of whose funding and campaign strategy came from Reconstruction heavyweights. McClintock was a moving force behind the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. The senator finished third in the election to replace Davis.

...The owners of Lincoln Log donate office space to one of dominion theology's elite battalions, Operation Save America -- previously known as Operation Rescue, which for decades has besieged abortion clinics around the nation. Its founder, Randall Terry, is departed -- he fell into sin due to a "woman problem," said his successor, Philip "Flip" Benham.

Many Americans have deep-rooted, sincere religious opposition to abortion, and many have been attracted to the civil disobedience of Operation Save America. Few of its grunt privates, however, understand the theology that moved Terry and is now articulated by Benham.

"There was always separation of church and state in the Bible," says Benham, thumbing a well-worn Bible ("I go through two or three a year"). "They had different missions. But God appointed the church to be the conscience of the state, to run the state."

Benham's office is full of pictures of abortion protests. One photo shows him baptizing Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" in Roe v. Wade who later became an ardent foe of abortion.

Outside Benham's office, along Lincoln Log's hallways, are more pictures. Featured prominently is former Alabama Gov. George Wallace. Checking records, it turns out that Lincoln Log's CEO, Richard Schoff, was a true-blue supporter of Wallace, which isn't surprising. Schoff also was once the leader of a faction of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana. "I wouldn't be today," Schoff told me.

Schoff had other memberships, particularly with a group called the Council for National Policy. It was founded in 1981 as a project of John Birch Society leaders, including Marietta Congressman McDonald.

Other members included Rushdoony, Gary North, Tim LaHaye (now writing science-fiction/eschatology novels), Pat Robertson, Oliver North, radical right activist Paul Weyrich (who said when the group was founded that it is "working to overturn the present power structure of this country") and Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly.
If I don't quit, I'm going to quote the entire article. There's lots more info at the link, though; go take a look.

Rice Under Oath, Bush and Cheney Will See Entire Committee

Washington Post

...And that's it, and they mean it:

Republican officials involved in the negotiations said that the twin announcements constituted a recognition by the White House that the continued resistance to the commission's request was beginning to look like stonewalling as the general election campaign gets underway. Public attention to the longtime disputes between the White House and the commission had increased exponentially following last week's testimony by Richard A. Clarke, formerly Bush's counterterrorism chief, that the administration had responded languidly to near-daily warnings about al Qaeda in the months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

...White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales made the offer this morning in a two-page letter to Kean and Hamilton. "The Commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice," Gonzales wrote.

Gonzales also said the commission "must agree in writing that Dr. Rice's testimony does not set any precedent for future commission requests."

Gonzales said Bush still maintains that he has "the legal authority to decline" the commission's request for Rice's testimony, but said the White House was recognizing "the truly unique and extraordinary circumstances underlying the commission's responsibility to prepare a detailed report on the facts and circumstances of the horrific attacks" on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
What's that word Big Daddy says? CRAP. Mendacity, even. They've been stonewalling the 9/11 Commission from the beginning - they didn't want to have it in the first place, they didn't want to let it have the information it needed, they didn't want to extend the time so it could do its job, and now they didn't want to testify before it at all.

And they want it in writing that no other Administration officials will be questioned. The poor babies.

Maybe they're not guilty of anything, but they've got more ways like people guilty of something than I've ever seen.

The Man Who Knew: John O'Neill

frontline: PBS

In light of Richard Clarke's story about the pushing of terrorism to a back burner, let's all remember another person that the Bush Administration ignored in their rush to Iraq - John O'Neill. He was the FBI's leading expert on al-Qaeda and warned the Bush Administration repeatedly about their reach and drive to attack.

He quit the FBI to become head of security for the World Trade Center, and died in the 9/11 attacks, becoming a painful casulty of the Bush Administration's delegation of al-Qaeda to a back burner.

If the Bush Administration had responded to the increased level of chatter and warnings about an impending al-Qaeda attack, John O'Neill would not have quit. It's interesting that the frontline site asks this question: What if the CIA had shared its information with the FBI? The circumstances for shared information could easily have been the kind of high-level focused meetings that Clinton convened in 1999, when several terrorism attacks were foiled around the turn of the millenium. Every day, the various heads of the intelligence community would have shaken the tree to get the best intelligence available into the hands of people who understood it.

Imagine Richard Clarke, John O'Neill, the Phoenix memo, the CIA information about two hijackers already in the country, and the case file of Zacharias Moussaoui in the same room. It's a world in which the 9/11 attacks would never have happened.

But worrying about al-Qaeda was just so Clinton. And Bush was the anti-Clinton. And so the towers fell.

Nightmare for Rove: DREAM Protesters Target His Home


Being the power behind the throne isn't supposed to be like this. Supporters of a bill that would allow five-year legal residents to apply for citizenship after graduating high school descended upon Rove's home yesterday. They followed him from room to room, pounding on the glass and waving their signs. All he could do was sputter out a lie about making his children cry (he has one child, but claimed a visiting neighbor).

Though Rove has probably nothing to do with this bill, the organizers certainly got noticed by the White House. Cheer up, Karl: it was only for a few hours. The crowds that hounded Vice President Gore after the last election were there for weeks. But you had nothing to do with that either, did you?

Gay Atlanta Man Attacked By Right-Wing Kansas Gang For Posting Bush Parody


It's unthinkable, but true. A man in Atlanta Photoshopped a picture of Bush as a Grand Dragon at a Klan rally and posted it on the Web. A gang of Kansas right-wing thugs were so offended by this parody that they drove to Atlanta, located the man, and brutally tortured and beat him, leaving him wounded in an alley.

Spatula at Morons.org has the details.

I don't have the resources to do this, but it occured to me that Bush has been creating plenty of jobs during his administration.

In other countries.

Where can we find figures on all the jobs that have been moved out of the states during the Bush Administration? The Iraqi war and reconstruction counts...

Senator Frist (R-HCA), Liemaster General for the Republicans in Charge

Yahoo! News

Bill Frist has hitched his wagon to the Bush Administration's star. He did that a long time ago, when the Bushistas stabbed poor Trent Lott in the back to get Frist Lott's job. And now Senator Frist (R - HCA)* has all the clout of the Senate Majority Leader when he stands up before Congress and utters the crazy mishmash of attack lines in this speech (.pdf, 64k). What on earth could have possessed him to say things like this:

First, in an email to the National Security Advisor four days after the September 11 attacks, Mr. Clarke expressed alarm that when the era of national unity begins to crack, an effort to assign responsibility for the 9-11 attacks will begin. In that email Mr. Clarke proceeds to lay out in detail a defense of his own actions before the attack, and those of the entire Administration.

Mr. Clarke was clearly consumed by the desire to dodge any blame for the 9-11 attacks while at that same moment rescuers were still searching the rubble of the World Trade Center for survivors. In my mind this offers perfect insight as to what drove him to write his book.

Second, in the August of 2002 interview I just referred to, Mr. Clarke gave a thorough account of the Bush Administration s active policy against al Qaeda. Mr. Clarke now explains away that media performance by suggesting that he was simply telling lies in an interview as a loyal Administration official.

A loyal Administration official? Does Mr. Clarke understand the gravity of the issues being reviewed by the 9-11 Commission and the gravity of the charges he has made? If, in the summer of 2001, he saw the threat from al Qaeda as grave as he now says it was, and if he found the response of the Administration as inadequate as he now says it was, why did he wait until the Sunday, March 21, 2004 to make his concerns known?

There is not a single public record of Mr. Clarke making any objection whatsoever in the period leading up to or following the 9-11 attacks. No threat to resign. No public protest. No plea to the President, the Congress, or the public, to heed the advice he now says was ignored. Mr. President, if Mr. Clarke held his tongue because he was loyal, then shame on him for putting politics above principle. But if he has manufactured these charges for profit and political gain, he is a shame to this government.

I myself have fortunately not had the opportunity to work with such an individual who could write solicitous and self-defending emails to his supervisor, the National Security Advisor, and then by his own admission lie to the press out of a self conceived notion of loyalty only to reverse himself on all accounts for the sale of a book.

Third, Mr. Clarke has told two entirely different stories under oath. In July 2002, in front of the Congressional Joint Inquiry on the September 11 attacks, Mr. Clarke testified under oath that the Administration actively sought to address the threat posed by al Qaeda during its first seven months in office.

Mr. President, it is one thing for Mr. Clarke to dissemble in front of the media. But if he lied under oath to the United States Congress it is a far more serious matter. As I mentioned, the intelligence committee is seeking to have Mr. Clarke's previous testimony declassified so as to permit an examination of Mr. Clarke's two different accounts. Loyalty to any Administration will be no defense if it is found that he has lied before Congress.

Fourth, notwithstanding Mr. Clarke's efforts to use his book first and foremost to shift blame and attention from himself, it is also clear that Mr. Clarke and his publishers adjusted the release date of his book in order to make maximum gain from the publicity around the 9-11 hearings. Assuming the controversy around this series of events does in fact drive the sales of his book, Mr. Clarke will make quite a bit of money for his efforts.

I find this to be an appalling act of profiteering, trading on his insider access to highly classified information and capitalizing upon the tragedy that befell this nation on September 11, 2001. Mr. Clarke must renounce any plan to personally profit from this book.
This speech was evidently vetted by the same minds that approved Bush's Nigerian yellowcake line. What exactly is Frist trying to say?

On the one hand, Frist trumpets that Clarke admitted to lying in the background interview on August 2002. This isn't true: Clarke's job at that backgrounder was to put a positive spin on the administration's efforts, and he did so and says so today. Spin isn't spin if it's a lie. The art of spinning is found in how advantageously you can state portions of the truth.

But on the other hand, which of the statements in the background interview does Frist consider to be the lies? You're the one calling Clarke a liar there: in which part of the interview is he lying?

In the portion of his August interview quoted by Frist, Clarke lays out the Bush Administration's response to several issues concerning terrorism. He had seven points, and Frist's quotation makes sure to include every "uh" and "um" that Clarke said while reading his prepared statement. The upshot of this information is that the Clinton Adminstration hadn't decided how to handle certain issues yet, and the incoming adminstration made some decisions. They also increased money for covert operations five-fold, and didn't stop any of Clinton's policies while they were making the decisions. (By the way, I don't see many "glowing terms" in this account of Bush Administration action. There's positive points there, but no "zowie, we sure were cleaning some al-Qaeda clock, weren't we, boys?" attitude at all.)

So obviously Clarke is lying when he says the Bush Administration wasn't doing anything about terrorism, correct? Well, that's not what Clarke is now saying, as this portion of his 60 Minutes makes clear:
CLARKE: George Tenet was saying to the White House, saying to the President cause he briefed him every morning, a major al Qaeda attack is going to happen against the United States, somewhere in the world in the weeks and months ahead. He said that in June, July, August.

STAHL (exp): {The last time the CIA had picked up a similar level of intelligence chatter was back in December 1999 when Clarke was the Terrorism Czar in the Clinton White House. Clarke says that President Clinton ordered his cabinet to go to battle stations, meaning they were on high alert, holding meetings nearly every day. That, Clarke says, helped thwart a major attack on Los Angeles Int'l airport when this al Qaeda operative was stopped at the border with Canada driving a car full of explosives. Clarke harshly criticizes President Bush for not going to battle stations when the CIA warned him of a comparable threat in the months before 9/11.}

CLARKE: He never thought it was important enough for *him* [Clarke's emphasis] to hold a meeting on the subject, or for him to order his National Security Advisor to hold a cabinet-level meeting on the subject.

STAHL: Why would having a meeting make a difference?

CLARKE: If you compare December 1999 to June and July of 2001, in December '99, every day or every other day, the head of the FBI, the head of the CIA, the Attorney General had to go to the White House and sit in a meeting and report on all the things that they personally had done to stop the al Qaeda attack, so they were going back every night to their departments and shaking the trees personally and finding out all the information. If that had happened in July of 2001, we might have found out in the White House, the Attorney General might have found out that there were al Qaeda operatives in the United States. FBI, at lower levels, knew -- never told me, never told the highest levels in the FBI.
Clarke isn't saying that the Bush Administration didn't do anything at all - it's that the actions were wholly inadequate. Bush's failure was not recognizing al-Qaeda as a serious threat, even when George Tenet told him morning after morning that they were planning a serious attack. Al-Qaeda and other terrorism issues was on the "Republicans In Charge"'s back burner, and just because they stirred the pot a couple of times doesn't mean that they were blameless in the 9/11 attacks.

More mishmash from the Frist speech: On the one hand, Clarke is scrambling to avoid blame for the 9/11 attack. On the other hand, Clarke is out of line for taking responsibility and apologizing for his part in letting the attacks happen. Which is it, Senator Frist?

On the one hand, Frist says that Clarke manipulated the release date to coincide with the 9/11 hearings. But on the other hand, the White House sat on the book for three months while they "vetted" it. It seems to me that the only entity that manipulated the release date of this book is the White House itself, so that they could accuse Clarke of 9/11 profiteering.

On the one hand, Frist accuses Clarke nothing less than perjury. Yet on the other hand, immediately following this speech, Frist says that he has no real evidence of perjury, that there's no real evidence of Clarke having two entirely different stories under oath. Are people allowed to get up on the Senate floor and just lie like that? Perhaps rank-and-file Senators can get away with this, but the Senate Majority Leader? The doctor-Senator with his eye on a 2008 Presidential campaign? I'm just on pins and needles waiting for the other shoe on this one...

Somebody handed Bill Frist a speech and he read it on the Senate floor. You see what happens, Dr. Frist, when you sign your soul away to the devil? Sometimes the devil asks you to destroy your public reputation for his benefit. Unlike Clarke's meek little spin job in August 2002, this Senate speech of yours is beyond spin. You're lying like a champ for this people for your own political gain, and it's going to pull you down with them in the end.