March 24, 2010 archive

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Sharks, elephants to reappear on CITES agenda

by Marlowe Hood, AFP

Wed Mar 24, 1:27 pm ET

DOHA (AFP) – Decisions to tighten or relax trade protection for elephants in Zambia and two species of sharks prized for their fins or meat could be overturned on the last day of a key UN wildlife meeting on Thursday.

The final plenary session of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) validates decisions taken over the previous 12 days, but a motion to reopen debate supported by a third of delegates can lead to a new vote.

The United States had said it will seek a second chance for the distinctive scalloped hammerhead shark, denied so-called Appendix II status by a handful of votes earlier in the week.

Legal Pot on CA Ballot this Fall, if LA Comes Thru, Cops Not Happy

Today is the deadline for Los Angeles County, CA to turn in their lists of valid signatures for the November elections, and the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adult personal use is expected to qualify.  It’s the “Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.”  pdf here of proposed law:…

Huffpo here:…

Look at the statistics quoted here in this Stephen Gutwillig story, and tell me that the continued persecution of marijuana use, isn’t authoritarian right wing make work, waste money, government scheming done because law enforcement needs something to do –  because pot is so easy to grow, nobody would have to go without if it were not illegal:

Unthinkable carnage in Mexico has claimed 15,000 lives since the Calderon government declared war on drug cartels three years ago. Our government estimates the cartels generate at least 60% of their profits from marijuana alone. Following the murders of several U.S. consular workers, Secretary of State Clinton returned to Mexico this week, acknowledging that demand in the U.S. dominates these markets. But she didn’t acknowledge that rampant violence is not a byproduct of the cannabis plant itself but of the prohibition that creates a profit motive people are willing to kill for.


With this cultural transition underway, you might think enforcement of our marijuana laws would reflect their unpopularity. Sadly, quite the opposite is the case. Arrests for marijuana offenses have actually tripled nationwide since 1991. In California, which decriminalized low-level possession in 1975, arrests have jumped 127 percent in the same two decades the arrest rate for crime in general fell by 40 percent. Police made nearly 850,000 marijuana arrests across the country last year, half of all drug arrests and more than all violent crime arrests combined. No law in the United States is enforced so widely yet deemed so unnecessary.

Worse still, marijuana laws are enforced selectively with racist results. In California, African Americans are three times more likely than whites to be arrested for a marijuana offense despite comparable or even lower rates of consumption. An expose by the Pasadena Weekly found that blacks, who represent 14 percent of that city’s population, accounted for more than half all marijuana arrests in the last five years.

The LA Times yesterday, if the issue makes it to the ballot:…

That will once again make California the focal point of the long-stewing argument over marijuana legalization, a debate likely to be a high-dollar brawl between adversaries who believe it could launch or stifle another national trend.

The campaign will air issues that have changed little over the years. Proponents will cite the financial and social cost of enforcing pot prohibition and argue that marijuana is not as dangerous and addictive as tobacco or alcohol. Opponents will highlight marijuana-linked crimes, rising teenage use and the harm the weed causes some smokers.

But the debate also will play out against a cultural landscape that has changed substantially, with marijuana moving from dark street corners to neon-lit suburban boutiques. In the months since the Obama administration ordered drug agents to lay off dispensaries, hundreds have opened, putting pot within easy reach of most Californians. Whether voters view this de facto legalization with trepidation or equanimity could shape the outcome.

The measure’s supporters hope that this dynamic will shift the debate, allowing them to persuade voters to replace prohibition with controlled sales that could be taxed to help California’s cities and counties.

“They already accept that it’s out there. They want to see a smart strategy,” said Chris Lehane, a top strategist for the initiative.

What suburban boutiques?  We had a faux – Libertarian Republican Neocon run here in CA 04 supposedly in favor of legalizing pot, McClintock, and instead post election all the local Republicans are fighting tooth and nail against siting any medical marijuana dispensaries in the local counties in the district.  Oh, wait, he doesn’t live in the district.  My county just spent 4 million on a surveillance helicopter. nevermind.

But John Lovell, a Sacramento lobbyist for law enforcement groups, said he believes that voters will reject that argument.

“Why on Earth would you want to add yet another mind-altering substance to the legal array?” he asked.

Because, it’s cheaper, it works, it doesn’t have harmful side effects, and people can grow it themselves without having to pay for insurance, co pays, and prescriptions, which is going to cost them $10,000 a year or more.  In 2004, California voters legalized medical marijuana.  Since then, a majority of voters (at least 56%)  have come around to supporting further freedoms.  Because pot is also a multi billion dollar crop, the thought of collecting tax revenues on it if it were legal, when the state is dead broke and throwing college students out of schools for lack of funds, instead of wasting money busting people, during a severe economic recession, is becoming more appealing.

“Bong politics” he called it.  Here’s John Lovell.…     And here’s the groups he lobbies for:…










About those law enforcement clients of Lobbyist Lovell’s …..…

Any vote would take place in a state where attitudes toward marijuana border on the schizophrenic. Last year, the state made some 78,500 arrests on felony and misdemeanors related to the drug, up from about 74,000 in 2007, according to the California attorney general.

Seizures of illegal marijuana plants, often grown by Mexican gangs on public lands in forests and parks, hit an all-time high in 2009, and last week, federal authorities announced a series of arrests in the state’s Central Valley, where homes have been converted into “indoor grows.”

Even if each arrest and subsequent legal action only cost $1000 per incident, that’s $78,500,000 or over $78 million the state of CA is throwing away per year. The true number surely must be over a billion dollars, if each arrest and legal fallout cost in total about $12,000.   20% of all prison incarcerations are for drug offenses and the CA average cost per year to keep them there is going over $40,000 per year.…    No, it won’t fix the $21 billion dollar plus CA budget deficit to legalize pot, but at least it wouldn’t be adding further to the insanity.

As a recreational user of the California State and public forests and parks, why should we be seeing park rangers and maintenance personal hour’s cut, layoffs, hiring freezes, parks shortening their hours, cutting back vital services like restrooms, or even being closed, and the Governor of the state threatening to SELL SOME OF THEM, all to “save money during a budget crisis”  just so these law enforcement types can run around playing Horticulture Police State ?

You want to get pot plantings out of public lands ?  LEGALIZE IT.  

Let’s take a closer look at one of the other groups Lovell lobbies for, Charity First for CA.  pdf filing with state…  Do you know what they do? They lobby for Bingo Parlors.

We can’t have pot and bingo in this state at the same time ?

What is CAHU, the CA Association of Health Underwriters up to, lately ?  They are supporting another ballot initiative for non partisan primaries.    http://cahucapitolrap.blogspot…

This was written by John Lovell, who says this trade association for the health insurance industry supports screwing up primaries by making them totally open.

With an open primary, party won’t matter. Everyone gets to vote and the top two candidates face off against each other in the Fall. That means that in a safe Democratic district, Republican voters will be the decisive factor in determining what type of Democrat goes to Sacramento. In a safe Republican district, Democratic voters will have a similar influence.

And what this means is that the entire Legislature will move to the center. CAHU does very well when we can speak with centrist Legislators – be they Democrat or Republican.  

Earth to Lovell –  it’s not all about your clients.


The Monster That Won’t Go Back in the Closet: Up Dated

This is just lovely. Isn’t wonderful when someone you really dislike starts to get what they deserve? Well, the Republi-won’t’s and their billionaire supporters created the Tea Party as a supposed “non-partisan, grassroots” activist group. Their main agenda was shouting down the Health Insurance Bill. Now, they won’t shut up about open rebellion, survivalist tactics, out right hate speech and openly carrying weapons. The Tea Partiers have not so subtly hinted that they would like to over throw the government.

The Tea Party’s right wing extremist agenda is now hurting the Republicans in the poll heading into the 2010 Midterm Elections. Quinipiac conducted a poll which showed that most Tea Partiers are white, Republican, more women than men and less educated. They also believe the government does too much.

They view the Republican Party as soft and ineffective. In certain districts if they ere to run their own candidates if would cut into votes for the Republican on the ticket, giving the advantage to the Democrat. This is what happened in the NY-23.

The Republicans have created a monster that will not go back in the closet and it is no longer lurking under the bed..  

CNBC openly debates “empire’s decline.”

Sweet Lo-retta!

In a TV segment, CNBC panelists candidly debate the decline of the “US empire” without batting an eyelash.  The accompanying article is entitled, “Health Care Law Signals US Empire Decline?”, wherein the guest, a hedge fund manager in “emerging markets” argues that the health care reform is one of many obvious indicators that the lights are blinking red on the US empire, just as national healthcare in Britain signaled its obvious imperial decline.

In their expansionary phase, empires force people to go out, seek risks and fend for themselves, Murrin said, reminding of the dismantling of the British empire after the war, when the National Health Service, which ensures universal health coverage in Britain, was created.

“In Just-spring, when the world is mud-luscious…”


Kabul, Afghanistan, 2009 (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

ee cummings3

ee cummings, from Tulips and Chimneys (1923)


JP Morgan Chase to get yet another taxpayer bailout

  Most people are under the false assumption that the taxpayer bailout of Wall Street banks began and ended with TARP. They couldn’t be more wrong.

  The Wall Street bank bailout began with Federal Reserve subsidies in December 2007, and has continued in one form or another right up to now.

 J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is nearing a deal that would allow it to benefit from a tax refund of as much as $1.4 billion, becoming the latest company to tap a little-noticed plank in an economic stimulus bill.

  That law let companies apply losses from 2008 or 2009 against taxes paid in the previous five years, instead of the previous two years.

Political Strategy in the Age of Mediocrity: The Four Positions

During the Bush Reign of Terror anyone with a conscience was Outside Fringe.

During the nebulosity of the last year, political positioning was also a bit nebulous.

Now that Obama has been declared a success by the Establishment however, new lines have been drawn. Their IS now a clear Democratic Establishment that like it or not…you ARE working within, or without. This is not a conscious drawing of lines by some entity, this is a function of human nature and human cognition. The human brain unconsciously makes these distinctions and there is not much anyone can do about it.

You are either Inside the Establishment….which is not bloody likely for anyone here.

Or an Inside Agitator.

Or an Outside Agitator.

Or Fringe.

In the simplest terms:

Inside Agitators take a position of agreeing with the general goals of the Establishment while agitating and pushing Left. They acknowledge that for The Party to succeed it is often necessary to not try to do the right thing because of political implications.

Outside Agitators do not make a pretense of adhering to Establishment goals and push Left. They only care if the party succeeds when the Party is doing the right thing. They acknowledge the existence of political implications. But do not view them as a priority.

Fringe disagrees with or doesn’t care about Establishment goals and yells its head off for doing the right thing no matter what the political implications.

It doesn’t matter what YOU think you are. You will be labeled with one of these positions depending on what you write and what you push for. Labeled by the Establishment and labeled by anyone not as far Left as you.

All of these positions are needed, all can be effective. But by recognizing how your work is labeled you have the option of adjusting your work and your rhetoric to clearly fall within a category, and thus exploit the strengths and weaknesses of that category to be the most effective advocate you can be. You may even choose to adjust your rhetoric and position so far as to change categories, for increased political effectiveness. Though I recommend against that. That threatens to take you into the realm of phoniness. And authenticity is one of the most effective tools of advocacy.

But the point, as always, is doing what works. What is most effective, by acknowledging how we are perceived, we can alter those perceptions, using minor adjustments, to make us more effective.

And always remember, politics is blood sport, so you better be able to defend whatever position you take.

Obama Promised to Finally Rid us of Nuclear Weapons

Down the memory hole again.

July 2008 (CNN)

“It’s time to send a clear message to the world: America seeks a world with no nuclear weapons,” the White House hopeful said.

Today (NYT):

The treaty would require each side to reduce deployed strategic nuclear warheads to roughly 1,600, down from 2,200 now, officials have said. It would also oblige each side to reduce its arsenal of strategic bombers and land- and sea-based missiles to 800, half the old limit of 1,600.

Arms control advocates consider those reductions to be relatively modest.

Nice work, PResident.  This is no different then BUsh would have done.

Well, he did scrap Bush’s missile defense shield, right?

Uh, no.. not, really, he replaced it with his own version. (a little something for General Dynamics instead of Lockheed, maybe? Or Honeywell instead of Boeing? Who can say.)

If you want to stop nuclear weapons, and you’re the US, it’s kinda like what John Rotten said about rockstars complaining about having to be rockstars–JUST STOP BEING ONE THEN.


the game of musical chairs and the myth of modernity……

we all remember the game of musical chairs…..

I was introduced to it at the age of 4 or 5…..

in what used to be called kindergarten…..

u know the teacher counts the number of kids and places a chair for every one except one in a circle in the room…..

instilling that this a fair exercise…….

then we all go around the chairs to the beat of some retarded feel good music……

when the music stops we must all seek to sit in a chair…

and of course by design one is left without…..

a chair is removed and the exercise continues…

until there is only one person left with a chair….

and the message is clear they fought for and earned that chair….

little did we realize we were being told the nature of the social agreement in no uncertain terms…..

when I reached about 7 years of age the message had been driven home….

what does this have to do with the myth of modernity u might ask……

let us make the game a little more honest and it might become apparent….

first lets us take a little journey and slowly evolve the game as we go……

the first game seemed accurate to the world of the early sixties when I learned it….

now let us move to the early seventies….

to play the game in the seventies we would have to add a couple of changes…..

the new game would look like this…

every turn u add 1 chair and remove 2…….

the early seventies 1973 to be accurate was the year that each graduating class would on average do worse than its parents generation……

that the opportunity space in our culture would no longer on average support the myth of endless upward mobility for all…..

at about 3 billion people…..

forward to the nineties….

at around 5 billion people…..

we would have to remove an increasing number of chairs for the crowded class room…..

the solution is of course the generation of a “reason” for declaring that a portion of the class would not get to play today because we just did not have enough chairs….

so they would be required to sit on the sidelines and hope for a day when we would…

but do not worry because we r clever and smart so we will be able to create more opportunity soon…..

just be patient…..

the brilliance of the human race will solve this temporary dilemma…..

meanwhile do not disturb the game for everyone else….

cause they r the source of the chairs so do not complain…..


at over 6 billion people….

the chairs come with the people who r acknowledged as the meritorious….

the rest sit on the floor and watch…..

there is a guard in the room….

and the teacher has a badge…..

they no longer add chairs….

they just take them away….


what do make of this…..

comments and thoughts…..


Thoughts on the anti-war movement as of March 2010

This post was written as part of GreenChange blog action day. Learn more here.

The anti-war movement seems to be at a crossroads these days. The rapid contraction of anti-war activism after George W. Bush left office caused many skeptics, including activists themselves, to wonder if most of the protesters had been more anti-Bush than anti-war. However, there are signs that the ranks of Americans who are determined to protest the evils of war, no matter which party controls the White House, is growing.

A December rally in Washington DC against the escalation of the Afghanistan War, which featured an impressive lineup of speakers including Chris Hedges, Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Ralph Nader, nevertheless attracted only a small number of supporters – probably less than 1000. The recent March 20th anti-war march in Washington DC attracted between 2500 and 10000 supporters. That’s still a far cry from the hundreds of thousands who would march during the Bush regime, but it may be a sign that the movement is recovering from its post-election inaction.

I remember hearing from people familiar with United For Peace & Justice (UFPJ), a nationwide umbrella group for anti-war organizations, that UFPJ leaders opted not to put their organizing muscle behind the March 20 protest. I’m out of the country and out of the loop, so I can’t confirm if that’s true. If it is true, I think it’s a big mistake for a self-described anti-war organization to downplay an anti-war protest. If anti-war group leaders view President Obama as more receptive to their message, that’s all the more reason for them to put pressure on him to do the right thing.

Ross Levin has a great post on how the 3/20 anti-war march in DC, which he attended and reported from, got significantly less media coverage than a significantly smaller Tea Party rally against healthcare reform across town.

It’s an open secret that the “grassroots” Tea Party movement is actually an astroturf operation, promoted by establishment media pundits like Rick Sanchez and Glenn Beck and funded by establishment political operatives like Dick Armey. Yet the mainstream media coverage treats the Tea Party protests like a genuine grassroots conservative uprising. My question is: can anti-war organizers convert this state of affairs into greater publicity for their movement?

Just the fact that anti-war rallies attract more people than tea parties won’t get them more coverage, but maybe if anti-war organizers made the “we’re bigger than the tea party” challenge integral to their actions, and communicated it to both the mainstream and independent media (as well as creating their own media), it would get more press and attract more attention from the general public.

Another idea (just throwing it out there): an “An-TEA-War PARTY protest”, in which anti-war protesters would mimic tea partiers by standing on the Capitol steps and screaming anti-war slogans at passing members of Congress. By holding signs saying “An-TEA-War PARTY”, these protesters could attract the Tea-Party-loving press.

Another idea: antiwar protesters could have simply marched past the tea party protest, in an attempt to highlight the media’s bias in giving greater coverage to a smaller protest. Intrepid protesters could even join the Tea Partiers and wave their anti-war signs for the cameras. Such tactics would probably require nonviolence training, since some tea partiers could get physical and it would not be good if the anti-war protesters retaliated.

One more demonstration idea: I’ve often thought it would be interesting if someone organized a march in the style of a 1930s labor rally. Everyone would wear suits or dresses, and carry black-and-white signs and banners with simple lettering and straightforward messages. To my mind, a protest like that could attract media attention and get people talking.

In case I’ve offended anyone who thinks the tea parties are cool, there is an encouraging initiative from Voters For Peace to broaden the anti-war movement to include folks who don’t usually show up for anti-war events. Here’s Sam Smith’s take on the effort:

“Last Saturday I spent eight hours with three dozen other people in a basement conference room of a Washington hotel engaged in an extraordinary exercise of mind and hope.

The topic was, by itself, depressingly familiar: building an anti-war coalition. What made it so strikingly different was the nature of those at the table. They included progressives, conservatives, traditional liberals and libertarians. Some reached back to the Reagan years or to 1960s activism, some – including an SDS leader from the University of Maryland and several Young Americans for Liberty – were still in college.”

I’ve read the foreign policy chapter of Ron Paul’s book, and I felt that he was right on the money about many things, like ending US wars in the Middle East, closing US military bases in other countries, and cutting off military aid to foreign governments like Israel and Egypt. In the same coalition-building vein, we can only benefit by more often invoking the anti-militarism words of people who conservatives revere, like Dwight Eisenhower and George Washington. I’ll add some choice quotations below.

Another great thing about Voters For Peace is that it’s involved in both grassroots activism and legislative pressure campaigns. To be effective, the anti-war movement must get serious about pressuring politicians. Pressuring politicians requires setting specific goals that they can be held accountable to. For the anti-war movement, that means war funding, since Congress can end the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan only by refusing to fund them.

The most effective pressure tactic would be organizing a nationwide voter pledge not to vote for any politician who votes for war funding. If you want a politician to pay attention, tell them they won’t get your vote if they don’t meet your conditions. The Democratic majority has voted solidly to continue the wars, but make them feel that their majority is at risk if they fail to end the wars, and that’s how you get real action.

In many districts, instead of voting for a pro-war incumbent in the general election, you can vote for a Green, anti-war Libertarian, or other independent. The anti-war movement needs to show politicians that only anti-war candidates will earn our votes from now on.

What are your thoughts?


“Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice? ”

-George Washington

“He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death. ”

-Thomas Paine

“Believing that the happiness of mankind is best promoted by the useful pursuits of peace, that on these alone a stable prosperity can be founded, that the evils of war are great in their endurance, and have a long reckoning for ages to come, I have used my best endeavors to keep our country uncommitted in the troubles which afflict Europe, and which assail us on every side.”

-Thomas Jefferson

“Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. ”

-James Madison

“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 a purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure. ”

-Abraham Lincoln

“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend… Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?”

-Abraham Lincoln

” In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. ”

-Dwight Eisenhower

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. ”

-Dwight Eisenhower

Upside Down Open Thread

BREAKING: Today’s Planned Texecution STAYED!!

UPDATE: 6:20 pm EDT:  The Innocence Project reports that the US Supreme Court has issued a stay that prevents the execution of Hank Skinner.


Hank Skinner

Texas plans to kill death row prisoner Hank Skinner by lethal injection today.  Even though DNA from the crime scene has never been tested, and even though Skinner has insisted for more than sixteen years that he is innocent, Texas plans today to have its inexorable revenge against Skinner for a triple homicide.  Stopping the execution now so that DNA testing can be conducted depends on long shots: Texas Governor Rick Perry and last minute appeals to the Supreme Court.  

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