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April 30, 2006

Tens of Thousands March in New York


Yeah, yeah, we know... Cindy Sheehan is not the best spokesperson for the Left. And marches attract way too many hippies. And the media always focuses on a few random nutjobs to discredit the thousands of intelligent, proactive protestors. But we stand by our opinion that attending marches is important. Our media may not cover antiwar rallies, but the international media does. It's important to show the world that not everyone in this country supports Bush and his war. And simply executing your right to protest is important in and of itself, especially in light of the Bush administration's attempts to thwart free speech and protest in this country. Hats off to everyone who attended. Here are some photos, via Yahoo:



April 28, 2006

Neil Young: "Living With War " Album Stream


"Mr. Young half-jokingly describes 'Living With War' as his 'metal folk protest' album. It's his blunt statement about the Iraq war; 'History was a cruel judge of overconfidence/back in the days of shock and awe,' he sings, strumming an electric guitar and leading a power trio with a sound that harks back to Young albums like "Rust Never Sleeps" and 'Ragged Glory.'

Some songs add a trumpet or a 100-voice choir, hastily convened in Los Angeles for one 12-hour session. During the nine new songs he sympathizes with soldiers and war victims, insists 'Don't need no more lies,' longs for a leader to reunite America and prays for peace.

In a song whose title alone has already brought him the fury of right-wing blogs, he urges, 'Let's Impeach the President.' It ends with Mr. Young shouting, 'Flip, flop,' amid contradictory sound bites of President Bush. But Mr. Young insists the album is nonpartisan.

'If you impeach Bush, you're doing a huge favor for the Republicans,' he argued, speaking by telephone from California. 'They can run again with some pride.' "

Stream the album:
Quicktime: High | Low

Windows Media: High | Low

Lyrics to Impeach the President
Let’s impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door
He’s the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war
Let’s impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones
What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government’s protection
Or was someone just not home that day?
Let’s impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected
Thank god he’s racking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There’s lot of people looking at big trouble
But of course the president is clean
Thank God

April 27, 2006

Dennis Hastert Part 2

Hastert ditching his hybrid after a press op

From Yahoo News: House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Ill., center, gets out of a Hydrogen Alternative Fueled automobile, left, as he prepares to board his SUV, which uses gasoline, after holding a new conference at a local gas station in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2006 to discuss the recent rise in gas prices. Hastert and other members of Congress drove off in the Hydrogen-Fueled cars only to switch to their official cars to drive back the few block back to the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

At least they're turning off lights...

sprejem-Pahor-Dennis-Haster.jpg It's an election year, so it's not surprising that Congress has begun to "get serious" about price gouging and inflated profits in the oil industry. Of course, the "investigation" Bush is spearheading will undoubtedly result in nothing more than rhetoric. Tough talk with little action. Now that political "outrage" over the price of gas has begun to be voiced on Capitol Hill, let's all take a moment to reflect on three key facts:

1. The GOP Congress gave the oil industry over $2 billion in tax breaks in August of 2005.
2. Oil and gas companies [will] receive about $10 billion in tax breaks over the next five years
3. Much of Congress (and of course Bush himself) took millions from the oil industry to run their campaigns.

At least we can find it reassuring that Dennis Hastert is doing his part:
"Here at the Capitol, we're switching off all unnecessary lights, unplugging equipment that drains energy when not in use and turning off computers and monitors when they are not being used," Hastert said.

April 26, 2006

National Day of Slayer

national_day_of_slayer_head.gifMark your calendars. From the official website: [Thanks John]

"6.6.06 isn't a date that comes around very often (once per century, to be exact), and while plenty of stupid horror movies and terrible albums will be released for the hype value of the day that bears "the number of the beast", we here at NDoS decided that this would be a perfect day for Hessians across the country to come together and engage in something upon which we can all agree - listening to Slayer! Also, do you really want those evangelical Neo-Cons to have all the fun with their 'National Day of Prayer'?

Official Statement on Participation

— Listen to Slayer at full blast in your car.
— Listen to Slayer at full blast in your home.
— Listen to Slayer at full blast at your place of employment.
— Listen to Slayer at full blast in any public place you prefer.

Taking that participation to a problematic level

— Stage a "Slay-out." Don't go to work. Listen to Slayer.
— Have a huge block party that clogs up a street in your neighborhood. Blast Slayer albums all evening. Get police cruisers and helicopters on the scene. Finish with a full-scale riot.
— Spray paint Slayer logos on churches, synagogues, or cemeteries.
— Play Slayer covers with your own band (since 99% of your riffs are stolen from Slayer anyway).
— Kill the neighbor's dog and blame it on Slayer."

Scarlett Johansson: "Summertime"

Scarlett+Johansson_193063.jpg Lovely lady, Scarlett Johansson, is on the new compilation "Unexpected Dreams: Songs from the Stars." Scarlett opens the album with "Summertime" and is joined by Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Garner, Jeremy Irons, John Stamos, Lucy Lawless, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Teri Hatcher (among others). Audio samples are available here. This is what Pitchfork has to say:

[Via Pitchfork] Indie America's #1 Pinup Girl (mainstream's too, says FHM) does the responsible thing by covering dusty old "Summertime", rather than tackle a song with more cred. Had she taken on "Only Shallow" or something by Blondie, you'd be reading about thousands of hoodie-wearer deaths in tomorrow's alternative weeklies. With audio alone, "Summertime" probably won't even cause heart palpitations, as there's little in this version that's unique to Scarlett-- her enthrallingly deep speaking voice here transmuted to a fairly generic (if passable) "American Idol" jazz vocal.

As with most movie-stars-do-music projects, the main purpose here is proof of versatility, so everything about this standard is standard, from the stringy, sleepy arrangement down to the trills in her voice. Irony fetishists may enjoy a woman named Scarlett singing about cotton and Mammy, but the rest of us can wait for the video.

It must be Jesus Week...


Since we've done so many religious stories thus far. But when we see James Dobson say something we actually agree with, we feel obliged to run it:

"I've been on the air here with Focus on the Family for 25 years; it's the first time I've said this. But in the State of California and places that have moved in the direction that they've gone with the schools, if I had a child there, I wouldn't put that youngster in the public schools... I think it's time to get our kids out." [read the rest]

Sounds like a perfect solution. If fundamentralists are so concerned about tolerance towards gays in schools--they'd rather gays be bullied--they should simply go elsewhere. Now if they'll just stop trying to impose their values on public school boards, we'll all be happy. (Dobson image care of Talk to Action)

April 25, 2006

New Look...

Regular visitors will notice we've undergone a long-overdue redesign. Thanks for bearing with us while we fix all the kinks and bugs. Comments are up and running again. We apologize to anyone whose comments were lost in cyberville while we were updating. The problem has been fixed and hopefully there will be no other major issues. We have faith. In fact, "[we] believe there's an Almighty. And, secondly, [we] believe one of the great gifts of the Almighty is the desire in everybody's soul, regardless of what you look like or where you live, to be free."

April 24, 2006

First Period: English; Second Period: Algebra; Third Period: Jesus 101

From Newsweek:

"Georgia marched back into the culture wars last week when Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a bill allowing Bible classes in public high schools. An estimated 8 percent of the nation's schools offer some form of Bible study. But the Georgia law is the first to set statewide guidelines and earmark public dollars for a Bible course. Five other states are considering similar measures....

In the past, school Bible lessons were informal. Now two groups with national influence and powerful backers are offering states comprehensive curricula. Last fall the nonprofit Bible Literacy Project published "The Bible and Its Influences," a textbook endorsed by moderate Christian and Jewish groups. So far, 30 schools are teaching the pilot program, and the group says 800 schools have shown interest. Meanwhile, the National Council for Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, backed by a long list of conservative evangelicals, including Pat Robertson, says its curriculum is already taught in 353 school districts. However, if Georgia opts for either program it will be the first time that a state has officially adopted a Bible curriculum."

April 21, 2006

Even Neil Young has a blog now


Via Huffington Post:

"...this is about exchanging ideas... it's about getting a message out. It's about empowering people by giving them a voice. I know not everyone believes what I say is what they think. But like I said before.. ya know.. red and blue is not black and white. We're all together. It's a record about unification." -Neil Young (4/18/06)

Check it out Living With War.

Amusing as in ha ha or amusing as in are you effin crazy?!

From Think Progress:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been doing a series of softball interviews with hosts like Rush Limbaugh in an effort to rehabilitate his image. On Monday, Rumsfeld appeared on the Bill Cunningham Show and had this to say about the retired generals criticizing his management of the Iraq war:

"Of course the implication that there was something wrong with the war plan is amusing almost because of the fact that the war plan’s fashioned by the combatant commanders and it’s reviewed in great detail by the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then it’s recommended to me and the President."

In other words, Rumsfeld is arguing that there is nothing wrong with the Iraq war planning — but if there was anything wrong it wasn’t his fault.

Read the whole article here.

April 20, 2006

When they were indie...

RBally has a great set of MP3's documenting an early REM performance in 1984:

This show is a reminder of when the band was the poster child for independent music and college radio, when Peter Buck still only knew three chords, and Mike Stipe mumbled his lyrics. And given the band's current mainstream success, it's easy to forget that the band toured and recorded non-stop through the early eighties, slowly building, and earning, the fan base that started reaching critical mass with Green (when the cool kids jumped ship)

Check 'em out here.

April 19, 2006

Don't know what we're more happy about...


Captain Pretension and Porky the Tool have left the building. Now if Mugger and Rummy get fired, our day will be complete. We must admit, we're secretly going to miss watching McClellan squirm in front of the press core. He is a true professional when it comes to lying and dodging. Someone needs to whip up a McClellan highlights clip, scored to Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better."

April 18, 2006

Post 9-11 Bedwetting

Former guest blogger and FREEwilly friend, Kevin, has a great piece on Rightwing fear (he calls it post 9-11 "bedwetting") on Firedoglake, where he's been guest blogging. Atrios and nearly every other leftie blog has picked it up. Here's an excerpt if you missed it:

[Righwingers] are scared is all. They’re scared of a lot of things because they need to be scared of a lot of things. They lack purpose without things relentlessly scaring the shit out of them. And in order to distract the media from the fact that they’re more juiced up on fear than love for their country, they constantly try to frame liberals—who in their minds still wear patchouli, listen to Jefferson Airplane and love the fuck out of Jane Fonda—of being the cowards because, um, we’re "anti-war" (what fucked up times we live in where being "anti-war" is a "bad thing") and we aren’t 100% freaked out that gay people, Mexicans, Arabs and the Dixie Chicks are roaming free in our streets.

You see, in reality, us "cowardly" liberals aren’t afraid of much of anything. Disgusted, sure. We’re plenty disgusted with a lot of things going on in America and the world today, and rightfully so, but our repulsion isn’t fueled by fear. It’s fueled by hope for better days in America, a concept so antithetical to the rightists’ junked-out need for a constant influx of "bogeymen" (they’ve been trained well) that they aren’t able to process the notion that we don’t hate our country, we just take great, full-throated exception to how it’s being run by them. Or, more to the point, run into the ground by them.

I didn’t really follow the explosion of bedwetting blogs post-9/11 because I was too busy languishing in my pre-9/11 NYC liberal mindset, but apparently the blogosphere was flush with dorks in crouched-down, defensive positions who pecked away at something they called "warblogs." These, ahem, "warbloggers" (must … stop … tittering) thought they were at war and no amount of fear of Blogger’s registration process and/or HTML interface was going to get in their way to fight the good fight. They were G.I. Jonesin’ for some seriously manly cutting ‘n’ pasting as they bravely stormed the frontlines of HyperText Transfer Protocol. And some of them, primarily "9/11 Republicans" and alleged libertarians, were so addicted to the notion that "everything changed after 9/11" that they discarded large, important chunks of their belief systems because they figured the "everything changed" doctrine applied to their very beings as well.

Read the whole thing here.

April 17, 2006

Skeletons Out of the Closet


The always generous Aquarium Drunkard has a new live show posted today in his "Live Upload Series." Betraying the ultimate hipster taboo, he admits he likes the Grateful Dead. It's okay, folks, settle down. Some of the band's early stuff was actually pretty good. Check out Cornell '77 here. Many insiders (aka stoners in tie dyes) say it's the band's best show ever. Start with "Dancing in the Streets." We admit to playing this one a few times in high school. Aquarium Drunkard has more live shows too:

Live Upload Series I :: James Booker
Live Upload Series II :: Steely Dan
Live Upload Series III :: The Meters
Live Upload Series IV :: My Morning Jacket
Live Upload Series V :: Ryan Adams
Live Upload Series VI :: The Meters II
Live Upload Series VII :: Undertow Orchestra
Live Upload Series VIII :: Foamfoot (1-8-94)

April 14, 2006

William Sloane Coffin


Gawker reminded us that we forgot to honor the passing of Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr. If good people actually "go home to be with the Lord" when they die, then the Rev. has secured himself a place in the Kingdom. In an age of Pat Robertsons and James Dobsons, Coffin was a true crusader. From Wikipedia:

Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr. (June 1, 1924 – April 12, 2006) was a liberal Presbyterian and United Church of Christ clergyman and long-time peace activist with international stature.

He was a CIA agent, and later chaplain of Yale University, where the influence of Reinhold Niebuhr's social philosophy led him to become a leader in the civil-rights and peace movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

He went on to serve as Senior Minister at the Riverside Church in New York City, and President of SANE/Freeze (now Peace Action), the nation's largest peace and justice group, and prominently opposed United States military intervention from the Vietnam War to the Iraq War.

April 13, 2006

The White House Lied and Thousands Continue to Die

Since the major news outlets are burying the country's most important news story, we feel compelled to underline its significance:

— In 2003, Colin Powell presented pictures of supposed "mobile biological weapons" production trailers to the United Nations Security Council to make an argument for a preemptive invasion of Iraq. Bush had formerly used the photographs of the trailers as evidence, saying "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the administration had been told by the Pentagon that "it was clear.... that these were not biological labs."

In other words, we now have official confirmation that the administration's "evidence" was a sham. They knowingly presented erroneous information to the U.N. Security Council to manipulate people into supporting the invasion of Iraq.

It's a shame that the media and the American public has gotten so used to Bush's lies that this has become a minor story. Of course, the blogs are ablaze, but this should be headline news across the country. And to think we impeached Clinton for lying about a blow job. God help us.

April 12, 2006

Live "Being There" Era Wilco Show


We meant to post this yesterday, but RBally has an excellent Wilco show available for download: live at the Fillmore, May, 10, 1997. The show includes a few covers (Ramones, Replacements, Black Sabbath, and David Bowie) and showcases the band at their alt-country peak.

Dowload the first set of songs here. And the rest here. Thanks for the tip, Kevin.

April 11, 2006

Christians Sue for Right to Hate Gays


From the LA Times:

Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.

Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.

Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy. The religious right aims to overturn a broad range of common tolerance programs: diversity training that promotes acceptance of gays and lesbians, speech codes that ban harsh words against homosexuality, anti-discrimination policies that require college clubs to open their membership to all...

In the public schools, an Ohio middle school student last year won the right to wear a T-shirt that proclaimed: "Homosexuality is a sin! Islam is a lie! Abortion is murder!" But a teen-ager in Kentucky lost in federal court when he tried to exempt himself from a school program on gay tolerance on the grounds that it violated his religious beliefs...

The open question is what constitutes harassment, what's a sincere expression of faith — and what to do when they overlap.

Evidently, Jesus wants his followers to wear God Hates Fags T-Shirts. We must have skipped over that part of the bible somehow.

April 10, 2006

A reminder to South Dakota...


The Times magazine published an important—albeit disturbing—story this weekend about the criminalization of abortion in El Salvador. Here's an excerpt of one woman's story (that's her pictured). She had a back-alley abortion because she couldn't afford another child. It's a reminder of why the recent events in South Dakota are so troubling:

From NYTimes Magazine:
When we got to the woman's house, there was so much disorder. It was all a mess... I came in and was told to lie down. It was not even a bed. There was just so much disorder. She asked me to take off my clothes, and she put a shirt on me. She came with a piece of cloth and put it underneath my nose, and I felt a little numb. She came back with a long wire, like a TV antenna. It was not like a doctor's instrument. It was just a wire tube with another wire inside it. She put some oil on it and told me to breathe deeply.

She put it in. And she was scraping around. I was supposed to be asleep. But I felt pain. I told her it hurt. She said, "Yeah, we're almost done." But she kept scraping around, and I said: "No, no, stop. It's hurting me." Then she said, "It's done." ....

At 2 a.m., I started to shake. I had a fever and convulsions. My mama came, and I told her I was cold. She put more clothes on me. The next day I was fine and went to work. I started to feel bad pain but kept working. That night another fever came, and shaking. Mama said she was taking me to the doctor, and I said no. That night I began to convulse again and the pain was stronger. I didn't go to work the next day. I went to the bathroom and bled heavily.

Two days later, on Friday, even my hands and feet were hurting. My kid was sick, he had a cold. I took my son to the doctor, who asked if it was me who was there to see him. I said it was my child, and he said, "You're yellow, like hepatitis." Then I was crying because he touched me on the stomach and liver and it hurt a lot. He asked me if I was sure I was O.K. because I looked bad. When I left the clinic, I couldn't walk. My sister went to look for a cab.

Several days later, I was back at the doctor. They did some tests and called an ambulance. At the hospital they asked me what I had. I didn't want to say. I said I felt bad. They did tests on my urine, blood and lungs and found I had a severe respiratory infection. They did an ultrasound and found my kidneys, lung and liver were infected. And the ultrasound showed something else. They asked me: "Why do you have a perforated uterus? What have you done?" Then they did a vaginal exam, and it was the most painful thing for me in the world. They put something in me, and I cried out. They had two doctors holding me down. They said they knew I had had an abortion because my uterus was perforated and big and they would have to operate immediately. All I remember was going to the operating room, and then I don't remember anything because for the next six days I was in a coma.

She was later prosecuted and nearly put in jail. Read the whole story here.

April 07, 2006

Free Drinks and Rock Posters

[Via papermag] "Along with graffiti and crime scene police tape, posters are what make the city pretty. They tell us when Danzig is playing next and what date Nelly’s new album drops. They allow us to be creative by drawing Hitler mustaches on Jessica Simpson’s face and changing the “r” in rock to a “c” so the poster reads “Cock Show.” Secret Project Robot is paying tribute to the almighty poster at the Brooklyn Poster Show. Enjoy free drinks [on Friday April 7, 6-9pm] and local music while admiring walls full of rock show posters. It’ll be like staring at the walls of your high school bedroom with tipsy strangers."

Secret Project Robot, 210 Kent Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, (718) 963-2020. 2-8 p.m. Free. Through Sun., Apr. 9.

Illinois, Part II


Last year's top record, Sufjan Stevens' Illinois, is the gift that keeps giving. Now that we've finally managed to listen to the whole, sprawling record, Asthmatic Kitty is preparing to release "The Avalanche," a collection of outtakes from Sufjan's masterpiece:

[Asthmatic Kitty via BKVegan]The little secret behind the Illinois record is that it was originally conceived as a double album, culminating in a musical collage of nearly 50 songs. But as the project began to develop into an unwieldy epic, common sense weighed in—as did the opinions of others—and the project was cut in half. But as 2005 came to a close, Sufjan returned to the old, forsaken songs on his 8-track like a grandfather remembering his youth, indulging in old journals and newspaper clippings. What he uncovered went beyond the merits of nostalgia; it was more like an ensemble of capricious friends and old acquaintances wearing party outfits, waiting to be let in at the front door, for warm drinks and interesting conversation. Among them were Saul Bellow, Ann Landers, Adlai Stevenson, and a brief cameo from Henry Darger's Vivian Girls. The gathering that followed would become the setting for the songs on The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album.

Sufjan gleaned 21 useable tracks from the abandoned material, including three alternate versions of Chicago. Some songs were in finished form, others were merely outlines, gesture drawings, or musical scribbles mumbled on a hand-held tape recorder. Most of the material required substantial editing, new arrangements or vocals. Much of the work was done at the end of 2005 or in January the following year. Sufjan invited many of the original Illinoisemakers to fill in the edges: drums, trumpet, a choir of singers. The centerpiece, of course, was the title track—The Avalanche—a song intended for the leading role on the Illinois album but eventually cut and placed as a bonus track on the vinyl release. In his rummaging through old musical memorabilia, Sufjan began to use this song as a meditation on the editorial process, returning to old forms, knee-deep in debris, sifting rocks and river water for an occasional glint of gold. "I call ye cabin neighbors," the song bemuses, "I call you once my friends." And like an avid social organizer, Sufjan took in all the odd musical misfits and gathered them together for a party of their own, like good friends.

A careful listener may uncover the obvious trend on this record: almost every song on the Illinois album has a counterpart on the outtakes. Carl Sandburg arm-wrestles Saul Bellow. The aliens landing near Highland salute Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto. The loneliness of "Casimir Pulaski Day" deepens even further in the foreboding soundtrack to "Pittsfield." At its best, The Avalanche is an exercise in form, revealing the working habits of one of the most productive songwriters today. As an illustration, the avalanche refers to the snow and rubble that falls off the side of a mountain, or, in this case, the musical debris generously chucked from an abundant epic. It's unlikely you'll find a mountain in the Prairie State so the metaphor will have to do.

April 06, 2006

Right Wing NY Sun Reports: It was Bush

Here's the story in full (since the Sun's website keeps crashing due, undoubtedly, to high traffic volume)

Bush Authorized Leak to Times, Libby Told Grand Jury
New York Sun Web Exclusive
By JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 6, 2006 updated 9:02 am EDT

A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.

The court papers from the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, do not suggest that Mr. Bush violated any law or rule. However, the new disclosure could be awkward for the president because it places him, for the first time, directly in a chain of events that led to a meeting where prosecutors contend the identity of a CIA employee, Valerie Plame, was provided to a reporter.

Mr. Fitzgerald's inquiry initially focused on the alleged leak, which occurred after a former ambassador who is Ms. Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times questioning the accuracy of statements Mr. Bush made about Iraq's nuclear procurement efforts in Africa.

No criminal charges have been brought for the leak itself, but Mr. Libby, a former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, was indicted in October on charges that he obstructed the investigation, perjured himself in front of the grand jury, and lied to FBI agents who interviewed him. Mr. Libby, who resigned from the White House and pleaded not guilty, is scheduled to go on trial in January 2007.

In a court filing late Wednesday responding to requests from Mr. Libby's attorneys for government records that might aid his defense, Mr. Fitzgerald shed new light on Mr. Libby's claims that he was authorized to provide sensitive information to the Times reporter, Judith Miller, at a meeting on July 8, 2003.

"Defendant testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was Ôpretty definitive' against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the vice president thought that it was Ôvery important' for the key judgments of the NIE to come out," Mr. Fitzgerald wrote.

Mr. Libby is said to have testified that "at first" he rebuffed Mr. Cheney's suggestion to release the information because the estimate was classified. However, according to the vice presidential aide, Mr. Cheney subsequently said he got permission for the release directly from Mr. Bush. "Defendant testified that the vice president later advised him that the president had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE," the prosecution filing said.

Mr. Libby told the grand jury that he also sought the advice of the legal counsel to the vice president, David Addington, who indicated that Mr. Bush's permission to disclose the estimate "amounted to a declassification of the document," according to the new court papers.

One of the facts Mr. Libby said he planned to disclose to Ms. Miller was that the estimate, produced in October 2002, concluded that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure uranium." This contention was sharply at odds with Mr. Wilson's op-ed piece which argued there was no evidence of such a procurement effort, at least on a trip he took to Africa at the CIA's request.

Mr. Bush's alleged instruction to release the conclusions of the intelligence estimate appears to have been squarely within his authority and Mr. Fitzgerald makes no argument that it was illegal. While Mr. Libby said he gave that information "exclusively" to the Times reporter at their breakfast meeting at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, many of the findings of the estimate were formally declassified and discussed at a White House press briefing ten days later, on July 18, 2003.

The court papers filed by Mr. Fitzgerald do not make clear whether Mr. Bush knew the disclosure was destined for Ms. Miller, though they indicate Mr. Cheney knew that fact. Mr. Libby is also said to have testified that five days late Mr. Cheney authorized the release to the press of information about a cable about Mr. Wilson's strip.

Messrs. Bush and Cheney have been interviewed by Mr. Fitzgerald and his staff, but it is not known how their accounts of the events compared to that of Mr. Libby.

In an interview with Fox News in February, Mr. Cheney, who has a reputation for secrecy, acknowledged that he has sometimes pressed for the official release of classified records.

"I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions," he said.

Asked if he had ever "unilaterally" declassified material, Mr. Cheney replied, "I don't want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the president, but also includes the vice president."

While prosecutors initially said Mr. Libby was the first government official to disclose Ms. Plame's identity, it subsequently emerged that a Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward, learned earlier about her CIA employment from another government official. Neither Mr. Woodward nor Ms. Miller wrote about Ms. Plame at the time. Another journalist, Robert Novak, first disclosed the employment of Mr. Wilson's wife in a syndicated column released on July 14, 2003. The columnist based his story on interviews with Mr. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, and another official who has not been officially identified.

Prosecutors argued that Mr. Libby covered up his role in the disclosures because "he knew the White House had publicly staked its credibility on there being no White House involvement in the leaking of information about Ms. Wilson." They also noted that Mr. Bush publicly declared he would fire anyone found to have leaked classified information.

The new court filing quotes from handwritten suggestions Mr. Libby gave to the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, urging the spokesman to proclaim the vice presidential aide's innocence with the same vigor that the press secretary previously denounced as "ridiculous" suggestions that Mr. Rove might have had a hand in leaking Ms. Plame's identity.

Mr. Libby's note, as typed up by the prosecution, reads like a stanza of verse:

"People have made too much of the difference in
How I described Karl and Libby
I've talked to Libby.
I said it was ridiculous about Karl
And it is ridiculous about Libby.
Libby was not the source of the Novak story.
And he did not leak classified information."

Mr. McClellan did not adopt the talking points verbatim, but did tell reporters later that Messrs. Rove and Libby "assured me that they were not involved in this."

Mr. Rove has not been charged with a crime, but remains under investigation by Mr. Fitzgerald's office.

"Truth Squads:" The New And Improved Boycott


The megachurches are gearing up for that huge Christian event that is almost upon us this Spring. No, not Easter. They're preparing for the theatrical release of The Da Vinci Code. Evangelical media darling Rick Warren has been sending out disinformation tips to tens of thousands of pastors encouraging them to inform their congregations that the book is a sham.

Every Christian.... should know that skeptics who see the movie will feel they have been equipped to challenge the faithful. "Our people need to be equipped, too," [says pastor Ken Baugh on Rick Warren's]

Warren and Da Vinci Code debunker Lee Strobel are encouraging churches to preach on the heresy of the book:

[from] My initial reaction to the book [says Stobel] was outright anger at the way it slanders Christianity... [Still] The Da Vinci Code offers terrific opportunities to preach on apologetics, doctrine, and church history in fresh and powerful ways... I know one church where attendance jumped 500 people when its Da Vinci series launched. Outreach, Inc. is offering materials to support your series, such as sample sermons, bulletin inserts, door hangers, banners, and invitations. And don’t forget to send a press release about your series to your local newspaper in order to garner free publicity..... "It would be a tragedy if all the churches across America miss this opportunity."...

One church mentioned on is taking drastic measures.

[Coast Hills Community Church in CA] plans to distribute more than 300 iPod Shuffles – all pre-loaded with the eight sermons from the Da Vinci series – to church members. Their mission: To give them away to friends, neighbors, co-workers, perhaps even total strangers, anyone who might be interested in hearing the sermons.

"They'll be iPod evangelists. They will tell the person, I'd love for you to listen to this and then have coffee with me. I mean, who's not going to take an iPod?"

Though some Christians will undoubtedly be organizing boycotts against Sony (who produced the film) most are following Rick Warren's lead and organizing "truth squads" to counter "heretical" claims that the book makes about Jesus and the deceptions of the Catholic chuch:

[from Christian Science Monitor] Rather than organize protests or boycotts - steps taken in the past against controversial films - Evangelicals and Catholics instead are mobilizing "truth squads." They're producing books, websites, TV documentaries, DVDs, and study guides. Some hope to use the film as a "teachable moment" that could turn the occasion to their advantage.

Of course this all begs the questions: A) what are they so afraid of? B) Don't they realize the book is a work of fiction? and C) Shouldn't churches be worrying about things like ending poverty and hunger instead of obssessing about films directed by Opie?

April 05, 2006

Reminder: O' Death Playing in W-Burg Tonight

Wed. April 5 at Glasshouse Gallery
38 South 1st street (between Kent and Wythe)
(with Bloody Panda + Skeletonbreath)
FREE - show starts at 8pm
read Kevin K.'s review here or download some tracks here

April 04, 2006

A Heartbreaking Coalition of Staggering Liberals


From the Associated Press

Dave Eggers, Jane Smiley and Daniel Handler, aka "Lemony Snicket," are among those involved with the newly formed LitPAC, a coalition of authors that plans readings around the country to register voters and raise money for liberal candidates in this year's congressional elections.

"We feel we can raise $75,000 in hard money for congressional candidates, at $5,000 apiece," says LitPAC executive director Stephen Elliott, who has written four novels and a political memoir, "Looking Forward to It."

"We're not George Soros; we're not going to make a massive impact. But if you ask any non-incumbent candidate if $5,000 is a big chunk of money, they'll tell you it's a very big chunk of money."

Other LitPAC authors include Mary Gaitskill, whose "Veronica" was a finalist for the National Book Award, Tobias Wolff, Rick Moody and Anthony Swofford.

April 03, 2006

If the Leading NeoCon Think Tank Says It....

... It must be true. From the American Enterprise Institute:

Though the Bush administration hates to admit it, daily life in Baghdad has become worse. For those politically active, life is more dangerous now than ever.

It is irrelevant whether small businesses, imports, and school and hospital construction are doing better if Iraq's political and intellectual classes (not to mention foreigners who are trying to help them) cannot walk out of their homes unguarded.

If Baghdad remains a killing zone, where Iraq's leaders can safely gather only under U.S. protection, then the prognosis for the Iraqi national identity, which has always had Baghdad at its center, is poor. Lasting political compromises will probably be impossible if the increasingly vicious sectarian strife in Baghdad and its environs intensifies. Within a year, at most two, Iraq could become Algeria.

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