October 4, 2007

if christ came back, he'd find us in a poker game


Gibby Haynes, title and date unknown

* Gonzales secretly authorized torture. excerpt:

"When the Justice Department publicly declared torture 'abhorrent' in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.
But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

"The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

"Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on 'combined effects' over the objections of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, who was leaving his job after bruising clashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.

"Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing 'cruel, inhuman and degrading' treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard."

* Howl: 50 years after being ruled not obscene, radio station fears airing it. excerpt:

"Fifty years ago today, a San Francisco Municipal Court judge ruled that Allen Ginsberg's Beat-era poem 'Howl' was not obscene. Yet today, a New York public broadcasting station decided not to air the poem, fearing that the Federal Communications Commission will find it indecent and crush the network with crippling fines.

"Free-speech advocates see tremendous irony in how Ginsberg's epic poem - which lambastes the consumerism and conformism of the 1950s and heralds a budding American counterculture - is, half a century later, chilled by a federal government crackdown on the broadcasting of provocative language.

"In the new media landscape, the 'Howl' controversy illustrates how indecency standards differ on the Internet and on the public airwaves. Instead of broadcasting the poem on the air today, New York listener-supported radio station WBAI will include a reading of the poem in a special online-only program called 'Howl Against Censorship.' It will be posted on www.pacifica.org, the Internet home of the Berkeley-based Pacifica Foundation, because online sites do not fall under the FCC's purview.

"'Why, 50 years later after a judge ruled that children could read this poem, people are afraid the courts will say that their ears shouldn't hear it,' said Ron Collins, a constitutional law instructor and First Amendment advocate who is leading a small group of authors, broadcasters and free-speech advocates pushing to broadcast the poem eventually. 'Yet they can go on the Internet and see far, far worse things.'

"Another irony: WBAI, the Pacifica Foundation station in New York that plans to post 'Howl' online, is the same station that took on the FCC more than 30 years ago over the right to air George Carlin's comedy routine featuring the 'seven dirty words.' The challenge led to a 1978 Supreme Court decision governing what naughty words can be broadcast and when."
...
"In an interview to be broadcast today on WBAI to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the poem's legal victory, Ferlinghetti was asked what Ginsberg, who died in 1997, would have said about the broadcast controversy.

"'Ah, well, I'm sure he'd have plenty to say about it. I often lament that he isn't around to say it,' Ferlinghetti told WBAI.

"'As Allen Ginsberg's original publisher and editor, for most of his life, I look at the present situation as a repeat in spades of what happened in the 1950s, which was also a repressive period,' he said. 'The current FCC policy wasn't conceived just for poetry, but when applied to the case of Allen Ginsberg's poem 'Howl,' it amounts to government censorship of an important critique of modern civilization, especially of America and its consumerist society, whose breath is money, still.'

"'It's such a hypocritical concept of American culture in which children are regularly exposed to adult programming in the mass media, with subjects ranging from sexual to criminal to state-sponsored terrorism, while at the same time they are not allowed to hear poetry far less explicit,' Ferlinghetti said. 'I suggest the FCC ban all television newscasts until after 10 p.m., when children won't be listening.'"

* World's wackiest holidays.

* "America is stuck with its self-definition put on paper in 1776, and that was just like putting a burr under the metaphysical saddle of America." -- Robert Penn Warren

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