Miscellany

The WMDuh Report

Bush says today that he would have invaded Iraq even if he knew then what he knows today. This investigation is therefore a farce — designed once again to shift responsibility from the people who demanded corrupt intelligence to serve their ideological obsessions to those who were forced to provide it.

Our political process has become so degraded that the commissioners themselves can admit that they were forbidden from examining the one issue that still matters. As commission co-chair Laurence Silberman explained, “Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policy makers, and all of us were agreed that was not part of our inquiry….”

Much of the coverage of the report — which was, perhaps via divine intervention, drowned out by the deaths of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II — gesticulated in the direction of this fundamental truth before returning to the agreed-upon story line that Bush was very, very angry about the fact that he received bad intelligence that led him to invade a country that presented no threat whatever and made him out to be a liar to the rest of the world. He was so mad, in fact, that the only person deemed to be responsible for this massive failure, former CIA director George Tenet, was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. (Everybody else involved was punished with a promotion and a raise.)

The WMDuh Report

Miscellany

Protect Patients From Politics

Medical and public-health organizations agree that medical marijuana can be beneficial. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, released a study commissioned by the White House that had found marijuana effective in combating pain, nausea and other symptoms afflicting patients with MS, cancer and other illnesses. The American Public Health Association’s policy statement summarizes the extensive research showing marijuana’s effectiveness, and adds: “Marijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision. … Greater harm is caused by the consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use.”

Protect Patients From Politics

Miscellany

In Contempt of Courts

Cass’ “solution” is the “Constitution Restoration Act,” a bill relentlessly promoted during the conference that authorizes Congress to impeach judges who fail to abide by “the standard of good behavior” required by the Constitution. If they refuse to acknowledge “God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government,” or rely in any way on international law in their rulings, judges also invite impeachment. In essence, the bill would turn judges’ gavels into mere instruments of “The Hammer,” Tom DeLay, and Christian-right cadres.

In Contempt of Courts

Miscellany

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

Since 1992, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has celebrated the birth and ideals of its namesake by calling attention to those who in the past year forgot or disregarded Mr. Jefferson’s admonition that freedom of speech “cannot be limited without being lost.”

THE 2005 JEFFERSON MUZZLES GO TO …

The Federal Communications Commission
“You don’t know where the line is, and that’s what’ s scaring people.” — John Ridley, novelist and writer for television and film

The Democratic and Republican National Parties
“One cannot conceive of what other design elements could be put into a space to create a more symbolic affront to the role of free expression.” — U. S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock, commenting on the “free speech zone” for political protestors at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston

School officials at Poway (CA) High School, Climax (MN) Public School District, and Russell (KY) High School
“Your faith is great, but when your faith is offensive, you need to leave it in the car” — Officials at Poway (CA) High School in justifying a ban on a student’s wearing to school a T-shirt that read “Homosexuality Is Shameful”

The (Motion Picture) Classification and Rating Administration
“Our characters are made of wood and have no genitalia…all they’d get is splinters.” — Scott Rudin, producer of the movie Team America

High School of Legal Studies in Brooklyn (NY)
“What bozo tried to hold back a diploma in a country where freedom of speech is so prized, I don’t know.” — Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City

The National Stock Car Racing Commission (NASCAR)
“It don’t mean shit right now. Daddy’s won here ten times.” — Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (responding to a reporter’s question about the significance of his win moments after winning his fifth victory at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2004)

The U.S. Marshals Service
“You are correct that the action was not taken at my direction; I was as upset as you were.” — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

The United States Department of State and The United States Department of Homeland Security
“Restricting access of Cuban academics to the United States is consistent with the overall tightening of our policy” — Darla Jordan, U.S. State Department spokesperson, explaining the denial of visas to all 61 Cuban scholars scheduled to participate in the international congress of the Latin American Studies Association

The Virginia House of Delegates
“Please let these kids express themselves. It’ll pass on. Don’t fine these young kids.” — Virginia House of Delegate Lionell Spruill

Alabama State Representative Gerald Allen
“Half the books in the library could end up being banned. It’s all based on how one interprets the material.” — Juanita Owes, director of Montgomery City County Library, commenting on a bill proposed in the Alabama House of Representatives

Georgia State Representative Ben Bridges
“It’s in the book that [evolution is] a theory, but these teachers teach it like it’s a fact…. Let’s teach them the truth or don’t teach them anything.” — Georgia State Representative Ben Bridges

Berkmar High School (Georgia) Principal Kendall Johnson
“We wanted to run a ‘censored’ stamp on the page. But Mr. Johnson censored our ‘censored’ stamp…” — Kelly Shaul, Student Copy Editor of the student-run Berkmar High School newspaper, The Liberty

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

Miscellany

Hearing No Evil: Rosy visions of the PATRIOT Act

What’s striking is how weak the case for the PATRIOT Act’s vital necessity as an anti-terror measure appears even when we focus on the Department of Justice’s handpicked examples, as provided in their “Report from the Field.” Law enforcement’s proud displays of PATRIOT’s effectiveness involve drug interdiction, computer hackings, child pornography, gambling, and a variety of other crimes notable for not being terrorism.

Hearing No Evil: Rosy visions of the PATRIOT Act

Miscellany

Immaculate Contraception: Medicine and theology face off in the pharmacy

Contraception doesn’t belong behind the counter; it belongs over-the-counter. A woman’s access shouldn’t hinge on whether she has health insurance, whether she has a doctor she can call at 5 a.m., or how her neighbors feel about the culture of life. Women should be able to order stacks of the stuff off of the internet to keep in their medicine cabinets, and pharmacists should be free to keep their drugstores clear of anything they find morally questionable. Pharmacy owners should be equally free to work out their own individual policies — and employ workers who agree to abide by them.

Immaculate Contraception: Medicine and theology face off in the pharmacy

Miscellany

CBS News Makeover, by Four Kibitzers

What is it about my shows and “American Idol” and “Amazing Race,” which are doing so well in 18-to-34? I think it’s the fact that the audience is not being preached to. What Jon Stewart clearly is doing is conversing with his audience in a humorous way about public affairs. He’s speaking with them. They feel like he’s one of them.

For example, if there were a correspondent on a news show that asked hard questions of the president, as they should, and got kicked out of the White House, I’d love to see them report the next night from outside the gate. It would be like, “Hey, it’s Joe Shmo, and as you know, I’m not allowed in there, but here’s where I’m reporting today.” I’d cut back to him each night until they let him back in. It would galvanize ratings.

CBS News Makeover, by Four Kibitzers

Miscellany

Selective Justice: Tough on Togo, Letting Zimbabwe Slide

The latest example is Zimbabwe’s March 31 parliamentary elections, in which Mr. Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Party thrashed its democratic opponents using electoral tactics that were less Queensbury Rules than those of professional wrestling.

Starving voters were told to support the Mugabe party or lose access to food. Village leaders warned that opposition supporters could lose their homes. In 30 races surveyed by the opposition, roughly 180,000 votes appeared after the polls had closed and the official turnout had been reported.

Selective Justice: Tough on Togo, Letting Zimbabwe Slide