A CONGRESSMAN ON CHECKS AND BALANCES or, A VOICE RAISED AGAINST KING GEORGE
I have just read a private letter that a prominent congressman sent his law partner -- that has been made public -- and I think really makes a good case about presidential war powers that we're not hearing enough of. His law partner evidently supports the claim of unfettered war powers on the part of the president, and the Congressman strongly disagreed. He writes:
Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, "I see no probability of the British invading us"; but he will say to you, "Be silent: I see it, if you don't."
The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.
I'd say that pretty well makes the case that very few congressmen are willing to make these days, and that would undoubtedly draw the fire of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Frist, Bill O'Reilly, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and even Bush himself.
The Congressman? Well, normally I would shield his identity, but, since the letter's been made public, I think it's entirely fair to "out" him here.
Abraham Lincoln wrote this letter, while a US Congressman, to his friend and law-partner William H. Herndon, opposing the Mexican-American War (15 February 1848). See it for yourself at:
NO GOOD NEWS IS NO GOOD NEWS or, EVIL IS AS EVIL DOES
This ain't the gospel truth, since "gospel" means, literally, "good news" and the truth herein is that bad news is being attacked for not showing enough "good news" and that ain't good news.
Today, the media are reporting (are, not is, since media is plural, and singular is medium, which would be more accurate: today the medium, Wolf Blitzer, reported) that Resident Bush, in the fifth day of his "Good News About Iraq" tour, will be complaining loudly that all the "good news" coming out of our misbegotten war is being ignored for the (by implication, relatively unimportant) news about bombings, murders, explosions, torture, civilian execution, coverups, courts martial of prison guards, sky high gas prices at home and scarce supplies and insanely high prices for gasoline in Iraq, which has 1/10th of the world's oil reserves of crude petroleum, according to CIA and various other estimates.
As per usual, the Right Wing echo machine has been preparing us for days. Suddenly, here and there, on right wing television, and right wing radio shows -- and LEFT wing radio, via trolls (phoney "ringers" touting the GOP talking points but saying, "I'm not a Democrat or a Republican, but I think ...) -- suddenly the fertile spring ear wax has been seeded with an idea: it's the media's fault that the war is going badly because they're only reporting bad news.
And, of course, the "good" news is SO good. Electricity is STILL sporadic in the best areas (with only a couple of scheduled hours at a time available) to no electricity at all.
Here's the good news: the insurgency has targeted the oil wells and the pipelines, and the electric lines and generators and transformer stations. That PROVES that the insurgency is evil, and, therefore, that we are good.
And that's good news.
Except that it's not true. We are demonstrably NOT good, which is not good. Some few remaining delusionals maintain that this ia a just war in a just cause and the reason they didn't welcome us with flowers is just because. That's all. Just Because.
These are those that Lincoln named in his famous aphorism: "You can fool some of the people all of the time ...."
These are that some. But those in power believe that if the lie is told widely and loudly enough, the two out of every three Americans who have finally kenned that the "Commander in Chief" (Commander in Cheap, one might say, with reference to cutting medical and veterans' benefits and closing Veterans' hospitals in wartime) -- well, the Commander & Thief dissimulates. Er ... makes non-operative statements. Prevaricates. Prevarificates. Mendaciously perambulates, volitionally evades, eludes and elides matter of a factual nature, beats around the bush.
Worse, he cherry picks his facts, which may mean that he's lying as much to himself as to us, which is even worse.
So, where is the good news?
Well, I just told you what the good news is: the good news is what the president wants to hear about the endless war in Iraq, which is why he's complaining.
With all that effort to shove Bush's spin down our throats -- that it's the "liberal media" that are the problem, and not the problem that's the problem -- you'd think they could just cut out the middle man, and start reporting the happy news that Bush wants to hear themselves.
Well, in a sense they already do, via Faux Nooz, but, for some reason, even though Faux Nooz completely ignored this weekend's protests across the country, the victory was not AND VILL NOT BE complete until ALL UF ZE NEWSMEDIASERS OV ZA HOMELAND IS REPORTING IT! YA!
See guile? Y'all?
Well, sad to say, binky, they came damned close to succeeding in that last little thing. To watch the national news, you'd have thought that no one had taken to the streets across the nation.
You'd have thought that the backstage newsw from "American Idol" was the single burning issue gripping the hearts and minds of Americans.
And these putzes have the GALL to COMPLAIN that they're not getting everything that they want?
Puh-leeeeeeze. See Karl. Seek guile. Sieg heil.
Except ... only those people who can be fooled all of the time are being fooled, and the massive blitz on the truth about the war seems to be erupting in their faces. In some polls, Dubya, Mr. Smarmalade, is down to 30% -- in Cheney territory, in other words.
According to one poll cited by a regular reader a couple of days ago, Cheney is polling somewhere lower than pedophilia. I would add that Bush is polling lower that belief in UFOs.
But then, he's less credible than UFOs isn't he?
And, as Mad King George gibbers, drools and raves his way across America, where is the "loyal opposition"?
Well, they've got more important things to do. From what I understand, they've all got parts (or mostly all, anyhow) in a remake of the famous western "High Noon" playing the simple townspeople that the Sheriff, Gary Cooper (played in the remake by Russ Feingold) is desperately , well, let's let the NEW YORK TIMES' film critics tell you, since they give far more of a crap about the "literature" of cinema than do I, who foolishly believes that a mediocre book still beats a great movie, and a great book beats any movie ever made for good and solid epistemological reasons that don't bear discussion of matters at hand:
High Noon 1952-USA-Psychological Western N.Y. Times Review by Bosley Crowther Rating: NR (Mild Violence/Adult Situations) Running Time: 85 Minutes
Starring: Lloyd Bridges, Gary Cooper, Katy Jurado, Grace Kelly, Otto Kruger, Thomas Mitchell Directed by: Fred Zinnemann
PLOT DESCRIPTION This Western classic stars Gary Cooper as Hadleyville marshal Will Kane, about to retire from office and go on his honeymoon with his new Quaker bride, Amy (Grace Kelly). But his happiness is short-lived when he is informed that the Miller gang, whose leader (Ian McDonald) Will had arrested, is due on the 12:00 train. Pacifist Amy urges Will to leave town and forget about the Millers, but this isn't his style; protecting Hadleyburg has always been his duty, and it remains so now. But when he asks for deputies to fend off the Millers, virtually nobody will stand by him. Chief Deputy Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges) covets Will's job and ex-mistress (Katy Jurado); his mentor, former lawman Martin Howe (Lon Chaney Jr.) is now arthritic and unable to wield a gun. Even Amy, who doesn't want to be around for her husband's apparently certain demise, deserts him. Meanwhile, the clocks tick off the minutes to High Noon -- the film is shot in "real time," so that its 85-minute length corresponds to the story's actual timeframe. Utterly alone, Kane walks into the center of town, steeling himself for his showdown with the murderous Millers. Considered a landmark of the "adult western," High Noon won four Academy Awards (including Best Actor for Cooper) and Best Song for the hit, "Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darling" sung by Tex Ritter. The screenplay was written by Carl Foreman, whose blacklisting was temporarily prevented by star Cooper, one of Hollywood's most virulent anti-Communists. John Wayne, another notable showbiz right-winger and Western hero, was so appalled at the notion that a Western marshal would beg for help in a showdown that he and director Howard Hawks "answered" High Noon with Rio Bravo (1959). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
The Democrats are doing a GREAT job of playing the townsfolk, with Cheney doing his best Lloyd Bridges, and Bush somehow sadly miscast as the Chuckles the Clown dying tragically of consumption and addicted to ether.
And the costumes are inauthentic.
The Democrats have been accused of being spineless, of being passive, of not doing anything, etc. etc.
But I think that they have forgotten the first law of the Jungle:
FIRST you kill the zebra.
THEN you fight over the carcass.
The Democrats have been (most of them) in power for their entire political lives. And, when the Republicans (who had virtually NEVER been in power their entire political lives) started taking back the government a piece at a time, the Democrats failed to note the utter amorality, the simple grasping mindless greed for power (and, as it turned sour, for wealth) that the long-frustrated Republicans were exhibiting.
And, as though they had already made the kill, the lions of the left have been acting for almost a generation, as if it were only a matter of dividing up the kill among the pride.
They never noticed that the zebra had amiably moseyed off in the interim, and still do not seem to understand WHY they are starving.
Meantime, off in a land of self-delusion, the hermetically sealed disco-ball, fishbowl and echo chamber of the NeoCon right, up to and through the White House, complain that the world is not being reported in the manner that they most earnestly desire, adamantly require and petulantly demand.
Who is more delusional is, however, not a matter of debate. Utter hallucinatory psychosis trumps paranoia and debilitating anxiety attacks every time. Mostly, the Democrats just get the vapors.
We can forgive them their foolish cowardice. They will, like the Dodo, become extinct, and vertibrates will rise up to take their places, still taxonomically classified as "Democrats" just as "Democrats" won World War II, or, as Bob Dole called it a "Democrat war." Surely you can't believe that THESE Democrats are THOSE Democrats.
But, the Mad King seems to be convincing the most hard core of his former supporters that he is incapable of being trusted, because he is incapable of telling the truth *(the latest being that he never said Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9-11. Even were this construed as strictly true, and ignoring the months of conflating Hussein with Al Qaeda, it would still be untrue. He did say it. But, the fruit doesn't rot far from the tree. Bush's professor at Harvard Business School recalls that these were all favorite tactics of Bush thirty years ago:
by Professor Yoshihiro Tsurumi September 27, 2004, from The Ticker Baruch College - The City University of New York
At Harvard Business School, 30 years ago, George Bush was a student of mine. I still vividly remember him. In my class, he declared that "people are poor because they are lazy." He was opposed to labor unions, social security, environmental protection, Medicare, and public schools. To him, the antitrust watchdog, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Security Exchange Commission were unnecessary hindrances to "free market competition." To him, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was "socialism.
At HBS, GWB showed that he lacks the required leadership qualities - honesty. sincerity, honor, independence, compassion, and moral courage. Upon these personal characters, any political and business leader must build his/her refined sense of history, balanced sense of world affairs, and keen sense of social responsibility and public accountability. GWB's unfitness as the U.S. president has gotten worse since his HBS days. At least during his HBS days, he did not pretend to be a born-again Christian fundamentalist and did not justify his bigotry and folly as "being ordered by his Almighty." GWB's public piety deceives simple folks into wishfully believing that he is one of their likable and compassionate fellows. It masks the fact that his policies and character deficiencies are hurting ordinary folks. I cannot possibly recommend him to his ultimate employers, namely the American voters. For effective antidotes of GWB's lies about his supposed successes of economic policies, Iraq War, and the War on Terror, see Paul Kruman's "The Great Unraveling" and Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies." ... GWB's flawed leadership qualities were already apparent when I had him in my class at HBS - pathological lying habit and indulging in denial when challenged.
Unlike during the last presidential election, this time, leading and credible journalists have finally begun to evaluate GWB at HBS. They have learned that GWB's serious character deficiencies were already apparent at HBS. However, except for me, GWB's former classmates and teachers do not wish to go on a public record about their criticism of GWB at HBS. But, many of them have privately testified to the investigating journalists that they agree with my recollections of GWB at HBS. Why have they all chosen to remain anonymous? They are afraid of the White House attack dogs. Neo-con Bushites are vicious and have to sense of honor or civility.
I cannot divulge the grade I gave GWB, except to say that he was in the very bottom 5 percent of my class. He graduated because HBS practiced the "social promotion." The Bushes were given the "Gentlemen's C's" and pushed out.
In March this year, when GWB stopped promising "2.6 million new jobs by this fall," his Bureau of Labor Statistics stopped publishing a monthly report of manufacturing and service industry layoffs. Now, Cheney, GWB's lying hatchet man, says that the unemployment rate statistics does not reflect a true picture of job relations because there are "lots of people selling in the e-bay." Figures don't lie, but liars do figure.
Let's repeat that little sound bite one more time:
GWB's flawed leadership qualities were already apparent when I had him in my class at HBS - pathological lying habit and indulging in denial when challenged.
Living in denial is precisely what he's doing, and what his entire crony network seems to be doing.
OUR NATIONAL SEXUAL MANIA, AGAIN or, IDA CRADDOCK' S DEAD AND GONE
I knew a defrocked Jesuit priest who had become a crime reporter, and, later an editor. Once, in his apartment, in a strangely low-rent neighborhood of Beverly Hills, I saw his files. Endless reams of stories and articles he'd written, and what was amazing was that if you squinted your eyes, and looked a bit out of focus, every page was filled with paragraphs that were exactly as long as this one.
It was as though an endless internal press had stamped out endless copy for numberless magazines and newspapers over the years.
But that wasn't what I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell you a story he told me once, about the old California of the 1940s.
The Kern County sheriffs found a car in the desert, late one night outside of Palm Springs. For whatever reason, it was suspicious to them, and they shone their flashlights in the window, and caught a wealthy young man, and a young woman of his acquaintance engaged in a criminal sexual act. The young man was arrested, and the young woman was escorted home in that old pseudo-chivalry of the double standard.
But, as I said, he was a wealthy young man, and his father promptly got the best attorney that money could buy, and the best attorney that money could buy went into the courthouse, tied the Kern County prosecutor into neat little knots that no Boy Scout ever learned, and got his client off the hook on all charges. You know, lewdness, fornication, sodomy, sexual deviance and all that sort of stuff that covers up the actual act with polite legalese.
As they were leaving the court house, the young man thanked the best attorney that money could buy and offered his hand.
The best attorney that money could buy sniffed, and retorted, "I'm not shaking hands with no god-damned cuntlapper."
Now, we might find that laughable. Oral sex is not criminal anywhere in the United States that I know of (unless there are mitigating circumstances, like age). But at the time, the wealthy young man was looking at ten to twenty years in the state penitentiary for having gone down on his girlfriend.
And the best attorney that money could buy was the perfect expression of the times they lived in: while he could get the charges dismissed, he had no problem with a stiff prison sentence had the young man been found guilty. He agreed that it was a dangerous felony. But he had bills to pay.
And so, in the news, another menace has now appeared, one former bikini model on a motorcycle, turned school teacher and accused of having had sex with a fourteen year-old boy.
Former teacher won't face sex crime trial Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:50 PM ET
TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - A former Florida teacher who pleaded guilty to having sex with a 14-year-old boy will not have to stand trial on additional charges because prosecutors dropped those charges on Tuesday.
Debra LaFave pleaded guilty in November in Tampa to committing lewd and lascivious battery on a student who attended the middle school where she taught in Florida's Hillsborough County.
Under the plea agreement reached with the Hillsborough prosecutors, LaFave, 25, was sentenced to three years of house arrest and seven years probation.
She faced additional charges in neighboring Marion County for having sex with the same student during a trip there.
Prosecutors in Marion County agreed to the same plea because the boy's parents said they did not want him to have to testify at what was expected to be a widely covered and televised trial.
"I am very remorseful," LaFave said at a news conference in Tampa. "I was very nervous (about a trial)."
LaFave said she has bipolar disorder and is receiving therapy for the mental disorder.
Her attorney, John Fitzgibbons, said last year that LaFave would be in danger in prison because she was so beautiful. She is a former model who posed in a bikini for a motorcycle magazine.
LaFave had taught reading at the Greco Middle School for two years until her arrest in June 2004. Her husband, who divorced her after she was arrested, has remarried. LaFave recently became engaged to a friend from high school.
I'm reminded of the Mary Kay Letourneau case in Washington State. This has played itself across the collective morality barometer of the media for several years now. The case has been an excuse for more cheap prudery than has been seen since the days that Hugh Hefner was getting busted in Chicago in the Fifties.
For a culture in which the dominant religious philosophy enjoins "Judge not that ye be not judged," an avalanche of cheap moral judgement has accompanied the case across the years.
Mary Kay Letourneau was a schoolteacher who had an affair with a fourteen year old boy. She was caught. She was fired. She was put on probation. The affair continued.
She was jailed, she was released. The affair continued, she became pregnant. She was re-jailed, had the child in prison, and was eventually released again.
Lather rinse and repeat.
And, after two children, several jail terms, and the cheap judgments of every two-bit preacher or politician flush enough to borrow a soap-box, MKL and her by-now of legal age lover were married.
So: suddenly the easy "morality" of the punditry's Peyton Place passion play isn't such an easy equation. The problem is that they are in love, and love, as saith the poet, is blind.
So, too, Debra LaFave, the current teacher, is adjudged a sexual criminal because the young man in question was fourteen years old. More than one caller has commented on that woman having sex "with a child."
Hmmm. I'd say that, given the plumbing imperatives involved, the fact that the youth in question could function in his role suggests that he could not possibly be, strictly speaking, a "child."
Not as black and white as might first appear. This moralizing stuff isn't as easy as it seems. Let's see:
There is a difference between a child and a minor. A "minor" is a young person prior to the magical ages of "consent" and "majority." The age of "consent" is the age when you are considered by the law to be competent to say: "Yes, I want to have sex," and actually mean it.
Instinct and biology are more clear-cut and precise in their definition of sexual maturity (at least as regards males): when one is capable and desirous of having sex, then one is of "majority."
But the civilization that we have built is often in conflict with the imperatives of biology and instinct, and this is one of those areas.
Still, to say that she'd had sex with a child is such an outlandish distortion of facts as might seem laughable, were it not so dangerous. You see: in an awful lot of ways, that mentality is not at all removed from the mindset of justice in Kern County, California a long time ago.
While you chew on that (I'm not going to help you out here, you'll just have to do your own math in the moral equation), consider the case of Ida Craddock, only a few years before the California story I told you about. Here is the letter she wrote to her mother before she killed herself:
New York, Oct. 16, 1902
Dear, Dear Mother:
I know you will grieve over me for having taken my life.... My dear, dear mother, oh, how sorry I am to hurt you, as I now this act will do. But, oh, mother, I cannot, I will not consent to go to the asylum, as you are evidently planning to have me go. I know that this means a perpetual imprisonment all my long life, unless I either recant my religious beliefs or else hypocritically pretend to do so. I cannot bring myself to consent to any of these three alternatives. I maintain my right to die as I have lived, a free woman, not cowed into silence by any other human being. If, on the other hand, the prison to which Judge Thomas evidently proposes to send me were to be my destined lot (you know very well that he wishes and means to lock me up for a long, long term, which is practically my death warrant), my work is ended so far as this world is concerned. My books have been given a start, approved by physicians and other reputable citizens, but the world is not yet ready for all the beautiful teachings which I have to give it. Other people will take up my work, however, some day--will take it up where I laid it down, and will start from where I left off and do better work than they could have done but for me. Some day you'll be proud of me. You will understand that what I have done has been done because you and my father prepared me for just such a propaganda to humanity. You may ask why I did not give it up and come home to live with you, resuming my name of "Miss Craddock," and taking up other work. But, dear mother, I could be of no possible help to you, with the shadow of reproach which bigots and impure-minded people have put on me. I should be only a hindrance to your respectability. Moreover, my individuality has some rights. I cannot recant my beliefs and throw aside a principle for which I have toiled and struggled for nine years, even at the behest of a mother that is dear to me.
Do not grieve, dear, dear mother; the world beyond the grave, believe me, is far more real and substantial than is this world in which we to-day live. This earth life which the Hindoos have for centuries termed "Maya," that is illusion. My people assure me that theirs is the real, the objective, the material world. Ours is the lopsided, the incomplete world. You and I shall meet in that beautiful world over there and shall know each other as individuals just as clearly as we do here, only more so. I do not know whether it will be possible for me to return to you; but if I can, I will do so. Only remember that you must try to keep the five rules for clear thinking and correct living which my people have given me. If I do come back, of this I feel sure. As you may have forgotten these, I am going to give them here again:
1. Do your daily earthly duty undeterred by calls to mediumship from any source. 2. Be self-controlled and strive to be amiable and loving every day. 3. Wait and watch for the highest. 4. Avoid selfish seeking of self-ease. 5. Abide in purity, not merely moral purity, but physical cleanliness; and still more, intellectual clearness--that is freedom from prejudice; think clearly.
Love all people, even those who have wronged you, if you would receive clear communications from over the border. It is possible that I may come as I have said. I do not know. But in any event, it cannot be long before you will join me over here, and I shall be on hand to welcome you, dear, dear mother, when you do come.
Oh, if only you could have brought yourself to have let me live at home to carry on my propaganda under your modifying advice, then this need never have been, and I could have lived for many years to carry on a moderate, far less crudely radical propaganda than I have done. I have had nobody to stand by me and to help me; I have had to carve out my own road without any predecessors to guide me.
You will find $40 in my trunk. I have written to Mr. Chamberlain to-night to tell you just where I have placed it. I do not know who may read this letter before you get it, and so have taken this precaution.
Will you mind expressing the various books I addressed here to-night? As you know, I have been unable to get out to-day to send them off as I hoped to do. For there is an Adams Express Company on this street, several doors this side of Fifth avenue.
Dear, dear mother, please remember that I love you, and that I shall always love you. Even if you get fantastic communications from the border land, remember that the real Ida is not going there.
The real Ida, your own daughter, loves you and waits for you to come soon over to join her in the beautiful blessed world beyond the grave, where Anthony Comstocks and corrupt judges and impure-minded people are not known. We shall be very happy together some day, you and I, dear mother; there will be a blessed reality for us both at last. I love you, dear mother; never forget that. And love cannot die; it is no dream, it is a reality. We shall be the individuals over there that we are here, only with enlarged capacities. Goodbye, dear mother, if only for a little while. I love you always. I shall never forget you, that would be impossible; nor could you ever forget me. Do not think the next world an unsubstantial dream; it is material, as much so as this; more so than this. We shall meet there, dear mother. Your affectionate daughter,
Ida C. Craddock
And here is the letter she wrote to the Public (or us). I forward it on to you, in case your postman never delivered it, or it was lost among your other mail.
Room 5, No. 134 West 23D St., New York, Oct. 16, 1902.
To the Public:
I am taking my life, because a judge, at the instigation of Anthony Comstock, has decreed me guilty of a crime which I did not commit--the circulation of obscene literature--and has announced his intention of consigning me to prison for a long term.
The book has been favorably reviewed by medical magazines of standing, and has been approved by physicians of reputation. The Rev. Dr. Rainsford of this city, in two letters to me, partially approved this book so far as to say that if all young people were to read it, a great deal of misery, suffering, and disappointment could be avoided, and that to have arrested me on account of it, as Mr. Comstock has done, was ridiculous. This little book, "The Wedding Night," and its companion pamphlet, "Right Marital Living," have been circulated with approval among Social Purity women, members of the W.C.T.U., clergymen and reputable physicians; various physicians have ordered these books from me for their patients, or have sent their patients to me to procure them or to receive even fuller instruction orally; respectable married women have purchased them from me for their daughters, husbands for their wives, wives for husbands, young women for their betrothed lovers. On all sides, these little pamphlets have evoked from their readers commendation for their purity, their spiritual uplifting, their sound common sense in treating of healthful and happy relations between husbands and wives.
In contrast with this mass of testimony to their purity and usefulness, a paid informer, who is making his living out of entering complaints against immoral books and pictures, has lodged complaint against one of my books as "obscene, lewd, lascivious," and proposes to indict the other book later on, so as to inflict legal penalties on me a second time. This man, Anthony Comstock, who is unctuous with hypocrisy, pretends that I am placing these books in the hands of minors, even little girls and boys, with a view to the debauchment of their morals. He has not, however, produced any young person thus far who has been injured through their perusal; nor has any parent or guardian come forward who claims even the likelihood of any young persons being injured by either of these books; nor has he even vouchsafed the addresses of any of the people from whom he states he has received complaints. In addition, he has deliberately lied about the matter. He stated to Judge Thomas of the United States Circuit Court (secretly, not while in court), that I had even handed one of these books to the little daughter of the janitress of the building in which I have my office. It so happens that there is no janitress in this building, nor is there any little girl connected with same. I took a paper around among the tenants to this effect, which they signed, and which I sent to the judge by my lawyer; also a paper to the same effect, which my landlord stood prepared to attest before a notary, if need be. But even this made no impression upon Judge Thomas; he still is firmly convinced (so he says) that Anthony Comstock is a strictly truthful man.
On Friday last, October 10, I underwent what was supposed to be a fair and impartial trial by jury; but which was really a most unfair trial, before a thoroughly partisan judge, at the close of which he abolished my right of trial by jury on the main question at issue, namely the alleged obscenity of "The Wedding Night" book. My counsel was not permitted to present in evidence circulars which showed that as far back as 1898 and 1899, I was accustomed to state in print that any applicants for oral instruction upon marriage who were under 21 would have to produce written consent from a parent or a guardian. My evidence was almost wholly choked off; neither my counsel nor myself was permitted to endeavor to justify the book by argument. The most the judge would do was to permit me to read from various paragraphs in the book, without comment, if these could explain the indicted paragraphs. Even with this tiny bit of a chance, I made such good use of my opportunity before the jury, that Judge Thomas, who was evidently prejudiced in advance against both myself and my book, saw that he dared not now risk the case to the jury, or he might not manage to convict me after all. And so he announced that he himself intended to pass upon the character of the book. He stated that there is in existence a decision of the United States Supreme Court which gives him this right.
He said he would not let the question go to the jury; he considered the book "obscene, lewd, lascivious, dirty." He added that he would submit to the jury only the question of fact. Did the defendant mail the book? (The charge was "mailing an obscene book.") He said, "Gentlemen of the Jury, the question for you to pass upon is, Did the defendant mail the book? You know that she admits having mailed the book. Please render your verdict. I do not suppose you will care to leave your seats." And the poor little cowed jury could do nothing but to meekly obey the behest of this unrighteous judge, and to pass in their ballots, "Guilty of mailing the book." Which, of course, was no crime at all.
I fully expected that the public press of New York city would duly chronicle this most remarkable invasion of the rights of the people by such an abolishing of the trial by jury; but so far as I could learn, the press remained totally silent.
It is evident that the political pull of the party which fathers Anthony Comstock is too powerful for any newspaper in New York to dare to raise a protest when, at the instigation of this ex officio informer, an innocent woman, engaged in a laudable work of sex reform, indorsed by reputable citizens, is arrested on false information and denied her right of trial by jury.
Since Friday last, people of influence and respectability have written to the judge on my behalf and have been to see him; but he announces his inflexible intention of sending me to prison, and, he is careful to malignantly add, "for a long, long term." I am a "very dangerous woman," he adds: Mr. Comstock has told him most shocking things about me--not in court, however, this paid informer being far too cute to dare to face his victim openly with any such lies.
At my age (I was forty-five this last August) confinement under the rigors of prison life would be equivalent to my death-warrant. The judge must surely know this; and since he is evidently determined to not only totally suppress my work, but to place me where only death can release me, I consider myself justified in choosing for myself, as did Socrates, the manner of my death. I prefer to die comfortably and peacefully, on my own little bed in my own room, instead of on a prison cot.
I am making this statement to the public because I wish to call attention to some of the salient features of Constockism, in the hope that the public may be led to put down this growing menace to the liberties of the people.
As I said not long since in the Boston Traveler, if the reading of impure books and the gazing upon impure pictures does debauch and corrupt and pervert the mind (and we know that it does), when we reflect that Anthony Comstock has himself read perhaps more obscene books, and has gazed upon perhaps more lewd pictures than has any other one man in the United States, what are we to think of the probable state of Mr. Comstock's imagination today upon sexual matters?
The man is a sex pervert; he is what physicians term a Sadist--namely a person in whom the impulses of cruelty arise concurrently with the stirring of sex emotion. The Sadist finds keen delight in inflicting either physical cruelty or mental humiliation upon the source of that emotion. Also he may find pleasure in gloating over the possibilities to others. I believe that Mr. Comstock takes pleasure in lugging in on all occasions a word picture (especially to a large audience) of the shocking possibilities of the corruption of the morals of innocent youth.
This man serves two masters; he is employed and paid by the Society of the Suppression of Vice, but he secures from the United States Government an appointment as postal inspector without pay; so that he is able, if he wishes, to use his official position for the furtherance of the private ends of his society and, presumably of himself. Ex officio informers, with their attendant spies and decoys, have been throughout history notoriously a means of exploiting the government for private and corrupt purposes.
For over nine years I have been fighting, singlehanded and alone, against Comstockism. Time and time again I have been pushed to the wall, my books have been seized and burned, and I myself have been publicly stigmatized in the press by Comstock and Comstockians as a purveyor of indecent literature. Yet this very literature has been all the while quietly circulating with approval among men and women of the utmost respectability and purity of life, and I have received numerous letters attesting its worth.
Not only this, Comstockism can be used, as was the medieval Inquisition at times, to gratify private malice, as the complainant does not need to appear in court. This was done to me in Philadelphia because, while holding a petty position as amanuensis in the Bureau of highways, I declined right along to pay political assessments to the Quay party. For months they tracked me night and day wherever I went, vainly hoping to learn something detrimental to my character, and at last they arranged to have me indicted for mailing immoral literature, as they could find no other means of successfully damaging my reputation.
John Wanamaker once stated in a political speech that the Quay party were relentless in hounding those who refused to pay political assessments. They would follow up such a person even when he went into the service of other employers, and leave no stone unturned to ruin him in after years. This may or not be so in my own case; I do not know. But I do know that when I went to Washington a secret complaint was lodged with the police My accuser never faced me openly in court. I pleaded my own case before the police judge, saved one book ("Right Marital Living") and won many encomiums from those present in court because of the uplifting character of my plea; nevertheless I was driven from the city.
Each time that I have been arrested, I have escaped by a compromise; but I resolved, when I came to New York, that if again attacked by Comstockism, I would stand my ground and fight to the death. Perhaps it may be that in my death more than in my life, the American people may be shocked into investigating the dreadful state of affairs which permits that unctuous sexual hypocrite, Anthony Comstock, to wax fat and arrogant, and to trample upon the liberties of the people, invading, in my own case, both my right to freedom of religion and to freedom of the press. There is only one lawful excuse for the community's interfering with any one's religion or publication in America; and that is, the invasion by means of that religion or those publications, of other people's rights to life, liberty, or their pursuit of happiness. No proof of such injury wrought has been produced in my case; the testimony for the government against me rests entirely upon the mere say-so of this paid informer.
Every one of the paragraphs indicted in "The Wedding Night" is the outcome of talks which I have had with distinguished physicians and also with men and women among my pupils. I have looked into the hearts of hundreds of men and women during the nine years in which I have been engaged in sex reform work, and my soul burns within me when I see how husbands and wives are suffering, and how nearly all of the suffering could be done away with, if only Anthony Comstock were not hoodwinking the public into believing that sexual information in printed books must be kept away from them, so as to protect the morals of innocent youth. Surely, Mr. Comstock's idea of the nature of the marriage relation must be singularly impure, when he ventures to pretend that it should not be known of as to its details by young people who are sufficiently mature to be seeking for enlightenment!
In the courts, however, in obscene literature cases, a precedent has been established by which the defendant is forbidden to produce witnesses in behalf of the accused book, so that I was legally prohibited from summoning physicians to testify on behalf of the book.
Owing to this and to other legal precedents which hamper the defendant in obscene literature cases as is done in no other criminal cases anywhere; owing also the dense ignorance and prejudice which prevail in regard to the scientific open discussion of sexual matters; and, most of all, owing to Mr. Comstock's persistent lies and to his adroitness in depicting the shocking possibilities of corrupting the morals of innocent youth by permitting young people to peruse any enlightening literature upon the details of normal, healthy, pure marital relations--matters have now reached the point where it is only necessary to accuse a person of mailing so-called "obscene" literature in order to convict him. As no witnesses are allowed to testify as to the effect of the book upon themselves or their young daughters or young sons, or, if physicians, upon their patients, neither judge nor jury are in a position to learn the actual facts in the case. And now, in my own case the other day, the legal precedent has been established by the action of Judge Thomas, in the United States Circuit Court, of not only excluding witnesses in behalf of the indicted book, but even forbidding either the defendant or her counsel to attempt to explain the reasons for printing the indicted paragraphs or in any way seeking to justify, in an argument, the publication of the book and then finally, by a legal subterfuge, abolishing the defendant's right of trail by jury; the latter being a proceeding which has always been recognized by true patriots as a serious menace to the liberties of the people.
In addition, in my own case, there is the matter of persecution for my religious views. Although this question did not directly arise before Judge Thomas, yet, from the paragraph which I read from my book, and which I was permitted to read only without explanation, it must have been evident that the book contained a religious propaganda, and that, indeed, the religious teaching was the foremost matter, the physical teachings being only subservient thereto.
But in my trial under the New York state law last March, before three judges the religious question did very decidedly arise. In that court, Judge McKean so far forgot his oath of office (to administer justice impartially) as to hotly denounce my book as "blasphemous" (presumably because I am teaching the duty and the joy of communion with God in the marriage relation so as to render it sacramental). Of course this was illegal on his part. No judge has any right to denounce a prisoner because he differs with that prisoner in his religious belief.
I earnestly hope that the American public will awaken to a sense of the danger which threatens it from Comstockism, and that it will demand that Mr. Comstock shall no longer be permitted to suppress works on sexology. The American people have a right to seek and to obtain knowledge upon right living in the marriage relation, either orally or in print, without molestation by this paid informer, Anthony Comstock, or by anybody else.
Dear fellow-citizens of America, for nine long years I have faced social ostracism, poverty, and the dangers of persecution by Anthony Comstock for your sakes. I had a beautiful gospel of right living in the marriage relation, which I wanted you to share with me. For your sakes, I have struggled along in the face of great odds; for your sakes I have come at last to the place where I must lay down my life for you, either in prison or out of prison. Will you not do something for me now?
Well, this is what I want the American public to do for me. Only one of my books, that on "The Wedding Night," is at present under legal ban. "Right Marital Living," which is by far the more important book of the two, and which contains the gist of my teachings, has not yet been indicted. Mr. Comstock, however, told me, when arresting me, that he expected to get both books indicted. If sufficient of a popular demand be made for this book, and especially if the demand voice itself in the public press, he will not dare to attack the book in the courts. Will you do this one thing for me, those of you who have public influence? Remember, it is for you and for your children that I have fought this nine-years' fight. And although I am going to a brighter and a happier land, nevertheless, I shall still look down upon you all here, and long and long and long that you may know something of the radiantly happy and holy life which is possible fore every married couple who will practice these teachings. Even in Paradise I cannot be as happy as I might, unless you share with me this beautiful knowledge.
I beg of you, for your own sakes, and for the future happiness of the young people who are dear to you, to protect my little book, "Right Marital Living."
I have still other teachings to follow this, upon the marriage relation, later on. I have written a book of between 450 and 500 pages upon "Marriage" in which my teachings are set forth more fully. This book, in manuscript form, is at present stored in a safe place, in friendly hands. It will not be given to the public until such time as the public shows itself ready for it, and prepared to protect this fuller and franker book from prosecution. Meanwhile, however, "Right Marital Living" remains unindicted; it sets forth a gospel of marriage which is being preached by no other teacher in America. Its teachings will make your married lives healthier, happier, holier. Will you publicly voice your demand for this little book, "Right Marital Living," and protect it from Anthony Comstock?
Ida C. Craddock
Craddock's sin had been to publish a book suggesting that husbands engage in foreplay before brusquely mounting their wives. Comstock not only convicted her and had her sent to the women's workhouse (where she suffered terribly) but proposed to prosecute her separately for EACH COPY OF THE BOOK SHE HAD SOLD.
Having barely survived the first sentence (and having become sick while incarcerated) Ida Craddock could not face another prison term.(In the first proceeding the Judge had ruled that the "indecent" contents of the book could not be viewed by the jury that was deciding whether she should be convicted for writing an indecent book.)
She committed suicide on October 16, 1902. She was scheduled to begin a five-year prison sentence on the following day.
So, the question I ask here is not what you feel about the legal and moral situation of the schoolteacher in question (and various claims of "bipolar disorder," "not taking responsibility" -- according to her ex-husband, surely an unbiased and expert witness, as all exes are -- and the other media fodder for petty moralists everywhere), but, rather, why do you suppose it is that every time someone does something sexually that conservative legislators do not like, prison is threatened -- if not actualized -- and the entire weight of the police force is thrown at them? (And I think I have a good suspicion as to what book it would be that judges would actually be throwing.)
Have we really come that far from a desert night near Palm Springs in the 'forties? From the days of Ida Craddock?
And the best attorney that money can buy?
Well, the good news and the best advice I can give you is: remember to be rich. These days that forgives a multitude of sins.
Happy Anniversary! It's been three years since we invaded Iraq. Massive demonstrations are planned, but Mad King George announced yesterday that he wasn't going to listen to them, concluding with this:
More fighting and sacrifice will be required to achieve this victory, and for some, the temptation to retreat and abandon our commitments is strong. Yet there is no peace, there's no honor, and there's no security in retreat. So America will not abandon Iraq to the terrorists who want to attack us again. We will finish the mission. By defeating the terrorists in Iraq, we will bring greater security to our own country. And when victory is achieved, our troops will return home with the honor they have earned.
"Honor"? That's what we're fighting for?
It is fascinating to recall that the term "staying the course" or "finish the mission," have been used countless times, without any of the talking heads in the media ever bothering to ask: er ... exactly what IS that "mission"?
Well, it keeps changing. It was weapons of mass destruction -- which didn't turn out to be there, even though Condi, Colin, Dick and George all swore up and down that they had absolute proof of.
Then, when no WMD's were found, they claimed that the CIA was to blame, and that the Usurper had engaged in the war crime of a "war of aggression" in "good faith." The CIA was to blame, and, having appointed Republican hatchet man Porter Goss as new CIA chief (and having given the Presidential Medal of Freedom to fuckup George Tennent), the CIA is currently being purged of those folks who gave the "bad information" about the WMD's -- even though we now know that any reports to the contrary were spiked, and the officers offering contrarian information were disciplined and are being ousted.
Bush's FAUXAPOLOGY : I am not impressed by Ceee, Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:17:02 AM PDT
Yesterday our President joined an ever growing group of public officials who have issued a "fauxapology". These politicians are not really contrite, but have been caught, and offer the words, "I accept the responsibility" in an attempt to placate their constituents.
Most often the phrasing is "I am sorry because you screwed up, you failed, you were wrong". President Bush's "fauxapology" blames the intelligence community. I didn't hear "I am sorry because "I" misused, cherry picked, and exaggerated the intelligence provided". I heard Bush admit WMD information was erroneous and that because he(Bush) was ultimately in charge, he'd fix those intelligence agencies who failed us.
True contrition is accompanied by attempted restitution. Fixing the intelligence agencies, which did not cause the march to war, does not compensate for the President's bad use of intelligence. To this day, this hour, this minute, Bush says he made the right decision to go to war. And his subsequent actions are based on the fallacy that he is/was right.
This "fauxapology" is one more example of the administration's forked-tongue manipulation of wording. It sounds like "I am sorry", but the meaning is "I didn't screw up; it was the other guy".
Then it became "regime change" -- an interesting concept, since it is borne out via no international or US law.
Then, it was about "terrorists" and how Saddam Hussein had trained and otherwise supported Al Qaeda. They memorably wiped a "ground zero" flag over Saddam's face in the memorable (fake) "pulling down the statue" photo-op, remember?
And it's been about Al Qaeda all along. Bush's speech all but admits that NOW Al Qaeda is in the country, and, by implication, the war is retroactively justified.
Retroactive justification is a big deal for this blighted band of thugs.
Googling "'stay the course' Bush" retrieves over 1,320,000 hits. And "'Finish the mission' Bush" retrieves a mere 16,300 hits.
But, Googling "'good faith' Bush" retrieves 4,090,000 hits, which is an insult to English usage that only a slimy Republican lawyer could appreciate:
March 14, 2006 Democrats Beat Quick Retreat on Call to Censure President By CARL HULSE, NEW YORK TIMES
Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who has expressed reservations about the surveillance, said Mr. Feingold had failed to make a case for censure over what amounts to a dispute over the legal basis of the program.
"The president may be wrong," Mr. Specter said, "but he has acted in good faith."
Specter loves calling in slimeballs from law schools to prove that right is wrong and black is white. Consider:
According to WOODLAND PROGRESS (Serving Chalfant, Churchill, Edgewood, Forest Hills, Turtle Creek, Wilkins Township):
Ken Gormley, former Forest Hills mayor, hopes his testimony before Congress last week on the Bush administration's secret wiretapping program will help resolve the issue in a non-partisan manner.
"This is a huge national issue and I feel fortunate I had a chance to provide some input."
The Duquesne University law professor was invited to testify by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) because of his expertise on presidential powers and the Constitution.
Gormley took the position that the secret wiretap program, in which President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to monitor and intercept communications between suspected terrorists and people in the U.S., is unconstitutional.
In testimony earlier this month, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales defended the practice by insisting it is vital to the national defense, said Gormley.
"I have absolutely no question about the good faith of our president and our attorney general," he told the senators.
Here's some more "good faith" -- if you're not queasy already:
But Mr. Feingold noted that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, had called the changes "cosmetic."
"No amount of cosmetics can disguise the fact that it fails to protect the rights and freedoms of law-abiding Americans," Mr. Feingold said.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the agreement was a genuine effort to improve civil-liberty safeguards.
"There was a good agreement that was reached by members of the Senate," he said yesterday. "It was reached in a good-faith effort. Yet there are still some Senate Democrats that want to continue to engage in obstructionist tactics and prevent this vital legislation from being reauthorized. We hope the Senate will move ahead quickly and reject the continued obstructionist efforts, and get this act renewed before it is set to expire next month."
Republicans were quick to make political hay out of the vote.
By Charlie Savage, Boston Globe Staff February 28, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a leading Republican critic of President Bush's domestic spying program, has drafted a bill that would exempt the once-secret surveillance program from a 1978 statute that requires warrants.
The draft bill, which will be aired today at a Judiciary Committee hearing, would require Bush to submit the classified details of the spying program to a special national security court for review. The court would decide whether the program violates the constitutional prohibitions on unreasonable searches.
The Pennsylvania lawmaker has not yet released his bill to the public, but the Globe obtained a draft copy that has been circulating among legal specialists who are set to testify about the spying program at today's hearing.
Specter's proposal appears to offer a face-saving solution to both sides, some specialists said. It avoids declaring whether the program until now has been illegal, but reasserts congressional authority over domestic surveillance going forward.
''This is a good-faith effort on the part of Senator Specter to reach a reasonable compromise," said Pepperdine University law professor Douglas Kmiec, a former Reagan administration lawyer who will testify today. ''We could endlessly debate who is right under the existing law. . . . The wisdom of Specter's approach is to say 'OK, this is an interesting debate, but we've got a real problem to solve and here is my attempt at solving the problem.' "
You might note that "We could endlessly debate who is right under the existing law" is not a prediction, nor is it a hypothetical: it is the Republican STRATEGY.
Evidently, Republican lawyers are not instructed in the difference between "right" and "wrong," else Senator Russ Feingold would not be standing all but alone in offering the meekest Caspar Milquetoast wrist-slap of Censure for the wholesale illegal wiretapping, based on King George's increasingly monstrous arrogation of "inherent powers" in the Constitution.
But, as former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega writes:
The administration's statutory argument appears to have been devised after the NSA program began. As it happens, it is premised in large part on the analysis of a Supreme Court detainee case (Hamdi v. United States) that was not even decided until 2004. Also, though the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel has released an unsigned 42-page paper, dated January 20, 2006, which purports to set out the administration's legal analysis, Attorney General Gonzales has refused to provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with any memos setting forth a legal analysis of the NSA surveillance program written before it began in October 2001. As Senator Patrick Leahy noted, Gonzales has even refused to say when the statutory argument was first devised.
However, what Gonzales has acknowledged is that the administration's legal analysis has "evolved over time." This is a damning, if not entirely surprising, admission. The Office of Legal Counsel is charged with providing objective and balanced advice to the President before he takes action; it is not supposed to be a firm of defense lawyers dedicated to crafting justifications in hindsight...
But like Little Lord Fauntleroy*, even the threat of an ineffectual discipline has provoked an endless eructation of tears, whimpering and protestations of innocence (even as Lady MacBeth endlessly washes her hands).
The bumper sticker on Bush's limo OUGHT to read "God is my Co-Pilate."
The point being: stay WHAT course? (It changes day to day, rationalization to rationalization, and talking point to talking point). Finish WHAT mission? (Bankrupting the US? Making us less secure? Jacking oil prices through the roof?) And treat with the world (including us) in WHAT good faith? (Come up with your own examples).
There is nothing in the United States Constitution that prohibits bringing back the guillotine. I think that's something we really ought to think about, at least on a temporary basis.
But then, I've stayed MY course over the last three years. I indicated that I thought this war was illegal, criminal, and a mistake then, and I maintain so now.
As for "good faith"? Well, whichever faith is "good," clearly it isn't the one that the Bushies subscribe to. A child of five could tell you that, but, evidently, no Republican law professor can.
The ONLY course that Bush has "stayed" has been conflating Iraq with "terrorists." The only "good faith" he hath shewn has been his deep and abiding faith that he can get away with whatever he wants to do.
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