Thursday, April 26, 2012
In 1969, the vaunted Gallup Polling organization asked Americans about their attitudes towards legalizing marijuana. At that time, a mere 12% of Americans favored it, while 84% were opposed.
Today, support for legalizing marijuana has surpassed the 50% mark, with more Americans in favor than opposed. When asked about marijuana for medical use, support jumps to over 70%.
The advocacy group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws claims that marijuana is the third-most-popular recreational drug in America, behind only alcohol and tobacco. Some states have decriminalized marijuana's use, and some have made it legal for medicinal use. A growing crowd of Law Enforcement officials, as well as former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, have called for legalization.
So why are Democrats like Governor John Lynch (NH) and President Barack Obama digging their heels in on an issue that has become a no-brainer for most Americans?
Yesterday, the Republican-dominated legislature of New Hampshire passed a sweeping measure legalizing medical marijuana. . It would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions or the patient's designated caretaker to cultivate and possess up to six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants and 12 seedlings at a registered location.
But as he did in 2009, Gov. John Lynch declared he will veto the bill once again.
The NH House clearly has the votes to override his veto: the measure passed by a lopsided 236-96. However, the margin in the Senate was only 13-11 last month, short of the 15 votes needed for override in that chamber. The prime Senate sponsor, Sen. Jim Forsythe, (R-Strafford), said he was not giving up.
“We’ve gone from having one Senate Republican in support of this issue a few years ago to now having at least eight Senate Republicans ... I believe three additional Senate votes are very possible, and it’s a goal we’ll be working very hard to achieve in the coming weeks,” Forsythe said in a statement.
If Lynch’s position is frustrating, President Obama’s can only be described as an infuriating betrayal.
When he was running in 2008, Obama said he supported the “basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs” and that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws.” In fact, a Justice Department memo in March 2009 from Attorney General Eric Holder announced that federal government raids on medical marijuana distributors who were in compliance with state and local law would end.
And yet, precisely the opposite has occurred.
During 2011, federal forces from several agencies raided 26 dispensaries across 13 Montana cities where medical marijuana is legal under state law. Other dispensaries were raided in California, Washington, Michigan, and Colorado. All told, the federal government has raided more than 100 dispensaries. All of the old Bush administration anti-medical marijuana appointees in key administration positions have been retained.
“I’m very disappointed,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), recently said. “They look more like the Bush administration than the Clinton administration...Obama now lags Pat Robertson in a sensible approach to marijuana.”
President Obama attempted to clarify his position on medical marijuana in an interview with Rolling Stone, telling publisher Jann Wenner that he can't "nullify congressional law."
"What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it's against federal law. I can't nullify congressional law," Obama said. "I can't ask the Justice Department to say, 'Ignore completely a federal law that's on the books.'
Of course, he can, and he has, quite recently:
The Executive Branch of government is a co-equal branch of government; in order to maintain the checks and balances that our system envisions, the Executive must exercise its own judgment. When Obama declared that the Executive branch would not defend legal actions against DOMA, (the Defense of Marriage Act passed by Congress) that is precisely what he did. He chose not to permit the Attorney General to act. When Harry Truman ordered the integration of the military in defiance of Congressional policy, that is exactly what he did as well.
His actions are in direct contradiction to his original campaign promises, and make no sense in the larger legal, moral or political environment.
If Obama loses progressive support on his left flank in his re-election bid, it is his own fault.
Blogger's Note: Before my father died of esophagal cancer, he expressed to me how he thought that Marijuana ought to be legalized - a strong turn of events for a man who was otherwise viewed as a conservative Republican. In his last days, medical cannabis was not available to him, so his pain was relieved by morphine, which put him into a state of near-sleep and confusion almost 24 hours a day. It was that experience that made Medical Marijuana an important issue for me.]
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Sharon Ann Palmer and Eugenie Victoria Bloch of Healthy Family Farms, LCC, were also arrested along with Stewart. Palmer was charged with producing milk without a license or permit since 2007 and selling as a vendor at community farmers markets.
Now, Obama has the Dept. of Justice going after small farmers under the guise of the post-911 “Bank Secrecy Act” which makes it a crime to deposit less than $10,000 if someone earns more than that.
“The level we deposited was what it was and it was about the same every week,” Randy Sowers told Frederick News. The Sowers own and run South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, Maryland.
Admittedly, when the Sowers earned over $10,000 in February, and learned they’d have to fill out paperwork at the bank to justify such large deposits, they simply rolled the deposits over to the next day to keep them below the none-of-your-fucking-business amount, rather than waste time on bureaucratic red tape aimed at flagging terrorism or other illegal activities.
Unfortunately, the Feds call this “Structuring,” which is the federal criminal offense of splitting up bank deposits so as to keep them under a threshold such as $10,000 above which banks have to report transactions to the government.
While being questioned, the Sowers were presented with a seizure order. In fact, the feds had already emptied their bank account of $70,000. The Dept. of Justice has since sued to keep $63,000 of the Sowers’ money, though they have been convicted of no crime.
Without funds, they will be unable to make purchases for the spring planting.
When a similar action was taken against Taylor’s Produce Stand last year, the feds seized $90,000, dropped the charges, and kept $45,000 of Taylor’s money.
Knowing that most farms operate on a razor-thin thin margin, such abuse of power wipes out a family’s income, and for a bonus, the feds enhance the monopoly power of Monsanto and corporate agribusiness. Nationally, the numbers of federal bank seizures and prosecutions are up 8.8 percent from last year, and up 57.1 percent from five years ago.
Of course, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and other criminal banksters are still in operation, despite committing millions of acts of fraud during mortgage games. But the DOJ prioritizes squashing family farmers since it’s easier to pick the low-hanging fruit than do battle with well-financed criminals who’ve illegally seized the homes of millions of US citizens.
Former Maryland assistant U.S. attorney Steven Levin told the Frederick News, “The emphasis is on basically seizing money, whether it is legally or illegally earned. It can lead to financial ruin for business owners, and there’s a potential for abuse here by the government.”
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
In spite of his narrow win in his home state of Michigan, he actually split the delegates from that state on an even 50-50 basis with Rick Santorum. Next week’s “Super Tuesday” will see Romney losses in southern and western states…with more southern states (Alabama and Mississippi) lined up for votes on March 13.
The prospects of a brokered convention – and the possibility of the Republicans choosing a yet-unnamed candidate – is growing by the minute.
So, let me be the first to say it:
Watch George E. Pataki.
Pataki may have been flying under the electoral radar all season, but he has been a very busy man.
On February 13, Pataki issued the following statement:
“The Obama administration continues to govern in its own Bizarro World that fails to recognize the devastating impact of the debt crisis we face. Today’s election year budget with another staggering trillion dollar plus deficit is a clear sign that the Obama administration has given up on even the facade of fiscal restraint and is content to bankrupt America in a cynical bid to save his political career. Jack Lew is right about one thing, the time for austerity is not today, it was last week and last year. It’s not halftime in the debt crisis; we’re in sudden death overtime and the clock is ticking down on our ability to effectively address this issue. President Obama must get real and revive the recommendations of the Simpson Bowles Commission.”
While slamming President Obama in the national debt on one hand, he has operated as the quintessential New York establishment Republican on the other hand: he has managed to take an anti-public employees union position (to the cheers of conservatives), while allying himself with a liberal Democrat (New York’s popular Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo). On Sunday, Pataki told the NY Daily News that the New York State public employees pension system needs to be changed:
“In this case, I think it’s clear the governor’s efforts to reform the pension system are correct and necessary. What we’ve seen is just an enormous increase in the contributions required by government employers.” The result, he said, is “continued spiraling upward [of property taxes] that is not sustainable. It’s wrong and I would hope the reform movement will succeed and will succeed this year."
Anti-Government Spending. Anti-Taxes. Anti-Public Employee Unions.
All while supporting a popular Democratic Governor.
These are not the positions of a casual commentator. These are the positions staked out by a shrewd politician.
The challenge for any Republican candidate for President is to hold on the conservative GOP base, while attracting moderate independents, and maybe even gathering some liberal support. This is standard politics for Pataki, who managed to govern one of the most reliably Democratic states in the country – New York – for twelve consecutive years (1995-2006).
For red-meat conservatives, Pataki offers solid credentials on some specific issues: Having been trusted to introduce George W. Bush at the Republican Nominating Convention, he was then appointed by Bush as a United States delegate to the 2007 United Nations General Assembly session, a post that required (and received) the approval of the U. S. Senate. In that post, Pataki focused on terrorism. He continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the American Security Council Foundation, a neo-conservative, pro-military-industrial complex “Peace Through Strength” advocacy group. The Foundation’s positions are entirely consistent with the saber-rattling words uttered by Gingrich, Romney and Santorum throughout the primary season.
But in contrast to Romney, whose Massachusetts health care plan (“Romneycare”) was the precursor and model for the federal “Obamacare,” Pataki has strongly (and credibly) opposed the Obama plan, much to the delight of the conservative Republican base: Two years ago (April 2010) Pataki announced that he was creating a nonprofit organization, “Revere America,” to push for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which he called "horrific" and a “costly bungle.”
Like a good New York statesman, though, Pataki has been careful not to lurch to the right on every issue, thus preventing him from being pigeonholed as a fringe conservative. After serving as Governor, Pataki joined Chadbourne & Parke, a law firm that emphasizes its renewable energy practice. He then formed the “Pataki-Cahill Group,” an environmental consulting firm, and worked with the Council on Foreign Relations on climate change issues.
Probably the most important environmental initiative in the northeast – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or “ RGGI” – was the brainchild of George Pataki, and a project he implemented while Governor.
The RGGI uses market-based mechanisms to make dirty power plants pay for their pollution and clean up their act while simultaneously investing their payments in clean energy. The concept of the program is simple: Put a limit on power plant pollution, make polluters pay for the global warming emissions that they spew into the air, and reinvest that money in clean energy construction projects. These projects create jobs, reduce U.S. addiction to foreign crude oil, and reduce pollution. It is largely regarded as a win-win for the economy and the environment. It was promoted by both Republicans and Democrats from 10 states stretching from Maine to Maryland. And it was spearheaded by Pataki.
Anti-Tax, Anti-Spending, Anti-Debt, Anti-Obamacare, Pro-Military.
Pro-Environment, Pro-bipartisan, with Foreign Affairs (UN) experience.
Fiscal Conservative, Social Moderate.
Did I mention that at age 67, it’s now or never for Pataki? And that he has a Political Action Committee?
You read it here first: Watch for a Republican Convention without a conclusive nominee. And watch for George E. Pataki.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
In Rick Santorum’s world, the most pressing political issue this week was Proper Theology. From questioning President Obama’s position on the environment to criticizing college life for ruining student’s religious faith and criticizing President Kennedy's affirmation of the separation of church and state, Santorum provided a non-stop litany of statements that are both factually and theologically erroneous.
He charged this past week that President Obama's call for college enrollment for all was driven by a desire to impart liberal ideology on young adults. In recalling his own stint at Penn State, he said, "You are singled out. You are ridiculed. ... I was docked for my conservative views. This is not a neutral setting." He repeated the claim Sunday on ABC’s This Week, insisting that “62 percent of kids who enter college with some sort of faith commitment leave without it.”
Fact Check: He is, of course, entirely incorrect. As a general principle, almost all students who leave home and exit from life under mom and dad engage in some real soul-searching about their belief systems. But a 2007 study published in the Social Forces Journal found that Americans who don’t go to college lose their faith at a greater rate than those who do. The Journal noted,
“Contrary to our own and others’ expectations…young adults who never enrolled in college are presently the least religious young Americans. 64 percent of those currently enrolled in a traditional four-year institutions have curbed their attendance habits ... [while] 76 percent of those who never enrolled in college report a decline in religious service attendance.”
A year earlier, a poll conducted by the Harvard University Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government found that seven out of ten of America’s college students believed that religion is somewhat or very important in their lives. In contrast to Santorum's claims, it further found that “a quarter of students (25%) say they have become more spiritual since entering college, as opposed to only seven percent (7%) who say they have become less spiritual.”
So Santorum’s claim that liberal colleges destroy the faith of students is contradicted by the professional studies on the matter and the testimony of the students themselves.
But perhaps Santorum sees their faith being ruined because he doesn’t like the liberal spin on their theology. Again, this week, he claimed that President Obama's "agenda is driven on a theology not based on the bible. " When pressed on his claim, he explained,
“I just said that when you have a world view that elevates the Earth above man…I was talking about the radical environmentalists. That's why I was talking about energy, this idea that man is here to serve the Earth as opposed to husband its resources… I think that is a phony ideal.”
Washington Times columnist Jeffrey T. Kuhner expounded on Santorum’s statement, declaring outright that Obama
“worships a neo-pagan religion and is not a true Christian:
Mr. Santorum’s larger point is that Mr. Obama and his liberal allies have embraced radical environmentalism – a form of neo-paganism. The green movement – exemplified by the hoax of man-made global warming – has degenerated into a pseudo-religion. Environmentalists worship Gaia, Mother Earth, turning it into a secular goddess..”
Unfortunately for the devoutly-Catholic Santorum and his ally at the Washington Times, it is they who are Theologically in err, not President Obama.
This morning, I read aloud the Episcopal Church’s Old Testament lesson appointed for today, the first day of Lent in the western Church. That lesson is Genesis 9:8-17, which reads [emphasis added]:
“God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."
In this reading, we are confronted with a very clear theological notion of God’s covenant of peace with all of creation, not just mankind.
Accordingly, some years ago, Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II, in appealing to the example of St. Francis of Assisi, offered his prayer that "If nature is not violated and humiliated, it returns to being the sister of humanity." Comparable statements are found in "Renewing the Earth," a 1991 U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops document. The Council created accompanying resource kits (which it mailed three times to 19,000 parishes) with names like "God's creation and our responsibility" and "Renewing the Face of the Earth." The kits contained suggestions for prayer and worship with an emphasis on healing the environment and ideas for specific pro-environmental actions. The kits emphasized that justice for humans and justice for nature are inextricably intertwined.
Santorum claims that while in college, he was “docked for … conservative views.” It appears more likely that he was probably docked for his inability to support his opinions with facts.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The stories have gone viral, and we hardly have to repeat what has been covered by every major news channel: The pleas of Thomas Sawyer, a 61-year old Bladder Cancer survivor with a Urostomy (an external bag collecting urine), are ignored by TSA agents who break his bag and leave him in tears and covered in his own urine. Cathy Bossy, a 32-year old Breast Cancer survivor, is forced to remove her prosthetic breast. A three year old is subjected to a full-body pat down because she cried when Agents attempted to take her teddy bear away from her to go through the metal detector. Gurdeep Bawa, a religious Sikh, is forced to remove his turban and watch it manhandled, even though he had passed both a metal detector and a detectives trace detection test.
In an effort to prevent terrorism on the airlines, the 'experience' of airline travel has clearly changed in the last decade...and the public debate between those who would preserve privacy, and those who would insist on security, is at fever pitch. Now, to be 100% honest, I have a perverse desire to wear some type of leather-and-metal masochistic contraption on my 'junk' just to watch some TSA agent have to deal with it. But many Americans (more Normal than me) have called for a massive protest on Wednesday ("National Opt-Out Day"), to overwhelm the government security operations on one of the busiest travel days of the year. As expected, the TSA, and some news commentators, are warning against such an action.
We draw 3 conclusions from this entire episode:
1) American officials need a lesson in Marginal Analysis (Microeconomics 101).
On the first day of Micro class, I ask my students if they think that protecting children is important. Of course, they respond in the affirmative. Then I ask them if ski slopes that permit children to ski should be forced to bubble-wrap all the trees on the slope...after all, if children's lives are important, shouldn't we do everything in our power to make it safer...even just a little bit? Eventually, students come around to reconciling their concern for children with their recognition of the innate, if unstated, concept of Marginal Analysis: the question is NOT "Don't you want children to be safe?," but rather, "What are the costs and benefits of the next proposed action?"
This applies to *every* public policy debate. Yes, children's education is important...that doesn't mean every school should have a 1:1 teacher-student ratio. Yes, fire protection is important...that doesn't mean there should be a firehouse on every block. Yes, rescuing fishermen whose boats have gone down is important...that doesn't mean the Coast Guard should be searching 6 months later.
And the same reasoning applies to Airline Security. The question is NOT, "Is airline security important?" (Of course it is). The question is, "What are the costs and benefits associated with this additional step." People who defend the TSA's actions based on the broad concept of "the importance of security" are simply not thinking this through.
According to the TSA, only 3% of airline passengers are subjected to "enhanced" security searches. How much additional safety do we all experience as a result of a process that is only used on 3% of passengers?! The fact is, the additional benefits are dwarfed by the additional costs associated by this procedure: costs in equipment, personnel, delays, and public outrage. Standard Marginal Analysis would suggest that the TSA's efforts are a sure loser (and while children are being stripped at the gates, al qaeda is circumventing this process entirely by planting bombs in cargo holds).
2) The Terrorists have Won. Beginning with waterboarding and continuing through Guantanamo Bay, the suspending of habaeus corpus, and the Patriot Act, from Bush through Obama, constitutional guarantees have been shredded.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution reads as follows:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Patting down a 3-year old is now "reasonable?" Removing a prosthetic breast is "reasonable?" Breaking an American's Urostomy bag is consistent with being "secure in their persons?"
In the name of Security, the Fourth Amendment has been rendered 'voidable' by our federal government. The Terrorists, who have a deep-seated hatred for American civil liberties, have succeeded in eliminating one of our most important rights...and sadly, many Americans go along in the name of 'security.'
3) Obama is Clueless. President Obama's detached, passionless leadership style has hurt both his Presidency and the Democratic Party. The high-falutin,' tortured, bureaucratic gobbledy-gook emanating from the White House in response to the public outcry is remarkable for its total lack of any hint of empathy. The President should have immediately joined in the outrage over the abuse to cancer survivors and children named above, and declared that he was ordering changes to TSA policy...instead, what we received was an into-the-air comment about 'evolving policy.'
Sigh.....Where is the sign up sheet for "Hillary in 2012?" A
And in the meantime, dammit - if you're flying on Wednesday - get there early, stand up for reason and for your rights as an American, and join the National Opt-Out Day
Friday, November 19, 2010
Sometimes I have to have my Cajun husband translate what Carville says, but I needed no help with this one!:
"If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he'd have two." - Democratic strategist James Carville, speaking about the president's commitment to the repeal of DADT. After Carville's comment was widely criticized, he fired back: "If I offended anybody, I am not sorry and I do not apologize."
via WickedGayBlog, via JMG