Topic: The Law
The Good Old Days Return
As reported by Nasser Karimi of the Associated Press, Monday, December 19, Iran's President Bans Western Music.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is at it again. Wasn't it just last week he said the Holocaust never happened, or was some sort of exaggeration? I think he called a myth. And didn't he also suggest Israel, if not wiped from the face of the map, should at least be removed from the Middle East and be reestablished in Europe? (Where? They have spare room in Slovenia?)
Now this - it's time to move the country back to the early days of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Those were the good old days?
We're told that ditties like George Michael's "Careless Whisper," Eric Clapton's "Rush" and the Eagles' "Hotel California" have commonly accompanied Iranian broadcasts. Perhaps the "Hotel California" thing explains the seventy-six logons to Just Above Sunset from Iran in the last two years, and the two or more logons to the daily web log from Tehran each week - California Dreamin' and all that.
This ban is puzzling, but the AP item notes they had also played there a lot of tunes by the schlock jazz saxophonist Kenny G. You can get behind banning him. No problem.
In any event, the official daily paper over there said that Ahmadinejad, as head of the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council (think of Bill O'Reilly and the Christmas Wars), said this was now required - no more "indecent and Western music" on Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. Enough is enough.
It seems western music, films and clothing are widely available in Iran, "and hip-hop can be heard on Tehran's streets, blaring from car speakers or from music shops." Who'd have guessed? And there seems to be a thriving black market for bootleg videos and DVD's of films banned by the state.
But they had an election. Ahmadinejad won convincingly, on a platform to clean things up. Of course Ayatollah Khomeini outlawed all music as "un-Islamic" back in the good old days, but then, after he was gone, you started to get a bit of light classical music on state radio and television. Things were slipping, and by the late eighties there were, of all things, a few public concerts. So this had to stop.
Ahmadinejad campaigned on a platform to confront "the Western cultural invasion" and promote Islamic values. And he won. So they move back to the good old days.
Well, the Fox News O'Reilly-Gibson effort to punish those who use "Happy Holidays" and not "Merry Christmas" in advertising and in the personal greetings of us all on the streets and in the offices and homes in America, and all the talk in congress about getting the FCC to expand its regulation of what we are allowed to see and hear beyond the pubic broadcast media to now include pay-for-access cable television and satellite radio (the new realm of Howard Stern), means we too want to return to the good old days. But that would be the Ozzie and Harriet fifties, not seventeenth-century Puritan New England, or so we all hope.
And that bring us to Martin Garbus, partner in the law firm of Davis and Gilbert. Time Magazine says he's "legendary" (in some circles) and "one of the best trial lawyers in the country." The National Law Journal says he's America's "most prominent First Amendment lawyer" - one of the country's top ten litigators. He's now involved a copyright infringement suit against that hip-hop fellow Eminem (Marshall Mathers). Garbus represents a composer, not the Mathers fellow. And yes, this cause would be moot in Iran.
He's also presently representing employees in a class action employment discrimination suit challenging Bush's "faith based" initiative, and flight attendants in a labor dispute against their union and American Airlines. He's busy. And there's much more at his bio - he represented Lenny Bruce against obscenity charges, handled the estates of Marilyn Monroe, Igor Stravinsky, John Cheever and Margaret Mitchell, and was the fellow who handled Mitchell case involving that parody of "Gone With the Wind." (He lost that one, as discussed in these page in 2003 here, and in 2004 here.) Along the way he's represented and advocated on behalf of Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Daniel Ellsberg and Andrei Sakharov. He's a big gun.
And he's worried about going back to the good old days. In an item co-written with Leonard Weinglass - one of the attorneys involved in the 1971 Nixon case where the administration then contended the president's powers as Commander-in-Chief at a time of even undeclared war overrode the privacy rights of citizens (domestic spying was necessary and legal) - he's say we're back there again.
That's here, and the New York Times headline from Monday, December 19, 2005 is, of course, Bush Says U.S. Spy Program Is Legal and Essential.
It's the same argument. "Both Presidents claim that their Constitutional powers as Commander-in-Chief include the right to override any law, statute or other provisions of the constitution in order to preserve and protect the constitution of the United States." Except Bush is winning this time.
Nixon lost -
So the Fourth Amendment, insofar as it protects us all from unreasonable search and seizure, seemed like a good thing then. As the fourth of the first ten amendments, the basic bill of rights, they didn't want to mess with it.
Then there was the exception -
So every administration since 1978 has had this super-secret court available to approve domestic spying. In the Times item above, reporting on the Monday the 19th Bush press conference, you'll note the president was asked why he felt he had to bypass this court. Heck, no one else had a problem with it. The president said it took too much time and speed was of the essence, or some such thing. Of course the law allows the spying, by wiretap or whatever, to take place without a hearing, as long as within seventy-two hours the court is notified about what was done and allowed to review what was done. What's the problem?
And it's not like these guys deny warrants, as you can see in this table (discussed here). They deny virtually nothing.
Something is up when this is not sufficient. Did Bush Domestic Spy Program Eavesdrop On American Journalists? That's possible.
Is this program, outside the law, being used to compile an "enemies list?" As Newsweek reported in their June 6 issue -
Something was up with that. There was lots of talk the Bolton was using the NSA intercepts to get back at people he didn't like, and who he thought were giving him and the administration grief. But the records weren't released and the matter disappeared. But now? Those people could be reporters or anyone who was making waves.
The senate did not confirm Bolton, partially because of this matter, so the president used a "recess appointment," while the senate was out of town, to name Bolton to the UN post, where he will serve, with no possible review, until after the 2006 mid-term elections, when we have a newly formed senate and it is seated. Very odd, isn't it?
But none of this matters. As of Monday, December 19th, the president is saying he will continue doing just what he as been doing, bypassing any judicial review of this domestic spying, not bothering with warrants, in order to keep us safe and free. It's for our own good. Things have changed.
Martin Garbus -
But a reversal of the Nixon decision gets us back to the good old days. Nixon was piker compared to these folks.
As for Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy deferring to the idea of an executive branch that should not be subject to the law, well, the new nominee, Alito, has already ruled in the Sixth Circuit that the president is kind of special in a way. Congress may pass the laws, but the president was inherently protected "from congressional pilfering." (That nomination had little to do with Roe v Wade, as you see.)
Besides, Congress Gave President The Authority To Spy On Americans - the Attorney General said so on the Today Show on Monday, December 19th, so it must be so.
Of course that's news to one senator -
Yep, he has, but what are you going to do about it, Russ? The game is over. The good old days (before Nixon's attorneys blew it) are back.