July 17, 2009 archive

First Amdendment Friday 11 – Bartnicki V Vopper.

Happy Friday and welcome to the 11th in the Dog’s First Amendment Friday series. This series is following the syllabus for the class called The First Amendment and taught at Yale Law School by Professor Jack M. Balkin. As with the Friday Constitutional series this is a layman’s look at the Law, specifically the Supreme Court opinions which have shaped the boundaries of our 1st Amendment Protections. If you are interested in the previous installments you can find them at the links below:

Originally posted at Squarestate.net

Four at Four

  1. CBS News reports the U.S. threatens Afghans over captured GI. “At least two Afghan villages have been blanketed with leaflets warning that if an American soldier kidnapped by the Taliban two weeks ago isn’t freed, “you will be targeted.'”

    “Military spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias confirmed that the leaflets were produced at Bagram Air Base, the primary U.S. installation in Afghanistan, and distributed in the region.”

    U.S. aircraft blanketed at least two Afghan villages with leaflets stating, “If you do not free the American soldier, then… you will be targeted.”

    “The new leaflet represents a broader, direct warning to local people in the region where the U.S. soldier was seized. Villagers from near the Paktika-Ghazni border told CBS News the papers were found stuck in trees and littering roofs in the area. The question is, will its stern message help win the missing soldier’s freedom, or just antagonize the local people who could help, or hurt, that effort.”

    At VetVoice, Brandon Friedman writes that Threatening Afghan Civilians Probably a Bad Idea.

    Now, whether the U.S. intends to actually target civilians is another question. It won’t happen. But it’s the threat that counts. And vocally threatening to do something without a willingness to back it up leads to problems in conflict situations…

    I think whoever came up with the idea to print these things didn’t really think it through. While the likelihood of success using a technique like this is slim, the chance of inflaming the locals even further is much higher. This whole thing seems clumsy and ham-handed, and will almost certainly do more harm than good. I’d love to be proved wrong.

    Our thoughts are with the captured soldier.

    Makes a person really question President Obama’s choice of having Gen. Stanley McChrystal lead his war in Afghanistan. Less than a month ago, the Washington Independent reported McChrystal’s tactical priority was to avoid civilian casualties because the U.S. was (and still is) losing Afghan support.

    Meanwhile, the NY Times reports an Explosion Kills nine in Afghanistan. “Nine civilians, including five children, were killed Friday when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle on the way to a religious shrine in southern Afghanistan, officials said.”

Four at Four continues with a striking jump in mental illness found in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the link between combat stress and homicide, Uighurs say U.S. helped Chinese interrogators, Bush-era war crimes dogging Obama, and an all-female flight crew for Marine One.

Why “church” works

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what (from my rabid-atheist perspective) appears to be a firm grip by the churches of America on those who attend church. I’m beginning to understand something: it isn’t that the church has a grip on the parishioners, it’s that the parishioners have a grip on the church. See, down here in the US South, “church” isn’t just a building you go to one hour a week, it’s the centerpiece of the local people’s entire culture. It’s where you see your friends and neighbors, it’s where your kids go when they’re Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts (you’d be amazed how many Scout troops are hosted in church basements), it’s where at least two people I know met and wooed their spouses (and where at least one person I know met the person he cheated on his wife with), and at the end of it all, it’s where the living go to bury their dead, knowing with certainty that they too will someday be buried there next to generations of their own people. Vacation trips, charity drives, study groups, knitting circles, art classes, the church is at the center of all of it for the majority of Americans, and not just down here in the South.

What do we secularists have to offer in place of this richness? The sad, barren truth, without even the dubious comfort of an uppercase “T” on the word? The truth that there is no God and when you’re dead, you’re dead and you’ll never see your loved ones again? And we wonder why we have, shall we say, a bit of a “PR problem”.

Secular humanism will overcome “church” the day that secular humanism offers something better. And to be perfectly blunt, “the truth about how the world is” just isn’t perceived by most people as “better”. We need more than just “the truth”, much more. I’m not sure that secularism as currently constituted even has the potential  to replace “church”, if for no other reason than the fact that it simply isn’t set up structurally to answer the same set of human needs that “church” answers.

Party Over Constitution, Party Over War Crimes, Too?

Simulposted ay Daily Kos

Former Republican Congressmen: Republicans Put Party Over Constitution

Former Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.)…..

mocked members of Congress when it came to flexing their constitutional oversight authority. In particular, he lamented the House Republican lawmakers’ unified opposition to holding hearings to investigate the firing of U.S. Attorneys by the Bush White House.

“One of the most shocking things was when the House voted to hold [Counsel Harriet] Miers and [Chief of Staff Josh] Bolten in contempt because they refused to obey a congressional subpoena,” said Edwards. “Every single member of my party, except for three, walked out. Members of Congress walked out of the chamber rather than stand up as members of Congress so that congressional subpoena (would) be obeyed. Party trumped Constitution.

Former Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) made the argument that if the Republican-controlled Congress had exhibited greater oversight during former President George W. Bush’s time in office, they could have prevented some of the most calamitous results of that administration and even saved thousands of lives.

“That would have alerted the administration to what was happening, the command authority to what was happening and it probably would have saved a 1,000 lives,” Shays said. Shays said the Bush White House abused its powers in a way that resulted in many of the domestic and international problems that have unfolded recently.

Roughly a dozen people in the White House, running an illegal invasion and Organized and Systematic program of torture. They got away with it because of roughly 250-300 Republicans in Congress, who corruptly decided that their raw power was more important than the Constitution.

Scott Horton at The Daily Beast follows up on the Newsweek piece on Holder….

Holder began his review mindful of the clear preference of President Obama’s two key political advisers-David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel-that there be no investigation.

The Happiest Man In The World


Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

And now, for something completely different.  Really.  I could relentlessly, clenching my teeth, continue to pound the keyboard to rant and fulminate about the latest outrages.  We all do that. Or right now I could do something else, something that might even make me smile.  Which brings me directly to Daniel Goleman’s lovely piece in today’s New York Times, “Sitting Quietly, Doing Something,” which is about “the happiest man in the world.”

Some anecdotes, though the entire article is well worth your time:

I recently spent an evening with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, the Tibetan lama who has been dubbed “the happiest man in the world.” True, that title has been bestowed upon at least a few extremely upbeat individuals in recent times. But it is no exaggeration to say that Rinpoche is a master of the art of well-being.

So how did he get that way? Apparently, the same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice.

When I called him at his Manhattan hotel… he told me he was in the middle of a shower – but not in the usual sense. The shower, he told me, had run out of hot water midway. When he called the front desk, he was told to wait several minutes and there would be more hot water. In this situation, I probably would have been peeved. But as Rinpoche told me this, he was laughing and laughing.

The only momentary glitch I’ve witnessed – a few years back – was slapstick: he sat down in an office chair with a faulty seat that suddenly plunged several inches with a thump. Once when this chair had done the same to me I cursed and groused about it for a while. But Rinpoche just frowned for a second – and the next moment he was his upbeat self again.

Another fruit of these spiritual practices seems to be a healthy dose of humility. When Rinpoche told my wife that he was being billed as “the happiest man in the world,” he laughed as though that were the funniest joke he’d ever heard.

So I’m wondering about this man.  And his happiness.  And my happiness.  Wouldn’t being this happy be incredible fun?  And wouldn’t I be so much more fun to be around if I were happier?  And wouldn’t the happiness feelings drive whatever worry and anxiety I might be feeling right out of my mind?  Wouldn’t everything in my life and surroundings look and feel and actually be different?

I’ve been a long time meditator, but unlike the great meditators whose minds are measured in laboratories, I’m sure I have nowhere near 10,000 hours of meditation. And I’d be lying if I said I was happy all of the time, or even the majority of the time.  Sometimes I’m happy.  Those times, sometimes, seem rare.  Mostly, I think I’m in neutral. I have some equanimity. Sometimes, and I hope this is not the majority of time, like everyone, else I’m upset, afraid, depressed, anxious.  I have negative feelings and emotions.  Sometimes these occupy me for what seems like a long time.

So I wonder.  What can I do to be more like Rinpoche?  I want to be like Mike Rinpoche. Wouldn’t that make the world a better place?


cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

O Pointy Hat, O Pointy Pointy

On John Yoo’s head, anointy-nointy!

Hat tip to Dandelion Salad…

Goldman Sachs: The Wheel of Fortune & Blood Funnel

Here is the wheel of fortune of our times  

This map represents the connections and relationships of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Goldman Sachs International, Goldman Sachs Japan, Goldman Sachs Europe Limited, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Goldman Sachs Hedge Fund Strategies LLC, Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC

Below I will post a link to the interactive version where you can click on each of the boxes with a + sign and get more information and see even further connections. I will also post a list of all these many connections. I posted a smaller version of this wheel last night in Badabing’s diary, Matt Taibbi Pulls the Rug Out on Goldman Sachs – AGAIN… and am flushing it out for you all by request. Consider this a reference. I hope others will add to it.

This is the END, either for the GOP, or for America

simulposted at Daily Kos

     The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling.


It’s going to come out.”


    I’ve referenced this this before, but this quote haunts me in my sleep.



Please, send an e-mail or call Attorney general Eric Holder. He is said to be strongly leaning towards naming a Special Prosecutor, let’s give him a little push in the right direction!

And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.

   There are people who will defend this. Terrible people.

    It is going to come out.

Starbucks “FREE PASTRY” day?No way!

Facebook members may have noticed an ad on their homepage sidebar today. It’s a Starbucks invitation to a “free pastry” day, and clicking on it takes you to the Starbuck’s facebook page where you can RSVP whether you will be attending.

Ya, THAT Starbucks.


The one that recently (June 2009) became the most prominent sponsor of the “Morning Jo(k)e” with Jo(k)e Scarborough on MSNBC.

The funny Rethug mouthpiece who giggles into his STARBUCKS coffee cup about American torture. He thinks torture is a hoot, a frat boy prank, a useful tool, and is keeping ‘mericans safe.

Apparently, Starbucks does not disagree.

Dennis has a call to action up on Orange…


You might want to slip over and show your support (should you support his idea).

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

2009 Poems

Rainbow Colors

Attrition Blues

I watch you

as you grow

learn some things

take baby steps


hoping for more

ever willing

to teach you

how to make it so


waiting for victory

through attrition

has a sour taste

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 27, 2009

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Jakarta hotel bombs kill 9, wound 42: police

By Telly Nathalia and Olivia Rondonuwu, Reuters

53 mins ago

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Near-simultaneous bomb blasts ripped through the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta’s business district on Friday, killing nine people and wounding 42 others including foreign businessmen, police said.

A car bomb had also exploded along a toll road in North Jakarta, police said. Indonesia’s Metro TV said two people had been killed. No further details on that blast were available.

The bomb attacks, the first in several years, could badly dent investor confidence in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. The Indonesian government has made considerable progress in tackling security threats from militant Islamic groups in recent years, bringing a sense of greater political stability to the country.

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